Soft touch UK

 

Given the large sums government feels its must spend in the public sector, one option that is worth pursuing is to ensure non tax paying visitors pay their fair share towards it all.

I have been looking with some Parliamentary colleagues at ways we can ensure visitors pay for what they need and use from the UK public sector, just as we taxpayers do through our taxes.

One obvious area has been the way foreign hauliers do  not have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty to use our roads. They also often avoid diesel and petrol duty by filling up on the continent before and after travelling in the UK. I therefore welcome the government’s decision to introduce a new lorry user fee for our roads, and to rebate UK hauliers by cutting their VED to offset it. It is a neat way of ensuring the overseas lorry tax is not discriminatory and does not fall foul of EU rules. We called for a solution to the problem of penalty charges on UK businesses in the Competitiveness Review before the election, pointing out that UK hauliers pay a lot more tax than some of their continental competitors.

If people come to the UK from overseas from a country without reciprocal free health service rights, they should be invoiced for any health care they need whilst with us. A Ten  Minute Rule Bill was proposed last week and passed its second reading without division, as a prompt to the government to get on with ensuring fair charging for non taxpaying visitors for the health care they use. They can come insured, or they can pay as they go, but they should expect to be charged. This Bill is unlikely to become law owing to Parliamentary time pressures. The government and the NHS  has the power anyway to require payments.

We need to think about Museums, Galleries and other freee public institutions. Shouldn’t there be a charge for tourists visiting these facilities, just as they pay for entry into National Trust or other private sector Visitor attractions?

The government is reviewing the issue of the free movement of workers within the EU. The UK accepts the free movement of those with jobs to go to, or of  people who can maintain themselves whilst seeking a job in the UK.  The Treaty did  not say anything about the free movement of benefit recipients. There is need for greater clarity about what rights a worker has who comes to another EU country and who then wants state financial assistance.

The government also needs to answer the questions raised this week-end in the Sunday Telegraph about payments to foreign consultants from the Overseas Aid budget. Why did they need any consultant at all? Why, if they needed one,  did they not find UK consultants that were capable of delivering the job at a good price?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

127 Comments

  1. colliemum
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Re: free movement of workers within the EU, and “The Treaty did not say anything about the free movement of benefit recipients.”

    I recall that France in either 2011 or 2010 sent back large numbers of Romanian gypsies because they had no means of supporting themselves, (etc)

    I recall a huge, loud outcry by EU Kommissars, but the French went and did this anyway.
    They did this because there is a paragraph in EU rules which says that a EU state can repatriate citizens of other EU countries who cannot show that they can support themselves.
    I can’t find the relevant link to that paragraph any longer, but I am certain someone here can!
    Anyway – is there anything which says we cannot do what the French can do?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, there is the Ministerial Code which says that ministers must obey the law including EU law:

      http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/ministerial-code-may-2010.pdf

      “… the background of the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations … ”

      Just one of those inconvenient hangovers from the past, in particular the Bill of Rights that Clegg dismissed as “some law dating from 1689”.

      Of course it would be open to Parliament to change the law.

    • Timaction
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      There is an EU directive from 2004 that states something to the effect of EU citizens not being a burden on the receiving state. Spain is enacting this with charges for medical treatments on resident Brits etc. We of course could do the same for EU residents and those from outside the EU as a matter of course. However, as I have stated on this blog before, whilst there are notices posted on walls in NHS establishments about eligibility for treatments by foreign nationals, this is not carried out or asked by its staff. My guess is through fear of being called a racist. Something that the last Labour Goverment deliberately created to stop us expressing concerns over immigration and using our public services for free. After 2.5 years you are only just starting to talk about this? What more can I state about the current state of our non Government that puts the needs of foreigners, the EU, green issues and foreign aid before its own citizens.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      I was in Denmark in the last year or two, the English language newspaper there was running stories about EC nationals gettin kicked out of the country for not being able to support themselves.

      Seems the Danish can do it no problem.

      • Vanessa
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Labour changed the public’s thinking so efficiently that the majority swallowed all the propoganda and was, effectively, brainwashed that it was “racist” to express any opinion on foreigners of any colour, religion, culture etc. that even MPs were/are terrified of seeming to (criticise-ed). Of course (foreigners can talk about us-ed), no problem, but if they are different they cannot be touched. Funny how it is only the British who are racist and not foreigners !!!!

    • Disaffected
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Mass immigration has continued under this government. When traveling to Scotland in June it was announced on the radio that a record number of asylum seekers and immigrants were admitted to Scotland. I am not sure if this number is added to the last immigration produced because all the main stream media referred to England and Wales.

      What I am clear about is that no significant action has been taken to alter the mass immigration policy. The artificial increase in population has a detrimental affect on all public services and resources such as welfare, water and energy. The birth rate is four times higher than it was in 1980 and one in four children entering school this year were born to a mother not born in this country. I am surprised it is taking so long for MPs to realise the reality of their policy on immigration and asylum seekers. The majority of Britons want action taken to stop or reduce it. Better still reverse it.Inside and outside of the EU. I suspect MPs will realise soon that relatives form European countries are coming here for NHS treatment thus adding to our waiting lists- what a revelation!!!!

      Blair started this policy way back in 2000 and public services cried out in the south east that they could not cope, hence the distribution policy. Clegg called for this before the last election. He wanted immigration, but better distribution. Not surprising as he also made comments against the British culture and it appears he sees this as a means to change it along with gay marriage and his other loony tune policies that very few wanted. As a reported atheist, I am not sure he should express an opinion or try to alter the Christian faith.

      This is one issue , in a long line of issues, where Cameron blew a lot of hot air and has acted in contrast to his stated pledge. It does not take two and half years to reduce immigration. The fact is it is still out of control and the numbers are soaring. I suspect the Lib Dems are behind the policy of mass immigration and Cameron is allowing it to happen.

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    The last point on overseas aid,just go to prove yet again what targets do,they have to shovel money out of the department to reach the target,with no thought for value for money,so much so that previous employees can see a chance to set up companies to take advantage of this!!!

