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Two Heathrow options and Gatwick lead the airport commission – but Boris Island stays in the fight

borisfringe“New runways at Heathrow and Gatwick are among the options that have been short-listed by the Airports Commission. The three short-listed options include adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick. The commission, led by businessman Sir Howard Davies, has also not ruled out a new airport in the Thames Estuary. However, it says it will need to do further analysis before deciding if this will make its final shortlist.” – BBC News

>Today: ToryDiary: Blocking a new runway at Heathrow means running the “global race” with our shoelaces tied together

The first modern generation to be poorer than their parents

“People born in the 1960s and 1970s face becoming the first generation since the Second World War who will be worse off than their parents in retirement, a new study has warned. The children of these decades are less likely to own a property, will have smaller state and private pensions, and have no more savings or income than their predecessors.” – Daily Telegraph

Afghanistan: “Mission accomplished”?

CAMERON byline photo“David Cameron has boldly declared that Britain’s mission will be ‘accomplished’ in Afghanistan by the time troops pull out next year – and that it should never again become a haven for terrorists. Appearing to dismiss fears that Taliban militants will return to wreak havoc, the Prime Minister, making what is set to be his last Christmas visit to British bases in the country, gave a startling upbeat assessment of the troubled country’s prospects 13 years into the conflict. Asked by reporters if the troops come home with ‘mission accomplished’, Mr Cameron said: ‘Yes, I think they do.’” – Daily Mail

Lib Dems might back cutting the benefits cap – if OAPs share the pain

IDS headshot“Nick Clegg has signalled he is prepared to consider Tory calls to cut the £26,000 household benefit cap and limit child-related benefits for the jobless – but only if the axe is also taken to pensioners’ perks. The Deputy Prime Minister left the door firmly open to further welfare reform yesterday, saying it was inevitable that more would have to be done in the years ahead.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Local Government: In West Lancashire, the spare room subsidy cut prompts 31 per cent off benefits altogether

Cameron attacks EU over disruption to shale gas industry

“New EU laws could kill off investment in fracking at a “critical and early stage”, David Cameron warned Brussels in an attempt to protect British industry from red tape. In a letter to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the Prime Minister argued that long delays and uncertainty caused by new legislation were a “major case for concern”.” – The Times (£)

Border

A Mills bomb ticking away under the Immigration Bill

“The Bill was duly introduced, sped briskly through its early stages – and then, suddenly, came to a halt. It has completed its committee stage in the Commons, but there is no date for it to return. The centrepiece of the Government’s programme has gone missing. Until it comes back and later becomes law, it presumably follows…people will continue to come here and expect something for nothing. So where is the Bill?” – Paul Goodman, Daily Telegraph

Majority of companies plan to hire new staff next year

Homes Jobs Savings Big“For the first time since the  economic downturn, the majority of employers now say they expect to take on extra staff within the next 12 months. The Confederation of British Industry said job prospects are ‘on the up’ amid clear signs that the recovery ‘has finally taken hold. The news follows the recent statement by the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, that ‘for the first time in a long time, you don’t have to be an optimist to see the glass as half full.” – Daily Mail 

  • France becomes the sick man of Europe – Daily Mail

Power seeps away from party leaders

“There is a paradox that, as politics becomes ever more presidential, the party leaders are losing power. David Cameron and Ed Miliband take selfies with global statesmen and celebrities, but they are at the mercy of events at home and abroad. Although they are the political frontmen who must prepare for the leaders’ television debates during a general election campaign, their authority is increasingly challenged from both within and outside their own parties.” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

>Today: Stephen Tall’s Column: Stephen Tall: Where the parties are as 2013 ends – and what they face in 2014

Lord Hanningfield caught using “Sign in, sod off” expenses tactics

“Picking up £300 a day for doing virtually nothing usually goes like clockwork for money-grabbing baron Lord Hanningfield. The 73-year-old peer is ripping off taxpayers to the tune of thousands of pounds by simply turning up and clocking in to the Lords. He often spends barely half an hour there before turning on his heels and leaving again – racking up his £300 daily attendance allowance.” – The Mirror

  • Two peers suspended in access scandal – Daily Mail

Prisons don’t do enough to rehabilitate inmates

Police helmet“A highly critical report by prison and probation inspectors found that jails across  England and Wales helped inmates get a house and benefits or a job on their release. But little was being done to help turn them away from a life of crime. The problem was worst in prisons holding foreign nationals, said the report, because officials thought inmates would be deported during or after their sentence.” – Daily Mail

  • Let ex-convicts become JPs, says Policy Exchange – Daily Mail

Sure Start failing poor families

“MPs have urged the Government to “get serious” about early years education and its Sure Start programme to close the attainment gap between rich and poor and boost social mobility. They attacked the £3 billion Sure Start programme, saying that its children’s centres need to be taken as seriously as schools if children from poorer backgrounds are to succeed.” – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Five out of ten have no clue about Britain’s vital statistics – Brian Groom, FT
  • Scottish independence could cost us our Security Council seat, warns Major – FT
  • No evidence the SAS killed Diana – Daily Mail
  • Lloyd’s of London appoints first female chiefs – Daily Mail
  • Matthew Perry and Peter Hitchens clash on Newsnight – Daily Mail
  • Ed Miliband is addicted to selfless – The Sun (£)
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