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In recent months there has been speculation surrounding a potential Ministerial reshuffle. Prime Minister David Cameron was widely expected to carry out a change to predominantly junior Government roles before Parliament’s summer recess, but this never materialised.
Now, however, there is an assumption that a reshuffle will take place before party conference season.
Ed Miliband’s expected fourth Shadow Cabinet reshuffle comes hot on the heels of a summer of speculation about the performance of Labour’s frontbench.
Amid growing speculation about possible Government and Labour reshuffles, DeHavilland has produced briefings on some of the predictions that have been made.
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The UK had to use its diplomatic and humanitarian influence to engage global and regional powers in resolving the Syrian crisis, the Labour Party argued today.
During Prime Minister’s Question Time, Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband (Doncaster North), asked if the Prime Minister would seek to persuade G20 leaders to match the UK’s aid commitment in Syria.
In reply, Prime Minister David Cameron (Witney), said that the UK was the second largest aid donor in the context of the conflict, having contributed over£400m so far. He added that it was important to get G20 countries to live up to their aid commitments.
Following this, Mr Miliband asked what support could be given to countries affected by the flow of refugees away from Syria, namely Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Responding, the Prime Minister emphasised that the UK had excellent humanitarian and diplomatic connections, but called for a lasting peace settlement in Syria.
The Labour leader asked what steps the UK was taking to support peace talks.
Responding, Mr Cameron said that the Syrian rebels needed support and training because President Assad would not enter into talks unless he knew that his regime was under“some sort of pressure”.
Mr Miliband argued that the question was about how to best approach the issue, questioning if there should be immediate peace talks between countries backing the different sides in the conflict.
In reply, Mr Cameron agreed, pointing to recent discussions between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, he was certain that whilst the Syrian National Council could be convinced, he did not believe that Assad could be convinced without a“tough response” to the use of chemical weapons.
The Prime Minister firmly ruled the UK out of any military response“on that front”, but emphasised that the UK would not use its diplomatic clout.
Mr Miliband asked if regional powers, such as Iran, should be engaged on the issue.
Responding, Mr Cameron emphasised that the most important solution to the conflict would have to come from the Syrian people.
Following this, the Labour leader argued that last week’s Commons vote on the principle of intervention in Syria should not mean that the UK could“shirk” its diplomatic and humanitarian responsibilities.
The Prime Minister declared that the UK would not abdicate its responsibilities, but criticised the Leader of the Opposition for divided the House on the issue of any further votes.
From the backbenches...
Conservative Backbencher Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) said unemployment was down and exports were up. He asked if it was time for people to“abandon Plan B.” Responding, the Prime Minister said there had been“welcome news” over the summer and consumer confidence was up.“It’s because of the tough decisions this Government took that we can now see progress, he added.
Conservative Backbencher Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) explained that the UK Business Services Activity Index was at its highest level in recent times and stated that it was now clear that the UK economy was now on the path to growth. Responding, the Prime Minister explained that the best thing about the economic recovery was that more people were now returning to employment. Indeed, he went on to tell the House that 1.3 million jobs had been created in the private sector since 2010.
Labour Backbencher Jack Straw (Blackburn) asked if the Prime Minister would push for fresh discussions with Iran. Responding, the Prime Minister said that Iran’s election result was a positive step but that there were a list of issues that needed to be settled first.
Conservative Small Business Ambassador for Wales Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) said the accuracy of statistics was vital to inform public debate and suggested that few polls showed that people believed Ed Miliband was a“natural leader.” Responding, the Prime Minister he had to see a run of opinion polls before he saw a true trend.
Labour Chair of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy Margaret Beckett (Derby South) stated the proposed Lobbying Bill would seriously harm the activities of charities like Oxfam, the Royal British Legion and the Countryside Alliance. In response, the Prime Minister explained that his Government was committed to transparency and that Labour wanted to omit trade unions from the proposed Lobbying Bill.
Conservative Small Business Ambassador for the South of England Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) sought praise for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and asked the Prime Minister if he would visit her constituency. Responding, the Prime Minister praised the efforts of those involved.
Labour Backbencher Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) asked the Prime Minister to build better relationships urgently with Iran. Attacking Iran all the time would not bring the country’s leaders to the table, he added. Responding, the Prime Minister said building a relationship with someone depending on the actions they took. He added that he wanted to see some action and had written to President Rouhaniami.
