By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.
Blair and unions on collision course
The prime minister was warned last night that he was heading for
a clash with union leaders and Labour backbenchers over plans to
privatise the public services.
After a three-hour dinner meeting at Downing Street, leaders of
Britain’s main unions warned it would take more than wine and
canapés to convince them to back Tony Blair’s plans.
Although the prime minister insisted he would not back down over
his reform programme for health and education services, he aimed to
calm fears that the proposals would amount to privatisation.
Union leaders were satisfied that whole scale privatisation was
not on the cards, they complained that proposals had not been
“The full details still haven’t emerged, and we are not
that much further forward,” one source said.
Source:- The Times Thursday 28 June page 2
Anger over VAT care threat
The decision of a VAT tribunal, that threatened to add 17.5 per
cent to the charges made to older people in care homes, will be
challenged by the government.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said: “We are of the clear
view that the care of vulnerable people in residential care should
not be subject to VAT.”
The comment followed a ruling by the London VAT tribunal to
allow a private company running care homes for children and adults
with Down’s Syndrome, to register for the tax.
Age Concern said it asked for written assurance from the
Treasury that VAT would not be charged for services to older people
and those with a disability.
Gordon Lishman, the charity’s director general, said:
“This is a worrying decision and we strongly oppose any move which
means that older people will have to pay VAT on essential
Source:- The Guardian Thursday 28 June page 4
Byers warns Hackney he may take control
Troubled Hackney council has been warned that the government
will take over financial control, unless the council started to
balance its books and provide a better service.
The move from Stephen Byers, the transport, local government and
regions secretary, came after the council revealed that spending
had outstripped income, so the council was unable to enter into any
more spending commitments.
Frontline services face severe disruption as payment to supply
child protection workers, benefit officers and teachers – all
on agency contracts – cannot be guaranteed.
Byers gave notice that he was considering using his powers under
the Local Government Act 1999 “to ensure the adequate provision of
services”. A department spokesperson said it would be the first
time that the 1999 Act has been used in this way.
He also allowed central government money to be released to
ensure the delivery of essential services.
Source:- The Guardian Thursday 28 June page 7
Camelot ‘£5bn under
It was disclosed last night that lottery operator Camelot might
raise £5 billion less for good causes than forecast.
When it won the second lottery licence after a battle with
Richard Branson, the company predicted that it would raise £15
billion over seven years.
Lord Burns, chairperson of the National Lottery Commission, said
that falling ticket sales meant that a £10 billion
contribution to good causes between 2002 and 2009 was more
The Community Fund, one of the beneficiaries of lottery money
said it would mean fewer charities and voluntary groups receiving
Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 28 June page 2
Boys accused of killing Damilola refused
The four youths accused of murdering schoolboy Damilola Taylor
appeared in court for the first time yesterday.
The boys aged 14 to 16 appeared in Hammersmith youth court in
Flanked by social workers and solicitors, the boys faced
district judge David Simpson.
They were read the charge that “on 27 November 2000 at Blakes
Road, Peckham, they did murder Damilola Taylor contrary to common
Damilola died when he was stabbed in the leg on the way home
After the charge was read out, bail applications were made for
the 14-year-old and 16-year-old. Clayton Yeo for the prosecution
opposed the bail.
Judge Simpson refused the bail applications and all four boys,
who cannot be named for legal reasons, were remanded to local
authority care to appear again at the same court next Tuesday.
Source:- Independent Thursday 28 June page 2
Fourfold rise in children born with autism
The number of children born with autism has risen fourfold,
according to a survey.
Doctors said yesterday the rise could be down to the way the
condition is detected and diagnosed.
A survey of 15,500 British children found 17 out of every 10,000
are born with the developmental disorder, compared with a
previously accepted figure of between four and six cases per
Authors of the survey published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association, said the rise could be due to better detection
and change in diagnostic practice rather than a sharp rise in
Source:- Independent Thursday 28 June page 5
Asylum seekers are educated and skilled, says
Staffing shortages in areas such as medicine and teaching could
be helped by the recruitment of asylum seekers, a study of their
skills and qualifications indicates.
One in three of 120 asylum seekers surveyed had studied to
degree level or higher education diploma level in their country of
The first study into the background of people seeking refuge in
Britain, was conducted in Leicester by the National Institute of
Adult Continuing Education.
The study urges the government to consider offering temporary
work permits to asylum seekers, especially if they have staff
shortages in the areas.
Source:- The Independent Thursday 28 June page
Tagging of offenders to be extended
Sheriff courts in Scotland were yesterday given the power to use
tagging orders for people convicted of minor offences following a
successful pilot. The new powers, officially know as restriction of
liberty orders are reckoned to cost £4,860 per six-month order
compared with an average cost of £13,456 for the equivalent
period of imprisonment.
The trial ran in Aberdeen, Hamilton and Peterhead from 1998. In
announcing the extension of powers, Iain Gray, deputy minister for
justice, indicated that eventually tagging may be introduced as a
disposal in a wider range of convictions.
Source:- The Herald Thursday 28 June
Rape victims to be protected in court
The Scottish executive will today introduce proposed legislation
to prevent alleged victims of rape and sexual abuse being
cross-examined by the accused in court.
The Sexual Offences (Procedures and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill
will require an accused person to be legally represented throughout
the proceedings. The proposed legislation has been introduced after
several high profile cases which resulted in a conviction.
The bill has also been delayed due to concerns that it may
breach the European Convention on Human Rights though the executive
believes that these obligations have now been catered for within
the proposals. MSPs will learn today that the bill has two main
components in not only preventing the accused from cross-examining
the victim, but also restricting the extent to which an alleged
victim’s sexual history can be raised in evidence.
Source:- The Scotsman Thursday 28 June page 1