7 Days

Access all areas The draft Freedom of Information Bill was introduced by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to criticism that it had been watered down. Opponents criticised its 21 categories of exemptions, compared to just seven in the white paper, and blamed the increase on senior civil servants opposed to disclosure.

Absent dads A report revealed that fathers spend, on average, just 15 minutes a day with their children, because of work commitments. When they do get home early they are more likely to play sport than bond with their toddlers.

Family connections Sonia Gandhi withdrew her resignation as president of India's Congress Party after supporters besieged her home, threatening to commit suicide. She had stepped down after colleagues complained that they wanted an Indian, not an Italian, leader. She will now fight the general elections in September.

Pupil power A MORI survey carried out for the government's curriculum advisers found that secondary-school pupils prefer to learn life skills over politics. Managing money was their top choice, with 48 per cent of votes, followed by preparing for parenthood, at 46 per cent. Politics languished at 28 per cent.

Eclipse eclipsed Cornish hoteliers complained that their tourist board has scared off visitors who had planned to visit the county to see the solar eclipse this summer. Bookings were at a record low, as people were discouraged by the board's warnings of traffic gridlock and food shortages and the suggestion that a better eclipse experience could be had in Iraq.

Child protection A father has been charged with assault in Scotland for hitting his young son in public. The case follows the conviction for assault last week of a Lanarkshire teacher who smacked his daughter. The Department of Health promised a consultation paper this summer to clarify the law on smacking.

This article first appeared in the 31 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Between two mental universes