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UK Politics: News In Brief

Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK

MP's car found in flames

A car belonging to an MP who has had a long-running dispute with local drug dealers has been discovered on fire outside her house.

Irene Adams, the Labour member for Paisley North, near Glasgow, has previously received death threats from drug gangs, whom she has pledged to force out of business.

Firefighters arrived at her home in Paisley at 7am on Wednesday to discover the MP's Rover in flames. A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police declined to say if the blaze was being treated as suspicious.

Paisley has earned a reputation in recent years for both drug abuse and extreme violence among gangs fighting for control of the west of Scotland narcotics trade.

Young interviewer tackles Blair

After his remarks on the public sector, the deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process and amid Tory calls for an inquiry into Kosovo, any number of political correspondents are desperate to interview the prime minister.

But Tony Blair granted the honour to the 13-year-old winner of a BBC Newsround contest on the future of schools.

Siobhan Maher, 13, from Solihull in the West Midlands, stuck to her specialist subject when she got a one-to-one audience with Mr Blair after the mob grilling known as Prime Minister's Questions.

Other subjects, including Mr Blair's desire for more children, were breached, however. "We would have had five if ... well if we had carried on I suppose," the prime minister said.

Promote Meacher, urges MP

Environment Minister Michael deserves a place in the Cabinet for his efforts to improve protection of the countryside, says the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Environmental Protection Group.

Helen Brinton MP told a news conference: "Michael Meacher has excelled himself in every way and we want to see him round the Cabinet table."

But other environmental campaigners insist Labour has not done enough to guarantee the preservation of Specific Sites of Scientific Interest.

Tony Juniper, Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: "Since Labour came to power SSSIs have suffered damage at a rate of almost one a day [and] populations of wildlife are declining. If a comprehensive bill is not included in this autumn's Queen's Speech this toll of destruction will damage Labour's credibility on the environment.

Pilot scheme for homeless

The government's plans to cut rough sleeping on the streets of London by two-thirds by 2002 have been stepped up with a new pilot project getting underway.

Employment minister Andrew Smith launched the London Rough Sleepers Unit, which will bring together training schemes, a system of mentors and facilities to help rough sleepers into the working community.

He said: "Each step along the way, this scheme can provide them with the support that they need and recognise the range of services they need."

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