Dame Lucy is feeling chipper

     Whilst we await the public’s verdict at the ball0t box, it is fortunate that I have another leak from Dame Lucy about how the true government of the UK is going.


Letter to Dr. Roy Spendlove from Dame Lucy


Dear Roy,

             It is useful to take stock whilst our political masters are off campaigning for their elections. As I suggsted to you at the beginning of the Coalition government, I thought it right to play the austerity question long. Ministers saw the wisdom of signing up to two more years of real spending increases overall in 2010-11 and 2011-12. I think now we do have a duty to point out to them that the tighter spending settlements they signed up to for 2012-15 are going to cause some pain.

             In our cross cutting role we can point out that the troubles with border security partly stem from cuts. We need to highlight that if the government really wants us to exercise a level of control over our borders we have not exerted for more than 10 years, they will need to put a lot more resource into the system. We also need to remind them that  none of this can apply to our borders with the rest of the EU, where the previous government made changes to promote a common policy with our partners.

             We need also to warn them that their bold plans to computerise PAYE so real time information passes to  the Revenue and Customs, and then to add to that Treasury calculation of the tax of each individual weekly or monthly, is going to take a lot more effort and spending to get it right. As you will understand, Ministers have signed up to savings on welfare that depend on successful implementation of the new single purpose benefit, coming in around 2015. This of course, can only happen if the Treasury have successfully implemented their real time PAYE system, as the universal means tested  benefit is the back end of the income and tax calculations for all in work. I fear Ministers may have underestimated the complexity and potential cost of all this.

           I do detect that Ministers would like some way round the substantial capital spending cuts that the last government bequeathed to them. So far the Treasury has reinstated just a small proportion of the cuts.I know you were unhappy at the time that these were conceded, but it seemed to some of us more  important to protect the current spending base. I had hoped we would find an opportunity to reinstate many of these projects.  I would like you to look again at ways that could be used to redeploy deferred purchase, private capital and the like to bring forward some of this spending. Ministers will not wish it to look like the previous government’s PFI/PPP programmes, which they have in the past criticised. I would like you to find ways of presenting these new methods of financing that would be acceptable all round. Ministers seem especially keen on items that result in construction contracts soon.

             I am pleased to report that Ministers have been very understanding of the substantial limits on their freedom for independent action placed by the many Directives and Treaty commitments past governments have made in the EU. The EU position has led to a diminishing interest in deregulation, always something oppositions prefer to governments. Many Ministers have come to accept that the regulations they most would like to remove or amend are European in origin. I think some key Ministers have also been surprised by the frequency and intensiveness of much EU business,and are finding that it absorbs a lot of their energies that might otherwise lead them to ask more questions about domestic business.

            Given the current state of public opinion and the recent GDP figures, I think you will find Ministers are now more willing to look at your various ideas for more public sepnding. I would like to see a list of items in the “Spend to save category”, which is how we have programmed the computerisation schemes at Treasury and Welfare. I think we could also relaunch such schemes for revenue collection, benefit fraud reduction, and border enforcement. These schemes would, I think, rightly take priority over any crude idea of cutting the overall government overhead.





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  1. Single Acts
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I am no longer of the belief that the LibCon government is capable or willing to cut spending or make any serious reforms, but we were told they were good at media.

    So can you tell me what on earth persuaded Caroline Spellman to go on the media and start talking about standpipes after the wettest April on record when everyone is thoroughly fed up with the weather and some people are flooded?

    This is comic-book ineptitude. Perhaps you could have a word and tell her to sack her media strategists.

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      It’s more like tragedy…..with the border situation, the government through its ineptitude has managed to bring about a policy which the unions would probably have brought about through working to rule!


  2. lifelogic
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    The Dr. Roy Spendlove from Dame Lucy letters are just too depressing and too close to reality.

    I see as I expected that the commons commission led by John Bercow (never one who has shown any sign of wanting to save tax payers money on anything or with his expenses) has approved the buying of the Ipad toys for MPs. So doubtless half a million or so spent on these gimmick computers, that will clearly be worthless in a couple of years as the batteries fail to hold charge and are not worth replacing.

