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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
London: Brussels gravy train?
Zia Trench
Zia Trench
Politics Show London

EU flag
EU Parliament: Ticket to ride the gravy train?

Bringing Europe up in the pub, is always good for dividing opinion.

You either see it as a costly waste of time that leeches on our sovereignty or an exciting/inevitable future we must do more to be part of.

But Europe is not just about a standpoint; you might be surprised to hear that cleanliness targets for the Thames, noise and air pollution levels in our skies and the guaranteed right to holiday pay, are all thanks to legislation that MEPs got through, not MPs.

Expensive institution?

One headache, is the cost; it is expensive and there have been more than a few scandalous anecdotes about MEP's living the high life, making use of very generous expense accounts.

It is the allowances, not the pay that riles critics. MEP's earn just over 59,000 per year, like MPs do.

But it is the allowances that you have to look at, to see what an MEP really earns; one thing, is they get a travel allowance for flights between London, Strasbourg and Brussels.

This is a flat payment, rather than the actual cost of the ticket.

Twin locations

Talking of Strasbourg, this is another bone of contention; MEP's have to spend four days (their working week) of every month in Strasbourg. MEP's told me, that it's a total waste of time and money.

So are we getting value for money from our MEP's, or are they riding the gravy train to Brussels?

Zia Trench spent a day with London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford to find out ...

Also on the programme this week ...

The fall out from the Forest Gate arrests and shooting.

The Muslim community in East London claim they have been left feeling isolated, targeted and uniformed following the terror related incident a week last Friday.

This weekend a number of rallies have been organised to register the anger of many within the Muslim community.

Claims of bad information and over zealous policing have done little to allay the genuine fears and worries of many Muslims in the Capital.

Respect Party activist Yvonne Ridley, who became a Muslim after her kidnap by the Taliban in Afghanistan five years ago, accused the police of being heavy-handed and called for Muslims to withdraw support for the police.

One thing is for sure the last thing the Met Police will want in the battle against terrorism is to lose the support of the Muslim community.

On Saturday 10 June we find out if the brothers are to be charged in connection with the raids , or released without charge .

Either way appears the Met's work will be cut out, re-building trust.

The Politics Show London

Join us on the Politics Show on Sunday 18 June 2006 at 12:00 on BBC One.

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