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Showing posts from January, 2008

People on low incomes

The government are making this quite a lot harder for people on lower incomes. When you are on incapacity benefit or JSA then paying an extra £1 for a Free Range Chicken is not easy. I have got the answer as to what proportion of Incapacity Benefit appeals succeed (about a third). More importantly the government discourages appeals by cutting JSA for anyone that appeals. I do not think at 20% cut in JSA is warranted.

Derivative again

When markets move lots of money is lost or made through the use of deriviatives. It does not surprise me that a number of large banks don't have a proper real time control on their derivatives situation. Technically this is actually more difficult than most banks are capable of. I would be interested in finding out a bit more about Soc Gen's losses, but it strikes me that they simply don't have automatic reconciliation. That allows people to conceal losses by putting false entries into the system. Automatic reconcilation has been available for many years, but still a lot of financial organisations don't have this sort of system. Soc Gen sounds like one of them.

Results: Thursday 24th January 2008

Basingstoke and Deane DC, Baughurst LD Michael John Bound 428 (53.8; +20.3), Con 368 (46.2; -20.3). Majority 60. Turnout 40.6%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2004. Gainsborough TC, Gainsborough East LD Roger Plastow elected unopposed. LD gain from Ind. Sandwell MBC, Newton Lab 844 (36.9; +2.6), LD Kay Allcock 809 (35.4; -6.9), Con 587 (25.7; +2.3), Green 45 (2.0; +2.0). Majority 35. Turnout 25.9%. Lab gain from LD. Last fought 2007.

A good example of contradictory expert opinion Professor Risdon, who works at Great Ormond Street hospital and is Britain's foremost paediatric pathologist, had examined Mia's body two years ago and concluded that the rib fractures were "extremely unlikely" to be the result of resuscitation. At the time, he had never come across broken ribs in infants caused by attempted life-saving. Then, two weeks after the trial started, he wrote to the judge saying he had found evidence of rib fractures caused by resuscitation in three children he had examined in the previous month alone. Professor Risdon said Aimee had suffered damage to her lumber cord, which was also consistent with her being shaken. He said he did not think the three fractured ribs, bruising and bleeding to the abdominal wall, were caused when doctors at Basildon Hospital fough

Todays votes on the Reform Treaty

I support a referendum on the Reform Treaty. As a consequence of this I will not be supporting the government position on the Second Reading of the relevant Bill tonight. I have not, however, come to final conclusions as to the merits of the treaty itself. Hence I will not be opposing the government. When a vote arises which has legal force in calling for a referendum on the treaty (not today) I will vote for that.

Labour plan scrapping of adoption targets

The link is to a story in the Sunday Telegraph about the probable scrapping of targets for adoption from 1st April 2008. That does not, however, mean that suddenly everything will be OK. It is a step forwards, however. From the article: The number of newborn babies removed from their parents has almost doubled from 540 in 1995 to 1,400 in 2005/6. Yet the policy has failed to reduce the number of infants murdered, which rose in the same period from 17 to 24. Although the number of babies adopted has risen, the numbers for older children -the ones the policy was meant to help - have gone down.

Another Brown fiddle

The link relates to the plan for the government to sell its loan to Northern Rock whilst continuing to guarantee repayment. This is actually much worse a position than they are currently in. At the moment they have some control over the situation. They lose all control over the situation, but continue to take on the risk. The figures today may look better, but the liability remains with the government.

Guardian Article about Care System

Kate Hilpern has been working on the linked article for some time. I think she has done a good job with it. The difficulty is that there are situation in which the state should intervene as well as situations where it shouldn't. The difficulty is that without access to the whole set of cases we cannot be certain where the balance lies.

Some progress being made

The link is to a story about how the government are moving towards publishing anonymised judgments. This is a step forwards that I have been pressing for for some time. It is important that we can discuss publicly the merits of state intervention in particular cases. We do not need to know publicly who the people involved are. We do, however, need to have some idea of the basis of the case. This should also include, however, access to the detailed reports being used. Too many judgments simply refer to reports that are frankly rubbish. Some progress, however, is being made. There do, however, have to be exhaustive productions of anonymised judgments and the full logical reasoning needs to be open to challenge. This is where the system falls down badly.

Osborne and Hain - donation declarations

It is important for people to know who any substantial funders of politicians are. Such declarations of interest should be public. However, there has to be a sensible approach to techical issues. George Osborne declared his funding to the Electoral Commission, but not the parliamentary commissioner for standards. I don't see this as anything other than a technical breach. Peter Hain, however, failed to declare his funding sources to anyone. At the same time an attempt to conceal the sources was made. It is this attempt to conceal the sources of funding that causes me most concern. The reason for declaring funding sources is to identify whether or not politicians are offering "cash for questions" type deals. If we don't know who the paymaster is then we don't know which tunes to look out for. There has, however, to be a sensible and coherent approach to declarations. I need to declare things to Birmingham City Council, The Electoral Commission, The Liberal D

