Our political intelligence, parliamentary monitoring and consulting services delivers news, information and bespoke research via our online platform and team of political researchers, giving you the inside track on the latest developments in Westminster, Parliament and Whitehall as well as the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northerm Ireland Assembly.
The service is tailored to your organisation’s requirements giving you invaluable information that will enable you to horizon scan the political landscape. As a result you will be able to successfully identify potential opportunities and threats and thereby support your strategy more effectively.
If you are interested in finding out about our EU political intelligence, monitoring and consulting services then please visit our DeHavilland EU site.
Our consulting division can advise you on:
The Prime Minister had only appeared at PMQs once in the last eight weeks, the Labour Party argued today.
During Prime Minister’s Question Time, Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) asked why Prime Minister David Cameron was unable to attend the day’s session, following only one appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions in the last eight weeks.
In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) criticised recent announcements by Labour Leader Ed Miliband on borrowing.
Following this, Ms Harman asked why the Prime Minister had championed British membership of the EU to President Obama, but not Parliament.
Responding, Mr Clegg stressed that Mr Cameron had always made the case for continued British membership of a reformed EU.
The Labour Deputy Leader pressed Mr Clegg to set out whether the Prime Minister would have voted for an amendment to the Queen’s Speech, regretting the absence of an EU Referendum Bill, due to be put before the House later that day.
The Deputy Prime Minister criticised Ms Harman’s focus on Mr Cameron’s absence.
Moving on, Ms Harman pointed to the rise in headline unemployment figures, announced earlier that day.
Retorting, Mr Clegg pointed out that the number of people in full time work had increased during the period of January to March.
The Labour Deputy Leader claimed that living standards had fallen under the Coalition, meaning that even those in work were worse off.
Responding, Mr Clegg declared that the lowest earners in the country were£700 a year better off as a result of the Government’s tax changes.
Ms Harman replied that the Prime Minister was“fast becoming a joke”.
In response, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the top rate of tax was still higher than had been the case during the majority of the previous Labour Government’s time in office.
From the backbenches
Labour MP Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) asked why, if Conservative MPs did not have to support the Government on the issue of Europe, why the Liberal Democrats had to support all the other“wretched” Coalition policies. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the Coalition was working to address the“mess” left by Labour. He cited the cap on social care costs and state pension changes as evidence of progress made.
Conservative MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said the only party offering an in/out referendum on Europe was the Conservative Party. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said both Coalition parties had passed legislation guaranteeing in law when a referendum on EU membership could take place. If the Conservatives wanted to“change the goalposts” they could, he added.
Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) asked, given the Liberal Democrats’ commitments to an EU referendum, if the Deputy Prime Minister would find time to facilitate a Private Member’s Bill on the issue. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the Government had agreed to a referendum being used when there were significant institutional and treaty changes. It was better to stick to what had been agreed to, rather than“shifting the goalposts”, he added.
Labour MP Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) expressed his dismay at allegations of price fixing in the oil markets. He called for proper regulations of this industry. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Labour had done nothing on this issue for 13 years. He urged oil companies to co-operate fully with EU authorities on this matter.
Conservative MP Margot James (Stourbridge) raised the case of the group of vulnerable young girls who were victims of a paedophile ring in Oxford, and asked the Deputy Prime Minister if he agreed that it was time to look to the courts to impose the most severe penalties for those crimes. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg paid tribute to the courage of the victims, who came forward to speak to the police. He added that“lessons should be learned” about how the police and social services worked together.
Labour MP Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) said that the Government had made thousands of Remploy workers unemployed and that the vast majority had been unable to find work. He asked if this showed that the Government were not only“heartless but utterly incompetent”. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the policy in response to Remploy had been made following recommendations made by experts. The recommendations said that it was simply not right to segregate disabled workers, he continued, adding that support should be given to help them be a part of the mainstream labour market.
Conservative MP Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) said the Liberal Democrats had promised an in/out EU referendum but hadn’t yet delivered. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Lib Dem promise had been subject to a major change in EU laws. He said he was“old fashioned” in believing a Queen’s Speech with a lot of good in it should be promoted by Government MPs and not opposed.
Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute) asked if the Government would ensure that UK oil companies would pursue the appropriate action to prevent price fixing. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the price of fuel would have been 13p higher under Labour, agreeing that the oil companies should“corporate fully” with the European Commission.
