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Posted on 5 February 2009 at 0:00 GMT

Fast news

Peer pressure

SHOCK! 'POLITICIANS accept money from big business to amend legislation', screamed several newspaper headlines recently.

But instead of the usual exposť of MPs who work for companies, this time it's the Lords leaping to get kickbacks. Four Labour peers were named as offering their services to amend legislation in return for companies' cash. Another, cross bench peer Lady Coussins, was paid by drinks firms to table amendments that diluted proposed laws making alcoholic drinks carry health warnings for pregnant women.

Surely the shock would be if the present parliamentary politicians didn't accept payments from big business!


Privatisation failure

LABOUR'S DRIVE to outsource welfare provision to the private and voluntary sectors appears to have come a cropper. The latest research shows that the punitive Pathways to Work scheme, aimed at getting people off incapacity benefit, has been a total failure, achieving a paltry 27% success rate.

Overall, the private sector has provided only 60% of the expected jobs for people on incapacity benefit and the long-term unemployed in the six months to September 2008, despite consuming 98% of the expected expenditure.


Gagging order

RAIL WORKERS employed by First Capital Connect have been threatened with the sack if they told passengers about the company's plan to close 23 ticket offices.

Despite raking in £48.3 million in profits in the six months to 30 September last year, First Capital Connect wants to axe jobs and close ticket offices at 28 stations along the Thameslink route in the evenings and weekends to save money.

TSSA union general secretary Gerry Doherty said: "We shall resist any attempt to silence or intimidate our members. This is about free speech.

"What is in FCC's commercial interests is not in the passengers' interests. They will have to buy more expensive tickets from machines and their stations will be less secure with closed ticket offices."


Bailout bonuses

PLANS WERE drawn up for big increases in boardroom pay at Lloyds bank after it received £17 billion in a government bailout.

Pay advisers argued that executive directors were entitled to more generous packages following its takeover of rival HBOS in October.

The scheme was only dropped under pressure as it was deemed 'inappropriate' in the current economic climate.

Eric Daniels, Lloyds chief executive, is paid a basic salary of £1 million. In 2007 he received £2.8 million, including £1.8 million in 'performance related' pay.

The bank's other five executive directors before the HBOS takeover was announced had basic salaries of between £590,000 and £680,000.

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