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Osborne: Manchester NHS plan 'very exciting'

George Osborne has confirmed the Government is "discussing a plan" to give Greater Manchester control over its entire NHS budget.

The Chancellor called it "a very exciting development", saying: "We have a National Health Service, but we also want to have people in Manchester having greater control over their own affairs."

Lloyds share sale nets Treasury another £500 million

The Government has netted another £500 million from the sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group, it was revealed today.

Tax payer owned Lloyds share sale nets Treasury £500 million Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The transactions mean the UK taxpayer now holds a 23.9% stake in the bank, compared with 40% when it was bailed out during the financial crisis.

The amount of money recovered from the bank is now just under £8 billion after the latest round of share sales was launched in December.

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Osborne insists Britain 'remains hugely influential'

George Osborne insisted Britain remains "hugely influential in the world" after former Nato commander General Sir Richard Shirreff said the Prime Minister has become "a diplomatic irrelevance" over the Ukraine crisis.

Osborne was pressed repeatedly on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show over whether the Ministry of Defence's share of the cuts would mean falling below the commitment of at least 2% of national wealth going to the military

George Osborne on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"We are currently hitting that target. I am not going to pre-judge our defence review. But people know that we care about our nation's security and defence because we have invested in the latest equipment," Osborne said.

"People know we have met the 2% commitment and are meeting it today."

Osborne extends pensioner bonds scheme by three months

George Osborne has confirmed the Government is extending the pensioner bonds scheme for a further three months "so potential savers don't miss out".

The Chancellor wrote on Twitter:

Osborne: Greek exit 'would have serious consequences'

George Osborne said he believes a Greek exit from the eurozone would have "very serious consequences."

The Chancellor told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, "This stand-off between Greece and the eurozone is increasing the risk every day to the British economy."

Chancellor George Osborne speaks to Andrew Marr. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"Greece has worked hard to stay in the eurozone, and frankly a Greek exit from the eurozone in my view would have very serious consequences," Osborne said.

"We've got to avoid this crisis getting out of control," he added.

Greece tells Germany it will 'never again' have budget deficit

Greek finance Mmnister Yanis Varoufakis promised that his country will "never again" have a budget deficit and tried to reassure Germany that Athens' new policies did not mean it was turning its back on reform.

Greek Minister of Finance Gianis Varoufakis. Credit: Arne Dedert/DPA/Press Association Images

Varoufakis told German newspaper Die Zeit:

The Germans have to understand that it doesn't mean we are straying from the reform path if we give a pensioner who lives on 300 euros a month an extra 300 euros a year.

I can promise you Greece will - apart from interest payments - never again present a budget deficit. Never, never, never!

Varoufakis added that the new Greek government "will never seek financial help from Moscow."

He is scheduled to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble tomorrow after touring Europe to drum up support for plans to halt the austerity policies prescribed by Berlin.

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Greece stand-off 'becoming biggest risk to world economy'

The stand-off between Greece and the eurozone is fast becoming the biggest risk to the global economy, George Osborne has said.

Chancellor George Osborne meets Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Credit: Matt Dunham/PA Wire

The Chancellor made the comment after meeting with Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Osborne said he had told Varoufakis that all sides on the debate about Greece's debt need to "act responsibly".

George Osborne to discuss new Greek finance deal

George Osborne will meet the Greek finance minister in London today. Credit: PA

Chancellor George Osborne will meet with Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis today as he attempts to strike a new deal for the struggling nation.

The meeting in London comes after Varoufakis secured backing from France for his country's bid to renegotiate its debt.

Mr Osborne said: "I welcome this opportunity, so soon after the Greek election, to discuss face to face with Yanis Varoufakis the stability of the European economy and how to boost its growth."

But German chancellor Angela Merkel has made it clear she will not allow Greece's debts to be cancelled, insisting substantial cuts have already been made.

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