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Security minister Dan Jarvis says Tories ‘hollowed out’ our armed forces – UK politics live | Politics

Security minister Dan Jarvis: Tories ‘hollowed out’ our armed forces

Security minister Dan Jarvis has accused the former Conservative government of hollowing out the country’s armed forces while reiterating that the new Labour administration would carry out an armed services review “very quickly”.

Saying “there is nothing that we take more seriously than our national security”, he told Sky News viewers:

The prime minister and my colleague, defence secretary John Healey, have made a commitment that a review will be initiated very quickly. It’s important that we follow the process and look carefully at the nature of the threat our country faces, and the resources that will be required to be put in place.

It is an important process and it will take a period of months. The British army is now smaller than any point since the Napoleonic war. We need to do this properly. Our armed forces have been hollowed out in recent times.

Challenged that current plans suggest it might take a year to get a review in place, when army leadership says it could be done in a matter of weeks, Jarvis said “We’re not in the business of cutting corners. We need to look at the complex nature of the threat that we face.”

Jarvis added:

Call me old fashioned, but I believe in process. I believe in doing things properly. And that’s what this government will do. We will do things properly. There will be a comprehensive process of review, and then we will make sure that the correct resource is allocated to meet the findings of that review.

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Tory MP Chris Philp has also chipped in to say that GDP growth of 0.4% in May shows that the “new government inherits a strong economic legacy – any claim they may try to make to the contrary is nonsense.”

Very strong growth numbers just out for May. UK growth was top of the G7 in Q1, inflation at 2% on target & below Eurozone/US and unemployment (~4%) half the 2010 level (~8%). New Govt inherits a strong economic legacy – any claim they may try to make to the contrary is nonsense pic.twitter.com/wWXuFwrYjD

— Chris Philp MP (@CPhilpOfficial) July 11, 2024

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Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott has also commented on the news that the UK economy returned to growth in May in the last weeks of Rishi Sunak’s government.

PA Media report Trott said:

Today’s figures show that the steps we put in place whilst in government have strengthened the economy.

These figures also prove Labour are inheriting an economy turning a corner, after the many difficult decisions we took in government.

We will keep Labour to the promises made in the campaign not to raise taxes on working people. As Rachel Reeves, the new Chancellor, herself recognised, the books were open.

Part of the Conservative’s election campaign was a press conference where Trott produced a dossier about so-called “Labour tax traps”, suggesting the party had “18 secret taxes” planned if it came to power.

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If you fancy something for your ears, I can recommend senior political reporter Peter Walker and Kiran Stacey, the Guardian’s political correspondent talking to Helen Pidd about the Tory leadership battle.

Listen here: Today in Focus – The Conservative party: rows, resignations … and a tilt right?

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‘The NHS has been wrecked’: Streeting announces independent investigation into performance

An independent investigation will be held into the performance of the NHS, health secretary Wes Streeting has announced in an article in the Sun.

He wrote:

It’s clear to anyone who works in or uses the NHS that it is broken. Unlike the last government, we are not looking for excuses. I am certainly not going to blame NHS staff, who bust a gut for their patients.

This government is going to be honest about the challenges facing us, and serious about solving them.

Honesty is the best policy, and this report will provide patients, staff and myself with a full and frank assessment of the state of the NHS, warts and all.

Streeting said the investigation would be led by the former health minister Lord Ara Darzi, who served under Gordon Brown between 2007 and 2009.

Health is devolved. It was unclear from Streeting’s article in the Sun whether he was only referring to England, or whether it was to be an over-arching review that would take into account health outcomes and spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Those of you with a keen interest in media ownership might find this worth reading, as Jane Martinson writes an analysis piece on the forthcoming second auction of Telegraph Media Group.

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On water bills, consumer council for Water chief executive Mike Keil has said:

Millions of people will feel upset and anxious at the prospect of these water bill rises and question the fairness of them given some water companies’ track record of failure and poor service.

Over the summer we’ll be carrying out research with customers of every water company to gauge whether they feel the regulator’s proposals are affordable and deliver what people want. We expect Ofwat to listen and act on what customers tell us.

