Tory MP's group wants net migration target dropped

 
David Cameron with Theresa May at a Border Agency visit in 2010 David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May want net migration cut

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Prime Minister David Cameron is being urged to drop his pledge to cut net migration to "the tens of thousands".

The call comes from a new Tory campaign group, Managed Migration, which claims the support of up to 20 Tory MPs.

The group's organiser, Conservative MP Mark Field, warned Mr Cameron against getting into "a Dutch auction" over immigration numbers and said he could not "out-UKIP UKIP".

But Mr Cameron said the target was still "important".

"It is right to target a reduction in immigration," he said on a visit to Hull.

"If you look at immigration from outside the European Union, it is down by a third and it is at its lowest level since 1998 and we have to keep working towards that important target."

However, Mr Field, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said the target was "impractical", harmed Britain's global competitiveness and was clearly not going to be met.

'Wrong signals'

"Very few voters out there believe we can deliver on it and, indeed, all the evidence suggests it is now moving in the wrong direction," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"And, of course, very few businesses - and I feel that very close to my heart, representing the sort of seat I do - believe it is practical.

"And it risks, in my view, sending out the wrong signals about our openness - and Britain's traditional openness - as a trading nation, to the world at large."

He said recent big increases in net migration were a sign that the UK's economy was recovering strongly.

Chart showing migration figures 2004-13

"We have been victims of our own success. One of the reasons we are not able to achieve the net migration figure is that we are so outperforming our European neighbours that many people are coming from Spain and Portugal and France to these shores, and fewer people want to leave, so therefore net migration is going up and up."

He said he was not not calling for David Cameron to drop the net migration target immediately - but said it should not be in the Conservative Party's next election manifesto.

"We need a more calm debate about this going forward.

"And I think the difficulty is we are not going to be able to out-UKIP UKIP. I have a lot of respect for Nigel Farage but he has very different views on this to me."

'Still time'

Net migration is the difference between the numbers of people moving to live in the UK and the numbers of people leaving.

The latest figures show net annual migration rose 58,000 to 212,000 in the year to September 2013.

Although levels steadily declined in 2012 after tighter restrictions on non-EU migrants took effect, the trend has since reversed - largely due to the increase in the number of migrants from other EU countries.

At the Westminster launch of his Conservatives for a Managed Migration group, he denied being a lone voice, despite no other Conservative MPs attending the event.

Mark Field calls for an end to the "artificial and arbitrary" target figure of 100,000 net immigrants a year in the UK

He said he hoped to get more MPs on board but said "many times" his colleagues had told him they agreed with his view but said "we are worried about UKIP and therefore we would rather not be publicly associated".

Labour immigration spokesman David Hanson said: "Labour has long called for a calm and rational discussion about immigration, so we welcome Mark Field's opposition to the shrill and ineffective approach adopted by their own Government."

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said earlier this month that there was "still time" for the target to be met.

But Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable has repeatedly called for it to be dropped - and angered immigration minister James Brokenshire by saying recent increases in net migration were "good news".

 

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  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1131.

    30. 010101010
    6 HOURS AGO
    Perpetual importation of cheap labour is just a Ponzi scheme and like all such schemes they will collapse.

    Yes well said it is just that a Ponzi scheme bringing more and more younger people to work will also get old and be dependents by that time we will need a million more each year to serve the old.

    completely unsustaniable

    Complete Madness and Dave cares not.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1130.

    Jack Napier. You should go out more. England is the second most densely populated region in Europe (after Malta). Round our way green fields are the only option for house building and the whole country is gradually turning into an urban sprawl. How are we going to feed the over 100 million people occupying the country by 2050 when the countryside is covered in housing?

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 1129.

    Congratulations to Mark Field for standing out against the mainstream Tory view. Managed migration is good for jobs for locals, good for UK economy especially in our USP as a global hub, good for our public servioces and good for our tax revenues and a lifeline for our great Universities. At same time, businesses need to recruit locally, bring on apprentices and be rooted in community.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1128.

