Much better he plays Croquet
I, for one, am much happier with John Prescott playing croquet than thinking that he may have his hand otherwise on the nuclear button.
There are very few ministers (and I don't think Tony Blair is one of them) who are actually capable of running anything properly. That is the underlying difficulty in which the country currently is. New Labour are good at spinning, but useless at making anything happen effectively - apart from raising taxes and starting illegal wars.
What they actually do is to hardly interfere with the Civil Service and let them get on with things. The problem with this technocratic solution is that it goes badly wrong from time to time ... like ... er ... about now. It becomes the war of the barons with senior civil servants calling the shots.
The idea that John Reid will do anything other than upset his own staff is risible. At least we have the chance of some good leaks from the Home Office now.
One role of government is identifying problems in the public sector and looking for systematic failure and fixing it.
They don't seem even to look for problems.
The Labour Government: Not fit for purpose
The Home Office, the NHS, Tax Credits, The Child Support Agency, the Ministry of Defence, Single Farm Payments ... etc etc.
It is quite clear that the Labour Government are "not fit for purpose".
They have been in government for 9 years and although some positive things have been achieved, there are still many areas that are chaotic.
That comes from their concentration on spin and concealing problems rather than substance.
Crime is taken seriously by Ming Campbell
I am pleased with Ming Campbell's approach on the issue of Crime. To quote from his speech:A party which is serious about social justice cannot fail to be serious about preventing crime and enforcing the rules.
I want to be clear: I support the discriminating use of ASBOs in tackling crime and discouraging anti social behaviour.
Liberal Democrats in local government have used ASBOs to good effect.
Penalties should go beyond custody. People like Ian Huntley should not have the vote. If you are guilty of a serious breach of the law, you forfeit the right to elect those who make the law.
Written Parliamentary Questions: 26th May 2006
Connecting for HealthQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the status is of the Connecting for Health IT project.(John Hemming)A:
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 16 May 2006, Official Report, columns 939-40W
. (Caroline Flint, Minister of State, Department of Health)NHS FinancesQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what formula her Department uses to determine the payment made to each primary care trust under payment by results. (John Hemming)A:
Revenue allocations are made to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the basis of the relative needs of their populations. A weighted capitation formula, calculates target shares of available resources for each PCT based on the age distribution, additional need and unavoidable geographical variations in the cost of providing services. The 2006-07 allocations have been adjusted to reflect non-recurrently the transitional arrangements for PCTs to support the implementation of payment by results. (Andy Burnham, Minister of State, Department of Health)NHS Hospital TrustsQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 19 April 2006, Official Report, column 743W, on NHS Hospital Trusts, if she will set out the figures for fixed costs identifying those that arise in relation to private finance initiative projects.(John Hemming)A:
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 12 July 2005, Official Report, columns 988-89W. The table which has been placed in the Library gives the annual payments by each trust to it's private sector partner on private finance initiative schemes which have reached financial close. This table has now been updated to reflect the Barts and London Hospital and the Hull and East Yorkshire private finance initiative schemes reaching financial close since then.
(Andy Burnham, Minister of State, Department of Health)
British Armed Forces Federation
A series of reports in The Scotsman has already forced the MoD to admit the casualty figures presented to parliament are inaccurate and many more soldiers have been injured than has been officially reported.
Last Night's Dispatches Programme combined with other media reports shows how ineffectual parliamentary questions have become. It is far to easy for ministers to avoid answering written questions.
It is not surprising that there are pressures within the Armed Forces to create a representative body akin to that of the Police Federation. This does appear to be a necessary step to ensure that the needs of the servicepeople are properly taken into account.
Iraq: Why we should pull out
There is now formally "a government" in Iraq.
As with in the 1920s and 1930s the defining issue in Iraq is "the occupation". (Previously it was RAF bases).
All the political parties are opposed to the occupation. The occupation, however, gives an argument for the "insurgents" to recruit.
The UK government has no real "strategy" in Iraq that is worth the name. They say that they want to wait until the Iraqi security services can cope. However, the presence of the occupying forces makes the situation harder to handle.
They have no clear objectives by which they can measure when they should leave. Hence unless people support an unending commitment then the time to leave is now (or at least in reasonable and safe phases).
