Speaker warns against style police in the Commons

Tom Brake Image caption Some MPs have been displeased at Lib Dem Tom Brake's decision not to wear a tie

The style police will not be patrolling the Commons debating chamber deciding who can ask questions, Speaker John Bercow has said after defending the new right of male MPs not to wear ties.

Last week, Mr Bercow upset some traditionalists when he announced that members should be dressed in "businesslike attire" but stressed that that didn't have to include a tie.

The ruling came after a Conservative MP complained that Liberal Democrat Tom Brake had been allowed to speak in spite of not wearing a tie.

The ranks of the old guard unhappy at the change include the Transport Minister, John Hayes, who declared he wouldn't take interventions from "sartorially challenged" MPs who weren't wearing ties.

Raising a point of order on Thursday, Mr Brake told Mr Bercow there was a risk of a "slippery slope" which might lead the minister to "refuse to take interventions from members who were sartorially challenged in other ways, such as wearing a gaudy tie or a garish waistcoat".

The Speaker said rulings on the dress code for MPs were a matter "exclusively" for him.

And he said Mr Hayes' application to be a "style policeman" had been filed "in the appropriate place"....

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Europe migrant crisis: EU blamed for 'soaring' death toll

Migrants wait to disembark as they arrive at the Crotone harbour, Italy. Photo: 21 June 2017Image copyright Reuters Image caption Italy - due to its proximity to Libya - is the main destination for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea

Amnesty International has blamed "failing EU policies" for the soaring death toll among refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean.

In a report, it said "cynical deals" with Libya consigned thousands to the risk of drowning, rape and torture.

It said the EU was turning a blind eye to abuses in Libyan detention centres, and was mostly leaving it up to sea rescue charities to save migrants.

More than 2,000 people have died in 2017 trying to get to Europe, it said.

The EU has so far made no public comments on Amnesty's report.

It comes as interior ministers from the 28-member bloc are meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, to discuss the migrant crisis.

They will review a $92m (£71m) action plan unveiled by the European Commission to deal with the issue.

The commission proposes to use more than 50% of the funds to boost the Libyan coastguard's capacity to stop traffickers launching boatloads of migrants out to sea to be rescued.

The rest is to help Italy feed, house and process the migrants who get there.

Italian ports have continued to see a large number of migrants arrive in the past year, putting stress on the country's asylum system.Earlier this month, officials suggested closing Italy's ports to foreign rescue ships[1] - something which is legally difficult, but indicative of the strain the country is under.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees added his voice to calls for more assistance for the Mediterranean nation from the international community.

"What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy," Filippo Grandi said at the time."This cannot be an Italian problem alone."


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Media captionThis video from May shows the coastguard rescuing a migrant clinging to a ship's rudder

Italy's problem is partly attributed to the instability in nearby Libya, which is largely controlled by a multitude of armed militias, loyal to rival government factions.The country has been embroiled in widespread conflict[2] since the downfall of Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In the power vacuum, people smugglers operating from the country's north coast are putting African refugees to sea in the hope of reaching Italy, often on flimsy rafts which cannot make the entire journey.Instead, humanitarian vessels rescue them from the water and deliver the migrants to the nearest port - an Italian one.

"Rather than acting to save lives and offer protection, European ministers...are shamelessly prioritising reckless deals with Libya in a desperate bid to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Italy," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's Europe director.

"European states have progressively turned their backs on a search and rescue strategy that was reducing mortality at sea in favour of one that has seen thousands drown and left desperate men, women and children trapped in Libya, exposed to horrific abuses," he said.

Amnesty's report said measures implemented by the EU to strengthen search and rescue in the central Mediterranean in 2015 had dramatically decreased deaths at sea.

But this priority was short-lived, the document said, adding that the EU later shifted its focus to disrupting smugglers and preventing departures from Libya.

Such practices and an increasing use of unseaworthy boats had made the sea even more unsafe, Amnesty said.

Interceptions by the Libyan coastguard often put refugees and migrants at risk, the rights group warned.

It said that there were serious allegations that coastguard members were colluding with smugglers and abusing migrants.

"If the second half of this year continues as the first and urgent action is not taken, 2017 looks set to become the deadliest year for the deadliest migration route in the world," Mr Dalhuisen said.

"The EU must rethink its co-operation with Libya's woefully dysfunctional coastguard and deploy more vessels where they are desperately needed."

Mr Dalhuisen stressed that "ultimately the only sustainable and humane way to reduce the numbers risking such horrific journeys is to open more safe and legal routes for migrants and refugees to reach Europe".

A note on terminology:The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum.This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants....

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Jeremy Corbyn: UK must embrace technological change

Car factoryImage copyright Getty Images Image caption The PwC report suggested gains in productivity from robots and Artificial Intelligence would boost the economy

The state has a vital role to play in helping the UK maximise the benefits of automation and other technological changes, Jeremy Corbyn is to say.

The Labour leader will say he is not a "doom-monger" about mechanisation, saying jobs have been "lost, replaced and transformed" down the centuries.

But he will argue that adapting the UK for the jobs of the future "can't simply be left to the market".

A recent report suggested robots could affect 30% of British jobs by 2030.

The PwC study estimated that 30% of existing jobs in the UK were potentially under threat from automation, compared with 38% in the US and 21% in Japan, with manufacturing and retail at the greatest risk.

In a speech to business leaders in London, Mr Corbyn will say it is an unavoidable reality that new technology will lead to the loss of jobs and potentially the demise of entire industries.

But he will say he does not share the pessimism of some who fear it will result in an era of mass unemployment - since it will also usher in a wealth of new opportunities and the emergence of "as yet unforeseen" careers.

Social cost

While any government cannot stand in the way of such profound changes, he will say the state has a duty to help equip people to deal with the inevitable future "churn" in employment and ensure they have the skills to grasp new opportunities.

"At every stage of economic and industrial history, jobs, industries and skills have been lost, replaced and transformed," Mr Corbyn will tell the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference.

"But whether that happens at huge social cost, as it did, for example, in the early days of the industrial revolution and the Luddites, or is embraced and benefits everybody, depends on managing and planning for technological change.We can't simply leave it to the market.

"We need public institutions, public investment and public enterprise to work with business to manage the social and economic effects of rapid technological change so that it benefits the many not the few."

In its election manifesto, Labour promised that if it won power all further education courses would be free as part of a new national education service.

Mr Corbyn will say life-long learning and the opportunity to acquire new skills hold the key to the UK's future productivity and prosperity after what he claims has been a "lost decade" in terms of wages and output.

The Conservatives have set a goal of creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020 as part of efforts to address skills gaps which British business has warned is holding the country back.

To help pay for this, firms with a pay bill of £3m have had to pay an apprenticeship levy since April.

Education Secretary Justine Greening is among the other speakers at the BCC conference....

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