    My personal belief is that our current batch of politicians from the 3 main parties are lying b-------- and will say anything to keep in power and get our votes. whilst in reality not caring on iota about us or what we feel !
    I feel we need to get rid of the current parties by any means & get politicians who represent our views and desires

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1127.

    #1122 well you havnt been around the se of england or aberdeen or the latvian dossers drinking cans in peterhead town centre..thats the trouble with the uk the politicians and middle classes are so out of touch...just look around the place is crawling with immigrants...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1126.

    1117.politicsofenvy
    "If it looks like a duck.."

    And if you wish to debate, stay on topic and stop being aggressive.
    =
    I am trying to stay on topic; you're the one talking about guns for some reason…
    And you're calling me "aggressive?" Ha! I apologise if I am, but at least you got my name right (for once), but still insult me above (duck etc).

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1125.

    1106.Henry Hazlitt
    "Immigration does not lower wages." I disgaree, I havea general builder friend who charged £120 a day+materials. He is being undercut by migrants and dropped his salary to £100, he has now changed jobs. I have a friend who was a plasterer, same problem. The same for a guy who runs a fencing firm, a gardener and a carpenter. The difference is many migransts live 6 to a flat.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1124.

    Thought this would happen. THe moment unemployment started dropping big business would start panicking that there won't be enough docile cheap labour to go around. Knee-jerk solution, more immigration.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1123.

    Our target should be zero immigration and persuading, preferably peacefully, foreigners to go home. I'm not going to vote UKIP anymore, I need to vote 2 steps right of the Tories and go BNP.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1122.

    1116.musictechguy.

    The Tories need to grow some and tackle the biggest problem this country has ever faced: horrendous overcrowding due to excessive immigration.

    ---

    Where exactly in the UK is this 'horrendous overcrowding'?

    I travel widely all over this island & the only time I've ever had my movement impeded by 'horrendous crowds' has bee at football matches & music festivals.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1121.

    //Tanglewood
    Would it be a problem 100% of new mothers are not "foreign born"? /..

    Yelling 'racist' was never a good idea, and it certainly doesn't work now, in shutting down debate.

    Immigration and multiculty supporters are not shy in using race to support their arguments, so they can't criticise others for using it to demolish them.

    The racism is in your dual standards.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1120.

    This sort of attitude confirms how politicians have felt for the past 40 years. They don't care who comes here or the effect it has on the existing population.

    There isn't enough housing to meet demand. So house prices are sky-high. Thousands of people are unemployed because outsiders come and take the available jobs. It's high time the politicians woke up to the need to limit immigration.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1119.

    1092. Dominic - Makes for an interesting read, however I don't think it's findings quell the debate on immigration.
    What I do live with though are the effects of mass immigration around me daily and that's something no skewed paper or report can manipulate to their own political cause.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1118.

    1089. Alaric the Visigoth said:-
    ' ..... Change is a fact of life.'

    Indeed - but there is more than one form of change!
    Beneficial change, as in constructive progress and,
    Detrimental change, as in becoming a minority in one's own country.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1117.

    1086.Henry Hazlitt
    ----
    "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.'

    And if you wish to debate, stay on topic and stop being aggressive.

    Ideology is a mask used to disguise the true intentions of politicians pursuing an agenda, like immigration, that they know the public won't like.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1116.

    .

    The Tories need to grow some and tackle the biggest problem this country has ever faced: horrendous overcrowding due to excessive immigration.

    .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1115.

    1104.Brucey - Look at France, just this week the extremely racist Front National made humongous gains in local elections - winning some outright. Scary times and all self made by ignorant politicians.



    History tells us that in hard economic times people want a scapegoat & politicians giving easy answers to complicated problems appeal to the 'finger pointers'.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1114.

