High-speed rail link needed to boost north - Osborne

 

George Osborne: "The cities of the north together can be greater than the sum of their parts"

Related Stories

A so-called HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds could help to create a "northern global powerhouse", George Osborne has said.

He told the BBC better road and rail links would allow cities across northern England from Liverpool to Hull "to take on the world", as London did.

The chancellor said the plan could cost up to £7bn - but could be cheaper if existing rail lines were updated.

Labour said "nobody" believed the Tories could deliver jobs in the north.

Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme - before a speech in Manchester - that the cities in the North of England were individually strong but were "collectively not strong enough".

He said that in the past few decades giant global cities, such as London, had emerged - and that the string of northern cities, with better transport links and careful planning, could take them on and be "greater than the sum of their parts".

Current rail journey times

  • Leeds-Manchester: 49 mins (36 miles/58km)
  • Liverpool-Manchester: 32 mins (31 miles/50km)
  • Hull-Leeds: 55 mins (31 miles/50km)
  • Reading-London: 28 mins (37 miles/59km)
  • Chelmsford-London: 34 mins (30 miles/49km)
  • Luton-London: 23 mins (29 miles/47km)

Approximate fastest times. Source: National Rail Enquiries

Mr Osborne said the building of the east-west link should be considered as part of a review into the second phase of the £50bn HS2 high-speed rail project.

The current plan for the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham has proved controversial. Some residents are set to be disrupted and there is criticism of its price tag.

The government's preferred route for the second phase involves extensions linking Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds - with the final route expected to be chosen by the end of this year.

Mr Osborne said in his speech that it was not "healthy for our economy, not good for our country" if "the powerhouse of London dominates more and more".

Along with improving roads - the M62 already links Liverpool on the west coast with Hull on the east coast, via Manchester and Leeds - Mr Osborne says a new high-speed rail link should be considered, based on the existing rail route but with new tunnels and infrastructure.

Map of HS2 with additional possible HS3 link The green line between Manchester and Leeds shows the existing route which Mr Osborne says could form the basis for a new high speed link

The fastest rail services between Leeds and Manchester currently take about 50 minutes - already quicker than many journeys across London.

The plan would be to cut this to 30 minutes, with trains travelling at up to 140mph, compared with the current maximum of 90mph and the 225mph maximum speed for the fastest bit of HS2.

"We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.

Richard Westcott reports on some of the problems the HS3 project may encounter

"I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds."

Start Quote

Those who hate Britain's lopsided London-centricity might want to think about the idea of promoting the creation of a far bigger second city”

End Quote

A spokesman for Nick Clegg welcomed Mr Osborne's plan, adding that the deputy prime minister had long believed Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield "should become a 'Northern golden triangle' to drive economic growth in the North".

He said: "George Osborne's new found commitment today is welcome and we are now hopeful that he will match his words with action by backing the Leeds City Region growth deal and its proposals for better transport links to other cities across the North."

But CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall gave a cautious welcome: "Better east-west links in the north could provide a huge boost to local businesses, and help further balance the UK economy by creating a northern hub.

"However, any proposals need careful planning. The priority must be boosting connections, not speed. We need to see more detail for such a project, which must be good value for money for the taxpayer."

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young says Conservative support in the North of England has been declining and Mr Osborne's statement will be seen as an attempt to show the party is keen to increase prosperity beyond its traditional strongholds in the south.

There is, however, little detail about how these plans would be funded, and Mr Osborne said he did not yet have timescales - but he wanted "to start a conversation".

"A true powerhouse requires true power," says Chancellor George Osborne

Mr Osborne also told the BBC he wanted to see new positions of elected mayoralties being created - including one for Greater Manchester along the lines of London's - to help drive forward economic growth in the north.

Detail from high speed rail map

Maps of the HS2 route on the project's website

For Labour, shadow chancellor Mr Balls said regional growth divides had "widened markedly since 2010", when the coalition government was formed.

