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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 8 November 2012
Today: Thursday 18th October

Plans by the government to force energy companies to put customers on their cheapest tariffs have been criticised for being confusing and for potentially reducing competition. Figures suggest there has been a big rise in the number of people being trafficked into Britain. We follow in the footsteps of the great travel writer and adventurer, Patrick Leigh Fermor. And, from Gatsby to Thackeray, which literary figures threw the best parties?

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: European leaders start a two-day summit in Brussels, with banking union at the top of the agenda.


China's economy slowed again in the three months to September. It is still at a rate that would be a cause for joy here, at 7.4%, but that is lower than the government's target and lower than investors expected. They have been used to an average of 10% over the past 30 years. Dr Linda Yueh, professor of economics at Oxford University and economics editor at Bloomberg TV, casts her eye across the numbers.

Household energy bills are going up. But will the prime minister's promise that he will compel suppliers to offer the lowest tarriffs be of any help? Dr Craig Lowery, from the independent energy consultancy Utilities Exchange, analyses the current state of energy prices.

Business news with Simon Jack.

The number of people being trafficked into the UK is rising according to the latest government figures. Nearly a 1,000 victims were identified last year, up from just over 700 the year before. The BBC's Tom Symonds outlines the scale of the problem.

Too many patients are opting for surgery to help them lose excessive weight without a proper understanding of the risks, according to new research by the National Confidential Enquiry in Patient Outcome and Death - the standing body N-CEPOD. It highlights many of the problems, and says that in a survey of hundreds of patients it found that a fifth had to be readmitted to hospital after operations. Louise Hennessey, whose mother died after she had weight loss surgery, comments, as dose the report's author, Ian Martin.

Sports news with Jonathan Legard.

Today's European summit will focus on banking and the attitude of Germany will be crucial. Europe correspondent Chris Morris has been to the home town of Angela Merkel, to find out if people there still have confidence in her leadership and Peter Spiegel, bureau chief for the Financial Times in Brussels, previews the meeting.

The paper review.

Human rights groups working in Syria say that at least 28,000 people are missing after being taken from their homes or grabbed in the streets by Syrian soldiers or militia. In a report out today the campaign organisation, Avaaz, which has been monitoring the claims and talking to some of the families involved, says the abductions are part of a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities who are opposed to the government. The Today programme's Mike Thomson reports.

Thought for the Day with Canon Doctor Alan Billings.


Women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive, vote or work with men but one woman has become the country's first ever feature length filmaker. Haifa al Mansour has made a film called Wadjda, that has received critical acclaim around the world, but cannot actually be shown in Saudi Arabia because there are no cinemas. In her first broadcast interview she talked to our reporter Zubeida Malik about making the movie and how she believes Saudi Arabia is changing.


The government says it will oblige energy suppliers to offer householders the lowest available tarriff. Telling the Commons that he would legislate to make that happen, the prime minister made it clear that he thought consumers would get a better deal as a result. The cost of power, and energy supply, is a hot political question. Steven Fitzpatrick of Ovo Energy and Anne Robinson, director of consumer policy at - the energy price comparison site - debate if the lowest tariffs constitute the best policy.

It's hard enough to describe why a real party was so much fun but what about an imagined one? What are literature's best parties? Suzette Field has tried to answer that question in a new book called a Curious invitation - the 40 greatest parties in literature. Perhaps no surprise, on the list is an invitation from the Great Gatsby. She muses on the question with the writer and critic DJ Taylor.

Sports news with Jonathan Legard.

Alan Milburn, the former Labour cabinet minister who now advises the government on social mobility is publishing a report on how to address the fact that four private schools and one state funded college in England sent more pupils to Oxford and Cambridge over three years than almost 2000 other schools combined. Mr Milburn sets out his findings.

Specialist police officers have travelled to the Greek island of Kos to resume the search for Ben Needham, the toddler who disappeared in 1991. Our reporter Andy Moore is here.


At least three quarters of people who have depression say they have been discriminated against because of it, according to a study by the Lancet. Its authors spoke to people in 35 different countries about the stigma attached to depression. A third said they experienced real discrimination in the work place. Sarah Houghton, who is off work with depression at the moment, tells her story. And the report's author, Professor Graham Thornicroft, discusses its findings.


Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died last year at the age of 96, was one of the most celebrated writers of his time, his account of walking in the early 1930s from from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople (he never called it Istanbul) is a classic, recounted in his books A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. He was an adventurer and war hero - capturing a German general in a famous operation on Crete - and a traveller and polymath who inspired a generation of writers. Some of them gathered last night to celebrate the publication of his biography by Artemis Cooper - called An Adventure - and Today presenter James Naughtie I joined them to walk past some of his London haunts, starting at his favourite bookshop, Heywood Hill.

Business news with Simon Jack.


ArtReview magazine publishes its Power100 list today, in which it ranks the 100 people it thinks most important in the art world. And it identifies a trend - a shift of power from New York to London. Will Gompertz is our arts editor and examines the list.

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