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

 

Rail fares to rise by average of 3.5% in January

Campaigners demand curbs on above-inflation fare increases, as ticket prices rise nearly four times faster than wages.

 

Lord Birt says Scotland would lose many BBC services after yes vote

Former director general rubbishes claims independent nation would receive same TV, radio and online output. 

 

George Galloway interviewed by police over Bradford ‘Israel-free zone’ speech

Respect MP’s comments and visit by Israeli ambassador cause Muslim leader to accuse both of creating disharmony in the city. 

 

UK faces £220m bill over e-borders contract termination

Tribunal finds flaws in process by which UK Border Agency decided to scrap contract with US-based Raytheon in 2010.

 

David Cameron rebuked over jobs claim

PM claimed majority of new jobs created last year were taken by UK nationals, but no official figures for new jobs are collected. 

 

Over-full classrooms are Cameron’s fault says Tristram Hunt

Shadow education secretary will promise to end Tories’ free schools and stop ever larger class sizes if Labour win election. 

 

Spending watchdog accuses DWP of hiding universal credit’s failings

Public accounts committee says that categorising the scheme as ‘reset’ may have been to prevent scrutiny and hide problems.

 

Alex Salmond puts focus on NHS as poll shows pro-independence gain

No campaign leads by 55% to 45% excluding undecideds, and first minister accused of scaremongering over healthcare. 

 

Scandal of putting mentally ill children in police cells must end says MP

Dr Sarah Wollaston condemns use of police stations for under-18s who are having a breakdown rather than taking them to specialist medical units.

 

Lib Dems pledge to continue free access to 15 leading national museums

Election manifesto promise will ensure that ‘people from all backgrounds and income groups’ can visit.

 

Church launches bitter attack on PM’s ‘incoherent’ Middle East policy

Bishop of Leeds slams failure over Islamist extremism in scathing letter backed by the archbishop of Canterbury.

 

More than half of British public support RAF involvement in Iraq

Opinium/Observer poll shows more backing for direct involvement in air attacks than for arming western allies on the ground. 

 

Ukip enjoys spike in support after Farage targets Thanet

Conservatives and Labour both take hit as anti-European party gets boost from leader’s decision to stand in 2015 election.

 

Prime Minister – Iraq – Government Response

The situation in Northern Iraq remains deeply worrying and we condemn the barbaric attacks waged by ISIL terrorists across the region. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced across the region and in need of aid supplies.

 

UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition’

Rights groups claim that top-level talks were part of bid to redact link to Diego Garcia from report.

 

Gordon Brown: independent Scotland would have ‘neo-colonial’ ties with UK

Former prime minister, promoting his book My Scotland, Our Britain, calls independence ‘worst possible outcome for Scotland’.

 

Middle East borders are being redrawn in religious war says Paddy Ashdown

Former Lib Dem leader endorses government’s decision to arm Kurdish forces and calls on Britain and US to act as ‘handmaidens to Kurdish independence’. 

 

Salmonella outbreak in England under investigation

Outbreak affects 156 people in Hampshire, London, West Midlands, Cheshire and Merseyside, and linked to cases in France and Austria.

 

Nigel Farage declares bid for South Thanet constituency

Ukip leader puts himself forward for nomination in time for 2015 general election. 

 

Half of voters happy to pay more tax to fund NHS poll

Public’s willingness to pay extra tax to help the NHS reaches highest level in over a decade.

 

Cameron warned over ‘sabre-rattling’ with European court of human rights

Former attorney general says ruling on prisoner voting by European court of human rights offers way out from split.

 

NHS faces legal bill as dozens suffer problems after private eye operations

Half of patients left with complications from cataract operations carried out by Vanguard for Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton.

 

Bank of England makes emergency plans in case of Scottish independence

Stability of sterling could be threatened if Scotland votes for independence, while Treasury only preparing for no vote.

