UK's William Hague attacks Assad's Syria elections plan

 

William Hague read out an agreed statement in which the Friends of Syria vowed further help for Syria's opposition

Presidential elections in Syria will be a "parody of democracy", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Mr Hague said Syria's government had an "utter disregard" for life, and President Bashar al-Assad decision to call an election for 3 June "disgusted" the international community.

The foreign secretary also announced the Syrian opposition would have its diplomatic status in the UK upgraded.

Syria's three-year conflict has left some 150,000 people dead.

The UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections.

'Illegitimate'

Mr Hague hosted a meeting of the The Friends of Syria group - made up of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US - in London.

Afterwards, he said: "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

The group agreed a short communique criticising the decision to hold an election at a time when millions of people were displaced and the bloodshed was continuing.

Mr Hague called on the whole international community to "reject these illegitimate elections", saying: "We've also agreed unanimously to take further steps to... do everything we can to hold the Assad regime accountable for the terror it is perpetrating."

He promised the UK government would increase its humanitarian efforts, with £30m of extra funding.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said this money would be used for "a range of different things including helping the opposition and supporting regional sustainability".

In a separate media briefing, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on France's claim that the Assad government has used chemical weapons at least 14 times since October.

He said he had seen "raw data that suggests that there may have been... a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war".

Mr Kerry added: "If it has, and it could be proven, then that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that Syria has signed up to."

"Out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up - every facet. That includes political effort. It includes aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions," he said.

Friends of Syria was set up in 2012 in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions against the Assad government.

The meeting comes days after UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down over lack of progress in ending the crisis.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 489.

    The irony is the "Rebels" worst enemies isn't the government now but the extremists who are fighting for their own agenda and using any means to do it. What The FOS group hasn't or/and most likely doesn't care about is even if they overthrow Assad it'll either be Libya all over again with a weak leadership leading to more instability or Islamic extremists calling the shots.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 488.

    We in Syria have an anecdote which tells of a woman boiling pebbles to dupe her hungry children that she is cooking food for them so that they'll stop crying.The Western powers are doing the same to shut up the Syrian people.The choice is very clear: the certainty that Iran will prevaile if the regime wins or the faint possibility that extreme islamists will dominate. The latter are easy to defeat

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 487.

    486 posts, and not 1 to say that we should intervene, or the logistics involved,or those very good statesmanlike reasons why the UK simply MUST take the lead.Time for all of us to give this up,as there is no sway of opinion to tell us how wrong we are to say "No" to yet another proposed foreign war.Let us sit this one out, and say no more aid until the USA, Eurozone, Moslem World, etc.,contribute

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 486.

    "the UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections"
    So who do they want to replace him the nice chaps the Americans are backing I.s.i.s I believe there called. Hague maybe talk instead of the Sunni slaughter houses butchering the minority christians. It's strange how you don't care for this potential genocide.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 485.

    It's no coincidence that the current enemies of the west represent the last resistence to the global banking cartels and therefore they must go. Covert funding and arming of terrorists resulting in regime change and if that doesn't work, send in the cruise missiles. One way or another, the sovereignty of every nation will be lost. Iraq, Libya, Syria - they all have or had public central banks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 484.

    The only thing that's a "parody" Mr. Hague is your foreign policy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 483.

    @461.

    The Ukraine does not have a Libyan dictator like Gadaffi or Assad or Saddam. The Ukranian people & parliament are not protesting now against their new temporary leader.

    No the protestors & instigators are simply russian agents trying the same take over tactics as in Crimea with russian troops waiting on the border.

    ISAF should now enter the Ukraine with 5-10 thousand peace keepers.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 482.

    People on hear asking why Hague is against democracy in "other countries" , I am surprised at the question as I thought everyone knew by now that politicians don't want democracy anywhere as most of them would be out of a job

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    John Kerry throwing another unverified claim of chemical weapons usage , will he again pluck some magical number (1429) out of the sky ?

    When he quoted that magic number last year he was not made to provide any evidence even though no other source claimed such a high (or accurate !) number of casualties/deaths.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    @478.

    The west (governments & most people) support democracy, not murderous dictators. Assad is a dictator, is it better for a leader to resign or destroy his whole country & hundreds of thousands of people & should the world not encourage Assad's resignation & fair UN verified elections ??

    Many people in the Ukraine wanted a new leader & democracy, not a russian puppet.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 479.

    Quote from William Hague "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

    Would that be the "rebels" who :
    1. Murdered 48 people in a blast near the Turkish border.?
    2. Shot a Times journalist in the legs and beat up him and his colleague ?

