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News stand: What the papers say


Transport is to be included in Britain's commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010 as agreed in Kyoto. The decision could affect the long term strategy on transport due to be set out by transport secretary Alistair Darling next week, as well as aviation policy.

The number of 'targets' for government departments has been cut by 15 to 110 following complaints that they distort priorities. Targets to cut traffic congestion have been abandoned until July 2005 as the measurement system was deemed unreliable.


Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph welcomed moves such as the inclusion of the transport department in government Kyoto targets. But he criticised Gordon Brown's backing for the Thames Gateway Bridge.

Freight Transport Association chief executive Richard Turner accused Chancellor Gordon Brown of failing to provide promised transport funding increases and abandoning the commitment to create a high standard of transport infrastructure.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling envisages greater local authority and regional involvement in transport decision-making.

The Blairite Institute for Public Policy Research associate director Tony Grayling warned that although welcome, increased funding for transport was likely to be absorbed by higher rail operating costs.

The Chancellor has announced a 'jumble sale' of government assets, aiming to raise up to £30M, which could see the Department of Transport selling spare railway sidings.

Free nursery education is to be extended to 12,000 two year olds by 2008 in a pilot scheme. The scheme forms part of a 5.2% rise in spending on education from 2004 to 2008.


Deputy prime minister John Prescott will have £1.3bn to spend on new housing. This will allow subsidies to private developers to build 200,000 homes in designated 'growth areas' like the Thames Gateway, Milton Keynes, the Stansted to Cambridge M11 corridor and Ashford in Kent.

The planning system is to be simplified to speed up the process.


Health has emerged as the key priority for the government following this week's comprehensive spending review.


Government spending as a share of national income is nearly 6% less in Britain than in the 15 established European Union countries, according to European Commission figures.

When expressed as a share of national income, only Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania are projected to have lower levels of government spending by 2005.

Britain lags behind most major developing countries in spending on research and development and science lecturer salaries. Despite this, OECD figures show that with 1% of the world population we produce 8% of the world's scientific publications while 9% of citations from other researchers refer to papers originating in Britain.

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