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6.45pm WATCH: Chris Grayling explains Government Work Programme

Screen shot 2011-04-01 at 16.24.01 4.15pm Andrew Haldenby on Comment: Building the Big Society

2.15pm Update ToryDiary: Over 70 per cent of ConHome panellists want Lansley's reforms to go ahead

2pm WATCH: Cameron – AV is a "miserable little compromise"

Noon:

11am: Chris Grayling MP on Comment: the charities and groups who will help deliver our Work Programme

ToryDiary:  Revealed – Secret Hilton plan for Huhne/Warsi Party Chairman jobshare

Also on ToryDiary: Over 70 per cent of ConHome panellists want Lansley's reforms to go ahead

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Martin Callanan MEP: The UK should refuse to participate in a Portuguese bailout

Also in Comment: Harry Phibbs – Over a thousand sign up to attend Rally Against Debt on May 14

Local Government:

Parliament: Will the Office for Fair Access provoke the next Conservative rebellion?

Seats and Candidates: The future now hangs in the balance for those on the Candidates' List

ThinkTankCentral: German economists back British Chancellor

WATCH: No to AV says – Don't let extremist voters decide elections 

Cameron says Koussa could face Lockerbie prosecution as Gaddafi regime totters

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"Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, David Cameron insisted that no immunity agreement would be considered and police were free to question Mr Koussa in respect of the Lockerbie bombing, he stated, "That investigation is still open and the police and prosecuting authorities, entirely independent of government, should follow their evidence wherever it leads."  The Prime Minister's comments come after Scottish prosecutors requested an interview with Moussa Koussa over the terrorist attack." – Daily Telegraph

Other Libya news and comment –

Yesterday –

Tebbit attacks Lansley's NHS plans

"The ex-Cabinet minister and Margaret Thatcher’s former hatchet man admitted grave concerns they could do “considerable” damage to NHS hospitals…Lord Tebbit said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans could bring “unfair” competition, enabling private firms to cherry pick.  He said: “It’s fine for the private sector, which doesn’t have responsibility for teaching and bringing on young surgeons, to take the straightforward and easy stuff." – Daily Mirror

 Top Cabinet thinkers in the news: Letwin says Britain faces growth crisis…

Screen shot 2011-04-01 at 08.52.59 "The Prime Minister’s key policy adviser, revealed that last week’s Budget was thrashed out in reaction to the problem with growth and jobs.  Labour seized on the comments and claimed Mr Letwin had “let the cat out of the bag.”  Mr Letwin told the environmental audit select committee: “…we took the view collectively in Cabinet that we faced an immediate national crisis in the form of less growth and jobs than we needed." – Daily Telegraph 

…and Willetts claims that feminism helped to widen the poverty gap

"Feminism has set back the cause of social mobility by decades, a senior minister has claimed.  Universities Minister David Willetts said feminist policies had inadvertently halted the improvement in the life chances of working-class men and  widened the gap between rich and poor.  He said feminism was the ‘single biggest factor’ in the decline in social mobility since the 1960s,  adding: ‘Feminism has trumped egalitarianism." – Daily Mail

State pension to rise to £155 a week

"Plans for a universal state pension of at least £155 a week are expected to be unveiled next week, it emerged last night.  The change, to be introduced in 2016, is designed to end the sense of unfairness felt by many women who currently receive less than men.  But many pensioners are expected to be disappointed by the plans as they will only apply to new pensioners from the financial year 2015-16." – Daily Express

I'll be bike: Arnie praises "brilliant" Boris bike scheme

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"Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his muscle behind Boris Johnson today as he praised the Mayor's "brilliant" leadership. The former California governor said he would back Mr Johnson "all the way" before next year's race for City Hall. The action movie star, 63, described the Mayor's bike hire scheme as a "great idea for the whole world" as he joined him for a short ride along the South Bank." – Evening Standard

> Yesterday: WATCH – Boris Johnson welcomes Arnold Schwarzenegger to City Hall and takes him for a ride on a Boris bike 

"We must teach our children to love books again"

"This country has the best children’s writers in the world. But while we celebrate Pullman and Rowling, Morpurgo and Rosen, Horowitz and Higson, many of our young people are growing up in ignorance of their work. That’s unacceptable. It’s my mission to change what we expect of young people, and reverse the fashionable assumption of far too many in education that children shouldn’t be challenged to achieve far more." – Michael Gove writing in the Daily Telegraph

Coalition and Political News in Brief

"Luvvies line up to tell you how to vote on AV"

Screen shot 2011-04-01 at 08.41.24 "Celebrities have thrown their weight behind the campaign for electoral reform – writing to voters urging them to support the cause.  Colin Firth, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry are among those endorsing the campaign in a Yes To Fairer Votes leaflet sent out to householders.  On May 5, Britain will go to the polls to decide whether to keep Westminster’s historic first-past-the-post system – or replace it with the Alternative Vote system. Famous faces in favour of reform are keen to drum up support." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday –

Liberal Democrat Ministers brief against North Sea windfall tax

"George Osborne, the chancellor, is under pressure from within his cabinet to back down on his unexpected plans to impose a £2bn windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies.  Fellow ministers are frustrated that they were given no long-term warning by the Treasury of the plan in advance of the budget and that the oil companies were given no chance to be consulted…The oil and gas industry's tax bill for the next financial year is expected to be £13.4bn, compared with £8.8bn this year." – The Guardian

  • Nick Clegg blossoms amid the jacarandas in Mexico City – The Guardian

Europe's human rights chief attacks Britain on votes for prisoners

Screen shot 2011-04-01 at 08.57.11 "Europe's human rights chief last night launched an astonishing attack on Britain for turning prisoners 'non-people' by denying them the vote.  The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg insisted a 140-year-old ban on inmates taking part in elections could not be justified, adding: 'That approach does not correspond to the European values of our times.' " – Daily Mail

Miliband says "fighting cuts" is local election theme

"Ed Miliband claimed Labour would be the public's "first line of defence" against the Coalition Government's spending cuts yesterday as he launched his party's campaign for the 5 May local elections.  Labour is expected to gain about 1,000 seats in elections to local authorities in most parts of England outside London and Cornwall. Election experts believe Labour should win about 700 seats from the Conservatives and about 300 from the Liberal Democrats." – The Independent

Other Miliband comment –

  • Miliband’s plan for power is putting his party back on course – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • Could three key changes save Ed Miliband? – Johann Hari, The Independent
  • Miliband must start to lead his party on public spending – The Economist (£)

Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine jailed for 16 months for expenses fraudThe Sun

And finally…Trouserless Cameron/Clegg Brokeback Mountain print banned

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"A piece of art depicting David Cameron and Nick Clegg dressed as cowboys, and partially naked, has been banned amid fears it is politically sensitive.  Wrexham Council said the print, which was to be featured at its gallery Oriel Wrecsam, was "inappropriate" in the run up to May's Welsh assembly elections.  The art work depicts the Prime Minister and his deputy wearing cowboy hats, jackets and boots, but they are not wearing trousers." – BBC

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