Plastic bag charge to be introduced in England

 

Ed Davey: "Try to avoid this charge, we want you to re-use your plastic bags"

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A 5p charge for plastic bags in England is to be introduced by the government in a bid to discourage their use.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to unveil the plans at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend.

Ministers are said to be concerned at the environmental impact of the bags, particularly on waterborne animals.

The charge, which will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores, will begin after the 2015 election, with the proceeds going to charities.

A similar charge applying to the single-use carrier bags made from both plastic and paper is already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, this week announced he was not going ahead with plans to raise the levy to 10p per bag, because the present arrangements were proving successful.

He said data from major supermarkets showed there had been an 80% reduction in plastic bag use since the levy was brought in.

Retailers in Scotland will start charging for bags in October 2014.

According to Liberal Democrat sources, the charge in Wales, which began in 2011, has seen the use of plastic bags drop by roughly 75%.

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said his party had faced opposition to the scheme from the Conservatives.

He said the charge would only raise "pretty small amounts" for charity, as its intention was to get people to reduce the amount they use.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "It is a huge environmental step forward.

'Tough times'

"We are very clear that none of this money will come to government, we are not trying to tax people, we are trying to change people's behaviour, encourage much more environmentally-friendly behaviour."

Start Quote

This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain ”

End Quote Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said there was enthusiasm for the plans among major retailers but there had been opposition from government colleagues.

Speaking on a visit to Cathkin Marsh nature reserve, near Glasgow, he said that plastic bags were often used for just a few minutes but "take 1,000 years to degrade".

He said: "That's not just bad for the environment, they are a terrible eyesore on our beautiful countryside. They cause a lot of suffering for animals, particularly marine wildlife."

Mr Clegg said he hoped any money raised by the levy would be donated to environmental charities.

He added: "Of course there are debates in government on something like this, this is a big change. But it's one that I was very keen to do and I think we will now do it - not overnight, it will happen by the end of 2015.

"But I think very quickly, just as in the way people are accepting it in Wales where there has been an up to 80% drop in the use of plastic bags, people will get used to it and support it."

Andy Walker from the campaign group, Keep Britain Tidy, said that free plastic bags came with a "cost to the environment".

"Our supporters up and down the country end up cleaning bags from water courses, from beaches, from the High Street... so we believe it'll reduce the incidence of bags there," he said.

"But it will also influence behaviour change - people will start to take reusable bags with them to the supermarket and that will actually make a big difference to the environment."

But Matthew Sinclair, from the Taxpayers' Alliance, said the charge was an unnecessary measure that would have little impact on overall waste.

"This is not just a small share of waste, this is a tiny share of waste," he said.

"And I don't think that for every problem the answer is a new tax.

Supermarket checkout Supermarkets have already been encouraging customers to reduce their use of carrier bags

"There are already a number of different schemes to encourage people to think about using reusable bags, there are other schemes which involve using the carrot rather than the stick of a new tax."

Craig Bennett, policy and campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said: "A plastic bag charge is welcome news, but let's not get carried away.

"This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain and can't disguise the government's woeful green record."

He said tougher action and ambitious targets were needed to to cut waste, boost recycling and "bring England in line with the rest of the UK and much of Europe".

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said ministers acknowledged that shoppers may be unhappy about the prospect of the charge in what are "tough times" but the coalition believed it needed to tackle their use.

A number of supermarkets already encourage customers to limit their use of carrier bags by giving them loyalty points for providing their own. Marks & Spencer charges 5p for its plastic carrier bags, donating the profits to charities and education projects, but still gives out smaller bags.

Charities involved in clearing up the environmental damage caused by plastic bags will benefit from money raised by the new charge.

Groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage have long called for a charge. They said plastic bags littered England's streets and countryside.

The bags, they say, have proved harmful to wildlife which become entangled in them or think they are food.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 813.

    763.Richie rich
    Yes, but it's a easy fix unlike those more important concerns, so why not fix it?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 812.

    All these people saying, “Just leave a few bags in the boot of your car.”

    Good idea…but…

    I am on ESA and having been hit with Bedroom Tax, Council Tax etc…

    I DON’T OWN A CAR.

    So I have to carry empty bags everywhere now too?

    And why is it my local huge Tesco has done away with their Bag Recycling point? I used to collect them up and recycle, now they go in the bin!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 811.

    The message is very simple: come to see how it works in Wales where the transition was pretty seamless and accepted very widely. The Taxpayers Alliance doesn't get it: it's NOT a new tax, it's an incentive to change your behaviour. Re-use your bags for shopping. It's not rocket science, England, you WILL get used to it.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 810.