    As,has been reported,EdDavey has confirmed to Lord Deben that gas will form a large part of generation and will be exempt from Carbon Capture and Storage until after 2030(if it even works by then) would you please encourage Owen Paterson to press on with Fracking.

    • Vanessa
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      It is interesting that the “warmists” are perfectly happy with carbon capture and storage even though it is fracking in the opposite direction – shoving gas INTO rocks and then sealing them. But they are NOT happy about fracking when it means taking out gas for our use. What is it with these people – do they have a brain?

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        No brain just a green religion and often self interest.

        They also seem happy to send off endless fireworks and have endless people fly round the world for the Olympics jumped up sports day or to pay absurd grants for PV and wind when no carbon saving even results in the main.

        I see Prince Charles’s Official travel by air and rail paid by tax payer – £1.318M clearly a very concerned green indeed.

        Judge them by their actions never their words.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Carbon capture can waste about half of the energy generated in capturing the carbon. So huge increases on fuel bills then – sounds very efficient. Meanwhile no statistically significant increase in World temperatures – despite the C02 increasing.

        Perhaps these green religion followers should look at the history of the World’s climate – rather than their absurd, contrived, computer projections for a change. Perhaps they could start with Prof Ian Plimer’s excellent and rational book on the subject.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          At least he is more credible than your other hero Dingbat, but you are still just looking for anyone who sides with your views. He likes to argue that his position on global warming is dismissed by mainstream scientists because they are part of a “fundamentalist religion” and a “Mafia”. In fact, his arguments are rejected because they are just plain wrong. Much like many of your own.

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

            If you look at the long and very clear history of C02 concentrations, sea levels and temperature you will see that there is nothing statistically significant about the current climate changes whatsoever. The idea of reducing c02 concentrations, at vast expense, to prevent/avoid higher future temperatures is an absurdity on current the science. Even if we could do without a World government.

            Generally, historically, higher temperatures and indeed higher c02 concentration have been a good thing, on balance anyway.

  3. norman
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    UK lorries are overtaxed so let’s tax foreign Johnny more. Brilliant. In the end it will be consumers who pay for this through higher costs. The leviathan really is voracious, anything for a few more shekels. More forms, more taxes, more red tape.

    I can’t remember the name of the case (surname was Singh perhaps) but wasn’t a lot of the EU stuff sorted out already? The judgement was basically that you have to treat any EU citizen as you would any citizen of your own country or you’ll fall foul of something or other, probably ECHR. Any movement on the previously touted (by Cameron) Bill of Rights that would extricate ourselves from that? Ah, thought not.

    Cameron has also boasted in the past that it’s a matter of pride for him that anyone can walk into any NHS facility and be treated free with no questions asked and this wouldn’t change while he was PM when the question of ID was thrown around about a year.

    Good to see you and other backbenchers making plans for the future though. A sound policy base for the next leader (who one presumes will believe in it) will be a very welcome change.

    Reply : I would rather cut the tax on UK lorries, but given the huge deficit and the high level of public spending this is not yet an option. We have to deal with the world as we find it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I won’t be at all surprised if a foreign haulier goes to the ECJ and it declares this scheme to be disproportionate, discriminatory and illegal under EU law.

      The foreign haulage company might do that of its own volition, or a third party might encourage it to do so and even offer to pay its costs.

      There are various possibilities for the third party who would want a company to take a case to the ECJ; a foreign trade association, obviously, or it could be the EU Commission, or it could be an agent of a foreign government.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        If this happens the UK can tell the ECJ that any foreign firm that pays VED is free to claim back the increased cost of hauling in the UK.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        The principle of transit charges to cover wear and tear on the host country’s road and rail systems is well established throughout the world. They are not discriminatory (what a load of tosh!) but merely create a level playing field.

        Maybe France should apply reverse transit charges. Any company sending goods to or through France is likely to be hit sooner or later by industrial (in)action by French Trade Unions.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      As you say “We have to deal with the world as we find it”. Indeed and we find that in UK (thanks to Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron’s lies and treaties, dishonesty and broken promises over the EU) the UK population now has no real meaningful democratic controls at all. The government too has no real and meaningful controls over the EU or the government departments they notionally control. These both continue to waste money, hand over fist, in every direction. Then tax and regulate the population out of work or into the black market while bombarding them with propaganda from the green, lefty, pro EU BBC.

      How do you suggest we deal with the world as we find it given this – move away I assume?

      At least, from today, the BBC has a new DG who is only paid double the going rate. Rather than four times, as with the last dreadful one – who presided over the huge beanfeast for top and usually second rate “BBC think” staff and their personal service companies.

  4. Ian Hills
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Using foreign, rather than British, consultants makes (any-ed) kickbacks (in any contract susceptible to corruption-ed)harder for HMRC. to trace.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      (Suggests that much trade and other activities require birbery or faciltation payments, and suggest consultancy arrangements coulod help do this. Does not provide evidence)

  5. Julian
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of your suggestions but am not so keen about museums and galleries. As a UK citizen, I don’t want to have to carry an id to prove I can get into them free. How else are tourists going to be charged? Also, the attractions are one reason tourists come here. We want them to come because of what they bring to the economy. We shouldn’t just set ourselves up as a country-size shop where they have to pay for everything.

    Yesterday I applied for a visa waiver to visit the US. For the first time, I had to pay for this ($14). Are we charging Americans an equivalent charge? I don’t suppose so.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      I wholly disagree. Museums and art gallleries in rival cities (to London), and indeed, throughout the World charge admission. Nobody spends a fortune to fly to London and to stay at expensive hotels then to baulk at paying a small admission fee. Tourists come for the history, the pagentry and the culture, not for free museums/galleries.

      The decision by the ‘giveaway’ Labour regime to scrap admission fees was a poor attempt at social engineering, so that they could claim poor people were embracing culture. Instead, its become a direct subisidy from the working-class to subsidise the interests and petentious hobbies of the middle-classes. Cameron continues it because he wants to please the Guardian/BBC lobby.

