19 JANUARY 2002, Page 6

M r Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, admitted a scheme for

Britain to share with Spain sovereignty over Gibraltar; but he promised the people of the colony would be able to vote on the change in a referendum. After Mr Peter Hain, the Minister for Europe, said in last week's Spectator that British railways were the worst in Europe, Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, decided to 'oversee' the announcement of a scheme of works planned by the Strategic Rail Authority: despite mention of f400 million for short-term projects and £30 billion over ten years, it transpired that no new money was being pledged. Headline inflation (including mortgage repayments) fell from 0.9 per cent to 0.7 per cent. The government's proposals for a largely nominated reformed House of Lords ran into strong opposition from its MPs, especially when Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, went to lecture them on the subject. Mr fain Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservatives, then put forward a plan for a 'Senate' with an 80 per cent elected element; this enraged many Tories. A Catholic postman was shot dead in Belfast by loyalist paramilitaries. Stanley Unwin, the master of a strange gobbledygook, died, aged 90. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats is to close on its 21st anniversary. Prince Harry was reported to have been drinking a fair bit last year at the Rattlebone Inn at Sherston, near Highgrove, Gloucestershire, his father's house, where he was also caught smoking cannabis; the Prince of Wales took him to meet former drug addicts at a rehabilitation centre and the story was retailed by the News of the World. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor preached before the Queen during Matins at St Mary's, on the royal estate at Sandringham, Norfolk. A non-Christian unmarried mother was appointed by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to advise them on the sexual abuse of children.

CAPTURED members of al-Qa'eda and the Taleban were flown by American forces to a prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba; the United States said they did not qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. The American embassy in Saana, Yemen, suspended consular services after receiving a terrorist threat connected to al-Qa'eda. En retaliation for the murder of four soldiers by two members of Hamas, who were shot dead too, Israel destroyed 50 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. Colombian troops prepared to move into a demilitarised enclave controlled by Fare, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which, with 17,000 members, is the coun try's largest guerrilla group; at the last moment peace talks were resumed between the two sides. Denmark followed Sweden in announcing a national referendum on joining the euro zone. A forged euro coin was detected in Ireland when it was noticed that the o in euro had been omitted. After more protests and some riots, Mr Eduardo Duhalde, this week's President of Argentina, said, 'This damned corralito [control of withdrawals from banks] is a time bomb and we have to defuse it. If it explodes, nobody gets a penny.' The United States justice department said it was carrying out a criminal investigation into the collapse of Enron, the large Houston-based energy company. President George Bush of the United States, sitting on a sofa watching football on television, accompanied by his dogs Spot, a springer spaniel, and Barney, a Scottie, choked on a pretzel, fainted and bruised his cheek. Cyrus Vance, the former American secretary of state, died, aged 84. A portrait of Catherine of Braganza, Charles Il's wife, is to be taken down from the civic hall of the New York borough of Queens, which is named after her, because her family is said to have benefited from slavery. A herd of wild elephants killed 17 people in central India.