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Cloud and rain for most of the UK by the afternoon

Early rain across northern England and Wales will gradually move south eastwards during the day, turning increasingly patchy as it does so, but there will still be the odd heavier burst at times and some mist or fog along the band of rain.

Early rain across northern England and Wales will gradually move south during the day. Credit: Met Office

Cooler, brighter and fresher feeling conditions will follow the rain, with some showers across northern and western Scotland.

Temperatures will reach highs of 19 Celsius (67F) in the southeast before the cloud and rain arrives.

Apprenticeship system 'struggling' to cope, report finds

Research has found 11 applicants for every apprenticeship vacancy. Credit: Jan Haas / DPA/PA Images

The apprenticeship system is "struggling" to cope with demand as figures suggest there are around 11 applicants for every vacancy, according to a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The research also found two in five apprentices starting since 2010 were over 25.

In total, there were 1.8 million applicants for 166,000 advertised vacancies last year, while 67% of higher level apprenticeships were given to people already employed.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which commissioned the research, said it indicated the system was being used to train older workers and young people were missing out.

At present, too many new apprenticeships are low skilled and taken by older people already in work with their employer.

Too few new apprentices are school-leavers trying to get their first job, and too few are getting the construction skills to build the homes and roads our local communities need.

With the greatest will, government alone cannot engage over two million employers from Whitehall.

Rather than spend more money on a struggling system, this research underlines the need for devolved training that enables partnerships of councils, schools, colleges and employers to both boost opportunities locally and to ensure youngsters get the skills, experience and advice to thrive.

– Cllr Peter Box, economy spokesman for the LGA

UK must 'consider' ground troops in battle against IS

Lord Dannatt said the UK must consider sending ground troops into Syria and Iraq. Credit: David Parker/Daily Mail / PA Archive/PA Images

Former Head of the British Army, Lord Dannatt, has called on the Government to "think the previously unthinkable" and consider sending ground troops to combat Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Lord Dannatt said he felt air strikes had "failed" to stop the advance of the extremist organisation.

He called for a "public and political debate to begin immediately" on the issue of deploying up to 5,000 infantry soldiers.

In light of this terrifying scenario, how much longer can Britain and the US continue to show such a lack of commitment to defeating IS mililtarily? Their default option of air strikes and limited assistance to indigenous forces has failed thus far.

We have now reached a point when we must think the previously unthinkable and consider that British troops, acting as part of an international coalition, may be required to mount a ground campaign in Iraq and Syria.

I am no gung-ho general who says 'just send the boys in and don't worry about the body bags', far from it, but faced with such a lethal and uncompromising enemy as IS - and with the lack of political and diplomatic solutions at our disposal - we can no longer rule out 'boots on the ground'.

– Lord Dannatt

IS has recently made gains in the Middle East by gaining control of the ancient town of Palmyra, in Syria, and the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

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Sturgeon: SNP will block scrapping Human Rights Act

MPs for the Scottish National Party (SNP) will join forces with other opposition parties in an effort to block Tory plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP will work to keep the Human Rights Act. Credit: Andrew Milligan / PA Wire/PA Images

The First Minister claimed the Conservatives' agenda "lacks legitimacy in Scotland", where David Cameron's party has just a single MP.

The SNP's priority is ending austerity, and the damage it does to people's lives - the Tory government's priority is ending human rights, and the opportunities for fairness they offer ordinary men and women.

For example, it was the Human Rights Act that enabled people to go to court in this country to challenge the grossly unfair bedroom tax.

To scrap the Human Rights Act would be an appallingly retrograde step.

– Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights, Alex Neil, has already written written to UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove "to reiterate the Scottish Government's opposition to the repeal of the Human Rights Act".

Ms Sturgeon said she also raised the matter directly with the Prime Minister when they met and Holyrood could refuse consent to abolish the Act.

She added: "SNP MPs will work across party lines at Westminster to defeat the Tory government on the Human Rights Act - and the SNP Government will invite the Scottish Parliament to refuse legislative consent to scrap it, given the strong devolved dimension.

"This important issue illustrates how Holyrood working together with SNP MPs and others at Westminster can challenge a Tory agenda that lacks legitimacy in Scotland - and help the cause of progressive politics across the UK."

Cooper wants to put 'families at heart' of Labour party

Yvette Cooper has said the Labour party has to offer hope to families. Credit: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper has said she will put measures to help families at the heart of her campaign to rebuild Labour after its election defeat.

The shadow home secretary said Labour had to "reach outwards" and "rebuild", winning back voters who deserted the party in favour of the Tories, Ukip and the SNP.

Ms Cooper believes she can smash the "glass ceiling" and become Labour's first permanent female leader, vowing to "shake up the system".

In an interview with The Sun on Sunday (£), mother-of-three Ms Cooper, whose husband and former shadow chancellor Ed Balls lost his Westminster seat in the general election, said Labour had to offer hope to families.

We need to put families at the heart of our politics. As a mum, I feel very strongly about that because my family, my kids are the most important thing in my life.

That has to be reflected in what we do. We have got to reach out and rebuild and that means winning back voters.

We've got to show practical things we can do to help families get on, to know their kids can get an apprenticeship, have a good start in life and go to university.

– Yvette Cooper
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