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Established in 1973 at the birth of commercial radio in the UK, IRN provides client stations with a continuous service of national and international news. The service comprises a ready to air hourly news bulletin, delivered live 24/7, in addition to a suite of pre-recorded news content in the form of news audio cuts on the main stories, written cues and scripts to help stations produce their own bulletins, plus plenty of extra material within sports news, showbiz and music news, money news and consumer technology news.

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Queen's Speech: Tax Break For Low Wage Earners

27 May

People working 30 hours a week on minimum wage will no longer have to pay income tax under Conservative plans to be announced in the Queen's Speech.

The Queen will set out the Government's legislative plans for the next five years at the State Opening of Parliament later today.
It will be the first all-Conservative Queen's Speech since 1996, and is also expected to feature an EU Referendum Bill that will give Britons a vote on membership to Europe by 2017.
The Queen will also announce a bill to curb illegal immigration and an extension of the Right to Buy scheme.
Controversial proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights are also expected to feature in the speech, however full legislation will not be introduced until next year.
The traditional address is spoken by the Queen, but written by Prime Minister David Cameron's team.
It takes place on the first day of a new parliamentary session or soon after a General Election.
Speaking ahead of the speech, Mr Cameron said: "This is the Queen's Speech for working people from a One Nation Government that will bring our country together.
"We have a mandate from the British people, a clear manifesto and the instruction to deliver. And we will not waste a single moment in getting on with the task.
"As part of our long-term plan to back working people and make work pay, the Government is determined to reward work by letting people keep even more of the money they earn."
In her address to Parliament, the Queen will confirm that legislation will be brought forward to ensure that future increases in the income tax personal allowance will reflect changes to the minimum wage.
This will mean that anyone working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will pay no income tax.
Other plans to be laid out by the Queen include doubling the amount of free childcare, creating three million apprenticeships and introducing £8bn more funding for the NHS.
Devolution will be another key focus, with extra powers to English regions and the Scotland bill promising more devolution north of the border.
And a five-year "tax lock" will mean there will be no income tax, VAT or national insurance rises in this Parliament.
But despite Mr Cameron's claim that the Government is seeking to "bring our country together," acting Labour leader Harriet Harman says she fears the reality of the Tories' plans "will be very different from the rhetoric".
"The Queen's Speech will talk of a 'One Nation approach' - yet Cameron sets the nations of the country against each other," she said.
"The Queen's Speech will talk of helping 'working people' - yet Cameron threatens basic rights at work.
"The real question for this Queen's Speech will be whether it improves our country, our communities and people."
The pageantry begins with the Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry.
She arrives at Sovereign's Entrance before leading the Royal Procession to the chamber of the House of Lords.
A senior official known as Black Rod is sent to summon the Commons, where the doors to the chamber are shut in his face - symbolising the Commons' independence from the monarchy.
Black Rod strikes the door three times before it is opened, and MPs then follow him to the Lords Chamber to listen to the speech.

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What You Need To Know About The Queen's Speech

27 May

The Queen delivers her speech at the State Opening of Parliament today. Here's what you need to know.

What is the Queen's Speech?
It sets out what the Government will do in the coming parliamentary year and is delivered at the State Opening of Parliament.
Does the Queen write it?
No, ministers do. The Queen just reads it out on behalf of her Government - from a throne in the House of Lords.
How long does it last?
Around 10 minutes. It's long enough for a page boy to faint - as one did last year.
And the pomp and ceremony?
There's plenty of that. The Queen wears the Imperial State Crown and Robe of State.
For the first time last year the monarch travelled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, made of oak from HMS Victory, slivers of Isaac Newton's apple tree, bits of Sir Edmund Hillary's Everest ladders and a bolt from a Spitfire.
How old is the tradition?
There is some evidence of speeches dating back to the 16th century but the event has existed in its current form since 1852.
How many times has the Queen read the speech?
This will be the Monarch's 64th. She was excused in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant. The Lord Chancellor read the speech instead.
:: What happens?
Black Rod, a House of Lords official, summons MPs from the Commons to come and hear the speech in the Lords.
It is tradition that the doors of the Commons are shut in his face - a custom that dates back to the Civil War and symbolises the independence of the Government and the monarchy.
Black Rod knocks three times at the door and then issues the summons to the Speaker. MPs then proceed to the Lords chamber to hear the speech.
No monarch has set foot in the Commons since Charles I in 1642.
:: And what will be in the Queen's Speech this year?
:: EU - a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU due by the end of 2017
:: British Bill of Rights - Human Rights Act to be scrapped and likely withdrawal from European Convention on Human Rights
:: "Snoopers' Charter" - intelligence agencies to be able to see the emails you have been sending, calls you have made and internet sites you have browsed
:: Tax lock bill - guarantee the government will not increase VAT, National Insurance and Income Tax
:: Tax-free minimum wage - personal allowance to rise in line with the minimum wage so lowest paid, on 30 hours a week, never pay income tax
:: Childcare - double free childcare provision for three and four year olds to 30 hours a week
:: Right to buy - 1.3m housing association tenants able to buy their properties
:: Northern Powerhouse - devolution bill to give more powers to cities like Manchester
:: More powers for Scotland - as promised ahead of last year’s referendum

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EU Referendum: 'Yes' To Stay Or 'No' To Leave

27 May

The wording put to voters in the referendum on EU membership will ask Britons to vote "yes" to remain in the union or "no" to leave, Sky sources say.

