Energy firms respond to competition inquiry with blackout blackmail

NUCLEAR-POWER‘Customers of the Big Six energy companies may have been paying more because of “tacit co-ordination” between them, the regulator claimed yesterday, announcing a competition inquiry into the energy market…The industry is warning that the inquiry could deter investment in the next generation of power stations. Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, said that a lengthy investigation raised the risk of blackouts…Ann Robinson, director of, said: “Sam could be accused of scaremongering.”’ – The Times (£)

  • Three more winters of high prices – The Sun (£)
  • Miliband seeks a price freeze vote next week – The Guardian
  • Labour would implement their freeze before the inquiry reports – FT
  • Biomass plant scrapped after SEE price decision – The Scotsman

The Leader columns dish out the blame:

>Today: ToryDiary: How to cut energy bills

Osborne unites with German counterpart to press case for EU reform

‘As the euro area continues to integrate, it is important that countries outside the euro area are not at a systematic disadvantage in the EU. So future EU reform and treaty change must include reform of the governance framework to put euro area integration on a sound legal basis, and guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency. Some suggest that reforming the EU is impossible. We have already proved them wrong.’ – George Osborne and Wolfgang Schäuble, FT


Pension charges capped

money‘Ministers have imposed a cap of 0.75 per cent on charges for workplace auto-enrolment pensions from April 2015 and threatened to cut it further in future. The move deals a second blow to the insurance sector only days after the Budget sent shockwaves through the annuity industry…The government announced new measures alongside the 0.75 per cent cap, including a new duty on pension scheme trustees and governance committees to obtain full details about the costs and charges to be paid by members.’ – FT

G-Unit: Gove raps at school children

‘Education Secretary Michael Gove surprised pupils during an interview – when he started to RAP. The schools chief was being interviewed as part of the BBC News School Report and was quizzed on his love of rap music. Asked to give a ‘taster’ of his favourite, the Tory MP broke into Wham Rap!’ – The Sun (£)

Bank of England warns of a house price bubble

Homes For All Big‘The number of borrowers being offered dangerously large mortgages is at an all-time high, the Bank of England has warned. About one in ten homebuyers are borrowing more than four times their income, the Bank said, stoking fears that the nation is in the grip of an unsustainable housing bubble. In London, almost one in five buyers are taking out “high income-multiple” loans as the cost of the average property approaches £500,000.’ – The Times (£)

Cutting the spare room subsidy saves £1m a day

‘A controversial cut in the housing benefit bill is saving taxpayers more than £1million A DAY. Officials said 500,000 claimants have seen their payments slashed in the first year of the so-called “bedroom tax”.’ – The Sun (£)

  • 6 per cent of those affected have already downsized – BBC News
  • 11,000 people have been on the dole for five years – The Sun (£)
  • Our welfare spending is average – Ha-Joon Chang, The Guardian
  • Atos pulls out of DWP contract after death threats  – Daily Mail

Miliband makes pitch to small businesses

‘Ed Miliband will make an overt pitch for the small business vote on Friday, with promises to free entrepreneurs from high energy prices, “uncompetitive” markets and skills shortages. Addressing the Federation of Small Businesses conference, the Labour leader will say his party “has always stood up for working people”.’ – FT

Same sex marriage becomes law this weekend

‘It is a rare law that costs nothing to enact and which increases the sum of human happiness. This weekend one such law will pass into statute when it becomes legal for gay people to marry…This has been a difficult period to be in government. Money has been scarce and the task of clearing the deficit has been harder than originally thought. Gay marriage was not a popular cause for David Cameron to pursue within his own party. He deserves praise for doing so.’ – The Times Leader (£)

  • Conor Burns told he ‘excommunicated himself’ by voting in favour – Daily Telegraph

Thirteen police officer Hillsborough suspects identified

Police shield‘Thirteen retired or serving police officers have been identified as ‘suspects’ in the ongoing probe into the Hillsborough disaster, the police watchdog said today. Officials said 11 of them had already been quizzed under caution on suspicion of a range of offences including manslaughter, misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. The other two will be interviewed very soon, said a spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Met wants the right to positively discriminate in recruitment – Daily Mail
  • Too tall to be jailed – Daily Mail

Strike cancelled as Grayling delays legal aid cuts

‘Chris Grayling has backed down in a battle with criminal barristers over cuts to the legal aid budget. The Justice Secretary has agreed to postpone the cuts until after the general election next year. The row has already led to two nationwide walkouts by barristers that have disrupted several trials. A third was planned for next week. Under the deal, barristers have agreed to call off their protests.’ – The Times (£)

A third of hospitals send staff on English language courses

NHS_Logo‘Foreign doctors, nurses and cleaners who can’t speak English are being sent on courses to learn the language – at the expense of the taxpayer. Nearly a third of all hospitals in England – 31 out of 110 NHS Trusts – are sending their foreign staff on English language courses, with some spending around £2,000 per time.’ – Daily Mail

  • Conservatives accused of ‘war on Wales’ for criticising NHS failures – WalesOnline

Tony Benn’s funeral brings together a remarkable range of figures

‘Who else could have assembled Arthur Scargill, the erstwhile high command of the IRA, film stars, every faction of the Labour Party and assorted Tory toffs for a service conducted by a senior Chaplain to the Queen? Tony Benn might have spent most of his 88 years striving to be a man of the people but, come the end, the baronet’s grandson and former Viscount Stansgate went to his maker like a grandee.’ – Daily Mail

  • Diane Abbott live tweets from the church – Daily Mail
  • Neil Kinnock’s tasteless joke about Eric Pickles’ health – Daily Mail

Sir Humphrey lives on

sirhumphrey‘He may have had his heydey in the 1980s, but Sir Humphrey Appleby is still prowling the corridors of Whitehall. The fictional civil servant from the TV sitcom Yes Minister was infamous for manipulating an inexperienced minister and his advisers — and he is alive and well, according to a former real-life aide.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • The census is goes online – Daily Mail
  • Facebook expands into drones, satellites and lasers – FT
  • Disappointment as Vince Cable fails to leave planet Earth – Daily Mail
  • Mystery of the Briton found dead near his burning yacht – The Times (£)
  • Watch as a woman hears for the first time – Daily Mail
  • It might not be Richard III in that car park after all – The Independent