Press regulation deal close: Labour
A CROSS-PARTY deal for a new press regulator underpinned by statute appeared closer today as Labour said it was “confident” that reopened talks had secured the basis of an agreement.
The Prime Minister began last-ditch efforts to find an accord yesterday as he faced a likely Commons defeat on the issue later today with around 20 of his MPs set to back a rival package put together by an alliance of his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the Opposition.
A senior Labour source said: “After five and a half hours of talks in Ed Miliband’s office which ended at 2.30am, we are confident we have the basis of an agreement around our Royal Charter entrenched in statute.”
Cyprus MPs to vote on savings tax
POLITICIANS in Cyprus will vote today on a bank account levy which could affect the savings of thousands of British expats.
As part of a £9 billion bailout, European officials said people with less than 100,000 euros (£87,000) in Cyprus-based accounts would have to pay a one-off tax of 6.75% and those with more will lose 9.9%.
Around 3,000 British military personnel and 250 civil servants will be protected should their savings be subject to the levy, the Treasury said.
MPs urge sex abuse courts
VULNERABLE sexual abuse witnesses should be allowed to give evidence in new specialist courts featuring uniquely-trained judges in the wake of the Rochdale and Jimmy Savile scandals, MPs will argue today.
The court sittings, modelled on those introduced for domestic violence cases, would also ensure a specially-trained court usher is assigned to at-risk witnesses and facilities such as screens to protect them from the accused are provided.
Conservative MP Nicola Blackwood and Labour MP Ann Coffey are calling for specialist courts in two proposed amendments to the forthcoming Crime and Courts Bill, which is being debated in Parliament today.
Report predicts double budget blow
GEORGE Osborne will be forced to reveal a downgraded growth forecast and an £8 billion borrowing overshoot in this week’s Budget, it was predicted today.
The Ernst & Young Item Club said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was likely to slash its growth forecasts to just under 1% for 2013 from 1.2%, adding to pressure for bolder moves to kick-start the economy.
Weak income tax receipts, disappointing revenues from the sale of the 4G spectrum and a lower-than-expected boost from the Bank of England’s asset purchase programme were also expected to see the OBR reveal that public borrowing has climbed to more than £88 billion this year, it added.
Heseltine regions plan wins backing
A PLAN to devolve greater decision-making and spending controls to the country’s regions in a bid to boost jobs has received government backing.
Nearly all of the changes recommended by Tory peer Lord Heseltine in his report No Stone Unturned, published last year, are to be taken up, the Government announced today.
Lord Heseltine had called for the Government to slash red tape and hand back decision-making powers to Britain’s major cities giving them greater say over matters including transport, housing, and vocational training.