this is bbc news. the headlines at 5pm. work and pensions secretary amber rudd warns company bosses they could be jailed for up to seven years if they "wilfully or recklessly" mismanage their employees‘ pension scheme. theresa may will ask mps for more time to rework her brexit plan, and offer parliament another vote, but labour says the prime minister musn‘t keep running down the clock. kurdish—led forces — backed by the united states — have launched a final push to defeat the so—called islamic state group in syria. the duke of edinburgh gives up his driving licence, weeks after he crashed his car near the queen's sandringham estate. and in15 and in 15 minutes and we will be live on the red carpet at the royal albert hall, watching sties arrive for the baftas. and in rugby — england romp to 44 points to 8 victory against france in the six nations match at twickenham. good afternoon.
company bosses could face longer sentences of up to seven years in prison, if they mismanage employee pension schemes. that's the warning from the work and pensions secretary amber rudd. plans outlined last year, for a maximum sentence of two years in prison, have been toughened up after public consultation. our business correspondent rob young reports. when the unprofitable construction giant carillion collapsed a year ago, its pension pot had a black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds, as did the bhs pension fund when the high street retailer went into administration in 2016. bankrupt kodak's uk scheme had an even bigger deficit when photographers switched from cameras to smartphones. there are many reasons pension schemes end up in trouble and now
the government is proposing a new law to try and make sure that poor behaviour by bosses isn't one of them. work and pensions secretary amber rudd says she will make wilful or reckless behaviour relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years and unlimited fines, but some pensions experts are not convinced the proposed law will be effective. proving a business person sat down, put some money into investment or dividends instead of the pension fund and that was reckless or wilful is tough to prove, and to make it a criminal offence, the standard of proof is even higher, so there is a danger that it sounds great and we feel we've done a good job but nobody ever gets convicted of the offence. plans for this offence to carry a maximum two—year prison term were outlined last year and politicians have since examined the issue. after a public consultation, the sentence has been beefed up. there is already a pensions regulator. the problems being addressed are more about the mismanagement
of the companies rather than the pension schemes themselves, and we have got a system for addressing these problems in place. it's estimated more than a0 million people are members of occupational pensions. most savers needn't worry and the industry regulator says the majority of companies and pension trustees do the right thing by their members. rob young, bbc news. the government says it will give mps another chance to vote on brexit at the end of the month, even if theresa may has not been able to negotiate a deal by then. but the housing scretaryjames brokenshire also admitted that that vote might not be what's known as a "meaningful vote" to approve or reject an eventual deal. a little earlier our political correspondent tom barton told me that time is running out for the prime minister. moving towards the deadline, 29th of march, brexit day, less than 50 days. this thursday there is a key moment in parliament. another key moment in parliament!
mps will hold a series of votes to get their say on what should happen next. the government is really worried because several ministers have indicated they might resign in order to give their support to backbench moves to force a delay in brexit in order to allow more time to try to avoid no deal. the government is obviously keen to avoid that and so has offered another vote at the end of this month. this is whatjames brokenshire said. the government will commit that if the meaningful vote, in other words the deal coming back, has not happened by the 27th of february, we would allow a further votable motion to take place in parliament to give that sense of assurance as to the process moving forward. to be clear, there will be a meaningful vote this month or not?
if the meaningful vote has not happened, so in other words, you know, things have not concluded, then parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than the 27th of february. the crucial thing there is james brokenshire accepting the realistic possibility that the meaningful vote, this vote on approving or rejecting the prime minister's deal, may well not have happened by the 27th of february, in other words four weeks out from brexit, they may not yet reach a deal with the eu to put to parliament. the phrase meaningful vote. kurdish—led forces, backed by the united states, have launched a new push in syria to defeat the group that calls itself islamic state group. more than 20,000 civilians have been evacuated from land still held by is near the iraqi border. 0ur arab affairs editor sebastian usher reports. the us—backed sdf has played a key role in the war against is in syria.
