Stephen Byers is expected to be forced to make an emergency statement in the commons today to answer the allegations that he misled MPs by claiming wrongly that his director of communications had resigned. The secretary of state for transport, local government and the regions was engulfed by another storm of controversy after he refused to explain why he said in a statement to the house of commons in February that Martin Sixsmith had agreed to resign as a result of the civil war in his department. On Tuesday, his department admitted Mr Sixsmith had never resigned, reports The Independent(p1). The Daily Mirror (p2) takes its retouched 'Spinocchio' picture of Stephen Byers from earlier this year one step further, knotting the 'embattled' transport secretary's long nose.
An admission by planning minister Lord Falconer that the government was considering raising planning application fees to pay for a big increase in the number of local authority planning officials, has been criticised by the Confederation of British Industry for its potential to cost companies£400m a year. Lord Falconer also disclosed that the government had backed down on controversial plans to rush planning approval for big projects such as airports through parliament in just 60 days. He told the commons transport, local government and regions committee that raising planning application fees was one of three ways of increasing local authority resources being considered, the others being persuading the treasury to provide more cash, and encouraging councils to spend more of their existing funding on planning, reports the Financial Times(p2). 'Is Mr Dome about to destroy Britain's precious Green Belt?' asks the Daily Mail (p10).
CONTROVERSIAL PROPOSALS IN PROSPECT TO RESTRICT BAILIFFS FROM SEIZING GOODS
Bailiffs will be forced to give companies 'clear warning' before seizing goods in lieu of unpaid rent, as part of a clampdown on rogue debt enforcement agencies, the government said yesterday in advance of the details in a white paper early next year. Bailiffs will also be barred from taking goods in lieu of rent from residential properties, reports the Financial Times(p2).
- 'It is not just Burnley and Oldham we should be worrying about,' says The Guardian(p15), analysing the 16 other areas outside those two in which the British National party made progress.
- Deloitte & Touche auditors claim US vulture funds have already doubled their investment in Barings bonds and could walk away with a substantially larger profit if a negligence claim against Deloitte succeeds, it is alleged in documents filed with the high court, reports the Financial Times(p2).
by assistant editor Neil Watson