Immigration Controls

James Brokenshire has given his backing to an annual limit on the number of people from outside of the EU being given work permits. Speaking on the BBC1 London Politics Show, the Old Bexley & Sidcup MP said that controls on immigration were necessary after the last Government had failed to put appropriate measures in place. The annual limit would help to bring net migration to levels in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands experienced under Labour.

Hornchurch Farewell

With the General Election imminent the boundary changes which will divide and abolish the Hornchurch constituency will come into effect in a matter of days. These changes will also mark the end of my period in office as the Member of Parliament for Hornchurch.

Combating Computer Crime

On-line crime is one of the fastest growing crimes in Britain today. Senior police officers estimate that a crime with an online element is committed every ten seconds. This has serious consequences for not only our economy, but our everyday lives where the virtual world has become an integral part of the day to day functioning of the physical world.

The Olympic Tower

One of the lighter issues discussed on LBC 97.3 last night was the Turner-prize winning artist Anish Kapoor's striking steel sculpture for the Olympic site. There have been various descriptions of the twisted steel design, most uncomplimentary. I described it as resembling inter-twining red musical treble clefs. Cathy by contrast said it looked more like collapsing steel cranes - you get the difference of view even in this household! The tower currently has the title of the Arcelor Mital ‘Orbit'. I suspect that in time a more everyday description will develop.

Preparing for the next drug problem

Tragically, the drug Mephedrone has been dominating the headlines over the last few weeks. The so called 'legal high' has been linked to the deaths of a number of people. Focus has rightly been placed on public health concerns and controls applied to the drug and moves to classify the drug are welcome. It seems that many young people are making the mistake that because it's legal they think it's safe. It isn't with the chemistry of Mephedrone being similar to that of an amphetamine.

Double charging for radio?

Tougher economic times have drawn into question part of the licensing scheme operated by PRS for Music. In particular, whether shops and businesses should pay charges for simply playing the radio in the workplace. Interestingly, I've had this issue flagged up from two sides. The stores and firms which balk at having licence fees levied on them when they are struggling to keep in business. And the radio stations who say that they are already paying a licence fee for broadcasting music and that this is effectively ‘double taxation'.

Through Unity

After the shocking teenage stabbings of the last few days, there was even more poignancy to the ‘Through Unity' Conference in Docklands today. Through Unity is a charity which helps to give a voice to and support families who have lost loved ones to violent crime. The themes of the event were around stopping antisocial behaviour, binge drinking and youth violence; raising aspirations and providing real solutions to the problems; and how we can move forward to drive societal change.

Can the EU really delay Mephedrone controls?

Earlier this week it was suggested that even if it wanted to the Government wouldn't be able to act quickly against the drug Mephedrone or 'meow meow' because of the EU. It was claimed that to introduce new legislation to control the drug would require a 3 month consultation with our European partners. The Home Office itself appeared to give credence to this with an official suggesting that any ban would be in place "by the end of the year".

Facebook's Unanswered Questions

Facebook rightly remains under pressure over its refusal to adopt a panic button to alert law enforcement agencies of potential child abuse. The social networking site has firmly set its face against the adoption of the ‘report abuse' facility developed by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) despite significant adverse criticism. The shocking rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall has put the safety measures of social networking sites into stark focus. The 17 year old was lured by convicted double rapist Peter Chapman by creating a bogus Facebook profile using the picture of a teenager.

The Surrealist Budget

If this budget were a painting it would be an exemplar of surrealism. The epitome of the absurd came with the suggestion that borrowing £167 billion this year is somehow a virtue, something we can all be pleased about. Similarly, that we should all take a collective sigh of relief at the fact that this has been the deepest recession on record, yet it wasn't as bad as we had feared. It was almost like twisted schadenfreude - a celebration not of someone else's misfortune but our own.