    1070. bored23

    The increase in UK population over the past decade almost mirrors the increase in net migration, c240,000 per annum. The reproduction rate has been static over this period.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1113.

    When it comes to Eastern Europeans coming here for a better standard of life;Wouldn't it make more sense for the EU to help these countries get on their feet,which they're never going to do if their young people keep leaving.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 1112.

    #1093: "We have a baby boom going on, but according to the latest figures nearly a quarter of new mothers are foreign born"

    Is the issue population growth? Would it be a problem 100% of new mothers are not "foreign born"? The fact that you raise people's nationality at all shows that you think of society as being split into different groups based on their origin - what is that if not racist?

 

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  51.  
    17:33: On 'weaponising' the NHS The Mirror

    Kevin Maguire, the associate editor of the Daily Mirror, takes David Cameron to task for his outrage over the idea of "weaponising" the NHS: "The National Health Service IS is a huge political issue. David Cameron knew that when he claimed 10 years ago he wanted to be defined by the letters NHS."

     
  52.  
    17:30: Munt on fracking resignation BBC Radio 4
    Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt

    Tessa Munt, the Liberal Democrat MP who quit her government job as an aide to business secretary Vince Cable over fracking, has been explaining why she opposes her colleagues' views. She says her mind was made up when she found out a major insurer in her constituency will not insure farmers and others against the impact of fracking. "If farmers have no choice about the fact this is going to happen under their land," she told BBC Radio 4's PM programme, "I think it's utterly unfair they're then not able to insure themselves against the impact of something somebody else is doing under their land without their say so."

     
  53.  
    17:25: TV debates BBC News Channel
    Various

    BBC chief political correspondent Vicki Young sums up the current feeling on potential TV election debates by saying that the broadcasters' latest offer has left "all sorts of parties unhappy about where we are".

    While the Greens are happy to be in the debates, the Liberal Democrats are upset they have been seemingly relegated to minor party status, and Labour is worried about the presence of the SNP. Today, the DUP learned from BBC Director-General Tony Hall that it will not be invited to take part. Many parties, she adds, are unhappy the broadcasters appear to have "bent over backward" to accommodate David Cameron's conditions.

     
  54.  
    17:24: Health outcomes BBC News Channel

    More from Frank Field. He says the growth in health spending under the last Labour government was not rewarded with much better treatment. Although he praised individual members of the NHS for their work, Mr Field said that "collectively they've not delivered on the new money with increased outcomes, with more of us being treated".

     
  55.  
    17:19: NHS funding BBC News Channel
    Frank Field

    Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead, tells the BBC's Gavin Esler that the NHS is in serious need of more money for health and social care, and says electoral debates over the NHS must focus on providing answers to two difficult questions: "How do we get the new money? And how do we spend the new money in driving through reforms?"

     
  56.  
    17:18: 'Politics down the pub'
    Chloe Smith's surgery flyer

    Chloe Smith, the Tory MP who won her Norwich North seat in a 2009 by-election, has taken to Twitter to advertise a 'politics in the pub' surgery where constituents can seek her help. The move echoes Nigel Farage's pub-based politics, but - unless there's a typo on her flyer - it seems she's planning on an all-nighter to win over voters...

     
  57.  
    17:09: Archive treat No 98: Robin Day v Enoch Powell Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online
    Robin Day interviewing Enoch Powell

    Robin Day crosses swords with Enoch Powell with counting under way ahead of the Conservative victory in the general election of 1970, questioning him on his links with the political left and his relationship with his party leader and new Prime Minister Edward Heath.

    Each day from now until 7 May we'll be bringing you a classic election clip from the BBC archives. We've already selected a fair few but do feel free to suggest some via email at alex.hunt@bbc.co.uk or via Twitter @bbcpolitics

     
  58.  
    17:08: NHS row Chris Mason Political correspondent, BBC News

    BBC political correspondent Chris Mason reports on the NHS row that has dominated the political news today.

