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Australian billionaire will build "Titanic 2" to mark centenary

Clive Palmer, one of the world's richest men, wants the ship to be "as similar as possible" to the o

The Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer has launched his plans to build a replica of the world-famous Titanic ship.

Palmer, who is one of the world's richest men, has commissioned a Chinese state-owned firm to start work on the Titanic 2 at the end of next year. He hopes that the vessel will make its maiden voyage from London to New York in 2016.

Palmer said in a statement: "It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems."

The new liner will have the exact same dimensions as the original ship, with 840 rooms and nine decks.

The news comes weeks after the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic - marked by a memorial cruise ship making a similar voyage across the Atlantic. 

RMS Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people. At the time, the ship was the world's biggest and most luxurious ocean liner.

Palmer said that he wanted to pay tribute to those who built the original vessel 100 years ago. He said: "These people produced work that is still marvelled at more than 100 years later and we want that spirit to go on for another 100 years."

He added: "It is going to be designed so it won't sink - but of course, if you are superstitious like you are, you never know what could happen."

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.