    I used the term "rebels" as it seems the BBC refuse to call them terrorists !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 478.

    In Ukraine a democratically elected president was evicted by a howling mob, just imagine that in UK. We evict Cameron by rioting! In both Ukraine & Syria the "West" now supports illegal " take overs" by (in some cases) terrorists because it suits their anti Russian/Assad policies. Just who are the good guys here??

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 477.

    It has to be proven who has been using these chlorine & chemical weapons, Syria or the rebels ?

    On other world issues & international treaties it seems that many countries are selfishly happy to do nothing & let evil continue. Whereas some countries like many western countries who get accused of being the world's police at least try to do something to uphold international rules & can be proud.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 476.

    @453.

    The elections in Syria will be run by a dictator who has been in power for way to long, do you think they will be fair ? Or is this a case where some countries like Russia don't want fair elections because they are scared of extremists maybe being elected who won't want to be russian puppets?

    The Crimea election was full of mistakes & without proper security & checks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 475.

    Reckon that this topic has been done to death,every argument has been raised,EXCEPT the "Whys", "Hows" ,"WHO Withs" and "Whens" of any Western Military Involvement, I think it is that anyone of that view can see no reasons,for there are no reasons, to send our Armed Forces into action, and so their silence is golden,though their eyes can see the views expressed here and elsewhere.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 474.

    Yes no one should want to rush in & be involved in wars. This Syria war is also complicated with Russia & Iran heavily involved & why should "onward christian soldiers" get involved & pay the costs & lives & get no thanks for trying to stop the war & human suffering.

    One issue is Syria using chlorine & chemical weapons against the treaty they signed & should other countries just ignore this ?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 473.

    There's 'bad guys' (using an Americanism) on both sides. Siding with one over the other is effectively subsidising terrorism.

    And why are we so arrogant to sit up way up high in our moral ivory embellished towers telling other nations what to do?

    The age of the empire is over. Time to concentrate on putting our own house in order, before involving ourselves (again) in foreign conflicts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 472.

    I deplore the lack of leadership and moral fibre on the whole question of Syria, the world seems to just wring its hands as thousands die or are displaced. It does not bode well for the future at all. Edmund Burke wrote:
    „All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 471.

    I take it Tony Blair and Gordon Brown .Will be helping Assad .TONY.B has previous on how to get a none elected in the P.Ms Job.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 470.

    Hague is the worst foreign secretary we have ever had. He only wants to be an American poodle and suck up to Saudi Arabia for their oil.

    He just doesn't get it! The British public have said no to intervention in Syria or supporting a rabble of Saudi / US backed Islamists.

    Our politicians have learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

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  47.  
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  48.  
    15:01: 30 years ago today... The Mirror
    1984 miners' strike

    Labour veteran Dennis Skinner is in today's Mirror writing about his thoughts and feelings 30 years ago today - when the miners' strike finally came to an end. It was, he writes, "one of the saddest [days] of my life". Even after the passage of three decades his anger against Margaret Thatcher and her government has not abated. "The legacy of what Thatcher did survives 30 years later in low pay, zero hours contracts, casual employment and insecurity," Mr Skinner says. "Thatcher was responsible for social breakdown. We're paying the price of her vindictiveness."

     
  49.  
    @UKParlArchives Parliament Archives

    tweets: Did you know...#WinstonChurchill asked #LloydGeorge to be part of his war cabinet #WW2 More at LivingHeritage

     
  50.  
    14:58: Question time

    It was Welsh First Minister's Questions earlier in Cardiff. Here you can read a blow-by-blow account of what happened.

     
  51.  
    @sandralaville Sandra Laville, senior correspondent for the Guardian

    tweets: A police officer in desperate email to bosses asked how many more times did she have to raise concerns before one of girls was found dead

     
  52.  
    14:53: 'Consequences for failure'
    David Cameron

    David Cameron has insisted he will end the "walk-on-by culture" that he says has blighted child sexual exploitation cases for too long. Speaking after today's Downing Street meeting, he insisted the role of the government was to "bring everyone together and make sure the lessons are being learned, and any legal changes that are necessary are passed". The prime minister defended the government's efforts so far, but said that "if professionals fail there needs to be consequences". And he added: "In the end, all the legal changes we make… none of that is a substitute for a healthy dose of common sense, rolling up your sleeves, getting stuck in and putting an end to this abuse."

