by MONITOR l A REPORT on the future of the British state pension by a commission headed by Lord Adair Turner recommended that the entitlement age should be raised to 67 or 68 in twenty-five years time. Lord Adair's proposals were given a generally warm reception except by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who believes they may be “unaffordable”. There was renewed criticism of the recent deal done by the government with Civil Service unions under which retirement at 60 will be maintained.
Tony Blair visited East European member states of the EU to discuss the 2007-2013 budget which has to be approved at the EU summit in mid-December; early reports suggested that Mr Blair had not made much headway. Speaking about the budget negotiations, President Chirac of France offered the view that “The problem is two British politicians and it will not be solved until one of them has vanquished the other”.
Canada's prime minister, Paul Martin, called a general election for January 23rd after his Liberal minority government lost a vote of confidence. l In Montreal a United Nations conference on climate change began discussions on what form of international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions control will be necessary when the existing Kyoto Treaty expires in 2012. l In the United States President Bush gave an up-beat assessment of progress towards security and stability in Iraq but repeated his undertaking that the United States would not withdraw until peace and democracy had been restored there. His speech at a US Navy Academy was given against the background of further loss of life among US forces in Iraq. l In Israel, following Ariel Sharon's decision to leave the leadership of the Likud party and form a new centrist party for the early-2006 election, the veteran politician Shimon Peres announced that he would leave the Labour Party and support Mr Sharon. l Six luxury hotels in Paris, including the Hotel Ritz, were fined a total of 709'000 euros by France's competition regulator for running a price-fixing cartel; the hotels, all foreign owned, insisted that they had done nothing wrong in exchanging information on occupancy rates. l Lloyds of London revealed that it was facing a loss of 2.9 billion pounds from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and that its chances of making a profit in 2005 were “small”.

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