10 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 6

M r Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, drew attention

to the fact that from April a new child tax-credit will apply to families earning up to £40,000. The Conservatives proposed abolishing tax on savings for anyone earning less than £32,785. Mr Martin Narey, the directorgeneral of the Prison Service, said: 'I am not prepared to continue to apologise for failing prison after failing prison.' Michael Stone won an appeal against his conviction on charges of murdering Lin and Megan Russell. There was a great deal written about the affairs of Mr Keith Vaz, the Minister for Europe, who has been a friend of the flashy Hinduja brothers. Corns, the Anglo-Dutch company that replaced British Steel, announced a cut of 6,000 staff. Sir Brian Moffat, the chief executive of Corns, said that he had not told the government in advance for fear of leaks. Boots decided to cut 1,000 jobs. Vauxhall is to build Vectras at Ellesmere Port, bringing 600 jobs to Bridgend, where motors are made. The Halifax made a bid to take over Equitable Life. Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet secretary, rebuked Mr Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's official spokesman, for calling Conservative spending plans 'an insult to Mickey Mouse'; as a civil servant, Mr Campbell was made aware

that 'the resources of the government are not to be used for party-political purposes'. Mr Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, asked the European Commission to investigate how it was that wholesale prices for gas had doubled over the past year in Britain while exports were still being made to the Continent at lower prices. The government gave ground on its scheme of a public-private partnership to finance the London Underground by relinquishing the development of financing to Mr Robert Kiley, the American brought in to sort out the network. London Underground workers went on strike. A rise in teachers' pay of about 4 per cent was announced, more than the rate of inflation. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research predicted that inflation would fall below 1.5 per cent this year. One of the 47 beagles stolen by animal-rights extremists from Wye Beagles, in Kent, was recovered 200 miles away; it had been castrated. A wild fox made its way unnoticed into the Houses of Parliament and was found asleep on a filing cabinet.

IN the Israeli election for a Prime Minister, Mr Ariel Sharon, the right-wing and bellicose candidate, won easily. Mr Donald Rumsfeld, the new defense secretary of the

United States, said that he was 'a little worried' by proposals for a 60,000-strong European Rapid Reaction Force. Mr Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, visited Washington to meet General Cohn Powell, the new secretary of state, and others. Mr Fritz Bolkestein, the single-market commissioner in Brussels, called for an end to tax harmonisation in the European Community. In Paris, the trial of M. Roland Dumas, the former foreign minister of France, and others rumbled on as an important witness, M. Alfred Sirven, a former executive of Elf Aquitaine, returned from hiding in the Philippines after his arrest there. Mr William Deedes, aged 87, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph, suffered a slight stroke while reporting on the aftermath of the earthquake in Gujarat, but insisted on filing his dispatch. The Pope visited the 291st parish church in Rome that he has been to since his election; there are 330 in the city. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman said that they were separating after 11 years of marriage. The central hospital in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, said it had treated 16 cases of injury from falling coconuts in the past five years, and urged greater caution on the public.