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Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Today: Tuesday 18th December

The body set up to oversee the NHS in England has ordered more surgeons to publish their success rates by the summer. As the Queen becomes the first monarch in two centuries to attend Cabinet - how come the only unelected person in the room is also the most popular? And also on the programme, a report from the Christmas rush in Rotherham where police say thieves are switching from luxuries to essentials.

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 Lesley Curwen on news of the latest efforts to improve bank lending.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


The surgery survival rates and quality of care for ten specialisms, including cardiac, vascular and orthopaedic surgery are to be released for the first time in Summer 2013, according to the NHS Commissioning Board's blueprint for 2013. Dr Anna Dixon, director of policy at the King's Fund, explains that patients do not use data like this, but doctors and commissioners do.

Shops will lose more than half a billion pounds worth of goods due to shoplifting in the six weeks to Christmas - according to estimates from the Centre for Retail Research. From Rotherham, the BBC's UK affairs correspondent, Chris Buckler, examines the problem.

The Conservative chairman of the Commons energy select committee, Tim Yeo is not happy with the government's energy bill. Mr Yeo outlines his reasons for going to table an amendment to the bill to introduce a carbon reduction target.

Business news with Lesley Curwen.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


An inspection report has provided a damning assessment of the way children and young people in care in England and Wales are dealt with by youth offending teams. Shane O'Brien, who is a former resident of care homes, Liz Calderbank, chief inspector of Probation, discuss the trouble that they have seen.

The paper review.


The Queen will attend a cabinet meeting today - for the first time ever in her 60 years on the throne. Jane Ridley, biographer of Edward VII, and Lord O'Donnell, former cabinet secretary, reflect on the significance of the occasion.

Thought for the Day with Canon Angela Tilby of Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford.


A District Judge has expressed surprise at costs incurred by the RSPCA in a prosecution of the Prime Minister's local hunt. Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, explains the RSPCA had spent £330,000 bringing the action.


From April next year, a new body takes over a reorganised national health service in England, called the NHS Commissioning Board. Ashley Blom, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Bristol University, and Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board, examine the role and necessity of this new body.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma - who faces allegations of misusing public funds - is being challenged by his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe. World affairs editor John Simpson reports from South Africa where voting in the ANC leadership election continues.


It is that time of year where some families take it upon themselves to send out, not just a nice simple Christmas card, but a whole family newsletter to everyone they have ever met. Writer Lynne Truss has devised six cunning ways you could respond and maybe put an end to the smug family boasting; she reads her second response.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


As part of the Today programme's series on Liberia, presenter Evan Davis looks further into the history of the country from the capital, Monrovia.

The question of how much power the European Court of human rights should have over our lives is to be re-opened today with the publication of the report by a commission looking into a British Bill of Rights. Michael Pinto Duschinsky, consultant on constitutional affairs to Policy Exchange, describes whether it has got to grips with the problem it was set up to address.


Business news with Lesley Curwen.

In the United States a controversial film - which has already become a big player in the Oscars race - opens to the public next week. The BBC's Tom Brook reports on the film called Zero Dark Thirty and explains that it chronicles the events that led to the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Today is the centenary of one of the most audacious hoaxes in scientific history. On December 18 1912, the so called Piltdown Man was unveiled at the Geological Society of London by Charles Dawson and Arthur Smith Woodward. Professor Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum, and Miles Russell, senior lecturer in archaeology at Bournemouth, speculate on the candidates of who it was who did it and re-tell the story.

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