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The national minimum wage will increase to £11.44 per hour starting in April and will now include workers who are 21 years old. This was the latest update on this topic.

According to Professor Sir Chris Whitty, during the Covid inquiry, the government had the opportunity to increase their efforts in February 2020 when they were first alerted that a pandemic could result in over 100,000 fatalities.

According to him, had there been a warning about a potential terrorist attack and the potential number of casualties, the response of the system would have been vastly different.

A: Why didn’t you answer the call from No 10 and make them aware that they were underestimating the severity of the threat?

According to Whitty, a discussion took place regarding the specific estimation of the worst possible outcome, with some suggesting it could be 300,000 deaths while others proposed it could be 600,000 deaths.

According to him, the system is not equipped to comprehend health-related threats, rather than security threats.

Can we agree that was a failure of the system?

According to Whitty, it is uncertain how much of an impact it would have had if No 10 had reacted with a greater sense of urgency. However, he continues:

In an ideal situation, there would have been a alternate reaction.

Hugo Keith KC makes another attempt.

Why weren’t you and others informed about the nature of the threat email No 10 or given the opportunity to voice your concerns in response to the system failure?

According to Whitty, it can be challenging to determine your next steps after speaking with everyone you’ve spoken to.

According to his written statement, Sir Patrick Vallance attempted to garner interest from 10 Downing Street through the assistance of Dominic Cummings.

He claims that he is not convinced that the outcome would have been different if he had acted differently. However, he continues:

This cannot be described as ideal by anyone looking at it.

They have taken a break.

Chairperson Dame Heather Hallett informs Whitty that he will need to come back tomorrow as they will not be able to cover all of his evidence today.


  • The new foreign secretary, David Cameron, gave his first speech in the Lords, where he defended his performance as Prime Minister and made a sarcastic comment about Boris Johnson’s “delusions” (refer to 4.18pm for details).

  • According to the Low Pay Commission, the “national living wage” will equate to two-thirds of the median wage in the upcoming year, making the UK a leader among similar economies. The government has approved the LPC’s suggestions, resulting in a main rate increase to £11.44 per hour (as reported at 4:54 PM). In a statement, LPC chair Bryan Sanderson expressed his agreement with this decision.

The national living wage has provided better living conditions for numerous individuals working in various essential roles, such as childcare, eldercare, farming, and retail. This ongoing initiative has resulted in a yearly increase of over £9,000 for full-time workers without any negative impact on employment rates.

It has been a challenging time for employers, as the economy has encountered a variety of unprecedented obstacles in recent times. The significant amount of uncertainty in politics and economics has made it tough to evaluate and predict the economy’s performance, making our job difficult. I commend my fellow commissioners for their ability to maintain consensus despite these challenges.

Our recent suggestion for a national minimum wage of £11.44 aims to navigate through the current uncertainty and meet the government’s goal of reaching two-thirds of the median wage. If this proposal is adopted, it would place the UK ahead of other similar economies.

The hourly wage will increase to a minimum of £11. The Treasury has recently declared that in tomorrow’s autumn statement, the minimum wage will rise to £11.44 per hour. According to the announcement:

The head of the government will announce an increase in salary of at least £1,800 annually for a full-time employee. This announcement also confirms that the national minimum wage will rise by more than £1 per hour starting in April.

The national living wage has increased by almost 10%, from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour, which is the largest cash raise in over 10 years. This fulfills the government’s promise in their manifesto to eliminate low wages for those earning the national living wage.

Individuals who are 21 years of age and older will now be eligible for the national living wage, receiving a 12.4% increase from £10.18 to £11.44 next year. This increase equates to an annual raise of almost £2,300 for full-time workers.

The minimum wage for younger employees will rise, including a £1.11 increase in hourly pay for 18-20-year-olds, bringing their wage to £8.60 per hour.

According to the Department for Business and Trade, approximately 2.7 million employees will see a direct impact from the increase in the national living wage by 2024.

According to the Treasury, this indicates that the government has successfully reached its goal of increasing the “national living wage” to two-thirds of median earnings by 2024.

The Covid inquiry hearing has concluded, but Prof Sir Chris Whitty has not yet completed his testimony. He is scheduled to return at 9:30am tomorrow. Attendees of the inquiry may be curious about the lack of captivating WhatsApp messages that have surfaced today. According to Eleanor Hayward of the Times, Whitty has addressed this question.

