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Ten nuclear power station sites have been approved by the government in England and Wales. Most will replace existing plants. Planning laws will be reformed to allow the developments to be fast-tracked, in a move that ministers hope will avoid protracted battles over the construction of the plants.

Three more government advisers have resigned from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, following chairman David Nutt's dismissal in late October. Members of the council met with Alan Johnson seeking reassurance that their independence would not be compromised.

Details of innocent people will have to be removed from the DNA database after a maximum of six years, ministers announced. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the current indefinite limit was unlawful.

A review of university top-up fees intended to overhaul the student funding system has been launched. Critics say a hike in fees is inevitable. The review will be chaired by Lord Browne, a former chief executive of BP.

Male doctors earn £15,245 more than female doctors, according to a study by the British Medical Association. While differences in age and experience accounted for some of the discrepancy, the study found that 40 to 50 per cent was due to discrimination.

Hospital patients in England will get the legal right to be seen privately if they face NHS delays. In theory, patients have had the option to switch to private care in this way throughout the Labour government, but it has not been routinely upheld. It will now be entrenched in the NHS constitution, which comes into force in April 2010.

The bodies of six UK servicemen, five of whom were shot by a "rogue" Afghan policeman, have been flown home.

Lloyds Banking Group is to cut 5,000 jobs by the end of 2010. 2,600 of these will be permanent positions. The move is intended to reduce the overlap between divisions following the merger between Lloyds and HBOS last year.

The minimum jail term for knife murders will be increased from 15 to 25 years. The decision follows a campaign by the Kinsella family, and a review that highlighted the disparity between sentencing for killings involving guns and those involving knives.

The Vatican plans to make conversion to Catholicism easier for Church of England clergy unhappy about the ordination of women bishops, offering them dioceses within the Roman Catholic Church. Married Church of England priests will be able to serve as Roman Catholic priests, on a case-by-case basis.

This article appears in the 16 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Dead End