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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 09:23 UK
Today: Thursday 1st April

Bosses of some of the UK's biggest firms have backed Conservative plans to scrap part of a planned National Insurance rise if they win power. And more than 100 rail passengers were rescued after becoming stranded in a snowdrift in the Highlands.

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All the main political parties have pledged to make efficiency savings if they come to power. Labour are planning to make £11bn of savings over three years and the Conservatives have promised to save £12bn, half of which could be found made almost immediately. Colin Talbot, professor of public policy and management at Manchester Business School, looks back on how previous efficiency drives have performed.

More than 100 rail passengers have been rescued after being stranded on a train for six hours after it became stuck in a snow drift. The train travelling from Edinburgh to Inverness stopped six miles north of Aviemore. Ian McDonald reports from the site.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said he can see why arguments for using contraception to tackle poverty in developing nations are "attractive". The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, made the comments in a BBC interview. The Catholic Church has always been totally opposed to the use of any form of contraception. Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper The Tablet, examines Archbishop Nichols' comments.

From today households who have installed renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind mills will get paid a fixed rate for generating their own power under the government's feed-in tariff scheme. Environment analyst Roger Harrabin outlines the programme.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Do new buildings improve school standards? Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said the government's Building Schools for the Future programme will continue despite government spending cuts. 140 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished with another 1000 projects in the pipeline. Reporter Sanchia Berg visited one of the first schools to be rebuilt, in Newcastle.

The paper review.

Could William Shakespeare be French? New evidence unearthed at the site of his Stratford home suggests that the mother of England's most famous son was French. The French Ministry of Culture has told the Today programme that it wants to honour the playwright as a member of France's own pantheon of great writers. Nicola Stanbridge reports on the Shakespeare's hidden past.

Thought for the day with the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool.

MPs are warning that children in England are spending too much time in the classroom. A report by the Children, Schools and Families Committee says that children, especially those from poorer backgrounds, are not being offered enough trips and excursions to learn firsthand about the world outside their classrooms. Barry Sheerman MP, Labour chair of the committee, explains the decline in outside school learning.

A former top barrister, David Vaughan, has been ordered to pay a lump sum to his first wife 15 years after the original divorce in 1985. Philippa Vaughan went to the Court of Appeal to reverse a ruling by a High Court judge who refused her application for a lump sum payment after her £27,175-a-year maintenance was discharged last year. Toby Hales, Mrs Vaughan's solicitor outlines the case, and Nigel Shepherd, spokesman for Resolution, examines what precedence the case sets for future divorce cases.

More than 20 bosses from some of the countries biggest companies have backed Conservative plans to scrap part of a planned National Insurance rise if they win power. Conservative leader David Cameron outlines his party's economic policies.

Do you know where the origins of your surname come from? A research project at the University of the West of England launched today aims to produce the largest-ever database of UK family surnames and their origins. Richard Coates, Professor of Linguistics at the university, discusses how the database will work.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

It is 20 years since the UK's worst prison riot erupted at Strangeways Prison, Manchester, which left two men dead and 194 injured. Prison governor at the time of the riots, Brendan O'Friel, and one of the riot's central ring-leaders Paul Taylor, look back on how the riots started.

When the Frenchman Michel Barnier was appointed European Commissioner for the Internal Market last year President Sarkozy declared, "the English are the big losers in this business". The remarks sparked fears that the new Commissioner would interfere in the regulation of the City of London. Today presenter Evan Davis spoke to Mr Barnier about his financial regulation ambitions.

President Obama announced yesterday that large areas of the US's offshore waters will be used to drill oil and gas for the first time. The move is being seen as a significant concession after Republican demands during the 2008 election campaign. Paul Bledsoe from the National Commission of Energy Policy and former advisor to President Clinton, explains Obama's change in energy policy.

The government's proposal to increase National insurance, placing an additional tax on jobs, comes at exactly the wrong time in the economic cycle. So says the letter signed by 23 businessman in this morning's Daily Telegraph. Two of them sit on Gordon Brown's Business Council. Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, comments on the letter.

Award winning London-based artist Anish Kapoor has been chosen to design a spectacular new visitor attraction for the London 2012 Olympic Park for his design The ArcelorMittal Orbit. The attraction aims to ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games, providing the key Olympic legacy envisaged for the East End. Architecture and design critic for The Guardian Jonathan Glancey, and one of Britain's leading traditionalist architects Robert Adam, consider what makes a design legacy.

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



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