EU allowance system 'wide open to abuse'

A member of the European Parliament told ITV News no one in Strasbourg ever asks for paperwork in relation to his allowances and expenses.

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Huge gaps in life expectancy revealed across UK

Female life expectancy (left) and male life expectancy (right) at age 65 in 2010-2012.
Female life expectancy (left) and male life expectancy (right) at age 65 in 2010-2012. Credit: ONS

Life expectancy remains much higher in areas of southern England than parts of the north and Scotland, new figures show.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data indicates that life expectancy at birth for men in East Dorset is 82.9 years, while men in Glasgow are expected to live on average ten years less, to 72.6 years.

However, the gap between areas with the lowest life expectancy and those with the highest reduced between 2000-02 and 2010-12, the ONS said.

Read: Pensioners could be given 'death date'

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Pensioners could be given death date estimate

Steve Webb said insurers could use a number of factors to make the estimates.
Steve Webb said insurers could use a number of factors to make the estimates. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Pensioners could be given an estimate of when they might die to help them manage their finances, according to ministers.

As part of Government guidance intended to help pensioners plan how much to spend and save, pensions minister Steve Webb said insurance companies could look at factors such as smoking, eating habits and socio-economic background when determining approximate life expectancy.

The guidance, which could be rolled out in April next year, may form part of a major shake-up of the pensions system.

The reforms also include measures to allow the withdrawal of money directly from a pension savings pot, without leaving them tied up in annuities.

Read: Pension reforms 'could leave older people at risk'

Biden joins selfie craze with photo of him and Obama

US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Credit: Instagram/Joe Biden.

Joe Biden has joined in with the selfie craze with none other than Barack Obama.

The US Vice President posted the photograph - taken in the back of the presidential limousine- on Instagram with the message: "Found a friend to join my first selfie on Instagram, Thanks for following and stay tuned. VP."

Read more: US talk show host posts 'selfie' with Clintons

PM: 'Easier to be Jewish or Muslim' in UK

It is "easier to be Jewish or Muslim" in the UK than some secular countries, according to the Prime Minister.

David Cameron set out his Christian beliefs in an article for the Church Times and defended his faith by arguing that "tolerance" was one of its core values.

Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

Read: UK should 'be more confident' about Christianity

UK should 'be more confident' about Christianity

David Cameron has called on the UK to be "more confident about our status as a Christian country" ahead of the Easter weekend.

Read: Former Archbishop attacks PM

David Cameron
The PM said Christian's should not be afraid to discuss their faith publicly in a secular age. Credit: PA

Read: Religious leaders warn Cameron

In an article for the Church Times, the Prime Minister insisted that being a Christian country did not mean "doing down" other religions or "passing judgment" on those with no faith at all.

The leader of the Conservative party was speaking after the Government's welfare reforms came under attack from members of the senior clergy.

However, Mr Cameron said "we all believe in many of the same principles" and churches were "vital partners".

Read: 27 bishops and 16 clergy 'attack coalition welfare policy'

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Gordon Brown to 'remain an MP', says spokesman

Former prime minster Gordon Brown "will remain" an MP, denying speculation that he could stand down in 2015, his spokesman has said.

The news came after the New Statesman magazine reported that he would stand down from the Commons at the general election next year, but Mr Brown's office said the former Labour leader remained an MP and had "no plans to make any announcement to the contrary".

Brown will continue to be a Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Since leaving No 10 Mr Brown has combined his job as a constituency MP with acting as the UN special envoy for global education.

"He is, and will remain, Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and he has no plans to make any announcement to the contrary," his spokesman said.

Police launch investigation into Ed Balls driving incident

Police have launched an investigation into an incident in which shadow chancellor Ed Balls drove away after colliding with a parked car without telling the owner.

The Labour MP was involved in the collision in his Morley and Outwood constituency on April 5th.

Ed Balls said he was 'terribly sorry' after colliding with a parked car Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mr Balls issued a statement saying he had not realised the other car had been damaged but has now apologised to the driver.

"Until I was contacted the following Wednesday, I had no awareness at all that there had been any damage to the other car. As soon as I was made aware of what had happened, I took full responsibility for any damage caused," Mr Balls said.

"I have written to the owner of the other car to say I was terribly sorry and to reimburse the owner concerned for the necessary repair," he added.

Villiers to call for new focus to heal divisions

In a speech today, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is expected to call for a focus on paramilitaries rather than the police as part of future measures to heal divisions over the conflict. She is expected to say:

At least with a new process, agreed by Northern Ireland's political leaders, there is scope to write in from the start the need for an objective balance and with proper weight and a proportionate focus on the wrongdoing of paramilitaries...rather than the almost exclusive concentration on the activities of the state which characterises so many of the processes currently under way.

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