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The News section lists important news items recently published, regarding government policy and issues affecting UK citizens.


Government review of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Prime Minister has commissioned an internal government review into the philosophy, activities, impact and influence on UK national interests, at home and abroad, of the Muslim Brotherhood and of government policy towards the organisation.


Tony Blair to say battle against Islamic extremism is paramount

Former PM, who supported Egyptian military’s overthrow of democratically elected government, to urge west to take sides.


UK e-Borders programme unable to help track immigration

Ministers admit £500m scheme, which took 10 years to develop, cannot replace existing methods of estimating net migration.


Nigel Farage launches Ukip campaign amid criticism of ‘racist’ rhetoric

Party leader unveils posters for European elections campaign and pledges to tighten access to benefits of EU migrants in UK.


Vince Cable tells top UK firms: crack down on bonuses or face new laws

Business secretary urges companies to rethink pay deals to regain public trust and move focus off short-term success.


David Cameron blasted over shotgun licence fees veto

Lib Dem minister says PM’s refusal to end 13-year freeze on firearms fees means taxpayers are subsidising gun owners.


PM and Chancellor welcome £36 billion infrastructure projects

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor will visit a transport infrastructure project today (22 April 2014) to see action the government is taking to help hardworking people and back businesses with better infrastructure being delivered on the ground.


Scotland has ‘five big positives’ to staying in UK Gordon Brown says

Former prime minister claims no vote would secure state pensions and NHS funding and 600,000 jobs reliant on UK trade.


Nigel Farage defends Ukip’s election campaign after critics call ads racist

Party launches biggest ever publicity drive with anti-immigration posters ahead of European parliamentary elections.


Ukip part of ‘longstanding Eurosceptic establishment’ says Nick Clegg

Lib Dem leader rejects Nigel Farage’s assertion that Ukip and its followers are akin to army of ‘insurgents’.


Jack Straw comes out in support of David Cameron on ‘Christian Britain’

Former Labour foreign secretary tells BBC’s Today programme Christian-based values ‘permeate our sense of citizenship’.


New garden cities not required to include low-cost homes, minister says

Nick Boles says no stipulation would be imposed on schemes, despite Nick Clegg’s pledge that they would help solve housing crisis,


Scottish independence – Gordon Brown warns of pensions ‘timebomb’

Ex-prime minister enters increasingly tight battle over independence as yes campaign gains momentum.


Welfare cuts drive UK’s poorest families deeper into poverty says Oxfam

Survey points to effect of overall cut in value of benefits as well as changes to housing benefit and council tax support.


Nigel Farage targets Labour heartland as poll shows Ukip support undamaged

Ukip leader to deliver strong anti-immigration message pitched at working-class voters, after brushing off expenses allegations.


Marine Le Pen accuses Nigel Farage of slander over antisemitism claims

Spat between leaders of Ukip and French National Front follows Farage’s rejection of European coalition offer.


Scottish independence campaign is gaining ground polls show

Gap between yes and no camps has narrowed with five months to go until referendum.


Vince Cable presses ahead with public register on company ownership

Business secretary brushes off warnings from CBI and Law Society over plan to tackle ‘darker side of capitalism’.


Treasury must urgently explain plans to sell taxpayers’ details says Labour

Shadow Treasury minister says plan could ‘compromise the privacy of individuals simply complying with their tax obligations’.


Councils sit on £67m in emergency help for poor

Record numbers of families have pleas for help rejected even though councils in England are failing to spend allocated cash.


Labour considers raising national insurance to fix £30bn NHS ‘black hole’

Drastic action needed to keep NHS in anything like its current form, says former minister Frank Field, as elderly care costs rise.


Whistleblowing heart doctor who aired hospital safety fears wins tribunal case

Trust spent £6m in effort to discredit cardiologist Raj Mattu but tribunal rules that sacking by Coventry hospital was unjustified.


Foreign doctors ‘should face tougher skills test before practising in UK’

Studies published in British Medical Journal say medics trained overseas are often not as competent as those schooled in UK.


How did Cyril Smith outfox the law? | Michael White

Cunning, bombast and like Jimmy Savile friends in high places. Was that enough to cover up the former Rochdale Liberal MP’s child sex abuse?


Christian charity hits back over Tory attacks on food banks

Praise from David Cameron for Trussell Trust at odds with Iain Duncan Smith attack.


Quango chief steps down after being exposed as bankrupt

Tony Caplin, appointed by David Cameron as head of Public Works Loans Board, resigns after No 10 investigation.


David Cameron stung by jellyfish

PM’s encounter with sea creature while on holiday in Lanzarote is not the first time that a jellyfish has caused him pain.


HMRC to sell taxpayers’ financial data

Firms could buy ‘anonymised’ financial details. Plan ‘borderline insane’ according to senior Tory MP.


David Axelrod tipped to make grassroots central to Labour campaign

Senior Labour staffer says newly appointed senior strategist will focus on mobilising activists in 2015 election.


Election will be tight but winnable with Axelrod’s help says Douglas Alexander

Barack Obama’s most influential adviser hailed by Labour’s campaign chief as crucial in helping party through tough battle.


New Treasury minister faces questions over tax arrangements

Andrea Leadsom has held properties in a company rather than in her own name and made use of offshore banking services.


Nigel Farage rejects offer of Ukip tie to French far-right Front National

Ukip leader instead chooses Gaullist Debout la Republique party while being complimentary about Marine Le Pen.


CBI backs no vote in Scottish independence referendum

Business lobby group accused of failing to consult members before formally registering position, with two firms resigning.

Vince Cable to bring in tougher penalties for ‘dodgy directors’

Measures would allow courts to ban those with overseas convictions and order compensation for victims of misconduct.