Whitty admits to the inquiry that his WhatsApps may seem dull in comparison to others.

In regards to the Covid investigation, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, who serves as England’s chief medical officer and the government’s chief medical advisor, expressed difficulty in early 2020 with getting ministers to comprehend the rapid spread of Covid. He further stated:

One aspect that was challenging to convey, which I found unexpected considering the number of individuals in politics and the official system with training in economics, is the tremendous impact of exponential growth in rapidly reaching large numbers from small numbers.

Before the pandemic, many individuals did not comprehend how rapidly small numbers can grow into large numbers and double every few days. However, I believe that after witnessing it, people now have a better understanding.

The speech given in the House of Lords was a well-crafted one, containing humor, praise, modesty, self-promotion, and addressing past conflicts. The following are noteworthy moments from the speech.

I am eager to respond to inquiries from esteemed members of the House and attend all relevant committees on a monthly basis. I acknowledge my obligations to this assembly and am willing to explore other suitable methods to ensure that Parliament can thoroughly review all the tasks of my department.

It appeared to be a mention of recommendations for him to answer inquiries from Members of Parliament while serving as the foreign secretary in Westminster Hall.

During my time as prime minister, I came to understand that our international reputation is closely tied to our domestic accomplishments. While we may not have been perfect, we were able to challenge and break some long-standing political beliefs in our six years in office. We proved that it is possible to both grow the economy and reduce carbon emissions, lower the deficit and increase employment, and improve academic achievements in underprivileged areas.

You have the ability to create a diverse and inclusive community that celebrates all races and ethnicities while also promoting a sense of pride and patriotism.

With a British Indian leader in charge, we now have the chance to accomplish all of these goals and solidify our position as a powerful and respected nation on the global stage.

Cameron did not acknowledge that one of his biggest achievements as PM was breaking the traditional belief that the UK would remain in the EU, which was actually a belief he wanted to maintain. This passage is noteworthy because it contradicts Rishi Sunak’s recent speech at the Conservative party conference, where he criticized the political system for favoring easy decisions over the right ones, which could also be seen as a criticism of Cameron’s government.

  • He expressed his long-standing admiration for the House of Lords, describing it as a valuable counterpart to the Commons due to its patience, diligence, and thoughtfulness. He also made a playful comment about the chamber’s elaborate wooden panels, noting that they were a significant improvement from his previously infamous shepherd’s hut.

  • He jokingly likened himself to Margaret Thatcher, citing her first speech in the House of Lords where she mentioned her responsibility for granting peerages to numerous members. He saw himself in a similar role and playfully admitted to being responsible for making space a valuable commodity.

  • He stated that his initial experience in the House of Lords was as a parliamentary researcher, during which he heard Lord Macmillan deliver his first speech criticizing Margaret Thatcher. He assured that he would not follow suit with his replacement.

  • Cameron made a humorous remark about Boris Johnson’s potential return. Johnson’s leadership in the leave campaign played a significant role in bringing an end to Cameron’s time as prime minister. Cameron made a comment alluding to Johnson as his rival.

I was caught off guard when I was approached to serve as foreign secretary. I have not been waiting around, like a modern-day de Gaulle at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, for this opportunity to regain control. I also do not see myself as Cincinnatus, who left his plough to lead his country. I will leave references to classical figures, and any illusions that may come with them, to another former prime minister who I have shared educational experiences with.

After resigning, Johnson likened himself to Cincinnatus, a Roman politician who was summoned out of retirement to serve as a dictator once more.

David Cameron, now a peer in the House of Lords, is currently giving his first speech. He is starting the discussion on the trade bill known as the “comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific partnership.”

He happily sat on the front bench for a minimum of thirty minutes before beginning, with a wide grin expressing his satisfaction and excitement for his new position.

Currently, his speech primarily centers on himself and his return, with numerous compliments towards the House of Lords. There has been no mention of the CPTPP yet. I will provide a summary in the near future.

He began by stating that he had been a member of the Commons for 15 years, and expressed his excitement for continuing his membership in the Lords for many more years.

It is evident that he is not taking the threat of the Labour party to abolish the House of Lords very seriously.

David Cameron delivering his maiden speech in Lords

The government could have taken quicker action in February 2020, according to Prof Sir Chris Whitty, when initial warnings indicated that a pandemic could result in over 100,000 deaths.

If someone had alerted about the potential of a terrorist attack causing this amount of fatalities, the response of the system would have been drastically different.

