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Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008
Today: Friday 21 November 2008

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to offer transcripts for our programme interviews. Today is broadcast live and the running order is subject to change.

The government has been warned by one if its own advisers that its welfare reforms could force more people into poverty. The BBC Trust is to announce its findings on the offensive broadcast by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. And we'll ask whether that BBC controversy has helped to undermine the future of the licence fee.

The banks are failing to lend enough to the business and especially the small business sector, causing quietly-growing panic about the potential consequences of this. John McFall MP, chair of Treasury Select Committee, discusses the options of naming and shaming - or nationalising banks - or government lending directly to businesses.

Business news with Nick Cosgrove.

Many children in Northern Ireland will sit the second half of their 11-plus exam - the last pupils to do so. The exam is being scrapped but nothing has been established to replace it. Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, former head of the civil service in Northern Ireland, discusses the move.

The anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr has called on his supporters to dismiss a proposed security pact with the United States which the Iraqi parliament is due to vote on on Monday. The agreement is supposed to come into force in the new year, replacing the UN resolution which currently legalises the US presence in Iraq. Andrew North reports from Baghdad.

Manchester's plan to introduce a congestion charging scheme is being put to the vote - ballot papers go out next week. Nick Ravenscroft explains why the plans are causing such controversy.

Sport news with Rob Nothman.

From Monday, it is going to be more difficult for single parents to get benefits. Until now they have had income support automatically. But if the child is over 12, the government wants the lone parent to look for work and so they will get the jobseekers allowance instead. That means having to report to a job centre and prove they're looking for a job. Kim Catcheside investigates if the plan should be put off because of the economic crisis. Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell responds to criticism of the plans.

Today's papers.

Is it better to push your child in an outward facing buggy, so your baby looks out on the world, or an inward-facing one, where it sees your face you but little else? Researchers have been tackling this question and their findings suggest that inward-facing prams could be better for your child's development and well-being. Zubeida Malik asks some mothers what they made of it. Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, senior lecturer at Dundee University, discusses the research findings.

Thought for the day with Vishvapani.

American car makers have asked the US government for a $25bn bailout. Senators are thought to have come up with a plan, but it's unclear if they have the support to get it through in the context of rising unemployment. Jonathan Beale investigates if the car makers Ford, Chrysler and General Motors can prove that their businesses are viable. Dr Robert Shapiro, former under-secretary of commerce in the US, shares his outlook for the future.

The BBC is to release its report into the Jonathan Ross-Russell Brand affair. Two BBC managers resigned as a result of the controversy that erupted over the offensive telephone calls left by the Radio 2 presenters on the answer phone of the actor Andrew Sachs last month. Andrew Hosken reports. Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer, answers the criticism about how the BBC handled the crisis.

Final preparations are being made for a referendum next week on whether or not a congestion charge should be introduced in Manchester. Hundreds of thousands of local people will vote by post on the issue, with many business leaders claiming the levy is essential if the region is to continue to develop economically. John Tongue, professor of politics at Liverpool University, explains why he is in favour and Gordon McKinnon, at the Trafford Centre, voices his opposition.

Sport news with Rob Nothman.

The banks are under attack for failing to lend enough to the business and especially the small business sector. Comments from John McFall, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, threatened the banks and there are echoes of that attack in comments attributed to the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, who's said to be "exasperated" by the "moral failure" of banks to lend to families and small businesses. So what can be done about it? Angela Knight, from the British Bankers' Association, explains the banks' position and Robert Peston analyses what banks and government can do.

The BBC has uncovered evidence of the use of torture by the Russian security forces. Correspondent Richard Galpin has managed to get into the predominantly Muslim republic of Ingushetia in southern Russia and has met torture victims and families who say their relatives have been shot dead for no apparent reason apart from the fact they were devout Muslims.

Business update with Nick Cosgrove

Is a meritocracy a good or bad thing? The word was coined 50 years ago by Michael Young. Now his son, Toby Young, believes we have something he's dubbed a celebritariat. Even those at the bottom of the social totem pole believe they can rise to the top because they see celebrities doing it. But David Goodhart, the editor of Prospect, disagrees.

Much has been made in the media over the current financial crisis, but is it really that bad? Are today's financial journalists guilty of over-emphasising the situation? And how much of the problem is down to their making? Damian Tambini, senior lecturer at the London School of Economics, and Ian King, from the Times, discuss the idea.



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