 

Independent Scotland’s economy ‘would crash if it tried to use sterling’

Leading economist Ronald MacDonald says SNP’s plans to use the pound after a yes vote are fundamentally flawed.

 

Tories beat Labour with £7.2m in donations as Ukip raises £1.4m

Liberal Democrats raise £1.2m while SNP gets £1.1m ahead of the 2015 general election. 

 

British forces helping transport ammunition to Kurdish forces in Iraq

David Cameron reaffirms Britain’s military role in helping Kurds against Isis jihadists but rules out calls to recall parliament early. 

 

Drugs minister calls for legalising cannabis for medicinal use

Norman Baker will say in a letter to Jeremy Hunt that cannabis would help relieve symptoms of a range of medical conditions.

 

Trident missiles ‘could be relocated to Plymouth from independent Scotland’

Devonport is obvious alternative to Faslane for Britain’s nuclear missiles, says Rusi thinktank, despite risk of ‘accidental ignition’.

 

Ukip donations overtake Liberal Democrats

Nigel Farage’s party raises £1.4m, but £1m comes from a singler donor the Eurosceptic former Tory backer Paul Sykes.

 

Lib Dems pledge to raise income tax allowance

The party has also signalled it would seek to increase the amount people can earn before paying National Insurance.

UK steps up role in Iraq with move to aid Kurds and Yazidis against Isis

Crisis meeting agrees to fly Jordanian military trucks to Kurdish forces and send helicopters to airlift besieged refugees.

 

Scottish pro-independence movement are ‘underdogs’ says Alex Salmond

First minister says yes campaign ‘has work to do’ as polls show support stalling after TV debate with Alistair Darling.

 

Africa minister Mark Simmonds resigns

Early supporter of David Cameron leaves Foreign Office and will step down as MP, but not over Gaza, says No 10.

 

UK prisoners denied the vote should not be paid compensation ECHR rules

However, European court of human rights upholds its earlier ruling that a blanket ban on UK prisoners voting is unlawful.

 

Labour soar past Tories to take seven-point lead in latest ICM poll

Poll comes after resignation of Sayeeda Warsi over Gaza and Boris Johnson’s return-to-parliament pledge.

 

Tory Foreign Office minister quits over ‘intolerable’ expenses rules

Africa minister Mark Simmonds says he cannot claim enough parliamentary expenses to house his family in Westminster.

 

Labour vows to overhaul Michael Gove’s A-level reforms

Conservatives’ policies on examinations have turned back clock on social mobility, claims shadow education secretary.

Boris Johnson is public favourite for Conservative leadership poll

London mayor is choice of voters and party supporters to lead Tories if David Cameron stands down.

 

Iain Duncan Smith to signal more reform of ‘dysfunctional’ welfare system

Work and pensions secretary will say in a speech on Monday that his tough benefits policies are reducing unemployment.

 

Salmond refuses to consider currency Plan B for independent Scotland

First minister says any plan other than sterling union would be second best and offers national debt-Bank of England deal.

 

David Miliband – the Iraq war and its aftermath contributed to current crisis

Former foreign secretary accepts responsibility for leaving many people in the UK unwilling to support other military interventions.

 

Sayeeda Warsi says Tory party has failed to attract ‘the ethnic vote’

Lady Warsi attacks the Conservative leadership for failing to understand minorities and those who did not go to public school.

 

Labour fears brain drain with 15% of MPs ready to quit

Doubts about Ed Miliband’s leadership are said to be driving an exodus in the runup to next year’s general election.

 

Nigel Farage on Ukip shortlist to run for South Thanet seat in 2015 election

Ukip leader set to declare bid for constituency where recent poll showed party has four-point lead over Tories and Labour.

 

I won’t let an independent Scotland keep the pound says Ed Miliband

Labour will seek mandate to Salmond veto plan, says leader adding threat to default on share of UK debt is ‘extraordinary’.