Conservative PPS to Policing Minister Damian Green David Rutley (Macclesfield) stated that the Government’s welfare policies were starting to work in light of recent figures which indicated that the overall number of unemployed households had fallen. In response, the Prime Minister stated that number of unemployed households had fallen and that that was testament to the economic and welfare policies introduced by his Government.
Labour Backbencher Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford) urged the Prime Minister to use the G20 to bring about a ceasefire in Syria. In reply, the Prime Minister said that the US President had set a red line over Syria’s use of chemical weapons and that it would be dangerous to suggest that this should be rowed back on. He pledged that everything would be done to bring the Geneva peace talks together.
Conservative Backbencher Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) said cancer funding per head in Herefordshire was half of that in Birmingham and research showed that the NHS funding formula discriminated against rural areas. He called for fairer funding in those areas. Responding, the Prime Minister said NHS England was looking at a fairer funding formula. Further, the Cancer Drugs Fund had been a“phenomenal success” in England, he added.
Labour Shadow Scotland Minister Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire) asked what the Government was doing to support food banks. In reply, the Prime Minister said they had allowed Job Centres to refer claimants to food banks, if they needed it.
Conservative Backbencher Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) asked if the Prime Minister agreed with him that the Government was right to adopt strict economic spending plans since 2010. In response, the Prime Minister explained that it was important to recognise that the Government had made tough economic decisions since May 2010 and that the benefits were now starting to pay off.
Labour PPS to Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South) said the Government was right to extend nursery provision to disadvantaged two-years-olds and asked for a guarantee that the children promised a place would have one. Responding, the Prime Minister said the Government had put the funding in place and he was confident the children that deserved those services would get them.
Conservative Backbencher Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) asked if the Government’s economic plan had been vindicated by falling unemployment. In reply, the Prime Minister said there were more people in employment and in private sector jobs“than ever before”, in addition to record numbers of women in work.
Labour Shadow Rail Minister Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) said that ordinary families were faced with rising energy prices and asked why the Government was not standing up against energy companies on behalf of consumers. In response, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government had been active in safeguarding consumers against rising energy prices and highlighted the fact that they had legislated to ensure that people were put on low tariffs.
Conservative Chair of the Selection Committee and Party Vice-Chair (International) Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) commented that the ONS had revised its growth figures upwards and there were good economic conditions in the Cotswolds. He asked if that would have happened under Labour. Responding, the Prime Minister David Cameron accused Britain of succeeding and Labour of failing.
Labour PPS to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) asked if working people would be on average£6,666 worse off by the next general election. In reply, the Prime Minister said living standards would fall under Labour’s plans to borrow more and jeopardise the economic recovery.
Conservative Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle) asked about the potential role of NATO in helping alleviate the situation in Syria. Responding, the Prime Minister explained that the UK would only support legal action in Syria.
Labour Backbencher Jim Hood (Lanark and Hamilton East) raised the Mansion Tax and asked the Prime Minister why he supported the“Bedroom Tax.” Responding, the Prime Minister said the Government’s plans were about fairness and asked Labour if it planned to reverse the spare room subsidy.
Liberal Democrat PPS to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Duncan Hames (Chippenham) asked how refugees would have to leave Syria before the Assad regime would lose any moral claim to govern. In reply, the Prime Minister rejected the notion that the Syrian Government had any right to govern, calling for all necessary pressure to brought to change the regime.
Labour PPS to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) said the cost of secondary school uniform this year had soared to£285 this year and said that parents had had to take loans from companies like Wonga in order to pay for the clothing. Responding, the Prime Minister explained his belief that free schools were succeeding and that it was fair that they were able to create a positive working environment, which, in his view included having proper school uniforms.
Conservative Backbencher Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) asked if the Government would sign the Main Gate contract for Trident. Responding, the Prime Minister said that Trident was the right approach to take and that it needed to be renewed.
Labour Backbencher John Mann (Bassetlaw) asked if it were true that real wages had fallen by£1,500 a year since the 2010 general election. Responding, the Prime Minister said people lived in tough times because of Labour’s“mess” and the Government was turning the economy round.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee Co-Chair for Business Innovation and Skills Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley) asked if the Prime Minister would congratulate companies in Burnley for their success in an enterprise award. In reply, the Prime Minister commended their performance, heralding it as a sign of a private sector-led recovery.