Politics latest news: Ministers showing 'utter contempt' for Parliament over Budget briefings, claim MPs

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·49 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Cross-party MPs have lined up to attack the Government for showing Parliament "utter contempt" by briefing many of the details of tomorrow's Budget ahead of time.

The Speaker had granted Labour an urgent question calling for "details of all the provisions in the upcoming Budget that have been made public in advance of the Chancellor's statement", after the Treasury defied his stern rebuke yesterday.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle had implied that Rishi Sunak should resign over the repeated announcements made ahead of Wednesday's statement, but Treasury officials ignored this to push out further measures, including the end to the public sector pay freeze.

Mr Sunak was down to respond, however his junior Simon Clarke was left to defend him, with criticism from Conservatives such as Sir John Redwood, the veteran Conservative MP, Dr Julian Lewis and Sir Desmond Swayne as well as opposition MPs.

Dame Angela Eagle, the veteran Labour MP, accused the Government of treating "parliamentary democracy with utter contempt" by announcing measures that cannot be scrutinised because they are not accompanied with the OBR forecasts.

"The minister should be completely ashamed of himself and should have apologised - his boss should have come here and apologised," she added.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:58 PM

Nato's 'resolve was found wanting' in Afghanistan, admits Defence Secretary

Nato forces were not militarily defeated in Afghanistan but political "resolve was found wanting", the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told the Commons' defence committee: "I don't think that we were defeated. Our resolve was found wanting, I would say, rather than defeated.

"Nato were there to enable a political campaign and I think that is what failed. The military were there to put in place the security environment in order to try and deliver that," he added.

"When that is withdrawn, that is when you find out whether your political campaign has worked. What was we discovered is it didn't work.

"It was the western resolve and the western narrative or political foundations they had laid failed. There are a lot of searching questions there for all of us."

02:50 PM

Leaders must end 'hollow promises' to close emissions gap, says UN head

Current emissions plans for the next decade still leave the world on track for a "catastrophic global temperature rise" of 2.7C, the UN secretary general has said.

Despite world leaders pledging new net zero targets ahead of Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, the world would still see more than 2C of long-term warming, Antonio Guterres claimed.

"We know that humanity's future depends on keeping global temperature increase to 1.5C by 2030," he told a press conference on a UN report on the "emissions gap" between action needed to limit temperature rises to globally-agreed goals under the Paris Agreement and what countries have pledged.

"We also know that, so far, parties to the Paris Agreement are utterly failing to keep this target within reach."

He warned: "The clock is ticking. The emissions gap is the result of a leadership gap. But leaders can still make this a turning point to a greener future instead of a tipping point to climate catastrophe.

"The era of half measures and hollow promises must end. The time for closing the leadership gap must begin in Glasgow."

02:45 PM

Two people recovered from the sea following Essex search and rescue

Two people are understood to have been rescued from the sea off the Essex coast, but more people may be unaccounted for.

Border Force officers and RNLI lifeboat crews responded to an incident near the port town of Harwich on Monday in an operation co-ordinated by the Coastguard.

Harwich lifeboat launched at 4.05pm on Monday, returned and then launched again at 11.35pm, before going back to shore at 8am on Tuesday. Searches have since ceased.

A source with knowledge of the search and rescue operation told the PA news agency two people have been rescued and it is understood a dinghy has been recovered.

The RNLI said: "RNLI lifeboats from Harwich and Walton and Frinton were involved in a search and rescue operation to a suspected person in the water.

"All have been stood down by HM Coastguard, who are continuing to co-ordinate the search with Border Force."

See 11:03am for more.

02:36 PM

Give GPs cash incentives for in-person appointments, suggests Tory MP

A Conservative MP has called for GPs to be given cash "incentives" for seeing patients in person this winter, with the aim of taking pressure off hospitals during the busiest period for the NHS.

Joy Morrissey, the member for Beaconsfield, told a Westminster Hall debate that more support for GP surgeries could have a "trickle down" effect for other NHS services.

She said: "If we want to reduce the overall burden on the NHS this winter, finding a safe and secure way for more residents to see their GP will reduce the overall pressure long-term on the NHS."

She added: "It perhaps is something that each time a GP sees someone in person they could get an extra payment or an additional payment for visiting someone in their home.

"That way that mitigates the additional cost of PPE and also the additional risk posed to the GP themselves by having to see in person during Covid or during high levels of winter flu."

The MP pointed to similar incentive schemes which had been set up at some GP surgeries to screen for diabetes and cervical cancer.

02:25 PM

Christmas turkeys may have to be imported from EU, MPs told

Graeme Dear, chair of the British Poultry Council, has told MPs there is a "likelihood" there will be a shortage of UK-produced turkeys for Christmas, warning produce may have to be imported from Europe.

He said: "We have been given access through the seasonal workers scheme for up to 5,500 but that finishes on December 31.

"We would have loved to have known about that in June, and therefore could have placed enough turkeys for a full Christmas.

"We will do our utmost to make sure that Christmas is as normal as it can be, but there is a likelihood that there will be a shortage - had we known back in June or July that would have been fixed.

"Around 90% of our shortages are in the processing plants, and the irony is that we may find ourselves having to import turkey from France and Poland for a British Christmas, probably with some of the very workers we trained and left to go back to their homelands."

02:13 PM

Watch: What is Rishi Sunak's popularity secret?

Rishi Sunak might not be terribly popular with the Speaker and some of his backbenchers right now - but when it comes to party members, the Chancellor's personal ratings are sky-high.

Mr Sunak was hardly a household name before the pandemic started - but these days he is often talked about as a possible successor to Boris Johnson.