    Still I suppose it is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions on green energy, pigis and IMF “loans”. Also I have no doubt that some company such as Samsung could have provided far more functional laptops for nothing other than the prestige and advert anyway. Has anyone bothered to ask them.

    I look forward to seeing how many MPs declare the private uses as a benefit in kind as mere mortals have too. I understate Cameron is keen and very good at Angry Birds whatever that is I think my children know. Is there not something about wholly & exclusively in the tax legislation or does that not apply to MPs?

    Reply: When I was consulted about the ipad idea I said “No”

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      I as read that Dr. Roy Spendlove/Dame Lucy types, not content with holding up tired travelers at Heathrow for hours on end, are also are unable to answer the 0845 phone lines to HMRC. One in four has to hang up (I assume to do some work or something so they can pay the wages and HMRC at the month end) before they get any answer. Many more, have to waste millions of hours holding while paying for the expensive call. You are usually unable to leave any message and can often just be told to get lost and call back later. Anyway, in my experience, when you do finally get through no one knows very much about the absurdly complex tax system anyway. Letters usually in my experience receive no reply either – so often the phone call is just to see if they have received your letter. The usual answer translated is” yes it is on file but no one can be bothered to read or reply to it”.

      If you do ever get a letter from them it often has a name and number on it. But either the phone number is an old non functioning number or if you do get through then no one ever knows the person named on the letter and it is the wrong section.

      So you pay 50%+ of taxes and have vast amounts of your time wasted too and Cameron expects growth.

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      The iPads are useful but MPs can buy their own!


    • lifelogic
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Well done for saying no to ipads – it is not just the expense, it is the need to show, using Cameron’s words, “we are all in this together” (except me as I have left the UK). If you have a House of Commons canteen costing £100 each a day but then remove the 15p lunch voucher benefit for others and provide free toy ipads to them all it brings MPs into even more disrepute. Especially when, as I say, many companies would have been happy to provide them for free PR. I assume no one asked?

      • Alan
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Whilst I am all in favour of doing things as cheaply as possible I don’t think we want to ask companies to provide equipment at no cost for MPs, or indeed any other person in public service. That would be an open invitation to corruption.

        I thought MPs received an allowance for office equipment and staff. It should be up to the MP how that is spent (provided it is on office equipment and staff). It’s quite possible that an iPad would be cheaper than printing. Ink and paper are not free.

      • Bazman
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

        If you have left the UK then do not impose your philosophy of getting everyone to work for the least amount of money to create more money for the rich and more worthless jobs for the ones left. (which people are you exploiting now)?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      [Only yesterday we were touching in directly on people with the leadership (I won’t make a pied piper reference) ability – Boris, George and Alex … if only one of them could have been a Steve then maybe we’d have a UKiPad.]

      But seriously, when the latest iPad is sold based on its high resoultion display it does make one feel warm to remember the liquid crystal work carried out by BDH-Hull-RSRE and the CdSe TFT-LCD invention by Brody a British naturalised physicist (admittedly born in Hungary and working for Westinghouse). The ‘kids’ in the Commons might see a toy, but we can appreciate the technology history.

  3. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Those Public Sector cuts are beginning to bite – several typos in Dame Lucy’s Obiter Dicta suggest that there was no-one available to check the letter before sending!

  4. ian wragg
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I don’t know who writes these spoof articles but they do reflect the way government works.
    The last sentence encapsulates exactly the way politicians think, it’s just a shame the bubble has burst and the piper needs paying.
    I like the tacit admission that most if not all regulation eminates from Brussels and there is no appetite or will to remedy this.
    This letter illustrates perfectly why a vote for UKIP is a vote for sanity

    • Timaction
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      I read Charles Moores blog (Telegraph) last week and his reference to an FCO briefing paper from a “Sir Humphry” to the then Heath Government (FCO10/1048). It explains the true loss of sovereignty and wish for a creeping EU superstate incrementally introduced and by stealth. It was written in confidence in 1971 before the referendum on our joining the “trade only” EEC. It was known by all mainstream parties but hidden from the public. The rest as people say is history. No wonder the public have no trust or confidence in our political leaders!!!