Steve Reed, Labour’s new secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, is due to meet water bosses today.

Ofwat chief David Black was on Sky News earlier, and he claimed the regulator had pushed back on company plans, and that there would be significant investment. He said:

We look forward to working with the government. The Environment Agency has criminal power to take action against companies. We think there’s a strong case for extending that to company senior leadership. We look forward to working with the government as they work through their special measures package.

However he warned that legal action was not “a magic bullet”. He said “We need to see the investment. We need to see companies own the problem. We need to see them taking action. That’s what we’re focused on.”

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Environment secretary Steve Reed announces first step of Labour reform of water sector

The Labour government is telling privatised water companies in England and Wales that they must ringfence funding for infrastructure upgrades, and stop diverting money to bonuses, dividends or salary increases.

In a statement, the new secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Steve Reed says:

We will never look the other way while water companies pump sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas. This unacceptable destruction of our waterways should never have been allowed, but change has now begun so it can never happen again.

Today I have announced significant steps to clean up the water industry to cut sewage pollution, protect customers and attract investment to upgrade its crumbling infrastructure. That change will take time. Over the coming weeks and months, this Government will outline further steps to reform the water sector and restore our rivers, lakes and seas to good health.

The government announcements says Reed has written to water companies to tell them “to make sure funding for vital infrastructure investment is ringfenced and can only be spent on upgrades benefiting customers and the environment”. He also told Ofwat “to ensure that when money for investment is not spent, companies refund customers, with money never allowed to be diverted for bonuses, dividends or salary increases.”

The government is proposing that private water companies “change their ‘articles of association’ to make the interests of customers and the environment a primary objective.”

The full statement can be read here. Reed promoted it on social media with the message “Change has begun”.

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Security minister Dan Jarvis said it was important that privatised water companies in England and Wales invested money in infrastructure and not in bonuses for executives.

He told Sky News viewers:

I think there’s a very strong sense, and I know this from talking to people throughout the course of the election, that our water companies have not provided the level of service that we expect.

Bills are too high. There are huge concerns about the illegal dumping on waterways.

There is a weight of political pressure to ensure that bills are kept to an absolute minimum, and where there is money that is available to be invested, that needs to be focused on investing in our infrastructure, not on bonuses for chief executives.

In England and Wales the water and sewerage industry was privatised in 1989 under Margaret Thatcher’s government.

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Lib Dems call for ‘insulting’ water price rises in England and Wales to be blocked

Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP has reacted to the water bill rises in England and Wales, saying:

Any insulting price hikes by water companies must be blocked. It is a national scandal that these disgraced firms are demanding more money from families and pensioners in a cost of living crisis, all whilst dumping raw sewage into our rivers.

After years of Conservative ministers letting these shameful polluters get away with it, we now need tough action, starting with a ban on bonuses and a block on large bill hikes.

Communities spoke loudly at the election, demanding an end to the sewage scandal and water firms stuffing their pockets with bonuses and dividends. The government and regulator must listen to the country.

The Liberal Democrats made water a key plank of their election campaign, with Ed Davey’s notorious stunt of falling into water while paddleboarding just one of the ways they attempted to draw attention to their policies on it. During the campaign the party called for Ofwat to be abolished and a new water regulator established with greater powers.

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Water bills to rise by £94 over next five years in England and Wales

Alex Lawson

Water bills in England and Wales will rise by an average of £94 over the next five years, in plans set out by the regulator, as under-fire water companies charge customers to pay for investment to stop sewage spills and fix leaky pipes.

The sum is a third less than the increases requested by companies, and amounts to a rise in bills of about £19 each year over the period.

It came in a review by Ofwat, which examined the spending plans of English and Welsh water companies for 2025-30. The plans were submitted last October, and Thursday’s report represents Ofwat’s draft view, with a final decision scheduled for December.

The biggest bill increase Ofwat allowed were from Southern Water, with a £183 rise to £603, Dŵr Cymru in Wales, which will increase bills by £137 to £603, and Hafren Dyfrdwy, rising by £128 to £524. Southern and Thames will be allowed to add a further £16 and £5 to bills respectively if their plans meet certain criteria with Ofwat.