As Catherine Neilan, The Telegraph's Politics Live Editor notes in the video above, part of his charm is the fact that he is the perfect foil to the Prime Minister. Part of it is down to the pandemic - and part of it is pure luck.

Watch the video in full above for more.

01:57 PM

Autumn Budget 2021: what will be announced and how much will it cost you?

Families are braced for further tax rises as the Chancellor prepares to unveil his Autumn Budget on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak has already warned of further pain to help the country “build back better” after the coronavirus pandemic.

Any tax changes would come on top of the £20bn freeze in the income tax allowances announced in the spring and the £36bn raid on incomes to fund the NHS announced last month. This rise was announced just as energy costs surged ahead of winter.

Here are the policies, both expected and rumoured, to be announced tomorrow that could hit your pocket most.

01:39 PM

Owen Paterson recounts wife's anguish over inquiry before she took her life

Owen Paterson has said there is "no doubt whatever in my mind" that the way inquiry into his advocacy work was carried out led to "the extreme anguish which caused Rose to hang herself".

The former minister told BBC Radio 4's World At One he wasn't spoken to for 17 months during which time letters were sent to him, to which he responded.

"I remember very clearly the last weekend before Rose hanged herself, really going for me in the kitchen and saying 'don't you realise this inquiry is going to go on and on and on until she finds some spurious reason for finding you guilty. She is determined to catch you out and then you will have to resign, I will have to resign and we will end our days in humiliation and disgrace'."

He added: "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the manner in which this inquiry has been conducted, in complete breach of the rules of natural justice, was a major factor in my wife's decision to hang herself in June last year."

01:35 PM

Owen Paterson calls for parliamentary privilege to be suspended over lobbying allegations

Owen Paterson - the MP who is facing a possible suspension for a breach of the code on lobbying - has called for parliamentary privilege to be removed so he can clear his name in court.

The former minister told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme his interests had been in the register since 2017 and "I bitterly refute this idea I did not [declare]".

He added: "This is the first time in my life that my honesty and probity has been questioned. So, 25 years in business... 24 years in Parliament, no one has ever questioned my word... But if they didn't believe me, why did the commissioner and committee not get in the 17 witnesses?

"I would like privilege to be suspended so I can have the same rights as anyone of my constituents and defend myself in court."

See posts at 12:23pm, 11:56am, 11:13am, 9:49am and 9:32am for more.

01:28 PM

OBR will give Chancellor some 'good news' tomorrow, says David Gauke

The Office for Budget Responsibility is likely to offer some good news tomorrow, the former Treasury minister David Gauke has said.

"In the short term I think there is going to be some good news for the chancellor, because the economy has grown faster than the OBR forecast in March," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

"That will feed through into the public finances, and I suspect borrowing will be down tens of billions - it will still be high, but tens of billions lower than the OBR thought back in the spring."

But he warned that Rishi Sunak would be "fairly cautious" because of remaining risks, including a possible slowdown in the recovery, inflation and "even a trade war with the European Union."

Mr Gauke forecast a reduction in the taper rate in Universal Credit, from 63 per cent to 60 per cent, in a bid to stave off cost of living concerns.

01:24 PM

Pre-Budget briefings 'not new', says former Treasury minister

David Gauke, the former Treasury minister, has urged caution on pre-Budget briefings because "you don't have the full details and you can't put everything into context".

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One it was not clear whether the announcements made so far were "new money, details of money that has been previously allocated, cash terms or taking into account inflation, over how many years that money is going to be spent.

"You have to be really, really cautious," he added.

But he stressed it was "not new - all governments have done it, including the one I was in".

01:12 PM

Liz Truss 'pushing' for justice for Harry Dunn's family

The new Foreign Secretary has insisted she is "pushing" the United States to ensure justice is delivered for the family of Harry Dunn.

US citizen Anne Sacoolas is charged with causing the death of the 19-year-old British motorcyclist by dangerous driving on August 27 2019. An extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US state department in January 2020.

Ms Sacoolas was due to give evidence under oath in August as part of the damages claim until a last-minute postponement.

Responding to a question from former minister Dame Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss said: "I am absolutely determined that we should deliver justice for Harry and his family.

"I am pushing the United States. Of course, they are key allies of the United Kingdom but we must see justice delivered."

12:59 PM

Foreign Secretary makes veiled threat of further sanctions against Iran

The new Foreign Secretary has warned Iran that "all options are on the table" if it fails to "meaningfully" engage in talks over its nuclear programme.

Amid concerns over the country's escalation of uranium enrichment, Liz Truss raised the prospect of further sanctions when questioned by MPs.

"Iran has no credible civilian justification for its nuclear escalation. As I made clear to my Iranian counterpart, Iran needs to urgently return to the negotiating table," she told the Commons.

"If Iran does not engage meaningfully in negotiations, we will reconsider our approach. All options are on the table."

12:50 PM

Way of the World: If Remainers blame Brexit for food shortages, they’ll end up regretting it

Embarrassed by the gaps on their shelves, supermarket bosses have hit upon an unexpected solution, writes Michael Deacon.

In the space where, say, a crate of asparagus should be, there’s a sheet of cardboard, decorated with a picture of lots of asparagus. The pictures are all life-size and eerily realistic, so from a distance it looks as if the aisle is full to bursting with delicious fresh produce.

Inevitably, die-hard Remainers are blaming all these shortages on Brexit. No doubt they imagine that, if things go on like this for long enough, one day the public will vote to rejoin the EU. They are, however, forgetting one crucial detail.