    Most of the plastic that is floating around in the ocean is pelletized, in other words it is lost AFTER recycling!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 809.

    It might remind me to take along my 10p "bags for life", though I also always re-use the flimsy bags. Nobody mentioned that these biodegradable flimsies are NOT recyclable (biodegradable bags break down - you cant re-use the plastic as it will decay). The plastic never disappears, though - small particles apparently stay in the soil or water for ever. So it is better if we reduce the bags we use.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 808.

    Suck it up! The bags should just be BANNED anyway, get your shopping home your own way, you'll soon remember your own bags then. Stop whining, you don't have to pay it if you don't want to..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 807.

    #532 because they can't afford wheely bins like the rest of us. #443 don't you understand that ALL stores will have to charge 5p, stop the rebellious child syndrome and become an adult. #188 just let the scheme go ahead more money for charities may be they will change their attitude knowing where some of the moneys coming from. Looking at the positive and stop trying to be clever.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 806.

    750. Whitefall

    "Animals shouldn't be put before human beings. End of discussion."
    ===
    It depends on your intention.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 805.

    Heck I don't mind paying for them up front, they are very useful. Its going to be hilarious spotting the poor by their tatty recycled bags.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 804.

    @794

    There is a clear difference between interest and a 5p charge for use of plastic carrier bags. I still use plastic bags and I don't mind the charge but I am certainly against 4000% APR loans.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 803.

    re 787 - it depends on your lifestyle how much goes into each bin. I cook all my food from scratch, so have lots of veg peelings. I am sure that ready meal families have more trays in their non-recycle bin. My cats use a litter tray, so there is waste there. My yogurt pots cannot be recycled but my husband's cereal box can. Don't preach that your bin is emptier than others might be.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 802.

    5p? They cost between 18¢ and 25¢ (15p to 21p) in Malta; and you just know that anything above 18¢c is not finding its way to the Treasury!
    Many of the smaller retailers did away with plastic carrier bags altogether when the tax was introduced, and began to use plastic bags without handles; there are just as many plastic bags about now, without the convenience of handles.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 801.

    Another way would be to offer the shopper the choice of money off the bill dependent on how many bags they re-used , or if they wish that money to go to charity . The idea of having to pay for advertising a supermarket is rather galling

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 800.

    I agree with the basic premise that we should reduce the number of plastics bags we use, but instead of trying to engineer around the problem, why does the government ban the supermarkets from using plastic bags and compell us to use paperbags like the Americans do.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 799.

    In response to David (787). My council stipulates that rubbish should be wrapped before it goes into the wheelie bin. Supermarket carriers are ideal for this.

  • rate this
    +35

    Comment number 798.

    I use my supermarket plastic bags for getting rid of rubbish - fortnightly bin collection needs wrapping to keep smells in and flies out. So I will now have to buy plastic rubbish bags.

    Supermarkets used to have a bagging area with empty cardbord boxes to use to transport stuff away, suppose that was stopped in the name of health and safety

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 797.

    Why not re-introduce the paper bags we used to be able to use? They're biodegradable and pose no threat to birds, can be recycled and babies can't suffocate in them

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 796.

    Could do as the Americans and use brown paper carriers for those who forget the Eco carrier.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 795.

    So the money raised will go to "charity" who decides which charity? Some charities pay their executives £100,000+, they will not be getting my money, far better to fine the many litter louts who make our towns and countryside into rubbish dumps. Driving past a local playing field last week the areas around the goalposts were covered in discarded water bottles despite their being many bins!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 794.

    Bringing this charge in has resulted in an 80% reduction elsewhere. It still means 20% are buying these bags and I wonder if these are the same people who are quite happy to pay the interest on credit cards or pay day loans.

    Quite simply some people would still pay for bags if they were charged £5 rather than 5p...

 

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    It is commonly accepted that the major building firms are not interested in small-scale building/renovation work. Cannot understand why Local Authorities are not far more pro-active in granting planning permission for small-scale builds/renovations on brown field sites in the inner city areas.

    One incentive might be to abolish any rate relief on empty dwellings to encourage owners to either let or re-develop them. Small builds employ proportionately more people than the large-scale, highly mechanised ones.

    S.M.Tiktin, Leighton Buzzard.

    Why aren't any of the parties talking about improving private renting? That could have an immediate effect for millions of tenants, across the country.

    Building new houses doesn't always help: Cambridge has very high house prices and lots of the new building going on but a new build 1 bedroom flat will cost you at least £200,000.

    Rosie Shaw, Cambridge

    Firstly stop any more immigrants coming into the country. That will relieve the pressure on housing and the Health service in one go!