FSA orders tests on takeaways after lamb meals found to contain other meat

Which? found that 24 out of 60 lamb curries and kebabs tested contained cheaper meats such as beef and chicken.


Ed Miliband signs up top Obama adviser David Axelrod for UK election

US president’s right-hand man, who masterminded back-to-back election wins, to sharpen Labour party focus on inequality.


John Bercow attacks ‘cacophany’ at prime minister’s questions

Commons Speaker says party leaders have not pledged to improve behaviour which is putting off MPs from contributing.


Ed Balls faces police investigation over collision with parked car

West Yorkshire police confirm shadow chancellor collided with parked vehicle and drove off without informing owner.


Caroline Lucas cleared of anti-fracking protest charges

Green MP and four co-defendants found not guilty of obstructing public highway and public order offences during protests.


Minister says death date estimate would help pensioners manage money

Pensions minister Steve Webb suggests most people underestimate how long they will live, resulting in poor financial projections.


Former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers charged with drugs offences

Flowers was suspended by Methodist church and Labour party last year following claims that he bought and used illegal drugs.


Hunger is a ‘national crisis’ religious leaders tell Cameron

Religious leaders and faith groups ask David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to tackle the causes of food poverty.


Veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell to stand down sparking battle for seat

Great Grimsby MP calls on Ed Miliband to ‘mix with ordinary people more’ as he announces he will quit.


Tory mayor resigns over remarks about disabled people

Nick Martin, mayor of Swindon, quits after being ordered to apologise by standards watchdog.


Ed Balls faces prosecution for hitting parked car and failing to stop

Shadow chancellor’s ‘five or seven’ point turn outside constituency office is latest offence involving poor driving.


David Cameron – I am evangelical about Christian faith


Prime minister criticises some non-believers for failing to see that faith can give people a ‘moral code’.


Nigel Farage rejects ‘outrageous’ EU expenses allegations

Ukip leader says he makes legitimate use of flat-rate allowances after it emerged that he pays no rent on his UK office.


Everything up for negotiation if Scots vote for independence Hammond says

Defence secretary appears to undermine no camp, saying: ‘You can’t go into any negotiation with things that are non-negotiable’.


Theresa Villiers says Northern Ireland’s chief constable will run crime agency

The Northern Ireland secretary also said there would be no more amnesties for IRA members on the run, after John Downey.


Extended benefit sanctions push up numbers seeking advice on paying bills

Citizens Advice Bureau reports 60% spike in people wanting help since period JSA is withheld increased to four weeks.


Scottish independence would damage maritime defence says First Sea Lord

Admiral Sir George Zambellas says breakaway would weaken navy with bases and infrastructure carved up.


Nigel Evans says anonymity should be considered for sex case defendants

Former deputy speaker says MPs should look at giving lifetime anonymity to people accused of sex offences.


Tory MP defends her role in Nigel Evans sexual assault case

Sarah Wollaston claims she had to offer help to complainants, but Tory colleagues demand apology for her actions.


Farage under fire over MEP expenses claims

Ukip leader denies wrongdoing as he faces questions over £15,500 in expenses claimed annually for office costs.


Nick Clegg to promise up to three new garden cities with 15000 homes each

Deputy prime minister says government will invite bids from councils for new housing schemes.


Poll shows opposition to education reforms

Majority say councils should keep responsibilities over schools and that teaching profession requires dedicated training.


Labour edges ahead in latest poll as support for Conservatives slips

Observer/Opinium findings show Labour holding a six point lead over the struggling Tories, while Ukip also climbs.


Nigel Evans urges CPS to repay money he spent defending rape allegations

Tory former deputy speaker says he used life savings to fund his successful £130,000 defence against charges.


Benefits of fuel duty freeze offset loss in tax income says Treasury report

Controversial findings say savings on fuel costs lead to spending on other services but cause furore among environmental groups.


Alex Salmond brands anti-Scottish independence campaign ‘miserable’

First minister tells SNP the pro-independence movement is instead a ‘beacon of hope’ for Scotland.


Ukip will benefit if MPs fail to tackle perception of misconduct says Labour


Impression MPs ‘splash about on expenses’ and get drunk in subsidised bars creates antipathy towards politics, warns Harman.


Attorney general demands answers from CPS over failed sex offence cases

Some Tories calling for a higher threshold of evidence after acquittals of Nigel Evans, Michael Le Vell and Bill Roache.


Scotland likely to choose independence foreign diplomats believe

Sources in diplomatic corps in Edinburgh say tide of opinion has shifted, while opinion polls show increase in support for yes vote.


Lib Dems disown ‘repugnant’ Cyril Smith but stand accused of cover-up

New book claims that senior party members conspired to protect late MP from prosecution for child sex offences.


New sex abuse claims linked to Cyril Smith school in Rochdale

Eleven suspects identified by police after seven people make new claims of historic sexual and physcial abuse at Knowl View School.


Danny Alexander refuses to rule out further tuition fees rise

Liberal Democrats’ most senior finance minister says party cannot guarantee fees will stay at £9,000 after next general election.


Tax dodging: George Osborne plans to strengthen criminal law

Chancellor wants to make it easier to impose fines and jail terms on tax avoiders exploiting offshore havens.


Government spent further £49m on Tamiflu despite known doubts about it

Spending more on stockpile of controversial anti-flu drugs that has already cost over £500m verges on the reckless, says MP.


Ukip is the party with most reasons to be cheerful ahead of European elections

Poll after Farage-Clegg debates said Ukip backed by 34% of those certain to vote, compared with 27% Labour, 20% Tories.


