Brown woos families for May election
Gordon Brown yesterday delivered a cautious Budget designed to
widen the gap with the Tories as the election campaign begins.
Families with children were the main beneficiaries from the
In what he called a ‘families first’ Budget, the
Chancellor said that maternity pay would rise from £60 to
£100 by 2003, and apply for 26 rather than 18 weeks. Fathers
will also get two weeks’ paternity leave, and the new
children’s tax credit will increase from £8.50 a week to
£10 with an additional “baby bonus” of £10 for the first
year of a child’s life.
Spending on health and education will rise by £2 billion
over the next three years with £1 million going to each of the
200 acute hospital trusts.
Other features of the Budget included a decision to freeze the
duty on beer and spirits with cigarettes going up in line with
inflation, a lower rate of road tax for cars up to 1500cc, and a
series of measures to help business and encourage enterprise.
Source:- The Times Thursday 8 March page 1
Jail rigour at school
Children will be subjected to the rigours of a prison regime in
a bid to deter them from criminal activity.
Pupils at Bridlington School in east Yorkshire will be required
to abandon their leisure time, march everywhere and eat a prison
issue lunch this month. The 180 pupils on the programme will also
be expected to show the 20 prison officers from Hull in charge
Jane Bowman, the school’s deputy head, said: “It should be a
sobering experience. It is hoped that the day with the prison
officers will knock home the message that prison can be a reality
if you commit crime.”
Source:- The Times Thursday 8 March page 7
Disability ruling spells ruin for ex Met
A respected officer with the Metropolitan police will face
financial ruin after a test case ruling that he is not entitled to
a disability pension.
Eric Stunt had a nervous breakdown after 28 years of unblemished
service with the Met, but the decision of the appeal court
overturned a judgement that entitled him to backdated pay of up to
£20,000 and leaves him facing legal costs of up to
Stunt claimed that the illness, which forced him to retire early
in August 1994, was the direct result of intolerable pressure from
an unwarranted complaint against him. A doctor ruled that he was
“permanently disabled by depression”.
The crown prosecution claimed there was no basis for charges,
and a police complaints authority review concluded no further
action should be taken.
Stunt said he will now have to sell his house as his savings had
gone. “I cannot understand why the Met has treated me this way,” he
Source:- The Guardian Thursday 8 March page 7
5m Britons ‘living on the
Research published today has revealed that during Tony
Blair’s third year in office, more than five million people
in Britain were living in conditions of absolute poverty.
The study on the number of Europeans living below the breadline
found 9 per cent of British people said their income was a lot
below what they needed each week to afford necessities.
The definition of poverty was agreed by 117 governments at the
1995 world summit as lack of food, safe drinking water, sanitation
facilities, health, shelter, education and information.
The greatest concentration of poverty was among lone parents.
More than two fifths said they had incomes of below £163 a
week, the amount needed to buy the goods and services most people
classed as essential.
Twenty five per cent of single pensioners fell below the
£106 per week threshold needed to surmount absolute
The Breadline Europe study was compiled by academics at Bristol
University and the London School of Economics, and was based on a
social exclusion survey in September 1999, six months after the
government began its anti poverty campaign.
Source:- The Guardian Thursday 8 March page 8
Kennedy attacks ‘Powellesque’ Hague over
William Hague was compared to Enoch Powell yesterday by Charles
Kennedy over the Tory leaders stance on asylum.
The Liberal Democrat leader said he had been frightened by
Hague’s speech at the weekend where he warned Britain could
become a “foreign country”.
Hague speaking at the party conference in Harrogate pointed out
the dangers of Britain becoming a “soft touch” for asylum
Kennedy said: “Hague’s use of Enoch Powellesque language
scared me. Conjuring up images of a ‘foreign land’
overrun with scrounging immigrants is no way to lead a responsible
Kennedy’s decision to liken Hague to Powell, the Tory MP
who was sacked from the shadow cabinet for his “river of blood”
speech in 1968 on immigration, will intensify the immigration
Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 8 March page 10
Police press boss sacked over Net porn
A manager at one of Britain’s largest police forces has
been sacked over allegations that he downloaded pornography and
sexually harassed colleagues.
John Williamson has lost his job with Greater Manchester Police
after female colleagues accused him of groping them at a Christmas
party. The allegations came months after Williamson helped write a
guide on avoiding inappropriate language and behaviour for
Sexual images were found on his computer at the force’s
head quarters in Manchester where he worked as a deputy director of
press and public affairs.
A disciplinary hearing heard how he put his hand up a
colleague’s skirt at the party and asked women about their
Williamson denies the offences and provided a written denial of
the allegations saying colleagues failed to understand a joke. He
is not thought to be facing criminal charges over the
Source:- The Independent Thursday 8 March page
UK tops league of teenage pregnancy
Britain is one of the world’s biggest users of
contraceptives, yet it still has the highest rate of teenage
pregnancy in Western Europe.
A large scale international study revealed figures that
demonstrated four out of five females between 15 and 44 in Britain
use some form of contraception. This 80 per cent statistic compares
to 76 per cent in the US, 75 per cent in France and 59 per cent in
Levels of teenage pregnancy however show that 2.9 out of every
100 girls aged between 15 and 19 give birth every year. This
compares to 0.9 out of every 100 girls in France, where the use of
contraception is less, and 0.4 per hundred in Japan.
The findings demonstrate the surge in single parenthood in the
UK in recent years, much of it a result of teenage pregnancy, is
little to do with ignorance regarding contraception.
The Family Planning Association insisted yesterday that:
“Contraceptive use and teenage pregnancy are really two different
issues and it doesn’t help to lump them together.”
Source:- Daily Mail Thursday 8 March page 17
£1 million children’s centre
A state of the art, one stop shop for pre-school children with
learning or emotional difficulties was opened in the Gorbals area
of Glasgow yesterday.
The Southbank Child Development Centre is run by the Yorkhill
NHS Trust and will accommodate 25 specialist staff such as clinical
psychologists, speech therapists and community paediatricians. Most
of the referrals will come from social workers, GPs and health
Source:- The Scotsman Thursday 8 March page 14