7 Days

Bon appetit Desperate Dan and other T-bone aficionados can start salivating. Nick Brown, the Minister of Agriculture, announced his intention to lift the ban on beef, probably in time for spring BBQs. The move will also be welcomed by farmers after reports about supermarkets' widening profit margins on meat. It is not known whether an end to the ban will have a soothing effect on hot-tempered owners and employees of slaughterhouses across the country: the meat inspectors' union has found that violent attacks against its members are common and has set up a helpline.

Banking on trouble It was a turbulent week in the City's boardrooms. In a surprise move, Barclay's chief executive, Martin Taylor, resigned. Midland is no more, as the 162-year-old name will be replaced by HSBC in a rebranding exercise costing millions of pounds. Finally, some 3,000 jobs will go in London after the takeover of the New York-based Bankers Trust Corp by Deutsche Bank. Let no one say bankers' lives are dull.

Taking the Mickey Walt Disney is one of several companies to make "preliminary enquiries" about the financial details of the Millennium Dome. The post-Millennium fate of the Greenwich monstrosity will be decided early next year, and transatlantic contacts between the entertainment empire and Peter Mandelson have been going on for months. With a bit of luck, the Jubilee line extension will be completed in time to serve a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck theme park, which might replace the Millennium Exhibition in early 2001.

Miners strike gold The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has pledged £350 million for regeneration of Britain's mining areas. Ninety-five per cent of mining jobs have been lost in the past 20 years, and the package will tackle the social and economic problems caused by this decline. Money will flow into infrastructure, housing and incentives for private investment.

Pills and condoms A Boots store in a Glasgow shopping centre will open a drop-in family planning clinic for young people. The announcement has already stirred a heated debate about the causes and effects of under-age sex. One family campaigner believed this was a signal "to go out and have sex", while supporters speak of a much needed attempt to reduce teenage pregnancies in Glasgow. Among 13-15 year olds, the number of pregnancies has risen by more than 60 per cent over the past five years.

This article first appeared in the 04 December 1998 issue of the New Statesman, Just get out and have fun!