Review of the Papers, Tuesday 25 September


  • The defence secretary is today set to announce that British troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are to receive a 25 per cent cut in their council tax bills. Des Browne will tell the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth that the flat rate £140 rebate, equivalent to the single person's discount on the average Band D property, will be payable for every six-month tour.;jsessionid=G40WOJ3OOYDG5QFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0   
  • The Labour deputy leader has revealed she is looking at ways of introducing all-black shortlists for selecting parliamentary candidates in seats with high ethnic minority populations. Harriet Harman, who is also Commons leader and equalities minister, said she had called in the Operation Black Vote pressure group to advise her. Communities secretary Hazel Blears also told the Labour conference yesterday that the shortage of women councillors was an "absolute disgrace".,,2176536,00.html  
  • Deteriorating public finances and the transfer of two more private finance initiative projects on to the government's books brought more bad news for Alistair Darling, chancellor, on Monday, adding to signs that any early general election would be fought in a more difficult economic climate. High central government spending and a sharp decline in corporation tax receipts drove the public finances into deficit in August, registering the worst readings for that month since records began, official data showed.  The Office for National Statistics also said it had reclassified Metronet and Tube Lines, London Underground 's PPP partners, to the public sector after finding out that special shares held by LU gave the public sector effective control of their "general corporate policies". It asked the Treasury in early August if other PFI contracts contained similar arrangements that could warrant reclassification. The Treasury said it was not aware of other companies with a special share running a similar PFI contract. The public sector borrowed £9.1bn in August, £2.3bn more than in the same month the previous year and above forecasts for borrowing of £6.6bn. The public sector net cash requirement was £5bn, £1.3bn higher than in August 2006.  
  • Commuters could face a "car parking tax" of as much as £350 a year to park at their workplace. One council, Nottingham, is forecasting charges of £350 a year by 2014 as it looks to discourage people from travelling by car. Failing to pay the charge could lead to a £175 fine. The "workplace parking levy" is seen as an alternative to road pricing. Nottingham city council, as reported in The Daily Telegraph last November, is the first of a number of councils ready to impose charges on companies that provide their staff with parking spaces. It is anticipated that most firms would pass the cost on to staff rather than pay the bill themselves. Many of the proposals for the levy are contained in applications for the Government's Transport Innovation Fund and the greatest detail is contained in a consultation document produced by Nottingham. It proposed imposing the charge on companies with more than 10 staff parking spaces. The initial fee would be £185 a year from 2010, rising to £350 in 2014.