Newspaper review: 'Rising' water bills hit headlines


The political tussle over household bills and the cost of living is once again making headlines.

The Independent reports the government is drawing up plans to curb above inflation rises in water charges. The paper says average bills have leapt by 60% in just 10 years, to nearly £390.

The Daily Express claims Labour leader Ed Miliband appeared to seize the initiative this week by demanding the water industry be scrutinised to make sure it was working properly for the benefit of consumers.

But a Number 10 spokesman tells the Guardian that Prime Minister David Cameron had been planning to act for several months.

'Offshore deal'

Meanwhile, the Telegraph alleges that Conservative Minister Stephen Hammond has cut his tax bill by using an offshore company to buy a second property abroad.

The paper notes the revelation is likely to embarrass his boss, David Cameron, who has described legal tax havens as "morally wrong".

Chancellor George Osborne also disapproves - in his Budget speech last year he promised to come down like a ton of bricks on those who used methods of legal tax avoidance.

A spokesman for Mr Hammond told the newspaper: "Mr Hammond has always paid the correct amount of tax in the UK. Mr Hammond has had no personal tax liability overseas."

Email trail

There is widespread coverage of the third day of the trial of two former News of the World editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, on charges linked to phone hacking.

The Times prints what it describes as "the e-mail trail" between Mr Coulson and the News of the World's former royal editor, Clive Goodman.

In one of the emails, Mr Coulson allegedly authorises the purchase of a Buckingham Palace phone directory, containing the Queen's direct lines to her family.

The Daily Mail reports that the court heard how a hairdresser was targeted by phone hackers because she shared a surname with Wayne Rooney. The Old Bailey jury was told that Laura Rooney did not even know the England striker.

Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson and six other defendants deny all the charges against them.

Zombies and witches

There is criticism from some quarters about Friday's industrial action from the Fire Brigades Union - especially the advice from striking firefighters for people to cancel their firework parties.

But for the Telegraph, it is an opportunity to muse somewhat ruefully on the decline of Bonfire Night in favour of the more American tradition of Halloween.

Union members, it says, would have found it hard-going to thrust their fire engines through the throngs of zombies and witches out for a second night of trick or treating.

Of course Guy Fawkes Night is not until next week - and some of the papers are warning that it could be ruined anyway by the weather.

The Express says the first blast of winter is on its way, with freezing temperatures to follow a weekend of torrential rain and gale-force winds.

The Mail warns those of us who have only just finished clearing up after this week's storm, that it is not yet time to unbatten the hatches.

Born a King?

Shakespeare's Juliet famously asked: "What's in a name?"

Well according to the Times, your surname could be more important than you realise.

It says a study carried out by researchers at Cambridge University suggests that people with noble-sounding names like King or Prince are more likely to be managers at work.

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