The bad news the Government released during the week of the US election

'The Tories think they can take things for granted while the world looks away, aghast at the election of Donald Trump'

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As the bitter and often fraught presidential battle across the Atlantic – and to the surprise of many, the election of Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman with little experience of the political machinery of Washington – came to a conclusion this week, many of the front pages in the UK and the commentary focused on the drama unfolding in the States.

But here The Independent looks at some of the news and reports released by the UK Government this week that appear to have slipped under the radar.

According to Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, ministers have slipped out a deluge of embarrassing announcements because Parliament is in recess. He added: "The Tories might think they can take things for granted while the world looks away, aghast at the election of Donald Trump but my party will be keeping a total focus on them and the damaging policies they are pushing through". 

Transgender inmates

In a report released on the day of the American election results, the Ministry of Justice concluded in a brief report that the treatment of transgender people in courts, probation and prison services “had not kept apace with development of a more general understanding of the issues surrounding gender in society”.

Ministers launched a review of the care of transgender prisoners in 2015 after an inmate was discovered dead in her cell at an all-male prison.

It said allowing transgender offenders to experience the criminal justice system in the gender in which they identify "will, in the great majority of cases, represent the most humane and safest way to act".

It added: "We believe it will also assist successful rehabilitation".

The paper added that One in four prisons in England and Wales holds at least one transgender inmate, an official report has revealed.

Data collected in March and April showed that 33 of the 123 public and private prisons reported they had one or more transgender prisoners.

95 per cent of civil servants disagree with civil service reforms

The Government revealed in a written statement earlier this week that they have implemented changes to the civil service compensation scheme – despite 95 per cent of civil servants and unions representing them disagreeing with the proposed reforms.

“There were some responses supportive of the changes proposed to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme but the majority of respondents were opposed,” the Cabinet office consultation states.

In one of the questions, respondents are asked whether they believe the reforms are right. " Five per cent of respondents to this question agreed that these were the right principles for reform of the CSCS," the consultation document added. 

In a letter to Ben Gummer, a Cabinet office minister, Labour’s shadow minister Ian Lavery said: “I believe that the implementation of these reforms should be halted immediately in order for full parliamentary scrutiny to take place. I hope that you would be willing to meet with me to discuss these reforms further. As I am sure you are aware, the majority of civil servants are represented by PCS, Unite and POA and the fact that they were excluded from talks does not indicate a fully democratic or transparent process.

“These reforms will impact hundreds of thousands of hard working and loyal civil servants, many of whom are currently facing job insecurity due to departmental budget cuts. For these reforms to be implemented with no debate, I feel, goes against the democratic aims of Government.”

£438 million blunder by the Treasury

It was revealed earlier this that the Ministry of Defence had been forced to ask for £438 million from the Government’s emergency reserves to pay for a compensation service to members of the armed forces – after an “administrative error” by Her Majesty’s Treasury.

The blunder emerged after Mark Lancaster, the parliamentary under-secretary in the Ministry of Defence, submitted a written statement to the Commons describing an “inadvertent publishing error”.

According to Mr Lancaster, officials in his department noticed there was a shortfall of £438,193,000 to the Armed Forces Compensation scheme – a service available to serving and former personnel who are injured as a result of their service in the military.

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The Armed Forces Compensation scheme is available to serving and former serving personnel who are injured as a result of their service in the military (Getty Images)

It means the Ministry of Justice has now asked the Treasury to match the sum from its contingency funds, which are used to finance payments for urgent services and to provide funds required by government departments “to meet temporary cash deficiencies”.

Nia Griffith, the shadow Defence Secretary told The Independent: “I am deeply concerned that this Government appears to have underfunded the Armed Forces Pension and Compensation schemes by over £438 million.”

She added: “These important schemes exist to support our veterans in retirement and to compensate those who have been injured in service. Our veterans and service members need urgent reassurance that the Government’s accounting blunder won’t leave them out of pocket”.

Electrification cancellations

On Tuesday ministers were accused of abandoning flagship pledges to electrify major rail lines. The upgrades of key routes to Bristol, Oxford and Berkshire have been “deferred” after spending spiralled out of control – prompting speculation they will never happen.

Separately, the rail minister refused to commit to meeting the 2023 target – already delayed by three years – to electrify the Midland Mainline which connects Sheffield to London.

The announcement that the upgrades of four lines on the Great Western route have been put back indefinitely was made by rail minister Paul Maynard, in a written parliamentary statement.

Coasting schools

The Department for Education quietly slipped out statistics on the number of ‘coasting’ schools. In the Queen’s speech, the government said it planned to convert these so-called coasting schools into academies.  According to the Government a ‘coasting’ school is one that over time does not support its pupils to fulfill their potential.

But the data in Dfe report claims that in the primary sector a higher proportion of academies than non-academies are likely to be named as coasting. 

Terrorism charges

People will continue to be detained at British ports, airports and international railway stations without grounds for suspicion that the person is involved in terrorism or any other crime.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said introducing the element of suspicion to Section 7 of the Terrorism Act “would fundamentally undermine the utility of the power”.

Ms Rudd also announced she wants to bring forward legislation to ensure terror suspects admitted to hospital could have this time removed from their detention, giving police and security forces more time to question them. 

This would apply to suspects arrested without a warrant, who can be detained for up to 48 hours without charge and for up to a week for further questioning, with the approval of a judge.

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