DUPMP Rev. William McCrea (South Antrim) raised the National Crime Agency, and asked what action the Government proposed to ensure“no one could hold the people of Northern Ireland to ransom.” In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was in favour of talks about Northern Ireland across parties and traditional divides.
Labour MP Jim McGovern (Dundee West) said the Remploy factory in his constituency would be closed. Now its employees had been told they would not receive a redundancy package if they left. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised an investigation into this issue.
Conservative MP Rory Stewart (Penrith and the Border) said millions of people were struggling with their electricity bills, and Wigton in his constituency was developing a smart grid to make electricity more affordable. He asked the Deputy Prime Minister to visit the town and roll out“a true smart grid” across the country. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was delighted to hear about the pilot, which was the first step toward establishing smart energy.
Labour MP Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) asked what the Government would do to address allegations of price manipulation by oil companies. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised the European Commission for investigating the matter, urging the oil companies to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Conservative MP Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) cited a Liberal Democrat leaflet which had seemingly supported a“real referendum” on Europe. He asked if the Deputy Prime Minister was“an imposter or just a hypocrite”. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that it had been agreed that a referendum on the EU would be held if the rules changed.
Labour MP Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) said the privatisation of the Royal Mail was a step too far. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said people should praise the innovative way with which Royal Mail workers were being given a stake in their company.
Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) said he would not support the Prime Minister’s decision to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Sri Lank, and criticised the Sri Lankan Government’s human rights record. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was aware that Mr Cameron’s attendance was controversial and the Government condemned human rights violations in the Sri Lanka. If the violations continued then there would be consequences, he added.
Labour MP Helen Jones (Warrington North) asked if the Government would introduce a jobs guarantee for young people. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pointed out that figures released that day had shown that youth unemployment had actually fallen, adding that the Government had launched a£1bn Youth Contract.
Conservative MP Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) pointed to the success of Yorkshire’s businesses, detailing the increases in revenue, investment and export growth seen in the region. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised the achievements of businesses in Yorkshire. The Government had been backing manufacturing after years of“neglect” under Labour, he added.
Conservative MP James Gray (North Wiltshire) said quoted from a Liberal Democrat leaflet that pledged to commit to an in/out referendum on EU membership. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg repeated that when there was a change in the rules, he would support a referendum.
Labour MP Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) said the Mesothelioma Bill would only compensate those diagnosed since July 2012. He said it was wrong that the“leeches in the insurance industry that bankrolled the Tory Party” where getting away with millions. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was sympathetic to those who could not prove they were victims of asbestos-related cancer. The Government’s policy was based on the fact that compensation could also be paid to dependents, he added.
Alliance MP Naomi Long (Belfast East) asked if the forthcoming G8 summit would seek to address concerns on global hunger. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described the global malnourishment as a“scandal”, pointing to work the G8 were doing to address the exploitation of primary resources in the developing world.
Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) raised the case of Eastbourne District and General Hospital and the downgrading of certain services. He asked if the Deputy Prime Minister would look to address anomalies in the reconfiguration process. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that he understand that changes to maternity services were temporary. He pledged to arrange a discussion with the Health Secretary.
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) said it was wrong that the Government was attending a Commonwealth heads of government conference in Sri Lanka. Responding, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government would use its visit to shine a spotlight on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) praised the Special Olympic movement and sought assurances that the Government was doing all it could to spread the legacy from the London Olympic Games across all disability sports, including the upcoming Special Olympics in Bath. In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg agreed and confirmed the Government had established a Paralympic legacy advisory group to offer advice and support.
The Coalition will approach its fourth year of Government seeking to address many of the challenges that dominated the 2012/13 session.
Download our report that will analyse the likely content of the Queen's Speech on 8 May, and the Government's programme for the coming year.Available to download here»
Over half-way through the parliamentary term, a number of the reforms outlined in the Coalition Agreement of 2010 remain outstanding, such askey energy, healthandeducationreforms. While restoring sustainable growth and limiting rises in welfare spending continue to loom large.
In addition, the UK's grim economic performance over the past three years has forced the Government to accept that its austerity agenda is likely to continue well into the next Parliament, with billions more in cuts to be expected following June's Spending Review.
The Government was putting in place a“patchwork service” to replace NHS Direct, the Labour Party argued today.
During Prime Minister’s Question Time, Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband (Doncaster North) asked what the Government would do to reduce A&E waiting times.
In reply, Prime Minister David Cameron (Witney) said the Government was investing in the NHS, adding it was important to meet treatment targets as patient numbers increased.
