British Queen celebrates

UK news


Met Office staff are to share a bonus pot of around £1.3 million, it has been revealed.

The weather service, which is part of the Ministry of Defence, confirmed that its 1,800 employees are in line for the pay-out after it met or exceeded all of its targets.

That will mean an average of around £700 for each worker.

Chief executive John Hirst was awarded an annual performance bonus of £50,000 last year, taking his total pay to £225,000.

Chief scientist Julia Slingo saw her bonus rise to £25,000, with her total package worth £170,000.


Ministers are reportedly considering moves to crack down on the unions amid fears of a wave of crippling industrial action over public sector cuts.

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude are drawing up plans that could see an end to full-time union officials receiving taxpayer-funded salaries, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

They are also looking at the possibility of legislation imposing a minimum threshold on strike ballot turnouts before industrial action can be taken, the paper said.

The prospect of such a package, described as a "last resort" by a source, comes as relations between the Government and union leaders is turning increasingly bitter over plans to reform public sector pensions.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to make a speech defending the plans which will require public sector employees to work longer and, for most, pay more into their pension pots for often less attractive benefits.

Rates of diabetes have exploded in the past three decades, meaning an estimated 350 million people in the world now have the disease.

In almost every region of the planet diabetes prevalence has risen or at best remained unchanged, according to a major international study published in a special online report by The Lancet medical journal.

The condition, caused by poor blood sugar control, can lead to heart disease and stroke and can damage the kidneys, nerves and eyes. Each year, high blood sugar levels and diabetes kill three million people worldwide.

Increasing life span and body weight are two of the strongest factors influencing diabetes rates, especially among women, say researchers. But ethnic genetic factors, nutrition in the womb and soon after birth, quality of diet and physical activity are also thought to be important.

Scientists analysed blood sugar data on 2.7 million people aged 25 and over throughout the world and used the results to estimate diabetes prevalence. They found that the number of adults with diabetes more than doubled from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008, considerably higher than a 2009 estimate of 285 million.

Across the three decades, the proportion of men with diabetes rose by 18% from 8.3% to 9.8%. The proportion of women with diabetes increased even more sharply, from 7.5% to 9.2%, an increase of 23%.



Prime Minister David Cameron said he has seen off attempts to change European laws on migration which could have stopped the UK from sending asylum seekers back to other EU countries.

The UK was backed by Germany in successfully opposing the proposals at a European Council summit in Brussels which has been dominated by plans for the bailout of the troubled Greek economy.

Mr Cameron confirmed that he has received assurances that Britain will not be called upon to contribute to EU financial support for Greece and vowed he would be "vigilant" to ensure that the UK was not sucked into the multi-billion euro bailout.

He also called on Europe to lift the red tape burden on small businesses to help the continent escape from its economic crisis. British calls for businesses with 10 employees or fewer to be exempted from most Brussels regulation have won support from several other EU states, he said.

With up to one million people believed to have fled Libya during the current unrest and tens of thousands attempting to cross from North Africa into Europe, the European Commission has floated proposals to suspend the so-called Dublin arrangements which require asylum seekers to be returned to the country through which they entered the EU.



Labour leader Ed Miliband is set to axe shadow cabinet elections in a move which is likely to cause controversy among sections of the party.

Less than a year ago Labour rejected plans to let leaders pick their own frontbench team. But Mr Miliband will formally announce proposals which would scrap the ballot - held every two years in opposition - when the National Policy Forum (NPF) meets this weekend.

The shake-up is likely to be seen as a step to impose his authority on the party.

A senior Labour source said it is time to "move on from the days of the 1980s" and become a "modern, outward-facing organisation". It is hoped the reforms will make Labour look like a party "ready for government" and end the time spent on internal campaigning.

Mr Miliband must first convince his MPs and will address them on Monday at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He will also ask its chairman, Tony Lloyd, to organise a debate and a vote on the proposals.

The leader is said to be "confident" of winning MPs' support but their vote is "technically indicative" and he will take the plans to Labour's conference regardless of the outcome.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander explained Mr Miliband's reasons for proposing the change, telling the BBC: "I think he wants a leadership team for the Labour Party that is focused outwards and not inwards.



HMV has been given the go-ahead for the sale of its Waterstone's book chain after the deal received the overwhelming support of shareholders.

The ailing retailer is selling the 296-store chain to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million as it looks to secure its immediate future.

Based on votes lodged before a meeting in London, investors owning 99% of the company's shares consented to the deal. It means the transaction is on track to complete by Tuesday.

Proceeds from the move will help the company pay down some of its £170 million debt pile and buy some time as it looks to reposition the business, which has been rocked by competition from supermarkets and internet downloads.


Retail sales have "fizzled out" in recent weeks and will remain under pressure for some time to come, a gloomy survey from the CBI has warned.

A balance of 2% of retailers said sales volumes fell in the first two weeks of June - the first decline for a year - as anxious consumers cut back on clothing, groceries and big ticket items, the CBI's monthly retail trends survey found.

Consumers are "feeling the pinch" as wages fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living, while future hikes in energy bills are expected to intensify the squeeze, it warned.

Economists said the figures were "very worrying" for the country's growth prospects because consumer spending accounts for 64% of the economy.



Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned headteachers there is a "moral duty" to keep schools open during next week's strike.

In a letter to schools, he said it was the Government's view that industrial action over planned pensions changes was not justified, and that the interests of pupils should be put first.

In a separate letter to local authorities Mr Gove said he was "particularly concerned" that school closures would affect working families and single parents.

Around 300,000 teachers are expected to join picket lines next Thursday as part of a wider public sector strike over pensions and cuts to jobs, services and pay.

Teaching unions have backed the walkout in protest at the Government's planned pension changes, which they say will leave them paying in more, working longer and receiving less when they retire.


House prices fell at their fastest annual rate for 19 months during May as buyers continued to stay away from the market, figures show.

Homes lost 4.2% of their value during the past year, based on average prices during the three months to the end of May, compared with the same three-month period of the previous year, according to Halifax.

It was the biggest annual drop recorded since October 2009 and left the average home costing £160,519.

Prices also continued to drift lower on a quarter-on-quarter basis, which is generally seen as a smoother indicator of market trends, with homes losing 1.2% of their value on this measure, unchanged from the drop recorded for the three months to the end of April.

The typical home now costs 1.4% less than it did at the start of the year, although prices edged ahead by 0.1% during May itself, following a steep 1.4% drop in April.



Banks could see bonuses cut, dividends limited or lending levels restricted if their activities are considered too risky, the head of their new regulatory body, the Prudential Regulatory Authority, has said.

Hector Sants, who will lead the PRA, promised the new body will be tougher and more intrusive than current regulator, the FSA, and make its own judgments on the risks posed by a bank's activities.

The "central presumption" is that regulators cannot rely on what banks tell them and must carry out their own analysis, he said in a speech in London. Being focused just on financial stability will also help it avoid some of the mistakes made in the run-up to the credit crunch, he added.

In extreme cases, the new approach could mean a bank being forced to stop trading and wind itself down if the situation is deemed serious enough,

The former banker is currently chief executive of the FSA, but that organisation is being abolished and he will move over to run the PRA under the new regulatory regime coming into force next year.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the crisis that prompted taxpayer-funded bail-outs of Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking, the overseeing of the UK financial markets will now be handled by two bodies.