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The Government has deferred a decision on replacing intercity express trains on the rail network.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond also announced that news about the extent of electrification on the Great Western route would not be released until the new year.

The Government did say, however, that there would be 2,100 new rail carriages on the network by May 2019 to help overcrowding on the busiest services.

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - to replace Intercity 125 high-speed trains - was halted by the Labour government earlier this year and an independent review was set up which reported to the new Government in June.

The Government said it is now looking at two options - a revised bid from the original preferred bidder Agility, a consortium led by Japanese company Hitachi; and an alternative for a fleet of all-electric trains.

The Government said it would continue to assess these two alternatives, "alongside a consideration of the extent of electrification on the Great Western route" and would make a further statement in the new year.

Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I made the decision that we must carry on investing in the railway, we can't stand still. If we want growth to continue, we have to invest in our transport infrastructure."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, said: "Today's announcement is classic political smoke and mirrors.

"Key infrastructure developments like the intercity fleet have been kicked deep into the long grass and even the carriage procurement numbers have been dressed up to look better than they are with long-term projects mangled up with the urgent replacements required to keep pace with current demand.

"The reality is that the inflation-busting fare increases kick in within weeks while the infrastructure and upgrade works we need to drag the UK's railways out of the slow lane are light years away. The profits of the train companies are ring-fenced while the services to passengers are left to rot."

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



Nick Clegg has urged students to call off planned demonstrations over tuition fee rises - telling them the Government's policy would benefit less-well-off youngsters.

The Deputy Prime Minister suggested they should instead be protesting about the "scandalously" high proportion of pupils from the schools he and David Cameron attended getting places at Oxbridge.

A fresh wave of protests against increases in university tuition fees will be held on Wednesday, with a series of occupations, rallies and marches by student activists.

The Liberal Democrats have been at the centre of the storm after ditching a General Election pledge to oppose fee rises - and eventually abolish them - as part of the coalition deal.

A delegation of students is to deliver a letter to the Lib Dem leader as part of the protests, which says "no amount of twisted reasoning" can hide the fact the party lied to young voters.

"We call on you to withdraw Lib Dem support for Conservative cuts to our education system, or face the disappointment and anger of a generation that has been betrayed," it says.

But Mr Clegg used a high-profile speech to insist he would defend the policy and told the students to "listen and look before you march and shout".

In fact, the coalition's proposals were "even fairer" than the graduate tax preferred by the National Union of Students, he said in the annual Hugo Young Lecture in central London.

"On higher education, I want to be crystal-clear: I will defend the Government's plans for reforming the funding of universities, even though it is not the one I campaigned for," he said.

"It is not my party's policy, but it is the best policy given the choices we face."

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


The Government has been defeated in the Lords after peers voted 235 to 201 (majority 34) to restrict ministers' powers to abolish quangos.

It was the coalition's second Lords defeat in seven days and the fifth in 16 Lords divisions since the general election.

The amendment to the Public Bodies Bill was tabled by Liberal Democrat QC Lord Lester of Herne Hill, but the division was called by Labour peers and crossbench QC Lord Pannick when Lord Lester tried to withdraw it.

The highly controversial Bill gives ministers wide-ranging powers to abolish, merge or modify hundreds of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations following the Government's recent review of such so-called "arm's-length bodies".

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, for the Government, sought to reassure critics by tabling a series of amendments to the proposed powers.

But they failed to satisfy peers, among them former lord chief justice crossbencher Lord Woolf, who accused ministers of treating some of the quangos "in a cavalier way".

The previous Government defeat was on the Identity Documents Bill last Wednesday, when peers voted by 220 to 188 (majority 32) to allow people who had bought a soon-to-be abolished ID card to claim a £30 refund.

On Friday the Government announced the creation of an additional 54 peers, 27 of them Tories and 15 Liberal Democrats, but it will be several weeks before they begin to take their Lords seats.

