Iraq Blair and Chilcot

The Scottish National Party have their turn to choose what to debate today and in a move no doubt specifically designed to cause maximum discomfort to Labour who they still regard as their principal opponent North of the border they have tabled a motion based around the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry and the claims the Tony Blair misled Parliament. Personally, I think for most people this issue has long since passed its political ‘sell-by’ date.

Before the main business there will be questions to the Secretary of State for Wales followed by the weekly session of questions to the Prime Minister.

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill

I should have included the link to the Digital Economy Bill yesterday so here it is:

The brief summary of the Bill is:

A Bill To make provision about electronic communications infrastructure and services; to provide for restricting access to online pornography; to make provision about protection of intellectual property in connection with electronic communications; to make provision about data-sharing; to make provision about functions of OFCOM in relation to the BBC; to provide for determination by the BBC of age-related TV licence fee concessions; to make provision about the regulation of direct marketing; to make other provision about OFCOM and its functions; and for connected purposes.

The Bill passed through its final stages in the House of Commons yesterday and now passes to the House of Lords for consideration.

Today after questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the main Bill to be considered is one which I have seen described as a micro-measure – the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill.  The Bill will raise the limit on government financial assistance that can be provided to CDC Group plc (formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation) (the “CDC”) and its associated companies by amending Section 15 of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Act 1999 (the “1999 Act”). The new limit will be £6,000 million. The Bill will also introduce a power to allow the Secretary of State to further increase the financial limit up to £12,000 million by regulations.

Digital Economy Bill Remaining Stages

After Communities and Local Government questions the main business in the Commons today is the remaining stages of the Digital Economy Bill. This Bill has already been considered at Second Reading and in Committee. Today the Bill is considered again and it is at this stage that amendments can be tabled to the detail of the Bill. There will then be the final stage which is the Third Reading. As always on a Monday there is the possibility that urgent business may also be considered.

Baerlocher UK

I wonder how many people realise that a vital ingredient in the pvc windows most people have in their homes is made right here on the outskirts of Bury.  I was pleased to be able to visit Baerlocher UK this week and my thanks to the directors and all the staff for their hospitality during the visit. Basically what Baerlocher do is produce one of the ingredients of pvc which helps for example to keep it white ( if that is its colour!) and give it other physical properties.

You can find more about Baerlocher at their website here

Voice Box at Old Hall Primary School

I was delighted to be able to start yesterday by visiting Old Hall Primary School in Brandlesholme to take part in the final of their Voice Box competition. This is a annual national joke competition designed to raise awareness of the importance of communication in a light hearted way, it is a joint initiative of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and The Communication Trust. Each pupil had entered a joke and the best three or four from each class were put through to the final. All the teachers entered into the spirit by going on stage and telling their own joke. I then said a few words and had my own attempt at telling a joke. The highlight of the final was when each pupil whose joke had made it through to the final came up and read out their own joke. I then announced Kaycie-Leigh Olive a budding comedienne as the overall winner.

Woodhey Celebration Evening

It was a great pleasure to be able to attend the Celebration Evening at Woodhey High School in Ramsbottom last night. The evening marked the successes of the Class of 2016 – the pupils who left this year and have now moved on to College and Apprenticeships. The guest speaker was Woodhey’s former Headteacher Martin Braidley. It certainly does not seem three years since he left to be replaced by his Deputy Brian Roadnight. Our schools play such a crucial role in shaping the next generation on whom we will all rely on to work hard and produce the wealth our nation needs to continue to prosper. On the evidence of the success of the pupils at Woodhey there is much to be optimistic about!

Steady ahead

As always there is much scrutiny after every budget and indeed after every autumn statement. Everyone trying to second guess the forecasts that have been made and putting their own spin on things.

Overall very little changes as a result of the autumn statement. In essence the government are going to be borrowing more money (around £23 billion) to spend on capital projects – infrastructure – through a new National Productivity Investment Fund. This will of course add to the mountain of debt and consequently increase interest payments.

On day-to-day spending there were some changes which have made the headlines such as reducing the taper rate for those on Universal Credit meaning working families will keep more of what they earn as their earnings increase. The big earner for the government on the income side is the increase from 10% to 12% in Insurance Premium Tax.

It still imperative the nation lives within its means and that means the government continuing to control public spending and protect the tax base i.e. Ensure everyone pays what they should. There were yet more measures announced yesterday to help in the constant battle between taxpayer and tax collector.