Published:

5pm Teatime newslinks: All today's coverage and reaction to PMQs in this evening's teatime newslinks

4.30pm MPsETC: Three Conservative seats abolished, one lost, and two gained in Wales Boundary Commission proposals

3.30pm Ryan Bourne on Comment: The Conservatives must stop this populist nonsense on high pay

2.30pm WATCH:

1.30pm ToryDiary: Cameron careful not to tear into the "steel and grit" of Ed Miliband. Solidarity over Scotland.

11.30am Local government: Conservative councillor in Plymouth defects to UKIP

ToryDiary: Britain needs an all-party campaign for the Union. The battle against Salmond can't be led from 11 Downing Street

Columnist Jill Kirby: Labour should back mandatory work schemes

RisbyLord Risby on Comment: Algeria, our surprising new best friend

Also on Comment John Glen MP: Executive pay must become a new component of corporate social responsibility

Eric Pickles MP on Local Government: We're hardwiring fairness into local government finance

Also on Local Government:

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

ThinkTankCentral: Tony Lodge: How the Coalition is gambling with Britain’s energy policy

ConHomeUSA: All the best reactions and commentary on Romney's New Hampshire victory

Alex Salmond resists calls to hold an early referendum on Scottish independence, setting the date for Autumn 2014

Salmond"Salmond indicated, in a notably conciliatory tone, that he could accept Cameron's offer of a deal to legally authorise the referendum on Scottish indepencene, but only if that offer was unconditional. Speaking on Sky News, the first minister said autumn 2014 "was the date that allows everything to be put in a proper manner on the most important decision in Scotland for 300 years. That date will allow the Scottish people to hear all the arguments." - Guardian

  • 'Breakaway Scots force a showdown' - Daily Mail
  • "Salmond painted himself as Braveheart" - Sun
  • 1,000 days to decide Scotland's future - Scotsman
  • Alice Thomson: "The Scottish First Minister is a superb operator. The only man who can match his political skills is the Chancellor" - Times (£)
  • Nick Robinson: 'Cameron and Salmond in high-stakes fight' - BBC
  • Brian Taylor gives somes answers as to why Salmond chose Autumn 2014 - BBC
  • Tom Peterkin: 'Salmond marches out into political no-mans land' - Scotsman

Writing in the FT, Salmond says a "plan Mac B for Scotland will only continue to work if there is a plan B in the UK"FT (£)

The Scottish Parliament doesn't have the legal power to legislate for a referendum, says Scottish Secretary Michael Moore 

Scotland"Mr Moore yesterday took the unusual step of detailing the Government’s legal advice on the question of a Scottish vote. “To legislate for a referendum on independence the Scottish Parliament must have the legal power to do so. It is the Government’s clear view that the Scottish Parliament does not have that legal power,” he said. Mr Salmond responded: “The mandate the SNP has to hold this referendum is unanswerable. That is the political reality.” - Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Osborne will uses money from the £140 billion council pension fund to pay for new roads, bridges and homes

"The Chancellor’s move, which could raise at least £10 billion, comes after his announcement last November that £30 billion would be spent on infrastructure projects during the next ten years. Mr Osborne said in the Autumn Statement that £20 billion would be raised from private sector pension funds with £10 billion from extra government spending. Treasury sources admitted yesterday that the £20 billion would now be raised from private and local government pensions." - Times (£)

The economic case for the first stage of HS2 (London – Birmingham) has weakened to the extent it is now considered "low value"

Ft"This shows that the traditional measure of value for money of infrastructure schemes – or the cost-benefit ratio – for the first 140 miles of the route from London to Birmingham has dropped from a gain of £1.60 for every £1 invested, when last calculated in February 2011, to £1.40. “The Treasury wouldn’t normally get out of bed for that,” said Stephen Glaister, a transport economist and executive director of the pro-motoring RAC Foundation" - FT (£)

