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Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011
Today: Friday 7th January

The government has botched its "bonfire of the quangos", according to an influential committee of MPs. Also in the programme, England revel in the rarity of thrashing Australia in the final Ashes test.

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Business news with Dominic Laurie.

The Chairman of the Parole Board of England and Wales, Sir David Latham, has said he is "concerned" that re-offending rates among life sentence prisoners freed on licence may be higher than the figures suggest. Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw reports.

Rushed plans to axe scores of quangos will neither save money nor improve accountability, MPs warned today in a scathing condemnation of the "botched" process. Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin chaired the Public Administration Select Committee that made the evaluation, and he explains why reform will not work.

The England cricket team have retained the Ashes and defeated Australia in a stunning final test of the series. Nick Bryant reports on reaction at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Business news with Dominic Laurie.

With fuel prices set to rise, David Cameron announced this week that the government is looking at the idea of a "fuel stabiliser", under which duty would vary to counterbalance price rises. The president of the AA Edmund King considers the benefits of the idea. And Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, analyses the impact on public finances.

The people of Southern Sudan will vote this weekend in a referendum over whether to split from the north, sparking fears of war amongst the international community. Correspondent Mike Thomson is in the southern capital Juba and explains why the result may be a foregone conclusion.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

With nearly a million under 25-year-olds already unemployed, there are fears that the impact of spending cuts and the VAT rise may leave even more of this generation without a job in 2011. Reporter Tom Bateman has tracked the progress of a couple of young people looking for work in Lancashire and Wiltshire.

Despite widespread calls for bankers' bonuses to be curbed, after taxpayers bailed out the the banks during the credit crisis, the government is now being criticised for failing to act. Business editor Robert Peston analyses the coalition's position.

Paper review.

The language spoken in Greece today differs widely from the language of ancient Greece, but researchers have discovered a new dialect which they describe as a linguistic goldmine. Dr Ioanna Sitaridou, professor of Romance Philology at Cambridge University, reveals how close the dialect Romeka is to that of Homer and Plato.

Thought for the Day with Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet.

Nick Clegg is expected to use a speech today to underline the government's intention to replace the current control orders system. Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, debates the success of control orders in protecting the public.

Government efforts to scrap expensive and often ineffective quangos have been criticised by MPs, who say the process has been "botched." The minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude and Sir Ian Magee, who gave evidence to the committee that made the claim, debate the way the "bonfire of the quangos" has been lit.

The BBC has received thousands of complaints about an EastEnders storyline involving a bereaved mother who lost her baby to cot death and then snatched someone else's child to compensate. Former EastEnders actress Sheila Hancock and Andrew Billen, TV critic on The Times, discuss why the actress playing the mother has had to leave the show, and what the emotional trauma of acting such a role can be.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to argue today for reform on control orders, which can be used to put indefinite restrictions on terrorism suspects. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett explains why he believes that scrapping control orders would amount to "treachery".

With a million under 25-year-olds out of work and more jobs in 2011 under threat, the Today Programme has been tracking two young people searching for jobs in Wiltshire and Lancashire. Professor David Bell of the University of Stirling director of the Prince's Trust, Paul Brown, debate youth unemployment.

Police investigating the murder of Jo Yeates have asked for patience, saying it "will take time" to find her killer. The policeman leading the investigation, Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford, discusses the latest developments.

Eggs from German farms where animal feed has been contaminated by dioxins have found their way into processed products destined for British food. Alison Gleadle, head of food hygiene at the Food Standards Agency, explains whether there is cause for concern.

Many Brits have had enough of the snowy weather conditions, but some people have embraced the cold and ice for their artistic and musical pursuits. Nicola Stanbridge reports a Norwegian composer who is performing in London this weekend using an orchestra of instruments created from frozen Norwegian lakes and rivers.

Predictions of a new era for English cricket are rife following the series win over Australia, finished in style with an innings victory in the last test. Dan Topolski, former Oxford rowing coach, and Edward Craig, the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketer Magazine, discuss what makes this team so special.


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