7pm WATCH: Microphone pics up Ken Clarke and Speaker Bercow talking after PMQs

4.30pm WATCH: Martin Callanan MEP: "Measures are required so that Greece can organise an orderly default"

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3.45pm Tim Montgomerie on ToryDiary: Is 'My Great Britain Budget Speech' a plan for economic renewal, political suicide or both?

3.30pm Steve Brine MP on Comment: One of the most important things the Government can do is get more people on the property ladder

3pm MPsETC: Richard Ashworth elected new leader of Tory MEPs

2.45pm Local government: Boris launches Progress Report

1.45pm WATCH: Nick Clegg: "In government, the Labour party ran out of money. In opposition, they're running out of ideas"

Clegg at PMQs March 20121pm ToryDiary: PMQs: Clegg, standing in for Cameron, holds his own against the Labour frontbench and Tory backbenches

11.30am ConHomeUSA newslinks: Santorum sweeps the South

10.45am Local government: Labour councillor's taxpayer funded trip to Cannes

10.15am Baroness Jenkin on Comment: The Government should allow Boris Johnson to introduce a compulsory sobriety scheme in London

ToryDiary: The moral of the Pinto-Duschinsky resignation: Britain should leave the ECHR

Columnist Jill Kirby: The Government should stop introducing new bureaucratic burdens on employers

Lord Risby on Comment: Economic collapse will finish the Assad regime

Local Government: 

WATCH: Cameron and Obama watch basketball together

Cameron arrives in America

Cameron Obama basketball

"David Cameron will sit down with President Obama today to plot an end to many shared troubles: the presence of British and US troops in Afghanistan, the rule of President Assad of Syria, and the threat of a nuclear Iran. The Prime Minister arrived in Washington yesterday making clear that he sympathised with people on both sides of the Atlantic who wanted a clear view of the exit from Afghanistan." – The Times (£)

  • "Afghanistan will not be "a perfect democracy" by the time western troops return home, David Cameron admitted as he arrived in Washington for a three-day visit to the United States." – Independent
  • "Despite fears that Afghanistan will still have serious problems with violent extremism after 2014, the Prime Minister accepted: ‘I think people want an endgame. They want to know that our troops are going to come home – they have been there a very long time.’" – Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron has said he wants to see peaceful transition of power in Syria, rather than revolution, ahead of talks with US President Barack Obama." – BBC

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: A translation of yesterday's Obama/Cameron Washington Post article

Prime Minister's America trip in brief

  • Cameron calls for peaceful transition, not revolution, in Syria – Daily Telegraph
  • Both sides hope they can win in the game of basketball diplomacy – Independent
  • Sorry Cameron, but Air Force One is no place for a British prime minister – Sir Simon Jenkins
  • The Americans do not regards us as special anymore – Stephen Pollard
  • Downton but no Beckham for dinner – The Times (£)
  • Policy, not politics, is the key to understanding David Cameron – Benedict Brogan
  • This is the age of the ‘Start the War’ march – Daniel Finkelstein (£)
  • Arrests of Rebekah and Charlie Brooks cast shadow on David Cameron’s arrival in US – Daily Telegraph

Osborne will issue "Great War bonds" to raise cash

Osborne Large"George Osborne plans to benefit from Britain’s “safe-haven status” by issuing First-World-War-style bonds of 100 years and more. The Chancellor will announce details in the Budget next week to borrow money cheaply from institutional investors, such as pension and foreign wealth funds, and pay it back over an extended period, saving money for future taxpayers by locking in today’s historically low interest rates for decades to come… He is also considering issuing gilts where the original sum borrowed is never repaid but annual interest is paid in perpetuity." – The Times (£) | FT (£)

  • What's the Chancellor doing gatecrashing Cameron's jaunt to Washington DC? – Ephraim Hardcastle

Chancellor may still give go-ahead for "tycoon tax"

"George Osborne is seriously considering the "tycoon tax" proposed by Nick Clegg as he finalises the Budget he will deliver a week today. But the Chancellor has rebuffed the Liberal Democrats' calls for a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m after David Cameron insisted that the Government should not bring in a new tax. Instead, Treasury officials are examining a proposal by Mr Clegg for all taxpayers to pay a minimum rate of tax, probably 20 per cent – in line with the basic income tax rate." – Independent