     
  59.  
    17:07: TV debates: What the bookies think
    David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown in the 2010 leaders' debates

    Today's fresh question-marks over the proposed TV debates aren't bothering William Hill, which has cut the odds it's offering on David Cameron not participating from 11/4 to 12/5. Spokesman Graham Sharpe says: "There is a widespread feeling that Mr Cameron would really like to find a way of avoiding taking part in the tv debates as he has the most to lose if he does so, but the humiliation of potentially being represented by an empty chair is likely to result in him ultimately taking part."

     
  60.  
    16:57: Care spending down BBC Radio 5 live

    The BBC'S Nick Triggle tells 5Live that despite government funding cuts councils on average are spending proportionally more and more of their budgets on care. However, they are struggling to keep up with an ageing population. According to BBC analysis of official figures, the average spend per person in England dropped from 12-hundred pounds in 2003 - down to around 950 pounds ten years later- that's a fall of 20 per cent.

     
  61.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Scottish Govt announce halt to fracking in Scotland pending consultation and public health assessment

     
  62.  
    16:56: Lessons from Greece
    Alexis Tsipras

    Carl Packman at the blog Left Foot Forward is the latest commentator to discuss "what the British left can learn from Greece", after the election victory of Syriza this week.

     
  63.  
    16:51: Afternoon lobby briefing Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    The Prime Minister's spokesman updated journalists in parliament earlier this afternoon:

    • He made clear that, to the best of his knowledge, no minister is looking at plans to move Trident from Scotland to Wales, as had been reported earlier
    • He said Britain would not be changing its position on negotiating with terrorists, after Jordan suggested it would be prepared to consider swapping an Islamic State-held hostage with a terrorist
    • And on Sinn Fein, which is reportedly being courted by Labour to help prop up a potential Ed Miliband government, he said David Cameron had not changed his view on whether Sinn Fein should take its Commons seats.
     
  64.  
    @AndrewCooper__ Conservative peer and pollster Andrew Cooper

    tweets: There is no credible rationale for including Plaid Cymru in TV debates and not DUP: 3 MPs vs 8 MPs & 168,216 votes in 2010 vs. 165,394 votes

     
  65.  
    16:50: Minimum wage
    Stuart Broad

    Yesterday England cricketer Stuart Broad faced criticism for an allegedly offensive tweet he posted about the minimum wage. The sportsman's tweet read: "I've heard if you earn minimum wage in England you're in the top 10% earners in the World. #stay #humble".

    Today, Ryan Bourne from free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs argues "that the reason why so many people are so annoyed is that this factual claim simply undermines the egalitarian arguments that the rich are the cause of our woes".

    But Zoe Williams, writing in The Guardian, says it shows "Broad has just swallowed the vindictive rhetoric on the feckless poor."

     
  66.  
    16:45: Welfare cuts

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank has delivered its verdict on the coalition's welfare reforms. Despite all the fuss over universal credit, Andrew Hood and David Phillips argue, delayed implementation means the changes have been "an evolution of the system rather than a revolution". Real terms benefit spending in 2015 is exactly the same as in 2010, at £220 billion, and is only seven per cent lower than it otherwise would have been. What's to blame for this? "An ageing population, but also weak wage growth and rising private rents," they say.

     
  67.  
    16:33: TV debates BBC News Channel

    An update from Norman Smith on the TV debates saga - BBC director general Lord Hall has written to the Democratic Unionist Party rejecting their request to be included. DUP sources have reacted with anger to the decision. They say they believe it is "very difficult to justify" the BBC's decision and are considering taking legal action over the debates. A judicial review could snarl up any deal being reached, Norman Smith warns.

     
  68.  
    16:27: Election winners
    Pound coins

    May2015.com has a guide to betting on the general election, with some advice, cautionary tales, and a few striking statistics: "The two biggest bookmakers, William Hill and Ladbrokes, both had a turnover of more than £3m in the Scottish referendum."