Blair's most misleading argument about Iraq was that it was Saddam Hussain or invasion. There were many other options that led to the downfall of the Ba'th without the generation of major hatred against the UK and US governments in the Middle East.
Many people fail to understand that one of the biggest motivations in any group based conflict is revenge. Iraq is but one more example of this.
Well the Pre-Action Protocol on the letter of last week has now been served. This gives another couple of weeks for the government to respond before a claim form is issued.
In the mean time Standing Committee A has continued to dig into the guts of the government's new bill. The amount of additional regulation and record keeping needs to be seen to be believed. Systems are getting more and more complex (such as the Film Tax Relief).
It remains to be seen what impact this new relief will have on the British Film Industry.
Some Sanity at last
The decision of the Government to accept Birmingham's proposal to merge only Eastern and North Birmingham PCTs is a glimmer of sensible decisionmaking amidst a fog of incompetence.
It will be an interesting test case to see if consequentially we cope better with the financial problems currently facing the Health Service. The government today were still only talking about Period 6 figures. That is not that surprising as they can adjust the end of year figures in all sorts of interesting ways that will be difficult to bottom out. They then can announce end of year figures that are better than period 9 as a result of "brokerage" where the SHA chucks a bung at a trust in deficit on a one-off basis.
Yesterday and Today involves further discussion of the Report Stage of the Parliamentary Scrutiny (Abolition) Bill. It is clear, listening to the debate, that the government do not follow the complex legal arguments today.
Today I also managed to meet up with people from CSCI and the College of Paediatricians. I have argued that:
a) The family court process should be open to scrutiny on a reasonable basis
b) Other aspects of Social Care procedures should be open to more scrutiny with a right for participants to raise concerns in confidence with politicians. The parties should be allowed further discretion.
c) There should be a parents advocate during Child Protection proceedings as a matter of course.
d) The "Independent Chair" of Child Protection proceedings should be truly independent.
We also had a short meeting about the West Midlands City Region which is moving forwards. This is a workable system for bringing better coordination across the metropolitan area (inc Coventry and Telford).
It was also interesting in the Finance Bill Standing Committee (A) that the government really don't understand the issue about first year capital allowances for Small Businesses. If a Small Business makes an extra profit of say £25,000 and invests that in capital equipment for the business they still have to pay tax on the profit even though they have spent the money.
This is same for larger businesses, but the cash flow issues tend to not be as problematical.
Written Parliamentary Questions: 16th May 2006
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2006, Official Report, columns 1358–59W, on millennium projects, if she will collect information on the performance of each project; and what monitoring of the performance of each project is undertaken. (John Hemming)A:
Like all lottery distributing bodies, the Millennium Commission takes decisions independently on which projects to support with national lottery proceeds. Under Financial Directions from the Department, the Commission is required to undertake appropriate monitoring and evaluation of projects to make sure that, among other things, lottery funds are being used for the purposes intended, that they represent value for money and that they are delivering the benefits identified in the application to the Commission. Under the Directions, a report on monitoring and evaluation studies carried out by or for the Commission must be included in the Commission's annual report to Parliament.
In view of the Commission's independent status, the Department does not collect information on, or separately monitor the performance of, the Commission's projects. (Richard Caborn, Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport) Non-emergency SituationsQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer given by the hon. Member for Salford (Hazel Blears) on 18 April 2006, Official Report, column 322W, on non-emergency situations, if he will take steps to ensure that the criteria for deciding whether (a) drug taking, (b) drunken behaviour, (c) harassment and (d) intimidation should be treated as (i) emergency and (ii) non-emergency situations are established by Ministers.(John Hemming)A:
I refer the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Hazel Blears) on 18 April 2006, Official Report, column 322W. (Liam Byrne, Minister of State, Home Office)
Musicians Union, Orchestras and Henry the Eighth
A limited amount of debate has been going on about the new "Ministers change law by edict" bill going through the House next week. David Howarth has put down some really good amendments on this which go to the nub of the bill.
It remains that the government are putting down a bill that makes it easier for Ministers to change the law without a full parliamentary procedure. Almost anything could be rammed through with the agreement of two committees and one vote in each house.