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


A police officer accused of raping vulnerable women has been convicted of six counts of misconduct in a public office.

Pc Stephen Mitchell was found guilty of the charges by a jury of six men and six women after 21 hours and 16 minutes deliberation at Newcastle Crown Court. He was cleared of six counts of misconduct and one of assault. Verdicts are yet to be reached on two charges of rape, three indecent assaults and one of misconduct.

Mitchell, 42, of Glasgow, stared straight ahead as the guilty verdicts, each by a majority of 10 to two, were read out.

The Northumbria Police officer was cleared of three counts of rape, two indecent assaults and two counts of misconduct in a public office at the court on Friday. He had denied all charges, claiming that the 16 women who made complaints against him were liars.

During a five-week trial, the prosecution said Mitchell preyed on heroin addicts, shoplifters and a disabled teenager by offering them help while in custody at Pilgrim Street police station in Newcastle city centre, then demanding sexual favours afterwards.

He had a hold over one woman for three-and-a-half years, even trying to keep her on heroin after she had quit, which only ended when she went into hiding after he raped her in handcuffs at her home, the court heard.

Others were flattered then propositioned while still in custody with a view to beginning sexual relations later, the jury was told.

Mitchell claimed the women colluded against him after a rumour which he said had been made up by one claimant was picked up by others in the close-knit criminal fraternity. The officer claimed: "These people will grab any opportunity they can."

The jury will be sent out for a fifth day of deliberation on Wednesday morning. Mitchell was remanded in custody.

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

Prince William and Kate Middleton have named the day - Friday, April 29, next year at Westminster Abbey.

St James's Palace said their wedding - including the costs of the church service, music, flowers, decorations reception and honeymoon - would be paid for by the Royal family and the Middleton family. The public will pay for associated costs like security.

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, private secretary to Prince William, said the couple chose Westminster Abbey for its "staggering beauty", 1,000-year Royal history and intimacy despite its size.

He told reporters in a briefing at St James's Palace: "The venue has long associations with the Royal family - it is in many ways the Royal family's church - and of course with Prince William personally."

The abbey was also the venue of William's mother's funeral. As a 15-year-old boy the Prince walked behind the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales as it was led to the imposing church in September 1997.

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton said those planning the nuptials were very conscious of Britain's precarious finances: "All parties involved in the wedding, not least Prince William and Miss Middleton, want to ensure that a balance is struck between an enjoyable day and the current economic situation."

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton said William and Miss Middleton were "completely over the moon" about their engagement: "I've never seen two happier people, which is absolutely fabulous to work in that sort of environment."

"They're now getting stuck into organising their wedding. They are very much in charge of the arrangements for the big day. They're giving us and the Household office very firm direction indeed."

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton added: "We know that the world will be watching on April 29, and the couple are very very keen indeed that the spectacle should be a classic example of what Britain does best."

William has requested that as far as possible members of the armed forces involved in the wedding should be drawn from those already on ceremonial duties to ensure personnel are not taken off operations or training.


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MP Bob Russell has tabled a Commons motion criticising the BBC over a drama which showed bullying among UK troops in Afghanistan


An MP has tabled a Commons motion attacking the BBC for broadcasting a TV drama which he claimed denigrated the bravery and professionalism of servicemen and women at a time when thousands are deployed in Afghanistan.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for the garrison town of Colchester, Essex, accused the BBC of "a deplorable lack of judgment" in showing the play, Accused, by writer Jimmy McGovern, which depicts bullying by British troops in Afghanistan.

He criticised BBC director-general Mark Thompson for failing to agree to a formal request not to broadcast the programme by chief of the defence staff General Sir Peter Wall.

Sir Peter described it as being "deeply offensive" and "distasteful" to those serving in Afghanistan. He added that the drama was "misleading and inaccurate".

