Defence procurement has been one of the biggest machines for wasting money

The laggards left behind by Labour's gleaming machine

One said he had not been spoken to like that since he was 14. Another said it was the worst moment of his political career.

BCCI fraudster jailed for record 14 years and fined pounds 3m

Abbas Kasimili Gokal, the world's biggest fraudster, yesterday received the longest sentence ever handed down by a British court for fraud. Gokal, the man at the centre of the collapse of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International, was jailed for 14 years at the Old Bailey. The defendant, who had fought his case on legal aid, was also ordered to pay a record pounds 2.94m from his personal assets within two years or face three more years in prison.

Foster quits over Cabinet post snub

Tony Blair suffered his first ministerial resignation yesterday, just four days after coming into office.

Mawhinney's defective ploy

The story of the "defector who wasn't" should have been good news for Brian Mawhinney yesterday. Instead, the Tory chairman found himself fleeing into the conference centre pursued by journalists.

Labour takes the heat over out-of-town shopping

A leading countryside group attacked Labour after its front- bench spokesman, Keith Vaz, said the party was more in favour of out-of- town shopping developments than the Government. The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) criticised a speech by Mr Vaz at a planning conference in Canary Wharf, east London, saying its tone was "disturbing". He told planners, politicians and developers that out-of-town supermarkets were innovative, exciting and ``the best in the world"; Whitehall should not stand in the way of "this retail revolution''. Neil Sinden, of the CPRE, promised the council would fight ``tooth and nail'' any attempt by a Labour government to relax restrictions on new out-of-town retail developments.

Curbs on shopping centres to save towns

The Government signalled the possible end of the development of new out- of-town shopping complexes yesterday when it unveiled a stringent set of planning guidelines designed to protect Britain's town centres.

Labour may relax ban on out-of-town shop centres

Labour is considering a relaxation of the Government's ban on new out-of-town shopping centres.

Vaz to answer 'racist' claim


When were you last ripped off?

RAT SCABIES, drummer with The Damned: We came back from a tour, went to get our money, and when we got to our new manager's office, there was nothing - no furniture, no manager, no money. He went with everything - it would have been thousands.

Letter: Local inspiration will make our inner cities bloom

Sir: The Government's inner-city policy is in a mess (' pounds 10bn wasted on failed inner-city policy', 17 June). Everyone knows it, including ministers.

Letter: The lives our MPs have to lead

Sir: I read with interest your leading article 'A professional Parliament' (21 May). As the wife of the MP Keith Vaz, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the pace of his life is truly unnatural. On many days we are woken up at the crack of dawn by the cheerful sound of the telephone or pager. It might be a journalist asking him to comment on some issue or an early riser who assumes that everyone else is or should be one.

Letter: Planning shambles at the heart of London

Sir: There has been a lot of talk recently about a strategic authority for London ('Does London need central rule?', 10 May), but it seems that the discussion revolves around the recreation of the Greater London Council.

Leading Article: Token gesture for a worthy cause

ANYONE compiling a short history of pointless gestures might consider giving space to the 24-hour 'hunger' strike upon which the Labour MP Keith Vaz embarked yesterday afternoon. His gesture was one of solidarity with the thousands of Hindus protesting in London yesterday against the closure of a temple in Hertfordshire donated to the Hare Krishna movement by the former Beatle, George Harrison. The local council's decision was prompted by complaints from local inhabitants that thousands of worshippers were causing disruption by blocking roads in the vicinity at weekends.

Race bias Bill

The pounds 11,000 compensation limit which industrial tribunals can award in race discrimination cases is to be scrapped after Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, gained an unopposed Third Reading for his Race Relations (Remedies) Bill.

The baby we love, but never knew: Life can never be the same for Keith Vaz MP and his wife since their first child was stillborn

I had just finished dinner in the Members' Dining-Room with Harriet Harman, Tom Clarke and other colleagues - discussing the outcome of the Shadow Cabinet elections - when the pager bleeped and asked me to respond to a telephone number that I didn't recognise.
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