Four stories you may have missed during the cabinet reshuffle

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Wednesday 16 July 2014 12:30
news
Iain Duncan Smith and employment minister Esther McVey arrive at Downing Street

It was a busy day on the Downing Street catwalk yesterday. Here's what else was going on that you might have missed.

1. Bedroom tax impact laid bare

In one of those weird coincidences the universe throws up every now and then, Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions chose reshuffle day to release a study into the introduction of the less-than-popular bedroom tax, or the removal of the spare room subsidy in official parlance.

The 163-page report into the first six months of the policy, one of the coalition government's most controversial, showed 59 per cent of those affected, more than 300,000 people, are in arrears with their rent.

Just 19 per cent of the 570,000 total have applied to move to a smaller property, while only 4.5 per cent actually had moved.

Fifty-seven per cent of people are cutting back on essential household items to cope with the impact of the subsidy, while 21 per cent are borrowing money from friends.

The TUC accused the government of sneaking the report out during the reshuffle.

"It is one of the most pointlessly cruel welfare policies instigated by a government that remains determined to take away the safety net so many rely upon," said general secretary Frances O'Grady.

"It is shameful that ministers are trying to hush up the damage it’s causing.”

2. The government is closer to reading your call and internet history

New laws compelling telecoms companies to retain the numbers their customers dial and websites they visit were fast-tracked through the Commons last night.

The overwhelming majority of MPs backed the principle of the legislation but critics were furious at the speed at which the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill was introduced.

Veteran Labour MP David Winnick said the speed of the legislation - rushed through over the course of a day rather than the usual several weeks - made a “mockery of parliamentary democracy”, while former shadow Cabinet member Tom Watson denounced “democratic banditry resonant of a rogue state”.

The Labour leadership supports the coalition's bill, arguing it is essential to track terrorists, criminals and paedophile rings.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was heavily critical of the decision to delay the legislation until the last week before the Commons recess.

"The last-minute nature of it does undermine trust in the government’s intentions”, she said.

3. It's not just David Cameron making gendered gestures

Who is more transparent, the prime minister or Marvel Comics? Yesterday it was announced that the superhero Thor would from now on be a woman.

Editor Will Moss said: "The inscription on Thor's hammer reads, 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.' Well, it's time to update that inscription."

4. John Kerry is the new king of England (maybe)

Trending