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Page last updated at 05:07 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Today: Tuesday 2nd November

Prisoners are to be given the vote because of a European Court ruling that the current ban is unlawful. David Cameron and President Sarkozy are to sign treaties paving the way for closer military cooperation between Britain and France.

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Business news with Adam Shaw: BP is expected to return to profit this morning, just three months after permanently sealing off its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico. The Business and Enterprise Minister, Mark Prisk, has warned his own government that its policy of trying to help local businesses could be a "failure in large parts of England."

Estimates on jobs and the impact of the austerity measures suggest up to 1.6 million jobs will be lost, with more going in the private sector than the public sector. That's according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The Institute's chief economic adviser, Dr John Philpott, explains the figures.

Britain and France will today sign treaties establishing unprecedented defence cooperation, including the creation of a joint military force, the sharing of aircraft carriers and closer nuclear research. Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Institute, analyses the agreements.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

The government is to allow prisoners the right to vote, after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the present ban is unlawful. David Cameron is said to have reluctantly agreed to the change on being warned of the possibility of big compensation claims from prisoners. Juliet Lyons from the Prison Reform Trust reflects on the decision.

The Times embarked on what is perhaps the most significant business experiment in Britain this year: it built a so-called paywall around its online content and started charging users to view it. This is an important move, coming as as newspapers struggle to identify viable business models for themselves as traditional readers decline. The paper's editor, James Harding, gave us his impressions of the paywall's success.

Sports news with Gary Richardson.

America votes today, the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate and quite a lot more besides. James Naughtie gauges the mood in Washington ahead of the critical US midterm elections.

Paper review.

Silvio Berlusconi is in more trouble. An 18 year-old Moroccan belly dancer called Ruby claims to have gone to parties at the Italian prime minister's home and there are questions as to whether Mr Berlusconi abused his position to halt a police inquiry into Ruby for alleged theft. The BBC's Duncan Kennedy reports from Rome.

Thought for the Day with Anne Atkins

Children from the poorest backgrounds are twice as likely to have behavioural problems when they start school than their more affluent peers, according to research by the Sutton Trust. Sanchia Berg reports.

Two treaties will be signed today pointing to closer military and nuclear cooperation between the UK and France. The Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the BBC's Nick Robinson explained the politics and practicalities of the move.

Should prisoners be allowed to vote? The European Court thinks so. Tomorrow an appeal is to be heard in a British court involving a prisoner who wants to vote. The government plans to use that moment to make a statement saying they will now act to change the law. John Hirst, a prisoner who won his right to vote at the European Court and the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, give their views.

Sport news with Gary Richardson.

New restrictions on air freight were announced in the Commons yesterday by the Home Secretary in the wake of last week's discovery of bombs on board two planes. But the International Air Transport Association is to tell a global conference on security in Frankfurt today that the world economy depends on air-freight and over-reaction would slow that down. Our correspondent Steve Evans reports from Frankfurt.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Are the French our eternal enemies? We have fought in the past of course - at Agincourt, Waterloo and Trafalgar, for instance. Today Nicholas Sarkozy and David Cameron will declare a new era of defence collaboration. Historian Orlando Figes and Patrick Hennessy, the former Army captain who wrote the Junior Officers Reading Club, reflect on the not-so-cordiale history of the entente.

It's widely expected that the US Federal Reserve will today resume the policy of creating new money, known as Quantitative Easing or QE. Tomorrow the Bank of England holds its monthly meeting and QE will also be on the agenda. Correspondent Hugh Pym reports on the big decisions facing central bankers.

In the final days of the 100 Objects series here on Radio 4, listeners made suggestions for the object that had most shaped our age. One of the most popular candidates was the contraceptive pill. Its inventor, Carl Djerassi, emeritus professor at Stanford University, reflects on the power of The Pill.


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