     
  69.  
    16:27: PMQs reaction Guido Fawkes

    Simon Carr at the Guido Fawkes blog gives his verdict on today's Prime Minister's Questions - with harsh words for David Cameron, but harsher ones for Ed Miliband.

     
  70.  
    16:26: NHS funding House of Commons Parliament

    MPs have voted against Labour's opposition amendment criticising the government's funding of the NHS. The government wins with 298 votes - a majority of 70 over the opposition's 228 MPs. The Commons swiftly moves on to its next debate - on sustainable development goals.

     
  71.  
    16:24: PMQs reaction
    PMQs

    Ed Miliband's attempt to "weaponise" the NHS, as David Cameron puts it, prompts a tongue-in-cheek analysis from Politics.co.uk's Adam Bienkov of the Labour leader's performance in wielding the weapon. "Miliband was visibly angry, aggressive and yet somehow totally unintimidating as he waved his new-found weapon around," he writes. "Perhaps he'd left the safety on, perhaps it was just a replica, but either way Cameron never seemed in the slightest danger of actually being hit."

     
  72.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Bus workers in London are to stage three fresh 24-hour strikes next month in a dispute over pay, said the Unite union.

     
  73.  
    16:23: NHS funding House of Commons Parliament
    Health minister Jane Ellison

    The debate over the NHS didn't finish when Ed Miliband sat down in PMQs - in fact in the Commons it was only just starting, as MPs have spent the afternoon debating the government's health spending. Shadow minister Liz Kendall, summing up, says the coalition has been busy "wasting three years and £3bn of taxpayers' money". Jane Ellison, the Conservative health minister, says NHS funding has risen every year since 2010. She tells the Commons: "Tough decisions were taken at the beginning of this parliament to protect the NHS budget, against the advice of the Labour Party."

     
  74.  
    16:22: Shapps on the homeless LBC

    Conservative chairman Grant Shapps was also criticised by a caller, the chairman of a homeless charity, over plans to remove jobseeker's allowance from 18 to 21-year-olds. Mr Shapps, a former housing minister, says the reason people end up on the streets is "never as black and white" as people assume. He also says he would not give cash to a homeless person because he would not know how it would be spent, saying it is better to "bring them help".

     
  75.  
    16:21: Labour health policy ITN

    ITV political editor Tom Bradby tweets, alongside a video of Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham on BBC Newsnight last night: "I usually think of Andy Burnham as a smart guy, but after listening to this I have no idea what Labour policy is."

     
  76.  
    16:19: New Tory poster
    Conservative election poster showing Miliband, Salmond and Adams

    The Conservatives have released their latest campaign poster, which will be appearing on billboards shortly. It's a variation on a theme: having warned of the possibility of a Labour-SNP coalition, the Tories have now picked up on a Sinn Fein MP's claim that his party is being pursued by Labour. The Conservative poster adds Gerry Adams' face and the Sun's headline - but Labour insists their story is untrue. "We are working towards a Labour majority government and only towards a Labour majority government," a spokesman said.

     
  77.  
    16:10: Bomb threat BBC News UK
    Daithí McKay

    The BBC has learned that police in Northern Ireland are investigating reports that a bomb has been left at the home of Sinn Féin's North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay.

    An anonymous caller contacted the MLA's Dunloy office claiming a device had been left at the family home.

     
  78.  
    16:00: Defending PMQs LBC
    Grant Shapps

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has been defending Prime Minister's Questions during a phone-in on LBC radio. Host Shelagh Fogarty said the exchanges on the NHS were the worst she could remember. "I'm not going to pretend it's the pinnacle of political debate," Mr Shapps replied. But he pointed to the viewing figures it attracts and added that he had a five-year waiting list of constituents wanting to come and watch. "It keeps the prime minister on his or her toes," he added.

