Published May 12, 2013
Tags: Queen's Speech
After a short recess taking in this years local elections Wednesday saw the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech which whilst read out by Her Majesty the Queen it is of course written by the Government. It sets out the list of Bills the Government will bring forward in the next legislative session.
This year the Queen’s Speech was all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life.
The Government has already made much progress in fixing our broken economy, reducing the deficit by a third and rebalancing the economy away from the public sector with the creation of one and a quarter million new private sector jobs.
The proposed new legislation will further boost the economy and help businesses create more jobs.
The National Insurance Contributions Bill will cut the cost of recruiting new employees. By introducing what will effectively be a nil rate band for National insurance Contributions of £2,000 every business and charity which employs people will be better off.
A new Deregulation Bill will reduce burdens on businesses and tidy up the statute book by repealing legislation no longer of practical use.
Other new Bills will cover pensions, care costs, anti-social behaviour and offender rehabilitation. Despite what some have suggested there will be plenty of legislation to consider in the months ahead.
An Immigration Bill will stop immigrants accessing public services they are not entitled to and make it easier to remove people from the UK who should not be here.
Well it has been a strange week in Westminster following on from the week of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher it was a week of what is invariably called in the media Parliamentary Ping Pong. What it actually involves is both Houses of Parliament coming to an agreement as to the precise contents of any outstanding Bills. Usually a compromise is reached between the Commons and their Lordships or sometimes if the elected Commons keep insisting the Lords backdown. Unless a Carry Over motion has been passed any Bill which has not been agreed upon by both Houses so the impending close of the current Parliamentary session tends to concentrate minds as any Government is always loathe to lose legislation after hours of Parliamentary have already been spent on it.
Once all Bills have been agreed upon by both Houses Parliament was prorogued on Thursday and will stand prorogued until the new session of Parliament begins with the State Opening of Parliament which will this year take place on Wednesday 8th May. The Queen’s Speech will set out the new legislative programmes for the next session of Parliament – the 2013 – 2014 session. Once upon a time the contents of the next legislative programme would be almost entirely unknown. Nowadays with the trend to publishing more Bills in draft to allow for more pre-legislative scrutiny and the use of Carry Over motions a good chunk of Parliamentary Business is already on the runway.
Since I returned from Westminster I had various meetings on Friday including with the Acting Chief Executive of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust when we discussed the various challenges they face. I also dealt with my usual surgery cases. Then time for a bit of relaxation. I joined Bury Curry Club on their visit to OneOneSeven for an Indian on Friday. evening and yesterday I took in my first Cricket of the new season as Tottington St. John’s had been drawn at home against no less than the reigning Lancashire League Champions Lowerhouse. Although the result was really never in doubt st. John’s acquitted themselves extremely creditably against such illustrious opposition and it was a great experience for all the St.John’s players.
Today I it was the Annual Meeting of the Church at St. Anne’s and I was re-elected as one of the Churchwardens for another year and in doing so became the Senior Warden as the current Senior Warden retired after completing her seven year term. Then it was on to the Annual Beavers, Cubs and Scouts St. George’s Day Parade and Service at the Parish Church.
Usually at this time of year I am heavily involved in election activity as we approach the Annual Council elections normally held on the first Thursday in May however this year as the Council is elected in thirds for a four year term is the fallow year. It would have been the year when elections were held to the Greater Manchester County Council which was abolished some years ago. There are however elections in many other Counties and Unitary Authorities across England which will no doubt attract some attention including mine as I have offered to help out with the campaign in Lancashire.
Twice this evening I have heard people say that Mrs Thatcher encouraged selfishness. Not true. Indeed as the following quotation taken from the actual Woman’s Own interview ( given in Sept 1987 ) which gave rise to this myth shows Mrs Thatcher stressed it is the duty of individuals to look after their neighbour. I don’t expect this will stop people misrepresenting her view but it is worth reminding those who are interested in the actual quote.
‘I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!”
Published April 8, 2013
People , Political
Tags: Baroness Thatcher
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lady Thatcher.