Children can’t stand vegetables. So if they’re led to believe that Brexit has caused a shortage of vegetables, they’ll be grateful to Brexit for evermore. When they turn 18, therefore, they certainly won’t vote to rejoin the EU. They’ll vote to stay jolly well out of it.

In effect, then, these shortages are helping to create a whole new generation of Brexiteers. It wouldn’t surprise me if Boris Johnson planned it like this all along.

Read more from Michael here.

12:37 PM

Lib Dems seize on sewage row for Blue Wall push

Boris Johnson may face consequences at the ballot box over the Tories’ opposition to new protections to stop sewage being pumped into rivers, following backlash on the issue in his own party last week, writes Tony Diver.

The Lib Dems have seized on the row and are launching a campaign against specific MPs who both voted against the amendment and hold seats in “Blue Wall” target areas the party hopes to win at the next election.

The faces of Angela Richardson, Stephen Hammond, Elliot Colburn, Steve Brine and others will be plastered with hazard warnings and the message “Your Conservative MP voted to allow water companies to dump sewage in rivers,” in a targeted social media ad campaign commencing this afternoon.

"We campaigned about this issue during the Chesham and Amersham by-election and there is no doubt Blue Wall voters feel Tory MPs are doing very little to protect treasured local rivers,” a Lib Dem source tells me. “The Tories are simply out of touch with Blue Wall voters.”

12:13 PM

When did Tory advisory board know about Budget news, Labour MP asks

Matt Western, the Labour MP, says the briefing of the Budget is "getting out of hand", noting that questions are going unanswered in the Commons at the same time.

He claims that "much of it [is] commercially sensitive" and asks when the details were handed to journalists, and when the "advisory board of the Conservative party was also made aware".

Simon Clarke responds by saying: "I really don't know what the honourable gentleman is implying by his question, but clearly no impropriety has occurred.

"All announcements are made, as usual, through the usual Treasury and cross-government processes to make sure announcements are released to the media."

12:05 PM

Veteran Tory asks 'nice guy' minister to stop pre-Budget briefings

Dr Julian Lewis says the Treasury minister is "a nice guy" who deserved his return to the frontbench, but he should not be having to defend this policy.

He asks for an undertaking to "stop doing it" and asks why it happened in the first place.

Simon Clarke stresses he takes parliamentary procedures very seriously - as does the Chancellor - and reiterates that tax measures have not been released.

12:03 PM

Sir Desmond Swayne: What is the Government trying to hide?

Sir Desmond Swayne says there are two issues at stake today, as he raises the "information [the Government] is trying to keep from us".

The veteran Tory MP added; "Why was the leaked information about the costs, the substantial costs of winter Plan B, marked not for publication? What is the Government trying to hide? Why is it frightened of our scrutiny?"

The House erupts as Simon Clarke says he will not comment on leaks. The minister insists the Government is committed to Plan A.

12:01 PM

Labour MP demands apology over Budget briefings

Dame Angela Eagle, the veteran Labour MP, says the Government is treating Parliamentary democracy with "utter contempt".

"This is serious," she says, attacking "this slew, this blizzard, of announcements that has been going on for weeks".

As a result, MPs cannot look in detail at the announcements because it is not accompanied with the OBE forecasts.

"The minister should be completely ashamed of himself and should have apologised - his boss should have come here and apologised," she adds.

Simon Clarke retorts that as a former Treasury minister she "obviously would never have engaged in such activity" - which Dame Angela can be heard shouting in response.

He stresses there will be "a raft of full information" coming out tomorrow, "which the last Labour government never provided".

11:57 AM

Levelling up will be 'golden thread' in Budget, says minister

Jake Berry says while the rabbit is out of the hat another "fluffy bunny" for the Chancellor to present could be "a huge announcement about the Government's levelling up fund".

Simon Clarke says this is a "core theme" and will be "one of the absolute golden threads" in tomorrow's Budget.

"I wish I could start plucking rabbits out of the hat today but he will just have to wait a few more hours," he adds - with opposition MPs jeering him.

11:53 AM

Veteran Tory MP attacks Government for revealing Budget details early

It isn't just Labour and the Speaker who are irked about the Government's pre-Budget briefing.

Sir John Redwood, the veteran Conservative MP, says while they are "not the first government that wanted more that one day's news from the Budget".

But in the past, there was "complete Budget secrecy" in the run-up to the big day, and in the days that follow "Cabinet ministers come to this House to announce the detailed spending plans and subject them to our scrutiny".

"If that was right for all previous governments, why isn't it right for this one?"

But Simon Clarke argues that George Osborne had asked the permanent secretary for a review about the practice of pre-release of information back in 2013. The Treasury was advised to maintain a ban "core" details such as tax rates, release and allowances as well as the fiscal projections.

"We have observed that stricture in full," he says. But Sir Lindsay says that is "a matter of judgment".

11:49 AM

Treasury minister hits that living wage increase 'isn't enough'

Simon Clarke says it "beggars belief" that the 6.6pc increase in the living wage "isn't enough".

The chief secretary to the Treasury says it must be considered in the round, saying the Government is "acutely conscious" of the pressures people face. Mr Clarke adds that he is "delighted" that the pay review bodies will be able to make recommendations "in the usual way", but declines to pre-empt what that will be.

A business rates review will set what the Government does with the system, he adds, attacking the Labour for being irresponsible by vowing to scrap the whole thing without conducing a review first.

11:46 AM

Minister must 'tell this House' Budget details, says Labour

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow Treasury minister, says the country needs the Government to take action on the "urgent cost of living crisis".

She adds: "But the Chancellor hasn't even delivered his Budget yet and already it is falling apart. In recent days we have read thousands of word about what the Chancellor plans to do but the silence is deafening on the soaring bills and rising prices facing families and businesses."