Liberal Democrats are pointless says sacked former minister

Jeremy Browne attacks direction of the party, saying ‘I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent it’ if it didn’t exist.


Michael Gove writes to every school in England about dangers of FGM

Education secretary addresses issue of female genital mutilation after Guardian campaign attracts support of 230,000 people.


Petition to reform MPs’ expenses system hits 80000 signatures

A petition by a first time voter warns that the Maria Miller expenses controversy will increase voter apathy among young people. How has it affected you?


Labour party facing defining moment Unite leader says

Ed Miliband urged to set out bold vision for the election as Len McCluskey warns of split with party over austerity.


Wales-England border an NHS line of life and death says Cameron

Prime minister claims Welsh hospitals underperform English ones, in attack on Carwyn Jones’s Labour administration.


Alex Salmond calls on Labour voters to back Scottish independence

SNP leader says a yes vote would not be a vote for him and could lead to a Labour government in Edinburgh.


Tory vice-chair Fabricant sacked in ‘knee-jerk decision’

MP for Lichfield says firing was due to opposition to HS2 and his tweet about former culture minister’s resignation.


High court overturns home secretary’s freeze on payments for asylum seekers

Charities welcome landmark verdict after judge rules Theresa May acted unlawfully and irrationally.


What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma

We now know the government’s Tamiflu stockpile wouldn’t have done us much good in the event of a flu epidemic. But the secrecy surrounding clinical trials means there’s a lot we don’t know about other medicines we take.


Exploitation of migrant workers will be crime under Labour

Shadow home secretary proposes stronger laws so business know where they stand.


Maria Miller resigns as culture secretary over expenses row

Miller said the controversy over her expenses ‘has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing’.


Britain will be best performing of largest economies in 2014 IMF predicts

International Monetary Fund concedes it was overly pessimistic last spring when it warned chancellor to ease austerity measures.


George Osborne to announce tough new benefit curbs for EU migrants

Child benefit and child tax credit will be not be paid until three months after European migrants arrive in Britain.


Maria Miller aide says media storm is revenge for press regulation

Mary Macleod texted Tory colleagues to say ongoing furore over culture secretary’s expenses claims were ‘due to Leveson’.


Independent Scotland would face immediate £23bn debt thinktank

Scottish government spokeswoman says NIESR analysis ‘misunderstand how government debt works’.


David Cameron welcomes all-clear on spy agencies from Sir Anthony May

Surveillance watchdog’s report says authorities do not engage in random mass intrusion into affairs of law-abiding UK citizens.


David Cameron at odds with top Tories as pressure grows on Maria Miller

Culture secretary should resign, say former party chairman Lord Tebbit and grassroots members.


Ed Miliband: Labour would use city-regions to rebalance UK growth

Party leader to say a Labour government would use economic devolution to bring prosperity to city and county regions.


Pressure grows on Maria Miller as minister criticises brief apology

Expenses row continues to dominate agenda as culture secretary comes under fire for giving wrong message to voters.


Attorney general resists call to protect witnesses from court cross-examination

Dominic Grieve QC says ensuring vulnerable are questioned by judges rather than barristers could harm right to a fair trial.


Lord Rennard in secret Lib Dem talks over misconduct crisis

Efforts made to secure a successful mediation between former chief executive and four female activists.


Scottish nationalists are ‘monstering’ UK supporters says Alistair Darling

Head of no campaign accuses pro-independence activists of shouting down those who disagree with them.


Eric Pickles – Britain still a Christian nation get over it

Communities secretary calls on militant atheists to stop imposing ‘politically correct intolerance’ on UK’s Christians.


Rules on unemployment benefits tightened to end ‘signing on’ culture

Jobless will have to take ‘basic steps’ towards finding work before they can claim, as part of government push on welfare.


Civil servants deployed to help Capita clear PIP assessments backlog

Demand for face-to-face evaluations for disability benefit has overwhelmed company contracted to carry them out.


Maria Miller row is at risk of becoming witch-hunt says Iain Duncan Smith

Work and pensions secretary backs independent regulation of MPs but offers support to culture secretary.


Maria Miller’s expenses threats ‘pretty shocking’ says ex-head of watchdog

Ex-chair of Committee on Standards in Public Life says case of culture secretary shows need to reform MPs’ disciplinary system.


Sir Richard Thompson makes rare and frank diagnosis of NHS

Royal College of Physicians president says A&E treatment target is crazy and overworked medics run around like scalded cats.


Squeezed middle has actually prospered claims thinktank


Social Market Foundation report insists economic problems faced by middle-income groups have been exaggerated.


Michael Gove’s bid to limit fallout from failing free schools revealed

Secret document for academies minister Lord Nash outlines strategy to ‘step in fast to cut political damage’.


Maria Miller: Daily Telegraph releases taped call from adviser

Recording shows Jo Hindley mentioning Miller’s involvement in Leveson discussions in conversation with reporter.


Conservatives to promise ban on new onshore windfarms

Manifesto will focus on solar power and offshore wind instead in attempt to show Cameron is not abandoning green agenda.


Tougher marking of GCSEs will peg grades to Chinese students’ results

As urged by Michael Gove, international comparisons used for more demanding grade boundaries.


Nick Clegg says he fully expected to lose debate with Nigel Farage

Deputy PM does not ‘feel bruised’ by debate and says: ‘I wasn’t going to reverse 20 years of myth-making in two hours’.


Nigel Farage should be excluded from TV election debates says Ed Miliband

Labour leader calls for repeat of 2010 debates involving three main parties, saying: ‘I am not that interested in Nigel Farage’.


Maria Miller’s expenses claims referred to police by Labour MP

Culture secretary under pressure as correspondence showing how she resisted investigation into mortgage claims is reissued.


