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Former City minister Lord Myners has suggested that HSBC should move its UK retail arm to Paris to avoid the proposed banking reforms, it was reported.

The Government is considering measures suggested by the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) to force banks to ring-fence their retail banks from their investment banks to help avoid more bail-outs.

The proposals are unpopular among banks, who say the measures would restrict the amount they can lend and may make the UK uncompetitive compared to other financial centres.

Lord Myners, former chairman of fund manager Gartmore and retailer Marks & Spencer, said HSBC could move to France to escape the reforms, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

HSBC is the British bank thought likely to be the most affected should the recommendations published last month by chairman Sir John Vickers become law.

His words will add to fears that the reforms will encourage banks to relocate overseas, causing the UK to lose jobs and tax revenues.

 

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

It came after it emerged that MPs are set to vote on a referendum within the next few months, after a petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted calling for the public to be given the chance to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU.

Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, Mr Cameron said he does not believe the UK should quit the EU - and he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future.

The Government's immediate priority on Europe is to get the crisis in the eurozone sorted out and revive the continent's economy, he said.

The Commons Backbench Business Committee is expected to set a date before Christmas for a one-day debate in the House of Commons on a referendum on EU membership. The vote will not be binding on the Government, but if MPs back a referendum, it will put massive pressure on Mr Cameron to put the issue to the country.

The committee's Labour chairman Natascha Engel told the Mail on Sunday: "Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.

 

 

Energy giant E.ON is to cut 500 jobs in its UK support functions to reflect the "changed nature of the business" following the sale of its distribution arm earlier this year.

The company said it is seeking up to 500 voluntary redundancies, likely to impact mainly at its head office in Coventry and other sites near Nottingham.

The announcement follows the sale of E.ON's distribution arm, Central Networks, in March and the subsequent concentration on the customer-facing business.

Chief executive Paul Golby said: "We had to undertake a deep and rigorous review of how much money we spend in order to ensure we keep costs as low as possible for our customers, become a more agile organisation and build a sustainable business in the UK.

 

Home Secretary Theresa May has hit back at senior police chiefs over political criticism of their initial riot response, insisting it was her job to tell forces "what the public want them to do".

Mrs May refused to accept complaints that politicians were overstepping the line after the head of Scotland Yard attacked "extremely hurtful and untrue" claims that police had been timid.

She defended the Government's determination to press ahead with police budget cuts, saying they could be made "without affecting their ability to do the job the public want them to do".

And she defended the decision to recruit US "Supercop" William Bratton as an adviser on tackling gang culture in the UK.

Friction between the police and the Government mounted today with the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, dismissing Mr Bratton's relevance.

And Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin complained of "inconsistencies" from Parliament over tactics and spoke of his upset at political criticism of the Met's response.

Perth-based bus and rail group Stagecoach should post strong results on Wednesday after a recent update reported progress in all four of its divisions in the first 11 months of the financial year.

Fuel prices will be a concern, but broker Morgan Stanley recently rated Stagecoach as its top pick within the sector, adding it expects a further nine months extension to the West Coast main line rail franchise, until the end of 2012, while there is a possibility of it picking up another franchise, such as Greater Anglia, where it has been short-listed. Broker forecasts are for underlying profits of about £207 million against £161 million last time.

Investors in gambling firm Betfair have had little reason to smile since the firm floated last October.

The share price has fallen by more than 40% from its listing price of £13 as the company had been hit by a run of bad news and slowing growth.

Brokers are not expecting much in the way of an improvement with the full year figures on Wednesday.

  

Photo: Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

 

At present, the history of Eastern Europe and Eastern European Jewry in particular is a popular field of scientific studies. Our correspondent has had an interview with an expert in this field Oleg Kozerod, Doctor of Historical Sciences, member of the European Association for Jewish Studies (Oxford).

  

Q.: Dear Dr Kozerod, You are one of a few world's experts in Jewish history in Ukraine. Please tell us about current trends in studying Jewish culture and history of that country.

 

A.: There is a stable interest in studying Jewish history and culture in Europe and globally. The history of Eastern European Jewry draws typically special attention these days. Eastern Europe is the cradle of the modern Jewish culture. It is actually a focus of attention for everyone who wish to know more about a modern life of People of the Book. Special attention is paid to studying history of specific cities and areas in Russia and Ukraine, and a Jewish cultural heritage that has become a part of contemporary culture in ex-Soviet Republics. I am happy about the fact that European foundations still inject money into research programs on Jewish history in Russia, Ukraine and other countries, regardless of the financial crisis.

 

 

Photo by Panoramix999

I read an amazing article by Grayson Perry entitled "How art appreciates - it's a class act".