 

Royal Mail to bring last collection time forward for 50000 post boxes

Plans will see post picked up by delivery staff during their rounds – typically between 9am and 3pm. 

 

David Cameron in spotlight over two more peerages to Tory party donors

Labour claims 13 peers created by the prime minister during term of office have donated more than £22m to party coffers. 

Postal costs in Scotland could rise after independence say MPs

Committee says continuing provision of universal postal service could require significant additional cost to taxpayer or consumer.

 

HSBC accused of closing UK bank accounts held by Syrians

Pressure groups claim to have ‘uncovered a pattern of abuse’ by the bank, which says it does not discriminate on race or religion.

 

Warning over laughing gas misuse

Councils say risky recreational use of nitrous oxide has become widespread, with councils seizing canisters in large numbers.

 

Scottish yes vote on independence could lead to currency limbo say MPs

Committee raises concerns that Scotland could in the short term be unable to join a sterling currency union or adopt euro.

 

George Galloway investigated by police for saying Bradford an ‘Israel-free zone’

Respect MP said in speech that Israeli goods, services, tourists an academics were not welcome as a result of Gaza offensive.

 

It’s Scotland’s pound and we’re keeping it says Alex Salmond

First minister indicates independent Scotland would use sterling even if formal sterling zone was rejected by UK government.

 

Two-third of voters in Tory marginals want NHS exempt from US trade pact

TTIP being negotiated between EU and US threatens to make privatisation of UK health services permanent, say critics.

 

Douglas Alexander calls for Scottish national convention after referendum

Nation must ‘chart new vision’ after vote on independence as unionist parties suggest further devolution regardless of result.

 

Nick Clegg challenged over Vince Cable role in approving Israel arms sales

Deputy PM says Britain should suspend military equipment sales if Gaza violence resumes.

 

Israel should face arms embargo former government minister says

Andrew Mitchell says answers are needed about Israeli operations in Gaza, after attacks on UN facilities and schools.

 

Boris Johnson’s EU reform list for Cameron to stop him voting for exit

London mayor tells PM he must win negotiation on migration, agriculture, social and environment laws and scrap closer union.

 

Scottish debate: Salmond and Darling in angry clash over independence

First TV debate on independence sees bitter exchanges between campaign leaders over currency union and taxes.

 

Warsi hits back at Osborne: ‘George is a good friend of the Israeli government’

Lady Warsi gave an interview to Channel 4 News defending her decision to quit the government and urging other ministers to speak out about their concerns.

 

Boris Johnson: Britain could have glorious future outside EU

London mayor says people should not be scared about leaving bloc if there is no improvement in the way it functions.

 

George Osborne backs £15bn investment in five northern cities

Chancellor meets leaders of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield over ‘northern powerhouse’ plans.

 

Union law review frozen after barrister objects to ministerial statements

Bruce Carr refuses to evaluate rules around strikes and trade disputes after policy announcements left his views ‘meaningless’. 

 

David Cameron warns Israel over Gaza after pressure from Ed Miliband

Prime minister speaks after Labour leader urged government to condemn both Israel’s military action and Hamas’s rocket attacks.

 

Wreath row over Cameron and Milibands first world war messages

David Cameron is only guest allowed to write personal tribute, while other politicians wreaths feature only their titles.

Whitehall tries to revive plans to share confidential personal data

Proposals to share people’s details resemble Labour’s 2009 plans which critics said could ‘wipe out privacy at a stroke’.

 

UK condemnation of Israel would threaten peace hopes says minister

Chris Grayling defends Cameron’s neutral stance after Labour leader blasts PM’s ‘silence’ over plight of Palestinians.

 

Boris Johnson: EU exit better option than staying in unreformed union

London mayor believes David Cameron needs to be ‘bold’ in demanding a better deal for the UK to remain within the EU.

 

Ed Miliband attacks David Cameron’s failure to condemn Gaza civilian deaths

Downing Street ‘shocked’ at comments by Labour leader, who says government should be clear that Israel’s actions are wrong.

