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Ed Balls: Labour to cap child benefit rise for two years

Child benefit would see cuts for the first two years of a Labour government, Ed Balls is expected to announce.

The shadow chancellor will say that Labour will cap child benefit for at least two years. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/Press Association Images

The shadow chancellor will present a 1% cap on rises in the help for parents as one of the "tough decisions" necessary to deal with the deficit if the party takes power next year - claiming it will save the taxpayer £400 million over five years.

He will seek to soften the blow by cutting ministers' pay by 5% and then freezing it until the party is able to "balance the books".

Addressing activists at the Opposition's final annual conference before the general election in May, he will vow not to "flinch from the tough decisions" needed to deal with the economy.

He will tell the Manchester gathering:

I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament.

But we will not spend money we cannot afford. So for the first two years of the next parliament we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1%.

It will save £400 million in the next parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.

– Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor

CO2 emissions 'to reach new record high in 2014'

Global emissions of carbon dioxide are set to rise again this year to reach a new record high, scientists have warned.

CO2 emissions will reach a new record high this year. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Despite increasingly urgent warnings over the need to curb greenhouse gases to avoid "dangerous" climate change, emissions are estimated to be rising by 2.5% this year, to a record 40 billion tonnes.

The stark warning that time is running out to tackle greenhouse gas emissions comes ahead of a major UN conference on climate change on Tuesday.

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Police search for more body parts after human leg found

A dog walker that found a human leg has sparked a hunt for other body parts.

Lancashire police said the adult leg was discovered on land behind Healey Conservative Club in Whitworth, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, this afternoon.

Police dogs are being used by officers searching the area. It is not yet clear how long the leg has been there or whether it belonged to a man or a woman.

Police were called at shortly before 2.45pm today to a report that a member of the public had found a human leg on land behind Healey Conservative Club at Whitworth. Police are now searching the area to see if there are any further body parts and inquiries are ongoing to try to establish to whom the leg belongs.

– Lancashire police

Alan Henning's wife pleads with IS to free him

The wife of the British hostage Alan Henning has today pleaded with his captors to free her husband. In a message to the Islamic State terror group, Barbara Henning describes him as "a peaceful, selfless man" whose purpose in taking an aid convoy to Syria was "a sheer act of compassion."

A new video obtained by ITV News shows the former taxi driver delivering aid on Christmas day, Ronke Phillips reports.

Police investigate after Balotelli receives racist abuse on Twitter

Police are investigating racist abuse which targeted Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli on Twitter.

We can confirm officers are looking into offensive comments made on Twitter about Mario Balotelli earlier today.

– Merseyside Police

The abuse was triggered after Balotelli's reacted to Manchester United's shock defeat to Leicester City. Balotelli, part of the Reds side that lost 5-3 at, tweeted:

Balotelli has been singled out for racist abuse in the past. He was heckled by Italy supporters during a pre-World Cup training camp in May and was on the receiving end of numerous instances of racist abuse during his time at Internazionale and, more recently, AC Milan.

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Fire breaks out at derelict Wednesfield High School building

The fire has broken out at a derelict Wednesfield High School building Credit: Barney Mua

Around 25 firefighters are currently tackling a large fire at a derelict Wednesfield High School building.

There are also five fire engines at the blaze which is on Lakefield Road, Wolverhampton.

It is not yet known what has caused the fire.

Firefighters are currently tackling the blaze Credit: Pete Thomas

Miliband tries to shift attention from English votes for English laws

The Labour party conference began today with Ed Miliband trying to shift attention away from the row over English votes for English laws. But despite announcing the first of his policies ahead of next spring's election he is facing questions on little else.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports:

A chilly night ahead

With clear skies tonight, it will be a chilly night with a grass frost likely in some rural areas. Whilst this isn't unusual for this time of year, it is by contrast to the very mild nights we have seen of late.

Looking ahead at weather patterns for the week ahead, tomorrow is going to be a fine day for most, dry with sunny spells and light winds.

Thicker cloud will build across the far northwest however, with rain arriving into northwest Scotland and Northern Ireland later in the day.

Beyond that it turns increasingly unsettled from the northwest, although southern and eastern counties of England stay mostly dry.

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