Featured Posts

Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

Read more

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

Read more

Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

Read more

Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

Read more

UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

Read more

Conservatives seek eleventh-hour press regulation deal

Category : Business

Newspaper groups including owners of Sun and Mail threaten boycott of regulator if plan proposed by Labour agreed to

Britain’s main political leaders are taking talks on the future of press regulation down to the wire amid signs that David Cameron is prepared to reach a last-minute deal to avoid a damaging defeat in the House of Commons on Monday.

As George Osborne insisted that the government was not “grandstanding” over the issue of press reform, the prime minister appeared to change tack by reopening talks with Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, days after abandoning all-party negotiations.

The renewed political discussions came as three of Britain’s largest newspaper groups, including the owners of the Sun and the Daily Mail, ramped up the pressure by signalling that they were prepared to boycott the proposed press watchdog and set up their own body if Labour and the Lib Dems succeed in creating a statutory underpinning of the new royal charter.

The deputy prime minister found himself effectively acting as a go-between between the prime minster and Ed Miliband . Clegg spoke to the Labour leader on three occasions during the day – twice before meeting the prime minister and once afterwards.

The reopening of limited all-party talks came amid signs that Cameron is heading for a defeat in the Commons over tabled amendments to the crime and courts bill to establish exemplary damages for media organisations that do not sign up to a new regulatory body. Labour and the Lib Dems, who have 314 MPs to the Tories’ 304 MPs, are planning to table their own amendments to strengthen the planned royal charter establishing the new body.

The Tories and Labour played hardball in what appeared to be something of an operation to paper over changes on all sides. Maria Miller, the culture secretary, was despatched on to the airwaves to say Labour had climbed down.

“Labour has been trying to push through a tough form of statutory regulation for the press with really unacceptable consequences for freedom of speech in this country,” Miller told Sky News. “I think their climbdown from that position has put them much closer to our position and I think that is to be welcomed.”

Labour dismissed Miller’s remarks and insisted that it was standing by its core demands – statutory underpinning of the royal charter, a guarantee of prominent apologies by errant newspapers and no press veto on members of the new regulatory body.

A senior Labour source said: “We are in lock-step with the Lib Dems on this. We are clear we are not going to accept [Cameron's] royal charter. Any agreement must be on the basis of our royal charter. We are planning to go ahead with the votes in the Commons.”

There was silence in Whitehall as the government parties prepared for another round of talks in the runup to the votes in the Commons.

The Tories claim that talks between the party leaders broke down last week when Labour sought to strengthen the royal charter on the basis of last-minute proposals by the Hacked Off campaign group. This prompted the prime minister to call for a Commons vote on his proposals.

One observer said: “It is like a game of poker. On Tuesday, the prime minister called their bluff. Then, at the weekend, when they published their royal charter and seemed to revert to their earlier position, they folded their hand.”

This was dismissed by Labour which said the prime minister appeared to be changing his position. The chancellor indicated that Downing Street may be adopting a more flexible approach when he said he was still hopeful of an all-party agreement.

Osborne told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1: “It would be great on Monday if we can get some kind of agreement, even at this late stage, between the parties. Frankly, press regulation that is achieved in a way that divides the political parties is not a press regulation that is really going to last and it is not a press regulation which is deeply rooted in our culture.

“I would say there is still an opportunity for us to get together and get a press regulation that works.

Ultimately we are not about grandstanding on this. We are about getting a press law that works and protects the press and gives justice to victims of press abuse.”

It is understood that the prime minister may be able to live with a statutory underpinning of the royal charter – one of the key Lib Dem and Labour demands. The legal underpinning is designed to ensure that the royal charter can only be changed by agreement of two thirds of MPs, and not simply, like other royal charters, by ministers.

Cameron believes such underpinning is not necessary but is willing to be flexible because he has seen off what Osborne described as “some all-singing, all-dancing Leveson law”.

But there are still differences over the composition of the regulatory body and on how apologies would be carried.

The prime minister is understood to share the concerns of many in the press that leading lights in the Hacked Off group, such as Brian Cathcart, could find themselves on the new body.

Downing Street said it was unable to answer the latest of several requests from the Guardian to reveal how many meetings the prime minister has had with editors, publishers or representatives of the press.

Senior Lib Dems to join cross-party rebellion on decarbonisation targets

Category : Business

Coalition tensions rise as the Lib Dem president, Tim Farron, joins move to ‘maintain pressure on the government’ on energy

A new Tory-Liberal Democrat flashpoint has emerged with senior Liberal Democrats revealing their intention to join a cross-party rebellion to demand a quickly established decarbonisation target for the power sector.