"On high-speed rail, we said months ago that we need value for money for the taxpayer and to improve the existing plans to maximise the benefits for the whole country, and strengthen the links between northern cities.

"Ministers need finally to start listening."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1286.

    As someone who was brought up in industrial Lancashire but has lived in the South since I came to London as a student in 1964 all HS2 will do is bring Birmingham nearer to London not the other way round. What is need is a decent speed line (or series of lines) connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds Sheffield and Hull.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1244.

    I'm so very glad that I don't live anywhere near the routes planned for all three HS's, and can't understand this blinkered obsession that saving just a few minutes off a journey is more important than looking after what little countryside is left, quite apart from the upheaval for those directly affected. It is another example of the selfish few dominating government policy.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1075.

    Can't we just have some trains between towns and cities that don't stop at other stations? That would cut journey times down dramatically without the need for expensive new infrastructure.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 957.

    HS3 seems to make significantly more sense than HS2. East west travel across the pennies is notoriously poor. The price tag is significantly less than HS2 as well. Preston - Euston can be done in about 2hrs now so traveling to London from the North isn't really a problem why not build HS3 first. Ah I suspect there is no obvious direct benefit to Londoners only that strange breed of northerners

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 883.

    A plan which should be implemented as soon as possible, and should include Liverpool. Current journey times between the main centres could be halved.

    But claims about London draining life out of other UK cities are rubbish. If London was not successful businesses located there would move to another global centre and huge amounts of income and tax revenue would be lost.

 

Comments 5 of 15

 

More Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    12:36: 'Investment in young people'
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband is now taking questions from students and the media. Asked about the rhetoric around charging money for higher education, he says: "There is a big disagreement here between those who believe there's a public interest in public investment in young people and our universities, and those who think it's just a matter of consumer choice for our young people". He says it's "absolute nonsense to say this is only about young people", as the whole country has an interest in young people unburdened with debt.

     
  2.  
    12:28: Fiscal 'responsibility'

    Ed Balls says the plan is "not only fair to students, fair to young people, and fair to taxpayers", but is "also an example of Labour assuming fiscal responsibility in the national interest". The proposal would strengthen the public finances, he says, as opposed to plans from opposing parties which would weaken the UK's bank balance.

     
  3.  
    12:25: Balls: Plans 'fully costed'
    Ed Balls

    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is now speaking, fleshing out more of the details. He says Labour's plans are "fully costed and fully funded", and that Labour are not making a promise they can't keep. The plans will reduce the UK's debt by £40bn by 2030, he claims.

     
  4.  
    12:24: Pension tax relief curbed

    Mr Miliband says he will pay for the cut in tuition fees by reducing the tax relief on pension contributions for the highest-earners. Those earning more than £150,000 a year will get the same relief as basic-rate taxpayers in future, rather than the 40% they enjoy at the moment.

     
  5.  
    12:22: Maintenance loan increase

    Ed Miliband says part of Labour's goal is "to make it easier for students of all backgrounds" to attend university - and to that end, students from families with an income of less than £42,000 will receive an extra £400 in their maintenance loan every year.

     
  6.  
    12:22: Tuition fee cut
    Labour audience on their feet

    Ed Miliband promises that a Labour government will cut tuition fees by a third, from £9000 to £6000. He says "we will not make the young pay the price of hard times" - and vows to "restore the promise of Britain".

     
  7.  
    12:17: 'A burden on our country'

    Ed Miliband says the current tuition fees system is leading to "more debt for students and more debt for the taxpayer", with an estimated £16bn more than predicted to be added to the public debt by 2020. He says that "if left unchanged, the whole system will have added £281bn of debt by 2030". The Labour leader says "the scourge of debt from tuition fees is not only holding back our young people, it is a burden on our country".

     
  8.  
    12:14: 'Broken promises'

    Ed Miliband says all young people have heard from the government in the last few years is "blame, denial, and broken promises". He says no-one in his generation - which is also Nick Clegg's and David Cameron's - had to start life after university with more than an average of £44,000 in debt.

