6pm Martin Parsons on Comment: Is a new threat to peace emerging in Afghanistan?
5.30pm Local government: Boris cuts Council Tax again
4.15pm Local government: Will Twigg apologise to Beccles Free School?
Noon MajorityConservatism: Peter Kellner of YouGov describes how Cameron can win next time with a single-figure majority
11.15am Local government: Labour council leaders warn that spending cuts will lead to civil unrest
Julia Manning on Comment: Politicians must start being honest about the NHS and social care. Neither are fit for purpose
House of Representatives votes for higher taxes on wealthier Americans in interim fiscal cliff deal – Washington Post
The Times (£) is unimpressed with Barack Obama's partisanship: "Republicans have not approved a significant federal tax increase in more than 20 years. Forcing them to do so would be a political victory for Mr Obama to trumpet to his own party, many of whose members believe he has already surrendered in agreeing to raise the threshold for the new top rate of income tax from $250,000 to $450,000. Even so, he sounded more gleeful than presidential. He risked derailing the deal by infuriating the very waverers whose votes he still needed. Worst, he seemed to mock those whose support he will need for the rest of a legislative agenda, topped by immigration reform and gun control, for which time is already short."
> Yesterday's International: "The deal is only a temporary sticking plaster. Higher taxes on richer Americans won't come to close to solving America's fiscal challenges."
A US-EU free trade deal and tax treatment of multinationals will be Cameron's key priorities during UK's leadership of G8
- "With Europe and America together accounting for a third of global trade, perhaps the single biggest prize of all would be the beginning of negotiations on an EU-US trade agreement," writes Cameron." – Guardian
- Cameron will today call for a global crusade against multi-national firms that use legal loopholes to avoid paying millions in tax – Sun
- In a letter to mark the start of a year when the UK will take up the presidency of the G8, Mr Cameron said: “It is clear that in 2013 the world will continue to face grave economic uncertainty.” – Telegraph
- Cameron calls for structural changes to world economy, not clever spending schemes – Express
Writing in The Times (£) Matt Ridley warns that anti-science attitudes as well as welfare costs are inhibiting western economies.
Pilots of IT system for Universal Credit suffering 25% failure rate – Guardian
IDS says Labour wrong to defend situation where out-of-work benefits rose by 20% while in-work income rose by just 12% – Daily Mail
"Iain Duncan Smith said that working families had been tightening their belts after years of pay restraint while watching benefits rise – and that, he said, was not fair. Increases had cost the taxpayer £6.3bn since the start of the 2008 recession, he said. "The welfare state under Labour effectively trapped thousands of families into dependency as it made no sense to give up the certainty of a benefit payment in order to go back to work." – BBC
Nick Clegg challenges Labour on benefits bill
"Writing in The Times (£), the Liberal Democrat leader wades into a war of words between the Conservatives and Labour on welfare, accusing Ed Miliband’s party of “learning the tricks of Opposition” but failing to come up with a credible alternative to the coalition’s plans. In a strongly worded attack, he asks: “Where are the numbers? What are their sums? The country has undergone the biggest economic crisis in living memory. Yet they offer no explanation of how they’d get us out of this mess, nor any admission of responsibility for their part in creating it.”" – Times (£)
- If the Coalition really values work it will reduce taxes on job creation – John Redwood
"The cost of an average fare has jumped by 40 per cent in the past decade – far outstripping the 18 per cent rise in wages. Many fares have gone up by 50 per cent in the same period. The average cost of an annual season ticket for a London commuter has gone up £1,300 in the decade, the CBT found. Campaigners describe the trend as “appalling” given the repeated promises by politicians to get more people out of their cars and on to trains." – FT (£)
Transport minister Norman Baker responds to fares situation for Coalition – ITV
Local government minister Brandon Lewis angry at £100,000 pay-offs for council chiefs
"Ministers told local authorities to end the culture of "eye-watering" compensation packages of up to £420,000 to former bosses. Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, accused the councils of showing a "lack of respect" to taxpayers after figures compiled by this newspaper showed that scores of executives received six-figure sums on top of their salaries and pension contributions when they left their posts." – Telegraph
Local government minister Don Foster sets out his plans for a ‘bonfire of building regulations’ – Telegraph
- Tory MP John Penrose says we list buildings and we also should list special views that we want to protect – Telegraph
Four former Lord Chancellors warn Chris Grayling over judges’ pension cuts – Times (£)
Ken Clarke presided over first fall in prison population for twenty years with 3,000 fewer behind bars – Independent
"Alarming differences between courts show offenders can be more than TWICE as likely to be jailed in some areas compared to others. The justice lottery was laid bare in a detailed analysis of official stats carried out by Tory MP Philip Davies. His study revealed that only 37.5 per cent of sex offenders are sent to jail in Salisbury, Wilts — compared to 94 per cent in Aylesbury, Bucks." – The Sun
NFU urges Owen Paterson to retain EU farming subsidies – Telegraph
Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire: The Commonwealth has never been stronger
"In a world of many bilateral and multilateral regional agreements and associations, we shouldn’t pretend that it is the answer to everything. But it is an important institution that countries are queuing to join and that can, through dedication and reform, become stronger and speak with a louder voice than ever before." – Hugo Swire MP for The Telegraph
If we can’t do a deal with Europe, leaving it should hold no terrors – Dan Hannan for The Telegraph
- Can UKIP Be the Story of 2013? – Darrell Goodcliffe for Huffington Post
- "Every sensible person accepts that Britain needs a new deal with the other states of Europe, one that leaves the words "in and out" to fools. Everything is in the detail. Only when we see that detail can the conversation begin." – Simon Jenkins in The Guardian
> Lord Lexden on Comment yesterday: Forty years ago today Britain entered the EEC on Edward Heath's false prospectus
Yvette Cooper say government must answer "important questions" after terror suspect absconded while under an anti-terror control measure – BBC
Lobby groups sponsoring MPs' special interest groups
"MPs and peers have received hundreds of thousands of pounds from arms manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments to sponsor parliamentary special interest groups. Dozens of all-party parliamentary groups have received funding and other benefits from outside organisations during the past 12 months, reaching a total of more than £1 million a year. Many of the groups have produced reports that echo the views of their industry funders and petitioned ministers on policy, raising questions about the relationship with their backers." – Times (£)
NUT survey finds morale of teachers at low ebb – BBC
"The coming change of leadership at the Bank of England has prompted a growing willingness among economists to give up the 2 per cent inflation target, although a majority still thinks the chancellor will and should stick with the status quo" – FT (£)
Share rally is filling pensions black hole – Express
And finally… Yes Minister is back and its creator Anthony Jay explains what the series is still all about…
"The central anomaly is that civil servants have years of experience, jobs for life, and a budget of hundreds of billions of pounds, while ministers have, usually, little or no experience of the job and could be kicked out tomorrow. After researching and writing 44 episodes and a play, I find government much easier to understand by looking at ministers as public relations consultants to the real government – which is, of course, the Civil Service." – Anthony Jay in The Telegraph
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