      Almost all the beneficiaries of free admission are in London. They are all overcrowded. Contrastingly, regional museums and galleries are suffering, unable to cover their costs and unable to attract visitors, they are closing at record levels. Anyone who has travelled around the UK will be shocked at the charges to get into museums and places of historical and cultural interest. We are losing the recording of our regional cultural identity. Its just another form of social corporatism, so favoured by the political/media elite.

      The elite need to get out of the liberal left dominated, London centric bubble. Reintroduce admission to London galleries/museums and use some of the money to attract tourism to the rest of the Country – to spread the wealth – by subsidising regional attractions.

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      If you haven’t got a driving licence, or an item of id, pay to get in and then they need to just set up a reclaim system, most people wouldn’t bother so they’d get extra support for our museums. Perhaps just give under 14’s a free entry.

    • davidb
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      This is a real easy one to get around. You have one day a week when a museum or gallery is free to all. Make it a rolling day even, and perhaps the bank holidays too. Then anyone who resides here habitually can go to any place they want to visit at least 52 times a year. Beyond that sell a carnet for residents or citizens only which permits unlimited access all the year round. This is common practice all over Europe.

      I did not resent paying to see the collections in Madrid, the Topkapi palace, the Pergammon, the Louvre or the Uffizi. But why do I have to pay to see those when my fellow Spaniard, Turk, German or Italian gets to visit the collections here for zero contribution?

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    When I was ill in Mexico, when I was ill in Switzerland, I paid for the treatment.
    When I go to Australia in the near future, I shall expect to pay all the necessary taxes and to take out the necessary insurance (ouch).
    Why doesn’t it work the other way round?
    Could it be all those unofficial immigrants aka “students” and “family members” from outside the EU by any chance……….

    Do you know what? I reckon that the government is listening to the Civil Service and not to people like yourself on the back benches. That is why all the good ideas (IDS, Free Schools, Andrew Lansley, David Davis) have sort of got missing along the way.

    • Tony (Somerset)
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      There is a reciprocal arrangement with Australia, Mike – you can register with Australian medicare on arrival. We are going shortly and it is actually a condition of our travel insurance that we register with Medicare on arrival.

  7. Pete the Bike
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Better than adding to taxes by coming up with additional charges for foreign trucks would be to reduce tax on British trucks and make them more competitive, perhaps even allowing them to take some extra business. But I suppose that goes against this governments ethos of ever more tax and regulation.
    As for museums and galleries being free, simple, make them charge for admission. Then they would have to offer better exhibits that people would pay for. Revolutionary stuff I know but all part of a free market non big brother economy.

  8. A.Sedgwick
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    “This Bill is unlikely to become law owing to Parliamentary time pressures” – you cannot be serious!

    Reply: I can! Given the many holidays Parliament enjoys and the way the executive controls much of the time, a Bill like this can only become law if the government takes it up as a government Bill.

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Then we have to change that! We pay. The MPs should do a reasonable number of days in the year to earn their pay… Most of us are restricted to about 2-4 weeks per year ‘holiday’.

      And don’t give me the line that the rest of the year is being spent with constituents and their problems… Most of it is being spent in Tuscany or wherever.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      The Government’s support is needed for almost every law to be passed. Even the Lords reform that was supported by a majority of over 330 was shelved because Conservative backbenchers objected to it.

      • APL
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        uanime5: “because Conservative backbenchers objected to it.”

        Perhaps you miss the point, the executive ought be under the control of Parliament, not Parliament under the control of the executive.

        • uanime5
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          As long as the executive can control what bills are heard in Parliament they will have control over it.

  9. Colin D.
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I agree that foreign visitors should pay for visits to museums and galleries. The problem is how to distinguish between a UK resident and a foreign visitor? A possible compromise is that EVERYONE pays to get in, but the ticket you receive is always valid for repeated visits over one or even two years. By having to pay a few pounds just once, everyone may value their visit a bit more, but no-one is penalised thereafter.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      If you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or are married to a Brit and can reasonably be expected to gain ILR, then you need to qualify – including Brits who have been abroad for a while and dont officially qualify for free NHS at the moment. If you are born here but are not entitled to British citizenship you need to qualify for free treatment while you are a child if your parents genuinely cannot afford it or die or similar.

      Everyone else needs to buy insurance either commercial cover or cover offered by the UK government before they get a visa, and that insurance cost needs to take account of pre existing conditions so that expensive conditions are not disproportionately attracted here.

      State pension and benefits for the aged also need looking at, large numbers come into the country very close to retirement and go on to get benefits here having never contributed. This needs looking at.

    • ChrisXP
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Down in the depths of the small independent museums “fishtank”, you will find almost all museums charge for entry; from child to senior to adult, irrespective of nationality. If they did not, they would go out of existence within months. It is one of the reasons many small heritage organisations have survived, while bigger ones have struggled or faced serious cuts. The small ones have always had to fight for survival and fight for every penny…..rather than rely on generous subsidies.
      In 2001 my family paid around £40 for entry to the Science Museum; it was expensive but we were there for HOURS and still had not seen everything by near closing-time. It was worth every penny.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        In actual fact, small provincial museums are closing at a fast rate. many survive on some LA funding, which has been withdrawn. Others cannot attract visitors at the price needed to sustain the service. I made all these points this morning, but my post has been stuck in moderation for some reason.

        • ChrisXP
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          Yes I did read it but not till this morning, I had already posted by then. I’m a volunteer with one of these small outfits and agree that many are closing; but equally many others are hanging on. The one I help with gets no LA funding whatsoever, indeed it doesn’t get any funding at all apart from kindly donations and visitor admission fees. The position overall is not pretty, though and I agree that we are losing loads of our regional heritage all round the country. South-west England is reckoned to have the most small independent museums.

  10. Old Albion
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Or of course we could just exit the whole corrupt EU empire and set our own rules.
    as we used to do.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      What a strange idea!

      You want us to govern ourselves?

      How could that possibly work?

      Where we would find MPs and ministers capable of doing that?

  11. lifelogic
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Indeed, better still charge for all who visit the NHS and reduce taxes accordingly. Certainly charge for all the free museums. Clearly subsidising hauliers to undercut ours, with cheaper fuel and road taxes is not very sensible.

