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9pm Melanchthon on CentreRight ponders the POSITIVE implications of an ice-free Arctic

7.45pm Seats and candidates: David Wilshire MP to retire at next General Election

6.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Situation vacant – Political Editor of The Sun

5.45pm Seats and Candidates update: Only 5% of political insiders think David Wilshire will stand as a Conservative candidate at the general election

Picture 25.30pm Parliament: Sir George Young raises the Save General Election Night campaign at Business Questions

3.45pm WATCH: Campaigners in Redditch explain why 6,500 people have already signed a petition calling on Jacqui Smith to step down as the town's MP

2.15pm Parliament: Angry John Bercow accuses Defence Secretary of "rank discourtesy" over delayed publication of procurement report Updated at 4.30pm with transcript of exchange between Liam Fox, John Bercow and Bob Ainsworth

Picture 12pm WATCH: As the future of General Election Night remains under threat, the BBC has put together a montage of some highlights and lowlights from its election coverage over the years

1.30pm Seats and Candidates update: David Wilshire summoned to meeting with Chief Whip this afternoon

1.15pm International: Silvio Berlusconi backs Blair for European President

12.15pm Seats and Candidates: Veracity of "secret" list of twenty future Tory peers questioned

Noon Seats and candidates: Vote blue, get pink… There are twenty to thirty openly gay and lesbian Tories in winnable seats, says Iain Dale

10.30am Local Government: Boris seeks to justify inflation-busting tube and bus fare rises – and a 25% increase in the C-Charge

ToryDiary: David Cameron should not abuse his powers of patronage

Seats and Candidates: David Wilshire refers himself to Standards Commissioner after the Telegraph exposes expenses payments to his own company

FlightGrowth
Howard Flight on Platform: The Conservative Party needs a manifesto to promote growth in the private sector

Parliament: Gordon Brown's neglect of foreign policy exposed in Westminster Hall debate on Russia

Local Government:

Star Chamber: Abolition of the Greater London Assembly

Benedict Rogers on CentreRight recommends reading a report rebutting the BNP's slurs against Islam

WATCH: The Israeli Ambassador to the EU speaks about his "very positive" meeting yesterday with the European Conservatives and Reformists in Brussels 

Eleanor Laing repays £25,000 expenses

Picture 1 "A Tory frontbencher sought yesterday to salvage her political career by handing back £25,000 of expenses, even though she has been given a clean bill of health by Sir Thomas Legg’s independent audit. Eleanor Laing’s decision to make a voluntary repayment reflects the acute anxiety felt by a number of senior MPs as they await the final verdict from the Legg Report in December — and from the voters next year… Sir Thomas’s ruling this week that she does not have to return any expenses has not spared Mrs Laing the ordeal of a special meeting of her Epping Forest Conservative Association on October 26 which will decide whether to deselect her as the party’s candidate for the coming election." – The Times

Legg payback approaches £100,000

"The expenses payback continued on Wednesday as dozens more MPs came forward to announce that they had been asked to refund money to the taxpayer. While many MPs are refusing to disclose how much they have been asked to pay up following the audit carried out by Sir Thomas Legg into claims dating back five years, £97,250 of requests have now been made public." – Daily Telegraph

Bercow signals support for Legg's conclusions

Speaker Bercow "Commons Speaker John Bercow has signalled his support for the controversial backdated caps on MPs' expenses… Mr Bercow's spokesman denied reports that he had tried to persuade Sir Thomas [Legg] against introducing backdated caps, insisting the men had only discussed whether the limits should be cash, or a percentage of the expenses claimed. "The Speaker accepts Sir Thomas's view that this is not retrospective, but what was implicit in the rules as written," the spokesman added. Sir Thomas sparked the controversy by deciding that no MP should have claimed more than £1,000 a year for gardening and £2,000 for cleaning." – Press Association

Clegg urges Legg to go after "flippers"

"Sir Thomas Legg is under mounting pressure to extend his expenses inquiry to cover MPs who 'flipped' their homes to maximise their claims. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg yesterday urged the sleazebuster to examine the way some MPs claimed expenses for several properties by repeatedly changing the designation of their second home." – Daily Mail

Harman accused of using expenses scandal for political positioning

"Harriet Harman was accused of using the Commons expenses scandal to position herself for the Labour leadership as MPs broke cover yesterday to insist they would refuse to pay money back. Senior Labour figures believe their deputy leader is 'shamelessly playing to the gallery' by encouraging a behind-the- scenes attempt to overturn the controversial audit of MPs' claims." – Daily Mail

> LISTEN: Harriet Harman yesterday warned opposition parties against trying to exploit the MPs' expenses row

Cameron challenges Brown over freeze in TA training…

David Cameron Commons crop "Gordon Brown’s pledge that Territorial Army soldiers going to Afghanistan would not be affected by a freeze in TA training was challenged by David Cameron in the Commons yesterday. The Conservative leader said that it was “totally unacceptable” that basic training for TA members was being cut, and that volunteers were not being fully paid for training days." – The Times