The argument is to make deregulation easier. The real problem is that Civil Servants generally don't want to reduce the amount of regulation as this reduces their ability to influence what happens. All proposals for deregulation have to come from the Civil Service (Ministers, but we know how little they have to do with this).
The bill has been called the Henry VIII bill becuase it is about greater power for the crown prerogative (ie government).
In the mean time the Musician's Union have a problem with class 2 NI contributions being required from orchestras. This is a good example where noone really wants this regulation. Musicians tend to work as music teachers when not working in Orchestras so there is no long period of unemployment. This is different to the matters in the Acting world for which this was designed.
Being as I am on Standing Committee A which is dealing with the Finance Bill I asked whether this law could be amended. Answer: National Insurance is nothing to do with Finance. Hence it would be out of order.
I do think, however, that this would work as a regulatory reform order so I will rummage that out and see what happens.
I am now also on the Procedure Committee which gives me three Committees: Regulatory Reform, Procedure and Standing Committee A. Actually I am quite pleased to be on the Procedure Committee as I am working on how to force the government to "answer the question". I have done a lot more work on this in the last week. I could probably write a reasonably good book on this now, but I am concentrating on the legal arguments that force government ministers to answer questions properly.
Being on the Procedure Committee means that I see the details of how parliamentary proceedings are managed. Interestingly Questions are part of parliamentary proceedings, but Answers are not.
NHS - The Perfect Storm
A number of changes are being driven through the NHS which could be considered like the "Perfect Storm".
One most talked about the PbR or Payment by Activity. This has been accompanied by the removal or moreso phasing out of the purchaser protection adjustment. The DH was well aware of what hospitals faced difficulties, but nothing was done until too late.
The financial impact of the new consultants contract was not properly costed by the Department of Health and Agenda for Change also has a substantial impact on costs.
There is a sensible attempt to move care into primary care from secondary care, but this is being done at the same time as everything else and in a relatively insensitive manner in terms of handling staff who could be redeployed rather than made redundant.
The Costs of PFI are excessive and concealed by the use of optimism bias.
There is a bit of good news
The introduction of strong market participants in Foundation Trusts before Commissioning was fully established was the wrong way around whatever one's view about Foundation Trusts.
There is a bit of good news in that the government's pressure to move to 15% of commissioning from the private sector has disappeared off the agenda. Eastern Birmingham spends between 1 and 2% at the moment on specialist services where required. Such as Forensic Mental Health and services for people with Learning Difficulties. The 15% figure is managed through the Local Delivery Plan and the Strategic Health Authorities.
The nature of the first wave ISTC contracts such as the one in Burton where an amount of "activity" payment is guaranteed and, therefore, hhospitals such as Good Hope in Birmingham are likely to have reductions in Activity to move it to Burton. This will hit the new NE Birmingham PCT. Second wave contracts are more sensible, however.
In the mean time PCT budgets have been top sliced by SHA. In Birmingham it is about 2.6%.
The real problem lies in the reorganisation fo the PCTS. The PCTS have an aggregate commissioning budget of 64.309 billion. To put people into job uncertainty causes planning difficulties.
Meltdown occured with PbR in the Czech republic as hospitals found ways of getting extra money from the system.
Letter to Tony Blair
Yesterday I sent the following letter to Tony Blair:
Over the past year I have, as a new Member of Parliament, asked a number of questions of your government. Sometimes this is via a written parliamentary question. On other occasions it is in a letter or an email. Sometimes the questions are asked directly of Civil Servants.
On many occasions I have received a good response within a reasonable time. However, there are frequently situations in which I receive a flawed response, a partial response, an evasive or misleading response or even no real response.
I do believe that your ministers are acting unlawfully in doing this and take the view that these issues should be considered through Judicial Review. I have written to the Cabinet Secretary about these issues, but, at the time of writing, had no response.
I would like, therefore, to summarise all the issues I have identified to date. This will facilitate the judicial consideration of your decision as to how these matters are handled. It is my intention to treat your response as the final remedy within the system of government and the point at which, if there is an unlawful response the matter should be taken to judicial review so as to determine the lawfulness of the response of government.
1. Deficits within the NHS
I have made numerous requests of the NHS and the erstwhile Minister Jane Kennedy for up-to-date figures as to the forecast deficit. The government has at the time of writing only indicated the forecast deficit as calculated for the period 6 accounts. This is clearly not up-to-date and the government has a duty to respond with more up to date figures.