Ms Phillipson said the minister should explain "not in press releases", but to the House, various details about the Budget including what the £9.50 minimum wage will actually amount to, whether the public sector pay increase will be above inflation, and demands confirmation that VAT will be cut from fuel bills.

"He can tell the newspapers - it is time for him to tell this House."

11:40 AM

Market-sensitive information will hold for Budget, says Treasury minister

Responding for the Chancellor, Simon Clarke has said the Government believes scrutiny is "crucial".

The chief secretary to the Treasury said he has "deep respect" for Parliamentary rules and Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker.

Mr Clarke says he will "very briefly summarise some of the headline announcements" already made, but stresses "the bulk of the Budget will be delivered by the Chancellor himself from this dispatch box tomorrow - and importantly that includes all market-sensitive information".

As he speaks MPs guffaw and jeer.

11:37 AM

Speaker savages Government for briefing media first on Budget

The Speaker has said he was "disappointed" to see more stories published today with "very well briefed detail" about what will be in the Budget tomorrow.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle - to much "hear-hearing" - says the rule is in the ministerial code that announcements should be made "in this Parliament, in this House" first.

"If the Government continues to treat this House in a discourteous manner, I will do everything in my power to ensure ministers are called here at the earliest possible opportunity to explain themselves."

He adds that he feels sorry for the minister who is responding for the Government, but says it is "not right" and not "more important" to go on the news in the morning.

"It is not done through Sky TV," he adds.

11:34 AM

Lobby latest: Sewage amendment would have been 'blank cheque' for taxpayers

Downing Street defended the Government's actions on sewage discharges, amid widespread backlash for blocking an amendment designed to tackle the practice.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We completely agree the current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable."

The spokesman said the intentions of the measures being pushed by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords were "already being delivered" in the Environment Bill.

The amendment put forward by the peer "remains uncosted" but "the initial assessments are over £150 billion and that would mean that individuals - every one of us taxpayers - paying potentially thousands of pounds each as a result".

"So it's not right to sign a blank cheque on behalf of customers without understanding the trade-offs and the bills that would be involved," the spokesman said.

But "tougher legal duties" were being placed on water companies and "we will continue to listen to MPs who have legitimate concerns".

11:26 AM

Lobby latest: Plan B will keep economy going, No 10 insists

Downing Street has defended its Plan B measures after leaked documents suggested enacting them for five months could cost the economy up to £18 billion.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said it is not a timeline that is "Government policy and is not something we're planning to".

He said Plan B would only be bought in when "pressure on the NHS is unsustainable", which he said "is not the case currently".

"If it were to become the case, the Plan B measures would allow venues to remain open and remain trading," he added.

"We are confident the Plan B measures taken as a package will help curb Covid cases while also striking that important balance of allowing parts of the economy to remain open that will otherwise face severe restrictions or even closure."

11:25 AM

Lobby latest: 'Too early to draw conclusions' on Covid figures

Downing Street has said it is "too early" to draw conclusions from figures suggesting a levelling off of coronavirus cases.

A total of 713 deaths registered in the week ending October 15 mentioned Covid on the death certificate, up seven per cent on the previous week, but well below the levels seen during last winter.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's always encouraging when you see reductions like that and including, I believe, a levelling off of admissions.

"But it's too early to draw full conclusions from the case rates and we would continue to urge the public to abide by the guidance as set out and those eligible to get booster doses," he added. "Prevalence remains relatively high even if it has dropped off to a certain extent.

"There isn't anything in the statistics currently to suggest a move to Plan B but it is too early to draw conclusions from the recent few days' statistics which has shown drops in cases."

11:23 AM

Lobby latest: No 10 refuses to be drawn on Owen Paterson case

Downing Street has declined to say whether Boris Johnson backs the possible suspension of Tory MP Owen Paterson after he was found to have breached Commons rules on lobbying.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The standards regime is a matter for the House of Commons. The Prime Minister is mindful of the pain faced by the Paterson family.

"The suicide of Mrs Paterson was sad and tragic and the Prime Minister's sympathies remain with his family following this loss."

Asked if it is right that Mr Paterson was recommended for a suspension, the spokesman said: "This is a matter for the committee themselves. It wouldn't be right for me to comment beyond that."

Asked if the Prime Minister thinks the Standards Commissioner is fit for purpose, the spokesman said: "The committee is an independent body, we'd expect them to abide by the rules and regulations that individuals themselves would apply to as well but beyond that I don't have anything to add."

See posts at 11:56am, 11:13am, 9:49am and 9:32am for more.

11:14 AM

Lobby latest: No guarantees public sector pay rise will beat inflation

Downing Street has been unable to say whether public sector workers will get a real-terms rise in wages after Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised to end their pay freeze.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The process is for independent pay review bodies to look at... for them to then come forward to make recommendations to departments on a sector-by-sector basis. I'm not going to pre-judge that process."

Asked if departments will get more funding to cover pay rises, he said: "How departments are funded will be a matter for the SR (spending review) and the Chancellor to set out."

See 11:20am for more

11:13 AM

Chinese incursion into Taiwan air space 'not conducive to peace', says Foreign Secretary

The Foreign Secretary has criticised Beijing for its recent incursions into Taiwan's air space, after almost 150 aircraft were sent into Taiwan's defence zone earlier this month.

Liz Truss told the Commons: "The large number of Chinese military flights which took place near Taiwan at the beginning October are not conducive to peace and stability in the region.

"We need peaceful resolution through constructive dialogue and the work we are doing, through the carrier strike group and our security partnerships, is contributing to peace across the region."

