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Newslinks for Saturday 19th January 2013

8.30pm MPsETC: The Algerian hostage situation has “effectively ended” — William Hague and David Cameron respond

5pm WATCH: Philip Hammond: The Government has been informed that the Algerian hostage situation is at an end

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2pm ToryDiary: What slogans should Conservatives march under?

Balls12.15pm LeftWatch: The Guardian kicks Balls when he’s down

ToryDiary: What the Tory modernisers did next

Tom Mludzinski on Comment: Europe is only the fifth most important issue to UKIP voters

MPsETC: Fiona Bruce MP highlights new evidence that girls are more likely to be aborted than boys

WATCH: Snow falls on No.10 (and on an unlucky Downing Street policeman)

LISTEN: More Tory MPs may break with Cameron on gay marriage than on Europe or Lords reform

Ten British hostages said to be missing in Algeria; SAS on standby

Hostages"Ten British hostages were missing in the Sahara last night – either dead or in the hands of Al Qaeda. ... Terrorists are still in control of parts of the BP plant where a disastrous rescue attempt ended with the deaths of 30 hostages, including at least two Britons. ... The SAS is on standby to rescue survivors but the Algerian government has rejected five offers of help from David Cameron. Members of the special forces are already in Algeria to advise the local military and help catch Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the terror chief behind the attack." - Daily Mail

"Downing Street is no stranger to crisis management. But even advisers used to dealing with emergencies were dizzied by the pace at which the Algeria crisis unfolded." - from the Times's behind-the-scenes account (£) of the past few days in No.10

  • "Jihadism is not a set of negotiable demands but a declaration of war, and should be treated as such."- Times leader (£)
  • "Britain is ill-prepared for this deadly new world" - Daily Telegraph leader
  • "Let the Algerian Army get on with its business" - Richard Kemp, The Times (£)
  • "Ensuring better security and intelligence links with new governments is paramount. But so is a more tailored and locally driven approach." - Roula Khalaf, Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Is Monday the day for David Cameron's Europe speech?

Calendar"David Cameron intends to give his long-awaited Europe speech on Monday, after months of delay and a last-minute cancellation, although it may yet be derailed again by the Algerian hostage situation. ... However, the final decision on when to deliver it is unlikely to be taken until Sunday." - Financial Times (£)

Or could it be delayed until next month?

"It is understood that the speech is now very unlikely to be delivered next week because of commitments in Mr Cameron’s diary next week, and a number of international events. ... Monday, Jan 21, was ruled out an alternative because it is the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. ... That could push the speech back into the week starting Jan 28, but No 10 could also struggle to find a slot in Mr Cameron’s diary in that week." - Daily Telegraph

  • "David Cameron can prove de Gaulle was right about us all along" - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Tom Mludzinski on Comment: Europe is only the fifth most important issue to UKIP voters

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Extracts from the speech that David Cameron would have delivered today

Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg have reached a deal on elderly care, according to reports

CamClegg"Pensioners will pay up to £75,000 but no more for their long-term care in old age under reforms agreed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. ... Under the plan, which could be announced next week, elderly and disabled adults will be given state protection against unlimited care home fees for the first time. ... But it will not be implemented before 2015 and will still require individuals to pay care bills up to the level of the cap." - Daily Telegraph

George Osborne faces fresh demands to cut fuel duty

"Thousands of lorry drivers have joined forces to demand George Osborne cuts fuel duty in the Budget, The Sun can reveal. ... They warn jobs could be at risk and shop prices will continue rising unless the Chancellor acts." - The Sun

Might the new pension changes result in tax hikes for the self-employed?

£coins"This week, the Government unveiled plans to overhaul the current state pension and replace it with a simpler, higher flat-rate payout for all workers, of around £144 a week. It is set to be introduced in 2017. ... However, an analysis by the Department for Work and Pensions published yesterday has revealed that the Government could be allowed to alter the contributions made by the self-employed. ... It could mean a tax rise of £971 for a self-employed worker who makes around £40,000 a year." - Daily Mail

Although it's worth noting this Financial Times story (£) from yesterday's newslinks: "'We won’t use it for net revenue raising,' a [Treasiry] aide told the Financial Times, indicating that his estimate of £6bn additional NICs a year would be spent on lowering other taxes or raising public spending when the new pension comes in some time from 2017."