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I am just as in favour of leaving Europe as you are, actually.

      But unless the Right pulls together, the Left are going to get in. This may well become more apparent tomorrow. So a vote for UKIP is, in fact, a vote for five more years of Labour.

      What is becoming increasingly apparent is that we badly need a new Mrs Thatcher and I don’t really see one on the horizon.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        The best way to get a “new Mrs. Thatcher” is not to vote Conservative until the leadership get the message.

      • Bob
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        @Mike Stallard

        The Tories know that when they express EU sceptic ideas or policies their polling improves. They also know that when the break their election promises their polling worsens.

        Breaking his cast iron guarantee probably cost the Tories an outright win. If fact if Mrs Duffy hadn’t collared Brown just prior to the last election, then Labour would probably have trounced the Tories.

        Those of us with any sense look at the Tory track record on the EU and can see that they are a party of EU fanatics, and to think otherwise is delusional.

      • zorro
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Some might say that only by voting UKIP will that process be hastened….


      • forthurst
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        Would this have been in your curriculum (English children only, obviously):


        I know you like history so why not learn more about the good guys:

  5. Duyfken
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Dame Lucy has failed to mention the role of Sir Merkin Rex at the bank, and how despite a trivial oversight back in ’08, he has managed to bluster his way to be taken seriously. Money talks so the more we have in circulation the better.

  6. Jim J
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink


    Totally off topic, however my polling card was sufficient enough to stop me from voting Conservative this morning.

    Despite what happened at the last general election it said, “You cannot be issued with a ballot paper after 10 p.m, even if you are at the polling station before then.”

    If the coalition cannot even be bothered to ensure that there are sufficient personnel at hand to ensure that everybody gets the opportunity to vote that wants to (which even Heath and Callaghan managed to do, despite the chaos that had gone on beforehand). How is anybody who is into parliamentary democracy supposed to bother in supporting it? What has suddenly changed that requires you that you may have to queue for hours to vote?

    With stuff like this it is evident that we have a Prime Minister who is not really interested in basic stuff like this. He thinks instead his role just requires the easy bits like standing next to HM Queen at the Centotaph, the Olympic Games or the FA Cup Final or providing a big grin for the photocall at the next big summit he attends.

    I look forward to lots more finger pointing towards Iran, Zimbabwe and North Korea on their “free and fair” elections

    Reply: Local officials, not the national government, issue polling cards and staff the polling stations.

    • Bob
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      ” Reply: Local officials, not the national government, issue polling cards and staff the polling stations.”

      Mr. Redwood, Do you accept that:

      a) It is wrong to prevent a voter from casting their ballot due to the inefficiency of the officials concerned?

      b) It is within the power of the government to ensure that anyone turning up before 10pm is allowed to vote?

      Reply: Yes to a) and No to b) unless Parliament changes the law.

      • JimJ
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        So what is a more important use of parliament’s time enabling gay marriage or ensuring people have the ability to vote?

        If Cameron wants to appear competent why has he chosen not to get this sorted out?

        • Bob
          Posted May 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          “If Cameron wants to appear competent why has he chosen not to get this sorted out?

          Well Mr. Redwood?

  7. Public Servant
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,
    May I remind you that civil servants provide advice and ministers decide policy. If a minister believes that officials are frustrating his policy objectives then the minister should take decisive action to remedy the situation. If ministers are as malleable as your fictitious author suggests then it might seem to your readers that we could simply do without them. On your other main gripe it will be ironic indeed if the incoming socialist President of the French Republic proves more effective at defying the EU non democratic consensus than your own tough talking, ill tempered but largely ineffectual government.

    • Martyn
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      …..be ironic indeed if the incoming socialist President of the French Republic proves more effective at defying the EU non democratic consensus….

      Exactly what I said in a slightly different way yesterday on John’s earlier blog. And agree that it would be a rather ironic outcome.