The rebellion is expected in a key Commons vote this month with the Liberal Democrat president, Tim Farron, indicating he will back the move, vowing he will “maintain the pressure on the government as best he can”.

Such a move will be interpreted as a sign of the Liberal Democrat’s growing confidence in the coalition and willingness to make their mark in the wake of victory over the Tories in the Eastleigh byelection.

The plan will infuriate Conservative government members who believed they had a deal with the Liberal Democrats to defer a decision on green targets in the power sector until after the election. Other Lib Dems have also said they will join the rebellion.

Farron’s move in a letter to a constituent released at the weekend came as the IPPR thinktank published new research showing the proposed decarbonisation target need not increase energy prices, and the government’s alternative of relying on gas will boost bills by as much as £15. The IPPR said energy savings would be relatively small per household, but key advantage would be to reduce price volatility.

A Friends of the Earth spokesperson said: “It is great to see Tim Farron stepping up to support what is Lib Dem policy. It is hoped other backbenchers follow his lead.”

The battle over the target has the potential to be one of the most bitter within government and will come in the form of an amendment tabled by Tim Yeo, the Conservative chairman of the energy select committee. Yeo has already been the subject of highly personalised attacks claiming he is merging his business interests with his politics.

The Tory right are determined to portray the green movement as indifferent to energy bills of cash-strapped consumers.

The amendment to the energy bill would require the target to be set next year, and has gained the support of three prominent Liberal Democrat MPs: Julian Huppert, Martin Horwood and John Hemming.

The move will increase pressure on Nick Clegg to give his MPs a free vote on the issue, something normally confined to issues of conscience.

Yeo has insisted: “This is a cross-party effort to ensure there is no delay in setting a carbon intensity target for electricity generation in 2030. The swift introduction of a target, in accordance with the advice of the committee on climate change, will help bolster confidence and attract investment in the UK’s low-carbon supply chain and secure jobs in the industry.”

Last year’s Lib Dem conference under the leadership of the Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, overwhelmingly backed the setting of a decarbonisation target, but the energy secretary, Ed Davey, was forced to defer the proposal as part of his wider negotiations over green energy, including a £7.6bn-per-year Treasury commitment to provide green subsidies.

The newly elected Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh, Mike Thornton, will be under pressure to support the amendment and show he has the same green credentials as his constituency predecessor, Chris Huhne.

Instead of a target, the energy bill includes a clause that would require the government to make a decision on whether or not to set a decarbonisation target in 2016 at the same time as binding emission targets are set for 2030 through the next carbon budget.

The IPPR says a carbon target for the energy sector will save the economy £163m if gas prices rise in line with expectations, or £249m if gas prices are higher than expected. However, relying more on gas up to 2030 by building more gas-fired power stations would cost £312m or £478m if gas prices are higher than expected – between £10-15 per household.

Will Straw, the IPPR associate director, said the thinktank’s analysis showed not only would energy prices be more expensive, they would be highly volatile. At the government’s upper estimate for gas generation in 2030, energy costs could vary by as much as £229 per household. At the lower estimate, energy costs are only likely to vary by around £51 per household.

Lib Dem peers move to make banks disclose credit to small businesses

Category : Business

Lady Kramer and Lord Sharkey lead move to amend financial services bill requiring banks to publish data

Liberal Democrat peers are attempting to force banks to disclose the amount of credit they offer to small businesses by tabling an amendment to the financial services bill.

Supporters of the amendment, due to be debated on Monday, include the bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, appointed archbishop of Canterbury last week. The Lib Dems have convinced the government to give the Financial Conduct Authority spun out of the Financial Services Authority, a mandate to scrutinise whether consumers get fair access to banking services.

Led by Lady Kramer and Lord Sharkey, the peers are tabling an amendment that would require banks to publish figures for quarterly lending to small businesses on a postcode-by-postcode basis. The idea is to enable the public to see which banks are lending and which areas benefit from loans that are granted.

Lending to small businesses has been controversial since the 2008 financial crisis, with banks insisting they are willing to lend but do not receive enough applications, while businesses argue they are being starved of credit. A funding for lending scheme has been created by the government to reduce the cost of borrowing for banks, which they can pass on to households and businesses.

Lord Oakeshott who resigned as a Lib Dem Treasury spokesman in the Lords over the Project Merlin deal that attempted to boost bank lending, said: “Lib Dems in the Lords are determined to make the banks come clean. Bank of England figures show lending to small businesses has been negative for four quarters.”