  • The UK's "workless households" rate is amongst the worst in Europe - Daily Mail

"The government is expanding a controversial scheme which pairs dozens of multinational companies with a ministerial 'buddy'" - Guardian

A DfT report suggests measures to combat speeding motorists

"Drivers will be confronted with a further speed camera onslaught as part of a raft of measures to slow them down, a report revealed. ... Ministers are calling for many more 20mph limits in residential and urban areas, and for the riskiest rural roads to be slashed from 60mph to 40mph." - Daily Mail

Ministry of Justice plans to ban smoking in prisons have been postponed - The Times (£)

  • Paying the penalty? Turns out that convicts owe £1.8 billion in court fines and compensation orders - Daily Mail

Andrew Mitchell praises both the civil service and the Government's aid policy

AM"Andrew Mitchell has hit out at ministers who 'trash' their civil servants, likening them to 'bad workmen who blame their tools'. ... Mr Mitchell said: 'The British civil service is one of the jewels in our crown.'" - Financial Times (£)

"Senior Conservatives should stop sniping and celebrate what the government is doing on international aid, the former aid secretary has said. ... Mr Mitchell insisted the £8.6bn budget could be spent 'twice over' and still the government could 'look the British taxpayer in the eye' knowing the money had been well used." - Financial Times (£)

Chris Skidmore speaks out for poorer pensioners

"Britain's richest pensioners get £50 million more in winter fuel handouts than the poorest OAPs, shock figures show. ... Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who uncovered the figures, declared: 'We need to stand up for the poorer pensioners.'" - The Sun

  • "David Cameron’s ring-fencing of benefits for current OAPs sounded good at election time... but it was morally wrong." - Sun leader

Cancer charities press the Government to continue the "special drugs fund" for England - Daily Mail

"A clash is looming between the Church of England and the government after the bishop of Liverpool denounced cuts to council funding as unfair" - Financial Times (£)

  • By-election boost for Tories on Merseyside - Independent

> Yesterday on Local government: "Special congratulations to Cllr Ian Lewis, the Wirral's very own comeback kid."

"Forget Ken's cronies. Now it's Boris's buddies" - Sonia Purnell, Guardian

DMDavid Miliband has made just under £1 million on top of his MP's salary since losing the Labour leadership contest - Financial Times (£)

Labour blames the Government, natch, for horse meat in burgers

"Government cuts and a coalition drive to deregulate the food safety industry has led to a chaotic system with fewer checks and no one authority in overall charge, according to Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary." - Guardian

The Guardian urges Ed Miliband to install Paul Krugman as Shadow Chancellor - Guardian leader

"Before Labour and the Lib Dems gloat over Mr Cameron’s dilemma, they should be honest about their own massive problems over Europe" - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

Snow, snow, snow — Weather disrupts A-level and GCSE examinations

I-Images_BR_NO10_SNOW_2013-7748© I-IMAGES

"Heavy snowfalls threw A-levels and GCSEs into chaos after thousands of schools closed on one of the busiest days of the academic year. ... More than 100,000 teenagers were due to take exams in key subjects yesterday but some found themselves snowbound after freezing conditions made journeys treacherous and paralysed school bus services." - Daily Mail

  • "Met Office chief forecaster Frank Saunders said: 'Although some further snowfalls are likely, the focus switches to ice, with temperatures staying below zero over snow cover for many areas.'" - Daily Mail

AC Grayling's New College of the Humanities has applied to open a free school - Guardian

  • "More than 50,000 fewer students accepted places at university last year after annual tuition fees almost trebled to £9,000, figures showed yesterday." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Loughton "wants to watch the world burn". So Gove's aides burn the forest down.

Last year, local authorities paid out £22 million in compensation to motorists whose cars had been damaged by potholes - Daily Mail 

Variable mortgage rates hit their highest level for four years, despite the persistently low base rate - Daily Mail

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