Following this, Mr Miliband claimed that the number of patients in A&E was four times higher than when the Government came to power.
The Government had met the A&E attendance target last year, Mr Cameron replied, blaming the Labour Government in Wales for poor management of the NHS.
Responding, the Labour Leader defended the record of the previous Government on the NHS, accusing the current Government putting in place a“patchwork service” to replace NHS direct.
40 per cent calls had been missed, Mr Miliband charged.
Retorting, the Prime Minister said waiting times were down and that the NHS was performing better than it had down under Labour.
In response, Mr Miliband said the Government was failing to meet its NHS targets because it had taken£3m away from the frontline through its top down reorganisation of the service.
In reply, Mr Cameron claimed that Labour’s official policy was to cut spending in the NHS. He added that the reorganisation process had put£4.5m back into the frontline of the Health Service.
According to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), one in ten hospitals were operating at insufficient staffing levels and had a lack of beds, Mr Miliband argued. He added that the UK Statistics Authority had reproached the Prime Minister over his use of spending cuts statistics when the Coalition came to power.
Responding, the Prime Minister pointed to the Government’s achievements in the NHS.
Following on, the Labour Leader argued that the“facts speak for themselves. The NHS is not safe in their hands.”
Responding, Mr Cameron said there was no Cancer Drugs Fund in Wales and criticised Labour for its record on the Welsh NHS.
From the backbenches...
Labour backbencher Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) said real wages had dropped£1700 since the last election. He asked the Prime Minister to show remorse and apologise for giving millionaires a tax cut. Responding, the Prime Minister said Labour should apologise for creating an economic mess. The rich would pay more under the Coalition than they ever had to under Labour, he added.
Conservative backbencher David Amess (Southend West) said his mother was pleased that the Government had committed to a referendum on EU membership, and wanted to know if it could be brought forward. In reply, the Prime Minister if she voted Conservative in 2015 then she would get to vote in that referendum.
Conservative backbencher James Wharton (Stockton South) said to borrow and spend more, as Labour wanted to do, would risk squandering the progress made under the Coalition. Responding, the Prime Minister said the Coalition had brought the deficit down by a third, creating economic stability. Labour’s“official policy” was to widen it.
SNP Westminster Leader and Defence and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Angus Robertson (Moray) said the Government was right to combat sexual violence during its G8 presidency but criticised the Prime Minister for accepting money from Mr Ian Taylor, whose company admitted dealing with war criminals. He asked him to stop hosting Mr Taylor at Downing Street. In reply, the Prime Minister said commended the Foreign Office’s efforts and criticised Mr Robertson for“political point scoring.”
Conservative PPS to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling Lee Scott (Ilford North) asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that making work pay was the right thing to do. Responding, the Prime Minister said the Government was on the side of working people, pointing to the increase in the Personal Allowance and the welfare reforms.
Labour Shadow Children and Families MinisterSharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) said her constituent had been declared fit for work in 2011 despite suffering several disabilities. Responding, the Prime Minister said it was important to be able to determine who was fit for work accurately. He criticised Labour for being ambivalent on this important principle.
Conservative PPS to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye) said the Government had to continue with welfare reform and unemployment was falling in Hastings. She urged the Prime Minister to“stay on this track.” In reply, the Prime Minister agreed and said since the election the number of people on out of work benefits had fallen. He added that he refused to listen to Labour about the benefit cap.
Labour backbencher Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) noted bankers’ bonuses, increases in executive pay and tax cuts for millionaires. He asked when the Prime Minister would represent all people in the country and not just his“privileged chums”. Responding, the Prime Minister argued the Government was helping ordinary people, pointing to the increase in the personal allowance and the council tax freeze.
Conservative Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) asked what the Government would do to address issues of modern slavery. In reply, the Prime Minister said it was“an immensely serious issue”, urging Members to view the Commons exhibition on the subject. He emphasised that“there was more for the Government to do”.
Labour Opposition Whip Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) asked how much the Prime Minister would benefit personally from the reduction in the top rate of tax. Responding, the Prime Minister said he would pay every tax he owed in full.
Conservative backbencher James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) said the benefit cap had incentivised 8,000 people back into work and asked if that demonstrated how important welfare reform was. In reply, the Prime Minister agreed and said the Government’s measures on welfare reform were about“fairness in our country and making work pay.”