    But all this needs to be accompanied by lower taxes, cheaper energy (with no green religion surcharge) and, above all, less spending and waste by the largely parasitic sector and reduction in regulations. Over half way through the electoral term and little positive at all. Just the Hips gone, M4 bus lane and the squatting law not much else.

    Yet taxes increased, regulations increased, payment to the feckless increased, the state sector increased, gender neutral insurance laws, no retirement rules and the new forced pensions soon for industry to fund too and still no sensible banking about.

    Negatives out way positives hugely and loony Labour (clearly in the pocket of the state sector unions) to follow very soon. Hardly a positive vision for anyone thinking of investing.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      What if you can’t pay? Are you advocating a NHS ran like the dentist fiasco and who might these mythical ‘feckless’ be? Idle millionaires? No pension or forced retirement, but forced to retire on a forced pension? A Tory party clearly in the pocket of the banks and the City who are a much smaller minority than the unions members fighting for real wages and ‘sensible’ pay and conditions above six quid and hour. Etc Another pointless, absurd middle aged rant and little real and positive.
      Is anyone going to invest in your silly right wing no services, education, infrastructure and massively divided society of have, have nots and have nothings all paid for by externalised costs on the population? Have a think and not just listen to your so called ‘betters’ in their mansions with their massive non worked for pensions and lifestyle supported by the middle class social security system paid for by communism for the rich. How that for a rant? Ram it.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        What on earth are you on about? Clearly a safety net or some loans for those who cannot pay is needed. Who are my “betters” in your opinion that I allegedly listen to I have not met them?

        I do not know about mythical ‘feckless’ they are all over the place if you just look, much encouraged and augmented by Labour’s and now Cameron’s social security system.

  12. APL
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    JR: ” payments to foreign consultants from the Overseas Aid budget. ”

    Clandestine operations – Best case.

    Graft, corruption and kickbacks – Worst case.

    Reply: Best case – and I trust common case – is an honest contract for a consultant to perform good works in a poor country according to the plans. There is nothing wrong with a well executed contract to vaccinate people or supply mosquito nets or whatever Alogn with advice on how to do it to make an immediate improvement in health or lives.

    • APL
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      JR: “There is nothing wrong with a well executed contract to vaccinate people or supply mosquito nets or whatever .. ”

      Actually there is something wrong with that when funded from tax raised in the UK. Especially when we remember that much government spending is raised on the productive work of future british citizens, that is borrowing.

      The government of the UK has a responsibility to its own citizens. No responsibility to overseas citizens at all.

      Charity given freely by UK citizens to aid the unfortunate in foreign parts is a good. Tax misdirected to foreign countries is a bad and should be either not raised or spent in this country.

      Anyway, Consultancy is a scam, designed to make (some foreigners and Brits) a very rich man at the expense of the UK tax payer.

      • Mazz
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more, APL, you said it before I could.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      I find it very hard to believe the best case that JR puts. Anyway why such very large profits for some of these “consultants” – mosquito nets and even vaccinations are not very complicated – they do not need rocket scientist to run the programmes, especially in countries where local pay is often very low.

      Reply: I am not defending overpaid consultants who do a bad job. I have often urged the government to spend less on overseas aid and identified where I would cut it. For balance, it is improtant to say that some of the work done saves lives and is good.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        To reply – hopefully some is indeed saving lives and doing some good, given the large expenditure – but it could do far more good and save more lives if spent far more efficiently.

        I am sure it is not being spent efficiently indeed I would be amazed if it was. Having seen how the rest of the (well its not my money is it) state sector works.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Many aid programmes can be accounted for to the penny. so don’t hide behind inefficiency whilst what you really mean is that they should not get any money. Often many are the most vulnerable and poor people in the world like rural Indian woman. The next is your rant about Indian nuclear weapons as if these woman are somehow responsible for them as they are Indians. You at the same time expect us to believe that charity is the way forward instead of state funding for the poor and unemployed. You and the likes of APL are a good weather vane for this fantasy.

      • APL
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        The history of British aid overseas is pretty abysmal. From groundnuts in the ’50s to the bloody feminist Ferris Wheel in Afganistan, it’s largely been an utter waste of British tax payers money.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Maybe we could brand feminists for not protesting enough and give medals to right wing men for protesting the most on the plight of downtrodden woman across the world?

    • sm
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      But surely the point is the level of pay for essentially doing a task which they should do for cost or marginal fee or pro bono.

      What expertise do you need to distribute mosquito nets? Maybe vaccines may need a bit of logistics temp control etc.

      Maybe the overseas aid budget should be rolled into the defence budget and pay for another helicopter carrier then pass these logistics and programs to the army or navy medical core to do , when we are not fighting wars.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Having read the ST article, what is striking is the chaotic way that government goes about spending our money. Is it not rather odd to fret about child brides in Ethiopia whilst English girls were being prostituted in the UK? Is being ‘married’ at twelve worse than ‘servicing’ several different men per day at a similar age?

      It is very clear that most people in government are far too stupid to spend our money; they totally lack any kind of scientific approach to problem solving. What is the purpose of foreign aid? Is it to change peoples’ behaviours? If so, what is the mechanism, if economics and cultural traditions determine otherwise. Why not focus on issues like food, health, clean water and birth control and the first two items can be approached by scientific research in this country for improving crop yields and fighting disease causative agents, as well as by locking up banksters who rig the markets in commodities.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Haven’t you heard, John, the UK is a world leader in being a soft touch? Your colleagues in government will be so pleased with their achievement. They are always striving to be world leaders in something.

    • APL
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Brian Tomkinson: “John, the UK is a world leader in being a soft touch? ”

      Ain’t it funny what with all the stories of people lying in the corridors of NHS hospitals and the prevalence of various superbugs, we don’t hear much about how the NHS is the envy of the world, any more?

  14. Phillip Downs
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    A quick question – Given the influx of immigrants and imported labour in the past decade it might be pertinent to ask how many europeans make use of our health service during the course of a year and how many UK residents make use of other EU countries’ health services?

