UK

Newspaper review: Child benefit change examined

Papers

Opinion in the papers is divided about the wisdom of scrapping child benefit for households in which one person earns more than £60,000.

The Financial Times calls the policy "tough but fair" - and one that deserves support.

And it gets enthusiastic support from Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph.

He says his wife has received almost £50,000 - the price of "ten half decent ski holidays" or "a cellarful of Chateau Lafite" - in child benefit.

But the Independent thinks the change will lead to "costly inefficiency" and a "sense of manifest unfairness".

The Guardian says "ministers cannot claim to be on the side of strivers while also taking their benefits away".

And the Daily Mail condemns the policy as "simply wrong" and says it discriminates against women who stay at home to look after their children.

'Risky strategy'

In the Guardian Lord Mandelson accuses David Cameron of placing a question mark over Britain's EU membership.

He describes that as "economically insane" and says the prime minister may drive away much needed investment.

The Daily Express argues that Mr Cameron has embarked on a "risky strategy" because the Conservatives could lose votes to UKIP.

The Sun thinks he should have looked over his shoulder at the eurosceptics on the Tory benches before he described UKIP supporters as "pretty odd people."

Several papers follow up Sunday's revelations about failings at Stafford Hospital.

The Daily Mail describes the failure to sack the senior managers in charge of the hospital as "shameful" but "depressingly predictable".

The Daily Mirror condemns what happened at Stafford as "unforgivable" - but says events there should not be used as "a stick to beat the NHS".

In the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh comments that the health service is the "nearest thing" modern Britain has to "a national religion" and he thinks it often compares badly to private sector health care.

Heavy going

The Times offers a crumb of comfort for people on a post-Christmas diet.

It says the lump of platinum-iridium which defines a kilogram has got heavier over the years meaning "we are all getting ever so slightly lighter".

The metal - held in a vault in Paris - has apparently become heavier by absorbing mercury and attracting dirt.

But the paper warns: "You probably weigh less than you thought you did five minutes ago, but still more than you did five weeks ago - because of Christmas lunch."

The joint news conference to be given by David Cameron and Nick Clegg later is likened by The Independent and others to a couple renewing their marriage vows.

But the Daily Mirror suggests the two men are more likely to resemble "a couple of clowns" as they try to keep "the coalition circus" on the road.

The Financial Times says considering everything which has happened since 2010 it is "something of a triumph" they are "still talking and transacting political business".

The Sun tips its hat to the ingenuity of a journalist in the west African state of Liberia.

It says Alfred Sirleaf has hit on a simple but effective way to communicate the news to people who cannot afford a radio or TV - writing a digest of daily events in chalk on big blackboards which he displays in Monrovia.

He includes politics and sport - and even sticks up the occasional picture.

He also has a letters page where his readers can write their comments.

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