- Michael Crick
- 31 Jan 08, 07:44 PM
Here's Newsnight's latest list of MPs whom we think employ one or more of their own relatives. This is based partly on lists published in the Daily Mail and the Times today, and partly on our own research. There are several other names we've been given, but not been able to confirm, so they are not posted here. After conversations with MPs today I'm inclined to think the total number employing relatives could be well over 100. Of course the vast majority of these MPs will be employing their relatives quite legitimately, and they will deserve every penny they get, if not more.
Sir Stuart Bell
Sir Paul Beresford
Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Peter Soulsby
Sir George Young
- 31 Jan 08, 05:20 PM
Is Gordon as green as he paints himself?
If he is, why is the government apparently letting an application for a new coal-fired power station go through without any commitment to carbon capture and storage?
The new plant which is to be built by E.ON UK at Kingsnorth in Kent will make it harder for the UK to meet its carbon reduction targets. The Conservatives are calling for carbon capture and storage technology to be applied from the outset - but according to e-mails given to Newsnight the government isn't even going to insist that the power plant is ready to fit such technology when it is available.
What is happening to President Hamid Karzai's leadership of Afghanistan? The amount of land under opium in Afghanistan is more than under coca cultivation in Columbia, Bolivia and Peru combined. Afghan MP Malalai Joya writes in today's Independent that the government is as bad as the Taliban, with more women killing themselves in the country in 2007 than ever before. So why did President Karzai "veto" Paddy Ashdown as a "super envoy" to Afghanistan, and earlier in Davos say that the British presence in Helmand had made things worse? Is he angry that the international community has not delivered the reconstruction aid it promised, and, worried about his own re-election, trying to court votes with a more belligerent attitude to the West?
Mark Urban assesses the man once seen as the saving grace of Afghanistan.
Should cannabis be reclassified from C to B? It was only four years ago that the rules on the drug were relaxed. This morning the Rowntree Foundation published its report which insists that making possession a more serious offence will have no impact whatsoever. The police take the opposite view. Who's right?
And Michael Crick is still on the case of the Conway family affair at Westminster.
- Michael Crick
- 31 Jan 08, 12:10 PM
Much speculation at Westminster over how the Sunday Times originally managed to finger Derek Conway in the first place. Their original article, on 27 May 2007, not only specified how much he was paying his son Freddie, but also managed to quote how much three other MPs were paying their wives to work as staff - Malcolm Bruce, Nick Ainger and Sir Stuart Bell.
Many Tory MPs think the Sunday Times must have had a mole inside the Fees Office, the Commons department which pays MPs staff. But there's another theory. Notice that the four MPs named by the Sunday Times had names starting with A, B or C? Perhaps someone in the Fees Office simply left a sheet of paper of MPs 'A to C' on a photocopier, or some similar mishap. Stranger things have happened.
Jeremy Paxman was sceptical last night about my suggestion on the programme that as many as 100 MPs could be employing relatives of one kind or another. The Daily Mail has a list today of 63 who do so, and just from memory I can add three others. So my estimate of up to 100 in all may not be as ludicrous as Jeremy seemed to think. A Sunday newspaper is doing a big survey, and the Tory whips have told their MPs to cooperate, so we may get a better picture this weekend.
- 31 Jan 08, 10:31 AM
Today's prgramme producer is Simon Enright - here is his early email to the production team. What would you like to see on the programme?
Hello Newsnight colleague or viewer
I'm interested in several stories today:
Who is really in charge in Afghanistan? Several reports out today indicate that the country is in a mess and the military operation is facing a huge challenge. But as any general will tell you, military force can only ever be part of the solution. So who is co-ordinating everything else? Not Paddy Ashdown now. Who should we talk to?
We get crime figures out today - both recorded and British Crime Survey. They are likely to show a fall in crime again. In fact they've shown a fall in crime over the last ten years. But that is NOT the public perception. Why? Are the figures wrong or our perceptions or can, curiously, both be right?
The re-classification of Cannabis will be debated next week. The Joseph Rowntree Trust has got their paper on the issue out early - we have a possible film from Steve Smith on the issue.
Also today the House of Commons will vote on whether to suspend Derek Conway. Is there more on this that we should do?
And other stories?
Shell's record profits? The transcript of the bail hearing which saw Gary Weddell released to murder. Social workers and their ability to take children away from mum and dad.
Let's talk at 10.30 or message below with your thoughts for what we should do.