 

Labour’s lead over Tories static in latest Observer/Opinium poll

Support for both Labour and Conservatives rises at the expense of the Liberal Democrats and Ukip.

 

Commonwealth games triumph ‘will put Scots on path to independence’ says SNP

Nicola Sturgeon says record haul of medals has imbued voters with confidence and momentum is with yes campaign.

 

Tony Blair will advise on controversial gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy

The project was initiated by the autocratic Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev.

 

Nick Clegg pushes for direct talks between Israel and Hamas

Deputy PM says face-to-face discussions are only way to stop conflict that has killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 59 Israelis. 

David Cameron – west needs stronger military presence on Russia’s borders

PM’s letter to Nato calls to review its relationship with Russia and reassure allies in eastern Europe in wake of Ukraine crisis.

 

Cameron and Osborne face questions over taxpayer-funded coastal visits

PM and chancellor accused of paying special attention to marginal seats as they visit Eastbourne’s fire ravaged pier.

 

Gaza: British MPs demand tougher action over Israeli bombardment

Senior MPs and advisers call on Cameron and Miliband to speak out more forcefully against killing of Palestinian civilians.

 

Three in 10 Conservative voters would prefer Ukip coalition in 2015 poll

Tory support for Ukip pact narrowly trails that for another deal with Lib Dems in event of hung parliament next year.

 

Minister’s former cleaner Isabella Acevedo deported to Colombia

Mark Harper’s former cleaner was taken from her room at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre shortly after midnight.

NHS deterioration under coalition is putting lives at risk says Labour

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham says reforms have led to structural confusion and creeping privatisation. 

 

Boris Johnson refuses to say if he plans to stand as MP in 2015

London mayor dodges questions on BBC’s World at One about whether he plans to re-enter parliament and combine two jobs. 

 

David Cameron criticised for PR stunt in home of suspected illegal immigrants

Critics say it was improper and in bad taste for prime minister to pose for photos in Slough home after raid by border officials.

 

David Cameron calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Prime minister says Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel and there must be an unconditional, humanitarian truce.

 

Cameron warns illegal immigrants: we will find you and send you home

PM’s threat comes as Labour and Ukip say crackdown on benefits for new arrivals from EU is not tough enough.

 

Right to be forgotten is unworkable say peers

House of Lords committee condemns regulations being drawn up by European commission and recent ECJ ruling.

 

Strike at HM Revenue and Customs

Staff begin series of walkouts over closures and job cuts in action timed to coincide with key tax lodgement deadlines.

 

Tower Hamlets mayor fails to block election challenge

Lutfur Rahman delivered blow by ruling, which paves way for full court hearing into alleged fraud during election process.

 

Coalition has turned its back on scale of domestic violence says Yvette Cooper

Senior Labour MP says more needs to be done about fact that two women a week are killed by their partners or ex-partners.

 

David Ruffley to stand down at the next election after assault on ex-girlfriend

MP has been under pressure to resign and will face constituents at local party meeting on Thursday to discuss his future.

 

EU migrants to Britain face further restrictions on welfare payments

New arrivals will only be able to claim welfare for three months under plans designed to head off criticism of immigration failures.

 

Fracking push gets go-ahead across UK as ministers tighten safeguards

Drilling will be allowed in national parks in ‘exceptional circumstances’ but ministers retain power to veto plans. 

 

Scotland’s GDP per head £2,300 higher than UK as whole says SNP

Party says new analysis of OECD figures show an independent Scotland would be 14th richest country in the economic bloc.

 

Big Society Network under investigation over ‘funding misuse’

Watchdog examining whether charity set up to lead David Cameron’s initiative used funds to pay debts of linked company.

 

NHS manager redundancy payouts total £1.6bn since 2010

Latest accounts reveal more than 38,000 ‘exit packages’ agreed since reforms began, with some 4,000 later rehired.

