Election '97 : One nation once more?

Four weeks into the election campaign John Major and Tony Blair will today finally turn the political focus on to divided Britain with an appeal to voters who want a return to the united, One Nation values repudiated during the Thatcher years.

Comment: Behind the sterling and dollar upstarts

What a delicious irony that it is the prospect of the pound staying out of another European currency arrangement that has finally helped it regain the level it last saw when it was catapulted out of Europe the last time. And how like the topsy-turvy world of the foreign exchange markets to be driving higher the two currencies - the dollar and sterling - which are most in danger of a revival of the inflation which has, in the long term, led to their steady depreciation against the classic strong currencies of this world.

Life's a drag for pleasure-loving Japanese PM

Japan's Prime Minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, is a man renowned for his love of physical pleasure. As a mountaineer, he has scaled Japan's highest and most challenging peaks. He is a black belt in kendo, the vigorous martial art of fencing with wooden staves. A few years ago, a tabloid magazine ran an interview with one of his former mistresses, who praised him for his skill and sensitivity as a lover.

UK meets Rio targets on emissions

Britain is set to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 8 per cent between 1990 and 2000, thereby keeping its promises made at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, John Gummer, the Secretary of State for the Environment, reported yesterday. Industrialised nations committed themselves at Rio to stabilising annual emissions of carbon dioxide - the most important climate-changing pollutant - at the 1990 level by 2000. The gas is produced mainly by burning fossil fuels.

Services make countries rich, says Bank

The world's most successful economies are those where services make the biggest contribution to growth. Poorer economies are those where growth depends substantially on manufacturing, according to a paper to be published in the Bank of England's Quarterly Bulletin on Wednesday.

Group of Seven

The thorniest issue on the agenda of finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial countries when they meet in Berlin tomorrow will be how big - or small - a group they should become after the start of the single European currency. If Britain stays outside Europe's economic and monetary union, it could be pushed to the margins of the international meetings in future.

Letter: Food safety body needs powers

Sir: David Gordon (letter, 31 January) replies to my letter of 27 January and points out that farming systems still exist which allow animals a reasonable life and appropriate food, and which also minimise environmental damage.

British come bottom in the numbers game

Britain came bottom in an international numeracy study of adults in seven industrialised countries, heightening concern over flagging basic skills.

OECD praises UK economic policies

The Government's economic policies have delivered the best growth and inflation prospects for 30 years, according to a glowing end-of-year report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Billion unemployed add to global feel-bad factor

The much-talked about British "feel-bad factor" is a global phenomenon, with workers throughout the world experiencing deteriorating employment conditions, according to a report released today by the International Labour Office, an arm of the United Nations.

Plan to cut debt of poorest countries suffers setback

Plans to start reducing the debt burden on the world's poorest countries, agreed in Washington only six weeks ago, face a severe setback.

Letter: Poor maths results add up

Sir: So, the International Maths and Science Study shows English teenagers perform poorly in mathematics (report, 16 November). Before everyone jumps to the conclusion that it is teaching methods - and, by implication, teachers - that are to blame, might I suggest a long, hard look at the content of the national curriculum for mathematics?

G10 woos emerging countries

Central bankers from the leading industrial countries will meet regularly with their counterparts in emerging countries to increase co- operation and establish standards for banking supervision world-wide.

IMF rethinks its future

Like most annual meetings, the IMF's gathering in Washington presents delegates with an agenda that is supposed to be pretty much sealed up well before they get their chance to vote on it. The achievements of this year's meeting, such as the initiative to reduce the debt burden on small countries, have been crafted by officials during the past six months. The real issue for discussion during the active round of cocktail parties is the shape the IMF and other international institutions will need to take as the global balance of economic power shifts.

Ministers reject university tuition fees plan

Ministers have ruled out proposals from university vice-chancellors that would require students to repay tuition fees.
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