11:05 AM

Northern Ireland protocol 'must be respected', says deputy first minister

Northern Ireland's deputy first minister has said the protocol "must be respected" ahead of a meeting with Lord Frost.

Speaking at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference in Belfast, Michelle O'Neill said: "The invisible border is our greatest symbol of our peace and there will be no return to a border on this island.

"Jobs and livelihoods must be safeguarded and the all-island economy must be strengthened. Continued access to the single market and the British market gives us an economic advantage to build and grow exports from local businesses and position ourselves well in attracting FDI," the Sinn Fein politician added.

"We campaigned for special status and we went on a diplomatic offensive across Europe and the USA. The Irish Protocol represents that special status and there is no credible alternative.

"The protocol was the alternative to the backstop which was painstakingly negotiated, agreed and ratified by the Westminster Parliament and by the European Parliament by no less than David Frost himself, who is now trying to renegotiate. It's an international law, it must be respected."

Yesterday Lord Frost opened the door to a possible compromise in talks over a new Brexit agreement for the province.

10:56 AM

Charles Moore: Owen Paterson is the latest pro-Brexit MP to fall victim to a flawed, unjust system

Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has found against Owen Paterson on serious charges of “paid advocacy” which “brings the House into disrepute”, writes Charles Moore.

If true, these breaches could ruin his career. The Parliamentary Committee on Standards has strongly backed the Commissioner and recommended an unprecedentedly severe 30-day suspension.

But in what sense has she “found” anything? To find, you must first seek.

Yet, as she herself admitted in a letter to the clerk of the relevant parliamentary committee on September 2, “It is correct that I had decided Mr Paterson had breached the rules by the time I sent him my first memorandum.”

How could she have legitimately decided this without properly collecting evidence and without meeting Mr Paterson? This would appear to be prejudice in the literal meaning of the word – passing judgment before knowing the facts.

Read more from Charles here - plus see posts at 11:13am, 9:49am and 9:32am for more.

10:50 AM

Liz Truss sparks laughter after refusing to discuss Budget today

Liz Truss has said she hopes to work with her shadow "over the coming years... many, many years", in a jokey rebuff to Lisa Nandy's welcome.

The Foreign Secretary provoked mirth by saying "the Chancellor wouldn't be very happy if I announced the spending review today" - with MPs laughingly pointing out that much of the Budget has been pre-announced.

Ms Truss added: "I am not sure you Mr Speaker would be very happy either."

Ms Nandy suggested she was "the only person in the country who hasn't seen the details of the Budget".

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has ordered Rishi Sunak to the Commons after this session, in response to the pre-briefing that has gone on.

10:47 AM

'Foreign Secretary can't be taken seriously in Beijing if not taken seriously in Treasury'

Liz Truss has been welcomed to the Commons as the second female Foreign Secretary - but her shadow said she hoped there would be another soon.

Lisa Nandy congratulated the minister but said Labour was "looking forward to welcoming the third" - to cheers from the opposition bench.

Ms Nandy said the UK must "claw back some of the influence we have lost in the world", saying without it "we would never be taken seriously in Beijing".

She added: "She is right to identify that being a pushover with the Treasury does nothing for our national interest, nothing for our national security... but the Treasury's accounting tricks will leave her coffers empty.

"Has she clawed back some of her funding in tomorrow's Budget, or are we going to see the same story played out of a Foreign Secretary that isn't taken seriously in Beijing because she isn't taken seriously around her own Cabinet table?"

10:20 AM

Inflation-busting pay rise for public sector not guaranteed, admits minister

A senior minister has refused to confirm whether public sector workers will get an above-inflation pay rise next year, despite Rishi Sunak vowing to end the freeze on salaries.

Paul Scully, the small business minister, told Sky News the move sent a "signal" to the individual pay review bodies that "the Chancellor is keen to give people a pay rise".

However he would not be drawn on whether it would be above inflation, which is expected to reach four per cent this autumn, or whether people would end up "better off" in the end.

"That will be determined by the pay review bodies... as they look to what should be an appropriate rise for the public sector, given the public finances," he said. "I can't pre-empt what they are going to do. We will see where we are come next April when the review bodies have reported."

Mr Scully also fended off criticism over the increase to national living wage, after the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that it equated to an annual increase of £250 - falling far short of the £1,000 cut to Universal Credit.

It was a "generous and balanced" increase which would not "stymie growth" for businesses, the minister stressed.

10:13 AM

David Davis backs Owen Paterson over 'unacceptable' probe

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has backed Owen Paterson in a row that could see the former minister suspended.

Mr Paterson has been accused of an "egregious case of paid advocacy", in which he repeatedly highlighted the work of two firms (see 9:32am). But the North Shropshire MP has hit back, claiming that the process was biased, "does not comply with natural justice" and played "a major role" in the suicide of his wife (see 9:49am).

Mr Davis said: "This system of investigation would not be acceptable for our constituents, as it does not meet the rules of natural justice, or even ACAS rules.

"I note that none of the 17 critical witnesses appear to have been interviewed by the Commissioner. And of course, there is no appeal process, which I would demand for my constituents."

10:03 AM

Search and rescue mission taking place off Essex coast

A search and rescue mission is taking place off the coast of Essex.

Border Force officers are urgently responding to an ongoing incident in the sea near the port town of Harwich, the Home Office said.

The Coastguard is co-ordinating the operation, with RNLI boats also said to have been in attendance.

According to the BBC, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said a Coastguard helicopter and a plane were sent to the incident, adding: "HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating a search and rescue response to an incident off Essex, working with Border Force and other partners."

A Home Office spokesman said the department would provide further details after the initial response once the situation had been resolved.