Maria Miller threatened watchdog in attempt to limit investigation

Culture minister accused independent parliamentary standards watchdog of acting contrary to the law.

Culture secretary Maria Miller apologises over mortgage expenses

Minister is expected to repay £5,800 after standards committee criticises her for not co-operating fully with investigation.


IPCC to investigate North Yorkshire police’s handling of Savile reports

Force says it has referred itself to watchdog over response to allegations against disgraced TV presenter and Peter Jaconelli.


Ed Balls says that the average British family is £974 worse off than in 2010

Coalition is taking far more than it gives, says shadow chancellor as the Tory rise in personal tax allowance to £10,000 starts.


Ed Miliband: Labour may take rail franchises back into public ownership

Labour leader says that his party ‘are interested in innovative solutions’ to the railways but says it has to be ‘affordable’.


Labour pledges to repeal Lobbying Act in transparency drive

Legislation was supposed to bring transparency into lobbying but has been dubbed the ‘gagging law’ by charities.


Farage v Clegg – Ukip leader triumphs in second televised debate

Ukip leader judged to have beaten Liberal Democrat opposite number in head-to-head by 69% of those polled.


Nigel Farage claims Syrian rebels carried out chemical attack last summer

Ukip leader’s remarks at odds with most expert opinion follow criticism of his admiration for Vladimir Putin.


Clegg blocks Cameron’s plan for windfarm cap

Lib Dems claim leader rejected Tory proposal to limit the number of new onshore turbines.


MPs criticise BBC for ‘false balance’ in climate change coverage

Science and technology select committee says corporation continues to give opinions and scientific fact the same weight.


David Cameron orders inquiry into activities of Muslim Brotherhood

Review to look into party’s alleged links to extremism amid speculation group could be banned in Britain.


Vince Cable defends Royal Mail sell-off in Commons debate

Business secretary insists the privatisation was a success but Chuka Umunna says taxpayers were ‘disgracefully shortchanged to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds’.


George Osborne makes commitment ‘to fight for full employment’ in Britain

Chancellor repudiates 1991 declaration by Norman Lamont that unemployment was a price worth paying to bring down inflation.


Michael Gove promises to abolish illiteracy and innumeracy in UK

Education secretary’s pledge follows George Osborne’s commitment to restore Britain to full employment.


Tories plan new attack on windfarms

David Cameron considers 2015 manifesto commitment to curb onshore turbines, but Nick Clegg says Lib Dems will block it from coalition programme.


Scotland currency union with UK is not going to happen Nick Clegg states

Anonymous minister who said currency union would eventually be agreed is ‘totally, plainly, utterly and flatly wrong’, says Clegg.


Nigel Farage: I have more respect for Putin than for ‘kids’ who run Britain

Ukip leader stands by admiration of Russian president, as Nick Clegg says support for sponsor of Syria’s Assad is grotesque.


Undervaluing Royal Mail shares costs taxpayer £750m in one day

MPs accuse Vince Cable of ignoring City warnings that maximum share price of 330p left Royal Mail undervalued.


Scotland to switch to driving on the right if independence given green light

Current road signage system would also be scrapped under scheme nationalists say helps show country is ‘part of Europe’.


George Osborne hails reforms as key to economic recovery

Chancellor lauds creation of more than 1.3m posts as tax and welfare changes ‘encourage jobs growth’ across Britain.


Labour may cut students’ tuition fees to £6000 a year

Party’s election manifesto will include commitment to scrap government’s £9,000 fees but long-term policy still undecided.


Prince Charles faces political campaign to strip him of special legal privileges


Bill to propose removing privileges such as tax exemptions, powers of veto and immunity from planning and other legislation.


Cabinet minister: we’re in danger of losing Scottish independence poll

Scottish secretary slams complacency in unionist camp and says: ‘By the time we wake up it may be too late’


Labour opinion poll support falls to lowest level since 2010 election

Labour’s two-point fall in Opinium/Observer poll leaves it just one point ahead of the Tories, with Ukip up to 15%.


Maria Miller made £1m-plus from home at centre of expenses inquiry

Culture secretary will come under renewed scrutiny after the Telegraph says she will repay some money and apologise.


Generation rent: housing policy could swing the vote in 2015 election

Floating voters in dozens of key seats say their decision will be based on the parties’ housing manifestos.


Ministers to crack down on nuisance phone calls by firms and charities

Rogue companies could be fined hundreds of thousands of pounds if they continue to flout the law.


Nigel Farage hits out at ‘militarist’ EU over Ukraine

Ukip leader says European Union pursued quasi-imperial foreign policy and encouraged Ukrainians to ‘poke the Russian bear’.


About 6% of people hit by bedroom tax have moved home figures show

A year after housing benefits were cut for council tenants with spare rooms, figures show 30,000 have moved.


Osborne and Alexander try to quash UK-Scotland currency union suggestion

Chancellor and deputy respond to minister’s claim that UK would have to form currency union to ensure economic stability.


Nigel Farage accuses EU of ‘poking Russian bear with stick’ over Ukraine

Ukip leader attacks EU’s foreign policy, claiming it has provoked Russia and deepened Syria crisis by giving rebels false hope.


Ed Miliband to propose fresh energy price controls as he targets ‘big six’

The Labour leader will brush aside criticism by power providers and seek a Commons vote next week on immediate price freeze.


Tories claim backing from Germany on EU stance

George Osborne publishes article with counterpart Wolfgang Schauble arguing countries not using euro. must be treated fairly.


Healthcare staff reveal they have no confidence in Jeremy Hunt

Frontline professionals say health secretary does not understand the NHS and feel it is under too much political control.


