Published:

Clegg Nick welfare system7.30pm WATCH: Nick Clegg: "We need to change the welfare system to bring it back to its original purpose"

5pm: Today's teatime newslinks are led by the debate over welfare reform

4pm WATCH: Enda Kenny: "It's actually a fact that no new year has started with better relationships between Ireland and Britain"

3.45pm MPsETC: "If one wishes to export the peel of a melon to the European Union, that will be duty free, but the melon itself will be subject to a duty." Jacob Rees-Mogg enlightens Commons committee about duties imposed on watermelon skins

2.30pm Mark Menzies MP on Comment: Britain is helping Haiti during one of the most challenging humanitarian emergencies of our time, but we need to do more

HouseCoverJan121.30pm ToryDiary: David Cameron tells House magazine he wants to use the boundary review to select more women candidates in key seats

12.30pm ConservativeIntelligence: Lord Tebbit, Charles Moore, Virginia Bottomley, and John Whittingdale discuss "The Iron Lady" after a ConservativeHome screening

11.45am ConservativeHomeUSA newslinks: Attention shifts to South Carolina

10.30am Andrea Hossó on Comment: Could Hungary fall victim to another EU-led coup?

ToryDiary: The boundary reviews reduce Labour's advantage. But they don't remove it. So don't write Miliband off.

Columnist Andrew Lilico: How to break up a currency union

Jackson stewartStewart Jackson MP on Comment: The National Planning Policy Framework is an integral part of this Government’s growth and regeneration strategy – it must not be eviscerated by hysteria and misinformation

Local Government: 

MPsETC: Jesse Norman MP unsuccessfully attempts to ban the taxpayer funding of trade union representatives

ThinkTankCentral: Centre Forum's Chris Nicholson: Boosting employee share ownership would show that we're all in it together

WATCH:

Parties unite to fight Scottish independence

CameronUK"A deal to head off a constitutional crisis over plans for a referendum on Scottish independence was emerging last night as the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined forces to oppose the break-up of the United Kingdom. The Government may allow Alex Salmond… to hold a referendum on independence at his preferred time of autumn 2014 in exchange for a straight Yes or No question on the ballot paper." - Independent

  • "Westminster heavyweights are lining up visits to Scotland in the next few weeks" – FT (£)
  • Alistair Darling and Charles Kennedy lined up for Scottish pro-union drive – Guardian
  • "An independent Scotland will be saddled with a crippling national debt of at least £140billion, Scots are to be warned… Government sources said the economic implications of a break-up would feature heavily in a future No campaign." – Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron last night faced a backlash from angry Tory back-benchers after it emerged that foreign nationals will have a say in the break-up of the UK." – Scotsman
  • Alex Salmond does not make Scottish independence inexorable – Martin Kettle for the Guardian

Some Tories see referendum as ‘win-win’ situation

"[I]n private the Tory party is aware of the electoral dividend that would come its way were Scotland to go it alone. … If Scotland votes against independence, the Conservatives will have fulfilled their mission as a Unionist party; if the Scots vote for independence, the Tories stand to strengthen their position at Westminster." – FT (£) 

  • The renewed debate over Scotland’s place in the Union should trigger a review of its share of taxpayer’s money, Conservative MPs have said. - Daily Telegraph

> Coverage from yesterday:

Osborne admits extra billions could be handed over for foreign bail-outs

Osborne NewX"George Osborne may ask parliament to give more than £10 billion from Britain’s squeezed budget to help bail out foreign countries with financial problems. The Chancellor told MPs that extra support may be required from Britain by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a global fund to help stricken governments. … The Government would face tough opposition from many Conservative MPs about giving away more money, especially if much of it will go straight to Europe." – Daily Telegraph

  • Britain wins key concession over euro stability pact – Independent

Cameron's father-in-law, Lord Astor, attacks HS2 decision

"David Cameron was warned to expect a Tory rebellion over high-speed rail. But while the government has been busy buying off cabinet ministers and local politicians with extra tunnels in Buckinghamshire, the prime minister has been blindsided by a new opponent: his own father-in-law. Lord Astor has spoken out against the case for the HS2 rail network – a plan, he says, that is largely supported by "northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed"." – Guardian | Daily Mail

  • Never mind ruining the countryside. HS2 will be the worst waste of public money for generations – Simon Jenkins for the Daily Mail

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Tory MPs raise their grievances, hopes and caution with Justine Greening over HS2

Lords inflict triple welfare bill defeat on government

"The government's plans to reform welfare were badly hit on Wednesday when it suffered three defeats in the House of Lords on proposed benefit cuts. Plans to means-test employment and support allowance (ESA) payments for disabled people after only a year were rejected by peers. The means test would have applied to cancer patients and stroke survivors… The other defeats were over plans to time-limit ESA for those undergoing cancer treatment, and to restrict access to ESA for young people with disabilities or illness." – Guardian

Premier League clubs could be given public money, says Jeremy Hunt

Hunt Jeremy Big Ben"The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said that public money could be handed to Premier League football clubs if they can prove it will be used to boost grassroots sport. The government this week unveiled a new strategy to address declining participation figures among young people and stalled progress in the plan to use the 2012 Games to inspire the population to get fit." - Guardian

David Cameron backs military academies - Daily Express

Film world hits back over PM's call to focus on blockbusters - Independent

  • £18m-a-year investment budget for Brit movies will hardly create blockbusters, never mind regenerate the media business - Guardian

Michael Crick reviews possible candidates for police commissioner posts

"Conservative associations are especially concerned about the coming election because the party high command has told them to pick their candidates through primary elections in which all local voters would be entitled to take part (be they Tory supporters or not)… The Tories have also assigned an MP to each area to trawl for possible contenders for their party nomination. These headhunters include Robert Syms (Dorset), David Ruffley (Suffolk), Stewart Jackson (Cambridgeshire) and Kris Hopkins (West Yorkshire). I understand that the deadline for party nominations is the end of January." – Michael Crick

Clegg plans to end grip of 'old school tie' on business jobs by making applications anonymous

Cleggmaking-a-point"Job hunters seeking work at 100 of Britain’s biggest firms may be asked to avoid listing their school on application forms under rules to end the influence of the old boy network. … Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has persuaded 100 firms to sign a voluntary code to end what he calls the ‘not what you know but who you know’ culture of ‘the old school tie’ in business. Companies that fail to comply with the code will be named and shamed." – Daily Mail

Matthew d'Ancona: What's Ed good for? Not much.

"It is painfully obvious that he is not a very good party leader and that the public has already grasped this simple fact. He is not a great rhetorician, strategist or policymaker. His ideas amount to an unremarkable repackaging of Fabian socialism for the iPad generation. What is Ed, or was Ed, ever good at? … The answer is horribly clear: he was good at sabotaging his brother's chances of becoming Labour leader. He was really, really good at that. He got the job done. Is that not the embarrassing problem with which Labour and indeed everyone else is wrestling? It's not that Ed Miliband lacks a mission – rather that, having fulfilled it many months ago, his work is now complete." – Matthew d'Ancona in the Evening Standard

£2m of aid budget goes to consultantsDaily Mail

Foreign doctors put patients at risk in NHS – Daily Telegraph

  • Lansley forced to find an extra £185m to meet the soaring cost of NHS negligence claims – Daily Mail

MI5 and MI6 'cleared' over torture claims BBC

The undeclared war on Iran is heating up Daily Telegraph Editorial

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