  15. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It is not only foreign hauliers who fill up at Calais. In East Kent, it is worth the HGV owner’s while to catch the ferry and fill up in France. I am not certain that discriminatory charges against people for being repeatedly and inexcusably foreign is a good long-term policy. Bearing in mind our multicultural society, how will you be able to earmark a foreign visitor without undue heavy-handedness – such as issuing every UK subject with an identity card? Free to the Public means just that, especially now that we are all EU citizens, ( however much we hate the term). As I remember, admission charges were stopped specifically to allow unrestricted access to our cultural heritage and to allow the Greeks and Egyptians to see their cultural heritage for free. If you wish to reverse that policy at this time, you will be handing the Left one more stick to beat us with.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Its effect was the opposite. The working-classes and the rest of the Country now subsidise the pretentious hobbies of London’s middle-classes.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Mockery funding being a big contributor to this.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      There used to be rule that vehicles could not carry more fuel on a ferry than was necessary to get it to a filling station after leaving the ferry. I was fined some years ago for filling up before joining a ferry from Guernsey.

      The reason was due to the fire risk should there be an accident. The fire in the Channel Tunnel seems to show that this risk still exists. Was this rule repealed or is it just being ignored?

  16. David Williams
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I think that Museums and Galleries should remain free to attract foreign tourists. In the UK, VAT on hotels and restaurants is 20% but in other EU countries there is a reduced rate.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      They are almost all in London. Free museums do not attract tourists to London.

  17. Lord Blagger
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    and next week – France, Belgium, etc , all imposes taxes on UK lorries.

    Yep, more tax more tax, the solution to all panaceas from economic malaise to scrofula and syphilis ….

    • David John Wilson
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      The point is that they already impose charges on UK lorries. This proposal just levels the playing field.

  18. MickC
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Until we actually get a Conservative government, all of this is just verbiage.

    Cameron couldn’t win an election, and won’t win an election. He is so utterly useless that he has been stitched up by the LibDems on reform of the boundaries and it is unlikely we will ever have a Conservative government again.

    Dump him-now!

    • David John Wilson
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Is there any evidence that the Libdems would be any less likely to support the views being discussed on this thread than the Conservatives? I think not.

  19. Electro-Kevin
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    There is, of late, much that I find encouraging about what the Tories are attempting to do.

    “If people come to the UK from overseas from a country without reciprocal free health service rights, they should be invoiced for any health care they need whilst with us.”

    What seems to be reciprocal may not always be so. The NHS offers extensive treatments compared to many EU states.

    Does invoicing a person mean that they will pay ? This is going to be really tough to enforce but we must try.

    Perhaps we ought to ask what Australia and Canada would do. They seem to get things right in this regard and no-one accuses them of being harsh or inhuman.

    • Phil P
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Just to add to this your right. after just a few drinks on many of my vists to Canada if you just speak out of turn to A Canadian Police Officer and he thinks its because of the drink he will tell you to go home and get you a taxi if a violent word even slips your lips he will tazer you and put you in a drunk tank for the night and then send you the “bill”(upto $300 just for tazer treatment,transport to tank and your stay in the tank) have seen this on many occasions but im a good boy so have avoided this and i agree with this and no one else crys inhuman but if this was to take place here Oh My God would people go mad just a point on how others deal with issues.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        I was very impressed with Canada, Phil.

        I never had to call a tax once !

        • Phil P
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          There are many things in Canada that impress only problem is it’s to far from home

    • davidb
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Also not so very difficult. All EU members and most EFTA have reciprocal arrangements. So its the passport holders of other countries whom we are presumably talking about. Simply require that they present proof of medical insurance upon arrival. It should be simple enough to sell it to those arriving prior to passport control without.

      I get to buy a visa upon entry to lots of countries. At some airports I get to buy vaccinations. How hard can this be to solve?

      The big problem would be at the point of supply. What do they do in other countries? I know a fellow who was severely injured in Iceland before the great financial crash. He was made comfortable by the hospital staff but was not treated until his E111 was produced. The reciprocity is that the NHS is billed I understand, by the other county’s health authority. How is this done here? Does the NHS invoice other EU states for E111 treatment of their nationals?

  20. merlin
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    If you read the article foreign trucks: the elephant on the road:-

    http://www.eureferendum.com

    You will discover that because we are in the eu there is a price to pay for the lorry fee.

  21. Vanessa
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    “You welcome the government’s decision…..” If you read EUReferendum dot com you will see this reference:
    However, it doesn’t stop there. Keen observers will note that the maximum charge for a foreign truck is £1,000 a year, while the maximum road tax for a British HGV is £1,850. Thus, foreign truckers are potentially able to run their vehicles in the UK for just short of half the fees of the British competitors.

    Not so clever after all. Read the whole piece and you will see that the EU Directive bans any discrimination and so our British hauliers are still out of pocket.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Does it even ban discrimination against your own people ?

    • stred
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      This higher charge for British trucks is incredible. A higher charge to use our own roads seems the opposite of an attempt to even things up. If the British have to pay for a licence to use our roads, then so should foreign trucks.

      As all the British and others will still fill up with gasoil in France, where it is discounted to reflect the greater efficiency, it should be possible to open lower tax special fuel stations for lorries at British ports, so that the UK collects the duty as much as the French.

      Also, a good move to cheer up the electorate would be to take away the Dartford tolls booths for cars and then use them at the ports for charging foreign lorries. The loss of revenue could be compensated by a small increase in fuel duty or the above means of collecting duty from special filling stations for incoming trucks.

      I think that one of the few things going for the UK citizens is free access to museums and this pays for itself by attracting tourists.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        How many times! Free museums do not attract tourists.

        • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
          Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          UK Museums should only be FREE to those holding UK Passports – no one else. We’ve already paid for them through Taxation. Foreign visitors have not, so it is only fair that they should have the opportunity to contribute to them.

        • stred
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          I go to the London museums and they are full of foreign tourists. They come for the shops too. But not for the transport system.