     
  9.  
    12:10: Miliband's 'Promise for Britain'
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband has taken to the stage in Leeds to talk about his party's policies on tuition fees going into the general election. He was introduced by the recently-elected president of Leicester University Students Union, who says this government has betrayed her generation.

     
  10.  
    12:05: More from Carwyn Jones

    The first minister adds: "The move towards a funding floor is an important step forward and we have been pushing for this for some time. But we cannot be confident that funding for Wales has been put on a fair and sustainable footing until the detail is agreed at the next spending review. This is disappointing and should also be seen in the context of an unprecedented £1.5bn cut to the Welsh budget in this term. We will now consider the details of the proposals ahead of a full response to the National Assembly for Wales on Tuesday."

     
  11.  
    12:04: Carwyn Jones on Welsh offer
    Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones

    Responding to the the government's announcement today, First Minister Carwyn Jones - a Labour politician - said: "The proposals only go some of the way to matching Labour's devolution offer already set out by Ed Miliband, but they fall short in crucial areas - such as on policing." He claims "Wales is still not being treated with the same respect as that being afforded to Scotland and this continuing imbalanced approach is damaging to the UK".

     
  12.  
    @elashton 12:02: Emily Ashton, Buzzfeed senior political correspondent

    tweets: No 10 was asked if Cameron would be sorry to see "a bullet between Emwazi's eyes": "The PM wants to see the murderers brought to justice."

     
  13.  
    11:54: A 'full house'
    Mark Reckless

    Mark Reckless tells the BBC's Vicki Young that Nigel Farage will be speaking to a "very full room" at the UKIP spring conference today. Less than 24 hours ago, the UKIP leader was listened to by a rather threadbare audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US state of Maryland.

     
  14.  
    11:51: Time for a fruitcake?
    Cake for sale at UKIP conference

    UKIP activists are taking a quick coffee break in Margate - and are being encouraged to visit the stalls in the Winter Gardens venue, where fruitcake is among the items available for purchase.

     
  15.  
    11:50: CBI on 'devolution risk'

    The CBI has said a referendum must be held before powers over income tax are devolved to the Welsh Assembly. Reacting to the government's proposals, the business group says any transfer of powers must be done in a "careful, considered and transparent manner". "For the Welsh economy to prosper there has to be a renewed commitment from all politicians to deliver a devolution dividend not a devolution risk premium," said Chris Sutton, chair of CBI Wales.

     
  16.  
    11:39: Still friends?
    Nick Clegg and David Cameron

    Do Dave and Nick still like each other nearly five years on from those chummy scenes in the Downing Street rose garden at the birth of the coalition? That was the question to the pair as they staged what might well be their final public appearance together in Cardiff. Well, as our picture below shows, they can still enjoy a laugh together. Mr Cameron said they had had their differences and arguments but had worked together to deliver "bold and brave" policies. Mr Clegg was equally diplomatic, saying they had proved coalitions can work and a "novel way of governing has done exceptional things in exceptional circumstances". They would save the gripes about each other's personalities for the election campaign, joked Mr Cameron.

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg
     
  17.  
    11:27: 'Number one priority'

    The prime minister says he will not discuss specific threats to the UK, but insists it is his "number one priority" that "when there are people anywhere in the world who commit appalling and heinous crimes against British citizens, we will do every we can with the police, with the security services, with all we have at our disposal to find these people and put them out of action".

     
  18.  
    11:23: Breaking News

    David Cameron has reacted to the naming of the man previously known only as 'Jihadi John' as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Briton from west London. He says he thinks it is important for the public to "get behind" the security services, adding that "even in the last few months their dedication and work has saved us from plots on the streets of the United Kingdom that could have done immense damage".

     
  19.  
    11:16: Cheeky stunt
    Dancers promoting the musical The Producers in Margate

    A Nazi-themed troupe of dancers and a World War Two tank gate crashed the start of UKIP's spring conference in Margate earlier. The seven-strong group were promoting a production of the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, which opens in Bromley, in South London, next month.