     
  53.  
    Cycling safety House of Lords Parliament

    Vice President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Lord Jordan uses the first question in today's House of Lords to highlight the recent YouGov survey commissioned by the society, which found 68% of people would support more safe cycle routes in their area, compared with just 16% against.

    Of 2,169 adults surveyed, 58% said they never usually cycled, but 39% said they would cycle more often if the roads were made safer.

     
  54.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC News assistant political editor

    tweets: We need to end walk on by culture over child abuse says David Cameron

     
  55.  
    14:45: Sol Campbell not running in Kensington
    Sol Campbell

    Ex-England footballer Sol Campbell says he's not put his name forward to be Conservative parliamentary candidate in the safe Tory seat of Kensington, which is being vacated by Sir Malcolm Rifkind. But the former Arsenal and Tottenham footballer hasn't ruled out a new career in politics altogether. Instead, he says he has ambitions "elsewhere in the political arena". Mayor of London perhaps? We can't see that dividing opinion in north London at all.

     
  56.  
    14:41: Ebbsfleet statement House of Commons Parliament

    Communities Minister Brandon Lewis is making the second statement of the day, which is on the government's plan for thousands of new homes in Ebbsfleet in Kent. He wants to hurry the pace of the development up.

     
  57.  
    @BBCHughPym Hugh Pym, BBC News health editor

    tweets: Labour, if elected, want mandatory review of case notes for all deaths in hospital - Professor Nick Black to advise review

     
  58.  
    @davidottewell David Ottewell, regional journalist

    tweets: Parliament of losers: the make-up of the Commons if candidates who finished LAST in 2010 had been awarded each seat:

    Parliament of losers
     
  59.  
    14:33: Some ideas for Labour

    Labour's approach to the economy could go down better with voters if Ed Miliband actually comes up with some economic "ideas", Anatole Kaletsky, chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, writes in Prospect magazine. "Miliband must explain that a new model of global capitalism has been evolving since the 2008 crisis and that Labour will support this evolutionary process, while the Tories will try to resist it," he urges. Only by unifying his policies around a 'new capitalism' will he succeed in "capturing the public imagination".

     
  60.  
    14:31: The politics of crumpets Buzzfeed
    Ray Hall

    Bad news for the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet party, which has been told by the Electoral Commission it is going to have to change its name on the basis that "crumpet" could be "considered as describing women as a sexual object in a demeaning way and would cause offence". Leader Ray Hall has told BuzzFeed his party has been "nobbled" because its leaflets with the name on had already been prepared. He says he has a plan B though: "If they object to crumpet, because it's offensive and sexist, I'll add an 'S' to the end of crumpet which would not refer to females but refer to the crumpet cakes."

     
  61.  
    14:29: Sheen for PM?

    As Hollywood star Michael Sheen is applauded for delivering a passionate political speech to a pro-NHS march on St David's Day, our colleagues over on the Wales team have had a look at whether he could make a move into politics.

     
  62.  
    @BBCHughPym Hugh Pym, BBC News health editor

    tweets: Sir Bruce Keogh, of NHS England, to review professional codes of doctors and nurses to ensure incentives to prevent cover ups

     
  63.  
    14:17:

    David Cameron says children have suffered horrific sexual abuse on an "industrial scale" with too many people and organisations "walking on by".

     
  64.  
    @ayestotheright Tony Grew, Commons journalist

    tweets: if we have a sin bin then I can keep a list of naughty MPs. Which would be excellent.

     
  65.  
    @BBCHughPym Hugh Pym, BBC News health editor

    tweets: Jeremy Hunt on Morecambe Bay : it was a second Mid Staffs, where problems, albeit on smaller scale, occurred largely over same time period.

     
  66.  
    14:13: 'Won't come forward' BBC Radio 4 Today

    Tim Loughton, former children's minister and Conservative MP, is critical of the idea of mandatory reporting of all abuse allegations - an idea favoured by Labour. "Good social workers - and most social workers are doing a decent job in difficult circumstances - need to build up a relationship of trust with vulnerable girls, and boys in many cases as well, who're reluctant to come forward. If those victims now know that their concern is going to be escalated right to the police, and there will be implications from that, and it will be out of the control of that social worker, with whom they've got a relationship, in some cases it's going to mean that some of those victims don't come forward."

     
  67.  
    14:04: 'Never again' House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, responding to Jeremy Hunt's statement about maternity services at Furness General Hospital, says getting to the truth should have been more straightforward. "Bereaved families should never again have to fight in the way these families have to get answers," he says. He notes that the problems don't seem to have been fixed. He quotes the report saying further difficulties were noted as recently as mid-2014. The investigation into Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust found 20 major failures in care from 2004 to 2013.

