The papers: 'Snoopers' charter' and the mum who found her dead son's heart

The "rushed through" surveillance legislation - or if you prefer, "snoopers' charter" - fills many pages of Friday's newspapers.

The Guardian argues that the surveillance bill "makes a drama out of a non-existent crisis".

With the legislation due to pass parliament in days as an emergency measure, the paper quotes former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis, who says: "I couldn't see quite what there was of an emergency here beyond a sort of theatrical emergency".

The Independent says although Mr Cameron hasn't been able to reintroduce the "tougher" surveillance measures he tried to bring in under the Communications Data Bill - which was blocked last year after Lib Dem objections - he may be trying to bring them back if a review of data collection recommends it.

The review is due to report in 2016, the paper adds.

In its comment column, the paper argues that the way in which the current laws have been agreed "behind closed doors" adds to an "impression that the government is seizing for itself unwarranted powers".

The Daily Mirror agrees with that view, arguing "it stinks that a British prime minister is using emergency powers to snoop on you so he can avoid a wider public debate".

The Financial Times's leader column says "backbench MPs are being given too little time to discuss a matter of considerable significance.

"On national security a prime minister should always act calmly.

" Instead what the public is being offered is hasty legislation, passed amid panicky cries about terror threats by a parliament where dissenting voices are being eliminated by the guillotine and the party whip."

The Times leader column takes the opposite view.

"The threat posed to innocent lives by terrorism and organised crime is greater than the threat to privacy from surveillance by police and the security services.

"Without this bill official powers to monitor phone, email and internet records would be drastically reduced, and internet companies would start deleting valuable records."

The Daily Mail says it supports the emergency legislation "through gritted teeth" as "such powers have been used in every major terrorist investigation of the last decade."

The paper adds that the issue is back on the agenda because "the treachery of Edward Snowden in exposing the methods of our security services has made the job of keeping Britain safe much harder".

Diabetes 'cure'

Obesity is literally a "big issue" for the UK, and the papers are fretting over a new announcement by Britain's healthcare watchdog.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has called for obese patients with type two diabetes to be offered weight reduction operations by the NHS.

The move, the Daily Mail reports, would double to 1.8m the numbers of people qualifying for taxpayer-funded surgery.

The Mail says that "campaigners said it was wrong to offer operations costing £5,000 when the NHS faces a £30bn deficit and NICE is denying cancer patients life-extending drugs".

The Daily Telegraph notes research which suggests that the cost of health problems caused by obesity means the typical cost of a weight reduction operation is repaid by savings to the NHS within three years.

The paper carries a graph charting the growth in British waistlines from the 1960s, when just 1% of UK men and 2% of women were classified as obese, to the current situation where 25.1% of women and 24.4% of men are said to fall into the category.

The Times says 700 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every day, and half of all those with type two diabetes are obese.

It quotes Simon O'Neill of Diabetes UK, who says surgery could lead to dramatic weight loss, but it should not be seen as "a cure or easy option" and patients should be "eating better and exercising more".

The Daily Express says NICE's guidance notes that ultra-low calorie diets have been shown to be ineffective on obese patients and should only be used on patients who have a clinical need to lose weight quickly.

It notes research taking place at Manchester University that aims to explain why stomach surgery can "cure" diabetes.

The research is focussed on malfunctioning hormone-producing cells in the gut which control the bodies insulin flow and can cause over and under-eating. Gastric bypasses cut off a number of the malfunctioning cells.

"The breakthrough could lead to the development of drugs which could be used instead of surgery to tackle both obesity and diabetes," the paper adds.

'On the attack'

The reaction to Thursday's big public sector strike is predictably mixed in Friday's papers.

The Sun says the strike has been branded "a big flop" with "fewer than one in five civil servants taking part".

The papers opinion column labels the strike "a day of inaction" and says the "lame duck" strike showed "the public's contempt for the political grandstanding of the union barons is shared by the grassroots members of Unite, Unison and the GMB".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Estimates of the number of strikers varies wildly

The Daily Star says the only thing the strike achieved is to "infuriate" the people the strikers hope would support them - members of the public, and particularly parents.

The Daily Mail says the Conservatives have "gone on the attack" over the strike, threatening legislation that will ban strikes unless 50% of the union membership actively votes for them.

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said "the more often the unions strike, the stronger the case for a change in the law" becomes, the Mail reports.

Unions are blaming low returns in recent strike ballots on the Thatcher-era laws which oblige them to consult members by sending voting papers to their homes, the paper says.

They want to be allowed to be able to ballot in the workplace and on the internet.

The Times contrasts the claims and counter-claims around Thursday's strike.

The unions say a million workers walked out, but the government says it was just 500,000; the government says 80,000 civil servants took action, but the unions claim 160,000 did.

When it comes to schools shut, the Times has researched its own figure of 33%, which is coincidentally between the government claim of 20% and the union counter-claim of 50%.

The Financial Times talks to people on the picket lines.

A striking HMRC worker tells the paper "what's happening here is part of a wider plan to drive people out of the civil service, to basically drive people down and break up the public sector as we know it."

The Daily Mirror says union leaders have warned the government "this is just the beginning" but the government "shows no sign of backing down from its hated austerity drive".

Its leader column says "a government that can find the cash to fund tax cuts for its millionaire backers then reduces the living standards of millions of teachers, council workers, firefighters and civil servants is an enemy of the people".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Fraser Nelson suggests "most workers have no stomach for militancy as they can see austerity is working".

Teachers' pay has been "tight over the past few years", he continues, "but that has been the case for most people - bank clerks, builders, shop workers."

He says Thursday's strike "has a nostalgic feel" but also a "a reminder how things have changed".

"The far-left union barons can create child-care headaches for working mothers, but they can't bring the country to a standstill."


It's now a time-honoured Fleet Street tradition to pick over MPs' expense claims, but the chits for various items of stationery seem to have caused particular interest this time.

The Daily Mail notes that cabinet office minister Ken Clarke claimed for an 11p ruler.

Image copyright Thinkstock

But it also found that David Cameron - salary £142,500 - had claimed 7p for a bulldog clip.

The cost of processing the claim would have been four times the value of the clip, the paper notes.

Teeny claims were not restricted to the Tory side of the House, with the Mail noting Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, claimed £2.07 for milk.

The paper says one MP, Conservative Sarah Wollaston, has called for the scrapping of the expenses system, calling it a "dirty great albatross around our necks".

The Daily Mirror blasts the £8,000 a year received by Tory MP Richard Benyon under the system for renting a constituency office.

The Mirror says the cash is paid to a company owned by Conservative donor Sir John Madejski, which owns the freehold of the building.

It also notes that MP Mike Hancock, who is currently suspended by the Lib Dems after admitting an "inappropriate friendship" with a female constituent, has claimed £22,500 despite not having spoken in parliament for six months.

The Times finds that Conservative Geoffrey Cox, who earns £400,000 a year on top of his MP's salary, claimed £14.20 for two days parking and a regular £19.80 for the journey from his home near Tavistock to Exeter railway station.

Mr Cox, a barrister, tells the paper he pays far more in tax than he earns as an MP and he forgoes claiming for accommodation in London.

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