 

NHS tax is floated by Liberal Democrats to fill £30bn hole

The policy could form one point of future agreement for a coalition with Labour.

 

Nick Clegg says Russia should not host World Cup 2018

Fifa has ruled out calls for boycott after the shooting down of MH17, insisting the tournament could be ‘a force for good’.

 

GDP surpasses pre-recession high as economic growth hits 0.8%

George Osborne hails ‘hard work of British people’ as services sector leads way in dragging country out of recession.

 

David Cameron vows to consider creating domestic violence offence

Prime minister promises to look into issue in the wake of Hollie Gazzard’s murder by her ex-boyfriend.

 

Lord Rennard gets Lib Dem apology for botched disciplinary process

Lib Dems drop investigation into whether his failure to apologise for sex harassment claims brought party into disrepute. 

 

Tory MP cautioned for domestic abuse faces disciplinary investigation

Conservatives take action after dean of St Edmundsbury cathedral writes to David Ruffley saying he should step down.

 

Scottish prisoners refused right to vote in referendum by supreme court

Court dismisses attempt by Leslie Moohan and Andrew Gillon, serving life sentences for murder, to overturn voting ban.

 

Police to investigate Cyril Smith child abuse cover-up claims

Liberal Democrat politician, who died in 2010, is alleged to have sexually abused young boys at Knowl View School in Rochdale.

 

Jeremy Hunt demands urgent inspections of chicken factories

Health secretary intervenes after Guardian investigation reveals strict hygiene standards can be disregarded in practice.

 

Boris Johnson may pull out of tennis match with Russian ex-minister’s wife

Lubov Chernukhin made winning bid of £160,000 at Tory fundraising auction for match with mayor and David Cameron. 

 

Lib Dem MP David Ward apologises over Gaza comments

Bradford East MP says he condemns violence on both sides of conflict but will continue to speak out for rights of Palestinians. 

 

Schools face new curbs on extremism after Birmingham Trojan Horse affair

Education secretary Nicky Morgan announces reforms after Peter Clarke’s damning report on Muslim extremist infiltration. 

 

Trojan horse: teachers may face misconduct hearings says Morgan

New education secretary also says she will look at allowing Ofsted to inspect academies in wake of scandal.

 

Lib Dem MP David Ward facing disciplinary action for Gaza tweets

The MP tweeted: ‘the big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes’.

 

Government to overhaul benefits sanctions process

Independent report shows systematic failings in the way benefit sanctions are communicated and processed. 

 

Nicky Morgan to follow Gove policies on free schools and exam system

New education secretary delivers a blow to hopes she will slow down the government’s most controversial changes.

 

Labour reaches new deal for overhaul of ‘failed’ railways

Ed Miliband outlines plan to scrap Railways Act and reverse privatisation that puts reform at heart of election manifesto.

 

FGM child protection squads to target summer flights out of Britain

Guidance for police issued as airports and border crossings put on alert for girls at risk of being taken out of UK for cutting.

 

I was sacked by David Cameron to appease ‘the green blob’ says Paterson

Former environment secretary suggests he was removed from cabinet because of ‘powerful, self-serving’ environmental lobby.

 

Philip Hammond: I would still vote to leave Europe

Foreign secretary says status quo ‘not in Britain’s interest’ and he would vote to leave without renegotiation of UK relationship.

 

Student loans sell-off abandonment raises tension in cabinet

Vince Cable antagonises Tory coalition partners after calling off privatisation of student loans worth an estimated £12bn.

 

David Cameron criticises Europe for lack of action on pro-Russia separatists

‘For too long there has been a reluctance to face up to the implications of what is happening,’ British PM says.

 

UK economic recovery not ‘firmly rooted’ warns Kenneth Clarke

Former Tory chancellor expresses fears over productivity and warns against triumphalism over ‘a bit of cyclical upswing’.

 

Labour to allow public sector to challenge private rail operators

Ed Miliband unveils plans for rail network in his keynote speech to party’s national policy forum in Milton Keynes.