     
  68.  
    14:00: 'Only cardinal offence' House of Commons Parliament

    Jeremy Hunt says he is asking Sir Bruce Keogh to review the professional codes of both doctors and nurses in a bid to prevent further cover-ups. "Medical notes were destroyed, mistakes covered up, quite possibly because of a defensive culture because the individuals involved thought they would lose their jobs if they were discovered to be responsible for death," he tells MPs. "But… within sensible professional boundaries, no-one should lose their job for an honest mistake made with the best intentions. The only cardinal offence is not to report that mistake openly so that the correct lessons can be learned. "

     
  69.  
    13:55: Furness General Hospital's future BBC Radio 4

    Just before Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt began his statement on the unnecessary deaths at Furness General Hospital, Barrow MP John Woodcock spoke on The World At One about the importance of not jumping to close the maternity unit. That, he said, would put more lives at risk by requiring mothers to travel an hour to Lancaster. "We have to make the lasting legacy of this an actual sustained, improved maternity unit," he said. "Improvements have been made in recent months - they're fragile but we need to sustain them."

     
  70.  
    13:54: 'No greater pain' House of Commons Parliament
    Jeremy Hunt

    In the Commons, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is now on his feet making a statement about maternity services at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, after a report by Dr Bill Kirkup found a "dysfunctional" maternity unit's "substandard care" led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother. Mr Hunt begins: "There is no greater pain for a parent to lose a child, and to do so knowing it was because of mistakes that we now know were covered up makes the agony even worse… we can at least provide the answers to the family's questions about what happened and why, and in doing so try and prevent a similar tragedy in the future." Our story on Dr Kirkup's report is here.

     
  71.  
    13:47: Fixing parliament BBC Radio 4
    Houses of Parliament

    Yesterday evening's warning from Speaker John Bercow that parliament will have to be "abandoned" if steps aren't taken to fix the Palace of Westminster in the next 20 years have got Westminster wondering what will actually happen to the building. John Thurso MP, the House of Commons commissioner, says patience is needed. "What we're determined to do is take a decision that offers the best value for money for the taxpayer," he tells The World At One. The problem is they won't know what that decision is until they've received professional advice, he explains. Read our story on John Bercow's comments here.

     
  72.  
    13:40: Lobby latest Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    Some points from this morning's lobby briefing:

    • Cabinet this morning was treated to a presentation on "women and equalities" by Nicky Morgan and Jo Swinson; another on life sciences (particularly the human genome project) by Jeremy Hunt; and, given the Mexican state visit, the foreign secretary outlined British policy on Latin America.
    • Sir John Major has been asked to attend Boris Nemtsov's funeral in Moscow. The PM's spokesman denied this was a provocative act towards President Putin, saying: "We want constructive relationships... We thought it was fitting for him to represent us."
    • The PM's spokesman wouldn't be drawn on when parliament would be recalled after the election and if the PM felt it should be swift in order to give MPs involvement in any coalition negotiations. "Announcements will be announced when they are announced," said the PM's spokesman, helpfully.
     
  73.  
    13:36: Men of Pakistani origin BBC Radio 4

    Chief Constable Sara Thornton, of Thames Valley Police, tells The World At One there's a clear pattern, as backed up by today's report, that the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are mainly of Pakistani origin. "The report suggests somebody needs to do some independent research as to why this is happening," she says. "The government could commission it but it needs to be academically robust and it needs to be independent."

     
  74.  
    13:27: Beyond the front line BBC Radio 4

    Maris Stratulis, from the British Association of Social Workers, says today's report on child sexual exploitation has identified that the culture change everyone agrees is necessary must extend well beyond the actions of junior staff. "There's a disproportion here of people focusing on the frontline practitioners," she tells The World At One. "We want leaders and governors to be asking the right questions." The serious case review into Oxfordshire indicated that practitioners had been working in isolation, rather than sharing information and working collaboratively.

     
  75.  
    @rowenamason Rowena Mason, political correspondent at the Guardian

    tweets: Commons nearly empty for UQ on Yarl's Wood. No sign of the home secretary or immigration minister - Karen Bradley speaks for govt

     
  76.  
    13:21: 'We are not a Rotherham' BBC Radio 4

    Oxfordshire County Council's former leader Keith Mitchell tells The World At One that he is "not sure I ever really understood the scale" of the abuse in Oxford. "Oxfordshire has been and remains a good council. I just wish we'd done it earlier," he says. "We are not a Rotherham, I won't have that said. We are a good council and we have put in place the measures that are necessary to stamp this abuse out."