     
  20.  
    11:14: Income tax for Wales?

    David Cameron says he is a "double-yes man": he thinks Wales does need a referendum on whether or not it should set its own income tax - and if it happens he will be advising people in Wales to vote in favour of having such powers. Nick Clegg says there is a consensus across government - and the coalition parties - that there are no reasons not to hold such a referendum.

     
  21.  
    11:12: 'Devolution with a purpose'

    David Cameron says "both of Wales's governments can do all they can within their powers to make Wales prosper for decades to come", describing the settlement announced today as "devolution with a purpose". Nick Clegg says it is "truly a deal worth celebrating", taking Wales "another step towards home rule for Wales and a stronger, fairer Britain". For the detail on what the government has announced today, have a look at the main BBC News story here.

     
  22.  
    11:06: Cameron and Clegg in Wales
    David Cameron and Nick Clegg

    Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have begun speaking about the new settlement proposed for Wales - fittingly, they're holding the news conference in what Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb calls the "great Welsh cathedral" that is the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

     
  23.  
    11:00: NHS 'stolen' by establishment parties
    Louise Bours, UKIP's health spokeswoman

    Louise Bours MEP, UKIP's health spokeswoman, is next to speak in Margate. She says the "establishment parties have stolen the NHS". There have been "endless top-down reorganisations that drain it of cash", motivated "not [by] political need but political opportunism". She says patient care has suffered due to "policies of uncontrolled mass immigration".

     
  24.  
    @andybell5news 10:56: Andy Bell, 5 News political editor

    tweets: Ed Balls on my train to Leeds for fees announcement "you won't have wasted your journey" he says #GE2015

     
  25.  
    @VickiYoung01 10:56: Vicki Young, BBC chief political correspondent

    tweets: Lots of platform audience interaction at #UKIP conf. Risks sounding a bit like a pantomime.

     
  26.  
    10:55: Farages in Margate
    Kirsten Farage arrives at the UKIP spring conference

    Nigel Farage's wife, Kirsten, has arrived for the UKIP spring conference in Margate. There has been some doubt as to whether the UKIP leader will be speaking today given that he has just flown back from a gathering of conservative politicians in the United States. But as we speak, he is billed to appear at just after 16:00 GMT.

     
  27.  
    10:43: EU 'decaying and deluded'
    UKIP badges on sale at its spring conference

    Turning to Europe, Suzanne Evans says the UK is "more than just a star on someone else's flag" - she says she wants to see the country "freed from the demands of a decaying and deluded EU". She recites a list of prime ministers since Ted Heath, and says: "By one treacherous treaty after treacherous treaty they handed power that should still be vested in parliament, in Westminster, in the people of Britain, over to Brussels." And she adds that Labour and the Conservatives are the true parties of "little Englanders" - UKIP "aren't the ones who want to stay in the shadows jumping at Frau Merkel's every command".

     
  28.  
    10:35: Cast-iron guarantees?

    Suzanne Evans, who only took over responsibility for UKIP's manifesto last month, says successive promises by party leaders have been broken, such as Nick Clegg vowing not to raise tuition fees, and David Cameron promising a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. She says: "That's the trouble with cast-iron guarantees - they can be a bit brittle."

     
  29.  
    10:32: Manifesto 'quality, not quantity'
    UKIP deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans

    UKIP's Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans is next up. She opens her speech with a joke referencing her party's oft-mocked 2010 manifesto, which was 427 pages long. The 2015 version, she insists, won't be calling for taxi drivers to wear uniforms, people to wear formal-dress to the theatre, or for the Circle Line on the London Underground to be actually shaped like a circle again. She says in 2015, the party's manifesto will focus on "quality, not quantity" and potential "bear traps" will be spotted and avoided.