Nigel Farage’s victory in snap poll surprises political insiders

Clegg camp disappointed with first opinion polls but say the real win is having the debate and talking directly to voters.


Poor families hit by welfare reforms ‘running up £52 of debt every week’

Research finds average debt of low income households affected by benefits changes is almost £3,000 – up 29% since October.


Clegg v Farage: snap poll suggests firm Ukip win in head-to-head over Europe

Lib Dem deputy prime minister protests over anti-Europe scare stories; Ukip leader condemns EU support for Ukraine.


Fracking ‘good for the UK’ says David Cameron

Prime minister claims that people’s concerns about shale gas will abate once a few wells are up and running.


Teachers stage one-day strike in England and Wales

Schools face closure as National Union of Teachers leads walkout in continuing row over pay and conditions.


Independent Scotland would have same influence in EU as Finland says CBI

Business group says Scotland would face being left out in cold and Salmond’s plan to join EU within 18 months is ‘ambitious’.


Stephen Lawrence lawyer: I wouldn’t take case with today’s legal-aid cuts

Imran Khan warns the government’s legal-aid budget cuts mean lawyers can’t afford to take on expensive open-ended cases.


MPs question royal family’s ‘undue influence’ on legislation

Committee of MPs indicate that age-old practice of seeking royal consent for parliamentary bills may soon come to an end.


G7 countries snub Putin and refuse to attend planned G8 summit in Russia

Amid fears of further Russian military moves in Ukraine, G7 meets in The Hague without Russia for the first time since 1998.


Flight MH370: how Inmarsat honed in on missing Malaysian Airlines’ plane

UK satellite firm and AAIB cited for ‘groundbreaking maths’ to narrow the flight corridor of missing passenger jet and help solve riddle.


HMRC criticised for using terror laws against tax whistleblower

Public accounts committee chair says tax official’s use of powers to track down journalist had ‘shocked her to the bones’.


Deepcut soldier’s family allowed to seek new inquest

Attorney general grants permission to relatives of Private Cheryl James to go to high court for second hearing.


Police ask Theresa May to lift ban on water cannon

West Mercia police chief writes to home secretary urging her to lift ban on use of water cannon across England and Wales.


Help to Buy scheme used to purchase more than 17000 homes, figures reveal

Downing Street releases statistics days after George Osborne announced the scheme will be extended until 2020.


Energy watchdog Ofgem fails to challenge Big Six suppliers’ dominance

New market-share figures prompt calls for action to fix “broken” energy market, as domestic power bills continue to soar.


TUC calls for employers to commit to living wage as pay gap widens

Report shows salaries for top 10% of earners rose faster than for bottom 10% as pay inequality intensifies across UK.


Labour urges strategic defence review to consider cyberwar threat

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker to call for 2015 review to focus more on long-term strategy and ‘smart power’.


Independent Scotland’s finances at risk from oil slump say economists

University of Glasgow researchers warn North Sea production fall will leave Scotland £1,000 worse off per person than UK.


Budget 2014 – how the pension changes affect you

Pensioners are to be given more freedom with their savings, leading to fewer buying the much-hated annuities.


Tory MPs block EU funding for first world war centenary events

Eurosceptics on key Commons committee fear money may assist cause of political integration.


Pay in key industries won’t recover until 2025

TUC launches Fair Pay Fortnight and pushes for return of wage councils.


‘Family doctor service on brink of extinction’ says new GP leader

Growing demand for care and lack of cash are fuelling the crisis, says Royal College chief in outspoken attack.


Michael Gove welcomes Ofsted’s school inspection overhaul

Education secretary says removal of intensive, multi-layered inspections is ‘reflection of success’.


Michelle Obama says internet access should be ‘universal right’

First lady risks upsetting Chinese hosts with plea for unrestricted internet, but may have been aiming at Turkish PM.


Pension reform may threaten right to free social care warn charities

People who cash in pension savings could find themselves trapped into paying care bills they could have avoided.


European Union prepares for trade war with Russia over Crimea

Brussels drafts tougher sanctions for new battle plan against Moscow should Putin expand territorial claims in Ukraine.


Work programme creates just 48000 long-term jobs in three years

Flagship jobs scheme the government insisted would help millions back into work is called into question by figures.


Grant Shapps says he loves bingo and beer

Tory party chairman responds to criticism of his ‘condescending’ tweeted poster publicising beer and bingo tax cuts.


Government got maths wrong on fees

Nick Hillman, who worked for David Willetts on student loans regime, calls for action over looming university funding gap.


TV licence fee evasion could be decriminalised

Cases of people accused of evading licence fee accounted for more than one in 10 criminal prosecutions last year.


Student fees policy likely to cost more than the system it replaced

The proportion of unpaid loans is approaching a critical level as write-offs are on track to pass the gains from tripling of fees.


BAE warns of risk from Scottish independence

Defence group said it believed that remaining in the UK ‘offers greater certainty and stability’ for its operations.


Theresa May warns Yahoo that its move to Dublin is a security worry

Internet firm is known to be unhappy about snooping and would be under no obligation to hand over material under Irish laws.


Pension shakeup in budget leaves £14bn annuities industry reeling

Fears retirees will splurge cash or leave it to languish
Shares plunge as sector is forecast to contract hugely.


Budget boost for savers and pensioners

In penultimate budget before election, chancellor offers package of help for pensioners and ‘makers, doers and savers’.


Spending cap won’t tackle causes of welfare dependency say critics

Tax credits and housing benefit limited to £119.5bn in central plank of plan to cut the deficit.


