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Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Today: Wednesday 9th December

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 Chancellor will present his pre-Budget report today and is expected to announce a series of measures to halve the public deficit in four years. And inspectors have described children's services in nine local authorities in England as "poor".


The Chancellor is set to present his pre-budget report today. It is expected he will announce a one-off tax on bankers' bonuses to claw back money, and higher taxes for the rich. Economics editor Stefanie Flanders discusses the report.


To mark the Copenhagen summit, the Today programme's science correspondent Tom Feilden has been reporting on the effects of climate change. In the final part of his series he looks at the likely impact of global warming across southern Europe.


The Liberal Democrats have accused the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq of failing to be transparent after it said that some questioning of the former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee would be held in private. Sir John Scarlett played a central role in the intelligence claims that were made to support the invasion. Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats' Foreign Affairs spokesman, discusses his party's concerns.

Business news with Adam Shaw.


The Colombian singer Shakira has become a global phenomenon, her particular blend of Latin pop and rock winning her a massive following. Over the course of her 20-year career she has sold more than 50 million albums. The singer started writing songs when she was eight years old and signed her first record deal at the age of 13. This week Shakira has been performing in the UK and has addressed the Oxford Union about her efforts to promote universal education. Today presenter Evan Davis spoke to Shakira about her speech.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


A new website is being launched today that residents can use to compare housing, crime or children's services in their neighbourhood and find out how their area ranks across the country. Oneplace has been set up by the Audit Commission and five other inspectorates. Steve Bundred, chief executive of the Audit Commission, outlines the new service.

The paper review.


The system used by high street retailers to punish minor shoplifters who the police will not arrest, has been criticised in a Citizens' Advice Bureau report. The unregulated system of justice - "civil loss recovery" - is targeting many of the poorest people in society, who are forced to pay retailers hundreds of pounds in compensation for alleged thefts that have never been to court. The report accuses the companies subcontracted by retailers of deceitful and improper business practices to recover the monies. Correspondent Andrew Hosken investigates the use of civil loss recovery.

Thought for the day with Professor Mona Siddiqui, from the University of Glasgow.


A former drugs tsar claims that government in-fighting is undermining efforts to tackle prisoners' heroin addiction. Almost 20,000 inmates in England were prescribed the heroin substitute methadone last year, instead of being encouraged to use their time inside to get drug free. Mike Trace says the Department of Health wants to control treatment, and inmates are being diverted away from Ministry of Justice schemes to get them off heroin. Home affairs editor Mark Easton examines drug policy for prisoners.


The Chancellor Alistair Darling will stake his government's future on tax rises for the rich to bring down a record budget deficit in today's pre-budget report (PBR). With the promised economic recovery still on hold and an election due in less than six months it is the most eagerly anticipated PBR since Gordon Brown introduced them in 1997. Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times discuss the expected policies. Political editor Nick Robinson outlines the possible effect of the pre-budget report on Labour in the build up to the general election.


Egypt's most senior antiquities official is in London today to push on with a campaign to have the Rosetta Stone returned from the British Museum to the country. The 2,000 year-old stone tablet provides a key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and has been on display in the British Museum since 1802. Egypt argues that it is an icon of its identity that was stolen and should be returned But the head of its Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass, says he will drop his demand for its repatriation if the British Museum agrees to a temporary loan. Dr Hawass and Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, debate the stone's importance.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


One of the government's former drug tsars claims a battle over budgets between two Whitehall departments is undermining efforts to get to get prisoners off heroin. Mike Trace says ministerial infighting has resulted in record numbers of English prisoners being prescribed the addictive heroin substitute methadone instead of being encouraged to use their time inside to get drug free. Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve discusses the drug treatment policy.

Business news with Adam Shaw.


The London Chess Classic 2009 begins today. It has been billed as the highest level tournament in London for 25 years, the first in a series of events designed to invigorate UK chess. President of the English Chess Federation, CJ de Mooi, and Grand Master and three times British Chess Champion, Jonathan Rowson, discuss the game's renaissance.


Did sado-masochism play a pivotal role in artist Francis Bacon's creativity? John Richardson, an art historian who knew the artist from the 1940s, writes in the latest edition of the New York Review of Books that Mr Bacon was at his artistic best during his tumultuous relationship with George Dyer, and never recovered his previous form after Mr Dyer's suicide in 1971. John Richardson reflects on Bacon's works and life.


At least 127 people were killed and hundreds injured in a series of car bombings in Baghdad yesterday. The Iraqi government said the explosions aimed to de-stabilise the country ahead of general elections next year. Patrick Cockburn, the Independent's Middle East correspondent, discusses the attacks.


Today the Chancellor delivers the last pre-budget report before the general election. Political correspondent Iain Watson has been listening to what advice a former chancellor and a former paymaster general are offering at a difficult time for both the government and the opposition.


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