Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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The Health and Social Care Bill, which changes the organisation of the National Health Service, passed its second reading by 321 votes to 235. Lawyers opined that the European Court of Human Rights required the government to give prisoners in Scotland and Wales the right to vote in May's elections or risk claims for compensation; the government had already faced a demand to give prisoners votes in Westminster and European parliamentary elections. BP announced a loss of £3.1 billion for 2010, its first annual loss since 1992, because of the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, but said it would restore dividends for shareholders. The Mexican ambassador to London complained about a remark on Top Gear that 'Mexican cars are just going to be lazy'.

The United States issued a safety warning for passengers visiting Britain.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that a Bangladeshi British Airways employee living in Newcastle conspired with a radical preacher to blow up a US-bound aeroplane.

The number of rail journeys rose to 1.32 billion last year, 37 per cent more than in 2000 and the highest since 1923. Norman Baker, the Transport Minister, said that councils, not Whitehall, should designate A and B roads in order to lessen the effects of satellite navigation devices sending traffic on unsuitable routes. A new Home Office site mapping crime incidents in England and Wales street by street crashed under the weight of five million hits an hour; Glovers Court in Preston was named as the most crime-ridden.

Net mortgage lending fell to £8.15 billion last year, the lowest since such records began to be kept in 1987.

The British manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to a record high in January. The drug company Pfizer said it was closing its plant in Sandwich, Kent, which employs 2,400. Chelsea football club, which lost £70 million in the year to June 2010, was said to have paid £50 million for Liverpool's Fernando Torres; Liverpool paid £35 for Newcastle's Andy Carroll. 'The Football Match', painted by L.S. Lowry in 1949, is to be auctioned by Christie's and is expected to fetch between £3.5 million and £4.5 million.

Abroad

The resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, aged 82, after 30 years in power, was demanded by street protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, which went on for more than a week despite curfews imposed by the government. …

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