  • 'Middle England in revolt: Tory shires furious as high-speed rail link gets go-ahead' - Daily Mail
  • Simon Jenkins: 'High-speed rail: the greatest waste of public money after aircraft carriers' - Guardian
  • John Redwood: 'A new railway for 2033?' - John Redwood's Diary
  • The Times reports from Great Missenden in the Chilterns: ‘Our town will go off the map. Who will want to come now? It’s over’ - Times (£)

> Yesterday:

30 NHS trusts spend less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for patients, according to official figures

"Compiled by the NHS Information Centre, the figures give details of spending on food and drink in 2010-11 by more than 350 primary care trusts, foundation hospitals and other NHS bodies. They reveal large budget disparities, with some trusts spending more than £20 a day on each patient, while others commit barely a 10th of that. The lowest spender was the Western Sussex Hospitals trust, which was listed as paying £2.57 a day to feed each patient." - Telegraph

In a speech today, Michael Gove will announce an overhaul of computer science teaching in schools

Gove"The education secretary will say the existing curriculum in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has left children "bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers". Instead he will, in effect, create an "open source" curriculum in computer science by giving schools the freedom to use teaching resources designed with input from leading employers and academics, in changes that will come into effect this September" - Guardian

  • Ian Livingstone: 'Teach children how to write computer programmes' - Guardian

Military academies are under consideration by the Government, to help reform"feckless youngsters"Sun

With parents in Kent leading the way in trying to open up the first grammar school in 50 years, Graeme Paton asks if this gives a green light for more  - Telegraph

  • Ross Clark: 'The Tories simply got it all wrong on grammar schools' – Daily Express 

Senior academics warn that science is being damaged by the funding body, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, urging David Willetts to overhaul or replace itTelegraph

On a visit to Pinewood Studios today, Cameron will urge the film industry to produce more commercial and lucrative films

Cameron"The prime minister will meet small and medium businesses in the £4.2bn UK film industry, and suggest he supports the expected findings of a review that aims to rebalance the industry's national lottery funding in favour of supporting independent pictures that have mainstream potential. Successful film companies would receive greater support, rather than government funding going to unproven film-makers" - Guardian  

  • UK filmmakers should rival Hollywood - Telegraph

Downing Street denies former adviser James O'Shaughnessy broke the rules in joining a lobbying firmDaily Mail

Britain's two state-owned banks hired eight seperate lobbying and public affairs firm, costing the taxpayer thousandsIndependent

  • Too much influence from lobbyists fostered the banking crisis, says Ben Chu Independent

Danny Finkelstein: 'Thatcher was not just strong. She was right'

Fink"In The Iron Lady, what she was resolute about hardly seems to matter. Enough that she stood tall. Yet in paying homage to Mrs Thatcher’s strength of character, the film, in common with many memories of her time in office, misses the most important feature of her resolve and determination — it was put to the service of the right ideas" - Times (£)

Simon Heffer: Miliband is in denial. He should accept his part in the failures of previous Labour governments

"The only relaunch the public want from him is an admission of the catastrophic mistakes the last Labour government made and an acceptance of Mr Miliband’s share in the responsibility for that as a former Cabinet minister. They also want an admission of the need to cut spending; and of how Britain’s recovery is not about a government using taxpayers’ money to create non-jobs in the public sector, but about creating a basis for prosperity that will allow the private sector to lead our recovery. So far Mr Miliband has been unable to bring himself to do that. He appears to be in denial." - Daily Mail

  • Jeremy Warner: 'This crisis in capitalism only exposes Labour’s limitations' - Telegraph
  • Matthew Norman: 'If politics is like sex, Ed will never find the g spot' - Independent

And finally … Gove's wife and Times columnist Sarah Vine revals her husband's dedication to workout and commitment to dropping "two dress sizes"

"Meanwhile, my husband, who can normally be relied on to join me on the sofa with a packet of Minstrels, has been leaving the house at half six in the morning to get half an hour’s workout in before breakfast, lured by the prospect of “dropping two dress sizes in six weeks” (I don’t care how successful he is: he’s not borrowing any of mine)." - Times (£)

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