    • Susan
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Public Servant,

      It won’t happen. Francois Hollande can only achieve growth over austerity if he spends money. He does not have the money to spend is the first problem as their state spending is already far too high. The second problem is the Markets will not allow him to spend. So he can do a lot of talking and then cut like everybody else, unless of course he wants to bankrupt France.

      • StevenL
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        I thought he wanted to change the rules on the ECB and bailout mechanisms so that they can all spend ‘printed’ money?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      On the question of Free Schools, it is noteworthy how the DfE has taken responsibility for the programme into its own hands, overriding the Minister’s expressed wishes. I have personal evidence of this and am in daily touch with other people who are finding, to their surprise, the same thing.

      Further to which “your government” does actually sound pretty suspect if you think about it, don’t you think?

  8. Martin
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    “none of this can apply to our borders with the rest of the EU, where the previous government made changes to promote a common policy with our partners.” – They did not. As a result we have huge queues. Indeed travellers from the Schengen area to the UK have more passport checks in three hours than travellers from some axis of evil type places! (There remain of course lots of small harbours and beaches – but why trouble the deluded souls at UKBA.)

    A classic case of tax and spend for little or no good. The French must be amazed – we destroy our tourist industry with queues and won’t kick out that bloke with the beard! Can we have a referendum to align our immigration laws with France?


    • Martyn
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Sort of off topic but related to your comment on border control, you might be interested to take a look at the ‘Athens News’ editorial concerning contolling immigratiion and the rise of minority parties in their forthcoming elections.


    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Dame Lucy is not referring to ‘Schengen’ of which we are thankfully not a part, but rather to some of the changes in opt in/opt outs on Immigration/Justice policy (mainly in the asylum field). However, it must be said that the Coservatives set the ball rolling with Maastricht in regards to this aspect….

      The EU controls are within their targets. It is the non EU controls which have been seriously over target. This is due to a number of reasons including the conflation of decreasing numbers of officers with increasing numbers of checks.

      The massive own goal presided over by the government is the need to re-employ at increased costs people who have only recently gone on voluntary redundancy with a pension, and two years pay off!…..notwithstanding that they are having to train other civil servants with no experience of this work whatsoever in order to secure the border…..You couldn’t make it up!


  9. norman
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    These were quite amusing two years ago.

    Now it’s depressing to see how complete and crushing the defeat of this government has been.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    All the above is, of course, secondary to ensuring that we retain our employment status through our ‘service companies’. How do our political “masters” think we can possibly afford to pay those high levels of income tax!!

  11. Public Servant
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I forgot to mention in my previous post that I read with interest the transcript of a lecture given the other day by the governor of the Bank of England on BBC Radio 4. At no point did he implicate government borrowing or public spending in the cause of Britain’s economic woes. His main criticism of the previous government, reading between the lines, was the removal of the Bank’s powers to regulate the banks whom he was very clear had caused the crisis. He also believed that recapitalisation should have happened sooner but he implies that the banks themselves were resistant to this. He left listeners in no doubt that what was required now from the government was speedy implementation of the restructuring recommended by Vickers. The timetable set out by the Chancellor in this respect defies understanding.

    • stred
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Sir Mervyn was given a very cosy interview on R4 by Evan Davies this morning ending with his views on football. Nothing was said about about the scale of the £1.4T debt, QE and the matching scale of overspending, our high inflation compared to other countries, the transfer of wealth from savers to borrowers, and the inflation proofed pensions of BoE staff.

      This organisation should not be trusted to regulate a boiler, let alone the banks and the economy.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Indeed nor should the BBC ever be trusted with any serious interview. Andrew Neil is about the only sensible interviewer they have.

        • StevenL
          Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

          I saw him grill Fred Goodwin live in April 2008 at the Chamber of Commerce conference, he was very impressive.

