Climate change fight ‘can’t wait’

October 30, 2006

The world cannot afford to wait before tackling climate change, the UK prime minister has warned.

A report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern suggests that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%.

But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.

Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed that scientific evidence of global warming was “overwhelming” and its consequences “disastrous”.

BBC NEWS | Business | Climate change fight ‘can’t wait’


CSA should have been axed years ago

October 26, 2006

The government should have decided to scrap the Child Support Agency much earlier, the top civil servant at the Department for Work and Pensions said yesterday.

Leigh Lewis, the permanent secretary, admitted officials had chosen to overlook the warning signs and said the system had been flawed from its inception under John Major’s government in 1993.

“It started with a design that was too complex, which was introduced too quickly, with IT which was never until recently effective, and with too many changes of course and direction,” he told MPs on the public accounts committee.

The government is expected to announce plans to axe the CSA and replace it with a slimline body in a white paper this autumn. It is also expected to encourage parents to reach their own agreements on maintenance, using a smaller agency to tackle only the toughest of cases. It follows the failure of previous reforms, introduced in 2003, to solve problems which have dogged the system.

CSA should have been axed years ago, says civil servant | Society | SocietyGuardian.co.uk


‘We Need A Revolution’

October 26, 2006

An energy revolution is needed in Britain, Environment Secretary David Milliband will say today.

He is expected to use a speech in Birmingham to push the idea of making efficiency measures the main source of power companies’ profits.

The minister believes energy production can no longer continue as if it had no environmental cost.

With the world battling to reduce greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, it makes no sense for generators’ profits to go up if they produce more emissions, he suggests.

Sky News: Britain Needs An ‘Energy Revolution’


Taleban ‘will target Britain’

October 25, 2006

A Taleban commander has claimed that the former Afghan rulers are planning to target Westerners in Britain and the rest of Europe for waging war against them in Afghanistan.

Mullah Muhammad Amin, a former official in the Taleban Government before it was overthrown by the US-led coalition in 2001, told Sky News that the Taleban had been inspired by extremists in Iraq and now wanted to export terror to the West.

He said that they had large stockpiles of weapons and that fighters hiding in Pakistan were being helped by people sympathetic to their cause.

Taleban ‘will target Britain’ – Britain – Times Online


No Chancellor has treated pensioners so cruelly

October 23, 2006

The Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) is a shameful example of political spin. It is based on false figures and has offered the tens of thousands of people who have lost their final-salary pensions little more than false promises and false hope.

The FAS was established in May 2004, under threat of a backbench revolt by Labour MPs. Gordon Brown has since claimed credit for the scheme, telling the TUC conference last year: “It is morally wrong that when firms go under, workers, through no fault of their own, lose their pensions.” So, he said, “for workers cruelly denied the pensions they were due, we have now set aside £400 million”.

The truth is the Chancellor had not “set aside” £400 million then – and he hasn’t still. Brown has repeatedly insisted that the FAS is financed from existing budgets, and he refuses to even consider allocating any new money until the 2007-2008 spending review.

Yet, more than 100,000 people have lost their pensions promises, despite being repeatedly told by this Government that such pensions were “guaranteed”. Both the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Public Administration Select Committee have found ministers responsible for what happened, but the Treasury has rejected both these independent judgments.

Telegraph | News | No other Chancellor has treated pensioners so cruelly


Hospitals turn away ill babies

October 23, 2006

One of Britain’s leading hospitals was forced to refuse 518 requests to care for seriously ill premature babies last year because it did not have the necessary resources, The Observer can reveal.

St George’s in south London was forced to close its doors to hundreds of new premature baby arrivals 71 times in the last six months because it did not have room. The hospital has five cot spaces that it is unable to open because it cannot afford nurses for them. Dr Sandy Calvert, consultant neonatologist at the unit, said it was distressing for staff to be unable to help: ‘It is very frustrating and it affects morale, if you feel you are turning away babies and they are not getting optimal care.’

The move meant newly delivered mothers and sick infants had to travel large distances in search of another bed, and raises fresh questions over services for the rising number of babies born early. Across the country, problems with understaffing mean hospitals are frequently unable to accept children, despite having beds lying empty.

The Observer | UK News | Hospitals turn away ill babies


Britons are Europe’s worst for waste

October 23, 2006

Britain has come out bottom of a European energy efficiency league.

The Energy Saving Trust, a UK research group, said the Germans were the most efficient followed by the Spanish.

Energy Saving Trust chief executive Philip Sellwood said: “The UK is at the bottom of the energy efficiency league compared to other European countries.”

The wasteful habit the British found it hardest to kick was leaving appliances on standby.

Britons are Europe’s worst for waste – News – channel4.com