The precise question proposed by the Government will be published in the EU Referendum Bill within 24 hours.
The question is expected to be similar to the Electoral Commission's suggested modification to then-backbencher James Wharton's private member's bill.
That question stated: "Should the United Kingdom remain in the European Union?"
The Commission was concerned that too few potential voters were aware that Britain was already a member of the EU.
The question will be the subject of considerable debate and possible amendment in Parliament.
The EU Referendum Bill is at the centre of today's Queen's Speech.
Other bills on immigration, apprenticeships, Scotland, city devolution, and housing will be announced by the Queen.
But the EU referendum towers above everything else.
European officials are starting to make life difficult for Prime Minister David Cameron's strategy on European reform.
The window is closing on the "full-on" EU treaty change wanted and expected by the PM and his backbenchers.
Germany had been the big hope for the UK's renegotiation.
Berlin had wanted to get the Eurozone fiscal compact written into the EU treaty at some point, to give watertight restrictions on borrowing within the single currency zone.
This realignment would have provided the only real opportunity for Britain to change its legal relationship within the European Union.
France is opposed to treaty change however, and what has emerged in the past few months is that as many as 18 of the EU's 28 member states are also not in favour.
Domestic politics is the main reason: the ratification of a treaty change would be a tough ask against a backdrop of the rise of populist far-right and far-left parties.
The Le Monde newspaper's leak of the Franco-German position paper, confirmed by its recipient - Jean-Claude Juncker's spokesman - is confirmation that Germany is not going to give a treaty change opportunity for Mr Cameron to take.
The Franco-German paper refers to "four areas of action, which should be developed in the framework of the current treaties in the coming years".
Responding to the story, Mr Cameron's spokesman said there has been "no change whatsoever (on treaty change)... widely known that Eurozone countries have been discussing for some time a range of issues".
Senior Conservative backbenchers again stressed the importance of achieving formal treaty change.
Mr Cameron's more immediate challenge following the Franco-German position paper will be to get his reform proposals on the agenda for June's European Leaders Summit in Brussels.

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Floods Kill At Least 16 In Texas And Oklahoma

27 May

Heavy rain and flash flooding have killed at least 16 people in Texas and Oklahoma and led to around 1,000 calls for help from residents in Houston, officials say.

The downpours turned streets into rivers and destroyed hundreds of homes after storms struck the US states during the Memorial Day weekend.
The death toll is expected to rise with numerous people still missing in Texas.
Among the missing are members of two families who were in a holiday home that was swept away over the weekend.
Two of the dead in Houston were found in their cars.
"A lot of folks drove their car into high water and had to abandon those vehicles," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office said six people died in weather-related incidents over the holiday weekend.
President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he had assured Texas Governor Greg Abbott that he could count on help from the federal government as the state recovers from the floods.
A state of disaster has been declared in at least 40 Texas counties, including Harris County, which includes Houston.
Mr Abbott said he had deployed the state's National Guard and is worried the death toll could rise.
"It's devastating to see what I saw on the Blanco River when this tidal wave of water just swept away neighbourhoods," he said.
Thirteen people are confirmed missing due to flooding that hit the Blanco River, county officials said.
The missing are from two families whose vacation home was swept off its foundation in Wimberley, a town around 30 miles southwest of Austin.
About 30 other people who were previously unaccounted for have been contacted, Hays County officials said.
More than 200 flights had been cancelled by early on Tuesday evening local time at airports in Houston and Dallas.
Around 100,000 customers also lost power throughout Texas after the storm due to high winds and rising waters that caused power poles to snap.

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Four Out Of Five MS Suffers Are Misdiagnosed

27 May

Four out of five people with multiple sclerosis are misdiagnosed, a charity has warned.

The MS Society said 25% of sufferers are told they are simply suffering a trapped nerve, while about two-fifths (39%) are left waiting a year or more before they are diagnosed.
The charity said that while MS can be difficult to diagnose, delays such as these can be harmful as they prevent people from taking the necessary steps to manage their condition effectively.
Evidence has shown that early treatment has long-term benefits.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive at the MS Society, said: "Our findings highlight the struggle people go through for years before they get an MS diagnosis.
"Being misdiagnosed or experiencing symptoms that can't be explained can put a considerable strain on people's emotions and health."
There are more than 100,000 people living with the condition in the UK and 5,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
"It's disappointing," said Dr Alan Thompson, consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology in London. 
"One of the main reasons is that the symptoms of MS are variable and could be caused by a lot of other things.
"It can be a mixture of numbness and tingling or a bit of imbalance or a loss of vision and these symptoms can last for four to six weeks and then disappear.
"There's a general lack of awareness of MS and what the symptoms are and this is what we need to address."
There is no cure for MS, which affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
It is the most common disabling neurological condition in young adults, with symptoms usually starting in the 20s and 30s, yet awareness remains low.
Its causes are complex and not completely understood, but typical early symptoms include numbness, tingling, limb weakness, lack of co-ordination, loss of sight, fatigue and bladder and bowel problems.
Of the 1,515 people questioned for the survey to mark World MS Day, the most common early symptoms were reported as being numbness and altered sensations in different parts of the body (53%), sight problems (47%) and difficulty with walking (41%).

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