    • outsider
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Dear Public Servant,
      Don’t put too much store by Sir Mervyn’s views. He is really a good academic economist like his friends Ben Bernanke and Adam Posen and has struggled badly since the skills of a practical person were needed. Reform needs to be handled carefully if it is to strengthen rather than fatally weaken UK banks. Now that supervision is going back into the Bank of England, the Governor needs to by a seasoned banker with an understanding of practical issues and leadership skills to sort the place out. The obvious candidates are Stephen Green (now minister Lord Green), formerly of HSBC and John Varley (ex Barclays). I was astonished to find that David Blanchflower, with whom I hardly ever agree, names the same two. Green blotted his copybook by taking HSBC into US sub-prime mortgages, a judgment that some of us thought at the time was likely to end in tears, but Varley emerged with his reputation more or less intact from the the banking crash, which is some feat.

      • StevenL
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        I thought Barclays was lucky, after all they wanted to buy ABM Ambro too.

        • outsider
          Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink


    • Susan
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Public Servant,

      Mervyn King was too busy making excuses for his own failings in the run up to the financial crisis to mention Labours economic record. Of course Gordon Brown spent too much, a responsible Government does not borrow to spend during a boom. This ensured when the inevitable bust came along Britain entered it with a deficit. Therefore when in recession tax receipts fall and the economy begins to decline nothing can be spent to help. It is in recession that a Country would have need to run a deficit. Britain cannot do this because Government spending was allowed to run out of control before the crisis. There was very little growth in the UK except from the financial sector and the cheap credit it provided. Therefore when this sector collapses the economy begins to fall like a pack of cards. Labour are entirely to blame for the state the economy is now in. As you rightly point out they were also at fault for the banking failure by not have proper regulation in place.

      Take a look at the National debt if you believe the UK can still spend.

      • peter
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        totally agree yet people in droves are voting in labour councils which we know are prone to making political decisions rather than behaving in a business like manner – when will people learn?

      • uanime5
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        The Conservatives are also at fault as they constantly lobbied for less banking regulations and claims that Labour was preventing growth.

  12. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    We do not hold out much hope that Dr. Roy Spendlove will come up with anything to our liking, but I have a suggestion that Dame Lucy could like, and John Redwood too!

    Government does not need to be told of the benefits of high-speed broadband, for they keep on putting out that very message. But they are abysmal at delivering the facility so that we can all benefit. Broadband Delivery (UK) are not delivering, and are never going to. It is not entirely their fault, as they are under-resourced and hamstrung by constraints imposed upon them. There is a better way.

    It was established a few years ago that there was no economic, commercial argument for rolling out high-speed broadband to a third of the population – “The Final Third” – and the only way these people and organisations would ever get the facility would be with the help of public funding. My suggestion is that the government should buy this third of the existing infrastructure from BT: it can not be worth that much as BT say there is no commercial case for improvement and readers of this site know how easy it is for government to create the money. This infrastructure is then placed in a special limited company owned by the Internet Service Providers, and others, who use the infrastructure to sell services to users: the owners receive shares in the infrastructure company in proportion to the value of the licences they hold from the government to provide those services. Dividends can not be paid, and share holders relinquish their shares when they relinquish their licences.

    Share holders make their money by selling their services, which depend on the quality of the infrastructure. So they have the incentive to improve the infrastructure. They are far better placed and have far more motivation to roll out high-speed broadband than will ever happen with BDUK, which can be scrapped.

    Provision of high-speed broadband to the final third will improve their economic prospects (as we know because the government tells us so), and there by reduce the need for transfer payments from the prosperous South-East.

    Other appealing characteristics of this capital project are that it is low risk, will give a good return, and will be widely supported with minimal objections in stark contrast to, say, HS2.

    • outsider
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Dear Alan Wheatley,
      The reason we do not have universal high-speed broadband is that previous governments intervened in the market to make charges low for those who do enjoy this service. If it had been left to BT, along with its universal service obligation, high-speed broadband for “the final third” would have been cross-subsidised by those in the main cities who get it cheap. If the Government insists on a fully competitive market, we get what market forces determine. You cannot have it both ways.
      The capital project you suggest is neither low-risk nor likely to yield a high cash return. It might just be fundable if BT were allowed to charge a much higher rental (say treble or quadruple) to connect the out-of-town customers than city folk. It would still be high-risk and just wait for all the outraged complaints.