its biggest victory was to drive the jihadists out of their de facto capital, raqqa. in the past few months it's picked off one town, village, or hamlet after another in the corner north—eastern of syria to which is fighters have been driven. all that's left for the jihadists there are a few square miles next to the iraqi border, a far cry from the caliphate the group once declared across huge swathes of syria and iraq. the sdf delayed its final attack until thousands of civilians in the area had been able to get out. now they say a decisive battle is under way. the united states military, our coalition partners, and the syrian democratic forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by isis in syria and iraq. last week, president trump said the total defeat of is could be announced within days. that certainly suits his
agenda of withdrawing all us troops from syria. but he's been criticised before for declaring final victory over is prematurely. caution is still needed. is holds another sliver of territory in syria further west, while its sleeper cells remain active, and it's the same story in iraq. the group's ability to continue a guerrilla insurgency persists. the fate of his hostages, such as the british journalist john cantlie, remains unclear, as does that of its leader, abu bakr al—baghdadi. its most effective foe, the sdf, faces an uncertain future, if and when its us backers leave. sebastian usher, bbc news. firefighters in new zealand are continuing to battle wild fires that have been burning for almost a week. 3,000 people have been moved to safety on the south island, as strong winds push the fires closer to the town of wakefield. a state of emergency
has been declared. its thought the blaze is the worst forest fire in the country since 1955. tens of thousands of spanish nationalists are staging a rally in madrid, to demand new elections and a tougher stance against catalan separatism. the rally is being organised by spain's two main centre—right parties, and the much smallerfar right vox party. they oppose the minority socialist government of prime minister pedro sanchez, and his attempts to negotiate with the pro—independence regional government in catalonia. a woman who was injured in the car crash involving the duke of edinburgh has welcomed the news that he's giving up his driving licence. buckingham palace said prince philip, who's 97, made the decision voluntarily after the collision with a car carrying two women and a baby. the crown prosecution service will take the duke's decision into account when considering whether to bring any charges against him. andy moore reports. it was an accident everyone was lucky to walk away from. the duke of edinburgh's land rover freelander was turned over by the force of the impact
and landed on its side. a baby was unhurt in the other car, a kia, two women were taken to hospital. one of them, emma fairweather, has told the sunday mirror that the duke was right to take the decision to surrender his licence but he could have done it sooner. she said... just days after the accident, the duke was seen driving on public roads near sandringham without a seat belt. norfolk police said they had spoken to him about that. he also sent a letter to mrs fairweather saying sorry for his part in the accident and said he had been dazzled by the low winter sun and was very contrite about the consequences. the police say they have now finished their investigation into the accident and the file has been passed to the crown prosecution service. the duke could be charged for driving without due care and attention.
the cps said the file will be reviewed carefully before a decision was made. but they also said the duke's decision to surrender his licence would be taken into account. andy moore, bbc news. violence erupted in france last night during another series of demonstrations by the country's the gilet jaune or "yellow vest" movement. 0ne protester lost his fingers during clashes in paris. it's the thirteenth week of marches, which began in mid—november. caroline rigby reports. seen here in black, holding his arms and running for shelter, the protester‘s fingers were ripped off by a rubber pellet grenade which exploded in his hand as he tried to threw it away. according to one eyewitness, the man had been attempting to take pictures of demonstrators breaking down the barriers outside the national assembly. for a 13th weekend running thousands of gilets jaunes demonstrators once again took to the streets of paris. police responded to pockets
of violence with tear gas and anti—riot munitions. what began as a protest over fuel tax in november has broadened into a sustained revolt against the rising cost of living and the policy of president macron‘s government. translation: for decades now we have seen our elected representatives have not been working in the interests of the people. they have been working more for lobbies and other interests. when i see poverty in france, when i see the people abandoned by governments and not just this one, for decades, whether it be sarkozy and the others, i say to myself we must act. elsewhere in france, tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in other cities from nantes to bordeaux and toulouse to marseille. according to french government figures, more than 31,000 people joined the protest on saturday, 4,000 in paris.
but that number is down on the 39,000 of last weekend when almost double took to the streets of the capital. the representatives of the yellow vests dispute the official figures, claiming the turnout was higher. in brittany there was an arson attack on the home of the head of the national assembly but it is not clear whether this was linked to the recent protests. in response, emmanuel macron tweeted nothing justifies intimidation and violence towards an elected representative of the republic. the president remains under sustained pressure to quell the wider unrest in france but while the yellow jackets continue to claim the political classes are out of touch with the wider population, there seems little chance of a rapid end to the country's longest running protest in decades. in a moment, we'll be live on the red carpet at the royal albert hall
with my colleague martine croxall as they arrive for the ceremony tonight. for this year's baftas our special programme is live from quarter past five, here on the bbc news channel. hello and welcome to the royal albert hall, for the most exciting night in the british film calendar. it's the baftas. in a moment, we'll be talking about the films, styles and fashion with our special guest film criticjason solomons, and the fashion designer maria grachvogel. let's begin with a look at the nominations for best film. i'm not risking my life from preventing a couple of rednecks from lighting sticks on fire. this is the job, what your problem? that's my problem, for you if you could say, for me it's a job.