Live updates

Advertisement

Nick Clegg defends drop in North East University applications

The MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, has challenged Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg over the latest University application figures.

Nearly 2,500 fewer students from the North East will go to university next year - a number amounting to the second biggest percentage fall in the country ahead of tuition fees rising to £9000 per year.

Stephen Hepburn MP put the drop in applications down to the trebling of the cost to attend.

MPs debate regional pay

MPs have been debating government proposals for the possible introduction of regional or local pay.

Labour has put down a Commons motion criticising the plans.

The Shadow Chief Secretary, Rachel Reeves, quoted warnings from North East business leaders about the damaging impact of regional pay.

Ministers insist that there are no plans to get rid of national pay bargaining.

They say the aim is to encourage greater flexibility, rather than cut pay.

Minister plays down regional pay 'plans'

by Gerry Foley

The minister with responsibility for the civil service, Francis Maude, has told MPs that there would have to be a 'strong rationale' and 'good evidence' before any decision was made in favour of introducing regional pay.

Unions and opposition politicians had reacted angrily to the Chancellor's request to the Independent Pay Review Bodies to look into the impact of public pay rates on local job markets.

While the Review Bodies aren't expected to deliver their reports to the Treasury until next month. Ministers have started to see signs of a rebellion in their own ranks with some Lib Dems and even Conservative MPs, including Hexham's Guy Opperman, speaking out against the plans.

Advertisement

Open all hours?

In the last piece of parliamentary business before the present session of parliament concluded last night, MPs voted to enable all stores (large and small) to open for as long as they want on eight consecutive sundays this summer.

The Government believes the Olympic and Paralympic games will provide a major boost to retailers across the country, as long as they have maximun flexibility for sunday trading.

From July 22 to September 9, there will be no limitations on opening hours. Labour MPs, including Blaydon's Dave Anderson and Wansbeck's Ian Lavery, are worried that shop workers will be forced to work these longer hours.

Advertisement

Today's top stories