  13. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    The continual comments one way and the other on austerity are getting tedious. It seems to me that they are always of the “austerity/no austerity” kind which if I remember correctly is a false dichotomy and that’s apart from the fact that in comparison with the rest of Europe the numbers are relatively small. On any basis, what to cut or not, and how much, are a matter of judgement and Mr Balls should understand that it will be a cold day in Hell before anyone trusts his again. His comments about not blaming the Eurozone are simply fatuous–it is unarguably obvious that part of our, in any event tiny, recent dip in growth is caused by the slowdown in Europe.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Is Dame Lucy one of those civil servants on the tax avoidance wheeze we read about today?

    Reply: No, she is too shrewd to do that.

  15. Andy Man
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I predict the elections will make no real difference no matter what the outcome. If Labour do well socialism is on the up, if the Conservatives do well socialism is on the rise. The only detectable difference is the rhetoric. Dave is a lefty, Ed is a lefty. Both pro EU, both pro big government, both living in a world of their own.
    Best thing that could happen in these elections is that nobody votes. Maybe that would have some effect – probably not though. MP’s would just declare themselves the winners anyway.

    • Single Acts
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      We have the three mainstream stooges standing in my neck of the woods and no-one else. None have bothered to tell me what they stand for or indeed oppose.

      Like you, I see no substantive difference between any of the parties and for the first time in my adult life, I’m not bothering to vote as it is entirely pointless.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Andy Man,
      I agree; we are effectively being disenfranchised by the main parties. Their masters in the anti-democratic EU will be delighted.

  16. zorro
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The principal duties of any government no matter what your political persuasion are as follows – defend the country – effective control of the borders – rule of law.

    The government is failing on all three (EU to blame mainly on the latter).

    The government must ensure that the border system is properly funded and professionally staffed – that does not include dad’s army or staff with less than a day’s training. How is that ‘securing the border’.

    The price of skimping here is clear to see in massive increased benefits, social costs, Increased population, more schools, hospitals and public services needed. This is one area where you must control the influx and ‘spend to save’.

    The government has cut spending in this area and is paying the political price. A drop in the number of officers with increased checks does not work. Some very poor choices appear to have been made. What do the figures show on turning people back at the border? Official published figures show that they have decreased rapidly over the past two years. If the borders are being weakened because of recent decisions and net migration is not being tackled that is a toxic problem.


  17. John Ward
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Entirely relevant to this indiscreet letter: the need to cut waste among the cosy quangos.
    The bonfire has been nowhere near big enough.
    Question: How and why did Jeremy Hunt get rich ?
    (etc – makes allegations about Mr Hunt’s companies and their public sector contracts)

  18. David Langley
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think Dame Lucy is a Conservative peer, is that correct? If so we will not get anywhere in a hurry with her contributions. Regarding correct manning of our borders, airports know exactly when flights are arriving and from where, landing slots are expensive at Heathrow in particular, so there should be no surprises when manifests are piling up on the Border control desks. It would be interesting to have some information on the organisation of HM Border operations regarding manpower planning, drafting, training margins etc. HMC have been quiet, are they letting through smugglers and other contraband dealers? I don’t think so.
    Regarding the rest of her remarks we need rapid implementation of a repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act and subsequent amendments. Never mind about prorogation, get this act repealed it wouldn’t take long and we can all start the long business of sorting out the big government and big society which seems to become big brother more and more each day.
    No business could succeed when everybody is part time.

    Reply Dame Lucy is certainly not a Conservative peer!

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      In 2008 Gordon Brown ordered the creation of the UK Border Agency, which would amalgamate the Border & Immigration Agency (old Immigration), UKvisas (Foreign Office visa operations) and frontline detection officers (border part of HMRC). Old HMRC deals with in country commodity control and VAT.

      Since March 2012, Border Force is now a separate organisation from UK Border Agency. Border Force consists of passport control and frontline commodities detection (c.7,000 officers) and is now led by a seconded Chief Constable, Brian Moore….

      ‘HMC have been quiet, are they letting through smugglers and other contraband dealers? I don’t think so.’…..Well, this bit is subsumed in the new Border Force, I will let you conclude whether they are concentrating on commodity detection bearing in mind the current travails at the Border…..


