Labour plans to levy payday lenders | Birth rate hits 40-year high
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has accused councils of “bending the law” to make profits from parking penalties, the Times reports. It says Mr Pickles condemned questionable practices used by councils to “fill their coffers”, after the Traffic Penalty Tribunal told the Commons’ transport select committee that Whitehall guidance was not being followed.
The story is also covered by the Daily Telegraph, which says council practices include routinely using CCTV to generate millions of parking tickets – despite guidance that CCTV should only be used when it is impractical to use traffic wardens.
Payday loan companies would pay a levy towards rival credit unions under Labour proposals, the Financial Times reports. It says other ideas proposed by Labour include requirements on councils, housing associations and rail and bus companies to promote credit unions.
A separate set of curbs on advertising and “rollover lending” by the payday companies has been proposed in plans put forward by the Co-operative Party, to which 33 Labour MPs are affiliated, including shadow chancellor Ed Balls.
UK birth rate
The UK has become the European Union’s “fastest-growing country”, with its birth rate hitting a 40-year high in 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal Europe.
While birth rates have fallen in a number of other European nations, including Germany, Italy and Spain, the paper says figures for the UK, which saw 813,200 births in the year ending June 2012, suggest the country could become the EU’s most populous nation “within decades”.
Low interest rates and government policies are helping to resurrect a buy-to-let boom, with lending to landlords surging to a new five-year high, reports the Financial Times.
House of Commons
Commons speaker John Bercow has said the practice of electing MPs to geographical constituencies will be “increasingly hard to sustain”, the Times reports. Mr Bercow also said ministers must give up their “astonishingly arrogant” control of Parliament to make it suitable for the modern world.
Conservative Party membership
Today’s Independent leads with the story that senior Conservative figures fear that the party’s membership has fallen to less than 100,000 due to public disenchantment with Westminster.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have also experienced similar declines in recent years, prompting calls for political leaders to adopt radical new ways of engaging with voters.
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