Home Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, told the Commons that the government was delaying plans to reform the National Health Service that would give GPs responsibility for commissioning health services. ‘It is not just a question of presentation,’ said Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. ‘This is also a question of making substantive changes to the legislation.’ After announcing government policy on social mobility, Clegg mentioned that informal internships for young people in Whitehall would be banned because it should not be a matter of ‘someone who’s met somebody at the tennis club or the golf club’, even though he had once benefited from a intern placement. The government announced that the full state pension of £97.65 a week, which can be topped up to £132.60 with pension credits, would be replaced by a £140 flat rate for new pensioners, which inflation would be expected to push up to £155 by 2015 or 2016.
Moussa Koussa, the foreign minister of Libya, arrived at Farnborough airport after ending his association with the government of Colonel Gaddafi. He was said to be engaged in conversation with foreign office officials. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, visited Gioia del Colle air base in Italy where four more Tornados joined the 10 RAF Typhoons and eight Tornados already flying missions over Libya. Some 1,600 navy personnel and 1,000 soldiers, including 150 Gurkhas, are to go in the first tranche of Service redundancies. Mr Cameron flew to Pakistan where he said he wanted to ‘clear up the misunderstandings of the past’. X-rays of the Queen’s teeth as a child were withdrawn from auction after the intervention of Buckingham Palace.
ACatholic policeman, Ronan Kerr, was murdered in Omagh by dissident republicans who left a bomb under his car. Wales made the morning-after pill available free of charge at chemists for women, including girls under 16. Two journalists were arrested by police investigating allegations of voicemail-hacking at the News of the World. The Daily and Sunday Sport closed. Oddbins’s 89 shops remained open after it went into administration. Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, was said to have remarked during a discussion on new airports: ‘We don’t want more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays.’ British Airways raised its surcharge on longhaul flights from £75 to £85.
Abroad In Libya, rebel forces once more moved westward towards Brega, which had changed hands several times. Misrata in the west was under siege from government forces and deprived of water and electricity. A tanker docked at a rebel-controlled port near Tobruk to be loaded with a million barrels of oil for export. Abdelati Obeidi, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, flew to Greece, Turkey and Malta on a mission to negotiate peace. A boat with 150 migrants capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa where they were attempting to join 20,000 other migrants. Dozens of people were killed by crowds in Afghanistan, including seven the spectator | 9 April 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk
UN staff, two of them beheaded, at Mazari-Sharif, after news came of the burning of a copy of the Koran by Pastor Wayne Sapp at Dove World Outreach Center at Gainesville, Florida, a church run by Pastor Terry Jones. Troops in Yemen killed at least 15 protesters in the city of Taiz. More protesters in Syria were reported to have been shot dead.
The forces of Alassane Ouattara, the winner of last year’s presidential elections in Ivory Coast, attacked the capital, Abidjan, to oust the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo. UN and French forces joined in the attack. A million people had fled during the fighting. Ouattara’s troops were blamed for killing hundreds of civilians at Duekoue, in the west, where 40,000 sought refuge in a church compound. At the ruined Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan, 11,500 tons of radioactive water were released into the sea to make room for the retention of even more highly contaminated water. The Arctic ozone layer was found to have sustained unprecedented depletion this winter, with 40 per cent of the ozone in the stratosphere destroyed.
The Irish government agreed to a €24 billion recapitalisation of banks, bringing total state support to €70 billion. In Spain, unemployment rose above 20 per cent of the population, with 43 per cent of young people unemployed. President Barack Obama of the United States found it hard to reach an agreement with Congress on a national budget. A woman of 53 attacked Gauguin’s ‘Two Tahitian Women’ (1899) in the National Gallery in Washington; ‘I feel that Gauguin is evil,’ she said. CSH