     
  30.  
    10:29: UKIP 'party of the NHS'

    Mark Reckless tells the audience at the UKIP spring conference his party is "the party of the NHS": promising to back local health boards, spend £3bn more on the NHS, transform dementia care, and abolish what he calls a "tax on illness" - hospital car parking charges.

     
  31.  
    10:29: Going beyond 'UKIP's base'

    Mark Reckless, who was re-elected to Parliament as a UKIP MP in November, is talking about issues which he says can help the party "reach beyond its base" - including planning, the NHS and energy. On the EU, he says UKIP wants to leave "not because we are nationalists but because we are democrats".

     
  32.  
    10:29: Reckless speech to UKIP
    Mark Reckless

    UKIP MP Mark Reckless is formally opening its spring conference in Margate. He starts by joking that his appearance is set to be less newsworthy than that at UKIP's autumn conference in September, when his dramatic arrival in Doncaster confirmed that he had defected from the Conservatives.

     
  33.  
    10:22: Tuition fees 'politically toxic' Alex Forsyth BBC News Education Correspondent

    The BBC's Alex Forsyth says Labour "will hope after all these years of deliberation, they've come up with a policy that's going to appeal to voters and makes financial sense - but the critics so far aren't convinced". She adds that tuition fees are "politically toxic territory", having burned both the last Labour government and - of course - the Lib Dems under Nick Clegg.

     
  34.  
    @robindbrant 10:19: Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Local #UKIP man Tim Scott tells Margate audience "we're on the march...they're scared of us...let's not give them any more ammunition"

     
  35.  
    @robindbrant 10:14: Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: .@UKIP chairman 'have we peaked?' Margate audience 'nooooo' #ge2015

     
  36.  
    10:06: Daily Politics line-up Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    A veritable bonanza on the Daily Politics today - join Andrew Neil and the following guests at 12:00 GMT: journalist Harry Cole; Atul Hatwal of Labour Uncut; the American pollster Frank Luntz; UKIP Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans; Conservative MP David Willetts; House of Cards creator Lord Dobbs; and the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn, Maajid Nawaz.

    Daily Politics guests
     
  37.  
    @robindbrant 10:04: Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: What is it about tea towels in #ge2015 ? @IsabelHardman @IainMcNicol

    Nigel Farage tea towel
     
  38.  
    09:50: Woe for Ed Balls?
    Ed Miliband and Ed Balls

    The website Labour Uncut reports that "senior members" of Ed Miliband's inner circle are planning to encourage the Labour leader to sack Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the event the party has to secure a post-election coalition deal with the SNP: "Insiders familiar with these discussions over the past few weeks describe a scenario where Labour would have to 'reset its economic standing with the public' and demonstrate to the SNP that it would not be 'wedded to austerity-lite'. For some of Ed Miliband's closest and oldest advisers, removing Ed Balls would achieve both objectives as well as ridding them of a potentially truculent and obstructive Chancellor."

     
  39.  
    09:34: UKIP are 'picked on'
    Suzanne Evans

    UKIP Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans tells the BBC's Vicki Young that UKIP are being "singled out" over offensive comments made by members and supporters of the party. She says among candidates from other parties across the country there is "an amazing amount of racism, sexism, and fraud", but UKIP are being "picked on". She adds that as UKIP's spring conference gets under way, the party has taken comfort from the fact that a local poll in Thanet South, where Nigel Farage is bidding to be an MP, puts the UKIP leader 11% ahead of his nearest opponent.

     
  40.  
    09:23: Clarkson vs Dugher
    Jeremy Clarkson, in a promotional picture for BBC series Top Gear

    Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher - sometimes described as Labour's "attack dog" - has sunk his teeth into Jeremy Clarkson, scourge of the hybrid-driving, muesli-eating classes. Dugher described the Top Gear presenter as "bit of an idiot" in an interview with the House magazine, saying he was "not remotely representative of motorists" and just "represents himself". Clarkson snapped back on Twitter: "Labour's transport spokesman says he doesn't like Top Gear. Good. We don't make it for people who wear pink ties."

