27/03/2014 The Papers


27/03/2014

No need to wait to see what's in the papers - tune in for a lively and informed conversation about the next day's headlines. Presented by Martine Croxall.


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McGealy subject to FA approval. Salford play seven leagues below

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Manchester United. Welcome to our look ahead to what

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the papers will be bringing us tomorrow. With us are Ciaran Stacey

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and Susie Boniface, the Fleet Street box. Starting with the Independent.

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Its story is a major study that shows that students from state

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schools are more likely to achieve top grade degree passes than those

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from the independent sector with the same A`level results. The Financial

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Times has a joint article by the Chancellor and his German

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counterpart, which says any EU treaty change must guarantee

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fairness for EU countries staying outside the Eurozone. The Telegraph

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reports that savers who are locked into pensions and investments could

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be given a free exit. There's more on the probe into energy prices on

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the front of the Daily Mirror. The Daily Express says that millions of

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people will be better off after the Government has announced a cap on

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pension charges. Ed Miliband's call for further curbs on energy bills

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makes the lead in the Guardian. The Daily Mail has the news that cats

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have passed TB to humans for the first time. Let's begin with the

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energy story, this 18 month long investigation that is being

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announced. This is the Daily Mirror's headline. The blackout

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blackmailer. Yesterday, this ?2 million a year energy fat cat, this

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is Centrica Cowes boss Sam Laidlaw, has the nerve, says the paper, to

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claim a probe into fixing their high prices could lead to power cuts. How

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dare they treat us with such contempt. No doubting whose side

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they are on. Quite rightly. I think most newspapers and most people will

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be on the side of the consumer and their readers, who are paying

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increasing energy costs. This guy came out and said we got an 18 month

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enquiry into our prices, this is outrageous, none of us want the

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lights to go out. It is not so veiled threat that the lights could

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go off at some point. The Big Six are the ones we rely on to produce

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our supply. They build nuclear power stations and gas plants, as well as

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selling us the fuel that comes out of them. There's a huge problem

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there because they are providing the supply as well as delivering the

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product. They can, if they want to, say, we are going to stop investing

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in power plants, you can do what you like. A lot of these companies are

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based abroad as well, their central offices are elsewhere. So they are

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not necessarily under our control. I genuinely believe there should be

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some way that supply of our fuel is a matter of national interest and

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security to some extent. We should be able... It should the

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Government's responsibility to provide our power plants. Have a

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nationalised industry providing fuel. The private companies filter

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and send out, so there's retail and so on. It's the fact the retail and

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the wholesale arms are so close together that you have problems like

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this. One man can turn around and go, that's it, lights off! How would

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that work? Separating the wholesale and the retail arm. How would that

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help us as consumers? What the energy companies say is they don't

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make huge profits. The price we sell our energy after consumers is not

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that much more than we pay for it. Look over here. The problem is the

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people they are paying for that energy in the first place their

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wholesale arms. What they are doing, this is the accusation and

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privately, a lot of energy company bosses admit this is true, they are

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overcharging their retail arm so the wholesale arm makes bumper profits.

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The retail arm seems to be paying quite a lot for the energy but

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nobody can quite figure out why. They then pass those costs on to the

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consumer. Nobody can quite figure out why they are paying as much for

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their energy as they are. They go, it's too sensitive, we can't

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possibly tell you how much it cost in the first place. But if you let

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the market drive this, as we've seen for many years since there was this

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deregulation of power supply, aren't you inevitably going to have bigger

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companies emerging? Even if you break them up, over time the

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successful ones will grow and take over. You should in theory have some

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competition between them, but the level of competition is so small

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between the Big Six that if you try to switch between them you will not

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save an awful lot of money. And they play follow my leader. If one puts

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their prices up they all do. Yes. They call it pricing elasticity. You

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put your prices up, everybody knows this from their own energy bills,

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they put the prices up when their wholesale prices go up and when they

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go down again they don't bring them back down. We don't expect the

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prices to fall. But on your point about how big these energy companies

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are, that isn't necessarily, although that can be a problem, it

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isn't the main problem. The main problem is vertical integration. You

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have the wholesale and retail arms in the same business. You can have

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as big a retail arm as you like, the problems come when the hold ``

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wholesale and retail arm are together, and they cannot tell us

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how much they are paying. Greene it's them saying, we have a product

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that is absolutely vital to all of you. It is something everybody needs

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in one form or another, whether its gas or electricity, everybody in the

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country needs it to live and to survive. We are going to start

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charging you whatever the hell we like. This is not seen as a service,

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it seen as a business. If there was one part of it which we retained on

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a national base, this is the service, the provision of fuel is

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the service, the provision of fuel as a service to our people that we

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should be paying for ourselves, that might perhaps change... We did used

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to do that, that's what happened in the 70s. You end up with the

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stranglehold of the people who produce it in the first place.

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Governments are notoriously bad for planning for infrastructure like

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power plants. They don't respond well to consumer demand at all,

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which is how you end up with one coal or steel board with huge

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amounts of power. If the workers decided to walk out, for example,

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you don't get any power. But this doesn't work either. Somebody on

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Twitter mentioned there is a social enterprise that is set up to provide

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power and energy. They buy it from SSE, one of the Big Six, but they

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managed to pass it on at a more affordable price to their consumers.