     
  79.  
    15:52: What is a major incident?
    ambulance

    David Cameron and Ed Miliband have clashed in the Commons over the NHS, amid a row about guidance to hospitals over when they can call a "major incident". So what exactly is a major incident?

    • An internal major incident is activated when a trust is under significant pressure that is internal to the organisation - and is not the result of an external event.
    • It is a business continuity arrangement, where a decision is taken to reduce some services to support higher priority ones.
    • A major incident is a significant incident or emergency that cannot be managed within routine service arrangements.
    • It requires the implementation of special procedures and involves one or more of the emergency services, the NHS or a local authority.

    Source: NHS England - London region

     
  80.  
    15:42: 'Weaponising' policy
    George Osborne

    Amid continuing Conservative criticism of Ed Miliband for his suggestion he would "weaponise" the NHS, Paul Waugh at PoliticsHome reports that Chancellor George Osborne apparently previously used the word "weaponise" in a political context.

     
  81.  
    15:36: The SNP halts fracking

    Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing announces a moratorium on planning consent for all fracking north of the border. He's targeting the Tories rather than Labour, calling the Conservatives' plan to remove landowners' right to object to shale gas extraction "a disgrace". By contrast, he says, the Scottish government is taking a "responsible, cautious and evidence-based approach".

    Fracking in Balcombe, southern England
     
  82.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Scotland's First Minister says she'd find it "strange" if Labour refused to deal with the SNP following the election, rpts @TimReidBBC

    and

    tweets: It follows the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls remarks yesterday in which he appeared to rule out a coalition with the Scottish nationalists.

     
  83.  
    @robindbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: .@UKIP give a taster of what's to come in #ge2015 manifesto with list of 100 things they'd do - link

     
  84.  
    15:09: Afghanistan service Peter Hunt Royal correspondent, BBC News
    The Queen at the Cenotaph memorial service

    The BBC's Peter Hunt tweets that Prince Charles - and not the Queen - will attend a service in March commemorating the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. The Queen, in 2009, attended a service marking the end of combat operations in Iraq.

    Earlier today in the House of Commons, David Cameron announced the service would take place on 13 March.

     
  85.  
    15:01: Consensus collapsing? The Guardian

    George Monbiot writes in The Guardian that the rise of more left-wing parties across Europe - such as Syriza and the Scottish National Party - heralds the "sudden death of the neoliberal consensus". He claims: "If people voted for what they wanted, the Greens would be the party of government."

    Natalie Bennett and Green Party supporters
     
  86.  
    14:51: Tim Reid Political correspondent, BBC News

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, speaking before the apology, described Lord Wigley's remarks - comparing the Trident base on the Clyde to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz - as "offensive". Mr Carmichael said the Welsh nationalist peer's comments were offensive to those who died and to those who worked at the Faslane naval base.

     
  87.  
    14:43: PMQs reaction The Spectator

    The Spectator's political editor James Forsyth says that, with little of substance said between the party leaders, "at the end of PMQs, politics was in the same place as it was at the start" - and this suits David Cameron and the Conservatives, who are "now convinced that events are moving their way".

     
  88.  
    14:35: If I were PM... The Independent
    10 Downing Street

    The Independent is counting down the days to the general election by inviting one contributor every day to describe what he or she would do as prime minister. Political commentator John Rentoul was first up yesterday, saying he'd be like "a free-market version of Natalie Bennett".

    Today it's the turn of Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

     
  89.  
    14:31: House of Commons Parliament

    Over in the House of Commons, the debate on government spending on the NHS is - quite predictably - proving to be a tetchy session. Health minister Dr Daniel Poulter is batting for the government, but there are lots of shouts being directed at him from sedentary positions on the Labour benches.

    House of Commons wide shot
     
  90.  
    14:25: Election battlegrounds The Daily Telegraph
    David Cameron and Ed Miliband

    Over at The Telegraph, James Kirkup provides a brief summary of the issues set to dominate the election - from the NHS and the economy to housing and "Dave vs Ed".