Mr Russell, who has twice visited British troops serving in Helmand Province, called on the Government "to lodge a formal protest with the BBC for its denigration of the bravery and professionalism of members of HM armed forces, particularly at a time when thousands of them are deployed on active service in Afghanistan".

The BBC has defended the programme, which was broadcast on Monday evening.

A spokeswoman said: "It has been made clear that Accused is a work of fiction. It is in no way an attempt to denigrate the servicemen and women of the British Army."

McGovern has also stood by his script, saying he had "the greatest respect" for British troops and it was not his intention to slur British soldiers.



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





More than 60 eco vehicles – some not seen on UK roads before – completed the first RAC Brighton to London Future Car Challenge this weekend (Saturday, November 6).

A reverse of the traditional veteran car run from London to the seaside town, the inaugural event, organised by the motoring group, was a glimpse into the motoring future for spectators and participants alike. 

The entrants started in the morning from Madeira Drive, Brighton, in the presence of Richard Farleigh, former Dragons’ Den panelist. Many of those who take part are well-known motoring celebrities – such as Quentin Willson (TV presenter), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd Drummer and avid car collector), Don Wales (UK Electric Land Speed Record holder) and Paddy Hopkirk and David Richards (rally drivers). Cars entered into the fuel efficiency challenge included UK debutant, the Toyota Highlander FCHV fuel cell car, the electric Nemesis sports car, Proton Exora hybrid, Toyota Auris hybrid, Gordon Murray Designs’ T.25 City electric car, Volkswagen’s Golf Blue-e-Motion electric, Mercedes-Benz’s Vito Taxi electric, Honda’s hybrid CR-Z and the range-extended Vauxhall Ampera.

The event, which judged entrants not on speed but on how low their energy use was over the course was split into three categories – Electric, Hybrid and Internal Combustion Engine. Within each category, entries were measured in various modes for the energy used during the drive to the finish line at Pall Mall, London. The winners were then selected according to their energy use, with the Volkswagen Blue-e-Motion, drive by Jim Holder of What Car? magazine selected as the overall winner .

Each of the 17 category winners received an engraved Royal Automobile Club trophy and the overall winner received the coveted Royal Automobile Club Gold Medal. There was also an award for the best private entry and each classified finisher received a Club medal and certificate.

Overall winner, Jim Holder said: "It’s been a fantastic event. Volkswagen UK is delighted and a little surprised to have won overall, as am I. This car does not go into production for another two years so it was wonderful to win on its UK debut. I think the whole event shows just what the motoring industry can achieve."



Liverpool is emerging as a premier European destination with a rich and diverse heritage - and an exciting future. The city has a passion for music, sport, live entertainment and nightlife with a multitude of fascinating places to visit offering you a lively and unforgettable stay.

Among the finest galleries and collections are those housed in the National Museums Liverpool. These include the Walker, the national gallery of the north, recently refurbished to the acclaim of international critics, and the Museum of Liverpool Life, tracing the growth of the city and its people.

Also on the world-famous waterfront are the Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool, set in the stunningly refurbished Albert Dock complex. These beautifully restored dockside warehouses are now home to a dazzling collection of bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and other unique visitor attractions including The Beatles Story museum. "Its a skyline dominated by the citys two magnificent Cathedrals and other examples of Liverpools wonderful architecture"

Some of the best views of Liverpools striking Pier Head waterfront are to be seen from the deck of a famous Mersey Ferry, sailing from the nearby Landing Stage. Its a skyline dominated by the citys two magnificent Cathedrals and other examples of Liverpools wonderful architecture. Liverpool's cultural and architectural treasures go far beyond the city centre boundary. Croxteth Hall and Country Park, together with Knowsley Hall and its Safari Park each lie just a few miles from the bustling city centre. But the contrast could not be more stark. Its the same too at the National Trust's historic Speke Hall, a magnificent half-timbered house dating back to 1490 and set in beautifully maintained gardens.