BBC licence fee: decriminalising non-payment a matter of time says MP

Tory Andrew Bridgen claims support from MPs proves it is no longer a question of ‘will’ dodging fee become civil offence.


Benn to share chapel honour with Thatcher

Queen gives permission for Labour veteran to become second politician in history to rest in chapel of St Mary Undercroft.


Ukraine: UK to push for tougher sanctions against Russia over Crimea

David Cameron to call on EU to expel Russia from G8, and cut military ties and energy dependence following ‘land grab’


Putin condemns western hypocrisy as he confirms annexation of Crimea

Russian president makes speech laced with bluster and anger at west, saying Russia has been ‘cheated again and again’.


Nick Clegg: 40p tax-rate critics are wrong

Deputy prime minister says raising of personal tax allowance to £10,000 has not increased taxes for those in 40% bracket.


Bristol plans ban for tree-climbing skateboarding and ‘annoying’ football

Proposed bylaws covering city’s parks and open spaces condemned as an ‘assault on civil liberties’.


Watchdog criticises Ministry of Justice over barrister earnings claims

UK Statistics Authority accuses MoJ of overestimating barristers’ earnings in figures aimed at justifying legal aid cuts.


UK austerity measures likely to hurt society’s poorest OECD warns

Organisation says pace of cuts likely to intensify over next year and urges government to do more to tackle inequality.


British intelligence watchdog is like Yes Prime Minister says MP

Spy services’ monitor has staff of just two and was bewildered by Snowden affair.


George Osborne and Mark Carney issue pre-budget economy alerts


Chancellor to claim economic programme offers path to security, while Bank of England governor warns on low interest rates.


Prime minister pitches to families with childcare cash

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to offer up to £2,000 for each child to support working parents.


Nearly 4000 NHS staff laid off then rehired over three and a half years

Labour accuses government of handing out redundancy cheques ‘like confetti’ while thousands are denied pay rises.


MPs criticise DWP for ‘spin’ on official statistics and benefit claimants

Commons work and pensions committee warns Iain Duncan Smith’s department to exercise care in its press releases.


Manufacturers plan recruitment boom as recovery becomes more entrenched

Survey shows improving economic conditions in eurozone and rising customer demand fuelling optimism in sector.


High court rejects challenge to legal aid

Judges say concerns raised by charities working with prisoners are not the result of unlawful action by justice secretary.


Remains of Shipman’s victims destroyed without telling relatives


Inquiry about Greater Manchester police’s behaviour is one of three arising from whistleblower’s allegations.


David Cameron sets out agenda for EU reform

UK should not be bound by ‘ever closer union’ to Europe, says PM, unveiling seven-point plan to renegotiate membership.


DWP plans to ditch ridiculed jobs website

Universal Jobmatch set to be jettisoned after it was found to be carrying a series of fake, repeat or fraudulent jobs ads.


Osborne unveils UK’s ‘first new garden city for 100 years’

Chancellor promises creation of 15,000 homes by Thames Estuary at Ebbsfleet and will extend Help to Buy in budget.


Help to Buy: one year on jury still out on government scheme for homebuyers

Scheme has kickstarted housing market and helped buyers, say some – but critics fear it is causing a property price bubble.


BBC asked to justify Andrew Marr’s remarks on Scotland’s right to join EU

Presenter accused of expressing personal opinions about Scotland’s entitlement during interview with Alex Salmond.


Nigel Farage vows to stand down if Ukip fails to win any seats in election

Ukip leader reaffirms pledge and says he will resign within 12 hours if party fails to get MPs into parliament in 2015.


Scottish Labour party plans tax increase for richest with new devolved powers

Johann Lamont says party would use proposed extra powers for Scottish parliament to raise taxes to reinvest in public services.


Bereaved relatives criticise police watchdog over deaths in custody

Independent Police Complaints Commission said to lack ‘empathy, sensitivity and compassion’ regarding deaths.


Vince Cable demands high-speed rail rethink

Business secretary calls for HS2 revamp ahead of key report that could decide project’s fate.


High salaries for Cabinet advisers attacked

Outrage over double-digit increase as NHS staff face fourth year of below inflation rises.


Alleged victims’ fury at failure to ban undercover police seduction tactics

New code of conduct does not rule out forming relationships with suspects or associates if justified by likely disclosures.


Inequality ‘costs Britain £39bn a year’

Thinktank puts a figure on the annual cost of the gap between rich and poor and calls for politicians to act.


Britain to tackle big rise in Syrian refugee girls forced to marry

Unicef figures show one in five girls, some under 10, forced to marry by parents to protect against sexual violence.


Councils are too distracted by cuts to think creatively about contracts

MPs’ report on council procurement was the chance to discuss real issues but instead it was bland tour of the horizon.


Tony Benn obituary

Veteran leftwing Labour politician who went from being ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’ to a national radical treasure.


May hints at border passport checks

Home secretary says independence vote would bring big changes for migration policy.


MPs vote to halt badger cull in England

Non-binding motion stating that pilot culls have ‘decisively failed’ is passed by 219 votes to one.


Britain’s trade position worsens after fall in exports

The trade in goods deficit widened to a worse than expected £9.8bn in January from £7.7bn in December.


Gove attacks ‘preposterous’ number of Old Etonians in Cameron’s cabinet

Education secretary draws comparisons between PM’s team and cabinet of Lord Salisbury, criticised for alleged cronyism.


Happy Mondays’ Bez reveals plans to stand for parliament

Dancer hopes to become MP in home town of Salford and pledges to end current banking system and redistribute wealth.


Tony Benn – veteran politician – dies aged 88

Former cabinet minister dies at his home in west London surrounded by family members.