Energy: a charged debate | Editorial

Category : Business

More nuclear, or less? More wind power, or less? The battle over energy policy will be a vital test of coalition relations

Over the past few weeks, a whole string of big pronouncements have been made on energy policy – very few of them from the secretary of state for energy. At prime minister’s questions last month, David Cameron vowed to force energy firms to give customers “the lowest tariff”. Since his appointment as environment secretary, Owen Paterson’s statements on energy have been scrutinised – such as his proposal this spring that fracking for shale gas should be fast-tracked. Then there is junior energy minister John Hayes, who said of onshore windfarms a couple of weeks ago that “enough is enough”.

All these statements have two things in common: they were made by the Conservative end of the coalition; and they have all been disavowed or shouted down by colleagues. Before the end of this month, the man formally

Post to Twitter

Nick Clegg reprises scare-mongering Greek comparisons | Polly Toynbee

Category : Business

Remorse? Regret? Atonement? No. Liberal Democrat leader says there’s no turning back, even as the economy plummets

The day of atonement, what better day for Nick Clegg’s big speech? He has shrunk his party’s vote, shrivelled its membership and shed councillors like confetti. Some polls warn he may hardly have more than a people-carrier full of MPs after the next election. He need not warn his activists to expect “abuse and vitriol” for they already know they join “generations of Liberals marching towards the sound of gunfire.” Numbly, his party seems to accept it for now – or the rump that hasn’t already bolted. But few leaders survive so grim a prospect as they approach an election.

Remorse? Regret? Atonement? No: he did the right thing. No turning back, even as the economy plummets. Billed as “a serious speech for serious times”, it takes delusional optimism for Clegg to claim “our journey” is “dealing with our debts and delivering growth”, while every month the deficit soars, growth declines and demand is dead.

Saving the nation was why he yolked his party to Cameron: this speech reprised his scare-mongering Greek comparisons. Any relaxation of austerity risks the country going bust: with dark 1930s allusions he warned that “extremists thrive in tough times.”

For now his party acquiesces, accessories to Osborne’s catastrophic failure. With a bit of manipulation, he got them to vote against a Plan B, no change to Osborne’s fiscal straightjacket. The mystery is why, when both parties equally fear an early election, Clegg still cleaves to Osborne orthodoxy when he could demand the Keynesian stimulus policies his party championed at the election – and Vince Cable murmurs sotto voce.

Boasting they are “anchored in the centre-ground”, Clegg suffers the old delusion of the middle. “If you’re attacked by Liam Fox on one side and Ed Balls from the other, you’re in the right place,” as if navigating by splitting the difference between flat and round earthers. “Our mettle has been tested” in making difficult and painful decisions. What he didn’t say was whose mettle has been tested most – not Lib Dem politicians but all those whose benefits, services and jobs are cut by his “harsh realities of government”, the bottom half most.

Naïve, vain or obtuse, he has been useful yellow camouflage for this most radical and ideological of Conservative governments. As if still beguiled by Cameron’s affable rose garden manner, Clegg has colluded with the great Conservative blueprint for dismantling the state, outsourcing every service and withering welfare. He joked about Boris Johnson’s gleeful claim this week that “Clegg is a natural Tory”. But history’s charge against him will be that after all these years of planning the politics of coalition, he failed to secure any of his party’s key demands: no relaxation of fiscal austerity, no rescue of the NHS, more tuition fees but no electoral reform, no Lords reform, not even reform of party funding. No surprise reform went unmentioned.

Every Lib Dem leader tussles to say what their party is for, easy as the “party of protest” but far harder as the party of someone else’s government. “Fairer taxes” is all they are left with, to be plugged from now until election day.

Clegg claims it as their badge of social justice, “the system as a whole tilted in favour of those on middle and low incomes.” He simply ignores what the Institute for Fiscal Studies always said: this raising of personal allowances gives the bottom third nothing, the middle only a little, while the main gainers are the richest third: that’s probably why Osborne gave it to him. Worse, universal credit will wipe out most of that little gain by the middle.

Yet again Clegg claimed social mobility is his mission, but when he ignores every projection that his government’s policies will drive the social divide far wider, is he obtuse or dishonest?

Equality was never the Lib Dems’ strong suit, shying away from what the state must always do to stop wealth flowing upwards to the few. But liberty is their USP.

