UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

What should we do with MPs’ expenses?


Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has apologised for using House of Commons expenses to claim the cost of two adult movies, watched by her husband while Smith was away from their family home.

The embarrassing incident is the latest in a series of rows over MPs’ expenses. Smith is already under investigation after claiming 116,000 pounds to pay for accommodation in London when she was living with her sister, while Works Minister Tony McNulty is under scrutiny after claiming 60,000 pounds for a house in Harrow, where his parents live, that is just 11 miles from the Commons.

Many people are also unhappy at the number of MPs employing family members at the taxpayers’ expense. The Committee on Standards in Public Life has announced that it will carry out a review of the whole system of expenses, but does not plan to report until after the next general election.

What reform do you think should be made to MPs’ pay and expenses? Is the current system acceptable? Should we raise their salary of 63,291 pounds a year and scrap the expenses system completely? Or should we just keep this sort of information private and let them get on with running the country?

How safe is your street?


crime-map.JPGEver wanted to know how many crimes were committed in your local area?

Well, by the end of the year you’ll be able to get some idea with every police force required to produce online interactive “crime maps”.

West Midlands and West Yorkshire are two of the forces who have put information about the number of offences in different neighbourhoods on their Web sites and on Wednesday the country’s biggest force, London’s Metropolitan Police, activated its crime mapping site.

A policeman’s lot


police.jpgA policeman’s lot is not a happy one, sing the officers in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”.

Judging from views expressed by many delegates who gathered in Bournemouth for the Police Federation’s annual conference, it is a refrain that is appropriate for Britain’s bobbies today.

On the rack in Bournemouth


smith.jpgJacqui Smith has probably faced some unwelcoming audiences in her time as Home Secretary but it is unlikely she has faced one as tough as the 1,000 angry police officers she encountered on Wednesday.

Smith knew she was in for a grilling when she spoke to delegates at the Police Federation conference, furious that a pay rise, recommended by an independent panel, had not been
honoured in full.

Should police turn the tables on the yobs?


graffiti.jpg The problem of yobs causing misery for their neighbours and local communities is a daily reality for many people.

Be it from gangs of drunken teenagers to more serious cases of vandalism, assaults or even murder, stories of problems involving young louts are rarely out of the newspapers.

Thursday’s front pages: anti-social behaviour


guardian.JPGThe latest initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour and an apparent loophole in airport security feature prominently on Thursday’s front pages, along with the Chelsea gun siege and the Austrian house of horrors.

The Guardian says Home Secretary Jacqui Smith  wants police to harass anti-social youths and make life as unpleasant for them as they do for their victims. Young thugs should be hounded and filmed.  Story here