Hire a car in Liverpool, England from as the first step toward an ideal holiday. Our exceptional customer service and Beat Rate Guarantee assure the best savings and quality of service on your car hire Liverpool.


If there were sticks and objects that could be hurtled along, then there was 'golf.' No one knows for certain who started golf. But everybody knows who plays it now - everyone does.

The origin of the name 'golf' is believed to be the Dutch word of 'colf,' which means 'club.' In the medieval ages, golf was also known as "spel metten colve,' which literally meant 'game with clubs.'

Nearly every area around the world has some claim to the origination of golf. Scotland, of course, has its claim. But so do China, Rome, England, France, Holland, Belgium, even Laos. Every country has a game consisting of sticks and balls, and every country is correct in its assumption that it invented the game. But there is no one country where 'golf' actually began.

Still, Scotland is widely considered to be birthplace of golf. And it began haphazardly, a way of hitting a pebble or other roundish object into a hole by means of a stick or club.

Edinburgh, Scotland, claimed the first golfing society. The Gentlemen Golfers - later known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and today in residence at Muirfield - claim their club was already under way in 1744.

The first inter-Scotland club matches were played in 1857. The world would wait until 1860 for the first British Open to be played.

The British Open was being played 35 years before the U.S. Open. It has been called "The World Open." Players from around the globe participate, as they have for a century or more. The British Open is all-inclusive. The U.S. Open has been moving in that direction for the last decade. But the British Open has been accepting a cast from around the world since the turn of the century.

It is not known for certain when golf came to America - only that when it got a toehold in the 20th century, America became the world leader in great players. By 1900, the explosion of the game in America was complete. Proof was that, at the turn of the century, there were more golf clubs in the United States than there were in Britain.

Tiger Woods came upon the scene in 1996. He won eight times in 1999, nine times in 2000, and won the four major championships in succession in 2000-2001, starting with the U.S. Open in 2000. Should his career be as successful in his 30s and 40s as it has been in his 20s, he will assume the mantle of "best player ever."

Women have played a very large part in the history of golf, even before the last half of the 20th century when they finally achieved equality with men. Records of ladies playing golf exist all the way back to the time of Mary Queen of Scots.


In the UK around 7 million people spend around £3 billion a year on medical insurance. One in seven policies are taken out by individuals with the balance being put in place by their employers. The problem is that Medical Insurance is complex and few policyholders take the time to really study the details of their cover. As a result, many misunderstand what will be covered. If you expect medical insurance to pay every health claim, you're mistaken.

Medical Insurance is designed to provide protection for curable, short-term health problems and allow policyholders to jump the NHS queues to see consultants, be diagnosed, receive surgery or be treated. That sounds fine, but before you buy you need to appreciate the treatments and situations that fall outside the scope of the cover.

But first a word of warning. This article does not relate to any specific policy and the terms and conditions issued by individual insurers do vary. So please ensure you also check your policy documents. After reading this article, you'll know what to look out for!

Sorry - it's a chronic condition

If a condition can be cured and is not a long-term problem, your insurance company will classify it as acute and should meet the cost. If your problem is incurable or it's a problem that, despite appropriate treatment, will be with you for a long time, then your insurance company will classify it as chronic - and no, you won't be covered.

But deciding whether a condition is acute or chronic is fraught with problems. It's rarely a black and white decision and this can lead to a major area of conflict between policyholder and insurer.

It's clear that asthma and diabetes are chronic conditions as you're almost certain to suffer from them for the rest of your life. So those categories of illness are not covered.

Problems arise when Doctors initially consider a patients' condition to be curable, but the condition later deteriorates and the medical team changes its' mind, it's now become incurable. This can sometimes happen, especially in the treatment of certain types of cancer.

In these circumstances, the condition is initially defined as acute and is therefore insured, but deteriorates and becomes chronic - and outside the terms of cover. This is possible as insurers retain the right to reclassify a condition from acute to chronic during treatment.

Sorry - it's too long term
The insurance company will not pay out for long term treatment. But you need to check your policy documents to see how they define "long-term". You can find the situation where a course of drugs extends for say 12 months, but the insurer will only pay for ten months.

Sorry - it's preventative
Your insurance is designed to pay for the treatment and cure of conditions when they arise. It is not designed to pay for treatments that are used to prevent an illness.

Again, the problem of definition arises. Sometimes it is arguable whether a treatment is preventative or a cure. Take the drug Herceptin for example. This drug can be used in the early stages of breast cancer. Research shows that Herceptin can halve the incidence of cancer returning for women who have a particularly virulent form of the cancer known as HER2. In this situation, is Herceptin offering a cure or is it a preventative?

Insurance companies are split on the debate. Norwich Union, WPA, BUPA and Standard Life Healthcare will pay for Herceptin for HER2 patients whereas Legal and General and Axa PPP will not.

Sorry - the drug is not approved
Two of the main attractions for taking out medical insurance are: to jump the queues at the NHS, and to get the latest treatments and drugs. But there's a rider.

The Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence exists to approve the use of new drugs by the NHS in England and Wales. Until that body has approved the drug your insurer is unlikely to pay for its use. The problem is that the Institute's brief is to perform a cost/benefit analysis to ensure that the financial benefits to the nation from using the drug, outweigh the costs of using it in the NHS. A difficult brief and it has placed the Institute under scrutiny for the extended delays in drug approval.

The compromise hit on by the Financial Ombudsman is that if your medical policy won't pay for the use of experimental treatments, then it should meet the cost of an approved conventional treatment with the policyholder footing the bill for the balance if the experimental treatment is more expensive.

Sorry - it's a pre-existing condition
The basic principle is that if you are already suffering from a condition when you start a policy, then that condition "pre-exists" the policy and any claims for its treatment are invalid.

For this reason, insurance companies insist you complete an exhaustive questionnaire before they agree to insure you. After all they need a clear picture of your medical condition before they quote. For many applications, the insurer will, with your approval, also write to your GP for specific details of your medical history. They like to have a complete picture.

So lets say some years ago you twisted your knee playing tennis. It appeared to recover but now it turns out that you have a torn cruciate ligament and it needs to be operated on. Your medical insurance company could argue that the ligament damage was a pre-existing condition and you have to pay for the operation.

Some insurers try to accommodate these grey areas with a moratorium provision within your policy. These provisions typically say that so long as you have been symptom free for two years relating to any condition you've suffered from within the last 5 years, they will pay for subsequent treatment. Not all policies have these moratorium provisions and the time periods do vary between insurers. You should carefully read your policy.

Sorry - its not covered
Medical Insurance is an annual contract - just like your car insurance. So when it comes to renewal, your insurer is at liberty to review not only your premium but also change the conditions on which your cover is provided.

Therefore, if your policy comes up for renewal mid way through a course of treatment, it's possible to find that your new policy no longer covers that particular treatment. This means that you will have to foot the bill for the balance of the treatment.

Furthermore, with ongoing advances in medical research, more and more conditions are becoming treatable. This progress has the effect of shifting back the dividing line between chronic and acute conditions.

This hits the insurers' pocket in two ways. With more conditions being reclassified as acute, the number of claims is increasing. And there's also a trend for new treatments to cost more - Herceptin being a good example. The net result is that the insurers are finding themselves having to pay out far more. This is inevitably passed back to you through increased renewal premiums. And in an attempt to reduce their risk exposure, insurers have a tendency to adjust their definitions and exclusions. This means that you must read your renewal notice closely before you decide to renew.

So if you're tempted to buy Medical Insurance, be aware that everything is not always black and white. If you've got insurance and need treatment, you're well advised to contact your insurer without delay and get them to confirm that they will meet the cost of your proposed treatment.

Author Bio
Michael writes for Brokers Online Life Insurance