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Page last updated at 08:50 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008
Today: Monday 24 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.

An announcement of a rise in income tax is expected in the pre-Budget report. Police forces are to make Taser stun guns a common sight on the streets of England and Wales. And was the latest Guns N' Roses album worth the 14 year wait?

The pre-Budget report is expected to include an increase in the top band of income tax and a cut in VAT. Economics editor Hugh Pym analyses the government's gamble and Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, discusses the details.

The police are rarely out of the news, but we hardly ever hear about the detail of their job. Home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw has been given special access to the West Mercia constabulary and in his first report he visits the Worcester Police Station to look at how they approach crime and public protection.

0723 Business news with Adam Shaw.

A quarter of the children born in the UK each year are delivered by caesarean section. The government is attempting to lower that number, but they are being accused of pandering to the natural childbirth lobby by a group called the Birth Trauma Association (BTA) Maureen Treadwell, co-founder of the BTA and Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, debate the pros and cons of a natural birth.

0728 Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Taser stun guns are to become standard police equipment. The Home Secretary has agreed to expand the use of Tasers beyond dedicated firearms officers to wider police response officers, following a successful trial in ten police forces. Alan Campbell, the Home Office minister responsible for crime reduction, discusses the issue with Oliver Sprague of Amnesty International.

The US government has announced a rescue plan for the banking giant Citigroup. Peter Hahn, a fellow at Cass Business School and former managing director at Citigroup, says it was inconceivable that the world's biggest bank could fail.

The paper review.

Fiona Shaw, one of the greatest classical actress of her generation, is taking on a new role - as an opera director. She has won praise as an actress for her performances in Hedda Gabbler, Electra and Medea and to film-goers she is probably best known for playing Harry Potter's evil Aunt Petunia. In her new role for the English National Opera she is working on the production of Riders to the Sea, by Vaughan Williams. Arts correspondent Rebecca Jones reports from the opera rehearsals.

Thought for the day with Canon David Winter.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer has raised concerns over the American missile strike that is believed to have killed the British terrorism suspect Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, saying the attack led to "the execution of a British subject". Security correspondent Frank Gardner analyses whether Britain's intelligence services knew about the attack in advance, and Rashid Rauf's lawyer in Pakistan Hashmat Ali Habib shares his concerns over the US air strike.

Alistair Darling is expected to announce a cut in VAT, confirm a big increase in government borrowing, and revise down Government expectations for economic growth and tax revenues, as he sets out his pre-Budget report. More surprisingly, he is expected to announce his intention to increase the top rate of income tax, breaking a New labour pledge that has held since Tony Blair came to power in 1997. Is this the answer to our economic woes, or is the government risking a sterling crisis and its ability to borrow money in the future? Former treasury minister Geoffrey Robinson, business editor Robert Peston and political editor Nick Robinson give their analysis of the economic plan.

The long-awaited new album from Guns 'N' Roses has been released in the UK. It is called Chinese Democracy and it has taken 14 years to make, costing a rumoured $13m. The only original member of the band is singer Axl Rose. There have been so many rumours and false-starts surrounding the album that many people thought it would never see the light of day. Rock journalist Paul Elliot and Phil Alexander, editor-in-chief of Mojo, discuss whether the new album has been worth the wait.

0827 Sport with Garry Richardson.

At least 18 people have been killed in two rush-hour bomb attacks in Baghdad. Andrew North reports from the Iraqi capital.

British man Rashid Rauf is believed to have been killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan. He has been accused of being involved in the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic planes with liquid bombs. Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the High Commissioner for Pakistan in the UK, shares his views on the possible collaboration between the UK and US intelligent services ahead of the missile strike.

The chairman of the Environment Agency is to condemn the building of Heathrow's third runway at the agency's national conference. Lord Smith argues it would make it impossible to meet legally binding targets on air pollution, due to come into force in 2010. He is also calling for a 'Green New Deal' for the UK economy to drive investment in clean energy and create jobs, claiming the environment is as vital to future society as education, health and the economy.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Britain will fail to clear the Falkland Islands of landmines next year despite signing an international treaty promising to do so. This week the government will ask more than 100 other countries which ratified the treaty to grant it a 10-year extension. Angus Crawford reports on whether the move damages the UK's reputation.

At a Cambridge University lecture this week Dr Justin Barrett will argue it is the natural default position of children to believe in God. This challenges the view of some atheists that religion is learned through family indoctrination. Dr Barrett, of Oxford University, discusses whether religion or atheism is learned with scientist and writer Professor Lewis Wolpert.

The centrepiece of the government's pre-budget report will be a fiscal stimulus package aimed at increasing demand and staving off the worst impact of recession. Chancellor Alistair Darling will announce that there will be a cut in VAT when he makes his big statement in the House of Commons. Would this encourage people to spend tax cuts rather than save them? Economists Tim Harford and Steven Bell discuss whether the plan will work.



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