The Chairman of the Conservative Party has pushed away a television camera after being asked about the election expenses scandal that saw his party fined £70,000.
Patrick McLoughlin MP, who previously served as Transport Secretary and Chief Whip, appeared angry after being asked by a reporter about the Electoral Commission’s decision to fine the Tories over undeclared election spending.
After being greeted by Sky News reporters outside Parliament, Mr McLoughlin pushed the camera away.
As the questioning continued, the party chairman finally said: “We have made a statement. Thank you.”
“We have made a statement”, he then repeated.
It comes after an investigation by the Electoral Commission into allegations the Conservatives failed to report a number of expenses incurred during the 2015 General Election campaign.
In total, £104,765 of spending was not declared and a further £118,000 of payments were either not reported or reported incorrectly.
An additional £52,924 of costs did not have the required invoices or receipts.
In response, a Conservative spokesperson said the party had “complied fully” with the watchdog’s investigation and would pay the £70,000 fine.
Everyone the Government blames for the NHS crisis – except themselves
Everyone the Government blames for the NHS crisis – except themselves
1/6 The elderly
“We acknowledge that there are pressures on the health service, there are always extra pressures on the NHS in the winter, but we have the added pressures of the ageing population and the growing complex needs of the population,” Ms May told Parliament. Waits of over 12 hours in A&E among elderly people have more than doubled in two years, according to the latest figures from NHS Digital. The RCP said Government investment was needed to match the demand placed on the health service by the ageing population with the resources to meet it. “Pressures in social care are pushing more people into our hospitals and trapping them there for longer,” said the letter. “Without urgent investment, the NHS will fail to live up to this responsibility this winter.”
2/6 Patients going to A&E instead of seeing their GPs
The Health Secretary has called for a “honest discussion with the public about the purpose of A&E departments”, saying that around a third of A&E patients were in hospital unnecessarily. Mr Hunt told Radio 4’s Today programme the NHS now had more doctors, nurses and funding than ever, but explained what he called “very serious problems at some hospitals” by suggesting pressures were increasing in part because people are going to A&Es when they should not. He urged patients to visit their GP for non-emergency illnesses, outlined plans to release time for family doctors to support urgent care work, and said the NHS will soon be able to deliver seven-day access to a GP from 8am to 8pm. But doctors struggling amid a GP recruitment crisis said Mr Hunt’s plans were unrealistic and demanded the Government commit to investing in all areas of the overstretched health service.
3/6 Simon Stevens, head of NHS England
Reports that “key members” of Ms May’s team used internal meetings to accuse Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, of being unenthusiastic and unresponsive have been rejected by Downing Street. Mr Stevens has allegedly rejected claims made by Ms May that the NHS had been given more funding than required, according to The Times. The newspaper reported the Prime Minister’s staff have been irritated at Mr Stevens' “political” interventions, including urging ministers to pay for social care by cutting pensioner benefits. Addressing the claims about Downing Street staff, a Number 10 source said: “We don't recognise any of this”, while a separate source described the claims as “nonsense”. Mr Stevens will appear before the House of Commons public accounts committee this afternoon to respond to questions of whether the NHS is sufficiently funded amid calls of a crisis from doctors and leading medical bodies.
4/6 Previous health policy, not funding
In an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, Ms May acknowledged the NHS faced pressures but said it was a problem that had been “ducked by government over the years”. She refuted the claim that hospitals were tackling a “humanitarian crisis” and said health funding was at record levels. “We asked the NHS a while back to set out what it needed over the next five years in terms of its plan for the future and the funding that it would need,” said the Prime Minister. “They did that, we gave them that funding, in fact we gave them more funding than they required… Funding is now at record levels for the NHS, more money has been going in.” But doctors accused Ms May of being “in denial” about how the lack of additional funding provided for health and social care were behind a spiralling crisis in NHS hospitals.
5/6 Target to treat all A&E patients within four hours
Mr Hunt was accused on Monday of watering down the flagship target to treat all A&E patients within four hours. The Health Secretary told MPs the promise – introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2000 – should only be for “those who actually need it”. Amid jeers in the Commons, Mr Hunt said only four other countries pledged to treat all patients within a similar timeframe and all had “less stringent” rules. But Ms May has now said the Government will stand by the four-hour target for A&E, which says 95 per cent of patients must be dealt with within that time frame.
6/6 No one
Mr Hunt was accused of “hiding” from the public eye following news of the Red Cross’s comments and didn’t make an official statement for two days. He was also filmed refusing to answer questions from journalists who pursued him down the street yesterday to ask whether he planned to scrap the four-hour A&E waiting time target. Sky News reporter Beth Rigby pressed the Health Secretary on his position on the matter, saying “the public will want to know, Mr Hunt”. “Sorry Beth, I’ve answered questions about this already,” replied Mr Hunt. “But you didn’t answer questions on this. You said it was over-interpreted in the House of Commons and you didn’t want to water it down. Is that what you’re saying?” said Ms Rigby. “It’s very difficult, because how are we going to explain to the public what your intention is, when you change your position and then won’t answer the question, Mr Hunt”. But the Health Secretary maintained his silence until he reached his car and got in.
"This investigation and these fines relate to national spending by CCHQ, and the Conservative Party's national spending return for the 2015 general election,” they said.
"As we have consistently said, the local agents of Conservative candidates correctly declared all local spending in the 2015 general election.
"CCHQ accepted in March 2016 that it had made an administrative error by not declaring a small amount constituting 0.6% of our national spending in the 2015 election campaign.
"Political parties of all colours have made reporting mistakes from time to time... this is the first time the Conservative Party has been fined for a reporting error.
"We regret that and will continue to keep our internal processes under review to ensure this does not happen again.
"Given the range of technical errors made by a number of political parties and campaign groups, there also needs to be a review of how the Electoral Commission's processes and requirements could be clarified or improved."