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Finance industry’s multimillion-pound lobbying budget revealed

No backtrack on Freedom of Information Act

Commons committee resists watering-down of legislation as proposed by its creators, Tony Blair and Jack Straw

Pressure from former senior Labour figures, including Tony Blair and Jack Straw, as well as Whitehall mandarins, to “turn back the clock” on freedom of information legislation has been decisively rejected by an all-party group of MPs.

The Commons justice select committee is also to strongly criticise a refusal by Blair to give evidence to its inquiry into the operation of the Freedom of Information Act, after the former Labour prime minister described it as one of his greatest mistakes in office. The MPs’ report will “deplore” Blair’s refusal to give evidence in person or in writing, and will publish his letter explaining that he was too busy.

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Juliette Jowit and Alan Travis | The Guardian | 8th of July 2012

Finance industry’s multimillion-pound lobbying budget revealed

Investigation shows sector spent £92m in 2011 to secure favourable policy changes as part of ‘economic war of attrition’

The British financial services industry spent £92m last year lobbying ­politicians and regulators in an “economic war of attrition” that has secured a string of policy victories.

As the industry prepares to fight off renewed calls for root-and-branch reform in response to the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed the firepower of the City’s lobbying machine, prompting concern that its scale and influence puts the interests of the wider economy in the shade.

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Nick Mathiason | The Guardian | 9th of July

‘Critical’ Bank of England emails to Barclays released

A batch of “critical” emails sent from the Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker to former Barclays boss Bob Diamond were released today ahead of a highly anticipated hearing on the Libor-fixing scandal.

The correspondence appears to provide further evidence of Mr Tucker’s concerns over Barclays financial health at a time when the bank was accused of manipulating its Libor submissions.

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Jamie Grierson | The Independent | 9th of July 2012

Free schools campaigners celebrate freedom of information victory

Education department ordered to release free schools proposals amid humanist concerns over ‘pseudoscientific’ institutions.

The Department for Education has been ordered to release details of all proposals to establish free schools, after a complaint by the British Humanist Association over an unsuccessful freedom of information (FOI) request lodged in June last year.

The BHA asked for the release of the information amid concerns that the additional freedoms afforded to free schools could lead to a rise in religious discrimination within the state-funded sector, and see a growth in what it considers “evangelical and pseudoscientific schools”.

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Hélène Mulholland |The Guardian | 6th of July 2012

‘Buried’ report praised Labour’s school building programme

Building Schools for the Future was controversially scrapped by education secretary Michael Gove in July 2010

Ministers are being accused of suppressing a glowing report about Labour‘s school renovation programme, Building Schools for the Future, which was controversially scrapped by the education secretary Michael Gove.

The report, which has now been disclosed under Freedom of Information legislation, says that schools rebuilt under BSF showed “significant” improvements in exam results and declining truancy.

The report was drawn up by Partnerships for Schools, the quango which oversaw the mammoth school building programme, in September 2010.

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Jeevan Vasagar | The Guardian | Thursday 5th of July

Councils’ lack of cash hits 7,000 elderly and disabled: Will this week’s proposed legislation tackle the problem?

More than 7,000 disabled and elderly people have lost some or all of their state-funded support, after cash-strapped councils changed their rules on who qualifies for social care.

In the past two years, at least 17 councils have withdrawn social care for people who they deemed to have “moderate needs”. In the first two years of the coalition, 11 authorities told more than 5,000 elderly or disabled people that their care was being withdrawn, while more than 2,000 people saw their packages cut. A further six councils are cutting help in this financial year. According to council guidelines, those with “moderate” needs run the “risk [of] losing gas, electricity and water supplies”, as well as “falling into debt”, without support.

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Sarah Morrision Matt Chorley | The Independent | 8th of July 2012

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