Politics Summary: Monday, October 26th

Amid growing anger over energy prices, 51 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for a competition inquiry into whether the “big six” energy suppliers are unfairly failing to pass on steep falls in wholesale costs. The energy companies have cut bills by only 4 per cent this year despite the halving of wholesale costs. Meanwhile, Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, tells the FT that a Government target is needed to ensure that Britain derives 30 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power by 2030.

The typical boss of a FTSE 100 company pocketed a bonus of £502,000 for the financial year to April, a survey by Incomes Data Services reveals today. George Osborne is expected today to “[call] on the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority to combine forces and stop retail banks paying out profits in significant cash bonuses.” Bankers would, instead, be given bonuses in shares. But the Guardian suggests that his proposals are largely in line with the agreement reached at last month’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Speaking in a video on the Downing St website, Gordon Brown has called to an end to, “Sharp practices by lenders – such as hiking interest rates on existing debts without explanation, sending out unsolicited credit card cheques and raising credit card limits without being asked.”

Nick Griffin is to be investigated after being accused of paying £500 for a database containing the names and addresses of thousands of members of the UK Independence party. A spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said, “We are very concerned to hear that some UKIP members’ personal details have apparently been traded with the BNP. We will investigate this incident to establish the full facts.” Meanwhile, former Today presented Sue MacGregor has said that the BBC mishandled Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, by setting the “attack dogs” against him.

David Miliband has backed Tony Blair to become President of Europe: “We need someone who, when he or she lands in Beijing or Washington or Moscow, the traffic does need to stop, the talks do need to begin at a very, very high level.” The Guardian report that smaller member states – notably the Benelux countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – are wary of appointing such a controversial figure as Blair. But the Times suggest that European leaders such as Angela Merkel could back Blair to balance a British Eurosceptic government in the event of a Tory victory in the general election. Miliband continues his attack of Conservative foreign policy. Writing in the Times, he says, “Conservative attacks on ‘federalism’ … are a nonsense, stuck in the past and seeking to slay dragons that don’t exist.”

Welfare reforms coming into effect today will switch 68,000 single parents with children aged 10 or more from Income Support to Jobseeker’s Allowance. The latter is paid at the same rate but requires them to attend fortnightly JobCentre interviews and show that they have applied for jobs or lose benefits. Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “They need a system that recognises their parenting role and that builds rather than erodes their self-confidence and their skills for work.”

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