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25 November 2016

Millions of pounds is going to be spent on building work at Buckingham Palace, the first storm of the winter causes floods, a spider is banned from the Houses of Parliament, and UK radio shows may be available all over the world. Practise your English and find out what's going on in the UK with our weekly news roundup!

Buckingham Palace gets builders in

The Queen's London home, Buckingham Palace, needs a lot of building work. So she is getting more money for the next 10 years to pay for GBP 370m of repairs. The first work to be done is invisible but important. The palace needs new boilers for hot water and heating (the current ones are 33 years old), new electrical wiring, and new water pipes. Other jobs will follow.

The Queen will not move out of the Palace while the work is being done, but she may need to move her office or bedroom. There are 775 rooms in the 17th century Palace so there will be lots to choose from. The Palace has 19 state rooms (the grand rooms for public events), 52 bedrooms for the Royal family and their guests, another 188 for staff, 98 offices and 78 bathrooms. Lots of the staff will be moved into buildings put into the Palace gardens while the work is being done.

All the famous events at the Palace will carry on happening while the work is being done. That includes the Changing of the Guard and garden parties. 

First storm of the winter causes floods

It has been a very warm and calm autumn in most of the UK. We had our first big winter storm this week, called Angus.

This caused lots of problems, because it had very strong winds of up to 80 miles per hour and lots of rain. There were travel problems going to Wales and the West Country and snow in the North. Lots of homes and businesses were flooded in the South West where a month's worth of rain fell in a day. Many schools were shut, and roads and railway lines were closed. 

Politician's pet spider banned from the House of Commons

UK political parties have somebody whose job it is to make MPs vote in the way they want. This person is called the Chief Whip, and it is their job to scare MPs into doing what they want.

The Government's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, keeps his pet spider on his desk in a glass tank. The spider is a tarantula, which means it's almost hand-sized and hairy, and Mr Williamson has had him since he was a baby. Newspapers have claimed that the spider scares MPs. Mr Williamson told a newspaper that he gives "the same kind of love and care to my spider that I give to all MPs."

But there is a rule that pets are not allowed in the Houses of Parliament and there are stories that Mr Williamson has been told his spider must leave. Apparently Mr Williamson is refusing, and says that he will only take his spider away when the Commons staff get rid of all the mice in the building.

UK public service broadcaster to launch a Netflix for radio

Programmes made by our public service broadcaster, the BBC, are already seen all over the world. Examples of our shows include Top Gear, Dr Who and Planet Earth.The BBC also runs several radio stations.

Now it says it will launch a Netflix-style service so that people round the world can hear the drama, comedy, arts and entertainment programmes it makes. More details of the new service will be announced early next year.

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