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Press releases

Nurses Announce Strike Days, Backbenchers Rebel Over Energy Policy, Apology For MP Christmas Party Guidelines

The Royal College of Nursing announced strikes on 15 and 20 December (Alamy)

5 min read

Nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced that they will strike for two days before Christmas, the latest profession to commit to industrial action over the winter. 

The Royal College of Nursing announced strikes on 15 and 20 December as they disagree with the government over their pay deal. 

The strikes will last from 8am to 8pm on those days, and under trade union rules the RCN have to make sure that live preserving care is provided. 

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: "Ministers have chosen strike action.

"Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve."

Health Secretary Steve Barclay tweeted this morning that his “door remains open to the RCN if they want to discuss ways we can improve nurses’ working lives.” 

Nursing vacancies hit a record 47,000 in England between April and June, a rise of a fifth on the year before, adding further pressure to an already struggling National Health Service.

The RCN says 25,000 nursing staff in the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register in the last year.

Former prime ministers join energy rebellion

wind farm
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is trying to end the ban on new onshore wind farms (Alamy) 

Former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have joined a backbench rebellion over a wind energy policy. 

As first reported by the Times, Truss and Johnson have signed an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is trying to end the ban on new onshore wind farms. 

The amendment has been tabled by Simon Clarke, who served as Levelling Up Secretary during Truss’ time in Number 10 this autumn.

IPSA apologises over MP Christmas party guidance

The chief executive of the independent body that oversees MPs' pay and expenses has apologised after it was suggested that MPs could pay for office Christmas parties with public money. 

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) had been criticised by MPs after it issued guidance that said they could claim “food and refreshments” and “decorations” for a festive gathering. Alcohol could not be claimed, the guidance said. 

Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted on November 22 that the guidance was “irresponsible”. 

“No one asked for this, no one I know will use it,” she said. 

“The guidance wasn’t made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it.” 

In a statement posted yesterday, Ian Todd, the chief executive of IPSA said: “We are an independent body and we make our own decisions but occasionally, like everyone, we make mistakes. I would like to apologise to those MPs and their staff who have had to deal with phone calls, emails, and in some cases abuse as a result of our guidance. 

“They did not write the guidance or influence its contents.”

Government to crack down on student visas

International students may be barred from coming to the UK unless they win a place at a top-ranking university. 

After new ONS figures showed that net migration hit a record 504,000 in the year to June, international students are "expected to be the main targets" of government efforts to reduce immigration

The "student visa crackdown" is set to spark a major row among members of the Cabinet, according to the i.

international students
Downing Street's plans could include restricting admissions to top universities (Alamy)

The paper says the Treasury is concerned the plans could harm the economy, and officials in the Foreign Office and the Department for Education are also concerned about the plans. 

However, Home Secretary Suella Braverman is "determined to act" to bring migration down.

Downing Street's plans could include putting up barriers for international students' relatives coming to the UK and restricting admissions to top universities.

Braverman has previously complained about foreign students "bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa" and "propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions".

In response to Thursday's ONS figures, the home secretary said: "We have welcomed hundreds of thousands of people to Britain this year following the devastating war in Ukraine, the evacuation from Afghanistan and the despicable crack down on democratic rights in Hong Kong.

"Therefore, it is understandable that we have seen a record number of people coming to our country thanks to the generosity of the British people.

"But the public rightly expect us to control our borders and we remain committed to reducing migration over time in line with our manifesto commitment."

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