Friday, 26 April 2013

Politcs in the UK- The British government

The government of the United Kingdom is more often referred to as Her Majesty’s Government, sometimes simply as HMG, the British Government or the UK Government; and this comprises the central government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who is charged with nominating ministers of the respective government departments. The Prime Minister and the most senior ministers comprise the supreme decision-making committee, referred to as the Cabinet. The government is mainly dependent on parliament for the enactment of primary legislature. Prime ministerial elections are held every five years.

Under the British constitution, executive authority lies in the hands of the monarch, though such authority is exercised in the form of advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Equally, the Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy council and also have the right to directly exercise power as leaders of various government departments.

A key principle of the British Constitution is that the Government is answerable to Parliament. The concept is referred to as responsible government. Ministers are usually expected to be members of the House of Commons. They are required to make statements in the House and response to questions from members of that House.  Generally, most senior ministers usually sit in the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. Nonetheless, there are exceptional cases whereby some Cabinet ministers may belong to the House of Lords.

In the modern era, the Prime Minister must always be an elected Member of Parliament (MP), in the House of Commons; and thus accountable to that House. Equally, in practice, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must also always be a member of the Commons.

Under the British system, the Government is by convention required to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, not least because the Commons play a cardinal role in endorsing the bills presented for parliamentary scrutiny. If the government loses the confidence of the House of Commons, it would normally be expected to resign, or a General Election is held.

The Prime Minister is normally held into account during Prime Minister’s Questions Time (PMQs), which offers an occasion for MPs from all parties to question the Prime Minister on any subject pertaining to the government. In the like manner, ministers heading the various departments make statements in the House of Commons; and are expected to respond to any questions from the MPs, on matters relating to their respective departments.

Committees of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords hold government into account, scrutinise its work and meticulously examine proposals for legislation.  Ministers appear before the committee to give evidence and respond to any concerns or questions.
Government ministers are expected to adhere to the ministerial code that stipulates the ethics and principles of their behaviour as ministers.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Your Health in London-The National Health Service or NHS in London and the UK

The National Health Service (NHS) is the overall designation of any of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom, comprising NHS Scotland, NHS Welsh, NHS Northern Ireland and NHS England. Despite operating as autonomous yet collaborative entities, these four health systems cannot actually be set apart from one another in exclusive terms.

Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service. It is also one of the most efficient, most egalitarian and most comprehensive.
The NHS was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth, a principle that remains at its core. With the exception of some charges, such as prescription and optical and dental services, the NHS remains free at the point of use for anyone who is resident in the UK. That is currently more than 63.2million people. It covers everything from antenatal screening and routine treatments for long-term conditions, to transplants, emergency treatment, and end-of-life care.

Responsibility for healthcare in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government respectively.

Treatment of persons not resident in the United Kingdom is subject to mostly uniform arrangements made by or delegated to the UK Department of Health, rather than any individual health service. Foreign nationals always receive treatment free at the time of use of emergencies.
Foreign nationals also receive free treatment if they have been legally resident in the UK for 12 months, have recently arrived to take up permanent residence, are claiming asylum or have other legal resident status. Citizens of the European Economic Area nations, as well as those from countries with which the UK has a reciprocal arrangement, are also entitled to free treatment by using the European Health Insurance Card. Foreign nationals may be subject to an interview to establish their nationality and residence status, which must be resolved before non-emergency treatment can commence. Patients who do not qualify for free treatment are asked to pay in advance, or to sign a written undertaking to pay.

The NHS employs more than 1.7m people. The NHS in England is the biggest part of the system by far, catering to a population of 53m and employing more than 1.35m people. The NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland employs 153,427; 84,817 and 78,000 people respectively. The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

Funding for the NHS comes directly from taxation and is granted to the Department of Health by Parliament. When the NHS was launched in 1948, it had a budget of £437 million (roughly £9 billion at today’s value). For 2012/13, it was around £108.9 billion. 
In 2010, the Common Wealth Fund declared that in comparison with the healthcare systems of six other countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA), the NHS was the second most impressive overall. The NHS was rated as the best system in terms of efficiency, effective care and cost-related problems. It was also ranked second for patient equality and safety.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Best Shopping in London-Supermarkets in London

A grocery store is a store that retails food; and the owner of the grocery store is called a grocer. Normally, grocery stores stock an extensive assortment of food products from fruits and vegetables, through dry food items to a variety of packaged food products. Large grocery stores that also stock other products such as clothing or housing items are known as supermarkets. Small grocery stores engaged solely in the sale of fruits and vegetables are known as greengrocers in Britain; while small grocery stores that largely sell snack foods and sandwiches are referred to as convenient stores or delicatessens.
Grocery sales in London and the rest of the UK are dominated by four high-value supermarket chains including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison’s. These "big four" had a combined market share of 76.2 percent of the UK grocery market in the 12 weeks ending 17 February 2013.

