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Cameron, Miliband and Clegg pledge 'extensive new powers' for Scottish Parliament

The leaders of the three main pro-union parties have put their name to a letter guaranteeing "extensive new powers" for the Scottish Parliament if Scotland decides to remain parts of the UK.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all signed the pledge, which appears on the front page of today's Daily Record.

The letter also appears to guarantee the future funding of the NHS:

And because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

– joint letter signed by three party leaders


MPs: Compensate victims of summer passport chaos

Holidaymakers who suffered severe delays due to this summer's passport chaos are entitled to compensation, an influential group of MPs has said.

The delays were caused by staff shortages at the Passport Office. Credit: PA

The Home Affairs Select Committee (Hasc) wants to see the Passport Office back under ministerial control and compensation paid to those who used the fast-track passport renewal service.

Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) was accused of putting holidaymakers' summer plans in jeopardy as it struggled to cope with demand and a backlog of applications in progress spiralled past half a million.

The number of applications has been cut from 550,000 to 90,000, according to ministers, but it has not been enough to stop thousands of families from missing their holiday.

Compensation should be paid to fast-track applicants, who had paid an extra £30 to have their passport renewed within a week of sending off their application, Hasc said.

US: Baghdad airstrike marks start of new phase

US Central Command has said that Monday's airstrike on an Islamic State target near Baghdad marks the start of a new phase in the offensive:

The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit [Islamic State] targets as Iraqi forces go on offence.

– us central command statement

Lack of everyday maths skills a 'massive challenge'

National Numeracy - a charity focusing on adults and children with low levels of numeracy - has described the lack of everyday maths skills as a "massive challenge" for the UK.

Its research has found that:

  • Around half of adults have the everyday maths skills expected of primary school children
  • Three-quarters of adults cannot show the numeracy levels needed to get a decent GCSE grade
  • Poor numeracy costs the UK economy around £20 billion a year

Charity calls for additional GCSE in everyday maths

A national charity has called for an additional GCSE in "core maths" to be introduced to teach pupils how to use numeracy to solve everyday problems.

National Numeracy has called for an Credit: PA wire

National Numeracy said it would "expect most children to take both GCSEs and all to take at least the new numeracy (or core maths) GCSE".

"It would be recognised by students, schools, employers and further and higher education as different from, but no less valuable than, GCSE maths," the charity added.

The idea is part of a seven-point plan unveiled by the charity, which also calls for a new measure of numeracy skills at age 14, which could then be used as a "benchmark" of the level of numeracy they will need for their future studies.


US carries out airstrike on IS target near Baghdad

The US carried out an airstrike on an Islamic State (IS) position near Baghdad on Monday, NBC News reports citing unnamed defence officials.

onboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Gulf Credit: REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

There was also an airstrike near Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, where hundreds of minority Yazidis became stranded last month.

President Obama announced last week an intensified phase in the US counter-offensive against IS in Iraq, which could entail strikes inside Syria.

The strike near Baghdad was reportedly not in response to any advance by IS towards the Iraqi capital.

Phones 4u founder hits out at 'ruthless' networks

The founder of mobile phone company Phones 4u has hit out at network operators for what he described as "ruthless behaviour".

John Caudwell, who sold the business in 2006, believes the company was driven into administration after networks began concentrating on selling directly to customers.

ITV News correspondent Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

Arab governments join in the effort to crush IS

A number of Arab leaders were at today's conference in Paris to agree an international strategy to destroy the terrorist group known variously as Islamic State, Isis or Isil.

However, Syria and Iran have been notable by their absence from the discussions.

ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports.

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