    Douglas Annette, Farnborough

    Do you agree? Email us politics@bbc.co.ukor tweet @bbcpolitics

     
  55.  
    @MichaelLCrick Michael Crick, Channel 4 political correspondent

    tweets: It's now only about 43 days before people start voting (by post) in the 2015 election

     
  56.  
    14:41: Housing crisis Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    We haven't been building enough houses since the 1960s. If you listen to charities like Shelter, they say we should be building a quarter of a million homes every year just to keep up with the pace of demand - due to a growing population and an ageing population. House prices are also going up like rocket fuel compared with wages and houses are getting more and more out of reach for many families.

     
  57.  
    14:39: Miliband on the railways
    Ed Miliband at People's Question Time in Brighton

    This was Ed Miliband in action earlier in Brighton. He also discussed public ownership of the railways, arguing that the coalition "has been doing rail renationalisation by the back door". "So if you are a European public company you can actually bid for the British franchise, but if you are British public company you can't bid for the franchise. This is just absolute nonsense," he said.

     
  58.  
    @SkyAnushka Anushka Asthana, political correspondent at Sky News

    tweets: He argues that 9k is right, but suggests split between graduate & Govt because HE has both a private benefit to grad but public benefit too.

     
  59.  
    14:34: Labour's aspiration

    Also at the "People's Question Time" event in Brighton earlier, Ed Miliband rejected a suggestion that Labour was not doing enough for "aspirational" middle-class voters. The Labour leader said his party's plans to cut tuition fees in England would help young people from all backgrounds.

    "That is absolutely about aspiration... there's nothing more anti-aspirational than kids leaving university with £44,000 of debt," he said. "Investment in our young people is about all of us."

     
  60.  
    @SkyAnushka Anushka Asthana, political correspondent at Sky News

    tweet: Interesting letters in Times on uni funding inc by Roger Brown- prof of HE policy at Liv Hope.

    Letter to the Times on education funding
     
  61.  
    14:18: Ed Miliband: No to voting changes

    Ed Miliband says he won't put his energy in to reforming the voting system if Labour comes to power. He's backed votes for 16-year-olds and says he wants changes to the House of Lords. But speaking earlier in Brighton, he said: "Personally I am more interested in changing the way the country works than the way the way the electoral system works.

    "If you are asking about me as prime minister, where would my energies be put into, it would not be into a big debate about the electoral system."

     
  62.  
    14:15: 'Not the first disagreement'

    David Cameron's official spokesman told reporters earlier of the PM's reaction to his Conservative colleague Ken Clarke's dim view of the promise to cut immigration below 100,000. "You won't be surprised to know that he takes a different view from Ken on this one. It won't be the first time that he and Ken haven't had exactly the same views." On the promise itself, the spokesman added: "The ambition remains the right one, but it's clear it's going to take more time, more work and more difficult long-term decisions in order to get there."

     
  63.  
    14:04:

    The Birmingham Post has picked up on comments we mentioned earlier by one of the city's MPs, Gisela Stuart, about the eye-catching idea of a "grand coalition" between Labour and the Conservatives.

    "As you work through the options, do not rule out that you have a grand coalition," she said in an interview with the Financial Times.

     
  64.  
    14:00: Off the bench?

    Is Sol Campbell the Tories' latest signing? After being talked of as a possible Conservative candidate for London mayor, or the Kensington seat being vacated by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, yesterday he said he was taking things "step by step" . Today, some Conservative supporters have reported receiving emails from the ex-Arsenal and Spurs man, trying to rally them to campaign in North London.

    Email from Sol Campbell
     
  65.  
    13:45: Green belt
    Countryside

    David Cameron's argument this morning that protecting the green built should be "paramount" in future housing strategy has been attacked by the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. Its director general Mark Littlewood said "constraining housebuilding through artificial boundaries such as green belt restrictions is a key reason why house prices in the UK are very high and new homes increasingly small". He says "people not governments" should decide where houses are built.

     
  66.  
    13:33: Extremism debate The World at One BBC Radio 4 Presented by Martha Kearney

    Prof Michael Gunn says new guidance on extremism should provide "clarity, sensibility, proportionality". He says policy should be about encouraging universities to use current guidance on radical speakers, exploring how to support Muslims and how to utilise links with Prevent. Priority needs to be given to free speech and the guidance should make it clear when there is an exception, he concludes.

     
  67.  
    13:25: Radicalism at universities The World at One BBC Radio 4 Presented by Martha Kearney

    Speaking about extremism in universities, Professor Michael Gunn from the Million+ think tank says universities have obligations to ensure free speech at the moment. Debate is a strong way of "resisting radicalism", he says. Universities take their obligations very seriously, he says. The government recently passed laws aimed at banning all "extremist" preachers from campuses. Tory peer Baroness Neville-Jones says if we were confident we could remove the threat of radicalisation, there wouldn't be an issue. But legislation to make obligations statutory is needed because moves so far have not been effective.

