Scotland

The Daily Mail highlights another of the benefits of living in Scotland.

The National Trust in England charges its members almost 50 per cent more to join compared with its sister body in Scotland – and almost six times the fee payable in some other countries.

Yet, in a glaring loophole, members from other heritage bodies from Zimbabwe to Bermuda are still allowed free entrance to historic NT landmarks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The NT is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds under the reciprocal arrangement – as its own members pay a premium to enjoy unlimited admission to stately homes and castles compared to visiting tourists.

House of Lords

Several of the papers run a story about the Labour leader’s plans to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate.  The Express says:

ED Miliband has been accused of “bottling it” over House of Lords reforms by the Liberal Democrats.

The Labour leader has said that he wants to ensure the new body properly represents all the towns, cities, regions and nations that make up the United Kingdom.

But the plans drew an angry response from the Liberal Democrats who bitterly accused Labour of combining with Conservative MPs to wreck their plans to reform the Lords two years ago.

Lib Dem deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce said: “Ed Miliband partnered up with backbench Tories to destroy the best chance this country has had to reform the Lords.

“We could have given the UK greater representation in Parliament, but when presented with the chance, he bottled it; turned his back and ran.

“This is simply lip-service from a Labour party who have no intention of actually delivering.”

Sky News has a similar story.

Ed Miliband’s plans to scrap the House of Lords and replace it with an elected body have been derided by critics, who claim he has “bottled” overhauling the upper chamber.

The Labour leader has said he wanted to ensure the new senate properly represents all the towns, cities, regions and nations that make up the United Kingdom.

But Mr Miliband has been accused of paying “lip service” to Lords reform by the Liberal Democrats, who argue Labour joined with Conservative MPs to derail their plans to revamp the upper house two years ago.

Lib Dem deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce said: “Ed Miliband partnered up with backbench Tories to destroy the best chance this country has had to reform the Lords.

“We could have given the UK greater representation in Parliament, but when presented with the chance, he bottled it; turned his back and ran.

“This is simply lip service from a Labour party who have no intention of actually delivering.”

Tax avoidance

The Sunday Times reports that the BBC is ‘doing a Starbucks’ by avoiding tax.

THE BBC has been accused of behaving like “Google, Starbucks and Amazon” by using a multimillion-pound tax incentive scheme to increase its public funding by stealth.

George Osborne, the chancellor, created valuable tax breaks to encourage commercial television production companies to film in Britain.

Programmes made by the publicly owned BBC, which pays no tax on its £3.7bn income from licence fees, were excluded.

However, to grab a slice of Osborne’s largesse, the corporation has set up artificial companies that attract tax credits under the scheme.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, accused it of behaving improperly.

“It is as wrong for the BBC to deliberately set up an artificial structure to get taxpayers’ money as it is for Google, Starbucks and Amazon, and they should stop it,” she said.

Refugees

The Guardian reports that refugees trying to reach Europe from Africa will die because the Italian navy has ended its rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

People will die because Italy is ending its sea rescue mission in the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe is refusing to pay for a full replacement, warn officials, lawyers and aid groups working with more than 150,000 refugees who landed on Italian shores this year.

Most took to sea in rickety vessels, operated by unscrupulous smugglers unconcerned by the dangers to those packed on board. One particularly grim accident last year, in which more than 300 people were drowned, forced Rome into action, and the navy launched Mare Nostrum, a €29m (£22.7m) a month humanitarian operation that patrolled to the borders of Libyan territorial waters looking for ships in distress.

Tower poppies

Several of the papers report on the thousands of people who are planning to visit the Tower of London to see the poppies this weekend.poppies at the tower

The Independent’s Claudia Pritchard thinks the poppies make a fitting memorial.

Living near the Tower, I had the privilege of seeing the first, shocking splashes of colour in the poppies installation – the bloody wave over the walls, the crimson stream flowing from a window, the narrow ribbon of red in the moat. But nothing prepared early spectators for what followed. In box after box, they arrived, ceramic flowers and stalks, assembled at random heights by volunteers, many too young to have known a relative involved in the First World War.

Every evening, when the Last Post was sounded and the names of the dead were read at dusk, the installation looked complete. And then came another vivid tide, and another, and another, relentless.

It was the same with the visitors – at the outset mostly tourists, and residents taking a short cut. The recent immense numbers were clearly not expected, in an accidental echo of wartime underestimates, bodging and blundering.

Even the Mirror covers the story.

The public are being urged to not visit the Tower of London poppy memorial this weekend – because it’s too popular.

Since the first trickle of crimson emerged in July more than four million visitors have paid their respects at the awe-inspiring vision of a moat filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies – one for every British and Commonwealth serviceman and woman killed. It is now Britain’s biggest tourist attraction.

But the impressive display has become a victim of its own success, with the crowds too big for the organisers to manage.

And the Telegraph adds its voice.

The public have been urged to cancel planned visits to the Tower of London to visit the sea of red poppies placed in memory of Britain’s war dead because the site is becoming overcrowded.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the memorial as London basked in record-breaking 20C temperatures on the last day of the school half-term holiday.

Police marshalled pedestrians across the road from Tower Hill tube station, which was forced to close due to overcrowding.

UKIP

The Express reports on the march of UKIP through British politics.

Nigel Farage’s party has jumped to 48 per cent, up eight points, with three weeks to go until the key vote in Rochester and Strood. The Conservatives are on 33 per cent, down two points while Labour have plummeted nine points to 16 per cent.

The poll will heap pressure on the Conservatives, who are desperate to avoid a second successive by-election defeat next month but increasingly look like it will lose.

But it also shows that Ukip is picking up growing support from disgruntled Labour voters.

In a Guardian column, William Keegan comments that if the Prime Minister pays the EU its billions, UKIP will cost him much more.

Behind Cameron’s teenage outburst in Brussels was his rage at being the last person to know about Europe’s £1.7bn demand. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

It’s the 2.1 billion euro question: “Is Cameron going to pay the £1.7bn?” a London cab driver asked me last week. The answer, despite the prime minister’s angry outburst on the subject, is almost certainly “yes”, though there will no doubt be some haggling over the timing and over minor details.

The operative phrase he used in his teenage outburst of rage at being the last person to be told about the back payment was: “I am not going to pay that bill on 1 December.” That leaves 23 payment days before Christmas.

 

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