Marks and Spencer, Booths and Waitrose constitute the supermarket luxury ceiling of London and the UK. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison’s cater for the value market; meanwhile Sainsbury's and Morrison's are midmarket chains.
In additional to supermarkets, there are also multi-purpose shopping venues in London, such as Harrods shopping centre.               

Harrods is London’s prominent department store, housed by a magnificent building.
A majority of visitors to London pay a visit to this opulent department store, with its wide selection of luxurious goods. In fact, a considerable portion of the store’s sales are from foreign visitors. Upon leaving, the store often offers customers a signature green bag.
Harrods is one of the world's most famous store and one of London's tourist attractions. The store stocks a compelling and wide assortment of luxury goods that are on display in a magnificently decorated building.
The success of Harrods attracted a number of other entrepreneurs to Knightsbridge, resulting in an upscale shopping district. Nearby are luxury stores such as Harvey Nichols and Burberry. Sloane Street, one of the most famous shopping streets in London, is just around the corner.

In London equally, you would find specialty stores that stock grocer items from specific regions of the world, for instance, Asian stores, Afro-Caribbean stores etc.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Information about London -Public Libraries in London

A library simply entails a venue where, books, newspapers, tapes, records, digital information and other material are kept for the purpose of information, education and research.

A public library is a library that is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources like tax revenue and operated by civil servants. There are five elementary characteristics shared by public libraries. The first is that they are generally supported by taxes (usually local, though any level of government can and may contribute); they are governed by a board to serve the public interest; they are open to all and every community member; they are entirely voluntary in that no one is ever forced to use the services provided; and public libraries provide basic services without charge.

Public libraries exist in almost every borough across London, and are often considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population. Public libraries are distinct from research libraries, school libraries and special libraries in that their mandate is to cater for the information needs of the general public (rather than the needs of a particular school, institution, or research population). Public Libraries also provide free services such as preschool story times to encourage early literacy, quiet study and work areas for students and professionals, or book clubs to encourage appreciation of literature in adults. Public libraries typically allow users to take books and other materials off the premises temporarily. They also have non-circulating reference collections and provide computer and internet access to patrons.

Though the advent and systematic evolution of the digital era has tended to diminish the momentum of public libraries, they nonetheless remain a cardinal tool of education, information and literacy enhancement in the community.

Usually, to be able to borrow items from a public library, one needs to register there. Generic principles mostly apply to usage of all public libraries, but some of these libraries have added their own rules and requirements, in response to their specific challenges and visions. Visit your local library in London, for more information about registration and borrowing procedures and rules.
Some universities might also allow those registered for a course in their institutions to use their libraries at a certain cost. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cheap Hostels in London -The concept of backpacker travel

Backpacking usually entails a form of inexpensive, autonomous global travel, mostly carried out by young adults, who are seeking a more engaging and deeper approach to exploring a destination.
It generally includes the use of a backpack or other luggage, which is easily carried for long distances or long periods of time; the use of public transport; economical lodging such as hostels; a relatively longer duration of the trip; and an interest in meeting the locals as well as viewing the sites. More often than not, it is associated with young adults, who generally have fewer obligations and thus more time to travel. They are also less financially viable, and tend to use budget accommodation such as youth hostels.

The definition of a backpacker has evolved as travellers from different cultures and regions participate. Some works undertaken in this domain regard backpackers as constituting an assorted group in view of the rationales and meanings associated with their experiences. They do not generally subscribe to conventional forms of travel; and are instead preoccupied with self-exploration in a style most suitable to their sought experiences, expectations and values. This band of travel witnessed tremendous growth in the 2000s, due to the advent of low-cost airlines and hostels or budget accommodation.

Central to backpacking is the concept of authenticity. Backpacking is perceived as a strongly educative and engaging vacation. Backpackers are keen to experience the grassroots aspects of destination; instead of the packaged version often associated with mass tourism. For this reason, they are usually characterised as anti-tourists.  Backpacking is common for young adults in Northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel, but less so for the USA and Canada.

Backpacking trips were traditionally undertaken either in a "gap year" between High School and university, or between the latter and the commencement of work. However, the average age of backpackers has gradually increased over time, and it is not uncommon to meet travellers in their late 20s or 30s on an extended career break. Popular regions for backpacking tend to vary from country to country.
London is an excellent destination for backpackers because it offers a range of enriching experiences, but also has a vast spectrum of youth hostels. Indeed, youth hostels and budget accommodation are dispersed all over London; and the sheer diversity of attractions in the city would certainly interest the international backpacker.