UK

Newspaper review: MPs' pay rise pondered

Papers

The Daily Telegraph says it has learnt that an obscure committee of senior MPs, led by Commons Speaker John Bercow, has taken urgent legal advice over whether it could block a £10,000 pay rise for politicians.

Party leaders are said to be alarmed by expectations that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is set to recommend a large increase in MPs' salaries, amid fears that it will infuriate voters.

The Times says such a pay rise could "plunge Parliament into a new row with voters" and that Prime Minister David Cameron has been told that emergency laws are now the only way to block it.

'Beeb boob'

According to the Independent, Education Secretary Michael Gove is drawing up plans for academies and free schools to become profit-making businesses that use hedge funds and venture capitalists to raise money.

The paper says the plans have been leaked by concerned Department for Education insiders.

Its sister paper, I, has the headline: "Classrooms for sale."

Many papers report criticism from the National Audit Office about the levels of severance payments for BBC executives over recent years.

The Telegraph accuses the corporation of "a failure to care about the public's money".

The Daily Mirror talks of "a Beeb boob", condemning "a scandalous waste of money and a catastrophic breach of trust with TV licence payers".

"Such cavalier profligacy is the public sector mentality writ large," says the Daily Mail.

'Cynical stunt'

The Daily Express claims new EU rules to be unveiled this month could lead to the end of free banking.

The European Commission apparently wants to scrap or limit the fees that retailers have to pay banks every time they take a card payment.

Financial experts tell the paper the retailers are unlikely to pass on the saving to the customer.

At the same time, the Express says, banks will want to make up the lost revenue by measures such as the end of free bank accounts and by charging customers for using credit and debit cards, and cash machines.

Under the headline "Ramadan-a-ding-dong", the Sun leads on an announcement by Channel 4 that programmes will be interrupted to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer every day during the month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

Critics have accused the channel of a "cynical publicity stunt" which they say could inflame community tensions.

A spokesman for UKIP tells the paper: "This is a priceless piece of attention seeking."

'Shining armour'

An editorial in the Times pays tribute to firefighters after 19 were killed battling a wildfire in Arizona.

"Everybody loves a fireman," it says.

"Less authoritarian than a policeman, less violent than a soldier, a firefighter, with his polished truck and blue flashing light, is the modern-day version of a knight in red shining armour, in the business of saving lives."

The Sun reports claims from a doctor in Turin that he is ready to perform a full head transplant.

Neurosurgeon Dr Sergio Canavero says the operation could be done "today - now", the paper reports.

According to the Sun, he believes it would need a team of 100, would take 36 hours and cost £8.5m.

British medical experts tell the paper: "This sounds like something from a horror movie."

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