7pm WATCH: Independent Commission on Banking expected to conclude tomorrow that the last Government was wrong to allow the Lloyds TSB/HBOS merger

5pm Parliament: Robert Halfon defeats Labour MP's bid to regulate the internet during elections

Picture 133,30pm WATCH: Norman Lamb's full interview with Jon Sopel on the NHS reforms

1.30pm ToryDiary: Government whip publicly cautions against rushing NHS reforms and calls for the Health Bill to be amended

Noon Christina Dykes on Comment: AV would result in a House of Commons filled with “miserable mediocrity”

ToryDiary: Tory members reject bailout for Portugal and replacement taxes; they support second look at defence budget; and worry about rhetoric on cuts

David Cowan on Comment: The current division inside the Conservative Party is between the “Old Whigs” and the “High Tories”

Local Government:

ThinkTankCentral: Respublica proposes that supermarkets should be taxed to subsidise traditional high street shops

International: Stephen Harper puts eliminating the deficit at the heart of his re-election campaign in Canada

Picture 8
WATCH: Rik Mayall stars as Alan B'stard in first No2AV referendum broadcast

Andrew Lansley pledges to listen to concerns over reforms, but insists the NHS has to change…

Andrew Lansley 2010 "This week we kick-off a drive across the nation to pause, listen, reflect and improve our health service… The NHS is not some kind of museum, it’s a dynamic organisation. It employs more than a million people and its budget exceeds £100billion. So it demands detailed and coherent plans to make it work better… At present it’s often distant bureaucrats who call the shots, not health professionals who best understand your needs. We want to unleash a new level of transparency because a transparent NHS is a safer NHS." – Andrew Lansley writing in the Sunday Express

  • Why, if the NHS reforms are such a good idea, is Lansley so incapable of explaining them in public? – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday
  • 1,200 grassroots Lib Dems instruct their MPs to insist on changes to health reforms – The Observer

…as Janet Daley accuses the Government of "deception"…

"The Tories' deception about their plans for the NHS (and make no mistake – it was a deliberate deception) was a blunder of stupendous proportions. Rarely has a party connived so neatly to get the worst of all worlds. They appeared incoherent in opposition – when they seemed to be taking precisely opposite approaches on health and education policy – and then dishonest and untrustworthy in government." – Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph

…and there's further bad news for Lansley

"NHS waiting lists are growing, more operations are being cancelled and treatment is being rationed in the first signs that a funding crisis is threatening care since the coalition government came to power." – Independent on Sunday

Philip Hammond has some good news for motorists

HAMMOND-PHILIP-BIG-BEN "Drivers will be required to take fewer MoT tests under government plans that could save motorists hundreds of pounds. Ministers are preparing to relax the frequency of vehicle checks — possibly replacing annual MoTs with tests every two years. Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, wants to allow drivers to delay the first MoT on a new car from three years to four. The government is proposing to consult on a number of other options." – Sunday Times (£)

Andrew Rawnsley warns against an early Cabinet reshuffle

"The prime minister ought to set aside some time during the Easter break to weigh up the pros and cons of reconstituting the cabinet. Having considered it, if he cannot find an absolutely compelling reason to do it, he should resolve not to have a reshuffle. And then, before the speculation becomes so intense that it overwhelms his first resolve, he should make it clear that there will not be one." – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

Banking plan threatens to widen rift between Coalition partners

Picture 12 "An interim report by a five-member banking commission, headed by Sir John Vickers, is expected to recommend a series of measures to protect banks' key functions at times of crisis. The moves are likely to cost banks an extra £5billion but are set to be supported by George Osborne, the Chancellor. However, the recommendations will be contested by Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers including Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, exposing a clear fault line at the top of the government." – Sunday Telegraph

  • Banking Commission to describe Lloyds TSB/HBOS merger as a mistake – Sky News

Britain should not be bailing out Portugal

"Britain is on the hook again. There will be no British participation in the permanent mechanism that the EU puts into place from 2013, but that is small comfort, particularly if further rescues come along between now and then. British taxpayers are right to be angry. We have our own problems and our own austerity to deal with, without picking up the bill for Europe’s ambition and folly. Britain should not be bailing out Portugal.' – Sunday Times (£) editorial

  • What do the Conservatives think about the bailout? – Tim Montgomerie in the Sunday Telegraph

> Bailout coverage on ConHome:

Conservatives claim Scots back fee for university graduates

Scottish Conservative logo "The Scots Tories claim they have the majority backing of Scots over their plans to introduce a graduate contribution to help solve the university funding crisis. The party pointed to a Scottish Social Attitudes Survey from October 2010 which suggests that around 63 per cent of people north of the Border think students should pay a sum towards their tuition – only slightly less than in England." – Scotland on Sunday

> Friday's ToryDiary: The Scottish Conservatives fight again to maximise their presence at Holyrood

As the News of the World apologises over phone hacking…

NEWS OF THE WORLD "We have written to relevant individuals to admit liability in these civil cases and to apologise unreservedly, and will do the same to any other individuals where evidence shows their claims to be justifiable." – News of the World

…it emerges Murdoch 'urged Gordon Brown' to halt Labour attacks…

"Rupert Murdoch used his political influence and contacts at the highest levels to try to get Labour MPs and peers to back away from investigations into phone hacking at the News of the World, a former minister in Gordon Brown's government has told the Observer." – The Observer