Tony Blair briefs David Cameron for meeting with Palestinian president

Quartet Middle East envoy updates Cameron on state of peace talks and Palestinian economy before PM sees Mahmoud Abbas.


Vulnerable people ‘being kept prisoner in care homes’

House of Lords inquiry finds safeguards being used to oppress those lacking mental capacity and force decisions upon them.


Councils taking drastic steps in face of surge in pupil numbers

Local authorities are borrowing millions and converting disused police stations, music studios and IT suites into extra classrooms.


Bailiffs given access to benefit claimants’ credit records

DWP gets new power as part of effort to make it easier to confiscate possessions from people who make fraudulent claims.


DWP on verge of meltdown over big welfare projects – Margaret Hodge

Department for Work and Pensions has particular problem with private firms says damning report on government contracts.


David Cameron says he would oppose boycott of Israel in speech to Knesset

British PM sets out vision of peace but avoids discussion of upcoming talks as he addresses Israeli parliament.


NHS ‘needs billions to avoid oblivion’

Outgoing boss Sir David Nicholson warns that billions in extra funding will be needed for ‘painful’ change.


Huge cuts or tax rises needed to pay for ageing population says thinktank

Scale of health and pension obligations has not been made clear to taxpayers, says free-market Institute of Economic Affairs.


Prince Charles letters: attorney general acted unlawfully say senior judges

Ruling in the court of appeal backs Guardian campaign to have letters to ministers released under freedom of information law.


National minimum wage to rise to £6.50

Vince Cable says government will accept recommendation of Low Pay Commission for above-inflation 3% increase.


Nigel Evans case: senior Tory MP gives evidence

Conor Burns MP was initially reluctant to give statement on alleged indecent assault at 2003 Tory conference.


Scotland’s deficit hits Salmond’s case

Fall in North Sea oil revenues last year left Scottish economy with worse annual deficit level than United Kingdom.


British R&D spending down despite government’s innovation strategy

Office for National Statistics says Britain spent less on research and development than rest of EU in 2012.


David Cameron to tell Israel: peace deal would be ‘great prize’

British PM’s two-day trip to include Palestinian territories and speech to Knesset warning that time running out for deal.


Philip Hammond denies cottage transfer was to stay out of top tax rate

Daily Mirror investigation alleges defence secretary could have been kept from top tax bracket by putting property in wife’s name.


DWP advising jobcentres on sending claimants to food banks – documents

Government insists charities form no part of welfare system and this is merely a ‘signpost’, but ‘high level process’ in place.


High court upholds Camden busking restrictions

Judge says policy introducing fines of up to £1,000 for busking without a licence is ‘necessary and proportionate’.


Free school to be put in special measures by Ofsted

IES Breckland in Suffolk, the first school run on a profit-making basis, rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors.


Concessions on hospital closures stave off Commons rebellion

Clinical commissioning groups will have power to block attempts to use successful hospitals to resolve failures in others.


Senior Tories knew about Nigel Evans sexual assault claims, court hears

Whips warned MP about his behaviour and he was then allowed to successfully run for deputy speaker.


Figures show huge rise in zero-hours contracts

Revised figures released by ONS show insecurity becoming the norm in job market, says Labour.


DWP cuts ‘put welfare reforms at risk’

Department for Work and Pensions is struggling to meet demands for savings, according to internal review.


Balls defies critics and defends jobs guarantee plan

Shadow chancellor says plan will be funded by levy on bankers’ bonuses and pension tax changes but idea is criticised by thinktanks.


Move to block hospital closures law backed by 20 coalition MPs

Former Liberal Democrat health minister is seeking to amend clause 119 of the care bill, dubbed the ‘hospital closure clause’.


Vladimir Putin must do more to reduce Ukraine tensions says David Cameron

British PM calls on Russian president to agree to contact group allowing direct talks between Kiev and Moscow.


UK GDP to exceed pre-recession peak this summer business body predicts

British Chambers of Commerce raises alarm over youth unemployment, but wage growth expected to overtake inflation.


Gordon Brown calls for Scotland to have right to set tax and welfare policies

Ex-prime minister sets out radical plan to rewrite UK constitution giving Scots more powers.


BBC to argue for licence fee link to inflation

Internal report into corporation’s funding recommends move to inflationary rise in place of price freeze.


Judge apologises for involvement with NCCL group linked to PIE

Lord Justice Fulford was involved with National Council for Civil Liberties, to which Paedophile Information Exchange was affiliated, but denies supporting group’s aims.


Liberal Democrats show overwhelming support for ‘digital bill of rights’

Bill would also establish commission of experts to check NSA files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


Baby boomer generation sees a new twist in an old argument

Study challenges idea that all over-50s are basking in affluence and says real inequality is not just linked to age.


Londoners do not believe minimum wage is enough to live on in the capital

Survey of 2,200 people across London found that two-thirds of lower-income Londoners have seen standard of living fall.


Hague: Russia risks ‘real shooting conflict’

British foreign secretary accuses Putin of major miscalculation but says pressure will not remove Russia from Crimea.


Public must be told about ‘trade-offs inherent in ringfencing’ MPs warn

Commons Treasury select committee says more must be done to warn public about consequences of protecting public spending.


Jeremy Hunt’s ‘hospital closure’ clause prompts cross-party revolt

Tory rebels expected to join effort to veto health secretary’s plans to fast track cuts in healthcare.


Lawrence revelations: admit institutional racism Met chief told

Anti-terror head moved as black police leader says force has not improved since the 1999 Macpherson inquiry.


Nick Clegg hints at Crimea deal if Vladimir Putin ‘drops KGB mentality’

Deputy prime minister says Crimea is in different category from rest of Ukraine, and Russia has ‘pronounced imprint’ there.


