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18/02/2015

Morning news and current affairs. Including Sports Desk, Weather and Thought for the Day.

3 hours

Last on

Wed 18 Feb 2015 06:00

Today's running order

0645

Doctors in England are being urged to question colleagues who seem to be over prescribing antibiotics. The recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or NICE is part of a number of measures which aim to tackle the problem of rising drug-resistant infections. Last year a report warned that by 2050 an extra 10-million people may die each year globally, due to so-called anti-microbial resistance. Professor Mark Baker is Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE.

0650

It used to be thought that spider silk was the strongest biological material in existence. But researchers now say this accolade actually belongs to the teeth of the humble limpet. The findings, published in the Royal Society journal 'Interface', could help human engineers build their own stronger, lighter materials. Dr Asa Barber is lead author and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Portsmouth University.

0710

Energy suppliers are routinely charging their long-term customers higher prices, an update on early evidence from a competition probe suggests.  The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), is due to make a statement this morning about its investigation into the UK's energy market. Our Industry Correspondent, John Moylan, says the CMA will point to evidence that the firms don't appear to have to compete for millions of their customers and routinely charge them more. It's thought the top line will be that long standing customers with the Big Six energy companies -- that is customers on standard variable tariffs who rarely switch provider -- are being consistently charged higher prices compared with those on non-standard tariffs.

0715

It's become a familiar argument in Westminster: the performance of the Labour-run NHS set against the service run by the Coalition in England. The Conservatives say the NHS in Wales has been allowed to deteriorate, but the Welsh Government says the Tories are persistently misrepresenting the facts.  Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies out today supports the Welsh Government's argument that while it has cut health spending it has done more to protect social care funding than has happened in England. There will also be a renewed focus on how England and Wales' performance compares on accident and emergency services, as figures for Welsh A+E units are out later today.  Our health editor, Hugh Pym, has been to Wales to try to get to the truth of the matter.

0720

The latest display of the Northern Lights has been described as the best for many years according to sky watchers. The spectacle lasted for several hours as pillars of light danced across the dark and moonless night. Matt Robinson is a volunteer at the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland and saw the Northern Lights on Tuesday morning and Professor Jim Wild is space scientist at Lancaster University, part of the team there called Aurora Watch UK.

0730

An innovative court, which helps parents deal with drug or alcohol addiction so they can keep their children, is to be extended across new areas of England. The Family Drug and Alcohol Court or FDAC has been operating for seven years in London. Now they are to be extended to at least eight new areas. The extension means a quarter of English family courts will have their own FDACs, but it will only help a fraction of the families affected - over 18,000 children were subject to care applications in England last year. Our reporter Sanchia Berg spoke to one mother who'd been helped by FDAC - we've changed her name to protect her identity and District Judge Nicholas Crichton.

0740

The chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph has left the paper, accusing it of a "form of fraud on its readers" for its coverage of HSBC and its Swiss tax-dodging scandal. Peter Oborne claimed the paper did not give due prominence to the HSBC story because of commercial interests and that he had already resigned from the paper "as a matter of conscience" because a number of its editorial decisions. The Telegraph called Oborne's statement an "astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo". Roger Alton is Executive Editor of The Times and former editor of The Independent and The Observer

0745

They're not until the end of next year, but the buzz surrounding the American presidential elections is already building, even though nobody has formally thrown their hat in the ring for either party.  For many, Hillary Clinton is a forgone conclusion as the Democratic candidate. For the Republicans, another dynastic candidate is emerging as the talk of Washington, Jeb Bush.  He's just hit the road for events around the US, and is delivering what has been billed as a major speech in Chicago later today. Our North America Correspondent, Aleem Maqbool looks at why he's not every Republican's cup of tea.

0750

Fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatists supported by Russia has been continuing in the transport hub town of Debaltseve, despite the start of the ceasefire over the weekend. The deadline for the next stage of the ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides from the frontlines, has come and gone with no action. Observers say the ceasefire is holding up elsewhere but the rebels insist they have the right to continue their onslaught, or "mopping up operations" because they already had Debaltseve surrounded. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the Ukrainian government to allow its troops to surrender to rebels in the strategic town of Debaltseve. A senior aide to the Ukrainian President has accused Russia and the Moscow-backed rebels of trying to "destroy the hope for peace". The UN Security Council called for an immediate end to hostilities. Kostiantyn Yelisieiev is the Ukraine's Ambassador to the European Union.

0810

Energy suppliers are routinely charging their long-term customers higher prices, an update on early evidence from a competition probe suggests (see 0715). Ed Davey is the Energy Secretary.

 0820

It's become a familiar argument in Westminster: the performance of the Labour-run NHS set against the service run by the Coalition in England (see 0720). David Jones is former Secretary of State for Wales and Conservative MP for Clywd West and Vaughan Gething is Labour Welsh Assembly member for Cardiff South and Penarth, and Deputy Minister for Health.

0825

The chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph has left the paper, accusing it of a "form of fraud on its readers" for its coverage of HSBC and its Swiss tax-dodging scandal (see 0740). Peter Oborne is theformer Chief Political Commentator of The Telegraph.

0830

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, says that Britain's largest jail, Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, has "turned a corner" after a series of disturbances and incidents of violence.  But Mr Hardwick says the Government must learn the lessons from the difficulties Oakwood, which is run by the private security firm G4S, faced after it opened three years ago. Jerry Petherick is head of G4S's Prison Business and Frances Crook is Chief Executive of the Howard League of Penal Reform.

0840

Energy suppliers are routinely charging their long-term customers higher prices, an update on early evidence from a competition probe suggests (see 0710). Caroline Flint is the Shadow Energy Secretary.

0850

Neither the Greek government nor its Eurozone partners want to see Greece leaving the Eurozone. But if they cannot agree a way forward, it may as well happen. The current bailout ends on February 28th and without a deal in place Greece would face difficulties meeting obligations such as debt repayments over the coming months, and Friday 20th is the deadline set by the European finance minister to close the deal with Alexis Tsipras’ government. The stand-off has heightened fears that Greece could run out of money and be forced out of the Eurozone. Stephen Macklow-Smith, Head of European Equity Strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Helen Joyce, International section editor at The Economist.

All subject to change.

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