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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK

UK Politics

MPs e-mailed porn

Scotland Yard is investigating pornographic computer messages which have been sent to MPs.

The e-mails, which are believed to contain explicit sexual fantasies, were received on computers at Westminster.

Commons officials are believed to be discussing with police how to prevent further unsolicited pornography.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "We are aware of the receipt of inappropriate e-mail messages by a number of MPs at the Palace of Westminster.

"The material is currently under consideration by police. We are not prepared to discuss the matter further."

Backbench bills clear Lords

A backbench bill to make using a mobile phone while driving a specific offence has cleared the House of Lords.

The Road Traffic (Use of Mobile Telephones) Bill, sponsored by Labour's Lord Davies of Oldham, was given a third reading without a vote and now goes to the Commons.

The government has argued that the matter is covered by existing law and the bill is expected to be blocked on Friday.

Another backbench bill, which aims to protect the title Chamber of Commerce to prevent unauthorised organisations using it, is set to become law after being given a third reading by peers without a vote.

The Company and Business Names (Chamber of Commerce) Bill has cross-party and government support.

77,000 claims from miners

The government has received 77,000 compensation claims from former miners suffering from respiratory diseases.

Energy Minister John Battle said the government expects the final total to be more than 100,000.

In a series of Commons written replies, Mr Battle said that only seven "lead cases" so far have had claims settled in full

Mr Battle said another 13,700 claimants, including miners and their families, had received interim and bereavement awards totalling 31m.

There had also been 500 payments totalling 4.3m made to the widows of ex-miners and a further 1,600 claims hinged on the government getting details of their husbands' work history, the minister added.

Religious broadcasting omission

Religious groups have been prevented from applying for digital broadcasting licences through an omission in legislation introduced by the previous administration, the government has admitted.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey, for culture and media ministers, told peers the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996 disqualified groups whose objectives were "wholly or mainly of a religious nature" from holding a terrestrial digital radio multiplex licence or a programme service licence.

He said that, according to legal advice, this was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"We have no immediate plans to introduce new government broadcasting legislation, but then would be the time to review matters of broadcasting policy," he told peers.

MPs pay tribute to librarian

MPs have paid tribute in the Commons to their retiring librarian.

Speaker Betty Boothroyd made the announcement of Jennifer Tanfield's retirement at the end of prime minister's questions.

Miss Tanfield, the first woman librarian, has worked in the library for 36 years and has been librarian for the past six years.

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UK Politics Contents

A-Z of Parliament
Talking Politics
Vote 2001
In this section

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Blair in new attack on Livingstone

Week in Westminster

Chris Smith answers your questions

Reid quits PR job

Children take over the Assembly

Two sword lengths

Industry misses new trains target