The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 28 January 2012

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The government was defeated in the Lords by 252 to 237 on an amendment by the Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, to the Welfare Reform Bill, removing child benefit from the proposed welfare cap of £26,000 a year per household. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said in the Commons that he wanted to see legislation to give shareholders a binding (rather than the current advisory) vote on executive pay. MPs heard that the clock tower that houses Big Ben was leaning by 0.26 degrees to the north-west, which was just visible, but that it would not become unstable for more than 4,000 years.

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The Royal Navy frigate Argyll joined US and French ships in passing through the Strait of Hormuz in response to an Iranian threat to close it as the European Union adopted a boycott of Iranian oil in an attempt to force the country to stop its development of nuclear arms. Britain’s public debt rose above £1,000 billion for the first time. Britain will have to pay a European Union financial transaction tax even if it keeps outside the scheme, but will receive none of the proceeds, Algirdas Semeta, the European Commissioner for Taxation, said. Petroplus, the Swiss owner of the Coryton oil refinery in Essex, which employs 1,000, filed for bankruptcy. China Investment Corporation, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, bought an 8.68 per cent holding in Thames Water. A burst water main in Oxford Street, London, caused £1 million of damage.
With apparent disregard for the presumption of innocence, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that he and David Cameron would have to ‘take a view’ if the Crown Prosecution Service proceeded with charges over claims that Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, persuaded Vicky Pryce, his wife at the time, to take speeding points on his behalf.

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