The government is to bring in early legislation to make it easier for people to vote - particularly by post - while strengthening safeguards against fraud and abuse, reports The Times (p2). Following a two-year programme of reviews after the last general election, the Electoral Commission will today recommend wide-ranging changes in electoral law to encourage higher turn-out and to increase public confidence in the secrecy of the ballot.
STEPHEN BYERS SLATES PFI HOSPITALS' VALUE FOR MONEY
The first hospitals to be built by private enterprise would have been better value for money if they had been financed by the public sector, 'Blairite MP' Stephen Byers will say today, reports the Financial Times (p2). Mr Byers indicates that the change in the way the Treasury assesses PFI projects will allow the government to argue more convincingly that private funding offers a good deal. The new system will give ministers ammunition 'to tackle directly the accusation that the rules have been rigged in favour of PFI', he will say.
SMALL BUSINESSES ASK GOVERNMENT TO PLAY FAIR IN PUBLIC TENDERS
The government is the customer with which every business wants to work. Each year it gives out £13bn worth of contracts for products ranging from aircraft to uniforms, reports The Times (p24). However, concern is mounting about the fairness with which these contracts are handed out, with a growing body of evidence showing that government departments are ignoring small suppliers, even when they offer better services and greater value for money to the taxpayer than their larger counterparts. Later this month a report by the body that promotes small businesses , the Small Business Service, will name those departments failing to follow fair procurement policies.
WATERMILLS SUITABLE FOR CONVERSION TO 'HYDRO-HOMES'
Watermills formerly used for grinding corn may become miniature hydroelectric power stations as part of a government pledge to encourage renewable sources of energy, reports The Times (p8). Campaigners said conversion of the 20,000 suitable mills in Britain could power up to 600,000 homes. OWners of the mill houses are being offered an alternative source of income.
by assistant editor Neil Watson