Essex Police and East of England Ambulance Service have also been contacted.

09:54 AM

Kent Tories accused of running 'stomach-turning' Universal Credit sweepstake

Conservative councillors in Kent have been criticised after it emerged they were running a sweepstake on when a Labour politician would mention the cut to Universal Credit.

Karen Constantine said she could "hear my colleagues groaning" after she raised the end to the uplift, and was told this was because "some colleagues have lost the sweepstake as to when the £20 Universal Credit [cut] would be mentioned at this meeting".

Sharing the video online Wes Streeting, the shadow child poverty secretary, said it was "stomach-turning", adding: "It’s all just a big laugh to them."

09:40 AM

MPs call for supporters to back Sir David Amess' Vivienne in Dog of the Year vote

Sir David Amess' dog Vivenne looks set for a landslide in the Westminster Dog of the Year award, with MPs urging their followers to vote for their fallen colleague.

Sir David, who was killed in an attack at his surgery earlier this month, was a well-known animal lover who had entered his French bulldog for the 'pawblic vote' in September.

MPs including Neil Parish, Anna McMorrin and Suzanne Webb have called for people to back the pair, saying it would be "a fitting tribute" for the long-serving politician.

09:27 AM

Protect night time economy in Budget, Chancellor urged

The head of a key hospitality trade body has urged the Chancellor not to raise VAT or any alcohol duties in tomorrow's Budget, warning of the "catastrophic impact" it will have on the sector.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, has written to Rishi Sunak warning that rising costs coupled with tax rises could create a "perfect storm" that will see many more businesses close for good. To protect the industry, he calls for VAT to be reduced on on-the-door tickets and alcoholic drinks.

"With businesses already facing increased operating costs including rising energy prices and ongoing issues around workforce shortages which has resulted in increased remuneration costs, additional tax responsibilities are the last thing that is needed," he wrote "Night time economy businesses have also taken on huge amounts of debt during the pandemic and will be particularly vulnerable to changes in interest rates."

Mr Kill added: "The Chancellor's Budget is pivotal to the survival of an industry that is key to the recovery of this country. It would be a waste of millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money, if the financial provision spent on sustaining these jobs and businesses during the pandemic, were to allow businesses to fall at the last hurdle without sector specific consideration within the Budget."

09:13 AM

JCVI boss tells MPs to 'be sensible' and wear face masks

A second medical expert has said Conservative MPs should wear face masks when in the Commons Chamber on busy days.

Tories have been criticised for not masking-up, with Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting it was unnecessary because with their "convivial, fraternal spirit" they know each other well.

This morning Paul Scully, the small business minister, failed to confirm whether he would be wearing one during tomorrow's Budget (see 8:13am), although yesterday Sajid Javid said he would do so. Dr David Nabarro, theWorld Health Organisation's special envoy on Covid, urged all MPs to join him, saying: "The virus doesn't vote." (see 8:28am).

Asked about the issue, Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Sky News: "Well, the vaccines do a lot of the heavy lifting, but they can't do everything, so social distancing, mask wearing in crowded spaces and being sensible is all part of what we ought to be doing as a society."

09:06 AM

Lib Dems attack Government for 'hiding' true cost of Covid passports

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Government for trying to "hide" the economic and health impact of imposing Covid passports.

This morning The Telegraph revealed their use could fuel the spread of Covid-19 by encouraging people to go to poorly ventilated pubs instead of large venues and cost affected premises £345 million.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson, said: "This bombshell revelation shows the damage the government’s Covid ID card plans would do to struggling businesses for hardly any benefit. It is simply unacceptable that the Conservatives tried to hide this crucial evidence from the public and Parliament.

"The Liberal Democrats have been clear from the start that Covid ID cards would be costly and unworkable, now it turns out the government’s own official advice agreed with us. Ministers must publish this impact assessment immediately and give Parliament a vote on these proposals, so we can put an end to them once and for all."

08:57 AM

Median salaries rose 4.3 per cent this year, show official figures

Most UK workers saw pay increase in 2021, with those most impacted by the pandemic - younger employees, men and those in lower paid occupations - reporting the biggest increases, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said median weekly pay for full-time employees was £611 in April 2021, representing a 4.3 per cent increase from the same month in the previous year.

The new statistics also revealed that the gender pay gap between male and female earners was 7.9 per cent for the month.

It said this was greater than the seven per cent gap seen in April 2020, but flagged that this was affected by the pandemic and the latest figure is in line with the "downward trend of most recent years".

08:49 AM

Owen Paterson: Commons inquiry played 'major role' in suicide of my wife

Owen Paterson has hit out at the Commons Standards Committee, saying the process that was followed "does not comply with natural justice" and played "a major role" in the suicide of his wife.

The MP and former minister, who faces being suspended for 30 days over an "egregious case of paid advocacy" (see below), has issued a lengthy statement saying: "This is a biased process and not fair. It offends against the basic standard of procedural fairness that no one should be found guilty until they have had a chance to be heard and to present their evidence including their witnesses."

Rose Paterson died in June last year -  Kevin Holt
Rose Paterson died in June last year - Kevin Holt

He added: "I reject completely the findings of the Committee for Parliamentary Standards. The methods of the investigation do not create a just and fair outcome... On a personal level, the cost to me and my three grown-up children from the manner of this investigation has been catastrophic.

"Last summer, in the midst of the investigation, my wife of 40 years, Rose, took her own life. We will never know definitively what drove her to suicide, but the manner in which this investigation was conducted undoubtedly played a major role."

He noted that Ms Paterson "would ask me despairingly"about the progress of the inquiry and was convinced "the investigation would destroy my reputation and force me to resign my North Shropshire seat that I have now served for 24 years."

