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Bite-sized briefing: UK

David Cameron apologised for wrongly claiming that two Islamic schools with alleged links to the group Hizb ut-Tahrir had received money from a government fund for combatting violent extremism.

Carwyn Jones will succeed Rhodri Morgan as the Welsh first minister and the leader of the Labour Party in Wales. Increasing education spending was a key part of his manifesto. He is expected to replace Morgan on 9 December.

The Scottish government published its white paper on independence. However, the minority SNP administration does not have enough support from opposition parties to stage a referendum in 2010.

Requests to block the extradition of the computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the US were denied (see column, right, and picture, below). McKinnon is accused of breaking into US military computers. He faces 60 years in prison if convicted.

Social work is to undergo reforms to boost standards, following a report. Social Workers will need a licence to practice, and the most experienced front-line staff will receive higher pay.

Police forces in England and Wales must make annual savings of around £500m over the next five years, a white paper recommended. Other proposals include police officers patrolling alone rather than in pairs.

The long-serving Tory MP Patrick Cormack will stand down at the next election, saying the expenses scandal had changed the work of politicians. He is one of more than 100 MPs who will leave parliament at the next election.

Two terror suspects won a landmark high court battle against the government use of secret evidence to deny them bail. Two judges ruled that bail cannot be denied solely on the basis of secret evidence. Human rights lawyers said it was a "historic" victory.

NHS cancer survival rates fail to match the best European rates according to a report by the "cancer tsar", Mike Richards. The report revealed local survival rates for the first time: it found that, for example, lung cancer sufferers in Kensington and Chelsea are three times more likely to live a year than those in Herefordshire.

New towns of at least 5,000 homes each are planned by nine local authorities in England. The councils will receive a share of a £10m government fund for developing their plans, which must include at least 30 per cent affordable housing.

UK house prices have risen for the seventh consecutive month, according to Nationwide. The average home now costs £162,764 - 2.7 per cent more than a year ago, and close to early 2006 prices.

This article appears in the 07 December 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Boy George