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But it's very difficult for new companies to get a foothold. Very

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difficult. It's expensive to build a power plant. You have to have quite

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a lot of money in the bank, or at least a bank who will lend you a lot

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of money, to go and build it in the first place. As a small company, you

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will not go out and build a gas power plant. Are the lights going to

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go out? This is threatening. The Big Six are very worried, that's why

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someone is talking about the lights going out. There are cheaper and

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easier ways of producing energy than the way they do it, but we don't

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invest in that. The Daily Express now. Bigger pension pay`outs on

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their way. Millions will get an extra ?35,000 across the life of

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their pension. How so? This policy has been in the pipeline for a long

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time. What the pensions minister announced today is there's going to

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be a cap on how much your pension provider can charge you for

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investing your money on your behalf. So when we pay into a pension when

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we are in work and saving for our retirement, a company is out there

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in testing in the stock market or putting it in a bank account or

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doing whatever it wants to do with it on our behalf, and for that it

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charges a fee. The fees that these companies charge can be quite high.

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The cat that these companies charge can be quite high. The cap the

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Government has put on is year, which sounds really low. The that is a

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huge amount of money. What the Government was trying to do is make

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sure those companies can no longer charge astronomical amounts for

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taking your money and investing for you. This cap only applies to those

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people who are going to be automatically enrolled in a

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workplace pension under the new Government scheme, auto enrolment,

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which means if you enter the workplace now your company simply

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says, here you go, here's your pension. The Government says if you

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don't have a choice you should at least have your fees capped. When

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people are trying to eke out a living on a pension, that will make

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a big difference. It will, if any of us ever get to draw our pension, of

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course! What is interesting, the same as the annuity announcement

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last week, this is going to cost the pension industry about ?200 million

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out of their profits, if this comes in. They are already saying that if

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you take the fees off, that means the traders who are perhaps trading

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too much and charging constant commissions on pensions to do so,

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they are going to be trading less on the stock market. That might mean

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your pension stays at the very flat rate rather than perhaps goes up

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more over the course of its lifetime. If you are bringing in

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caps, it's not in their interest to start investing it for you because

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you could end up potentially also with less. If these big pension

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companies are losing ?200 million a year, they will find a way to get

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that out of us again. They are not going to be prepared to go, 200

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million, fair enough, George Osborne, you can have the lot. They

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will find a way to get that back doing something else. Trading and

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other fees that will come in. She sounds like a city trader, telling

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us we need to keep trading our stocks. If you stick your money in a

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bank account or in a stock market tracker and leave it there, it's

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often the best way to make money rather than keep changing what

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stocks you hold. There you go, financial advice. I'm not a

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qualified financial adviser. Ignore everything he says! Let's move onto

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the Daily Telegraph. Hillsborough police questioned over deaths. Four

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police officers have been interviewed under caution as

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potential manslaughter suspects, following an investigation into the

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Hillsborough disaster. This is the first time that police officers have

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been questioned under criminal caution. Isn't that amazing? It was

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25 years ago, 96 people, men, women and children, were crushed to

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death. The police, we now know, were involved in some of the decisions

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that led to those deaths, and possibly its those allegations about

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covering up what those decisions were. It's taken 25 years for the

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police to get around to arresting and questioning under caution their

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own members. There are 13 police officers who have been questioned

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under caution, for charges including manslaughter and also misconduct in

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public office and perverting the course of justice. 12 of them have

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long since retired, only one is still serving. They've obviously had

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25 years to prepare for these possible interviews coming up as

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well. This is 18 months, two years since the independent panel found

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they had these questions to answer. It is gracefully slow. It often is

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with the police. Funny that. There are no institutions better than

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covering up their own mistakes and possibly, although we don't exactly

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know here, criminality, than the police service. We've seen that time

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and again. People around at the time, they certainly remember the

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accusations flying around about what the supporters have been doing.

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About how some supporters have been your knitting and other supporters,

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they'd deliberately created this crush at the Hillsborough stadium,

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which all turned out to be fabricated. They claimed even

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children were drinking and had caused the crush themselves. Some of

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the more outrageous claims people will be able to dispute, but so much

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time has passed. Will memories be accurate?

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Of course not. If you are trying to remember what happened 25 years ago,

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But this is 25 years ago. It is just been so delayed.

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Now the Independent. A major study showing that state school students

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get better degrees than private school pupils with the same grades,

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but they have to get into the university first, though? It is

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interesting. It is a big study of people that went through university,

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finding that undergraduates of state school tend to do better than

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counterparts who have come from a private school. There will be lots

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of explanations, one is that they have had to work harder to get in.

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So they work harder at university. My explanation is how have they done

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the study in the first place? They have probably taken people who

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achieved the same grade, one at state and one at private. Let's say

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you have two pupils with B at A level. Imagine that the pupil who

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got the B at state school worked harder.

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What happens after university, though, does it matter? Does it

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matter if you have a good private school on your CV, will it matter

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the grade you get at degree level? I don't know. No`one has asked for my

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grades of any my exams. I think if you sent your children to Harrow or

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Eton, they should get their money back, they are obviously not worth

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the cash! Now the FT. A clash with Syria and Turkey and Twitter and

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Facebook bans? Even the President has managed to get around the block.

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They tried to ban Twitter, they could not. They have trying to ban

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YouTube. They had banned it for three years. Perhaps that is easier,

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but it is businessa. That as a country, it is not that far away

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from Europe. That they can just ban something on the internet. If they

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wanted to do something here, something that the Prime Minister

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did not fancy, say banning grant shoppes, it would be interesting. I

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don't know how it could work. You either have, it is a democracy, if

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you are operating a democracy that is not as democratic as anywhere

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else, you would tear it down. It does not work. Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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feels under pressure. He has had protests on the streets. He has the

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Arab Spring going on around him and Syria on the doorsteps, his actions

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are becoming increasingly drabbing owna. That is it for the papers for

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this hour. Fortunately, we are back at 11. 30pm for another stab at it.

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Join us then. At 11.00pm, we speak about customers being given a poor

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deal by the big six energy companies.

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Hello and welcome to Sportsday. The headlines:

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All hail Alex Hales, England's first Twenty20 centure centurian `` cent

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