House of Commons
Prime minister’s questions
Voyage of recovery
Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
15 September 2021
Our American cousins have a predilection for leadingly titled legislation. Take, for example, the Patriot Act. What possible unpatriotic reason could you have for opposing that?
This trend has yet to catch on these isles, though the Scottish government seems to be encouraging it. Take, for example, the Covid Recovery Bill. What possible pandemic-loving reason could you have for opposing that?
The bill, for context, was one of 12 announced in last week’s annual programme for government. Its stated aim is to “make public health, public services and justice system reforms that support recovery, build resilience against future public health threats and maintain tangible benefits of modernisations and practices adopted during the pandemic.” A consultation on this is open until November.
The accompanying paper proposes making it easier to address a Covid-like situation in future through powers to implement restrictions and roll-out vaccines more easily. The proposals on justice, however, go a long way towards making remote court proceedings the norm for many cases.
The issue is yet to gain public traction but could soon do so. I understand many in the legal profession are unhappy with maintaining practices they accepted as a suboptimal stopgap and one in which best practice and participants’ wellbeing frequently suffered.
Although not covered by the consultation on Covid recovery, remote GP appointments are already facing scrutiny. Like the courts, GPs are tackling a large backlog which remote appointments could help to reduce. Like the courts again, not all are happy to make remote work the norm. Today the Scottish parliament will debate an opposition motion calling on the Scottish government to set target dates for its plans to return to face-to-face appointments.
We’re not out of the Covid woods yet but a future not defined by Covid is a realistic goal. Conversations about returning to work have tended to focus on workers and employees returning to the office. The debates, ongoing and forthcoming, about remote working in public services have an equally direct effect on all our lives.
However it’s framed, one person’s Covid recovery could be another’s Covid hangover. It will serve us well to have this debate.
The UK government’s Sage committee of advisors has warned that hospitalisations due to Covid could reach 2,000 to 7,000 every day in England as opposed to the current 1,000. They believe a “relatively light” series of restrictions, implemented early, could curb this trend.
The South Korean military has claimed North Korea fired two cruise missiles into the sea earlier today. The apparent test came as China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, was in Seoul to discuss nuclear diplomacy and the North with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in.
Two new ferries to serve routes to the Hebridean island of Islay will not be built in Scotland. Caledonian Marine Assets Limited, which is managing the tendering process, invited yards in Poland, Romania, and Turkey to bid instead.
Business and economy
The UK government has announced it will delay a host of checks for EU imports until July 2022. The checks had been due to come in this October and next January. The delay has elicited a mixed reaction among British firms.
The Royal Mint returned to producing pennies in 2020, it has been revealed, after pauses in 2018 and 2019. The move was necessitated by currency hoarding during the pandemic; however, the 88m produced is well below historic annual figures.
The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has hailed takeovers of UK listed companies by private equity firms as “good news for our economy”. Private equity firms struck more deals in the UK in the first half of the year than during any other comparable period on record. (£)
Columns of note
Since its launch earlier this year, GB News has been beset by technical difficulties and personnel issues. In The Guardian, Marina Hyde considers the channel’s fate. She argues its problems are really those of the media “elite” it claimed to eschew.
During lockdown, mental health problems in the populace rose; yet, counterintuitively, suicides decreased or flatlined across the world. This, Jemima Kelly, argues in the Financial Times, is an example of how shared solidarity in a crisis can reduce suicide rates. She calls for greater solidarity to continue as we leave Covid behind. (£)
What happened yesterday?
After a rocky day, the S&P500 closed down 0.8 points. Also on Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite closed flat as did Europe’s Stoxx600 index. In the City, the FTSE100 dropped 0.6 points. This comes as US government bonds rallied while bank shares dropped amid an apparent flattening in US inflation, which allayed fears the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates.
The pound was trading at 1.17 Euros and 1.38 dollars.
In company news:
Apple has launched four new iPhones and a range of updates to existing products.
Curevac has downgraded Covid vaccine production plans as demand has decreased.
Goldman Sachs has appointed Denis Coleman to replace Stephen Scherr as chief financial officer.
What’s happening today?
Advanced Medical Solutions Group
Tinybuild Inc S
Nb Priv. Eqty
UK Economic Announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index
(07:00) Consumer Price Index
(07:00) Retail Price Index
International Economic Announcements
(10:00) Industrial Production (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
There have been two periods when six former UK prime ministers were alive: in 1924 to 1928 and 1835 to 1844. This is the highest number of former prime ministers alive at any one point; although, during these periods, the serving prime minister was also a former prime minister.
House of Commons
Prime minister’s questions
Finance and economy
Update on cervical screening
Scottish Conservative and Unionist party debate
Future of North Sea Oil and Gas
Return to Normal GP Services
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