Published:

9.30pm MPsETC: The Conservative candidate for the Bradford West by-election is Jackie Whiteley

8.15pm WATCH: Ed Balls MP: "If the Chancellor wants [to introduce mansion taxes] then I will support him"

Greening Justine parliament5.30pm WATCH: Justine Greening announces the launch of Oyster-style train ticketing across England and Wales

3.45pm David T Breaker on Comment: Taxing wealth is fundamentally unconservative

3pm MPsETC: Dominic Raab leads the House in passing measures to bring the killers of Sergei Magnitsky to justice

1.45pm David Mowat MP on Comment: The next pensions crisis could be caused by lack of independent advice. The Government must act now.

Hammond Philip arm Syrian rebels1pm WATCH: Philip Hammond: "It would be illegal" for Britain to arm the Syrian rebels

11.45am ConHomeUSA newslinks: Mississippi and Alabama – Newt's last stand

ToryDiary: There is almost a fortnight until the budget. Osborne is in danger of losing control of it. How will he get it back?

Columnist Andrew Lilico: The more politics is a job, the less politics will be a battle of ideas

Mark Field MP on Comment: Greek and eurozone salvation is no nearer – whatever the bailout merchants may say

Local Government:

Screen shot 2012-03-08 at 08.02.15Matthew Sinclair on ThinkTankCentral continues our series on how the Chancellor could cut spending in the budget: Abolish the EHRC, cancel high speed rail, cut business subsidies – how to save over £7 billion

WATCH: A nation mourns as SteveHiltonGuru leaves wigwam

Britain's biggest single loss of life in Afganistan as death toll passes 400

"A simple posy clasped in his powerful hands, one soldier sums up a nation’s grief. The burly squaddie fought back tears as he delivered his tribute to six comrades blown up by a Taliban bomb. It is less than a month since members of the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment left for Afghanistan.  Yesterday the flowers were piling up outside their barracks at Warminster, Wiltshire, after one of the deadliest incidents in a decade of conflict." – Daily Mail

  • How can they justify any more sacrifices? – Daily Mail Comment
  • Forces in Afghanistan give their lives to deny al-Qaeda a base. It is a worthy mission; the sacrifice must not be squandered – The Times Editorial (£)
  • The right way to leave Afghanistan – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • “We will hold our nerve. I know I speak for every man and woman in uniform when I say that we understand the importance of the mission with which we are charged." – General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, in The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Budget 1) Osborne ponders tearing up child benefit plan and restricting the payment to larger families instead…

"One of the ideas being considered by the Treasury is to reverse the plan altogether and instead cap child benefit at a certain number of children, most likely three. At the moment, parents receive £20.30 a week for their first child and £13.40 a week for each additional child.  If implemented, the move is likely to prove highly controversial as it would effectively penalise larger families – regardless of their level of income. Mr Osborne is understood to have reservations about the idea, which has been drawn up by officials." – Daily Mail

  • People earning between £43,000 and £50,000 are likely to retain child benefit – Financial Times (£)
  • All women want for a perfect world is child benefit and George Clooney – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Columnist Jill Kirby – The Treasury's child benefit game with couples: heads we win, tails you lose

Budget 2) Grant Shapps labels mansion tax a "granny tax"…

SHAPPS NEW"Mr Shapps yesterday became the first senior Conservative publicly to speak out against the dangers of the Lib Dem proposals. He said in a BBC interview that the levy risked becoming a "granny tax" and said there were a "variety of difficulties" with the scheme. Last night, the minister declined to elaborate on his comments. The remarks echoed concerns raised by Conservative backbenchers and peers." – Daily Telegraph

Budget 3) …As the Chancellor turns to curbing pension relief instead…

…"Vince Cable’s proposal for a ‘mansion tax’ on properties worth £2million or more, which he floated this week, has run into a wall of resistance from senior Tories. Liberal Democrat sources indicated yesterday that they accept a new property tax targeting the wealthy is unlikely to be included in the Budget in two weeks’ time. But they are pushing for a hit on higher rate pension tax relief instead, if the Chancellor wants to abolish the 50p rate of tax on income over £150,000 before the next election." – Daily Mail 

…Which Tory MPs warn against

"Conservative MPs warned George Osborne against launching a raid on pension contributions as the Government seeks ways to tax the wealthy. They said that curbing tax breaks would deter saving at a time when pension funds were already facing record deficits. Pre-Budget tensions in the coalition surfaced over the issue as the pensions industry said that retirement funds had been pushed £90 billion further into the red in the past six months." – The Times (£)