     
  68.  
    13:16: Tackling extremism

    Following his speech earlier, David Cameron was also asked about how to tackle extremism. There has been discussion on the issue in light of facts about Islamic State militant Mohammed Emwazi emerging. Mr Cameron said: "My view is national security comes first whatever it takes, whatever is necessary, to keep the British public safe. I will always be a prime minister who wants to push for those changes, but over time, yes of course we will have to do more, to make sure that as technology develops, we can make sure we keep people safe. I'm not satisfied that we can allow a means of communication to develop which in extremis we are unable to intercept."

     
  69.  
    @BBCRadio4 13:14: BBC Radio 4

    tweets: "It's like a morgue after 7 o'clock." Betty Boothroyd tells Julia Langdon about Parliament now

     
  70.  
    13:01: 'Parliament should stay' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Rehman Chishti says the Parliament in London is iconic and the cost of moving MPs to another city would be high. If Westminster does need to be renovated, he says, politicians should sit nearby.

     
  71.  
    13:00: Parliament on tour? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Alex Hilton

    Should Parliament be moved away from London? Alex Hilton, from Generation Rent, says yes - to Hull, which has the cheapest rents in the UK. Such a move would help MPs understand and prioritise housing, he suggests, describing today's announcements on the issue as "basically pathetic".

     
  72.  
    12:52: Yellow cards for MPs? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Nigel Evans

    Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker, describes a Labour idea to give the House of Commons speaker the opportunity to "yellow card" MPs for bad behaviour as "rubbish". The speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present, Mr Evans says. "You don't want to turn the chamber into a library," he adds. But Labour's Lisa Nandy says the current system hasn't worked.

     
  73.  
    12:50: Defence spending Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Labour's Lisa Nancy says no party has got everything right on defence, but says we need to look at the bigger picture if we want to give the armed forces "the ability to do their job". She says Liam Fox - ex-Tory defence secretary - was guilty of just looking at funding, not the wider picture, in comments had made yesterday. Baroness Brinton says the UK is still a major player in the world.

     
  74.  
    @_katedevlin Kate Devlin, Westminster Correspondent, the Herald

    tweets: "Don't laugh" it could happen" - David Cameron tells people of Colchester about a Labour government propped up by the SNP

     
  75.  
    @fleetstreetfox Fleet Street Fox, blogger

    tweets: Tory discounts for first time buyers mean developers won't be funding new roads/school places. Taxpayers will! Big business wins again.

     
  76.  
    12:47: Getting the right balance Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    On defence spending, Lib Dem Baroness Brinton says lots of money has been going into big schemes like Trident nuclear weapons, but it is important to balance that with boots on the ground.

     
  77.  
    12:46: Defence spending

    The PM is full of reassurance when asked about defence spending. He says he has committed to growing the defence equipment budget by 1% in real terms every year in the next parliament. He also says he knows "how much the Americans appreciate the fact that Britain is a very strong and very capable partner".

     
  78.  
    12:44: Defence spending Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Daily Politics set

    On military cuts, and the head of the US Army saying he is "very concerned" about the impact of those cuts on the UK's armed forces capability, Tory MP Rehman Chishti says David Cameron has made it clear he wants other countries to step up to the plate and commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence. He says he would like to see that figure in the UK, but won't commit to it. Labour's Lisa Nancy says very few countries have made the target and that her party won't reduce the budget any further, pending a strategic review of defence.

     
  79.  
    12:42: TV debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Continuing the discussion on personality and policy, Kevin Schofield, from the Sun, says he doesn't think the TV debates will happen now. There are too many obstacles, he says. Laura Hughes, a regional parliamentary reporter, says she thinks they should - and will - still go ahead.

     
  80.  
    12:40: On terror laws

    Mr Cameron is taking questions now. As well as housing, he's asked about so-called Jihadi John and whether he has plans to tighten up controls on radicalised individuals. "My view is national security comes first, whatever it takes, whatever is necessary... we want to push for those changes," he tells the audience in Hove. He goes on to say he's "not satisfied we can allow means of communication to develop" that extremists can use and we can't touch.

     
  81.  
    12:39: Campaign Countdown Review BBC News Channel

    The Campaign Countdown Review is underway. Desktop users can tune in using the live coverage tab above.

