David Cameron statement: live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the Prime Minister's statement on the media and the police.

Stay tuned for live coverage from 11:30am.

11:33: We're off. The Speaker begins with a short statement on the "wholly unacceptable" attack on Rupert Murdoch at yesterday's select committee hearing. He announces that he has set up an independent investigation into the security failure.

11:35 Cameron begins his statement. Until we sort this issue out, he says, we won't be able to get back to other issues such as the economy and welfare reform.

11:36 To groans, the PM praises the Commons for its role in forcing News Corp to abandon its bid for BSkyB.

11:36 Cameron promises to answer "all of the key questions about my role and that of my staff".

11:37 The PM is now announcing the membership of the judicial inquiry into the scandal. The inquiry will look at the behaviour of broadcast and social media as well as the press, Cameron says.

11:39 Cameron moves on to the police. His priority is to ensure that the role of the Met continues seamlessly, he says.

11:41 The whole affair raises questions about the ethics of our police, says Cameron.

11:43 Cameron says his staff behaved "entirely properly". He defends his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn's decision to reject John Yates's offer of a briefing on the investigation.

11:45 Former NoW deputy editor Neil Wallis provided Coulson with "informal advice", says Cameron. But he was never paid or contracted by the Conservative Party.

11:46 Cameron says he will offer a "profound apology" if it transpires that Coulson lied to him. But, "with hindsight", he adds, he would not have offered him a job. And Coulson, he suspects, would not have taken it.

11:48 The PM ends with a thinly-veiled attack on Ed Miliband for "political point scoring".

11:51 Miliband is speaking now. He asks Cameron whether he can assure the House that the BSkyB bid was not raised in any of his meetings with News International executives.

11:54 The Prime Minister was compromised by his relationship with Coulson, says Miliband. That's why he declined briefings from his staff.

11:55 This is punchy staff from Miliband. "Cameron made a deliberate attempt to hide from the facts about Mr Coulson," he says. The PM was caught in a "tragic conflict of loyalty".

11:58 It's not about hindsight, says Miliband. It's about all the information and warnings that Cameron ignored. He must provide a "full apology" for bringing Coulson into the heart of Downing Street.

12:00 Cameron is back on his feet, responding to Miliband. He offers his standard defence of Coulson, that no one has raised any questions about the job he did at No 10, and points out that only one party leader - Miliband - continues to employ a former News International journalist (Tom Baldwin).

12:02 The PM points out that Murdoch said the politician he was closest to was Gordon Brown, who Miliband was an adviser to.

Labour, he adds, ignored select committee reports, reports from the information commissioner and the failed police investigation. They were "the slumber party".

12:09 Tom Watson points out that he wrote to Cameron about Coulson's apparent knowledge of phone hacking and is yet to receive a reply. Cameron responds by paying "tribute" to Watson's work but emphasises that the complaint was not about his work at Downing Street.

12:11 We're going to wrap up the live blog now. Stay tuned for more comment and analysis on The Staggers.

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Air pollution: 5 steps to vanquishing an invisible killer

A new report looks at the economics of air pollution. 

110, 150, 520... These chilling statistics are the number of deaths attributable to particulate air pollution for the cities of Southampton, Nottingham and Birmingham in 2010 respectively. Or how about 40,000 - that is the total number of UK deaths per year that are attributable the combined effects of particulate matter (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx).

This situation sucks, to say the very least. But while there are no dramatic images to stir up action, these deaths are preventable and we know their cause. Road traffic is the worst culprit. Traffic is responsible for 80 per cent of NOx on high pollution roads, with diesel engines contributing the bulk of the problem.

Now a new report by ResPublica has compiled a list of ways that city councils around the UK can help. The report argues that: “The onus is on cities to create plans that can meet the health and economic challenge within a short time-frame, and identify what they need from national government to do so.”

This is a diplomatic way of saying that current government action on the subject does not go far enough – and that cities must help prod them into gear. That includes poking holes in the government’s proposed plans for new “Clean Air Zones”.

Here are just five of the ways the report suggests letting the light in and the pollution out:

1. Clean up the draft Clean Air Zones framework

Last October, the government set out its draft plans for new Clean Air Zones in the UK’s five most polluted cities, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton (excluding London - where other plans are afoot). These zones will charge “polluting” vehicles to enter and can be implemented with varying levels of intensity, with three options that include cars and one that does not.

But the report argues that there is still too much potential for polluters to play dirty with the rules. Car-charging zones must be mandatory for all cities that breach the current EU standards, the report argues (not just the suggested five). Otherwise national operators who own fleets of vehicles could simply relocate outdated buses or taxis to places where they don’t have to pay.  

Different vehicles should fall under the same rules, the report added. Otherwise, taking your car rather than the bus could suddenly seem like the cost-saving option.

2. Vouchers to vouch-safe the project’s success

The government is exploring a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, to help get the worst and oldest polluting vehicles off the road. But as the report points out, blanket scrappage could simply put a whole load of new fossil-fuel cars on the road.

Instead, ResPublica suggests using the revenue from the Clean Air Zone charges, plus hiked vehicle registration fees, to create “Pollution Reduction Vouchers”.

Low-income households with older cars, that would be liable to charging, could then use the vouchers to help secure alternative transport, buy a new and compliant car, or retrofit their existing vehicle with new technology.

3. Extend Vehicle Excise Duty

Vehicle Excise Duty is currently only tiered by how much CO2 pollution a car creates for the first year. After that it becomes a flat rate for all cars under £40,000. The report suggests changing this so that the most polluting vehicles for CO2, NOx and PM2.5 continue to pay higher rates throughout their life span.

For ClientEarth CEO James Thornton, changes to vehicle excise duty are key to moving people onto cleaner modes of transport: “We need a network of clean air zones to keep the most polluting diesel vehicles from the most polluted parts of our towns and cities and incentives such as a targeted scrappage scheme and changes to vehicle excise duty to move people onto cleaner modes of transport.”

4. Repurposed car parks

You would think city bosses would want less cars in the centre of town. But while less cars is good news for oxygen-breathers, it is bad news for city budgets reliant on parking charges. But using car parks to tap into new revenue from property development and joint ventures could help cities reverse this thinking.

5. Prioritise public awareness

Charge zones can be understandably unpopular. In 2008, a referendum in Manchester defeated the idea of congestion charging. So a big effort is needed to raise public awareness of the health crisis our roads have caused. Metro mayors should outline pollution plans in their manifestos, the report suggests. And cities can take advantage of their existing assets. For example in London there are plans to use electronics in the Underground to update travellers on the air pollution levels.

***

Change is already in the air. Southampton has used money from the Local Sustainable Travel Fund to run a successful messaging campaign. And in 2011 Nottingham City Council became the first city to implement a Workplace Parking levy – a scheme which has raised £35.3m to help extend its tram system, upgrade the station and purchase electric buses.

But many more “air necessities” are needed before we can forget about pollution’s worry and its strife.  

 

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.