Nick Clegg is set to stake the Lib Dems claim on a place in government after the next general election and Nigel Evans will appear in court later accused of a series of sex offences
Clegg: We’ll keep UK on right path
Nick Clegg will today stake the Liberal Democrats’ claim on a place in government after the next general election, insisting that only a coalition including his party will “keep the country on the right path”.
In a keynote speech concluding the Lib Dems’ annual conference in Glasgow, Mr Clegg will warn that the “absolute worst” outcome of the poll scheduled for 2015 would be outright victory for Labour or the Conservatives.
Casting himself in the same role of kingmaker that he played after the inconclusive 2010 election, the Lib Dem leader will make clear that he is ready to do a coalition deal with either of the two big parties.
Free school meals plan concerns
Concerns were being raised today about the Government’s ability to afford a £1 billion giveaway handing all children under eight free school meals alongside a tax break for married couples.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the £600 million school meals scheme under a deal with the Conservatives to allow them to press ahead with a tax break for married couples that is widely expected to cost around £500 million.
A Treasury spokesman said any plans for more spending or cuts “would be taken forward in the Autumn Statement”.
MP Evans in court over sex charges
A senior MP accused of a series of sex offences will appear in court later today.
Nigel Evans resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after being charged earlier this month with two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape.
The Tory MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire has protested his innocence and pledged to “see this through to the end” after being accused of offences against seven men.
Police chiefs moot drunk tanks idea
Privately-run drunk tanks should be considered to tackle soaring levels of alcohol-fuelled disorder, police chiefs have said.
Chief Constable Adrian Lee, the national policing lead on alcohol harm, said intoxicated individuals should be taken to a cell run by a commercial company and charged for their care the morning after.
Launching a campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm, Mr Lee, the head of Northamptonshire Police, said the police service should no longer have to be responsible for the increasing number of revellers who require medical treatment due to excess drinking.
MPs urge daily nurse count on wards
The number of nurses on duty in every English hospital ward should be collected daily and published to help prevent a repeat of the Stafford hospital scandal, a powerful Commons committee has recommended.
MPs want the information to be collated immediately so it can be analysed but suggested hospitals should also look at posting the figures on wards so patients and families are aware of staffing levels.
The move would help to meet the need for reforms outlined following the public inquiry into the hundreds of needless deaths at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, according to the Commons Health Committee.
Abbott sworn in as Australia’s PM
Tony Abbott was sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister and promised immediate action to slow the stream of asylum seekers arriving by boats from Indonesia and to repeal an unpopular carbon tax levied by the previous administration.
He was the first of 42 government executives to be sworn in by Governor General Quentin Bryce at a ceremony at Government House in the capital Canberra.
He has been criticised for including only one woman in his 19-member Cabinet, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – although she will be Australia’s first woman named to that post.
Murder suspect’s charred body found
Police searching a farm for a gunman who killed four people in central Austria say they have found the charred body of what they believe was the suspect.
Regional police spokesman Roland Scherscher says the body was discovered early today after police pushed in a hidden door that opened into a concealed cellar in one of the buildings on the farm the gunman had holed up in.
The body was found more than a day after the gunman barricaded himself in a farm building near Melk, a town 40 miles west of Vienna.
Gun laws did not stop Navy shooter
The gunman who killed 12 people before being shot dead by police at the Washington Navy Yard had a history of violent outbursts, was at least twice accused of firing guns in anger, and was in the early stages of treatment for serious mental problems.
But Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor and former Navy reservist, apparently managed to exploit loopholes in the nation’s patchwork of complicated gun laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.
He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun.