Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt


George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to dissuade EU finance minsters in Brussels from endorsing a plan to cap bankers' pay bonuses. City banks contemplated taking the EU to court over it. HSBC's annual profits fell by 6 per cent to £14 billion, including a loss of £700 million made in Britain. The Royal Bank of Scotland, 81 per cent of which is owned by the government, made its fifth annual loss in a row, of £5.17 billion. Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, suggested it should be split up and sold. Lloyds Banking Group, 40 per cent of which is owned by the government, reduced its losses to £570 million, from £3.5 billion the year before. Banks reduced their lending by £2.4 billion in the last quarter of 2012, despite the Funding for Lending Scheme operated by the Bank of England. Rolls-Royce made a profit of £1.4 billion, but paid no corporation tax. The FTSE reached 6,432, its highest close since January 2008. A walrus basked for the cameras on the shore of North Ronaldsay in a rare visit to Orkney.

MPs voted in favour of the Justice and Security Bill, which allows court evidence in civil cases to be heard in secret where there are grounds of national security.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, announced savings of £2 billion from legal aid in England and Wales. Further cuts to the defence budget would remove the capability of Britain's armed forces, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said. He announced the closure of Claro Barracks in North Yorkshire, Howe in Kent, Craigiehall in Edinburgh and Cawdor in Pembrokeshire. Britain decided to invest £88 million in the European Extremely Large Telescope, with its 128ft mirror, being built in Chile at a cost of £1 billion.

The Queen spent two days in hospital with symptoms of gastroenteritis after shaking hands with Olympic athletes. The East Coast mainline railway looked likely to remain under the control of its stateowned operator after its franchise expires in December, while the government tries to sort out the national allocation of franchises.

Leicestershire Police encouraged people to deck trees with knitted items in Bede Park, Leicester, to reduce the fear of crime.

Abroad President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela died, aged 58, a month after returning from cancer surgery in Cuba. …

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