      • davidb
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Entering Switzerland you get to buy a Carnet. They sticker your window to pay for their motorways. In Germany everyone needs a ( very cheap actually ) emissions sticker to park their car in lots of cities.

        Just levy the same tax as our haulliers pay on every lorry. Perhaps you could sell them at the ports of arrival – maybe per month in case the arriving wagon is only here just the once.

        Oh, and on the spot fines for foreigners motoring – and parking – offences would be a good idea.

        But remember in all this xenophobia, the tax goes on the price of your Spanish tomatoes and your Dutch flowers and your French wine. The taxes are all ultimately borne by us.

        • stred
          Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          I suggested this in an earlier discussion. The Swiss have to pay for an annual sticker to use motorways too. How could the Eurocrats object to this?

    • David John Wilson
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      The VED on British HGVs should be reduced anyway. This looks like an opportunity to do this.

      VED on all vehicles should be reduced in preference to any reduction in fuel tax. It is another example where the cash flow of companies can be improved by moving the tax payment later in the business cycle. Fuel tax encourages efficient use of fuel while VED has no such effect.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      If I were a eurofederalist lawyer on the ECJ I would say that charging all hauliers but then refunding hauliers based in the UK was an attempt to circumvent the intentions of the Directive and therefore illegal.

      From Article 288 TFEU on the legal acts of the Union:

      “A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.”

      Some might disagree with my interpretation, but apart from my colleagues on the court their opinions would be worthless.

  22. Lola
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Erm, what about just cutting fuel duty to make our prices ever so slightly cheaper than on the continent? It would incentivise foreign trucks to buy their fuel here. That would be cheap to do and cut out all the stupid extra admin for this tax and rebate nonsense, which is just another attack on ‘free trade’ – a sort of exise duty in disguise.

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Consultants are used on Oversees Aid projects because it is the simplest method of hire and fire. Projects, whether feasibility studies or construction, have limited duration, and you don’t want unnecessary public sector employees cluttering the place up.

    The Overseas Aid market has to some extent gone international. The Asian Development Bank not only appoints European firms of consultants, it has some European employees in their Manila HQ. On my last project, I reported to a German (nice guy, very positive).

    The World Bank trawls the international market for consultants, looking for value for money. They are fairly free and easy about applying their own rules. I was once one of a team of five Brits who lost out to a team of five ‘Americans’ (2 US people + 3 Filipinos).

    Danida, the Danish Overseas Aid organisation, used to use Brits frequently on African projects. Because of our history and connections, we found Africa easier to operate in than did the Danes. I’m not sure if that is still true.

    Both ADB and the World Bank continue to issue Terms of Reference that include Public Private Partnership (PPP) finance, in spite of the debacle of Mr Prescott’s 3 contracts for TfL (all now surrendered to TfL by the private sector participants). This is because PPP is extensively used in China.

    If you really want to question Overseas Aid, you need to look at the fundamentals of studies and projects. ‘Poverty alleviation’ is a key objective but (1) does short term poverty alleviation lead to long term poverty alleviation? (2) if poverty is defined in terms of the GINI index, it is no more than an exercise in egalitarianism. Then again, there is the ‘money has wings’ arguement. If I pay for a project that would normally be financed by government, does that result in the government concerned being able to spend money on (say) nuclear weapons?

  24. Acorn
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I presume your researchers got you a copy of this, if not, the taxation bit (part 6) should interest you. http://www.acea.be/images/uploads/files/20110921_Pocket_Guide_3rd_edition.pdf .

  25. oldtimer
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    The problem with handing out invoices to foreign visitors for NHS treatment is the chance they will leave the country without paying. They should either prepay or prove they have adequate insurance cover before treatment is provided = A & E excepted.

  26. Neil Craig
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I think free museums may be a consideration when people are deciding to holiday in Britain – both because it saves maony and because they think it shows how cultured the British are. Thus I think trying to make tourists pay to go to museums would cost more in tourism lases than it would gain in money. I also think running a system that only charges tourists would be impractical.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      When you travel to say New York, Barcelona, Rome, Beijing, Moscow, etc, paying from £500 to £5,000 for a few days to a week, depending on your flights and hotel, do you check to see if you could save £5 on a free museum?

  27. backofanenvelope
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    My solution to the foreign lorry problem is simple. On entry to the UK they have to undergo a check to see they meet EU standards for lorries. What is the betting a lot of them fail? We could check the fuel as well.

    The same sort of policy could be undertaken on EU fishing boats. If we had any ships that is!

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      to be honest I wouldnt let left hand drive HGV’s drive round this country, its not safe. and I wouldnt let right hand drve HGV’s drive round the continent. I would change things for safety reasons.

  28. Alan Wheatley
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Also in the recent news is concern expressed by agricultural businesses that restrictions on unskilled foreign workers, such as for seasonal fruit picking, will mean that next year they will struggle to get the numbers they need. Seems their experience is that UK nationals do not want to do this work.

    With larger numbers unemployed, I think we all know the answer to that one!

  29. MajorFrustration
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I particularly support the ideas/suggestions regarding the services provided by the NHS.
    Might it now be a good time JR to start comiling your own Tory party manifesto – start sowing the seeds.

  30. Steve Cox
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Although a local rather than central government matter, what are your views on universal free access to public libraries? I would be reluctant to charge anyone under the age of 18 for borrowing books or music or using a computer, but why should adults get these services completely free of charge? A nominal fee per use, or perhaps an annual or quarterly subscription, might raise useful sums of money for local authorities who claim that they are cash-strapped. I realise that this would be very unpopular with the adults who currently use libraries free of charge, but in a world where people must realise that unlimited free public services are no longer possible I wonder if it’s possible to have a grown up debate about this?

  31. i.stafford
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately while the original treaty only related to free movement of workers, Maastricht converted that to free movement of people. Directive 2004/38/EEC develops this.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Prompted by your comment I’ve quickly checked the 1957 Treaty of Rome and I find that it’s mixed.

      Most of the references were to the freedom of movement of “workers”, but there were also some to the freedom of movement of “persons”.