     
  41.  
    09:09: Questions for Labour Robert Peston Economics editor
    Ed Miliband

    The BBC's economics editor Robert Peston looks at some questions Ed Miliband needs to answer about his plans to reduce tuition fees, as well as examining just how Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls might pay for the measure.

     
  42.  
    08:58: Labour tuition fee pledge Nick Robinson Political editor

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says Labour's plan to cut tuition fees from £9000 to £6000 is "one of the biggest spending pledges Ed Miliband has made", and adds that it is interesting to note the Labour leader's priorities at a time when government cuts more generally have to be made. With the debate over the policy having barely begun, why has he chosen to spend so much on university students rather than schools, the NHS, or more Sure Start centres?

     
  43.  
    08:52: Cable on coalition

    Pressed as to whether the Labour plans to reduce fees would constitute a "red line" in any potential coalition negotiations between the Lib Dems and Ed Miliband's party, Vince Cable says simply: "It would certainly make it more difficult to work with them." The business secretary says the Lib Dems would insist on fees remaining the same, but says they're not talking about "red lines".

     
  44.  
    08:43: Cable on tuition fees
    Vince Cable

    Business Secretary Vince Cable tells BBC Breakfast that the current tuition fee system is "fair, sustainable, been praised by international bodies, and making sure we have a high standard of university education". He says Labour plans to curb pension tax reliefs in order to pay for a cut in fees is a "completely bogus, fictional system of funding". Mr Cable adds that Ed Miliband is making promises for short-term political gain that "they would find it very hard to deliver, and if they did deliver it it would do a lot of harm".

     
  45.  
    @paulwaugh 08:35: Paul Waugh, editor of PoliticsHome

    tweets: Greg Clark 1st reaction to EdM tuition fees plan: savers + "taxpayers will pay the price for a policy that will cause chaos"

     
  46.  
    @RebeccaKeating 08:12: Rebecca Keating, BBC parliamentary reporter

    tweets: #UKIP getting more media savvy - yesterday this poster at Margate conf venue said 'Circus of Horrors'

    Poster
     
  47.  
    08:11: The Westminster House of Cards... The Spectator
    Parliament at night

    Today marks the return of scheming American politico Frank Underwood - played by Kevin Spacey - on the Netflix drama House of Cards. Originally based on a classic British series, the re-make spawned its own British parody organised by The Spectator. See the Machiavellian tendencies of some familiar faces from the green benches on full display here (YouTube link).

     
  48.  
    @michaelsavage 08:10: Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Many Labour insiders believe helping students with maintenance costs would have been better way to help those from poorer backgrounds.

     
  49.  
    08:06: Student finance 'imploding' BBC Radio 4 Today
    Graduates

    Questioned about Labour's planned tuition fee cut, shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie declines to elaborate on how it will be paid for, saying Ed Miliband will set out the details later. He tells the BBC the current system is "imploding" and the UK cannot afford the "next generation" to be saddled with ever-increasing debt. He suggests that universities, as well as students, will be "very satisfied" with what his party is proposing.

     
  50.  
    07:57: Welsh devolution BBC Radio 4 Today
    Chamber of the National Assembly of Wales

    Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has been defending the government's devolution plans, saying they will give the Welsh people a "stronger voice in their own affairs". He tells the BBC that it is "not healthy" that the Welsh Government currently raises almost none of the £15bn it spends every year, describing it as "one great big spending department". The devolution package will make the Welsh Assembly more accountable while strengthening Wales' position within the UK, he adds.

     
  51.  
    07:56: 'Third-rate devolution' BBC Radio 4 Today
    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has told Radio 4 that plans to be set out later by David Cameron and Nick Clegg to transfer more powers to Wales from Westminster don't go far enough. She says Wales needs to have "decades of funding disadvantage rectified", with more tax-raising powers than have been promised so Wales "can stand on our own two feet". Ms Wood adds that there is a "stark contrast" between the cross-party consensus on devolution with regard to Scotland and the situation in Wales, adding that "there is no good reason why Wales should have third-rate devolution".