 

Police investigate historical sex abuse claims against Lord Tonypandy

South Wales police look into allegations against late Labour peer dating back to 1960s and 1970s. 

 

Cameron: culprits who shot down MH17 must be held to account

Prime minister speaks after chairing Cobra meeting on Malaysia Airlines jet brought down over Ukraine on Thursday.

 

House of Lords debate evenly split over assisted dying legislation

Assisted dying bill would allow doctors to prescribe lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

 

Global inequality risks spread of military conflicts Cameron warned

Graça Machel, Bono and Tutu urge prime minister to take lead on UN climate change deal and millennium development goals.

 

Birmingham council a ‘disastrous failure’ over Islamism in schools

Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.

 

Tories ‘to challenge European court with British bill of rights’

Reported plan risks UK’s expulsion from the Council of Europe and could even threaten Britain’s membership of EU.

 

Unions furious at Tory plan to make it more difficult for workers to strike

Tory manifesto to include 50% ballot hurdle, in what would be the biggest crackdown on strikes since the Thatcher era.

 

Nick Clegg accused of hypocrisy after U-turn on bedroom tax

Lib Dem leader says party no longer supports policy in its present form in intensification of Tory ‘differentiation strategy’.

 

Backbenchers rally to support Michael Gove after wife criticises reshuffle

Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine endorses article warning David Cameron would regret ‘shabby day’s work’.

 

China accuses Nick Clegg of interfering in internal affairs over Hong Kong

Deputy PM meets with activists over concerns Chinese plans could jeopardise Joint Declaration on Hong Kong handover.

 

Cyril Smith: ‘evidence of sex abuse’ was overruled CPS report shows

Detective told chief constable in 1970 there was prima facie evidence of guilt but DPP advised against prosecution.

 

David Cameron ‘not convinced’ over assisted dying bill

PM speaks of worry about legalising euthanasia, but says he would be very happy for Commons to debate issue. 

 

Cameron’s nominee for EU executive branded ‘radical anti-European’

European parliament president, Martin Schulz, says he cannot imagine Lord Hill getting majority in European parliament.

 

David Cameron axes Michael Gove in reshuffle after toxic poll warning

Education secretary demoted to role of chief whip in reshuffle that promoted women at all levels of government.

 

Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation

Twenty-seven leading figures write to every peer urging them to back Lord Falconer’s private members bill on assisted dying. 

 

Anger over ‘political’ departure of civil service head Sir Bob Kerslake

Whitehall mandarins ‘undermined’ by sudden announcement after whispering campaign and amid reshuffle.

 

Emergency surveillance bill to be fast-tracked despite 49 MPs’ opposition

Parliament approves timetable motion for Drip bill as government accepts Labour amendments to strengthen safeguards.

 

Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed as European commission president

Former Luxembourg prime minister wins 422 votes from 751-seat parliament as focus moves to filling other top EU roles.

 

May rejects claims surveillance bill contains ‘unprecedented powers’

Home secretary insists necessity for foreign firms to comply with UK warrants has always been assumed ‘in government circles’. 

 

Departure of Lady Butler-Sloss puts Theresa May under pressure

Home secretary accused of ‘due diligence’ failings before former judge’s appointment as chair of inquiry into child sex abuse. 

 

William Hague exit could be precursor to changing of guard in Tory party

Strategists have concluded that the PM needs to promote women and soften the party’s image before the next election.

 

Government failed to collect £22bn owed to it

More than two-thirds is owed to HM Revenue and Customs, with the Department for Work and Pensions and justice ministry accounting for most of the rest.

 

Jeremy Hunt plans special measures for doctors who fail their patients

BMA speaks out against health secretary’s imminent move, saying it could damage patients’ trust in their GP practices.

 

Cameron to unveil £1.1bn package of investment in military capabilities

Funding pot includes extra £800m of investment in intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance package.