Backing for Chancellor

He's best known for saying "You're fired" but Sir Alan Sugar yesterday departed from the norm - by insisting Chancellor Gordon Brown should be hired instead.

He's best known for saying "You're fired" but Sir Alan Sugar yesterday departed from the norm - by insisting Chancellor Gordon Brown should be hired instead.

The businessman and Amstrad chairman threw his weight behind Gordon Brown's prime ministerial ambitions, admitting he was a "shrewd" man who would revel in the top job. "He has certainly been one of the best chancellors this country has seen for a very, very long time. I have had lots of conversations with Gordon Brown, he is quite a shrewd fellow also," he said.

Warning on jobs

A UNION leader in the North-East has condemned the loss of 2,500 jobs from food giants across the country, warning it was time for the Government to intervene to stop the outsourcing of major British brands.

GMB regional secretary Tom Brennan said redundancies at British Sugar, Nestlé in York and Birds Eye in Grimsby meant that products such as Smarties were now being made abroad.

"I call it suicide," Mr Brennan said. "We don't advocate nationalising Smarties - although it's an idea. But we do expect some interest from this Government - some interest in British products and British jobs."

Calling on Nestlé to keep production in the UK, he said ministers should set up regional community development funds to assist the industry.

Ulster meeting

NORTH MP Dave Anderson was yesterday part of a delegation meeting Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley to encourage progress on restoring devolution to Northern Ireland.

The Blaydon MP was invited to the meeting in his role as a member of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs committee.

Mr Anderson said: "He didn't really give anything away. But the very fact people are talking has got to be positive.

"I remember five or six years ago taking a delegation from Unison and they refused to meet us, so we've moved on from there."

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain used his speech to the conference to re-state the November 24 deadline for an agreement on re-starting the province's devolved assembly. He also criticised the Conservatives for the proposal that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs should be banned from voting on matters that only affect England. Mr Hain said it would make them "second class" and cause "constitutional chaos". He added: "That can only lead in one direction - towards the door marked exit from the United Kingdom."

Legal advice call

LEGAL advisers should be on hand in supermarkets and GP surgeries to help some of the poorest in society, ministers have said.

Legal Aid minister and Redcar MP Vera Baird yesterday told The Journal the Government was planning to increase free access to legal advice - by putting advisers in public places such as Tesco and hospitals. Ms Baird said it was vital to people to get advice in one place rather than forcing them to go to a myriad of experts.

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