I have made a further request that the NHS Executive issue an emailed copy of the forecast finances to those Honourable Members that request it at a given and reasonable frequency. This request has also been refused.
2. Payments for drugs by prescription pricing authority.
It is my estimate that the government has overspent by of the order of £500 Million on certain drugs. It is also my estimate shared by others that overspending is continuing. I have referred this issue to the National Audit Office. However, I have also requested detailed figures from the Department of Health and the department has failed to give them to me.
3. NICE Economic Model
I have requested a copy of the Economic Model used by NICE to calculate the cost effectiveness of any treatment. It is absolutely crucial that this is done correctly at a time when finance is particularly tight within the NHS. This, however, has been refused.
4. Treasury Economic Model Inputs
I have been provided with a copy of the computer program which is the Treasury’s Economic Model. However, the Treasury continues to refuse to provide the inputs used to calculate the budget forecasts. That is unreasonable.
5. Silent Calls Made by the Health Service
The Health Service are refusing to check which Health Bodies continue to make Silent Calls. The regulations have been tightened up on this recently which means that such bodies could be liable to massive fines if they continue doing this. I am aware that the National Blood Service continues to do this and hopefully is bringing the practise to an end. This is an issue of substantial national significance, but the refusal to even look at the issue as a result of “disproportionate cost” is not correct.
6. Payments to private sector by PCTs
It is unreasonable of the Department of Health to refuse to answer a question as to how much money is put into the private sector as a result of the information not being held centrally. It should be held centrally and that work should be done. Within the context of a very tight financial position in the health service work should be done to keep a reasonable amount of information centrally.
7. Millennium Projects
Ministers are refusing to collate information centrally on the financial position of Millennium projects. That is not in the public interest. Turning a blind eye to this situation is not acceptable.
8. Gas Imports
An incomplete and potentially misleading answer was given by the government as to the situation in respect of Gas Supply for the coming winter.
9. Release of prisoners without consideration of deportation
A rapid review of written parliamentary questions makes it clear that questions such as that of Mike Hancock were not answered relating to the immigration status of prisoners with the reason being given as “disproportionate cost”. It is clear that disproportionate cost is used too frequently and without good cause to answer questions.
10. Council Tax Increase
It is clear that the government has a policy as to what the council tax should be increased by. It is also clear that this has been the case for a number of years and remains so this year notwithstanding the change of the formulae. Your ministers, however, have denied this.
11. Aviation White Paper and Climate Change
It is clear that without the repeal of the second law of thermodynamics that the government cannot both satisfy its own targets in terms of carbon emissions and also require the same increases in aviation as specified in the Aviation White Paper. The Aviation White Paper is causing a lot of planning blight across the country and its assumptions should be urgently changed.
12. Peak Oil Production
The government produces figures for the calculations as to what oil is to be produced without proper reconciliation of different predictions although Sir David King is doing
some useful work.
The legal questions here are those of what rights to obtain information Members of Parliament have in addition to their rights as Citizens of the UK through the Freedom of Information Act. I have done a considerable amount of research relating to this and it is quite clear in the way in which your government is responding to questions from Members of Parliament it is acting unlawfully.
It seems clear to me that this failure to respond to scrutiny is actually resulting in worse government with decisions being based on flawed information and the concentration being upon avoiding embarrassment for the executive rather than ensuring that good decisions are taken.
Clearly any legal test would divide into a number of different issues in respect of answering questions. This would include, inter alia:
a) Failure to answer a question
b) The justification of “disproportionate cost” being used irrationally and unwillingness of department to look for information that is not immediately to hand.
c) The provision of false information as contradictory answers are given (see particularly Aviation)
d) Other provision of misleading and/or false information
e) The absence of an appeal procedure under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Clearly a useful step would be the creation of an independent body to consider situations where the rights of a Member of Parliament for information are considered. The Freedom of Information Act is clearly insufficient and also fails the test of ensuring that remedies are provided in a timely manner as I required under the ECHR.
Could I suggest that in responding to this letter you identify who in the Treasury Solicitors Department is to handle this matter. I have already written my skeleton argument in dealing with the issues concerned and I am sure that we both share a desire for the government to act lawfully.