This week they voted for assisted dying, the last great intrusion of the state on people’s private decisions over life and death. They threw out secret courts. They rejected the Tories’ latest deregulation of planning. On green energy Clegg pledged, “let the conservatives be in no doubt. We will hold them to their promises.” We shall see, with a windmill-hating environment secretary.

“If you don’t like me, vote Labour,” Clegg told the Birmingham Post this week. After his contemptuous claim that “Labour plunged us into austerity” and “let down the most vulnerable”, few imagine any Lib-Lab coalition could ever include him.

Hughes attacks ‘racist’ bankers

Category : Business, World News

Deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes says he has “seen and heard” banks making racist decisions on lending to businesses.

Continued here: Hughes attacks ‘racist’ bankers

Post to Twitter

Vince Cable’s crackdown on tax havens may upset some Lib Dem donors

Category : Business

Two of party’s biggest corporate donors are controlled from British Virgin Islands, while senior Lib Dems have links to havens

Vince Cable’s pledge at the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference to work with allies to close down tax havens may not go down well with two of the party’s most generous corporate donors.

The business secretary told delegates he would crack down on those who used secretive, low tax jurisdictions: “No one keeps their cash in tax havens for the quality of investment advice; these are sunny places for shady people,” he said.

Alpha Healthcare and its sister company C & C Alpha Group, part of a venture capital group in the private health sector, have together donated £970,000 to the Lib Dems since 2004. Alpha’s parent company, Harberry Investments, is based in a small office in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands – named as a tax haven by Congress in the US. Bhanu Choudhrie, a director in both donor companies, has also given a personal donation of £35,000 to the party. His father, Sudhir Choudhrie, who was once involved as a director of companies in the Alpha group but has now stepped down, has given a further £95,000 to the party since 2006.

The Choudhrie family, originally from India, was first introduced to the party by Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem MP for Bermondsey in south London.

Both Choudhries said in 2010 that they were domiciled outside Britain for tax purposes. If this is still the case they can, if they wish, avoid British tax on any income or gains from their overseas assets.

Contacted on Monday, one of the company’s directors, Dhruv Choudhrie, declined to comment on Cable’s speech, saying he was abroad. A spokesman for the company did not respond to emails or telephone calls.

Some senior Lib Dems have maintained close links to offshore havens. Lord Razzall, a former Lib Dem trade and industry spokesman, sits on the board at a firm called Ardel Holdings. The company is based in Guernsey and offers services including tax mitigation for clients, promising that “income can be rolled up tax free”. Ardel helps with tax mitigation through “fiduciary structuring” for businesses and individuals. It also helps non-domiciled UK residents exploit non-taxable offshore funds.

Its website says: “The benefits and flexibility delivered by offshore companies make them a highly attractive option for clients.”

Razzall said: “As an adviser to the owner of Ardel Holdings for the last 25 years I have always been satisfied that the business does not engage in activities of the type criticised by George Osborne.”

The former Liberal leader Lord Steel is a non-executive director of General Mediterranean Holdings, a Luxembourg-established company set up by Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire. Steel said the company’s headquarters were in Luxembourg and it held most board meetings there.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said: “Liberal Democrats are committed to targeting companies and individuals who are using aggressive tax avoidance measures by hiding money off shore. In some cases, there are legitimate reasons for global companies to not base themselves in the UK, and even corporations such as the Guardian Media Group have on occasion used the Cayman Islands.

Regarding the donations from Alpha and C & C, he added: “They are part of global groups which have UK based businesses, paying full UK tax and employing British workers.

“But as Vince Cable and Danny Alexander have made clear, Liberal Democrats will be cracking down on anyone using tax havens to solely avoid paying a fair share of tax in the UK.”

Will Nick Clegg’s ‘pension for property’ scheme work?

Category : Business

Lib Dems have announced plans for parents and grandparents to use their pension pots to help family members on to the housing ladder. Will the scheme help more than just the already well-off?

Read more here: Will Nick Clegg’s ‘pension for property’ scheme work?

Post to Twitter

Cable promises ‘business bank’

Category : Business, World News

The government is to put £1bn into a bank designed to increase lending to businesses, Vince Cable will tell the Lib Dem conference

View post: Cable promises ‘business bank’

Post to Twitter

Millionaires face tax crackdown

Category : Business, World News

Individuals with assets of more than £1m face a new crackdown on tax avoidance, Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander announces – after his party leader calls for more taxes on the wealthy.

View original post here: Millionaires face tax crackdown

Post to Twitter