I was studying my ‘A’level in politics when Margret Thatcher came to power at the 1979 General Election. Little did I know when I was putting together my report of that General Election that the politician who had just become Britain’s first woman Prime Minister would go on to win two more General Elections, In doing so she became the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century. The whole decade of the 1980′s belonged to Thatcherism. It was a decade when I was taking my first steps in politics and regularly losing local election contests in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire. The Country was transformed and I believe it was transformed for the better.
Her political legacy will continue to be debated for generations to come. My view is that she was a great Party Leader and a great Prime Minister. I was privileged to have been able to meet her on several occasions and indeed Lady Thatcher visited the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency when I was contesting it at the 2001 General Election.
Published March 31, 2013
I wish everyone a very Happy Easter and I hope everyone remembered to put their clocks forward!
Let us all remember the true meaning of Easter. I will be off to the Easter Day service at St.Anne’s later but whatever you are doing I hope you have a peaceful and relaxing Easter holiday. Not forgetting all those especially in the emergency services who will be working today.
Published March 21, 2013
Tags: Budget 2013
As I say every year the true value of a budget is often not ascertained until sometime after the budget has been delivered. It is understandable that in an era of 24 hour news snap judgements and analysis are demanded by news outlets and there is no shortage of commentators willing to give such judgements.
What is clear from this budget is that Britain is on the road to recovery. Yes, it is a long road and yes, progress is slower than everyone would like but nevertheless we are still on the road to recovery. This budget will not make a dramatic difference to the pace of recovery but it will, I believe, underpin the recovery and help build confidence in our economy which is the one thing above all else which we need.
Businesses need confidence to invest and continue to recruit more new employees. By continuing to reduce the rate of corporation tax down to a single rate of 20% and by cutting Employers National Insurance Contributions by £2,000 plus a raft of other measures businesses will know that Government is on their side. For every job lost in the public sector six have been created in the private sector as the economy starts to re-balance. The measures in the budget will hopefully help this trend to continue.
Thousands of words have been written about last Thursday’s by-election and the result and the effect of it has been analysed and dissected from it appears every angle.
The full result can be found here
I think the best way to look at the result is to look at the overall picture of what the whole electorate did. By far the largest group did absolutely nothing. Despite the hundreds of thousands of leaflets, posters, telephone calls knocks on the door. 47 people in every hundred decided the best thing to do was do nothing and not to vote at all. The lack of voter participation in elections is something I have been concerned about for some time and whilst it is true that the turnout at this by-election was much higher than in the other recent by-elections considering the amount of publicity that it had and the work that all parties put in (and the sheer number of candidates fourteen in all) it is not very impressive if almost half of the electorate do not vote. I hasten to add that I do NOT blame the electorate in any way. In my view it is up to politicians to enthuse voters to go and vote and I certainly do not agree with compulsory voting.
The exact figures for turnout according to the House of Commons Library are that 41,616 voted out of electorate of 79,004 resulting in a 52,7% turnout.
We then come to what the 53 out of every hundred who voted did and in order to simplify the figures I have removed the decimals and just dealt in whole numbers. This gives the following :
17 out of every 100 voted Liberal Democrat (16.9%)
15 out of every 100 voted UKIP (14.6%)
13 out of every 100 voted Conservative (13.4%)
5 out of every 100 voted Labour (5.2%)
3 out of every 100 voted Other (ie for one of the other Independent or ‘Minor’ parties)
I have added the percentages to one decimal point so readers can see the effect of rounding.
What does it all mean? Well in my view I do not think it would be sensible for any Party to draw conclusions about what may happen in 2015 from this result. On the one hand it could be argued that only 30 out of every 100 voters supported one of the governing Coalition parties. On the other hand if voters in middle England were as upset with the Government it is reasonable to assume that more than 5 in every 100 would vote for the principal Opposition Party.
Having considered the Eastleigh result I continue to be of the view that come 2015 voters will be faced with two simple choices.
Firstly on the economy: continue with the medicine and the road to recovery or hand control back to the Party which got the Country into this mess in the first place.
Secondly, on who do they want to be the Prime Minister of our Country David Cameron or Ed Miliband and all the evidence is most choose David Cameron.