John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, July 09, 2006
  Constituency vs National Issues
I tend to concentrate on national issues on this blog. That is because readers are overwhelmingly not from Yardley. Over the summer recess, however, I think I will get together some pictures of constituency issues and put them on the blog. I am particularly pleased with a play area we had installed on the Hob Moor Road side of Oaklands Park. This is continually full of 3-10 year olds and a major success.

Politics IMHO is about "delivery". Politicians are elected to deliver. This applies whether "in power" or "out of power". Obviously with us in the joint administration in Birmingham that makes it easier to deliver than when out of administration.

However,

a) Just because you are in administration does not mean that you can deliver
b) When you are out of the administration it remains possible to deliver.

Frequently ignored by the media and hence by most people is the interface between politicians and the machine of government. One of Tony Blair's big problems is that his administration when elected did not understand this interface. They inherited a Thatcherite influenced civil service and it was "business as usual".

It continues, therefore, to be the case that often it is the civil servants that need to be persuaded of a case rather than the politicians. Yes Minister has a substantial link to reality in that way.

This is actually not the way the system is supposed to work. It is, however, how it does work. I was talking to a trade unionist on Friday at the 7/7 commemoration who reported a conversation where he was told that persuading a Minister was a waste of time (this was on PFI).

Obviously this is a matter of balance. Ministers cannot deal with 100% of the issues and at the same time no Minister has zero ability to influence the actions of the administration.

Opposition politicians tend to be ignored by government wherever possible. The failure to answer questions is the key element to this. It is in fact this difficulty that causes our system of government nationally to be so dysfunctional.

For example the issue that will hit the fan for the NHS is "gamesmanship" from the Hospital Trusts whereby a short admission from A&E substantially increases their fees charged under PbA (aka PbR). The system is very financially fragile at the moment and this sort of thing can tip it into meltdown. I am expecting to see those sort of figures at around Period 6 (ie end September). Those figures, however, are unlikely to be revealed until 2007.

The key point about the Judicial Review is that the government cannot simply ignore it. If instructed by the courts to take certain action then they have no choice. This is the key thing about the "Rule of Law".

I spoke to the Administrative Court Office and they are running slightly behind. I may ask for some speeding up because of the urgency of some of the issues. Otherwise the permission stage may take until September to be resolved.

The fact that the Treasury Solicitors are talking about having a hearing for directions makes me believe that they understand that this will get through the permission stage. The TSols know, however, that I cannot take on the risk of taking this through to the House of Lords without some limit on costs. I have done all the main legal work myself, but it is the government costs that are the killer.

Last week I watched the start of a case in the House of Lords. It is quite interesting and I managed to fit this in before the Carers APPG. I need to learn court procedures because although I think I understand the law I have only taken two JR's through to court before and I am not that used to court procedures.
 
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