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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Shadow minister 'shocked' by son's death
The teenage son of shadow trade and industry secretary David Heathcoat-Amory has committed suicide.

Matthew Heathcoat-Amory took his life at the family's home in Perthshire, Scotland on Thursday.

The second son of the Conservative MP for Wells in Somerset, the 19-year-old had just returned from a gap year in Vietnam and was due to go to Newcastle University in the autumn.

In a statement, Mr Heathcoat-Amory and his wife Linda said the family was "deeply shocked" by the tragedy and was doing its best to come to terms with it.

They asked for privacy from the media.


Charity attacks government's 'hypocrisy'

Children in poverty are being failed by the government's "breathtaking" arrogance and insensitivity, according to a leading charity.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) accused the government of ignoring the overwhelming evidence that the social fund was not working.

CPAG director Martin Barnes said the government's refusal to accept select committee's "recommendations is surprising, disappointing and reeks of hypocrisy."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "The government is committed to eradicating child poverty and the policies it has implemented clearly demonstrate this commitment."


Prescott challenged, 'Justify your job'

The Liberal Democrats are challenging John Prescott to justify his job as the deputy prime minister has not taken his usual summer high profile.

Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten said the days were gone when Mr Prescott would enter the media spotlight when other ministers were away, including when he once compared Peter Mandelson to a crab.

He said: "Very few of this summer's government announcements have involved the man who is supposed to be running the show. It all begs the question: what does John Prescott actually do?"

The new role in the Cabinet Office Mr Prescott was given in the post-election reshuffle is officially described as "Working with Number 10, departments and others, to secure: excellence in policy-making; responsive, high quality public services and information age government."


Lib Dems to debate sex shop laws

Demands for the laws on pornography to be relaxed are on the agenda at next month's Liberal Democrat party conference.

Delegates will debate allowing a possible increase in the number of sex shops, as well as the sale of "top shelf" magazines to 16-year-olds.

The conference begins in the south coast resort town of Bournemouth on 23 September.

Other topics for debate include measures to increase the number of women candidates and MPs and the government's plans for more private sector involvement in public services.

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