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One bone of contention for anti-HS2 campaigners has been the cost of the project, with the Taxpayers' Alliance dubbing the project a "white elephant".
In June the transport secretary told the commons HS2 would go £10bn over the original budget of £33bn to cover "contingency costs".
- The projected cost of the whole projects is now £42.6bn
- A total of £7.5bn needed for the purchase of high-speed trains.
- £14.56bn of the overall cost will be set aside for contingency costs.
A group of MPs are "convinced" the controversial HS2 link between London and the north is "justified" and urged the Government to consider building the second and first phases together.
Abandoning the project "significantly outweigh the risks" of building it, as the high-speed rail link is "essential for the UK", according to the transport committee.
Phase one, from London to Birmingham via the Chilterns, is due for completion in 2026, with a second Y-shaped section from Birmingham to north-west and north-east England due to be finished in 2032/33.
In its report, the committee said: "Many important local issues will be debated and resolved by the (HS2) hybrid bill committee and there will be detailed debates about many aspects of the project.
"However, we are convinced that it is essential for the UK for HS2 to go ahead, and to do so as a project which has the backing of all three major political parties."
Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said the Financial Conduct Authority was committed to considering whether it could introduce measures to limit costs for those calling banks, insurance companies and investment brokers, along with retailers.
She said: "For too long, some businesses have been trying to extract every extra penny from their loyal customers.
"From next year, if something goes wrong with a cooker, or commuters want a refund on their season ticket, they will now pay the same to phone a helpline as they do to call friends or family.
"We want consumers to be confident to shop with a range of traders. The new rights announced today will mean consumers are entitled to the same level of protection whether they are purchasing goods or services online, at home or in a shop."
Customers calling helplines to complain about faulty items or incorrect orders will no longer have to pay more than the basic rate, the Government has announced.
Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said the new right would end expensive premium 084 and 087 numbers for customers calling airlines, train operators and major high street and online retailers.
Many firms already offer freephone or basic rate numbers but consumers can find that some traders provide an 0800 or freephone number for pre-contract calls to attract new customers but then only offer expensive premium rate numbers when the product or service has been paid for.
The measure is to be included in the regulations implementing the Consumer Rights Directive, which is due to come into force in June 2014.
Further fireman strikes have "cast doubt" over the legitimacy of claims employees at the emergency service will suffer if the pension age is increased, the Government has said.
The union said firefighters in their late 50s face the prospect of being sacked or seeing their pension reduced by almost half.
– Fire Minister Brandon Lewis
Once again the FBU's actions cast doubt over their claims that they are serious about reaching a negotiated settlement.
I hosted discussions on fitness issues with the FBU and other organisations on December 4.
The discussions were constructive but, whilst the consultation was still running, the FBU announced further strikes.Firefighters will still get one of the most generous public pension schemes.
Less than a quarter of firefighters will see any change in their retirement age in 2015 and more firefighters' pensions are protected than in any other large public service workforce.
Firefighters will stage industrial action at 6pm tonight over changes to their pensions and the age at which they can retire, unions have confirmed.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out for four hours from 6pm, and again from the same time tomorrow, with the threat of further action in the new year.
One brigade is urging people to buy takeaways if they have been drinking alcohol in a bid to prevent calls to the emergency service.
Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "I am genuinely concerned about people coming home from pubs or Christmas parties and trying to cook. Alcohol and cooking is a recipe for disaster as it's easy to fall asleep and leave cooking on the hob.
"If you're out drinking on Friday or Saturday, it's much safer to grab a kebab or some chips than trying to cook under the influence."
Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and previously considered the second most powerful man in the secretive state, has been executed after a special military tribunal found him guilty of treason.
In an unusually detailed announcement, the official news agency KCNA said Jang had been tried for "such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state".
It called him a "traitor to the nation for all ages" and "worse than a dog".
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith explained "more robust" questioning for migrant benefit claimants would protect the integrity of the benefits system.
He said: "It is vitally important that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of our benefits system.
"The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system. And we are taking action to ensure that that is the case.
"The roll-out of the new habitual residence test is the first in a series of measures to ensure that we have a fair system - one which provides support for genuine workers and jobseekers, but does not allow people to come to our country and take advantage.
"It is a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain's economy."