Feed in tariff - government lobbying against renewable support

The link is to this exchange in Hansard: John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The Government seem to have rejected the idea of the feed-in tariff for the UK, but in Germany it has massively increased the amount of renewables. Will the Government at least stop lobbying within the EU to stop feed-in tariffs? Mr. Hutton: The renewables obligation is a genuine market mechanism and that is why it has been successful. It has overseen a rapid increase in renewable energy in the UK and we should stick with what works. The feed-in tariff in Germany has undoubtedly incentivised microgeneration in particular, but a significant extra cost has been borne by consumers as a result. The feed in tariff in Germany has been the main driver for their increse in renewables. This is in essence our government admitting that they are lobbying within the EU against the feed in tariff - something I had been told

Election Results: Thursday 10th January 2008

North West Leicestershire DC, Ibstock and Heather Lab 699 (30.9; -3.1), BNP 637 (28.2; +28.2), Con 515 (22.8; -12.6), LD David Wyatt 411 (18.2; +7.4), [UKIP (0.0; -19.8)]. Majority 62. Turnout 40.4%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007. Thatcham TC Thatcham Central (West Berkshire) LD Stephanie Steevenson 762 LD Jason Leake 748 (59.7), Con 515/494 (40.3). Majorities 247/233. Turnout 28%. LD hold x2. Thatcham TC, Thatcham North LD Annie Sparkes 625 (54.3), Con 527 (45.7). Majority 98. Turnout 27.5%. LD gain from Con. An Independent was elected unopposed in South ward of Kings Langley PC, an Ind gain from Con.

New Hampshire Primary Elections - voting discrepancy issue

I have been given the following figures which I have no reason to disbelieve, but have not personally substantiated. They do ask a question even if the answer is nothing to be concerned about. --Total Democratic Votes: 286,139 - Machine vs Hand ( 09 Jan 2008 Hillary Clinton, Diebold Accuvote optical scan: 39.618% Clinton, Hand Counted Paper Ballots: 34.908% Barack Obama, Diebold Accuvote optical scan: 36.309% Obama, Hand Counted Paper Ballots: 38.617% Machine vs Hand: Clinton: 4.709% (13,475 votes) Obama: -2.308% (-6,604 votes) 2008 New Hampshire Republican Primary Results --Total Republican Votes: 236,378 Machine vs Hand ( 09 Jan 2008 Mitt Romney, Diebold Accuvote optical scan: 33.075% Romney, Hand Counted Paper Ballots: 25.483% Ron Paul, Diebold Accuvote optical scan: 7.109% Paul, Hand Counted Paper Ballots: 9.221% Machine vs Hand: Romney: 7.592% (17,946 votes) Paul: -2.112% (-4,991 votes)

Government block action on Graffiti and Boy Racers

With the government tabling 200 amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill it blew out of the water the cross party amendment about graffiti and any chances of dealing with Boy Racers. I cannot think that any of the government amendments will have the same merit, but it meant that the cross party attempt to deal with the issue of graffiti was halted. We have decided to continue pressing for this, however. A joint meeting with a minister will be called for.

Nick Clegg; Parliamentary Team

Deputy Leader: Vincent Cable Chief Whip: Paul Burstow Chair of Campaigns and Communications: Ed Davey Economy and business Vincent Cable Jeremy Browne John Pugh Colin Breed Business and enterprise: Sarah Teather Lorely Burt Home affairs Chris Huhne Tom Brake Justice: David Heath Jenny Willott Shadow Attorney General: Lord Thomas Shadow Solicitor General: David Howarth International affairs Ed Davey Jo Swinson Defence: Nick Harvey Willie Rennie Bob Russell International Development: Michael Moore Children, schools and families: David Laws Annette Brooke Health: Norman Lamb Sandra Gidley Greg Mulholland Communities and Local Government: Julia Goldsworthy Dan Rogerson Mark Hunter Housing: Lembit Opik Work and Pensions: Danny Alexander Paul Rowen John Barrett Innovation, universities and skills: Stephen Williams Evan Harris Environment, energy, food and rural affairs: Steve Webb Martin Horwood Roger Williams Transport: Norman Baker John Leech Countryside: Tim Farron Families and Cabinet Of

APPG On Peak Oil Events January

'BP's View on Peak Oil' Wednesday 16th January. 7.00pm Grimond Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons Peter Davies, BP's Special Economic Advisor, will explain BP's position on peak oil. The meeting will be followed by a question and answer session. 'Transport after Oil' Monday 28th January. 6.30pm Wilson Room , Portcullis House, House of Commons Richard Gilbert, co-author of 'Transport Revolutions: Moving people and freight without oil' (Earthscan, 2007) will discuss the options for post-oil transport, looking at responses that aim to ensure effective, secure movement of people and goods in ways that minimize environmental impacts and make the best use of renewable sources of energy.

Election Results: Thursday 3rd January 2008.

Cambridgeshire CC, Roman Bank and Peckover Con 897 (61.1; +2.1), Lab 380 (25.9; +25.9), UKIP 192 (13.1; +13.1), [LD (0.0; -41.0)]. Majority 517. Turnout 21.9%. Con hold. Last fought 2005. Welwyn Hatfield DC, Welham Green Con 539 (40.7), LD John Elvy 484 (36.5), BNP 214 (16.2), Lab 88 (6.6). Majority 55. Turnout 46.6%. Con hold. Unopposed in 2007.