Today's news

January 14, 2004

Timing gamble over top-up fees vote
Downing Street announced last night that the Commons vote on top-up fees will take place on Tuesday, January . Tony Blair is to hold the critical Commons vote before what he believes to be the likely date of the Hutton report, in the hope that the tactic could help avert a Commons defeat on his university finance policy.  By tackling the top-up fee rebellion first, Mr Blair's aides believe they will put pressure on rebel MPs to back the government's controversial legislation when it faces its crucial second reading vote.
( Financial Times )

Blair broke tuition fees promise, says Howard
Michael Howard has stepped up his attack on Tony Blair's integrity by accusing him of a breach of trust with the voters over the government's policy of university tuition top-up fees. Writing in the Telegraph , the Tory leader said the government's higher education bill was a "clear breach" of a manifesto promise by Labour at the last election.
( Daily Telegraph )

Rebels defiant on top-up fees
Ministers moved yesterday to isolate hardcore tuition fee rebels as a faction determined to break Tony Blair's leadership after the former cabinet minister Clare Short predicted that the prime minister would have to quit if he lost the vote on top-up fees. Education department sources said there were signs that some potential rebels were recoiling from joining what they perceived as an organised operation designed to weaken Mr Blair.
( Guardian )

Snubbed scientist vets honours nominations
The scientist whose chance of a knighthood was blackballed because of his research on animals disclosed yesterday that he is involved in vetting nominations for honours. Colin Blakemore, who demanded an overhaul of the honours system after he was snubbed, told MPs that he had helped to vet other scientists who had been nominated for honours. He told the Commons public administration committee that he believed that the process should be more open, but was reluctant to discuss his own role.
( Times )

Biotech giant opts for UK research facility
Genzyme of the US, one of the world's biggest biotechnology companies, is to create a 150-strong research facility in Cambridge, in a move that will bolster Britain's claim to be the centre for drugs research in Europe. The company decided to set up in the Cambridge biotechnology cluster after two years of studying various locations around Europe. About 200 biotech companies are based in and around Cambridge.
( Financial Times )

Experts give mobile phones mixed health report
Mobile phones appear to be safe, but more research is needed to be certain they pose no health risks, scientists advising the government said today. The Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, chaired by Anthony Swerdlow, examined all the available evidence from research into the hazards of mobile phones and base stations over the past three years.
( Times )

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