Private companies that become responsible for London Underground's tunnels, tracks and stations could be invited to join a unified management board, headed by the transport commissioner, Bob Kiley. A plan has been drafted by ministers in the hope of breaking the deadlock over how the tube is funded and run. Officials at Transport for London last night said they would welcome any government proposals that addressed the issue of control, reports The Financial Times(p1).
FORMER PFI TASKFORCE SEEKS£23M EQUITY
Partnerships UK will today seek to raise£23m of private equiry to complete the partial privatisation of what was the Treasury's private finance initiative taskforce, reports The Financial Times(p2). The equity will provide working capital that PUK will use to create markets in smaller scale projects such as individual schools and community hospitals.
LIVINGSTONE CASH BOOST FOR GAY MARRIAGES
Lesbian and gay couples will be able to marry by the end of the year after Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, set aside£100,000 for a register to recognise their relationships formally, reports The Times(p1). One plan is to give away the first 100 'gay marriage' licences free to publicise the scheme, which brings London into line with San Francisco, Amsterdam and Paris.
FOOT AND MOUTH CRISIS: MINISTERS SET TO CLOSE OFF RURAL ACCESS; SNAP ELECTION RULED OUT
Ministers have said Tony Blair will rule out calling a snap general election in April because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The Independent(p1) reports that despite a week of desperate efforts to contain the virus, the number of confirmed outbreaks nearly doubled yesterday from seven to 12. And highlighting the government's desperation about the crisis, chancellor Gordon Brown yesterday said that legal action might have to be taken to close countryside rights of way.
MINISTERS URGED TO REVIEW WOMEN'S PAY
The Equal Opportunities Commission's equal pay taskforce will today press ministers to review women's pay in the public sector, as a new report finds that Britain's gender pay gap is the worst in the European Union, according to The Guardian(p6). The report, Just Pay, will reveal that while women working full-time earn on average 82% of male full-time hourly earnings, part-time female workers receive only 61% of male full-time hourly wages.
UK SCHOOLS ACCUSED OF RAIDING STAFF FROM SOUTH AFRICA
The Guardian (Education, p2) carries a report on the shortage of teachers in UK schools and asks whether it is right that we should be relying on teachers brought in from other countries, which may also be suffering shortages. It reports that teams from Tower Hamlets LBC and Newham LBC have travelled to South Africa to recruit teachers, and between them they could scoop up a couple of hundred of the country's best teachers.