      In particular, Article 3(c):

      “the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for
      persons, services and capital”.

  32. Tony Baverstock
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood

    With regard to the tax on foreign lorries.

    Lets be clear any analysis of the proposal shows it is yet another tax by the back door.

    When we consider the proposal we must remember the UK is physically on the edge of the EU. Any Foreign lorries on the UK roads will be a) delivering goods from one UK location to another, b) delivering to a UK location from abroad, or c) collecting from the UK to deliver abroad. This differs from many European countries where lorries will cross in transit between between totally different counties, meaning the revenant countries road system is used by lorries total unrelated to any economic activity in that country, other than buying fuel or the odd snack.

    I assume there may be some lorries who transit to Eire but I believe the number is very small. Therefore the change will only effect economic activity in the UK.

    The proposal is to introduce a £1,000 user licence for lorries operating on UK roads and to make a similar reduction to UK road tax on lorries. This may make lifer fairer for UK haulage operators who currently have to pay the exorbitant road tax. However, it is not revenue neutral. Any foreign lorry operating in the UK will now have to pay the user licence. The operators will not simply absorb the cost they will increase the costs for the delivery, for deliveries to the UK the costs which will then have to be passed on to the UK consumer, or for goods leaving the UK will increase the costs of our good abroad so reducing there competitiveness.

    So Is increasing the tax on UK consumers and reducing the competitiveness of our exports really Government policy?

    Reply: There are no easy options once a government decides to carry on increasing public spending.

  33. Bert Young
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Before leaving France in late July , I decided to fill up my diesel car at a nearby Leclerc supermarket – the price was below that normally found in the UK . I paid by credit card . By the time the transaction was settled I actually paid slightly more than my nearby Tesco price due to the rate of currency exchange !! Charging foreign HGVs is fair , but , they should be charged £1800 and not £1000 ; it should be a level playing field . I am not aware of any UK consultants taking advantage of our foreign aid programmes ; medics more than likely lose out by participating . Whether our foreign aid programme should be cut back is another matter .

  34. Daniel Thomas
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    This is a interesting discussion thread but IMHO the core of the problem is being missed.

    Our current crop of politicians have no respect for me as a taxpayer or my hard earned money. They believe there is an endless supply of it and its theirs to do with as they wish not as I wish.

    Even worse, now that they have run out of our money, they are spending money that is yet to earned by generations yet to born.

    They pretend that borrowing and spending the nation into penury is in our interests. They are trying to convince us that it would be impossible for us to live worthwhile lives without government supplying “the services upon which we all depend”

    I believe that politicans should live within our means but I don’t hold out much hope.

    • Richard
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Daniel,
      I agree with all you have said, you have indeed defined the real problem.
      Perhaps voters are beginning to realise that it is their own money the Government is spending and are becoming less enthusiastic about continued promises of more spending to lure their next vote.
      Mr Redwood also summed it up very neatly when he replied to Tony Baverstock (12.40pm) :-
      “There are no easy options once a Government decides to carry on increasing public spending”

      • Daniel Thomas
        Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        I am not so sure Richard, there is a tremendous amount of waste out there that could be cut without affecting anything other than the spending departments ego.

        Politicians are reluctant to to let the people keep their own money for fear of them becoming independent of government. People making their own decisions disenfranchises the politician and they live in fear of this.

        You are correct when you say government spending is about vote buying. There are no votes in advocating spending cuts but plenty in promising more entitlements paid for by taxing the “rich” (Anyone earning 42,000 is now considered rich)

        Mr Redwood is one of a handful of MP’s that I would trust with my money, he is a wasted talent on the backbenches.

  35. ian wragg
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    John, talking of soft touch, (specific examples of 2 individuals who are staying on in the UK removed as I do not know all the details of their circumstances-ed) Just how many foreign students remain here after graduating? It would seem to be most of them from what I have learned.

    Reply: A lot seem to stay on. The government is I am told examining what more can be done to ensure their return after completing their courses of study.

  36. forthurst
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    When the neocons invaded Iraq, one of their minor objectives was to trash Iraq’s national collection of antiquities, which with other similar collections represented both ancient and authentic civilisations. These collections stand in stark contrast to the lack of any such collection in support of the existence of some of the neocons’ own favourite ‘ancient civiliation’.

    With the neocons attacking many countries with authenic and priceless collections of antiquities and stiring up strife in others, perhaps the safest place, for now, for such antiquities is in the British Museum; however, there needs to be a mechanism for ensuring that should e.g. the West cave into the neocons’ desire to give Iran the same treatment that they gave to Iraq (ie an unprovoked attack based entirely on falsehoods), that such Iranians as might survive, are able to see their ancient artifacts for free. Of course the same applies to present the inhabitants of the sources of other major collections in the British Museum, some of whom are already questioning their presence in the UK.

    Where the collection is of our national artifacts or whose acquisition is above reproach, e.g. The National Maritime Museum or the National Gallery, why not charge?

  37. pipesmoker
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    As a young policeman in the 1960’s these people were aliens and on arrival had to register at a police station and were subject to regular visits at their place of residence. Prior to arrival checks were carried out to ensure they would not be a burden on public funds.

    Nowadays we just let them all in and pay the bill. Having said that for the last five years I have had, Hungarian and now Polish nationals living next to me. Both have been hard working individuals, doing jobs local people would not do and excellent neighbours unlike some of the indigenous population that have occupied the house. They aren’t all bad and neither were the ones that settled here after the war.

    Overseas aid! If each of us sponsored a child in Niger or elsewhere, and we can afford to through the likes of World Vision, we would achieve a lot more than those consultants do?

  38. English Pensioner
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    “Why did they need any consultant at all? Why, if they needed one, did they not find UK consultants that were capable of delivering the job at a good price?”