…and further arrests are predicted

"John Whittingdale, the chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, which has held an inquiry into the scandal, said he understood there would be further arrests. "I think there'll be more arrests because as I understand it there's more evidence that points at other people being involved," he said." – Sunday Telegraph

Meanwhile, the paper launches a campaign to enshrine the military covenant into law

Picture 11 "At the moment the so-called Military Covenant is an unwritten pact between the nation and its brave servicemen and women. Last June the Prime Minister promised to make that pact a legal duty, guaranteeing the right to prioritised NHS health care, decent housing and first choice schools for forces personnel and their families as a reward for their sacrifices… But ministers have now ditched the covenant from the Armed Forces Bill, claiming debt-laden Britain cannot afford it. So today we are calling for the bill to be amended to make the Military Covenant law." – News of the World

"No one deserves our support today as much as our armed forces and I commend the paper for launching its campaign. Britain is facing an unprecedented recession and massive cutbacks in public spending. However the Prime Minister knew this when he said that the Military Covenant would be written into law. The members of our Armed Forces are special individuals who collectively make a special case. The Government needs to honour its pledge… and now." – Lord Ashcroft gives his backing to the campaign in the News of the World 

Prime Minister’s plans to scrap RAF Tornados delayed

"The axeing of two Tornado squadrons is to be delayed for at least a year to avoid the RAF having too few pilots to sustain long-term operations over Libya and Afghanistan. In an embarrassing U-turn, David Cameron has ordered a rethink after the RAF told him it could provide only half the Tornado attack aircraft required when the Americans pulled their bombers out last week." – Sunday Times (£)

MPs and celebrities urged to stand as police commissioners

"Celebrities, MPs and senior officers are being sounded out about becoming powerful police commissioners in moves to hand control of forces to directly elected officials. The former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross has been approached about contesting the elections in May next year, and at least two former Labour cabinet ministers are understood to be considering quitting the Commons to run for the roles." – Independent on Sunday

The Camerons' Spanish mini-break comes to an end

Samantha and David Cameron "David Cameron and his wife Samantha are back from their budget holiday in Spain after spending two days being hounded by paparazzi. The couple’s first break abroad since Cameron became Prime Minister was to celebrate Samantha’s 40th birthday later this month." – Sunday Times (£)

"A guitarist serenaded the Camerons as they enjoyed a final meal of tapas at the San Francisco Hotel, a ­former 15th-century convent. An onlooker said: “The hotel manager offered to pay for their meal. They pol­itely declined the offer and met the cost ­themselves.” – Sunday Mirror

From hero to hate figure: Whatever happened to Cleggmania?

"When they reflect on an extraordinary year of fluctuating fortunes, those close to Clegg admit they cannot bear to look back at film of that TV debate and all the hostages to fortune it threw up. They recall that period not as the most exciting of the last 12 months, but as the most disorientating and, in some ways, the most testing… The hero of the first TV debate has become the hate figure of students and the object of ridicule of cartoonists, who depict him day in day out as "Clegg minor", Cameron's public school fag, always doing his master's bidding." – The Observer

  • Matt Chorley and John Rentoul debate the merits of Clegg's time in office to date – Independent on Sunday

Ed Miliband heaps praise on his "mate", Ed Balls

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls "He is a brilliant shadow chancellor and our relationship will be a foundation for the next Labour government because we know each other well and we admire each other." The Labour leader also insists the pair will not be subject to the same damaging psychodrama as their predecessors as Labour opposition leader and shadow chancellor, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. "We had front-row seats at the Blair-Brown movie and we are not about to repeat it." – Ed Miliband interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph

  • The door is open for Ed Miliband to pose as the defender of our cherished institutions  – Matthew D'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph

Latest YouGov poll – Con 36% | Lab 43% | Lib Dem 9% UK Polling Report

The papers meet two of the candidates running for NUS President

  • The German Marxist revolutionary aiming to lead the NUS – Sunday Telegraph
  • Non-graduate NUS frontrunner backs sit-ins as fees fight intensifies – The Observer

Other political news and comment in brief

  • Cameron's F-word outburst at reporters over British Empire 'gaffe' – Mail on Sunday
  • Cheating Labour peer fails to repay a penny she owes the taxpayer – Sunday Times (£)
  • Mandelson cosies up to "embezzler" – Sunday Times (£)
  • Iceland rejects Icesave repayment deal – BBC
  • Harman in hypocrisy row over job given to son by her friend – Sunday Times (£)
  • BNP Welsh Assembly candidate arrested over Qur'an burning – The Observer
  • Why David Cameron must stand up to his friends at Google – Philip Delves Broughton in the Mail on Sunday
  • Cry-baby Clegg will have the last laugh – Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times (£)
  • Politicians are AVing a laugh over vote reform – Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)

And finally… A timely poster highlighting the unfairness of AV

"First Past The Post embodies the key principle behind our democracy, the principle of One Person, One Vote. The Alternative Vote will put an end to this and could create a system in which the candidate who comes in third might be declared the winner. We wouldn't have stood for this after yesterday's Grand National and why should we? People have a right to know what AV will mean for them – adopting it on May 5th will lead to a voting system which is unfair, processes that are unclear, and politics that is unaccountable." – Comment from No2AV Patron Ken Clarke MP


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