Child Protection and Foster Care
There has been some stress about a letter I wrote to the Sunday Times. Although I think the letter is quite clear, I would like to ensure that it is clear. The letter is in bold italics, any comments in normal text.CONGRATULATIONS on your article Innocent parents accused of abuse (News, April 23). The problems of innocent parents do not stop there.
I think this is quite clear given the multiple cases of miscarriages of justice.There remain a substantial number of children who die at the hands of their carers
This does not refer to "foster carers". It refers to "carers". That includes parents, other guardians, people who are caring for them temporarily on behalf of their parents. The overwhelming majority of foster carers are good people who I have absolutely no criticism of. I even started the process of looking at fostering children at some stage myself.while social workers deal with the Alice in Wonderland world of fabricated or induced illness and Munchausen syndrome by proxy
This refers for example to the Climbie case See text here— where parents are guilty because they claim to be innocent.
This relates to the FII guidelines which people can see if they wish. They are on the web.The costs of foster care, which involve payments of up to £500,000 a year for a single child, hit both local and central government finances.
The high costs here refer to residential private foster care, not people fostering in their own homes. Local Authority Foster Carers are paid a much much lower amount which we have been rightly increasing in Birminingham. Private Fostering Agencies are paid a lot more per child something like £600 per week. If smaller sums were used to support parents in difficulties we would not have so many children taken off mothers simply because their parent is epileptic or alcoholic.
This is a more difficult area. Firstly, I support schemes which support families. Secondly I am aware of a case where a lady was continually having children taken off her at birth because she was epileptic.The first step, which it appears the government may take soon, is to open up much of the operation of the family courts so that the decision-making is open to scrutiny. This cannot happen too soon.
This is the subject of an EDM I have signed along with many other MPs.
*edit note. The letter was not published when I expected it to be, but instead on 7th May.
Birmingham Election Results
I have been sent a list of the results for the city that I have not checked and which does not include the result for Kingstanding.
It makes it possible, however, to calculate the percentages across the city for all parties. I also have found 2002 and 1998 figures.
There were some Green and BNP candidates previously, but I have not tried to get the city wide totals. The citywide results show a movement towards extremes and a fragmentation of the mainstream vote with only the Lib Dem Citywide vote standing up against that. The point about the Citywide vote is that it is comparable as the boundaries of the city have not changed even though ward boundaries have changed.
It remains to be seen whether there will be one or more election petitions this time (one from mathematics the others potentially from fraud). It appears that personation has been the name of the game this time rather than postal vote fraud still. However, work needs to be done to be certain.
I am amazed that the Kingstanding result was allowed to be declared with 12,329 votes in total when there were only 4,981 ballot papers with a maximum of two votes on them allowing 9,962 maximum votes.
When there are multiple X elections there is a need to add up the votes from different sources. Some people vote for a party with two (or three votes) others mix and match (which is why doing comparisons to 2004 is difficult). In practise only 9,265 votes were actually cast in Kingstanding. Lots of the mix and match votes appear to have been double counted.
I can understand people being tired at the count. I was very tired on Thursday and Friday as a result of election campaigning, but I am surprised that this overt error was allowed to occur.
Written Parliamentary Questions: 5th May 2006
Primary Care TrustsQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money had been committed by each primary care trust to purchasing private services at the end of December 2005; and how much has been budgeted by each primary care trust for such activity for the financial year 2005–06.(John Hemming) A:
The information requested is not collected centrally. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)Gas SuppliesQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 19 April 2006, Official Report, column 675W, on gas supplies, if he will provide his Department's detailed calculations based on the IMF data and the Royal Bank of Scotland data which were used as the basis for the statement on German gas prices. (John Hemming) A:
The information is as follows:
As at December
IMF Data: Russian Natural gas border price in Germany (US$/thousand cubic metres) 156.24 250.56
RBS Data: US$: Euro exchange rate 0.74596 0.84371
Conversion of thousand mcm to Mwh 1000 cm= 11.06 Mwh
Russian gas at German border price (Euro/Mwh) 10.54 19.11
Increase over 2005 80 per cent
IMF data is publicly available (from http://www.imf.org/external/np/res/comnaod/index.asp) and has been converted to standard European units for the sale of gas using Royal Bank of Scotland publicly available exchange rate data (from http://www.rbs.com/content/media_centre/rbs_and_the_economy/rate_calculator/) and appropriate conversion. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry)National Health ServiceQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 April 2006 to question 59146 on the National Blood Service, what estimate the National Blood Service has made of the number of calls made from call centres in her Department in 2004–05 using predictive dialling; and how many such calls resulted in silent calls. (John Hemming) A:
Data for the year 2004–05 can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the National Blood Service (NBS) has provided data for thepast year.
