The Week in Review

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The Independent Online
A GLOOMY picture of Britain from the Social Trends survey was countered by optimistic noises of recovery from the CBI and a further fall in interest and mortgage rates.

Fewer people were in work, they had less money to spend and faced increased violence, according to the Government's 23rd annual statistical snapshot. Real disposable income fell for the first time in 10 years.

One-third of men had a criminal conviction by the age of 31 with recorded crime doubling in the past decade. Healthier eating habits and lower consumption of alcohol has led to increased life expectancy.

Reduced interest rates left basic mortgage payments at their lowest levels for 24 years, prompting hopes of a pick-up in the property market from estate agents and homeowners.

The City was less enthusiastic and saw the move as evidence of government panic over the elusive recovery but the CBI welcomed the reduction. It had stated 24 hours earlier that manufacturing companies were more confident about business prospects than at any time since the recession began.

More money, however, would be nothing to some television addicts surveyed by NOP. Even if they were offered pounds 1m, 15 per cent of viewers would refuse to give up television for life. One- third were not tempted by pounds 100,000 and two-thirds by pounds 10,000.

The dangers of addiction were highlighted by the case of Veronica Bland, a 36-year-old local government officer, who won pounds 15,000 compensation in an out- of-court settlement for illness relating to passive smoking.

At one time she estimated that she had inhaled the smoke from 150 cigarettes a day as colleagues at work smoked around her. Ms Bland said she developed chronic bronchitis as a result of the smoke which had also damaged a 'beautiful soprano voice'.

Employers feared that the award would lead to further pressure to introduce smoking bans but prompted the Daily Star to comment: 'The new Puritans should remember that they can jog, lift weights, shun smoking and drinking, read the Guardian and only eat salads. They are still going to die.'

The media continued to make its own news with the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles both declining an invitation from the Press Complaints Commission to take part in its inquiry into the taping and publication of an alleged telephone conversation between them.

Central Television's interview with Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer, was finally broadcast after the Court of Appeal refused to overturn a High Court decision rejecting a Home Office attempt to have the screening halted.

Nilsen, interviewed in prison, confessed to 12 murders and showed little remorse as he described cutting up the bodies of his victims.

John Major, the Prime Minister, had his tour of India and the Gulf disrupted by reports over his private life in New Statesman and Society, the left-wing weekly, and Scallywag, a satirical monthly.

Both Mr Major and Clare Latimer, a caterer, issued writs for libel against the magazines.