     
  77.  
    13:17: 'Inhuman' system

    Conservative MP and business minister Nick Boles has expressed concern about "inhuman inflexibility" in the benefits sanction system. The remarks were made to a group of charity volunteers and reported by the Grantham Journal.

    "With some of these cases it seems to me that there is an inhuman inflexibility that is imposed on them… The sanctions are a worry, and do need to be looked at," he said. "In the run-up to the election there is not a lot we can do, but we can get the case studies together where the sanctions seem to be most unreasonable… The beginning of a parliamentary term, when people are looking at things afresh, is the best time to make a change."

     
  78.  
    13:09: Yarl's Wood urgent question House of Commons Parliament
    Yarl's Wood detention centre

    The next item on the Commons agenda is about Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre, which has come under scrutiny for the way it treats asylum seekers. Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, has called for inquiries into Yarl's Wood in the past. Now he and other MPs will seek to establish, via an urgent question, what the government will do after undercover filming showed one management team member describing inmates as "caged animals".

     
  79.  
    13:05: Labour's pardons promise

    Here's our full story on Labour's plan to introduce a Turing's Law. "What was right for Alan Turing's family should be right for other families as well," Ed Miliband said.

     
  80.  
    13:01: Cooper on child sexual exploitation
    Yvette Cooper

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been speaking about the Oxfordshire serious case review. She says it's "yet another example of children simply not being listened to when exploited and abused". She adds: "I think the government's response is a bit of a missed opportunity, because we need stronger laws on abduction and exploitation to stop these crimes, stronger requirements for institutions to respond, but also stronger prevention with compulsory sex and relationship education in schools."

     
  81.  
    12:58: Clegg talks religion

    Despite being well-known as an atheist, Nick Clegg has given an interview to Premier Christian Radio. The deputy prime minister said he attends mass most weeks with his wife and children and does so "with great joy". "I sometimes think it must be the most wonderful thing to be infused with faith. It's not something that's happened to me, it's not happened to me yet and I would embrace it." He said he might be an atheist but had "never had that much time for what I call vociferous secularism", adding: "I'm always a bit sceptical of anyone who acts with raging certainty about anything."

     
  82.  
    12:55: Sex education response House of Commons Parliament

    Here's what Nicky Morgan had to say in response to Tristram Hunt's request for her support on sex education: "I am fully in favour of full PSHE education on consent. But it has to be excellent, it can't just be about ticking boxes."

     
  83.  
    12:51: Sex education House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, at the end of a long list of questions to Nicky Morgan, calls for "age-appropriate statutory sex and relationship education to teach young people about consent and healthy sexual relationships". Her agreement would result in cross-party backing for the idea, he says.

     
  84.  
    12:51: 'Brave' victims House of Commons Parliament
    Nicky Morgan

    Oxford West MP Nicola Blackwood, who is a member of the home affairs select committee, asks Nicky Morgan to make it a "personal priority to ensure survivors [of child sexual exploitation] have the long-term and sustainable support they need". "We must not only pay tribute to the victims for their bravery in coming forward but we must also recognise such serious abuse has long-term and complex consequences," she says. The education secretary, above, says she can be reassured the government will do all it can to help them.

     
  85.  
    12:47: Survivors' fund House of Commons Parliament

    There will be a £7m fund to support victims and survivors of child abuse and sexual exploitation, Nicky Morgan adds. But Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith calls for a public inquiry, saying child protection services were "chaotic" and there was a "failure to act on clear evidence on sexual exploitation".

     
  86.  
    12:45: 'Broken windows matter' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    David Lammy

    David Lammy, whose report for Policy Exchange has prompted debate today about police's ability to deal with crime, calls for a "debate with the public about whether we still take theft seriously or not". He insists that "broken windows matter" because failing to address low-level crime will only result in more serious crime taking place. Commentator Tim Montgomerie says crime is a "success story" for the government but accepts "there are parts of the country where crime is still a daily problem".

     
  87.  
    12:43: 'Horrific abuse' House of Commons Parliament

    Nicky Morgan is summarising the measures the government is taking to ensure the "horrific abuse" detailed in the Oxford report is "stamped out" and never happens again. David Cameron will chair a meeting of ministers, police and council safeguarding officers later.

