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Showing posts from June, 2010

Back Bench Business Committee

Those who have followed the changes internal to parliament will have noticed the creation of the Back Bench Business Committee. I am pleased to have been elected to this committee and hope that we will be able to use the committee to strengthen parliament and strengthen the ability of back benchers to fight for their constituents in various ways.

Dealing with Labour's Legacy

The public finances will be a challenge over the next 5 years. Apart from the tax and benefit changes in the budget yesterday there are also the cuts in public spending. All of these arise from the mismanagement of the economy by the previous government. We should have been in the situation of Germany (who went into the recession in surplus) rather than Greece. The situation is straightforward. It compares to a household that has fallen on hard times and needs to bring its income and expenditure into line. You can do this without external intervention. You can do this when you get the court orders and end up paying court fees. Alternatively you can wait until you go bankrupt and the bailiffs are at the door. The bailiff bankruptcy option is like Greece. The court orders and court fees option is like Spain. The DIY approach is what we are doing. The key to all of this is that by controlling public finances in a proper manner there will be less cuts than was otherwise necessary. I

Clifford Bellamy - a good judgment

The link is to a judgment from HHJ Bellamy which in my view starts to look properly at one of the ludicrous cases that many local authorities have rubber stamped by other judges. He recognises in this that the intervention of the local authority has been harmful to the family. This is also another case where older children who are now adult were adopted and have reinstated the relationship with their mother. I wonder if the local authority's motivation in going after the younger children was driven by a need to justify their earlier intervention. It is worth reading through the judgment to see what rubbish Local Authorities come up with at times.

Is One Pint too much?

There is a discussion going on about whether or not the limit for blood alcohol should be reduced from 80mg/dl to 50mg/dl. It is argued by some that this would reduce substantially the number of people who die in road accidents. The problem is, however, that this is not generally accepted to be true. There are two aspects to such a change. The first is whether there is a problem with people whose blood alcohol is between 50mg and 80mg causing large numbers of fatalities. The second aspect is whether making such a change would have the effect of reducing drink driving overall - a laudable objective. The other question is whether it is worth introducing a particularly low limit for novice drivers of say 20mg/dl which says basically don't drink at all if you are not an experienced driver. I think there is a good argument for this as it would get new drivers into the habit of not drinking and driving. To me, therefore, the key question for the 50mg/dl change is whether that would sa

Irish report on New South Wales

The link is to an Irish article refering to what happened in New South Wales in Australia where the same mistake as being made in England was made. Having more and more references to Child Protection services does not make children safer. All it does is to overwhelm the system.

Dispatches - undercover Social Worker

The link is to a web page on Channel 4's website about their "undercover Social Worker" programme. This is now available on 4 on demand. Surrey is not one of the worse childrens services units. Nothing in the programme is particularly surprising to anyone who knows much about how the system works. In part it is also a reflection of the nature of society. One lesson that needs to be learnt is that there is nothing to be gained by becoming harsher and harsher with individual practitioners. This creates an environment in which people both a) Don't want to do the job b) Act defensively to protect themselves rather than make good judgments. Questions have also got to be asked about how the system responds to deal with situations such as domestic violence. Rather than acting to protect the victim the system acts instead to remove the children. The psychological evidence is that removing children causes themselves psychological harm. Hence this really should not be th

Debts, Deficits, Structural Deficits and Interest Rates

Lord Myners spoke in the House of Lords Yesterday. Amongst other things he said: There is nothing progressive about a Government who consistently spend more than they can raise in taxation, and certainly nothing progressive that endows generations to come with the liabilities incurred by the current generation. There will need to be significant cuts in public expenditure, but there is considerable waste in public expenditure. I have seen that in my own experience as a government Minister. I hope that the Government will pursue with vigilance their search for waste and efficiencies without making cuts which are injurious to the provision of public service. The difference between the Government and the previous Government was on the issue of timing and when those cuts should take place. There was flawed thinking about job creation in the past. I found it very frustrating to sit in meetings with some of my fellow Ministers talking about creating jobs in the green economy and biotechnology

NATO and the Gaza Flotilla

The link is to a post by Craig Murray who used to be the UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He makes the interesting point that Turkish vessels have been attacked by a non-member of NATO and that Nato's prime function is a military alliance established to defend its members against attack. It raises the question as to what extent NATO is independent of the USA. He also looks at the conflict in Afghanistan from that perspective. The conflict is in essence a tribally based conflict where the NATO forces are aligned with a number of minority tribes. This is dressed up as an ideological conflict. That is an error of analysis.