      • zorro
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Simple isn’t it…..


        • zorro
          Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          I think that Dame Lucy is John’s mischievous alter ego which he needs to vent now and then!


  19. forthurst
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    “This of course, can only happen if the Treasury have successfully implemented their real time PAYE system, as the universal means tested benefit is the back end of the income and tax calculations for all in work. I fear Ministers may have underestimated the complexity and potential cost of all this.”

    I find myself in full agreement with Dame Lucy; it seems to me that the outstanding difference between politicians and private sector managers, is that the latter do not generally reach senior management levels and the function of policy formation before having had an apprenticeship in the practice of the successful management of company policies at lower levels in an organisation. They are therefore more accustomed to not only deciding whether a new policy is good in theory, but that it can be implemented and at what cost and within what timescale. The more the state meddles and interferes in our lives, the more significantly does this dichotomy loom and the more inefficiency and waste that will result.

    How much work has been done on the feasibility of this scheme? There is a lot more to this than writing a few comparatively simple computer programmes.

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      This failing of public services seems to coincide with the expansion of senior management posts containing people with no experience of the job at hand….


  20. Steven Whitfield
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives promised us a tough ‘border police service’ before the election. Instead the numbers of border agency staff seems to have been cut as part of the so called ‘spending reductions’. So much for protecting ‘front line services’. I’m sure the whole issue of immigration control is just a bit boring and middle class for David Cameron’s taste and he would much rather talk about abolishing marriage but this is an outrage. Can Dave explain how he’s getting immigration down to ‘the tens of thousands’ with less people manning the borders ?

    I can just imagine him complaining..I just cannot understand why people keep banging on about immigration……He doesn’t get it – and that’s why I think Labour might just get in at the next election.

    I would loved to have been in a meeting when this happened….shall we cut admin costs, abolish a few unloved quango’s, cut international development programmes that don’t work ?…..erm no lets weaken border controls and inflame an issue that voters are getting increasingly anxious about. Did nobody add up the cost of delays and the cost of supporting migrants who will inevitably find it easier to get through the more stretched system ?.

    Absolute complete and utter idiots are in charge. Theresa May must be the most incompetent and useless home secretary in living memory . Am i still allowed to say that in GB ? (I’d like to put that on the record before Ms May’s internet snooping laws come in)

    • forthurst
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget that Oliver Letwin is in charge of government policy and is extremely comforable with continuing enrichment, especially from the sub-continent which can supply a continuous supply of better educated replacements for the English middle class.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      I suppose we cannot afford proper efficient staff at Heathrow as we need the money to give to the IMF, the pigis, scotland, subsidise green energy and to buy ipads for all the MPs to play games on.

      • zorro
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        By spending less on the borders, they will find out they will spend/borrow/print a lot more to deal with the increased population over a whole raft of government department competencies….typical shortsightedness.


      • Bazman
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        We? You have moved abroad. Even if no money was given to any organisations you would propose that any money available should be used to reduce taxes anyway. Gifts to the rich in many cases.

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      The numbers of officers have been cut significantly in border functions and this was on the back of technonology being able to manage the process more efficiently (don’t laugh)…..Yes, they cut before the technology was effectively tested, and a lot of the savings are predicated on the successful implementation of technology.

      They are not currently cutting net migration. It increased last year. Time will tell this year, but I wouldn’t put any money on it….I like the ‘banging on about immigration’. They are only interested in getting the issue out of the papers. Unfortunately, their actions are contributing to the exact opposite…..

      Re your penultimate paragraph – I think that you have telepathic powers….Re snooping….with this lot in charge, I wouldn’t worry too much!


      • zorro
        Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        I wish that one could say that they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing…..but I doubt that they even know the cost part.


  21. uanime5
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    According to Private Eye the coalition has created 384 new quangos at a cost of £48 billion. Is there any truth to this?

