UK

Newspaper review: MPs feel the heat over expenses claims

Sunday newspapers

Several Sunday papers focus on MPs claiming expenses for heating their second homes, while the energy companies themselves also come under fire.

"They're at it again," laments the Sunday Mirror, which says hundreds of MPs are claiming the costs of heating their second homes on their expenses.

The paper prints the names of 340 backbenchers and ministers who claimed as much as £6,000 each in a year.

While none broke any parliamentary rules, the Mirror believes they face "a bigger moral question" - £6,000, it says, "would heat a lot of pensioners' homes".

Left hanging

The energy companies themselves are in the firing line elsewhere.

The Sun on Sunday reports that Npower has plans to cut as many as 2,500 jobs - two weeks after announcing a 10% rise in prices.

The company says only that it is undertaking a "major review" of its operations. The newspaper brands its treatment of its staff "a disgrace".

The Sunday People takes the energy companies to task for their standards of customer service.

It rang each of the main suppliers to ask about switching to a cheaper tariff - and was kept on hold for up to 49 minutes.

While most firms have numbers that are free from a landline, the People says they can cost up to 40p a minute from a mobile. The paper reckons the energy companies are "not just eating up our money, but our time, too".

EBay 'storm'

The Mail on Sunday says the online auction site, eBay, is facing an "international storm of outrage" because it has been selling Holocaust memorabilia.

The paper says it found dozens of offensive items on offer last week, including a striped uniform thought to have belonged to a Polish baker who died in Auschwitz, for which the asking price was just over £11,000.

A concentration camp toothbrush was offered for £145.

The Mail says that within hours of the paper contacting eBay the site had apologised and removed more than 30 items from its listings.

It also pledged £25,000 to a suitable charity - a sum the Mail describes as "strikingly inadequate".

Licence fee debate

The Sunday Telegraph has been asking people for their views of the licence fee - and 49% say it should be scrapped.

An ICM poll commissioned by the paper suggests a further 21% want the cost of a television licence reduced from its current figure of £145.50.

The Telegraph says there is wide support for the idea of the BBC developing alternative sources of income, such as through advertising.

The chairman of the Commons media select committee, John Whittingdale, tells the paper that "the licence fee is becoming very difficult to sustain".

Going hungry

A long queue outside a London restaurant is pictured in the Observer, which says the scene is becoming increasingly common in the capital and spreading to other parts of the UK.

With many restaurants now refusing to take bookings, would-be diners are having to wait up to two hours for a table.

One restaurateur tells the paper that popular venues can make more money by not holding tables for those who have rung ahead, if people are prepared to wait.

When the queues disappear, he says, those restaurants will start accepting reservations again - but once that happens, you do not need to book.

Mystery solved

Meanwhile, the mystery of King Tutankhamun's death has been solved, according to the Independent on Sunday.

It says a team of British experts has carried out a new analysis of the body of the boy king, who died in 1323 BC.

They identified a pattern of injuries down one side of his body, suggesting he was involved in an accident with a chariot.

The newspaper says he appears to have been "the first of the boy racers".

'Burglar a-llama'

The Queen's favourite dog breed is set to be classified as an endangered breed in Britain for the first time, according to the Sunday Times.

It says only 241 Pembroke Welsh corgis have been registered this year, placing it in what the Kennel Club describes as the "danger zone".

The club says an "astronomical increase" in the number of small dogs of foreign origin, such as chihuahuas, is putting native breeds at risk.

Finally, a larger animal of foreign origin is helping farmers in the war against countryside crime.

The Sunday Express says llamas are being placed in fields of sheep to deter rustlers, as well as foxes and stray dogs.

With their ability to spit and head-butt when angry, llamas are said to be the ideal choice to help farmers protect their livestock. The newspaper reckons even the most determined bandit would be stopped in their tracks by a burglar a-llama.

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