     
  52.  
    07:37: Any Questions? 20:00 GMT BBC Radio 4
    Jonathan Dimbleby

    On Any Questions? with Jonathan Dimbleby tonight: Green leader Natalie Bennett, UKIP's only Scottish MEP David Coburn, the columnist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer, and the Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

     
  53.  
    07:34: Another day at the office
    Palace of Westminster

    The perennial accusation that MPs have it easy has flared up in the dog days of this parliament with the recent controversy over second jobs. Most people's idea of Commons debate is the finger-pointing and heckling of PMQs - but here's just some of the topics being discussed or legislated upon today in the Commons, in a rather more sedate fashion: tyre safety; funeral services; firearm and shotgun licensing; e-cigarettes; sugar in food and drinks; wild animals in circuses; and investigations into deaths in mental health settings.

     
  54.  
    07:33: Cable on tuition fees
    Vince Cable

    Business Secretary Vince Cable has attacked Labour's plan to cut the highest tuition fees by a third as "financially illiterate". Mr Cable, who helped design the current system of student finance, said existing arrangements were "fair and sustainable" and Labour's plans would "reduce the support for disadvantaged students and benefit only the richest". He added: "It will do great harm to universities and create a costly black hole in the national budget."

     
  55.  
    @bbckamal 07:17: Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

    tweets: Breaking: Lloyds to pay first dividend since 2008, 0.75p per share, valued at £535m

    and

    tweets: Breaking: Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio remuneration package will total £11m after shares rise by 193% since 2012

     
  56.  
    07:15: UKIP and the Barnett formula
    UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    We just heard from Robin Brant that UKIP will announce it supports George Osborne's strategy for eliminating the deficit by 2018. But the Financial Times reports that as part of that strategy, Nigel Farage's party would back ending the use of the Barnett formula - which currently dictates how much money for public spending is given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by Westminster. UKIP, says the FT, wants "heavy cuts" to that block grant.

     
  57.  
    @BBCNormanS 07:13: Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Understood Labour tuition fee cut to be paid for by "better off mums and dads"

     
  58.  
    07:03: Cameron in Wales
    David Cameron

    David Cameron is also on the campaign trail today, addressing the Welsh Conservatives' annual conference. He is expected to spell out details of fresh powers for the Welsh Assembly, including minimum funding for the Welsh government and allowing Cardiff to raise cash from the money markets for major projects. The prime minister is also likely to talk about the economy and address Labour accusations that his attacks on the performance of the Welsh health service amount to a "war on Wales".

     
  59.  
    07:00: Farage 'backs' Tory deficit plans Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    Robin Brant says that at today's conference session UKIP's economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn will tell delegates that his party supports Chancellor George Osborne's strategy to wipe out the deficit by 2018. Aside from that, though, there are likely to be few policy announcements, as the party's manifesto is still being tinkered with.

     
  60.  
    06:59: Question Time re-cap: MPs' second jobs
    Rachel Reeves

    Labour's Rachel Reeves followed her leader's line on Question Time last night, saying that being an MP was a "full-time job" and that second jobs for MPs were "plain wrong". She said she already earned about three times the salary of some of her constituents in Leeds West. The Lib Dems' Tessa Munt agreed with the general point, saying it was disgraceful that 281 out of 650 MPs currently hold second jobs. But the Conservatives' Grant Shapps echoed David Cameron by arguing that the Commons would be worse off if filled with people who had "only ever worked in politics".

     
  61.  
    06:50: Bodyguards for Farage?
    Police escort Nigel Farage out of a venue in Rotherham earlier this month

    Nigel Farage will be among friends when he addresses the UKIP party faithful in Margate later. But his trips round the country in recent times haven't been without incident. He was hit by a placard on one campaign visit last year and found himself barricaded in a building in Rotherham last month by a protest outside. The BBC now understands that UKIP has requested bodyguards for Mr Farage as he tours the country ahead of the 7 May election, making an application to the Home Office.