Bills will rise for customers of all water companies in England and Wales, apart from those of Wessex Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water.

Read more here: Water bills to rise by £94 over next five years in England and Wales

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Conservative MP Gareth Davies hails GDP figures, says they showed Sunak government had ‘turned a corner’ on economy

Gareth Davies has been doing the media round for the Conservatives this morning. He doesn’t haven’t have a shadow cabinet role yet, but the MP for Grantham and Bourne was previously a treasury secretary in the last government. He said the GDP figures were good news.

He said they “exceeded expectations” and showed the government he was part of were right to claim that under them the economy had “turned a corner”.

Put to his that the figures suggested it was a mistake for Rishi Sunak to have called an election when good economic news was around the corner, he said “the economy is just one factor”. He said it was “other people to reflect and assess” whether it had been the right decision, adding “it was going to be this year at some point, wasn’t it?”

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Chancellor Reeves: not a ‘minute to waste’ on ‘national mission’ of delivering economic growth

The new chancellor Rachel Reeves has responded to the GDP figures, which showed the UK headed back to growth in May during the closing last days of Rishi Sunak’s government. She said:

Delivering economic growth is our national mission, and we don’t have a minute to waste.

That is why this week I have already taken the urgent action necessary to fix the foundations of our economy to rebuild Britain and make every part of Britain better off.

A decade of national renewal has begun, and we are just getting started.

My colleague Julia Kollewe has our business live blog today, which will be following reaction to those figures closely …

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Speaking on LBC this morning, security minister Dan Jarvis has said criticism of Keir Starmer’s defence spending plans were “unfair”.

Starmer was accused of hypocrisy after pressing Nato allies to up their spending commitments, when his new government have not put a date on when spending will rise to 2.5% of GDP in the UK.

Jarvis said:

The prime minister has made a cast-iron guarantee that we will get to the point where we are spending 2.5% on GDP on our defence capabilities, but we think that these things should be done properly.

I personally think it’s inconceivable that the [size of the] British army would go down, but that is precisely why you need a proper process at work to look at the capabilities that you have.

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Security minister Dan Jarvis: Tories ‘hollowed out’ our armed forces

Security minister Dan Jarvis has accused the former Conservative government of hollowing out the country’s armed forces while reiterating that the new Labour administration would carry out an armed services review “very quickly”.

Saying “there is nothing that we take more seriously than our national security”, he told Sky News viewers:

The prime minister and my colleague, defence secretary John Healey, have made a commitment that a review will be initiated very quickly. It’s important that we follow the process and look carefully at the nature of the threat our country faces, and the resources that will be required to be put in place.

It is an important process and it will take a period of months. The British army is now smaller than any point since the Napoleonic war. We need to do this properly. Our armed forces have been hollowed out in recent times.

Challenged that current plans suggest it might take a year to get a review in place, when army leadership says it could be done in a matter of weeks, Jarvis said “We’re not in the business of cutting corners. We need to look at the complex nature of the threat that we face.”

Jarvis added:

Call me old fashioned, but I believe in process. I believe in doing things properly. And that’s what this government will do. We will do things properly. There will be a comprehensive process of review, and then we will make sure that the correct resource is allocated to meet the findings of that review.

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Welcome and opening summary …

Good morning, and one week after the country voted for a change of government in the general election, new MPs will continue to be sworn into the House of Commons today. Here are your headlines …

The House will meet at 9.30am for swearing in, with the Table Office saying today is “likely to be the best opportunity for new members who have not already done so to take the oath or affirm”. The Lords are not sitting.

The Scottish parliament is in recess from 29 June to 1 September. The Windsor framework democratic scrutiny committee is sitting in Stormont. A cross-party group on Hospice and Palliative Care has a meeting in the Senedd. The Post Office Horizon IT inquiry is not sitting today.

It is Martin Belam with you for the next few hours. The best way to get my attention is via email, especially if you spot typos, errors or omission. You can reach me at martin.belam@theguardian.com.

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