     
  88.  
    12:39: Morgan abuse statement House of Commons Parliament

    Foreign Office questions has now come to an end. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is now making a statement about the serious case review into child sexual abuse in Oxford, saying what has emerged in the report is "sickening". She says child abuse had been a "scourge in many communities around the country".

     
  89.  
    12:36: Diplomatic language House of Commons Parliament

    Ever wondered how many UK diplomats speak Russian or Arabic? Tory MP John Baron is curious, suggesting that linguistic shortcomings may have contributed to the UK being "unsighted" over recent developments in Ukraine or the Middle East. Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood says there are 170 Arabic-speaking mandarins in his department and a similar number of Russian speakers.

     
  90.  
    12:35: National security Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Margaret Beckett

    Margaret Beckett, chair of parliament's national security strategy committee, is on the Daily Politics explaining why she and her fellow parliamentarians have released a report criticising the government for its limited interest in developing a strategy. "What there doesn't seem to us to be is the kind of coordinated approach that we'd hoped for," she says. More broadly, she says fears about defence cuts are a "legitimate anxiety". The government hasn't been able to make decisions, having stepped back to consider the bigger picture. "They identify high-priority risks but they don't necessarily link them to the spending decisions," she says.

     
  91.  
    12:30: Religious freedoms House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander says a new job is needed in the Foreign Office: a global envoy for religious freedom, reporting to the foreign secretary, which he says a Labour government will create. Philip Hammond sounds unimpressed. "Our general approach is to try to get things done," he says, by using the tools already in place. "I don't think simply creating new posts delivers in quite the way the shadow foreign secretary thinks."

     
  92.  
    12:27: Benefit sanctions The Guardian
    Nick Boles

    Business minister Nick Boles has criticised the government's "inhuman" benefit sanctions regime, the Guardian reports. It quotes him telling constituents the current system does "need to be looked at".

     
  93.  
    12:20: 'Hidden from view' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The eye-catching move by the government to impose criminal sanctions on those who fail to ensure the children they're responsible for are protected from sexual exploitation is in line with rules already in place in the NHS, Cllr David Simmonds, from the Local Government Association, tells the Daily Politics. "It's absolutely clear this has been hidden from view - we need to make sure that mums and dads know the signs, that teachers know the signs when they pop up in the classroom."

     
  94.  
    12:21: Wrong question House of Commons Parliament

    A little light relief in the Commons as Labour's Mary Glindon realises she has asked the wrong question. She apologises and changes tack - pressing ministers on the use of the death penalty around the world.

     
  95.  
    12:19: 'Off the rails' House of Commons Parliament
    Philip Hammond

    Philip Hammond tells MPs that the European Union has "gone off the rails" over the past 20 years and substantial reforms are needed, "not just some backroom deal". He says the Conservatives' pledge of a referendum has "lit a fire" under the situation in Europe and claims that he has the backing of at least 23 other members for its position.

     
  96.  
    12:16: Child sexual exploitation: a national threat? Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor
    A child in Rotherham

    The thing that really stands out for me, Norman Smith tells the Daily Politics, is Mr Cameron's decision to categorise child exploitation as a "national threat". At one level that is to ensure police forces cooperate with each other in trying to tackle child sexual exploitation. At another it is an attempt to give a wake-up call to the nation. Mr Cameron's view is it is a national moment because he believes it is endemic, not confined to one or two towns.

     
  97.  
    12:11: Iranian diplomacy House of Commons Parliament

    Former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt says he's soon going to be welcoming the first delegation of Iranian parliamentarians to visit Britain in a very long time. This is good news, Human Rights Minister Tobias Ellwood believes. "It's through full and frank engagement we can get our message across," he says.

     
  98.  
    12:06: Now on your TV screens... Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Over on BBC2, the Daily Politics is now underway, with journalists Tim Montgomerie and Steve Richards offering their views at the start of the programme. You can watch by clicking on the 'live coverage' tab at the top of this page.

     
  99.  
    11:59: Russia sanctions House of Commons Parliament

    Labour backbencher Willie Bain calls for tougher sanctions against Russia, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond agrees that they should be strengthened immediately. "We need to have that tool in place," he argues, in order to incentivise Russia into complying with the timetable set out in Minsk. "Our role has been, is, and will remain, to stiffen the resolve of all 28 EU members to be united and to be aligned with the United States in deploying what has been a very powerful weapon."

     
  100.  
    @Kevin_Maguire Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror

    tweets: Awful Oxfordshire sex abuse scandal in Cameron's backyard echoes Rotherham. Sack this council too?

     

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