The NBS made 1,467,382 calls between 1 March 2005 and 21 April 2006. Over this time period, 3.7 per cent. of these calls were abandoned, representing those occasions when the called person answers and it appears no-one is there, due to the slight delay before an operator comes on the line. The NBS continues to improve its abandonment rates, which have dropped to three per cent, in January 2006. These levels are within Ofcom's guidelines of no more than 5 per cent. silent calls. (Caroline Flint, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health), Department of Health)
Labour vote fragments in Birmingham
An initial glance at the results for Birmingham shows the Labour vote fragmenting.
For example they lost the Moseley and Kings Heath seat to the Lib Dems. Labour had only 31% of the vote. However, the opposition to Labour was fragmented and we had about 33% of the vote - enough to win, however.
Because of the boundary changes comparisons need to be made to the all up elections, but that is relatively difficult because sometimes parties (eg UKIP, Green, BNP) only put up 1 candidate in those situations.
There are two comparison techniques the largest vote technique and the percentage of overall vote technique. Both of these have their problems.
Written Parliamentary Questions: 3rd May 2006
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost was of the Queen's Flight in each of the last four financial years; how much of these costs were (a) fixed and (b) variable; and how many miles were flown by the Queen's Flight in each year. (John Hemming) A:
The total cost of the 32 (The Royal) Squadron in each of the last four financial years and the breakdown of these costs into (a) fixed and (b) variable costs are shown in the following table:
Fixed and variable costs for 32 (The Royal) Squadron £ million Financial year Fixed costs Variable costs Total
2002–03 20.2 5.0 25.2
2003–04 14.5 4.8 19.3
2004–05 11.7 4.6 16.3
2005–06 11.4 5.8 17.2
We are not able to provide a figure on how many miles are flown by 32 (The Royal) Squadron as this information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. (Don Touhig, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Veterans), Ministry of Defence)Millennium ProjectsQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the millennium projects with a capital cost in excess of £25 million; and what the (a) deficit and (b) surplus was of each project for each financial year since 2000. (John Hemming) A:
Millennium Commission funded projects with a total capital cost of over £25 million are set out in the table.
The Commission monitors projects to satisfy itself that capital assets funded by lottery grant remain in use, and requires projects to provide it with their annual reports and to notify it if they cease operating or become insolvent. To date, three projects out of 223 supported by the Commission have ceased to operate. However, information about the individual performance of each project is not held centrally.
[please follow the link to see the table]
(Richard Caborn, Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport)
Labour and Government
I was always amazed that the Labour Party got away with accepting a loan from Bernie Ecclestone that effectively changed the law on advertising smoking. Bernie got "access" the ability to influence the argument rather than a formal legislation for loans deal. The end result is, however, the same.
We now have a mass of issues
- Bernie Ecclestone's Loan for a law change - seriously bad in terms of governmental integrity.
- Patricia Hewitt's overall mess with the NHS - a very bad consequence for the population as a whole
- Charles Clarke and the prisoners. I cannot really understand how he is hanging on. This is clearly within his direct remit.
- Phil Woolas and the claim that the government have no policy assumption about the Council Tax.
- Tony Blair, Lord Levy and Loans for Peerages - now where has that gone
- The War in Iraq. We must not forget this situation.
- Overpayment for pharmaceuticals, Labour do get funded by pharmaceutical companies. See Guido
- The general refusal to answer questions. See my earlier posts about this.
- Tax Credits, The CSA, Connecting for Health and anything else you care to mention.
- PFI overpayment and 'optimism bias' adjustments.
I will always remember the Ecclestone saga even though it was a long time ago.