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Deport foreign criminals more quickly, govt urged

Foreign nationals make up 13% of the total prison population, the PAC said.
Foreign nationals make up 13% of the total prison population, the PAC said. Credit: Reuters

A public spending watchdog has demanded action to speed up the Government's "frustratingly poor" record on removing from the UK foreign criminals who are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

Too many overseas inmates are still being locked up at public expense as the rate they are sent home has dropped by 14% over the past four years, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

The committee's chair, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, said: "While more than 1,000 foreign national offenders are deported each quarter, a similar number are convicted, so the overall number of foreign national prisoners stays at the same level of around 11,000 - 13% of the total prison population."

"The agency should work with the Home Office to understand why there are delays in removing foreign national offenders, and tackle the barriers to their removal."

Warning over HS2 wildlife damage

Around 500 wildlife areas could be at risk from the HS2 high speed rail line, conservationists have warned.

The Wildlife Trusts called for a £130m investment to create new green areas over the length of the new line.

An anti-HS2 poster in a the Staffordshire village of Whittington. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Among the areas affected by the new line are 43 ancient woods and nine Wilflife Trust nature reserves.

Read: Osborne: No further spending on £50bn HS2

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PM: Boris 'can continue as mayor if he becomes MP'

Boris Johnson could continue as Mayor of London even if he becomes an MP in 2015, David Cameron has said.

David Cameron has welcomed the prospect of 'star player' Boris Johnson returning to Parliament.

"He obviously wants to complete his second term but I don't think it's impossible to do that and to put yourself forward as a member of Parliament at the next election," the Prime Minister said.

"As a manager, as it were, I want all my star players on the field and Boris is a star player."

It is thought Mr Johnson, who previously served as MP for Henley, may want to run for the North West Hampshire seat currently held by the Chief Whip, Sir George Young, who is stepping down next year.

World Cup stars to face new drug testing regime

Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney are among the athletes who will face the new testing system Credit: Associated Press

Footballers at this summer's World Cup will be among the first athletes to face a new testing system designed to weed out doping in sport.

Under the new regime athletes will have blood and urine samples compared over time to create a 'biological passport' that tracks changes in their body over time.

Major sports federations, medics and doping experts agreed to the new system, which they hope will combat increasingly sophisticated doping techniques.

Royals remember Australia's war dead on Anzac Day

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were up before dawn for a solemn remembrance of Australia's war dead.

The couple made an unannounced appearance in the darkness at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for the early service marking Anzac Day - a national day of remembrance for the nation's fallen, veterans and those still serving.

William and Kate at an Anzac Day memorial service

With the Australian War Memorial lit up behind them, William and Kate quietly arrived at around 5am local time on Friday.

Kate, 32, in a cream scarf and black coat and black leather gloves, stood to William's right, her hands clasped in front of her as they listened to the early readings which were already under way.

New jobseeker 'Claimant Commitment' rolled out

A new 'Claimant Commitment' setting out what jobseekers must do to find work in return for benefits have been successfully rolled out across the country.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the agreements had now been adopted in every UK jobcentre, with jobseekers agreeing to take steps to find work or face having their benefits docked.

Among the measures are registering to look for work through the universal jobmatch service or via a recruitment agency.

Jobseekers who fail to follow through with the commitment risk having their benefits docked.

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Kerry: 'Window closing' for Russia to change course

The United States is "ready to act" if Russia does not de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine, John Kerry has said.

The Secretary of State said sanctions against Russia are already taking their effect, and are "just a preview of how the free world will respond if Russia continues to escalate what they have promised to de-escalate".

"The window to change course is closing. President Putin and Russia face a choice - if Russia chooses a path of de-escalation, the international community - all of us - will welcome it.

"If Russia does not, the world will make sure that the costs for Russia will only grow."

Kerry attacks Russia's 'illegitimate course of violence'

US Secretary of State John Kerry has heavily criticised Russia for failing to act in accordance with agreements made in Geneva last week.

In a statement, Mr Kerry said Russia was backing "an illegitimate course of armed violence" and supporting destabilising forces in the east of Ukraine.

US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"One week later, it is clear that only one side, one country is keeping its word," Mr Kerry said.

"The Geneva Agreement is not open to interpretation. It is not vague. It is not subjective. It is not optional."

Read: Putin warns Ukraine after deadly shootings in East

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