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Monday, 6 December, 1999, 07:08 GMT
Papers keep heat on Prescott



The continuing difficulties facing the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, are given much attention - with several papers featuring pictures of him apparently struggling to stay awake during the opening ceremony of the Indian Economic Summit.

The Daily Mail considers whether the "merciless Indian sunshine" was to blame or whether Mr Prescott was "simply feeling the heat from 4,000 miles back home".

The Guardian predicts that Mr Prescott will come under renewed pressure later this month when an official inquiry into new rail safety devices recommends a cheaper solution than the 1bn system he promised after the Paddington disaster.

It believes that if Mr Prescott agrees to the recommendation, he will lay himself open to charges that he has "gone for a second rate solution".

The Mirror sees the answer to Mr Prescott's woes as being the break up of his super ministry covering transport, environment and the regions. It concludes that "not even a political superman could properly run such a mammoth ministry".

The Daily Telegraph carries claims by a senior NHS consultant that elderly patients are dying because of an unspoken policy of "involuntary euthanasia", designed to relieve pressure on the health service.

It says police are investigating 60 cases involving pensioners who have died after allegedly being deprived of food and water by hospital staff.

Organ scandal growing

The growing concerns about the collection of organs from dead babies occupy the front page of The Daily Mail.

It reports that the Chief Medical Officer is to order every hospital in Britain to say whether they have carried out the practice without parents' knowledge.

Under a headline "Nasa future is looking lost in space", the Express views the apparent loss of the 100m Mars probe as undermining the entire future of space exploration.

It says the space agency's efforts to explore the final frontier now seem "closer to Monty Python's search for the holy grail than Captain Kirk's quest to go where no man has gone before".

The Times questions the wisdom of Nasa's strategy of "faster, better, cheaper" missions - which it believes will leave the agency open to claims that it's trying to do too much with too little.

The prospect of live theatre being reduced to "two-men-in-a-pub plays, pantomines starring ageing soap stars and bland American musicals" is raised in The Guardian.

A report says the Theatre Trust is predicting a "meltdown" if theatres continue to be starved of funding and encouraged by the government to provide "access over excellence".

The paper reports that the Trust fears the slow death of regional repertory, leaving only unadventurous West End shows "classified as tourist attractions".

After confounding the pop pundits by reaching number one with his new record Millennium Prayer, The Mirror reports how Sir Cliff Richard has topped a poll of the best known living Christians - ahead of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope.

In the survey carried out by a Christian radio station, Sir Cliff also scored above the Queen and the former Beirut hostage, Terry Waite.

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