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Page last updated at 07:36 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Today: Tuesday 16th March

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The European Commission says the Government's plans to bring down the budget deficit are not ambitious enough. A five-year-old British boy who was reported kidnapped in Pakistan has been found safe and well. And the Woodland Trust say they have uncovered striking evidence that spring flowering is weeks behind.

People are going to their doctor when they could be getting what they need to make them well from their pharmacist, according to research commissioned by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain which represents companies that make over-the-counter drugs, and this could be costing the NHS £2bn a year. Dr Michael Dixon, a GP and one of the advocates of the Self Help Campaign, and one of our listeners Lesley Abraham who's been ticked off by doctors in the past when she has gone to see them, discuss whether we can manage minor ailments so that doctors and nurses can concentrate on more serious cases.

British Airways says it will be able to keep 60% of its long haul flights in the air, but only 30% of the short haul flights during the first three-day strike by the Unite union. Airline industry analyst Douglas McNeil examines the battle between management and union and who is likely to prevail.

The government is spending more money than it has, and both of the main parties are promising cuts. But nobody dares spell out where it is going to hurt. During the election campaign Kevin Connolly will be reporting for us from around the UK. But today he is still in the US, reporting from New Jersey, the state with the worst deficit in America and where the recently-elected conservative governor will deliver his first budget later today.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The five-year-old British boy who was kidnapped in Pakistan earlier this month has been found safe and well. Sahil Saeed was taken from his grandmother's house, while on holiday with his father. Correspondent Nick Ravenscroft reports from outside the boy's family home in Oldham.

The paper review.

A draft report leaked to the Reuters news agency indicates that the European Commission says the UK's deficit reduction plan in insufficiently "ambitious" with respect to the EU target of getting deficits down to a gap of 3% of economic output within five years. Europe editor Gavin Hewitt discusses the leaked document and whether the UK's economic forecast may be too optimistic.

BA workers' plans to strike have once again drawn attention to the links between Labour and Unite. The union is a hugely powerful political force, bankrolling Labour to the tune of £11m since 2007 and setting its members to work, drumming up votes in marginal seats. At the centre of the operation is Unite's political director, Charlie Whelan. Political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti details the re-emergence of Gordon Brown's former spin-doctor.

Thought for the day with Anne Atkins, novelist and columnist.

Almost a third of council chief executives in England have been given pay-offs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds when they leave their job. A report by the Audit Commission indicates that 37 chief executives were given an average of a quarter of a million pounds when they left their job. Chair of the Audit Commission Michael O'Higgins outlines his belief that there needs to be more accountability.

A week before the Chancellor Alistair Darling delivers the final budget before the general election the European Commission is to publish a report questioning his plans to curb the UK's budget deficit. Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne debate what the UK needs to do more to cut its ballooning budget deficit in the medium term.

British Airways vowed to keep 60% of its customers flying during the looming strikes as the dispute threatened to hit Labour's election campaign preparations. Joint General Secretary of the Unite union Tony Woodley outlines the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The five-year-old British boy who was reported kidnapped in Pakistan has been found safe and well. Sahil Saeed, who is from Oldham, was snatched from his grandmother's house earlier this month.

Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate says in a report today that offenders are escaping justice because prosecutors are failing to prepare cases properly. The report says CPS staff in London were "overloaded" by initiatives. Head of the Crown Prosecution Service in London Alison Saunders discusses the report's findings.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

One of the many mysteries about the human brain is why it took a great leap forward 200,000 years ago. Scientists have long been puzzled about why, after about three million years of gradual development, human brains suddenly doubled in size (relative to body weight). Last night, at the Royal Society Ferrier Award Lecture, Professor Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford and Warwick, tried to provide an answer.

A national campaign is launched today by the National Gamete Donation Trust to try to get more men to donate sperm. Fertility experts say donors have been put off by new laws that allow children born from donor sperm to trace their father when they reach 18. Former chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Baroness Deech explains why she now believes it was a mistake to end donor anonymity.

The Woodland Trust say they have uncovered striking evidence that spring flowering is weeks behind. Environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee reports from Waverley Forest where spring is yet to arrive.

The Commission for 2020 Public Services brings out a report today that criticises the current level of debate on public services and says more co-payments are needed for the services of the future. It recommends a profound shift in culture, power and finance, away from central government and towards citizens, communities and localities. Former head of the Audit Commission Sir Andrew Foster discusses the current fiscal situation.


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