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Page last updated at 06:51 GMT, Friday, 20 January 2012
Today: Friday 20th January

The government says 370,000 foreign migrants are in Britain claiming out of work benefits. How committed is the government to holding US style open primaries for Westminster seats? And also on the programme, the lead singer of the band Elbow on the campaign to keep live music in pubs.

Business news with Simon Jack on a week of disappointing results for US banks. The Friday boss is chief executive of Merlin Entertainment Nick Varney.

An Oxford academic has uncovered letters by Voltaire which reveal how much this icon of French writing profited financially and intellectually from a stay in England. Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of Oxford University's Voltaire foundation, described how he came across the letters.

More than 370,000 migrants who were admitted to Britain to work, study or go on holiday are now claiming out-of-work benefits according to figures compiled by Department for Work and Pensions. Sir Andrew Green, director of the pressure group Migration Watch, and Dr Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the think tank the IPPR, discuss the figures.

MPs are looking to scrap a law which makes it illegal for small music venues to put on gigs without seeking local authority permission. Guy Garvey, lead singer for the band Elbow, explains the campaign to reinvigorate live music.

Business news with Simon Jack.

Is Scotland a drain on the UK economy or would Scots be better off on their own? Scotland correspondent Colin Blane has been looking at the economic landscape of the region to see if the SNP's argument, that independence would make Scotland more prosperous, has any weight.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

How committed is the government to holding US-style open primaries for Westminster seats? The residents of Totnes in Devon made a piece of political history in 2009 when they held an "open primary" vote to choose a Conservative candidate for the 2010 general election. The Today programme's Justin Webb returned to Totnes to find out how it worked out.

The paper review.

A cyber war has erupted between the authorities in the US and hackers in retaliation to the US government shutting down file-sharing site Megaupload. Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has the details and Graham Cluley, computer security expert at Sophos, analyses the implications.

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

An NHS Trust in Mid Yorkshire is so short of doctors it is thinking of asking the army to provide medical staff to help out. Dr Taj Hassan, consultant at Leeds General Infirmary and vice president of the College of Emergency Medicine, outlines his concerns.

According to government figures just over 370,000 people claiming benefits are migrants who came to the UK as foreign nationals. Employment Minister Chris Grayling explains the government commitment to bringing the number down.

It is just over a decade since the author WG Sebald was killed in a car crash at the age of 57. He is now being recognised as one the most important contemporary authors, as a new film documenting one his books reveals. Tom Bateman reports on the life of the author.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

During the revolution in Egypt, the head of news at Egyptian state TV and radio was driven out and attacked by his own staff. Now Abdel Latif El-Menawy has written a book about his relationship with the former regime and reflects on the tumultuous time during the Arab Spring uprising.

Business news with Simon Jack.

The government's commitment to holding US-style primaries, as seen in Totnes, Devon, before the last general election, seems to have been watered down. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan and former Labour cabinet minister Margaret Beckett debate the pros and cons of these types of elections.

The 2012 Republican primary contest has had many twists and turns this month, with some surprise winners and predictable dropouts in recent days. But one steady yet surprising candidate is Ron Paul, a Texas Congressman, medical doctor and libertarian. Mark Mardell reports on his rise, and the youth movement responsible for his success.

As part of our series on Scottish independence, Dr Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering and Dan Macdonald of Macdonald Estates, a property development company, discuss whether Scotland's economy would be better or worse off under independence.

The government is to hold a public consultation on whether a controversial form of IVF should be legalised, which would help couples with potentially fatal genetic disorders to conceive. Professor Lisa Jardine, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), explains how the process would work.


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