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Page last updated at 07:22 GMT, Friday, 4 January 2013
Today: Friday 4th January

Labour are proposing that the long-term unemployed be guaranteed a job - paid for by cutting tax relief on the pension contributions of the wealthiest. And doctors in Leeds have carried out the first hand transplant in the UK. We hear from the surgeon who led the team that carried out the operation.

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

Labour is proposing a tax take on the pension savings of more than 300,000 wealthier Britons. The changes aim to raise up to a billion pounds to pay for a jobs guarantee scheme. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) examines whether the policy would work.


Patients whose eyesight is badly affected by diabetes are going to be allowed to use the drug Lucentis throughout the UK. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said no last year to Lucentis on cost grounds. However in Scotland, the Scottish Medicines Consortium approved it last month and NICE has followed suit. Professor Yit Yang is an ophthalmologist at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital and he explains what being able to use Lucentis means.

The BBC has selected a sound of the New Year. In previous years singers such as Adele and Jessie J have been selected, who became pop superstars. This year, it is a band called Haim, comprised of three Californian sisters who used to sing in a covers band with their parents.

Business news with Simon Jack.

For scientists, one of the most exciting developments last year involved the exploration of Mars. In August, the most sophisticated rover to date, Curiosity, landed on the red planet and began looking for signs of life. Ashwin Vasavada, deputy project scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, explains the interesting discoveries thus far.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet


Low productivity may have been a bigger factor of Britain's slow economic recovery than previously thought, with potentially stark implications for monetary policy, according to Bank of England research. The report is co-authored by the BoE policymaker Martin Weale, which comes on the same day as ONS figures show productivity in the private sector has dropped to its lowest level since 2005. The BBC's economics editor Stephanie Flanders, Andrew Sentance, senior economic Adviser to Price Waterhouse Coopers, and Bridget Rosewell, from Volterra economics, analyse the figures.

Paper review.

Not many big business figures go to North Korea. But the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, is making a trip which his company describes as being "in a private capacity." The State Department in Washington says the timing is "unhelpful". Aidan Foster Carter, a research fellow on Korea at Leeds University, tells us what he thinks of this visit.

Thought for the day with Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies at New College, University of Edinburgh.


A 51-year-old man from Leeds has received the UK's first hand transplant operation. A surgical team from Leeds General Infirmary carried out the complex eight-hour operation on the 27 December. Professor Simon Kay, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary, led the team.


Labour is proposing a tax take on the pension savings of more than 300,000 wealthier Britons. The changes aims to raise up to a billion pounds to pay for a jobs guarantee scheme. Liam Byrne, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, explains how it works.


The British phonographic industry says figures show 2012 was the best year yet for sales of singles, but album sales are continuing to fall. In 2004, 163.4 million albums were sold. At the current rate of decline, sales will fall below 100 million in 2013. Will the drive in online sales mean that only the newest material is downloaded and some of greater older works will be left untouched? Ian Anderson, from the rock group Jethro Tull and Spencer Hickman, Coordinator of Record Store Day and formerly of Rough Trade Record Stores, debate.

The Today programme has been asking well-known figures over the past days what they would do if they were to set their alarms half an hour early. This morning, the musician Donovan explains what he would do. He is well-known for practicing Transcendental Meditation.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.


AC Milan players walked off the football pitch yesterday in an Italian friendly match after black players in the team were abused by a section of the crowd. The FA here has been talking about the problem for years - but not everyone in the game thinks enough progress has been made. A few months ago, the Reading player Jason Roberts refused to wear a T-shirt for the anti-racism campaign "Kick It Out", saying the FA had not done enough. He speaks on the programme.

Business news with Simon Jack.

The NHS in Scotland is facing more than 10,000 unsettled equal pay claims, which could potentially cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. Only 141 cases have been resolved in the last four years, costing nearly £600,000. Professor Richard Kerley of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh talks to Evan Davis.

Yesterday in the East Sussex town of St. Leonards-on-Sea, the Metropolitan Police arrested a 46-year-old Nepali man on suspicion of torture, allegedly committed during Nepal's nation's bloody civil war. The specific events relate to 2005. It raises the issue of how many alleged war criminals are lurking in ordinary homes on British streets. Jurgen Schurr, legal advisor for human rights organisation Redress with a special interest in universal jurisdiction, and Michael McCann MP, Chairman of All Party Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes against humanity, debate.

Gay marriage is expected to become legal later this year after a vote in parliament, but it has created some uncertainty for couples who are already in civil partnerships, about whether they should be allowed to continue in it - an arrangement not available to heterosexual couples? Ruth Hunt, Stonewall director of public affairs, and Nick Lansley, who has been in a civil partnership since 2006 with his partner for 20 years, debate the question: should gay couples in civil partnerships be automatically "upgraded" to the status of being married?

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