The Daily: Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrate 65 years of marriage
Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Daily: November 20

Written by Sandra Smith
A Blue Sapphire Celebration
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh today celebrate 65 years of marriage. This is the first time a British monarch has reached such a milestone and less than 2,000 couples in the country are likely to match their record in 2012. The Royal couple have planned a quiet day at home before resuming duties later in the week. At their wedding in Westminster Abbey in 1947 the Queen wore a dress designed by Norman Hartnell, the material having been funded through ration coupons. Prince Phillip is the longest serving consort in our history.

The Steely Question of Tax
Margaret Hodge might be Chair of the Public Accounts Committee but that hasn't stopped Conservative MP Pritti Patel questioning her judgement. Mrs Hodge owns shares in the family's steel company which, according to Ms Patel, has embarked upon a series of tax avoidance measures in the UK. As a responsible shareholder, Mrs Hodge insists she has sought assurances that Stemcor's tax affairs are in order. Given her recent criticism of several multi nationals including Starbucks, Amazon and Google, however, she is under increasing pressure to explain her position.

High Fees, Low Grades
Russell Group Universities, which includes Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and LSE, has blamed the Government's higher educational reforms for thousands of vacant places. A threefold increase in tuition fees, following a drop in Government funding, is partly to blame. In addition, less students achieved top grades this summer, leading ministers to indicate that universities will, in future, be allowed to recruit students with one A and 2 B grades. Many institutions were still advertising places just days before the start of the new term as 57,000 fewer students began courses in 2012. The fall is expected to continue next year.

Stripping France
France's economy has been dealt a crushing blow after Moody's Investors Service stripped our neighbours of their treasured AAA credit rating. The country's loss of competitiveness, deteriorating economic outlook and fiscal performance were all cited as contributing factors in the decision. The judgement comes nine months after the rating agency put the country, along with their Continental cousins Germany, Luxembourg and Netherlands, on negative outlook. Moves have been made to kick start the economy but so far Francois Hollande's initiatives have failed to have the desired effect. The head of MEDEF, France's largest employers federation, is urging the Government to step up reforms.

Royal Phone Numbers – Paying the Price
Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former Director of Communications, along with Rebekah Brooks, former Chief Executive of News International, are facing charges following The Crown Prosecution Service's investigation into alleged corrupt payments to public officials. Operation Elveden, which explored illegal payments in return for information, has also resulted in a case being brought against the former News of the World royal correspondent, Clive Goodman. Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman are suspected of paying for details from Buckingham Palace's "Green Book" phone directory which includes home and mobile numbers for senior royals and their household staff.

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