     
  82.  
    12:34: Do party leaders matter? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Rick Nye

    Policy or personality? Rick Nye, from Populus, says party brands - and that includes leadership - are important when people come to vote, even if some people say otherwise. "You are supposed to be about the substance," he says, but "we are all to a greater or lesser extent driven by the attractiveness of parties and their leaders."

     
  83.  
    12:33: Syria question House of Commons Parliament

    Urgent question at 15.30 GMT in the Commons. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is to ask Home Secretary Theresa May for a statement on whether removing relocation powers - under the axed control orders regime - facilitated the travel of individuals to Syria.

     
  84.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, Guardian political editor

    tweets: DC "By 2020, 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites will have planning permission for housing".

     
  85.  
    @paulnuttallukip Paul Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader

    tweets: How can Cameron plan for housing when he can't control immigration? Bonkers!

    UKIP poster
     
  86.  
    12:27: Help to buy

    The PM promises to extend Help to Buy throughout the next Parliament - assuming he's elected - which should help 120,000 more families.

     
  87.  
    @KateEMcCann Kate McCann, Whitehall correspondent at The Sun

    tweets: David Cameron says gov is on track to build 200,000 homes a year by 2017, not 2020.

     
  88.  
    12:24: Starter homes

    David Cameron says there's been "a quiet crisis" going on for some time - young people with good jobs unable to afford homes. Hence, the new starter homes plan. He says big developers have already signed up and promises the new homes won't be snapped up by foreign investors.

     
  89.  
    12:22: More rental options Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Lib Dem Baroness Brinton says more social and low-cost renting accommodation needs to be made available. For many people, buying still isn't going to be possible she adds.

     
  90.  
    12:21: More from Cameron
    David Cameron

    Labour's policy is to borrow more. Ours, the PM says - and it's that phrase again - is to see through our long-term economic plan.

     
  91.  
    12:18: In short supply Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Rehman Chisti says people who work hard should be able to aspire to owning their homes. He says the government is making "significant" progress, but admits more needs to be done to solve the problem. Labour's Lisa Nandy says house prices have gone up because of the lack of supply - her party wants to help builders construct new homes, too.

     
  92.  
    12:17: Security is key - PM

    David Cameron says his policies can be summed up in one word - security. He says that extends from the security of a good school place to security in old age. Key to that security, he adds, is owning your own home.

     
  93.  
    12:15: PM housing speech

    David Cameron has just started speaking on his housing plans in Colchester, Essex.

     
  94.  
    @Ed_Miliband Ed Miliband, Labour leader

    tweets: The next Labour government will deliver a better plan on housing:

    Labour housing plans
     
  95.  
    12:11: Emwazi case Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Mr Chishti says many radical preachers in the UK will tone their words so they are within the law. He says it is important to get such preachers off university campuses to avoid another case like Emwazi's. Labour's Lisa Nandy says a new support system for those vulnerable to radicalisation needs to be put in place.

     
  96.  
    12:10: Terror laws Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Daily Politics is discussing the issues surrounding Islamic State militant Mohammed Emwazi - known to many as Jihadi John. Tory MP Rehman Chishti says fewer people have absconded under TPIMs than under the old system of control orders - and says they are the right way forward. Earlier, former reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Carlile raised questions about the scrapping of control orders in relation to Jihadi John.

     
  97.  
    12:06: Campaign countdown BBC News Channel
    New Statesman's Stephen Bush and Rosamund Urwin from the London Evening Standard

    The BBC News Channel's review of the political week is coming up at 12:30 GMT. Today Rosamund Urwin, from the London Evening Standard, and the New Statesman's Stephen Bush will be discussing possible splits in UKIP, the Green Party's relaunch after Natalie Bennett's disastrous interview last week and reports that the prime minister is bored with his own campaign. We'll bring you the latest here and desktop users can watch it on the live coverage tab above.

     
  98.  
    @BuzzFeedUKPol BuzzFeed UK Politics

    tweets: A UKIP candidate got stranded on the beach after writing 'We Love Nige'. Read more.

     
  99.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith

    tweets: No 10 say it remains PMs "ambition" to get net migration down to tens of thousands

     
  100.  
    11:46: Shelter on housing plans BBC News Channel
    Toby Lloyd

    Shelter's Toby Lloyd has been speaking about cut-price housing plans for first-time buyers. He says the political prioritisation of housing is welcome, but adds: "You just don't solve an affordability crisis by getting rid of affordable housing, which is what this announcement proposes to do."

    He said the Conservatives' plans were "a small step in the right direction", but added that cutting the requirement for developers to provide affordable housing meant the policy effectively equated to "taking with one hand, but giving away with the other".

    He called for government to "step up to the plate" and provide a "bold" commitment to get the houses needed built.

     

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