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News diary 29 October-4 November: Ofcom bosses appear before 'fake news' inquiry and Paul Dacre gives Society of Editors annual lecture

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

There’s a slight diversion from Brexit in Westminster this week: Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Budget on Monday with two key questions to answer: how to fund the £20bn NHS funding boost and fulfil the Prime Minister’s pledge to end austerity.

Recent reports that borrowing forecasts in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic and fiscal outlook, which is also released today, will be significantly reduced over this Parliament will have made the Chancellor’s task easier, though the threat of potential tax increases will not be welcomed by Hammond’s Conservative colleagues.

It’s tradition for the Leader of the Opposition to respond to a Budget statement so Jeremy Corbyn will have the task of unpicking the Chancellor’s announcements from the first Budget statement to fall on a Monday since 1962.

On Tuesday, the influential Institute for Fiscal Studies delivers its verdict on the Chancellor’s spending plans at an event in central London. The IFS response is traditionally one of the most hotly-anticipated Budget analyses and often takes the sheen off any positive spin from HM Treasury: last year the think tank warned that the UK faced two decades of poor earnings growth and positivity.

In the Commons, the Budget debate begins in earnest after departmental questions for Ministers from the Foreign Office. Jeremy Hunt last week issued a joint statement with fellow G7 ministers on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which stopped short of condemning the Saudi regime, so backbenchers may press the Foreign Secretary for further remarks on the Government’s position.

Wednesday looks set to be a busy day in the Palace of Westminster as a raft of cabinet ministers and senior civil servants appear before Select Committees.

Jeremy Hunt is before the Foreign Affairs committee on the work of his department, while Environment Secretary Michael Gove faces a grilling on the Agriculture Bill and Brexit Committee chair Hilary Benn gives evidence to the Procedures Committee.

Also appearing before MPs are Ofcom bosses Sharon White and Lord Burns, who give evidence to the inquiry into fake news and are expected to deliver their response to its interim report which criticised the Government’s response to the DCMS committee’s findings.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex embark on the final leg of their Southern Hemisphere tour before returning to the UK. The newlyweds visit Rotorua, a town and lake known for being a centre of Maori culture, on New Zealand’s North Island.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Gambia on the same day, meeting with President Adama Barrow and visiting a medical research centre in the capital Banjul.

Four days of debate on the Budget reach a climax on Thursday as MPs vote on the Chancellor’s spending plans. Traditionally a straightforward vote, this year the Government’s fragile majority has been highlighted by the Conservatives Party’s DUP allies threatening to vote down the Budget in the event of the Government agreeing to any kind of customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

On Threadneedle Street, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee gathers to decide whether to maintain the base rate at 0.5 per cent.

Mark Carney holds a press conference at 12.30pm to discuss the Bank’s latest inflation report – the last report coincided with the first interest rate rise for a decade and was accompanied with a warning from the Governor that Brexit could lead to a return to rate reductions.

The first of the month also sees the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in the UK. The move follows a long campaign by the parents of children with rare forms of epilepsy who were denied access to cannabis oil.

In June this year, England’s Chief Medical Officer backed the treatment, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that medicinal cannabis would be made available to those with an “exceptional clinical need”.

On Friday, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) stages its “Crown Jewel” event in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

The company has been widely condemned in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder for its decision to press ahead with the live show – a move which was only confirmed on 25 October despite pressure from fans, international media, and some US Government officials.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continue their tour of Africa with a visit to Ghana. The Royals are scheduled to meet with President Nana Akufo-Addo and King of the Ashantis Osei Tutu II as part of their stay, which runs until 6 November.

After dropping Kevin Spacey from the cast in the wake of sexual assault allegations, the final series of Netflix drama House of Cards airs. Ahead of the sixth series the show’s producers revealed that Spacey’s character had been killed off, with on-screen wife Robin Wright taking on the lead role.

The countdown to the 2019 Rugby World Cup begins as the home nations kick off their autumn series campaigns on Saturday. Wales welcome Scotland to Cardiff, though most of the focus is likely to be on England’s game with South Africa at Twickenham. Head Coach Eddie Jones is under increasing pressure with England having won just twice in their last eight matches.

Planned strikes on South Western and Northern Rail services look set to continue travellers’ woes. The actions are part of long-running disputes over driver-only operated trains, and come as the operators also attempt to tackle the chaos created by new timetables introduced over the summer – to which Transport Secretary Chris Grayling responded by blaming the rail industry.

The latest round of American sanctions on Iran take effect on Sunday with the conclusion of a 180-day wind-down period initiated following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear dear.

This latest round focuses on Iran’s shipping and shipbuilding sectors, as well as on the purchase of petroleum and petrol products. The White House was boosted this month by the news that China is reducing its oil trade with the Islamic Republic.

Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre (pictured) delivers the annual lecture at this year’s Society of Editors conference. Since his resignation, rival publications have noticed a marked shift in the Mail’s stances on several issues, particularly Brexit. Dacre was called “the greatest Fleet Street editor of his generation” upon announcing his departure in June.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Lucy Young/London Press Club

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