Osborne faces £20bn black hole in UK public finances says report

Austerity may last until 2020 and chancellor may have to make further cuts to welfare, local government and police, claims FT.


Lawyers protest at legal aid cuts

Former Tory MP Sir Ivan Lawrence QC tells protesters he is ashamed of government for ‘destroying criminal justice system’.


Protesting lawyers in wigs are a surreal but increasingly common sight

Solicitors and barristers are resisting cuts, but the two sides disagree even on the size of the legal aid budget.


Osborne under pressure as bonuses surge to £35m at bailed-out banks

Chancellor ‘must say why he has not curbed excess’ as EU considers imposing new limits on bosses’ pay.


Parcel bombs addressed to prison officers intercepted in sorting offices

Explosive devices found in Derry and Lisburn sorting offices were intended for staff at Maghaberry top security jail.


Digital bill of rights needed to safeguard online freedoms says Lib Dem chief

Tim Farron to call for public protection from ‘overreach by the state’ after its imposition of ‘blanket surveillance’ on UK.


Non-payment of TV licence fee may be taken out of criminal law

Maria Miller prepared to suggest change in law to make non-payment a civil offence during talks regarding BBC charter.


Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet tells EU’s Cathy Ashton about claim that provocateurs were behind Maidan killings.


Government’s Universal Jobmatch website ‘bedevilled with fraud’

Around half of the vacancies on official job search website may be bogus, falsely promoted or against the rules, says Frank Field MP.


Unite union cuts Labour funding by £1.5m

Trade union halves official number of members affiliated to the party in wake of Ed Miliband’s voting reforms.


Birmingham council to sell off the NEC arena and other landmark venues

Concern and sadness as city looks to prized National Exhibition Centre to raise funds for £1bn equal pay settlement.


Coalition war breaks out as Vince Cable attacks Tory immigration target

Lib Dem business secretary and Conservative immigration minister plan to take opposite positions in clashing speeches.


MPs say army budget cuts will leave Britain seriously undermanned

Reduction in numbers to 82,000 – with greater reliance on reservists – causes concern among committee members.


Vince Cable tells teachers: you know nothing about world of work

Business secretary’s speech appears to accuse teachers of failing to give students correct career advice


Slash hospital funding says departing NHS chief executive

Sir David Nicholson admits ‘bitter regret’ about Mid Staffs and says service should spend hospitals’ money closer to home.


Tony Blair ‘offered Rebekah Brooks help’ day after Milly Dowler revelations

Phone-hacking trial hears ex-PM texted ‘thinking of you’, with Michael Gove and Piers Morgan also offering their support.


Bankers’ bonus cap architect says EU must sue UK government

MEP calls on European commission to take UK to court for allowing banks to ‘blatantly’ sidestep EU rules limiting bonuses.


Was Cameron aide tipped off about arrest?

Labour accuse No 10 of lack of transparency over resignation as government refuses to reveal exact timings of events.


SNP ‘has exaggerated Scotland’s oil revenues’

Institute of Fiscal Studies warns that predictions by Alex Salmond’s government of North Sea earnings are ‘too optimistic’.


UN: cannabis law changes pose ‘very grave danger to public health’

International Narcotics Control Board calls US and Uruguay moves on cannabis ‘misguided initiatives’.




UK seeking to ensure Russia sanctions do not harm City of London

Government document photographed outside No 10 states that ‘London’s financial centre’ should not be closed to Russians.


Ukip deserves equal broadcast status with other parties Ofcom says

Media watchdog says Ukip should receive same coverage as Tories, Labour and Lib Dems before European elections.


Johnson rules out standing as MP in 2015

London mayor denies George Osborne has approached him and says he prefers ‘daily excitement’ of running city to parliament.


Female genital mutilation law must be toughened UK’s top police officers say


Acpo demands specific legal focus on parents who let their daughters suffer FGM as well as on ‘cutters’.


Scottish anxieties on independence revealed in poll

Support for going it alone drops to 32% in Ipsos Mori survey, which compares views on both sides of border.


Nick Clegg orders review into data gathering by spy agencies

Deputy PM commissions independent report after failing to persuade David Cameron of need for reform of oversight.


Vince Cable considers all-female shortlists for City firms’ top jobs

Coalition’s business secretary asks for advice from equalities watchdog on legality of move that would be highly controversial.


Cameron aide arrested over allegations relating to child abuse images

Patrick Rock resigned as deputy head of Downing Street’s policy last month on day before arrest.


David Cameron to announce tax cuts for lowest-paid

Prime minister will unveil plan to raise personal tax allowance above £10,000, a pledge made by the Lib Dems in 2010.


UK ministers to boycott Paralympics over Russia’s military moves in Ukraine

Prince Edward also pulls out of attending Paralympics in Sochi on advice of government.


CBI tells chancellor – do more to boost trade and rebalance economy

Before George Osborne’s budget, business lobby group says UK remains too dependent on consumer demand.


Boris Johnson says radicalisation should be treated as child abuse

Mayor of London calls for children at risk to be removed from families and taken into care.


Ukraine PM warns of war as Russian military seizes control in Crimea

Ukraine has put its armed forces on full alert and warned Russia that military intervention will lead to war shortly after Vladimir Putin gave the green light for an invasion as the upper house of the Russian parliament unanimously approved his request to send troops into the neighbouring state.


Councils cut free school buses in blow to parents’ freedom of choice

Cutbacks across England and Wales mean pupils will only get transport to nearest school.


Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg held again

Former prisoner has denied charges of terror offences.


David Owen throws weight behind Labour’s reforms

Peer who quit the party 33 years ago hopes changes will save National Health Service.