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Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Today: Tuesday 20th March

Evan Davis is in Birmingham ahead of the Budget as five banks sign up for the government's scheme to get more credit flowing to small and medium-sized enterprises. And also on the programme, a huge manhunt is under way in France after the killings at a school in Toulouse.

We are no longer providing clips of every part of the programme but you will be able to listen via the BBC iPlayer .

Business news with Simon Jack on a £20bn government scheme to try to boost bank lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.


A new study has found that mankind's ancestors may have started walking on two legs simply because it allowed them to carry more food away in their hands, boosting their chance of survival. William McGrew, professor of Evolutionary Primatology at the University of Cambridge, told the Today programme's Justin Webb that they tested the "carrying hypothesis" which postulated that animals stood up because they had free hands to carry objects.


Schools in France will observe a minute's silence today following the murder of three children and an adult at a Jewish school in Toulouse

yesterday. Elie Petit, vice-president of the Union of Jewish students in France, describes the shock of the attack.

The Queen will address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall later this morning to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Historian and Royal commentator Rafal Heydel-Mankoo reflects on the significance of this day.


It is nearly three years since a campaign, led by Joanna Lumley, gave Gurkhas the right to settle in the UK. More than 10,000 visas have been granted with many Gurkhas gravitating to the military town of Aldershot where Nicola Stanbridge went to see how they were getting on.

Business news with Simon Jack.

Hollywood director James Cameron may be close to making a dive to the deepest place on Earth in a one-man submarine. Science reporter Rebecca Morelle speaks to him about his plans to dive 11km down beneath the waves to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


Since George Osborne's last Budget a year ago, the average household has seen its disposable income fall with most people having to adjust to rising prices and stagnant incomes. From Birmingham, the Today programme's Evan Davis speaks to three people in that situation to hear how they've been coping. This is extended version of the broadcast interview.

Paper review.


A play to be broadcast on the Afternoon Play on Radio 4, called Noise, is based around a character who is constantly threatened by noises she can't make sense of. The playwright of Noise Alex Bulmer, who is also blind, describes how she realised how her perception of sound is different to people who have their sight.

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

One of the biggest manhunts in recent times is underway in France as police search for a gunman who killed a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse. Paris correspondent Christian Fraser reports on the mood in the country while political commentator Agnes Poirier reflects on whether this was a politically or racially motivated attack.


One of the government's big ideas for stimulating growth in the economy is credit easing - using taxpayers money to encourage bank lending to small and medium sized firms (SMEs) The Today programme's Evan Davis visited a company called Strip Tinning Automotive in Birmingham to find out more about SME financing. While business editor Robert Peston outlines how this new scheme would work. Read more here.


Some of the greatest classical pianists of the last century have all been westerners but a 28-year-old Chinese man could be about to join the ranks of the truly great. The Today programme's John Humphrys went to speak to Lang Lang ahead of his performance at the Albert Hall.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

A 49-year-old man from Kent is facing extradition to Portugal for a crime he was cleared of in 1995. Home affairs editor Danny Shaw speaks to Graham Mitchell who is wanted by the Portuguese for attempting to murder a German tourist while Dominic Raab, Conservative MP and member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, reflects on what this case says about extradition more broadly.

Birmingham has been touting itself to Sovereign Wealth funds to provide funding for new property developments. Councillor Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, talks about growth in the region.

Organisers of the London Olympics will meet leading UK bookmakers today in an effort to tackle the threat of illegal gambling scandals during the Games. Lord Moynihan, chair of the British Olympic Association, outlines why illegal betting is a massive threat to 2012.


Gold has always done well in times of crisis and the recent one has been no exception but what about diamonds? Clifford Elphick from Gem Diamonds, which supplies Tiffany, and whose net profits have more than tripled to $68m told the Today programme's Simon Jack that the demand coming out of China is driving the price rise.


We seem to have heard more about what will be in tomorrow's budget than in the lead up to any previous budget. Will Straw, associate director for strategic development at the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research, and Dr Madsen Pirie, president of the Adam Smith Institute, debate whether this approach owes more to interventionism than a belief in the free market.

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