The week outside Westminster

In the past week the prime minister has visited Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; Left Foot Forward looks at how he fared, plus the rest of the week's news.

In the past week the prime minister has visited Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, fulfilling his pre-election pledge to visit all the capitals of the United Kingdom in his first days in power. Left Foot Forward looks at how David Cameron fared, plus all the rest of the news from the nations.


• Mr Cameron visited Wales for the first time as PM, calling for better relations between London and Cardiff. He continued by pledging that the Assembly Government could put off spending cuts until next year.

• Left Foot Forward reported on splits in the Tories on when to hold a referendum on full law making powers for Wales. Carwyn Jones told the secretary of state that the people of Wales should have their say in October.

• Former Welsh secretary, Peter Hain, came out in support of Ed Miliband’s bid for Labour Leader, saying Ed “offers the fresh start Labour needs”.

• OFCOM said that the Welsh were lagging behind the UK in their use of the internet.

• The Western Mail revealed that the NHS in Wales faced a £500 million shortfall. Dave Galligan of Unison Wales said: “When the money runs out I don’t want to see my members redundant.”

• Deputy first minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, told the Institution of Civil Engineers that he wanted the UK government to electrify the rail line from London to Swansea; he said: “I want to see Wales equipped with fast, 21st century rail links.”


• David Cameron visited Scotland at the end of last week on a “bridge-building visit”. The Herald reported that the aim was to “shore up his legitimacy north of the border”; he held meetings with first minister Alex Salmond and MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.

• Independent MSP, Margo MacDonald ,welcomed new guidance for GPs giving terminally ill patients new rights to refuse treatment. Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Patients and their families will now have a greater say in how they are cared for towards the end of their lives.” The Catholic Church agreed, saying: “Once an illness becomes burdensome you get to a point where treatment serves no purpose and we accept that patients get to a point where medical interventions no longer assist.”

• The Sunday Herald revealed: “The Ministry of Defence is struggling to deal with hundreds of safety blunders, pollution leaks and environmental lapses at nuclear weapons bases on the Firth of Clyde.”

• The new Liberal Democrat Scottish secretary, Danny Alexander, was forced to declare his job “significant” despite Lib Dem promises to abolish the Scotland Office.

• The Herald revealed that a pilot allowing frontline police to us taser guns in Scotland is illegal and breaches human rights according to Amnesty Scotland.

• Scottish Labour are to target 100,000 “betrayed” Lib Dem voters in Scotland, with a letter from leader Iain Gray.

• It was a busy week for John Swinney as he confirmed that Scotland would put off making cuts until next year, announced that council tax would be frozen until 2012 and welcomed news that Scotland could get an extra £185m in funding as the UK government frees up cash from the fossil fuel levy.

• Civil servants at Holyrood urged the police not to embark on any cuts until the autumn so that it can blame the UK Government’s spending review for any cuts in bobbies on the beat. Labour’s justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said: “This sorry episode shows the Scottish government has been caught red-handed trying to fiddle the figures on police numbers and brought to book by our most senior officers.”

• It was reported that the new UK Government’s first Queen’s speech next week would include legislation to implement in full the Calman Commission recommendations.

• A new Whitehall review of the Barnett Formula could mean cuts to the Scottish Budget according to the Herald.

Northern Ireland

• David Cameron visited Northern Ireland with a simple message: “We are committed to the peaceful progress – such big steps have been taken over these last 13 to 15 years – we want that to continue.”

• Sir Reg Empey announced that he would be stepping down as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in the autumn following a review of where his party goes now. Speaking to the Politics Show, he called for a “fresh approach” to unionism and questioned whether Peter Robinson could remain Democratic Unionist Party leader.

• Mr Robinson rejected Sir Reg’s calls for him to go, declaring his “disappointment that Sir Reg should try to shift the focus from the UUP’s problems”. Martin McGuinness sought to shore up the first minister’s position.

• Blast bombs were thrown at police in Lurgan as the Police Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland warned that cuts to the Police Service of Northern Ireland “will hinder the fight against terrorists”.

• The new Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, got to work, with calls for him to clamp down on Sinn Fein’s ability to claim expenses despite not taking their seats in the Commons.

• Paterson met with chief secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, to discuss where cuts might fall in Northern Ireland. Laws said: “The devolved administrations will be given the option of deferring their fair contributions to this year’s savings until next year, in recognition of the fact that the devolved legislatures have already approved spending plans for the current year. But these savings will still be made.”

• MLAs received a report from educational experts on how to solve the impasse on 11 plus.

• The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warned that the construction industry in Northern Ireland was contracting more deeply than other areas of the UK.

Quote of the Week

“All I’m trying to do is attempt to spread joy and felicity around the world.”

Former Lib Dem MP for Montgomeryshire on his decision to take up a career in stand up comedy

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