     
  91.  
    14:22: Auschwitz comments

    Comments made by Ex-Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley (pictured) comparing the Trident base in Scotland to Auschwitz concentration camp are branded "crass" and "offensive" by Conservative former Wales Secretary, David Jones. Mr Jones, Clwyd West MP, says it is right the peer apologised, albeit in a "mealy-mouthed" way. He says it was "not appropriate at any time" to use Auschwitz to make political points, "but to say it at Holocaust memorial time is even worse".

    Ex-Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley
     
  92.  
    @TimReidBBC Tim Reid, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Nicola Sturgeon says Europe at heart of SNP election campaign - party will seek future vote that EU exit only poss if all 4 nations agree

     
  93.  
    14:14: PMQs reaction The Mirror

    At the Mirror online, Sunday People political editor Nigel Nelson sketches a frustrating bout between David Cameron and Ed Miliband: "The PM has adopted a curious habit for these sessions of late. Whatever the Labour leader asks, Mr Cameron answers an entirely different question."

     
  94.  
    14:08: NHS major incidents BBC News Channel

    Commenting on the new guidelines given in the West Midlands, former NHS Trust chairman Roy Lilley says they are "sensible but... very tough". He says it is clear the timing is to do with the forthcoming general election "because the more hospitals that go in to declaring a major emergency the more embarrassing it gets for the government". But he says it puts hospitals in a "very difficult place" as the harder it becomes to declare a major incident, the greater the "risk" in delivering services.

     
  95.  
    13:58: PMQs reaction

    Something about today's PMQs seems to have got a lot of commentators rather frustrated. Mark Ferguson of the LabourList blog tweets: "I hate having to watch PMQs. Worst part of the job. Writing about this turgid nonsense is like drowning in nonsense." Mehdi Hasan, the Huffington Post UK's political director, is just as desperate in his tweet: "Completely pointless and childish #pmqs today. Seems to get worse each week. British politics at its most dire and unappealing."

     
  96.  
    13:56: Lord Wigley's statement Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Lord Wigley has apologised for his remarks about Auschwitz. He said he was sorry if his remarks were open to misinterpretation. In a statement he said: "I am certainly sorry if my remarks were open to any misinterpretation and I apologise for any offence that has been caused. The point I was trying to make was that you can't have jobs at any cost and I reiterate that."

     
  97.  
    13:55: Apology for Auschwitz comments

    Plaid Cymru peer Lord Wigley has apologised for "any offence caused" after he compared the effects of a Trident submarine base to a Nazi death camp. Here's our story about his original comments which came on BBC Radio 4's World at One.

     
  98.  
    13:53: NHS strike in N Ireland

    A strike by NHS workers in Northern Ireland, including ambulance staff, is to go ahead tomorrow after the "failure" to match a pay offer in England, the GMB union has said.

     
  99.  
    13:48: TV debates The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Turning to the TV election debates, Lib Dem minister Simon Hughes predicts that they probably won't go ahead - but tells the World at One that the Lib Dems want them to. He says the situation has shifted from the initial proposition - which didn't allow the Lib Dems to put their case "equally" as a party of government - to a position where there are so many prospective players "it becomes a very difficult place". He adds that the Tories and Labour are now saying they're not happy unless the Northern Ireland parties are involved - but questions whether including a further three or four parties is realistic. "Honest judgement, money on it, I think probably they won't but we would like them to as long as there is fair treatment for us and others."

     
  100.  
    13:40: PMQs verdict New Statesman

    Over at the New Statesman, George Eaton judges David Cameron's "chutzpah" to have carried him over the line in this week's PMQs. "The session descended into one of the ugliest encounters yet between the two men," he writes, before notching up yet another defeat for Ed Miliband: "Most voters will notice Miliband's equivocation and the rhetorical exaggerations that Cameron provokes... the PM's ruthless form was testimony to his increasing confidence."

     

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