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: A sombre and subdued first PMQs of the new term

> WATCH: David Cameron tackles Gordon Brown about healthcare for wounded soldiers and veterans and the reported cuts to the training of those in the territorial army

…as the Prime Minister announces new troops to be deployed to Afghanistan

"Gordon Brown has said the number of British troops in Afghanistan would rise by 500 to 9,500 in a move designed to end a dispute between ministers and defence chiefs and reassure sceptics that the military presence there is worthwhile… David Cameron, the Conservative leader, asked whether Brown agreed that military commanders needed to get "smarter" about which elements of the Taliban posed a threat to the UK. "While we should not be negotiating with the leadership of the Taliban, we should be breaking up the movement – separating out those who are more motivated by money or other factors rather than ideological commitment." – The Guardian

> WATCH: Gordon Brown announces an increase in troops being deployed in Afghanistan

Andrew Lansley echoes concerns of health regulator

"Almost half of hospitals fail to meet fully the core standards of care despite a decade of Government investment in the NHS, according to the health regulator’s annual report. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) warns today that more than 40 health trusts are at risk of being refused new licences to operate, which will be issued next April… Andrew Lansley, the Conservative health spokesman, said that the regulator’s report showed that the level of improvement was not as it should be. “Given the increases in taxpayers’ money spent on the NHS, patients rightly expect that basic standards will be consistently met and will actually improve year on year,” he said. “This has clearly not happened.” – The Times

Chloe Smith makes her Commons debut

Chloe Smith Commons crop "Chloe Smith, winner of the Norwich North byelection at the end of July, has breezed into Westminster like a whirlwind this week. She took her seat, as you might expect, on Monday, the first day the Commons was back in action after the scandalously long 82-day summer recess. But she also wasted no time in making her maiden speech, rising to her feet on day three, during an Opposition debate on higher education." – Sky News

"Chloe Smith told the Commons yesterday that City College Norwich had been plunged into "deep confusion" by the "capital crisis" at the Learning and Skills Council. Making her maiden speech in a debate on higher education, the new Norwich North MP said that many of her constituents were already losing out "in the chaos". And "we all may lose further if the college cannot recoup £3m already sunk in plans encouraged by this government", she warned." – Eastern Daily Press

> Yesterday in Parliament: Chloe Smith MP delivers her maiden speech in the Commons

Baroness Warsi confirmed to face BNP leader on Question Time

"Sayeeda Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion, is to take on the leader of the British National Party (BNP) on the BBC's Question Time next week. The addition of Baroness Warsi, pictured below, completes the panel for the 22 October broadcast, which will see the far-right party's leader, Nick Griffin, make his debut on the programme. The Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, and playwright Bonnie Greer, have also agreed to take part." – The Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: A job description for a BNP-beating Conservative

MPs unite to back the Save General Election Night Campaign

SaveElectionNight graphic "The campaign to "save general election night" is winning big backing from MPs of all parties. A Commons motion backed by MPs from six different political parties had 68 names on it on Wednesday's order paper and its supporters claim the number will top 100 by the end of the day. It has been tabled by Scottish Labour MP and blogger Tom Harris. Tory chairman Eric Pickles is the third name among the 68." – Sky News

"Some returning officers, the local council officials responsible for the vote counts in individual constituencies, have indicated they wish to postpone the count until the morning after the election. Television coverage usually begins as soon as the polls close at 10.00pm and carries on through the night as results are declared… On Facebook, a campaign group called "Save general election night" has recruited more than 5,000 members. It was founded by Lib Dem blogger Mark Pack, Tory blogger Jonathan Isaby and Labour MP and blogger Tom Harris." – ePolitix.com

EDM Update: A further 58 MPs signed the motion yesterday, bringing the current tally of supporters to 126

> Yesterday in Parliament: The campaign to Save General Election Night reaches the Commons

Boris expected to raise London tube and bus fares

"London's bus and Tube fares for 2010 will be announced by mayor Boris Johnson later. There are fears the new fares will be used to offset a funding gap of millions of pounds… The recession saw passenger numbers on the Tube fall by 6.4% in August. The 190,000 fewer journeys was the biggest monthly fall in 20 years – and the reduced revenue would be considered by the mayor, TfL said. Mr Johnson had also said that TfL faced "very, very serious" funding issues which necessitated "some very tough choices". – BBC

Dutch MP Geert Wilders to visit UK tomorrow after ban is liftedThe Independent

And finally…

"A car owner called cops – claiming a girl aged two was a vandal. The neighbour's child – barely able to walk – was accused of deliberately hitting the motor with a branch. Fury erupted last night as it was revealed police h
ad no choice but to treat the girl as a criminal damage suspect, even though she was too young to be charged or even quizzed…. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling blasted: "This is just madness." – The Sun

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