    • Martyn
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Who knows ? They are as pebbles on the beach washed about as the tide comes in and goes out. By that I mean the easiest way for the government to kill off a quango and claim credit for doing so, is to rename it with a new ‘mission statement’. A few people might be culled in the process but, more often than not the same people carry on with their ineffective box-ticking and data collection exercises in the same old way and call it ‘valuable work’ for the nation.

      I see that the EU commission in its ruthless search for greater efficiency and value for money has taken an axe to their untouchable civil servants and over the past year reduced the 4000-odd posts by a truly staggering number of 4. Mr Cameron would appear to be following their lead…….

    • outsider
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Dear Uanime5,
      The number of new quangos sounds entirely realistic, if you include all those new-for-old health and police bodies, including local commissioning bodies and commissioners*. Guess the £48 billion is the budgets under their control rather than extra cost, but the extra cost will certainly be more than we can afford.

      * To be pedantic, local bodies would not strictly be Quasi-Autonomous National Government Organisations.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      What do many on this site propose to do about the subversive magazine Private Eye? Freely available in many supermarkets even. This magazine openly laughs at many policies and their conniving cronyism with big business. Laughs no less. Openly. Now don’t get all liberal with us and defend their right to do this as we know for sure this is not what you believe. The BBC at least pretends to toe the line.

  22. Bert Young
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Dr. J.R. Why is it that I do not get your blog until the afternoon ? I note from some of the responses that they are timed very early in the morning . Am I being left behind for some reason ? However , keep it going , most of the time the content is both worthwhile and topical .

    Reply: The blog is usually posted around 6 am and should go out then.

    • outsider
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Whatever is said of some MPs, Mr Redwood certainly delivers value for money.

    • norman
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      If you’re talking about the email with the blog contents I get that in the afternoon too, it doesn’t go out as soon as the blog goes up. Don’t follow this blog on twitter so not sure if it gets tweeted (I hate these terms but what can you do) as it gets posted as, for example, Douglas Carswell’s does.

      Reply: I will investigate with the service provider to see if we can speed it up.

      • norman
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

        As an aside, since the clocks changed the block is going out an hour later. From a purely selfish point of view (I have my morning coffee at 0630) any chance of rolling it back to 6am? It also makes the time at the comments an hour out, which annoys the pedant in me.

  23. John Orchard
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    We are all I would think tired of hearing how profligate the Labour idiots were but quite frankly the present incumbents as we say in my Native North East are, ” All mouth and trousers ” as the money spent on their upper class education obviously didn’t teach them very much. The proverbial in the Brewery comes to mind with Cameron and his haven’t got a clue cabinet. He has done more u turns than a learner driver, Osborne has never run a business so is clueless on finance and Mitchel he who wants to keep wasting our money abroad. How can a Government with all the eunemployed in this Country let our hard earned tax to the hilt money be squandered. No wonder people are fed up with useless Government. A group of House wives could do a better job and I am being complimentary to that group not derogatory. We have had useless Governments for years both National and Local.

    • zorro
      Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      ‘All mouth and NO trousers’…is what I think you mean.


  24. Steven Whitfield
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Front end spending increases followed by cuts aren’t a very sensible strategy – so that’s exactly what this clueless Coalition are attempting to do.
    As Roy Jenkins observed ‘It’s one thing to give a dog a bone…quite another to then take it away’.

  25. Derek Emery
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    ….We need also to warn them that their bold plans to computerise PAYE so real time information passes to the Revenue and Customs, and then to add to that Treasury calculation of the tax of each individual weekly or monthly, is going to take a lot more effort and spending to get it right…..

    Lets be honest, pigs or even PIIGS will be flying in formation on 24 hours shifts across the moon before this project works.

  26. RDM
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    How about paying the grant councils get for social housing after the councils or Private builders have built and allocated a house, to social tenents? But extend it to bring brownfield sites into use. Even offer Private (local) builders a grant for brown ield sites brought into social & normal housing.

    The obvious one (for housing) would be to centralise, and make electronic, payment of housing benefit. But to complement the Universal Benefit, you could define a Means-Tested Profile, held centrally while there is a claiment, to pay all benefits directly. Paying for school meals, etc …

    I’m sure there’s more.



  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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