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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Whitehall snubs feng shui
The corridors of Whitehall would get a new spiritual feel if consultants for the Department of Health (DoH) had their way.

Feng shui to change the working environment was among the proposals recommended by the consultants as part of wider advice on training.

But Health Secretary Alan Milburn and his officials decided not to take up the idea, despite the fact Cherie Blair once used the fashionable Oriental technique in Downing Street.

A DoH spokesman said: "It was all very nice but I think we will pass on that."

Tory contenders take break

Ken Clarke will have his eye on more than just the Conservative leadership contest as he takes his holiday in Australia.

Mr Clarke is heading Down Under with his wife Gillian on the trip, which will include his beloved pastime of birdwatching.

Rival challenger Iain Duncan Smith is by contrast reported to be spending the two week campaign truce agreed between the two camps at his parents-in-laws' Buckinghamshire estate.

But he met local activists in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on Monday, and will visit a countryside show in Devon later this week - both long-booked visits which he aides insist are excluded from the truce.

Pension policy under fire

The government's strategy to shake-up pension provision is set to come under fire from an influential left-leaning think-tank.

The Institute for Public Policy Research has identified widespread fears that the policy - centred on new stakeholder pensions and the forthcoming pension credit - is "unravelling", according to the Financial Times.

It has also cast doubt on the viability of plans to provide free nursing care to the elderly in England.

The think-tank reportedly concludes in an interim report out soon that "there are serious problems for the sustainability of the current settlement".

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