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Page last updated at 06:17 GMT, Tuesday, 27 March 2012 07:17 UK
Today: Tuesday 27th March

The government is issuing new planning guidance for England which is understood to include a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The National Audit Office says a crackdown on migrants who obtain student visas to enter Britain made the problem worse, not better. And also on the programme, "synthetic biology" - how scientists are making new forms of life.

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 news that the government has held talks to sell part of its stake in Royal Bank of Scotland to Abu Dhabi investors.


Tanker drivers delivering fuel to fuel forecourts across Britain have voted in favour of a strike in a dispute over safety and work conditions. Energy Secretary Ed Davey lreflects on the effects of this on the country.

Ministers are proposing to let the courts impose tougher restrictions on offenders who aren't sent to jail which could include courts being able to hand down the wider use of electronic tagging, curfews and travel bans. Tessa Webb, chief executive of Hertfordshire Probation Trust, which has been piloting the use of some of the new techniques, explains how these could make community sentences more effective forms of punishment.

Business news with Simon Jack.


A highly-critical report from the National Audit Office has revealed poor management and abuse of the overseas student visa system. Home affairs editor Danny Shaw has the details while Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, responds to the report.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


The former Labour cabinet minister Jack Straw has written to the Electoral Commission to ask that they investigate the allegations made in the Sunday Times tapes regarding donations from overseas. He explains why.

Paper review.


One of Britain's top research priorities is in the extraordinary new field of what's called "synthetic biology" where scientists design and create artificial DNA to produce everything from medicines to fuels to materials. The government hopes it will play an important part in economic growth while environmental campaigners warn of the risks of creating artificially-engineered organisms. Science editor David Shukman reports.

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

The BBC's Panorama programme has found that a News Corporation company allegedly recruited a pay-TV "pirate" to post hacked details of a rival's secret codes online. BBC Panorama reporter Vivian White outlines the investigation while Steve Hewlett, presenter of Radio 4's Media Show and former director of programmes at Carlton Television, gives his analysis.


The government will today reveal a new planning framework for England, which it says will help stimulate economic growth and provide much-needed new homes. Critics fear the new rules will favour development. The Today programme's Sanchia Berg spoke to a protestor and the developer of one project in Yorkshire that took eight years to work its way through the process. And planning minister Greg Clark responds.


Three men have been found guilty over a shooting in a south London shop which left a five-year-old girl paralysed. The Today programme's Andrew Hosken has been speaking to some of those close to the gang to which the men belonged.


It's 40 years since David Bowie's album Ziggy Stardust was released and to celebrate the anniversary, a commemorative plaque is being unveiled in central London, where the photograph on the cover of the album was taken. Arts correspondent Rebecca Jones reports.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


The government wants to establish a world leading "synthetic biology" industry in the UK where scientists would design and create new forms of life by making artificial DNA to produce everything from medicines to fuels to materials. Paul Martin, professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield, reflects on the ethical questions this type of science raises.


Two British soldiers have been killed in the British barracks at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, by an Afghan wearing a military uniform. Author and former soldier Andy McNab reflects on whether this makes withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan more difficult.

Business news with Simon Jack.

The US Supreme Court has finished the first day of a landmark hearing on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform. Twenty-six US states have brought the Republican-led challenge to the act which expands health coverage to 32 million Americans. North America Editor, Mark Mardell reports.

The biggest overhaul of the planning system in England in a generation will be published today and the government say the changes will help stimulate economic growth and provide much needed new homes. Karen Cooksley, head of planning law at the law firm Winckworth Sherwood, and Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, debate whether planning will get in the way of development.

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