  • Don't tax pensions, George Osborne told – Daily Telegraph
  • Clegg warms to Cable but one FTSE 100 chairman says: “He is a charming academic and economist who never made a profit and personally does not empathise with red-toothed business people at any level.” – Financial Times (£)
  • Business Secretary tells the City: "You're stuck with me" – Daily Telegraph
  • Cable's constituents speak: "It's just another reason not to vote for him. As if I needed one" – The Independent visits Twickenham
  • Mansion tax: Flawed, unjust and driven by the politics of envy – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Budget 4) The Mail says that Osborne is determined to drive planning reform through…

Osborne-at-desk
"George Osborne is reported to be determined to include the most contentious element of the plans – a presumption in favour of planning – in this month’s Budget. The Chancellor wants to press ahead with the shake-up which he believes is vital to promote growth and jobs.  Ministers have enraged countryside campaigners with proposals that local councils should approve all building projects unless there is a strong reason to refuse them." – Daily Mail

…But the Telegraph reports that developers will now to be forced to build on brownfield sites before the countrysideDaily Telegraph

Campaigners demand lower fuel taxDaily Express

> Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP on Comment – A 2.5p cut in fuel duty would help create thousands of jobs and get the economy growing again

Mortgage time-bomb UK’s top threat – Allister Heath, City A.M

Lansley heckled by an angry GP in corridors of hospital over his thousand-amendment health bill and giving "Mr Cameron one big headache" Daily Mail

Maria Miller announces Remploy closures and supports alternative programmes

Maria Miller"Nearly 2,000 disabled workers are to be made redundant after the Government announced it is withdrawing its multi-million-pound subsidy from the state-owned disability employer Remploy. In a move described by unions as "barbaric", ministers confirmed that up to 36 of Remploy's 54 factories across the UK would shut by the end of the year. When in opposition, both the Employment minister Chris Grayling and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had pledged to keep the factories open." – The Guardian

Rebekah Brooks was given police horse on day she dined with Yard commissioner Ian BlairDaily Mail

Theresa May returns from Jordan without a deal over Abu Qatada

"The Home Secretary had three days of talks with the Jordanian King and government officials in an attempt to find a way to remove the radical Muslim cleric from the UK. Mrs May said she had “constructive” talks with King Abdullah and several ministers. while she was in Jordan She added that things were advancing positively. “Those talks will now continue at an official level and build on the progress I made this week”, she said." – The Times (£)

  • Home Secretary suffers a setback in bid to deport seven Algerian terror suspects – Daily Express

Elected police commissioners could earn £100,000 even if they work part-timeDaily Mail

The Ulster Unionist Party is now rated as having less influence than the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP or the Alliance

"The £15,000 survey was carried out between last May and June and asked people about the 2007-2011 Executive, but has only now been made public by academics. Of a representative sample of 1,200 polled last May and June, more than 28 per cent of people said that the UUP had “not much influence” on the last Executive, with 6.7 per cent saying that the party had “no influence at all”…Danny Kennedy, who since last year’s election has been the sole UUP representative at the Executive table, took issue with the poll." – Newsletter

Funding for HS2 drives rail cuts claim Financial Times (£)

Peter Oborne adds his voice to those warning that the Coalition will break up

"Plenty of mistakes have been made since 2010, but this has nevertheless been the best government for a generation, led by men and women for the most part of decency and goodwill…Expect the Coalition to break apart by 2013 at the latest, though a minority Conservative administration may linger on for a while longer. And expect that five-year fixed parliament, like Lords reform, to turn out to be another of Nick Clegg’s charming constitutional delusions." – Daily Telegraph

P.S: The Telegraph columnist also describes Nick Clegg as "fairly intelligent"

  • The danger of outsourcing advice to government – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Screen shot 2012-03-08 at 08.33.24Alok Sharma MP says that train operators should copy airlines and Chiltern Railways and introduce “premium economy” carriages to ease overcrowding"The Times (£)

Robert Quick, formerly Britain's top counter-terrorism officer, claims police buckled under Conservative pressure over Damian Green case The Guardian

Security committee labels Cameron’s strategy "unrealistic"…Financial Times (£)

…And says Government has failed to make contingency defence plans for Scottish independence…Scotsman

…Not to mention the the collapse of the Euro BBC

Sir Peter Tapsell reveals to the Commons how the Queen's three golden rules for travelling abroad: avoid shellfish, salad and watermelon Daily Mail

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