News Daily: Labour broadband pledge, and child allergies rise

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Labour promises full-fibre broadband for all

Labour would part-nationalise BT in a bid to bring free high-speed broadband to all homes and businesses in the UK by 2030, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has promised. As well as taking Openreach – the bit of BT which runs the broadband network – into public ownership, Mr McDonnell said the £20bn scheme, called British Broadband, would eliminate bills for millions of people. The cost of maintaining the infrastructure would be paid for by a tax on tech firms.

The Conservatives – who have pledged £5bn to bring fibre broadband to every home by 2025 – dismissed Labour’s plans as “fantasy”, while the Liberal Democrats said nationalising Openreach was a “waste” of taxpayers’ money.

While BT itself has said it’s happy to work with whoever wins the election to deliver “a digital Britain”, the umbrella organisation for the UK’s technology industry said the plan would be a “disaster” for firms.

If you want to know more about full-fibre broadband, click here.

Elsewhere in the general election campaign on Friday, the Conservatives have said they will cut business rates to help boost “left-behind towns”, while the Lib Dems are pledging £100bn to tackle climate change and protect the environment.

The Scottish National Party, meanwhile, is calling on the UK government to “hand back” £175m paid in VAT by Scotland’s police and fire service. The SNP is accusing ministers of refusing to refund the money, despite accepting it should not have been paid.

For more election coverage throughout the day – including rolling text commentary and updates – visit our Election 2019 page. You can also decipher political speak with our election translator, and find out which seats are key to this contest.

Severe allergic reactions in children on the rise

The number of children being treated in NHS hospitals for anaphylactic shock has risen every year for the past five years, figures show. According to the NHS, 1,746 children were treated in 2018-19, up from 1,015 in 2013-14. It’s thought environmental factors, such as dietary changes, exposure to microbes and pollution, may play a role in the rise. The mother of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after eating a takeaway baguette containing sesame, said the figures show there is an “allergy emergency”.

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Nitrous oxide ‘sold on Amazon and eBay as a high’

A BBC investigation has discovered that nitrous oxide – the second most commonly used recreational drug in England and Wales – is being sold with the equipment needed to take it as a high on sites like Amazon and eBay. BBC Wales found some sellers were happy to sell and deliver round the clock. The problem for the authorities is that nitrous oxide – also known as “nos” – has legitimate applications in catering and pain relief – but trading standards say online sellers need to “take responsibility” to prevent illicit use. Amazon says it has since removed products being sold as a package of nos canisters and balloons, while eBay said “listings encouraging illegal activity are banned from eBay’s platform”.

Stuck for an answer? Hold a meeting, say researchers

By Sean Coughlan, family and education correspondent

Meetings at work should be seen as a form of “therapy” rather than about decision-making, say researchers.

Academics from the University of Malmo in Sweden say meetings provide an outlet for people at work to show off their status or to express frustration. Prof Patrik Hall says more managerial and “strategy” jobs are generating more meetings – “even though few decisions are made along the way”.

“People don’t do concrete things any more,” he says.

The political scientist says the rise in meetings reflects changes in the workforce – with fewer people doing and making things and an increase in those involved in “meetings-intense” roles such as strategists, advisers, consultants and managers.

Read the full article

What the papers say

Labour’s pledge on broadband is the lead for some papers on Friday, with the Times calling it the party’s “most radical policy to date”. Elsewhere, the Daily Express leads on the Conservatives’ promise to revitalise Britain’s ailing High Streets through tax cuts for shops and pubs. The Daily Mirror’s front page features a 99-year-old World War Two veteran who had to wait on a trolley in casualty for 10 hours. Figures released on Thursday show A&E delays are at the highest level since the target was introduced. For more, read our paper review.

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Today Final day of the World Para-athletics Championships in Dubai.

19:00 The annual Children In Need telethon gets under way on BBC One.

On this day

1985 The UK and Irish Republic sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement giving Dublin a role in Northern Ireland for the first time in more than 60 years.

From elsewhere

Jennifer Lopez wants Super Bowl half-time show to be a unifying moment for America (Variety)

Star Wars-style 3D images created from single speck of foam (Nature)

TV Is Dead. Long Live TV (Vanity Fair)

A smart phone isn’t a luxury – it’s a lifeline if you’re living in poverty (HuffPost UK)

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