'Taxman's raid' on bank accounts, Colin Pillinger tributes and Greg Dyke's Plan B

The prospect of tax authorities taking money from people's bank accounts makes the front of three newspapers, each of which brands it a "raid" on those in arrears.

Nagging doubts

 Penelope Keith as Margo and Paul Eddington as Jerry, in The Good Life

The Times has bad news for couples in tempestuous relationships, reporting a Danish study that suggests arguing with those closest to you makes you twice as likely to die in middle age. Researchers asked 10,000 people how often they rowed with or worried about partners, children, friends and neighbours, before spending a decade monitoring their fate, says the paper.

Noting that the effects were more pronounced in men, the Telegraph's take is that a "nagged husband really could be driven to an early grave", as a result of the constant demands placed on them by their partners. Daily Mail cartoonist Pugh pictures a man asking his wife over dinner: "Is there something wrong, dear? You haven't nagged at me all evening?"

HM Revenue and Customs' "track record of blunders" - as the Daily Express puts it - has triggered alarm among a committee of MPs looking into the plans. "Those wrongly-accused of owing tax would be powerless to prevent money being seized," the paper notes.

Reporting that the proposal includes giving access to joint accounts, the Daily Mail hears from accountants concerned that cash could be taken from the partner of a debtor who owes nothing.

"Experts warn that many couples are secretive about their finances, do not know what each other earns, and never discuss their finances or whether or not they have paid their bills," the paper says.

Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, media commentator Tim Collins said: "What you shouldn't have... is the ability for HMRC, which is an error-riddled organisation, to raid people's bank accounts without a court order."

Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson added: "A lot of people will find this quite grossly offensive."

The Daily Telegraph notes that the plan - expected to recoup £100m a year - is not the only thing criticised by MPs, who are also concerned about the effects of pensions reforms and of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme on the housing market.

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Meaty argument
Lamb chops for sale

The debate over the amount of halal meat sold to UK consumers rumbles on.

Speed of lights

Traffic lights

Traffic lights are to stay red for longer "to give Britain's ageing population more time to cross the road", says the Daily Telegraph. It reports that an urgent review of the situation by ministers could lead to the installation of sensors to assess whether people have finished crossing.

The paper quotes research suggesting that most people aged over 65 in London walked far slower than the estimate used to calculate the time lights stayed on red in the 1950s, meaning some 7.5 million people were not given sufficient time to make their way across safely.

Sun consumer editor Daniel Jones charts the paper's investigation which brought to light that many supermarkets and restaurants don't tell customers when they are being sold halal meat, which is slaughtered in line with Islamic principles. He says reporters became suspicious when chains dragged their feet in replying to questions.

The Daily Telegraph argues: "Supermarkets must cater for all their customers, but that should not be an excuse for failing to provide informed choice - both for those who want halal meat and those who don't." It points out that the Sikh faith prohibits followers from eating animals that have been ritually slaughtered.

However, the Financial Times, which says retailers are paying growing attention to the "Muslim pound", quotes meat industry figures branding the debate "mischief-making". One argument against eating halal meat is that while EU rules dictate that animals must be stunned before slaughter, there is an opt-out clause for "religious rites" in the case of halal and kosher meat. However, the FT says over 80% of halal meat is stunned.

Muslim and Jewish groups have branded the debate "racist", according to the Times. It quotes Yunes Teinaz, of the Muslim Council of Britain, saying: "We should be more concerned about food fraud, poor animal welfare and abattoirs where they beat the animals or make them travel in dirty or cruel conditions."

However, Oxford Imam Dr Taj Hargey writes in the Daily Mail that Muslims should be "appalled by the sale of halal meat by stealth". He adds: "The idea that Muslims cannot eat non-halal food... is completely wrong."

Demands from consumers to learn more about where their food comes from are being heard, according to the Guardian. It says that the EU is considering whether meat should be labelled with information about the method of slaughter.

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British 'boffin'
Prof Colin Pillinger with Beagle 2

"The scientist who tried to send a dustbin lid to Mars," is how the Daily Mail describes Prof Colin Pillinger, who has died aged 70.

It's a reference to Beagle 2, the tiny craft that was supposed to land on the red planet on Christmas Day 2003 but which disappeared soon after detaching from its mother ship.

Despite that, the Sun's "spaceman" Paul Sutherland says the maverick "inspired a generation" and managed to get youngsters interested in science and engineering.

For Anna Pukas, in the Daily Express: "It was the sideburns that did it... his untamed mutton-chop whiskers which marked out Professor Colin Pillinger as a true British boffin and eccentric. In fine British fashion he was best known for a glorious failure."

Prof Pillinger understood that promoting science needed "a degree of showmanship", she writes, pointing out he was friendly with members of the band Blur, who recorded a song to be broadcast on its touchdown on Mars, and appeared on Top of the Pops playing a drum for England football anthem Vindaloo.

"Famously eccentric", Prof Pillinger was once filmed pushing the Mars probe in a shopping trolley, remembers the Daily Mirror, adding that he "was particularly proud that technology developed for the mission helped diagnose tuberculosis in Africa".

Another lasting success of the mission is the technology "still with us and feeding into the ExoMars mission" which will attempt to land on the planet in 2019, according to Roland Trautner, who worked with Beagle 2 at the European Space Agency and is quoted in the Guardian.

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FA 'B'
Greg Dyke at the FA press conference

Sports writers put FA chairman Greg Dyke's plan to boost English football's young talent under the microscope. And the idea of allowing top clubs' B teams into a new "League Three", comprising 10 Premier League B teams and 10 Football Conference sides comes in for criticism.

This "plan B will be the death of the lower leagues", writes the Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt. "What angers me most is that Dyke and his elitist cronies appear to have no understanding at all of the passions of league fans. You see, fans of Accrington Stanley, Colchester United and Chesterfield all have dreams too."

Those dreams don't, it seems, involve playing Stoke City reserves.

For Mike Dennis, in the Express: "The integrated, coherent pyramid is one of the great achievements of English sport. It involves more than 5,000 clubs and, because of promotion and relegation, it makes it possible for every one of those clubs to dream of climbing higher." Dyke's plan would "wreck", immediately relegating every team below the new League Three by one tier, he says.

The plan is "B for bonkers", according to the Daily Mail. Its chief sports writer Martin Samuel looks at the similar Spanish system, saying Real Madrid and Barcelona's B sides are poorly supported. The reduction in the number of away fans would reduce a "vital revenue stream... to a dribble" for lower league clubs, he says, and - given rules restrict wage bills to a percentage of turnover - would affect players' pay, leaving clubs unable to compete against highly paid Premier League reserves.

There is support for Dyke's plan in the Sun, which pleads "give England a chance" when noting that just 23% of Premier League starters at the top four clubs are English. "It matters that England's footballers become world beaters again. Let's applaud Dyke for doing something about it," the paper says.

The Times also calls the plan "welcome and radical". It adds: "Most changes to the structure of professional football founder on the desperate internal politics between the FA, the Premier League and the Football League. Forty eight years after the last World Cup win it is time these petty politics were set aside."

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