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Ed Miliband: Labour will close UK 'productivity gap'

Ed Miliband has said that Britain's productivity gap with fellow G7 countries is Labour's "biggest economic challenge" as he launched his party's business manifesto in London today.

Productivity is the key to the country we want to be.

– Ed Miliband

He said that for every hour worked, the UK produces nearly 20% less than its G7 competitors and is "losing its competitive edge in a world that won't wait".

Labour's plan to close the UK's 'productivity gap' includes plans to:

  • Secure public finances by "balancing the books and cutting the deficit every year"
  • Create a surplus on the current budget and have the national debt falling
  • Start a "revolution in vocational education"
  • Maths and English until the age of 18
  • Greater access to finance for small firms
  • Work "with our banks to ensure they work for our businesses"

Watch live: David Cameron asks Queen to dissolve Parliament

Prime Minister David Cameron is heading to Buckingham Palace to formally ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament.

From today, MPs are no longer MPs and will not have any Parliamentary privileges unless they are re-elected at the general election on May 7. Ministers, including Mr Cameron, will keep their posts.

Watch Mr Cameron's journey live here:


Nicola Sturgeon: A vote for SNP is a vote to end austerity

The Scottish National Party said it wants to join other "progressive parties at Westminster to work for the common good", Nicola Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon Credit: PA Wire

Scotland's First Minister said she hopes to "shake up the Westminster establishment" and make the rest of the UK notice Scotland in the election. Speaking in Glasgow this morning she said a vote for her party was an opportunity to end austerity, and scrap Trident.

We can achieve an end to the austerity cuts - implemented by the Tories and backed by Labour - which are causing so much damage in our communities and holding our economy back. Rather than wasting £100 billion on useless, immoral nuclear weapons of mass destruction, based just 30 miles from the city of Glasgow, we can instead invest in public services like our NHS. It matters to people in Scotland that good decisions are made at Westminster - and that's exactly why the SNP will join with other progressive parties to work for the common good for hard-pressed families across the UK.

We will work to deliver the power we were promised in the referendum - to enable us to grow our economy and tackle poverty, making our country a fairer, more equal place for everyone who lives here.

– Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister

She said a vote for the SNP would be a clear message to the "Westminster establishment" who have "had their own way for far too long."

Clegg: Lurch to the left or right 'last thing the county needs'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that a lurch to left or right is "about the very last thing the country needs" and promised that the Liberal Democrats will keep a future government "anchored in the centre ground".

Staff at Windsor Castle to vote on industrial action

Staff at Windsor Castle are to vote on whether to stage industrial action over pay.

Walkers enjoy the sunshine on the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Credit: Press Association.

The Public and Commercial Services union said if its members vote in favour, non-strike action would start at the end of April. The dispute affects around 120 union members who works at the castle's visitor services, including guides and kitchen staff.

These workers are loyal to their employer and absolutely committed to ensuring visitors are given the royal treatment.

It is scandalous that staff are so appallingly paid and expected to do work for free that brings in money for the Royal Family.

– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka


Investigators focus on what 'destablised' Lubitz

Investigators are looking into what could have Credit: PA Wire

European investigators are focusing on what could have "destabilised" Andreas Lubitz causing him to deliberately crash Germanwings Flight 9525.

Returning from a meeting with his German counterparts, judicial police investigator Jean-Pierre Michel said that authorities want to find out "what could have destabilised Andreas Lubitz, or driven him to such an act".

Germanwings chief operating officer Oliver Wagner is meeting some of the relatives of the 150 victims today in the south-eastern French city of Marseille.

He said a total of 325 family members have come to France.

PM: It's me with a plan or Ed Miliband with debt and taxes

David Cameron has released a short speech on YouTube, telling voters it's time to choose either, "me carrying on with the plan...or Ed Miliband with debt and taxes."

Speaking ahead of his visit to the Queen today to mark the dissolution of Parliament, the prime minister admitted that five years after entering government, "We haven't solved every problem."

However, he went on to say that under the coalition: "The deficit's down, the country's getting back to work, we're growing strongly, we're a success story again and we should stick to the plan that has really delivered."

He described this as the "most important General Election for a generation".

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