Why didn’t you answer the call from No 10 and inform them that they were not comprehending the seriousness of the danger?

Whitty claims that there was a discussion regarding the specific estimate for the worst-case scenario, whether it was 300,000 deaths or 600,000 deaths.

According to him, the system is not intended to comprehend health-related threats, rather than security threats.

Wasn’t that a failure of the system?

According to Whitty, it is uncertain what impact it would have had if No 10 had reacted with a greater sense of urgency. However, he continues:

In a perfect scenario, the reaction would have been different.

Hugo Keith KC attempts once more.

Why didn’t you and others make others aware of the threat in email No. 10 or speak up about your concerns in response to the system failure?

According to Whitty, it can be challenging to determine your next steps after speaking with everyone you’ve spoken to.

He reports that Sir Patrick Vallance stated in a written statement that he attempted to capture the attention of No 10 through Dominic Cummings.

He claims that he remains unconvinced that the outcome would have been different had he acted differently. However, he continues by saying:

This cannot be considered ideal.

They have taken a break.

Chairwoman Dame Heather Hallett informs Whitty that he will need to come back tomorrow as they will not be able to cover all of his evidence today.

A resolution proposed by SNP to halt hostilities in Gaza.

Prior to the discussion, Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, issued a public letter to Rishi Sunak advocating for the UK to acknowledge the existence of Palestine as a state. He stated that…

The United Kingdom must collaborate with the global community to resolve the ongoing political deadlock that has resulted in continuous outbreaks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. This would be facilitated by the UK acknowledging the existence of the state of Palestine according to the 1967 borders, a step that has been taken by over 130 members of the United Nations and nine members of the European Union, as well as promised by the new Spanish government.

The act of recognizing would provide Palestinians with a sense of optimism that a fair and long-lasting political resolution is achievable. It would also make it clear to the Israeli government that relying on military tactics is unrealistic and that forcibly removing Palestinians from Gaza is not an acceptable solution.

Yousaf reiterated his argument in a public letter addressed to Keir Starmer.

According to Professor Sir Chris Whitty, in hindsight, it would have been beneficial to suggest that individuals returning from China in early 2020 should self-isolate, regardless of whether they were experiencing symptoms, in light of the Covid situation.

However, he expresses uncertainty about the potential impact of this decision, as Covid was already spreading in the UK from European nations.

In August, a letter was sent to a representative of the UK government stating that the sentences were harsher than those given in the past for similar offenses.

The special rapporteur expressed significant worry over the punishment of environmental activists for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly and association.

He stated: “I am deeply worried about the potential consequences that the harsh sentences could have on society and the efforts of activists. I am expressing concerns about the three-fold planetary crisis and specifically, the effects of climate change on human rights and future generations.”

However, Sunak dismissed Fry’s remarks in a post on X.

According to Sunak’s statement, he stated:

Those who violate laws should face the full consequences of their actions.

It is completely justified for self-centered demonstrators who aim to bring hardship to the diligent majority to receive harsh punishments.

This is what the general public anticipates and it is what we have provided.

According to PA, Trowland and Decker were recently unable to appeal their sentences at the highest court. PA states:

The protesters’ lawyers argued that their jail sentences for the direct action on the River Thames crossing in south-east England were excessively long, but their appeal was unsuccessful in July.

The judges recognized the longstanding and respectable tradition of civil disobedience based on conscience. They also noted that the punishments given to Trowland and Decker were more severe than previous penalties for similar offenses.

However, the female chief justice, Lady Carr, stated that the prison sentences were not overly harsh and were in line with the intentions of Parliament, as outlined in the recently passed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.

According to the judges, the new law has established a public nuisance offense that is based on fault and includes non-violent protests. The maximum punishment for this offense is 10 years in prison.

Carr stated that the sentences served a “valid” purpose of discouraging others from committing similar offenses.

Hugo Keith KC, the legal representative for the Covid inquiry, is questioning Professor Sir Chris Whitty regarding an email he sent to No 10 on January 28, 2020, in which he expressed concerns about the possibility of a pandemic.

Email from Whitty to No 10

At the time, Whitty expressed worry that the government may choose a “middle way” resolution.

He stated that his intention in writing this was to emphasize that it would not be a viable choice. He wanted government officials to understand that if the spread of Covid was not controlled in China, it could result in a global pandemic.

He expressed his desire for them to understand that in a pandemic, halting the virus would not be feasible. It could only be slowed down, not completely stopped.