08:32 AM

Commons Standards Committee calls for 30-day suspension over MP's 'egregious' advocacy

The Commons Standards Committee has recommended former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson be suspended for 30 days over an "egregious case of paid advocacy".

Mr Paterson "repeatedly used his position" to promote Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn's Country Foods, a processor and distributor of meat products. While there was "no immediate financial benefit" to either company, Mr Paterson's approaches "could clearly have conferred significant benefits" in the long term, and may have been able to secure meetings "that would not have been available without Mr Paterson’s involvement"

The report concluded that “it stretches credulity to suggest that 14 approaches to ministers and public officials were all attempts to avert a serious wrong rather than to favour Randox and Lynn’s, however much Mr Paterson may have persuaded himself he is in the right".

The committee, chaired by Labour MP Chris Bryant, has rejected Mr Paterson's " arguments and allegations about the process followed in this case".

However it noted that his wife took her own life in June last year, and "consider it very possible that grief and distress caused by this event has affected the way in which Mr Paterson approached the Commissioner's investigation".

08:14 AM

Minister: Government will be judged by how people feel

A minister has acknowledged that the Government will be judged by 'how people feel in their pocket in a year or two's time'.

When this question was put to Paul Scully, the small business minister, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "That is politics in a nutshell - how people feel.

"We have the evidence there about what is happening at the time, but it is all about perception...

"Politics is very emotional but clearly, when you have cost of living issues you have the lowest paid in society feeling this most acutely.

"That is why we don't want to have a recovery on the back of the lowest paid," he added.

08:10 AM

Recovery should not be based on 'backs of lowest paid', says minister

The country should not "be basing a recovery on the backs of the lowest paid", a minister has said - echoing some of the Prime Minister's comments about business having relied on cheap labour for too long.

Paul Scully, the small business minister, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "not fair" to compare Rishi Sunak's interventions such as the living wage increase with the approach a Labour government would take.

"The Chancellor will set out entire situation - he is the only one who has that helicopter view, looking at the public finances, looking at the forecasts, and working that through for the whole Budget rather than just picking out individual things," he said.

The minister stressed it was important that "you invest in our people - you shouldn't be basing a recovery on the backs of the lowest paid, and that is just as true for the public sector as well".

Challenged about the pressures imposed by the living wage increase Mr Scully added: "Clearly there are pressures on business, I wouldn't want to put it just on the living wage... from business rates, VAT, the rent debt that they have built up.

"We are looking at all of those things," he added.

08:01 AM

Wiggle room? Government will be 'instructed' by pay bodies on public sector salaries

The Government will be "instructed" by the pay review bodies as to how high public sector salaries should rise by next year, a minister has said.

Paul Scully, the small business minister, suggested that there would still be wiggle room when the recommendations are made next spring, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I can't speculate about whether it will be significant or not.

"We know there are cost of living pressures on so many people including five million people in the public sector. We know that the public sector freeze last year helped us protect jobs and livelihoods, but now with strong recovery we are able to ease up on that and give a pay rise."

"That will be instructed by the pay review bodies," he added. "By signalling the fact we are able to lift that, the Chancellor will give them the confidence they need to get through the evidence and make sure they are recommending the right amount for us."

07:38 AM

Five months of Plan B 'could cost £18bn'

It's not just vaccine passports that have an expensive sting in their tail (see the post below).

Politico reports this morning that Boris Johnson has been warned his so-called Plan B could cost up to £18bn if the Covid restrictions such as working from home, Covid certification and mask-wearing are deployed throughout the winter until the end of March 2022.

The papers drawn up by the Cabinet Office’s Covid task force and the Treasury reveal just how seriously Plan B is being considered - and lay bare the cost of such a measure, with the Prime Minister under huge pressure from public health leaders and opposition figures to take action to deal with case rates.

07:31 AM

Revealed: Vaccine passports could fuel Covid and cost venues millions

Vaccine passports could fuel the spread of Covid-19 by encouraging people to go to poorly ventilated pubs instead of large venues, the Government’s own impact assessment has warned.

The policy would also slash turnover for the organisers of events required to use vaccine passports, and necessitate the hiring of thousands of new stewards which may be hard to deliver, it was concluded.

The Telegraph has seen an internal analysis of the economic and social impact of Covid-19 certification, written by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS].

Across the 13 pages, marked “official sensitive” and dated from early September, are a series of concerns about how the policy would work and its knock-on implications.

Read the full story here

07:30 AM

Campaigners target Defra's office

Environmental campaigners who have scaled a Government building in Westminster say they plan to stay there "indefinitely".

Four activists from Animal Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, used ladders, ropes and harnesses to climb the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) office as high as "20 metres" at around 6am on Tuesday.

The group says it is demanding an end to subsidies for meat and dairy farming in a protest against climate change.

They plans to stay in place until Boris Johnson pledges to urge all world leaders to also end such subsidies when they attend the Cop26 summit next week.

Police are at the scene with the fire service and are liaising with the protesters, although no arrests have been made.

07:28 AM

'The virus doesn't vote': WHO envoy urges Tory MPs to mask-up

Relatively few Tory MPs have chosen to wear a face mask on busy days in the Commons - AFP
Relatively few Tory MPs have chosen to wear a face mask on busy days in the Commons - AFP

The World Health Organisation's special envoy on Covid has urged Conservative MPs to wear a mask in the Commons during tomorrow's Budget, saying: "The virus doesn't vote."

Dr David Nabarro told Sky News: "This virus, it is absolutely unstoppable, it gets everywhere, and so we have to do everything we possibly can to stop it. And one of the best ways to stop it is a well-fitting surgical mask properly over your face, pushed in over your nose, covering everything, and that reduces the risk to others and the risk to you.

