The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 6 December 2012

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In his Autumn Statement, held nearer the winter solstice, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confronted the need to extend austerity measures for reducing the deficit to 2018. The economy would shrink by 0.1 per cent in 2012. He cut corporation tax to 21 per cent from 2014, cancelled January’s fuel tax rise and promised consultation on tax incentives for shale-gas exploitation. All but four Whitehall departments would be asked to save an extra 1 per cent next year and a further 2 per cent the year after, with the hoped-for £5 billion going to schools and roads. Battersea should get its own Underground connection. Mr Osborne sketched a new system of private finance initiative intended to cost taxpayers less, and he made threatening noises about multinational companies not paying enough tax. Starbucks let it be known that it was changing its ways. Two men from Essex were jailed for a year for stealing a Henry Moore sculpture valued at £500,000, which they sold for £46 for scrap.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, and Lord Hunt of Wirral, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, held talks with editors of national newspapers to urge them to draft plans urgently for an independent regulatory body to meet the demands of the report by Lord Justice Leveson, without a new law to govern the press, a step that was supported by the Labour opposition and the Liberal Democrat party. Tom Mockridge resigned as chief executive of News International and was expected to be replaced by Robert Thomson, a former editor of the Times. A painter and decorator from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, received a month’s mobile phone bill of £6,875.

The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, it was announced.

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