According to PA Media, discussions are taking place for a fresh trade agreement and the signing of a diplomatic agreement during the state visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

On Wednesday, the UK-Korea Business Forum at Mansion House will see negotiations between Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary, and Bang Moon-kyu, her Korean counterpart.

Korean companies have pledged to invest £21bn in green energy and infrastructure projects throughout the UK, as announced by them.

In 2019, the UK successfully negotiated a free trade agreement with South Korea. The main goal of this agreement was to maintain smooth trade after Brexit and eliminate any potential uncertainty.

The United Kingdom is aiming to attain updated digital provisions in a fresh agreement, as a majority of its service exports to Korea are conducted through digital means.

The investigation into Covid has resumed.

In early 2020, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England and chief medical adviser for the UK, expressed his belief that the government’s flu pandemic plan would not be very helpful.

This was due in part to the fact that Covid was not equivalent to the flu and also because the plan did not meet the requirements for a flu pandemic like that of 1918.

If the party were to be taken over by the right, they would face difficulties. He shared a hyperlink to an article discussing his remark on X.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, a conservative politician who is pushing for a vote of no confidence in Rishi Sunak, recently spoke to GB News and expressed her opinion that individuals like Green should “go and join the Liberal Democrats.”

The One Nation Group holds the largest number of seats in the parliamentary party. However, they do not align with the views of the British public as they were against Brexit, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss. Wasn’t Damian Green the member who was removed from his position by his own association in February?

I believe that the Tory party’s actions are not radical enough in their right-leaning approach.

I desire to end the concept of net zero, I desire fortified borders, and I desire a robust police force similar to the 1980s when protesters were physically removed from public areas.

its Every Story Matters programme. Do click on the link for details. What people will say be read and analysed, and the points made will be considered by the inquiry as it mulls over its conclusions. Anonymised versions of the evidence will also be archived.

On January 14, 2020, you received a notification regarding a report on the transmission of coronavirus from one human to another.

Whitty notes that at that time, it was understood that transmission between individuals was occurring in certain environments. However, this did not necessarily guarantee the occurrence of a pandemic, according to him.

The necessary conditions for government intervention had been satisfied.

Whitty stated that this was the catalyst for the government to take it seriously. He also mentioned that Sage convened about a week afterwards.

Every week, he receives numerous notifications about outbreaks. He has a method of identifying which ones require immediate attention.

On January 16, you were aware of the existence of a coronavirus with a hospitalization rate of 12% and the potential for human-to-human transmission. Shouldn’t you have been more concerned about it?

At this juncture, Whitty states that they had been aware of this issue for a duration of two weeks.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, your deputy, stated in his witness statement that he believed this would result in a pandemic at the time. He expressed serious concerns and brought it to your attention. You argued that it could potentially escalate, but advised to wait and monitor the situation for now.

Whitty described Van-Tam as being very intuitive in his decision-making. He also mentioned that if he were to ask Van-Tam what evidence he had for predicting a pandemic, Van-Tam would simply rely on his instincts.

Jonathan and I both agree that he has a strong instinct for making the right decisions in many situations.

He is a very able epidemiologist and thinker in this area, but if I had said to him, ‘OK, what is the evidence on which this is going to be a pandemic …?’ he would have said ‘it just feels like that to me’.

This is a limited foundation for making significant decisions.

He is uncertain if a different action on 16 January would have resulted in a better outcome in the end.

Did Van-Tam’s intuition prove to be correct while yours was incorrect?

Whitty refuses to acknowledge this. He claims that the government was already addressing the issue with urgency. He cannot comprehend how the outcome would have been altered if they had reacted differently at that time.

He argues that establishing a reactive response to such threats, known as a “hair trigger,” would not be progress.

The government was already involved, according to his statement. He clarifies that saying “wait and see” does not imply that it was solely a conversation between himself and Van-Tam. He explains that scientists were closely observing the data.

He claims to have reflected on a moment during the Covid pandemic where a different choice could have led to a different result. However, he does not consider January 16th to be one of those moments.

According to him, relying solely on intuition and not having data when approaching the government will result in a lack of response.

He claims that “waiting and seeing” implied a short period of time.

According to him, there may be instances where taking immediate action appears to be the best choice. However, this perspective overlooks situations where choosing to do nothing proves to be the correct decision.

They are currently taking a break for lunch.

Source: theguardian.com