In a nutshell he reckoned that art finds its true monetary value from what the experts say. But I can see something more from what he says.

If a piece of art is to be labeled as having any "value" at all it is what is said about it that establishes it as a work worthy of an individuals attention.

In other words ... if you see a picture and it relates to you in some way (this can be either positively or negatively) - then you should say so ... and write it down.

So once one remark has been made then others will follow ... plus other people will look at the work and make their own minds up about it, and they will also read about what you have said ... and they will include your critique in their weighing up of the image.

I am not necessarily talking only about financial worth, no, here is a far greater opportunity which is all inclusive, wonderfully mutual, and offers the chance for anyone - and everyone ... to add to the worthiness of any piece of art - and eventually to the whole of society. What YOU have to say about a particular artwork is very important ... even vital not only to the work, or the artist, or that particular type of work, or to your locality, or to your region, or to your country ... but to the World! (I am referring here to the butterfly wing beat theory ... if you don't know about it then you must look it up ... it really puts value onto the individual within a world context ... fantastic - but I believe it's true).

 

 

 

The problem of combating xenophobia and anti-semitism is a pressing issue in Eastern Europe. We devoted this interview with Oleg Kozerod, Doctor of Historical Sciences, member of the European Association for Jewish Studies (Oxford), to the specified topic.

  

Dear Doctor Kozerod,

 

Q.: You are an expert in Jewish history and anti-semitism, so what is your assessment of the present situation around xenophobia and anti-semitism in Ukraine?

 

A.: The last report on anti-semitism in Ukraine in January/February 2011 published by experts of the Jewish Forum of Ukraine indicates a notable advance in combating anti-semitism made by our government. Six or seven Ukrainian periodicals that used an aggressive propaganda were closed or suspended publication of their ethnic slurs. Just recall what was going on in the country two years ago. The city was taken over with stalls selling anti-semitic literature.  Now there are none. The level of anti-semitism in Ukraine seems to be declining.

 

Q.: Do you think the existing anti-semites have reclaimed themselves in one go?

 

A.: Not much. However, what we see now is a general trend of decrease of this phenomenon. I am sure the trend will be soon appreciated by the US State Department and European governments. There is a real hope that Ukraine will leave the Global Top 3 countries ranked by the level of this disgraceful phenomenon.

 

 

 

This year will be the "make-or-break year" for stalled trade talks which could boost the global economy by more than £100 billion, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Mr Cameron issued a challenge to all world leaders to get behind a deal in the Doha Round talks on trade liberalisation, warning: "No one should hold anything back for later," and added that failure to complete the round this year would make a "radical rethink" necessary.

The Prime Minister rejected arguments for protectionist trade policies to defend domestic jobs in the wake of the recession, saying: "Fighting protectionism is a vital part of security, growth and prosperity for us all."

Trade is not a "zero-sum game" in which imports of low-cost goods from China damage the UK by reducing its own opportunity to export, said Mr Cameron. Instead, the UK benefits from increased choice, competition and low prices in the shops.

It is "ridiculous" that the World Trade Organisation negotiations, which began in the Qatari city of Doha in 2001, have still produced no agreement, said the Prime Minister.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he welcomed Friday's publication of the Trade Experts Group's interim report, which found that to be a success, the negotiations must be concluded by the end of 2011.

Completion of the round, which aims to remove barriers to trade and open rich-world markets up to poorer countries, would provide a massive boost to the global recovery from recession, said Mr Cameron.

"Trade is the biggest wealth creator we've ever known," he said. "And it's the biggest stimulus we can give our economies right now. A completed trade round could add 170 billion US dollars (£106 billion) to the world economy."

In a message to other world leaders, Mr Cameron said: "We've been at this Doha Round for far too long. It's frankly ridiculous that it has taken 10 years to do this deal. We simply cannot spend another 10 years going round in circles.

"If we don't get the deal done this year it is hard to see how the Doha process can have any further credibility. If we enter 2012 still stuck on this, real leadership will mean a radical rethink of how we get this done."

 

 

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

 

Ministers' demands for banks to show restraint in this year's bonus round look set to be defied by taxpayer-backed Lloyds with a £2 million award for its chief executive.

Eric Daniels, who is to leave the bank in March, is reported to be in line for the windfall after waiving any bonus for the past two years.

Cabinet minister Philip Hammond said the award, which follows claims that the Government has backed down in its battle with the banks, was "not welcome news".

Mr Daniels is entitled to a £2.3 million maximum bonus, set at 225% of salary, but any payout of that order will fuel anger over bank handouts.

Downing Street described the £2 million figure reported by the BBC as "speculation" and said the Treasury had not been informed about bonus proposals by Lloyds.