"If it works, why on earth don't people use it? It's not a party political issue - this virus doesn't vote," he added. "There's no difference in how you deal with the virus when you vote for this party or that party.

"So everybody, wear masks when you are in close confinement, it's the right sensible proper thing to do, and everybody should be doing it, including our leaders."

07:24 AM

What's on the agenda today?

There's no rest for the wicked.

Despite the Budget looming large, it's shaping up to be another busy day in Westminster. Here's what to expect:

9:30am: Greg Clark's science committee is looking at the U.K.’s Covid situation as winter approaches - will we hear more about the cost of Plan B?

10am: William Wragg's PACAC is kicking off an inquiry into the Cabinet Office’s FOI Clearing House

11:30am: New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will take FCDO questions

From 12:30pm: Any urgent questions or ministerial statements

2:30pm: Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, and head of the Armed Forces Nick Carter are before Tobias Ellswood's defence committee from 2.30pm.

At the same time the environment committee will explore labour shortages in agriculture and food production with farming unions.

This afternoon - remaining stages of the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill and the second reading of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill, plus a short debate on child sexual exploitation in the Bradford district.

07:17 AM

Businesses will 'struggle to keep people employed' as living wage rises

The Government must ensure small businesses are protected as the economy recovers from the pandemic, a trade body has said.

Mike Cherry, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, told LBC: "The smallest businesses will really struggle to keep people employed with the living wage going up higher than expected.

"The Government should increase the employment allowance to allow businesses to employ people on their books. We believe it will go a long way in supporting those businesses."

He said he would ask Paul Scully, minister for small business, where the support is "to keep people in the jobs they need".

He added: "Small businesses need that support coming out of the pandemic and we hope the Chancellor will announce that tomorrow."

07:15 AM

Budget causing 'problems all around' for small businesses

The Budget is causing "problems all around" for small businesses, a trade body has said.

Mike Cherry, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, told LBC he has reservations about what has been announced so far, coming on top of the plans to increase National Insurance.

He said: "For the smallest employers they will struggle to maintain jobs they need because of the increase of the national living wage, and employees will have to face the increase of NI contributions next April so it is problems all around.

"As we look at consumers we should look at businesses and tradesman, the cost of diesel and the cost of materials. That's alongside debts and coming out of the pandemic."

07:13 AM

Minister will wear mask on Budget day if it's 'busy'

A usual Budget: How busy will it be tomorrow? - UK Parliament
A usual Budget: How busy will it be tomorrow? - UK Parliament

A minister has said he may wear a face mask during tomorrow's Budget if it is "busy" in the Chamber.

Conservative MPs have been criticised for sitting in the crowded House without coverings, while opposition MPs tend to mask-up.

Paul Scully, the small business minister, was vague about his plans, telling Sky News: "I am not sure if I am in the chamber for the Budget, and I am not sure how busy it will be.

"Where I have been in a room or area where it is absolutely rammed I wear a mask - on the cab on the way here, on the Tube, on the trains."

Asked what message the Government was sending to the public, Mr Scully said: "The signal is for people to - we have been locked down for 18 months, the Government has been telling people what to do - now we are saying use your common sense, your initiative... The message is make your decision for yourself."

07:07 AM

Chancellor could give 'indication' on business rates reform in Budget

A minister has insisted the Government will address the "fundamental" issues with business rates and was not "tinkering around" with the system.

Paul Scully, the small business minister, told Sky News: "We have to wait for the fundamental business rates review, which is due to report this autumn. That sits with the Treasury, we will see what the Chancellor says on Wednesday, whether he has any indication on that."

He added: "The word is fundamental - we do know business rates need to adapt to the 21st century, to high street bricks and mortar, and online."

07:04 AM

Rishi Sunak to respond to Speaker's Budget criticism

A minister has fended off criticism from the Speaker about the Chancellor's pre-Budget briefings.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle yesterday implied that Rishi Sunak should resign over the series of announcements that have been made prior to tomorrow's big day.

But Paul Scully, the small business minister, told Sky News it would give people the "chance to digest them".

He added: "It is important for people like yourself to be able to to discuss with people like... having a discussion about these sorts of things, making sure people on the national living wage don't miss out on seeing the detail because it’s part of a massive Budget."

Mr Sunak would "answer" Sir Lindsay's criticism directly tomorrow, he added.

06:48 AM

Pay rise for five million public sector workers

Rishi Sunak is due to announce that the year-long public sector pay freeze is to end, paving the way for millions of workers to potentially receive a pay rise.

The Chancellor is expected to declare in his Budget on Wednesday that the Spending Review conclusion is that the public sector pay restraint, brought in due to heavy borrowing during the coronavirus pandemic, can be brought to a close.

The decision, according to the Treasury, means that more than five million public sector workers, such as teachers, nurses and armed forces personnel, could be in line for a pay rise next year.

Officials said Mr Sunak was able to make the move due to the "solid recovery" of the economy since Covid-19 restrictions have lifted.

06:48 AM

Good Morning

It's a soggy start to the day in Westminster - but is Rishi Sunak feeling the heat?

Yesterday saw the Chancellor come under fire from Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, for pre-briefing the Budget details to journalists before laying them out in the Chamber. Sir Lindsay even went so far as to suggest in a roundabout way that he resign.

But that hasn't stopped the Treasury from releasing more announcements - albeit to a somewhat muted reception. Meanwhile, the cost of enacting a Covid Plan B this winter threatens to further hurt the recovery.

Here is today's front page.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting