12 APRIL 1997, Page 6


This is Martin Bell, Westminster, central London.'

Mr Tony Blair, the leader of the Labour party, said in a pre-publicised speech: 'I certainly believe that where there is no overriding reason for preferring the public provision of goods and services, particularly where those services operate in a competitive market, then the presump- tion should be that economic activity is best left to the private sector with market forces being fully encouraged to operate.' Labour found more difficulty expressing its policy on Scottish devolution, because it has promised that a Scottish parliament would have tax-raising powers, but has guaranteed that if Labour were in power from this year it would not raise income tax. Labour had earlier published its mani- festo, which was mostly the same as New Labour, New Life for Britain, on which members of the party had already voted, albeit as a Hobson's choice; it undertakes to reform the House of Lords and to allow unions negotiating rights at the workplace. Mr Martin Bell, a BBC foreign correspon- dent, stood as an 'Anti-Sleaze' candidate for Tatton, Cheshire, while the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates stood down to annoy Mr Neil Hamilton, the Conserva- tive candidate, but they only succeeded in reinforcing the constituency association's resolve to have him as its candidate. A false warning of a bomb closed King's Cross and Euston stations at the evening rush-hour. Earlier two bombs had been found under elevated sections of the M6; huge traffic jams were caused. The Grand National was cancelled after the Irish Republican Army used a coded warning to claim falsely that a bomb had been planted; it was rerun the following Monday and Lord Gyllene won. Five Catholic churches in Northern Ireland were set on fire in a week. A fire raged over five square miles of Dartmoor; another destroyed 60 acres near Broadmoor in Berkshire. The pound reached its highest level against the Ger- man mark since 'Black Wednesday' in 1992. The residents of Eigg bought their island for £1.5 million.

REBEL forces under Laurent ICabila closed in on Lubumbashi, the second city of Zaire. The rebels agreed to the airlifting of thousands of refugees to Rwanda from a camp near Kisangani where about 150 a day were dying of starvation and disease. Islamic extremists in Algeria murdered about 80 people in two days, mostly by cut- ting their throats; about 60,000 have died since elections were cancelled five years ago lest Islamicist candidates won. Mr Ben- jamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, flew to Washington for talks with President Bill Clinton, which came to little. Mr Netanyahu also had talks with King Hussein of Jordan, who was in America for medical treatment. Mr Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian entity, flew to India for talks with leaders of non-aligned nations. Famine once more loomed in North Korea. Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Spicer, who was arrested after leading a force against rebels in New Guinea paid for by the Prime Minister, was told charges against him had been dropped. Ukraine admitted it had executed 169 convicts in 1996 despite having promised to phase out the death penalty when it was accepted into the Council of Europe in 1995. Allen Ginsberg, the drug-taking beat poet, died, aged 70. The space shuttle Columbia returned to Earth after four days of its 16- day mission because of a defective genera- tor. Unemployment in Spain fell to 13.8 per cent of the working population, its low- est level for 15 years; unemployment in Germany fell a little to 11.7 per cent of the working population. A 59-year-old New Zealand meat worker took in a stray dog which then savaged him to death. Malaysian police took firm action against riots following a cricket match between