Labour Shadow Minister for Young People Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) said that last week 21 Conservative MEPs voted against the EU Trading Scheme, which would have the impact of threatening jobs and investment in the UK. He asked when the Prime Minister would“get a grip” over Conservative MEPs. Responding, the Prime Minister argued the Chancellor had helped businesses by securing a cut in the financial settlement.
President of the Liberal Democrat Party Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) asked what protection the Government would give to whistleblowers. In reply, the Prime Minister said whistleblowers should be supported when they attempted to improve public services.
Labour PPS to Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas AlexanderNick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) said the “wilful neglect” of people in care homes was“a crime”. He said the law should be“fit for purpose”. Responding, the Prime Minister agreed that there had been“shocking examples” of“crime” taking place in care homes. It was important to ensure the Care Quality Commission was“up to the task” of ensuring homes were operating safely and ethically. This had not been the case in 2010. There should be appropriate sanctions where necessary, he added.
Conservative backbencher Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) said the herbicide DNP had killed 62 people and asked what commitment could be given to ensuring the Government would stop the trade. In reply, the Prime Minister said substance was banned as a slimming drug but legal as herbicide, so the Government would look carefully at the matter.
Labour Shadow Food and Farming MinisterHuw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) asked whether the Prime Minister was consulted before the decision was made to reject the suggestion to appoint of Baroness Grey-Thompson as the Chair of Sport England. Responding, the Prime Minister said the appointment was made by the Culture Secretary and that he believed she had made a good decision.
Conservative backbencher Nick de Bois (Enfield North) asked if the Government would urge councils to sign up the Royal British Legion’s Community Covenant. In reply, the Prime Minister praised the Community Covenant, adding that the Armed Forces Covenant was a real development for the UK, pointing to the use of Libor fines to help members of the Armed Services.
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie (South Down) called for an explanation of an“eleventh hour” postponement of Universal Credit pilots, suggesting this could be the start of an unravelling of the policy. Responding, the Prime Minister said the pilots were going ahead in the north of England. The programme was“on target and on budget”.
Liberal Democrat backbencher Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) said council tax payers in Essex paid£5,000 for the then-leader of the council to attend the Conservative Party conference. He asked the Prime Minister if he agreed that such extravagant misuse of public money should merit an inquiry. In reply, Prime Minister David Cameron said if people in Essex wanted good value for money then they should vote Conservative.
Labour Shadow Justice Minister Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) argued that as of this week, food banks had been forced to only distribute food to families with children and people over 65 due to the Government’s welfare reforms. The Prime Minister recognised that we were living in difficult times, however he argued that Mr Flello should be congratulating those who volunteered at food banks, rather than“sneering” at them.
Conservative backbencher John Stevenson (Carlisle) asked if the Government agreed that large pay agreements for local council leaders were difficult for tax payers to understand. In reply, Prime Minister David Cameron urged all councils to do all they could to share resources.
Labour backbencher Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) noted the liquidation of Scottish Coal. She said the Prime Minister should stand by the open cast industry in Scotland. Responding, Prime Minister David Cameron said employment in Scotland had gone up. The Government would stand by all UK industries.
Conservative backbencher Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) asked the Prime Minister if he agreed that getting manufacturing companies to continue to export was the best way out of recession. In reply, the Prime Minister agreed and said the furniture manufacturer he visited in Derbyshire was exporting more goods and investing.
Labour Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North) asked whether the Minister would give careful consideration to the Environmental Audit Select Committee’s report on pesticides. Responding, the Prime Minister said he would, adding that the decline of bees was a very serious issue.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee co-chair for Justice and EqualitiesDr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) asked if the Prime Minister would review the report of the APPG on Cycling. In reply, the Prime Minister agreed that more should be done to encourage cycling, praising the work that the Mayor of London had done on cycling.
Special Envoy for Climate Change and the Environment to the Leader of the OppositionBarry Gardiner (Brent North) queried whether the Prime Minister was consulted before the decision was made to reject the suggestion to appoint of Baroness Grey-Thompson as the Chair of Sport England. Responding, the Prime Minister said Sport England’s new head was completely appropriate for the job, and it was right that the Culture Secretary made such appointments.
Conservative backbencher Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) asked the Prime Minister if he agreed that it was not possible to solve a debt crisis by borrowing more, and Labour should acknowledge“the mess they made.” In reply, the Prime Minister agreed and said the Government knew it had to get borrowing down. He criticised the Labour Party.