Cameron blames delay on human rights reforms on Lib Dems

"David Cameron has blamed the Government’s failure to reform human rights law on the Liberal Democrats… Mr Cameron, who spoke after serious divisions emerged this week in the body supposed to be drawing up the proposals, said: ‘I want to make progress. ‘This is clearly an area that if we weren’t in coalition government, we would be going quite a bit faster, in fact, quite a lot faster.’ - Daily Mail

  • Coalition slowing human rights reform, says Cameron – BBC
  • European Court of Human Rights president dismisses British reform plans – Daily Telegraph
  • The ECHR needs these British reforms – Lord Lester, The Guardian

Commons revolt against NHS reforms defeated

COMMONS-sitting"Two votes of no confidence in the government's NHS reforms have been comfortably defeated… MPs voted twice on Tuesday on motions to drop the health and social care bill after Labour held a three-hour opposition day debate inspired by a public e-petition signed by more than 174,000 people calling for the government to abandon the legislation… Ministers are reported to want the bill passed into law on 20 March, a day before the budget. Some critics of the bill have vowed to keep fighting until then." – Guardian

Tax breaks for married couples are 25 years overdue, says Lord Lawson

LAWSON NIGEL TODAY"Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson said yesterday that a tax break for married couples has been wrongly delayed for 25 years. He said the tax system discriminates against families and children and he urged George Osborne to end the unfairness in the Budget next week. The intervention from Lord Lawson, who ran the Treasury for six years while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, increased pressure on the Coalition to fulfil David Cameron’s promise to give new tax help to husbands and wives." - Daily Mail

  • It is perverse for married people to be penalised by the tax system, which is what happens now –Daily Telegraph editorial
  • 351,000 stay-at-home middle class mothers could lose some of their state pension - Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday:

Magistrates attack Ken Clarke's plan to release more people on bail

CLARKE KEN ON ITN"The Magistrates' Association said it had "great concerns", adding: "Magistrates would not have grounds to refuse bail for a defendant who is a serial assaulter of strangers or police officers, which is clearly very unsatisfactory." In a partial U-turn, the Government has said those accused of domestic violence may be remanded even if a jail sentence is ultimately unlikely." – The Sun

  • Legal aid cuts to affect MP surgeries – Independent

Coalition signs up to EU treaty to allow the DNA of Britons to be passed on to other European countries

"Under the Prum Treaty, any of the 27 EU members can ask another state to check a DNA sample against their database and pass on the results. The UK is joining despite concerns people could be wrongly accused of crimes overseas because the project requires a lower accuracy test for DNA matches. Research has revealed up to two thirds of checks under the treaty could be so-called “false positives”, where an innocent person is wrongly identified as a match." – Daily Telegraph

Tory-Lib Dem coalition faces paralysis, warns David Laws

"David Laws, one of Nick Clegg's closest advisers, has warned that the coalition faces paralysis if the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats go too far in seeking to differentiate themselves from one another by repeatedly blocking proposals." – Guardian

Cable to up attack on executive pay

Cable Vince Hands"The Business Secretary is tomorrow expected to launch a formal consultation into the plans which are designed to give shareholders more control over executive pay. Business leaders have warned the plans, which require primary legislation to be implemented, would lead to investors "micro-managing companies"." – Daily Telegraph

  • Free banking is an 'outmoded concept that doesn't really work' says chief of financial regulator – Daily Mail
  • Dozens of council staff paid through limited companies to 'avoid tax' – Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: The public has yet to decide if it wants a more regulated capitalism

Pay cuts eroding morale in Armed Forces, report warns

"The pay freeze and other cuts mean “many personnel will experience a noticeable reduction in their real income”, the report said. Morale among troops serving on the front line is solid, but “the cumulative effect of the pay freeze and other reductions to disposable income risks damaging the morale and motivation of Services personnel”, it added." – Daily Telegraph

Local authorities to have score cards for adoptionBBC

Despite a string of fraud probes A4e gets two new state contracts worth up to £30mDaily Mail

London riotsWater cannons may be on our streets within months: Tear gas and Tasers also on police 'wish list' to combat riotsDaily Mail

2.7m people have been made redundant since 2008The Sun

And finally (1)… Cameron confesses his love for Thin Lizzy

"“It has one of the best guitar riffs in the history of rock music,” the Prime Minister says, demonstrating some knowledge of the music in question. “I have it on i-tunes or play it when needing a lift.”" – Daily Telegraph

And finally (2)… "It's the women who wear the trousers in this special relationship: Michelle Obama and SamCam sport dazzling dayglo in first joint outing"Daily Mail


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