     
  62.  
    06:49: Tuition fees: 'Labour's biggest ticket' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor
    Radcliffe Camera

    More from Norman Smith on Ed Miliband's decision to curb pension tax reliefs to pay for reduced university tuition fees. Norman Smith says it is significant that "at a time when the Tories are straining every sinew to appeal to the grey vote, Mr Miliband is asking those of us of a certain age to prepare to have our pensions hit to pay for our children". The universities themselves are "deeply wary" of the policy, he suggests, fearing it will make them more dependent on state funding. At "north of £2bn", the policy will be "Labour's biggest ticket" going into the May election - but there's "no disguising [there is] opposition to it both inside and outside the Labour Party".

     
  63.  
    06:41: Tuition fees: 'British promise' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Norman Smith tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the drive to reduce tuition fees is something "very personal" for Ed Miliband, who has been pushing this policy for "a long, long time now". It's to be paid for by curbing pension tax reliefs - and indeed, "the manner in which he's going to pay for this is almost as interesting as the policy itself". The Labour leader will try to sell the policy on grounds of "inter-generational fairness", which in reality means he will be asking "tomorrow's pensioners to dip into their pockets to pay for their children". Ed Miliband's "British promise" is that every generation should be able to prosper more than the preceding one.

     
  64.  
    06:40: Question Time re-cap
    Panellists on Thursday's Question Time

    It was a lively Question Time last night, with top billing given to the revelations that UK net migration reached 298,000 in the year ending September 2014. UKIP's Mark Reckless was scathing, while Conservative chairman Grant Shapps conceded the figures were "disappointing". Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves argued that more needs to be done for migrants earning less than the minimum wage, while Lib Dem Tessa Munt joined her party leader Nick Clegg in saying David Cameron's initial vow to reduce immigration was "a silly promise to have made".

     
  65.  
    06:27: UKIP conference
    Nigel Farage speaking in the United States

    UKIP's two-day gathering in Margate comes at a crucial time for the party, will polls suggesting it could win a number of seats - including several in Kent - on 7 May. Among those speaking on Friday include deputy leader Paul Nuttall and health spokeswoman Louise Bours. Party leader Nigel Farage will also address activists at about 16.00 GMT. He has had a busy few hours. On Thursday, he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US state of Maryland, sharing a stage with Tea Party movement star Sarah Palin.

     
  66.  
    06:26: Farage's fortunes Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News
    Nigel Farage

    The BBC's Robin Brant says UKIP's spring conference in Margate is a "rallying cry" for Nigel Farage, with the UKIP leader contesting neighbouring Thanet South in the general election. A win there is "essential for his survival".

     
  67.  
    06:25: Miliband's tuition fees pledge
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband is to set out Labour's plans to cut £9,000 university tuition fees by a third. In a speech in Leeds, he will reveal how a Labour government - which originally introduced fees in 2006 - would find the money to pay for such a reduction. The rising level of student debt has been a "disaster for the future of Britain", he will say. After warnings from some quarters that a reduction in fees would lead to a funding gap for universities, the Labour leader will reveal today how he would cover the costs.

     
  68.  
    06:14: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to the BBC's Live Page coverage for Friday 27 February. The business in the Commons today is almost entirely focused on the official reading of legislation - but don't think that means it'll be a quiet day in the political world. We're coming in to spring conference season: UKIP's kicks off in Margate today, and the Lib Dems gather in Cardiff for the last meeting of party activists before the general election. Labour leader Ed Miliband will set out his party's plans to cut tuition fees to £6,000 if it is elected. Chancellor George Osborne will be in Manchester to talk devolution of NHS services but is also likely to face questions about a report from MPs that says his claim last year to have halved the UK's £1.7bn EU budget surcharge is "not supported by the facts". We'll bring you all the latest news, views and analysis during the day - from the BBC and beyond.

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.