    When I joined the Civil Service in the sixties as a main grade engineer, there was a certain pride that whatever skill was required it could be found somewhere within Civil Service, although not necessarily within one’s own department. I remember working on a radar system, but none of us had any experience of laying underground cables across the site. So what did we do,? We contacted someone in Post Office telephones (then a government department) where they clearly had experience, and they lent us a engineer for a few days to provide the necessary advice. This pride in Civil Service self-sufficiency seems to have gone – indeed, employing outside consultants is frequently a way of avoiding blame if something goes wrong – “Well we employed the best experts we could find, so you can hardly blame us for the problems that have arisen”
    Consultants are a risk avoidance strategy and an admission that those who are being paid to do a job don’t actually know what they are doing.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      on the other hand they pay rubbish rates for key staff and consequently get second rate projects – not cost effective. they use military officers to run IT programmes and ignore professional computer scientists resulting in substandard delivery upon substandard delivery.

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Kind of related:

    I looked for the latest UK opinion polls and found them on http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk. The latest poll was a Sunday Times You Gov poll of 30/31 August. The shares were Conservatives 35%, Labour 41% and LibDems 9%, implying that 15% want to vote for other parties.

    Two things stand out:
    (1) Given the economic difficulties that we have being having, it as a pleasant surprise to be so little behind. This is strong evidence that the public don’t trust Labour.
    (2) Other parties command 15%, the LibDems 9%. Doesn’t that suggest that we should be looking for other allies going into the next general election?
    (3) Following on from (2), does it not suggest in which direction Conservative policy should go?

  40. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely right, Foreigners should be charged for services they use and should not be allowed to receive them for free. If they do not have proper health insurance, then their Government’s should gaurantee their health care costs and that Foreign Government should then charge their citizens if they fail to take out adequate Health Insurance when visiting the UK.

    Whenever I travel overseas, I buy Medical Insurance. Why can’t they when they travel to my Country?

    Why is fuel so much cheaper in Continental Europe?

    There’s another problem with Fuel Costs and that is that Oil Price fluctuations are not consistent. When the Oil Price rises – Petrol shoots up immediately. When the Oil Price Falls, there’s a long delay in passing these savings to Drivers – including Hauliers.

    There have been stories recently of East European Families arriving in the UK and been very quickly granted Housing Benefits and Unemployment Benefits ahead of UK residents. There does not appear to be evidence of fraud which means that the System seems to be setup to benefit non UK Nationals before UK Passport Holders.

    A System could not be better developed to create such hate of Foreigners when it is the system at fault and not foreign visitors. A system that feels the need to hand out Housing Benefits to it’s own citizens is one thing, but rolling out the red carpet to provide Foreigners with UK Tax Payers Money is just outrageous.

    Our own elderly relatives are being denied NHS Funding – despite severe chronic medical conditions and are having to Self Fund there own long term care needs, despite having paid into the System for 50 or 60 years. An immigrant arrives on our shores and is immediately handed bag loads of cash and can settle in to a nice House, paid for by us. The system stinks.
    Is it because the elderly can’t fight back so can easily be pushed around by NHS CHC Assessors?

  41. peter davies
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Id agree that your on the right page apart from Museums etc. We would all have to carry some ID to prove that were from the UK and the type of visitors that would go to these institutions will have spent a lot of hotels etc whilst in the UK.

    The hauliers idea is definitely a good one though as long as it can be administered by without forming a new govt dept or agency

  42. uanime5
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Unsure about charging tourists a fee to enter for Museums, Galleries, and other free public institutions. It should only be charges if other European countries charge a similar fee to enter their Museums, Galleries, and other public institutions.

    In other news Gove’s plan for GCSEs looks set to cause some problems.

    1) The “English Baccalaureate Certificate” seems more like a School Leaving Certificate than an actual Baccalaureate.

    2) Unlike A-levels and degrees it doesn’t have modules so pupils have to retake the whole thing, rather than the parts they didn’t pass. Expect even more teaching to the test by schools in order to avoid retakes.

    3) A three hour exam tests pupils’ ability to memorise facts, rather than their ability to research and understand. Only coursework can assess these skills.

    4) As the first year isn’t assessed expect pupils not to bother doing any work and trying to catch up in the second year.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      No, it most emphatically won’t be about memorising facts, except in subjects like History where memorising facts is half the battle. A good exam question will expect the student to know and get down on paper a piece of theory. That will be the first half of the question. The second part of the question will require original thought, using the theory, possibly developing it further, and applying it to a practical problem. This type of approach is particularly appropriate in mathematics.

      Michael Gove was clear in the Commons debate that the exam will be the centrepiece in determining the exam mark. He was also clear that, for each subject seperately, there will be ONE examining board, to be awarded by franchise. Course work assessment, always liable to be influenced by ‘teacher’s pet’ syndrome, will play a lesser role. Why on earth the authorities cannot publish both the exam mark and the course work mark, leaving employers to use them as they wish, is utterly beyond me. After all, who is it pays the wages and salaries and has to deal with any deficiencies in learning?

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Sorry, 1st line of 2nd para. That should be ‘determining the overall mark.’

      • uanime5
        Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        Can you give an example of the type of question that will require theory and original thought in maths, English, and a science that is suitable for a 16 year old doing a three hour exam where they have no access to any research materials.

        • David Price
          Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

          Is hell exothermic or endothermic?

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted September 20, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

          There is the theory of valency in chemistry, which deals with the number of electrons in the outer orbit of negatively charged atoms (elements) and the number of surplus protons in the nuclei of positively charged atoms. From this, you can derive the structure of certain molecules, e.g. NaCl, common salt, and SiO2, silicon oxide.

          Elements with a valency of 1 most readily combine with other such elements, i.e. they are chemically active. Fluorine is the most chemically active of the lot, so that the best way to store pure fluorine is in bottles made of fluoro-plastics – plastics formed by combining fluorine with other elements.

          The theory of valency and its application gives scope for the type of question I have identified.

  43. Jon
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see something happening. Though it doesn’t disguises the fact that our fuel duty makes us uncompetitive. Still nice to see a small win.

  44. Socrates
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Before you congratulate the government for levelling the playing field against foreign Road Hauliers, it would be good to look at the basic economics of this sleight of hand.

    After taking into account collection costs, I believe the government forecast is to raise as much as £18 million net. So effectively this is a job creation scheme funded by foreign hauliers, so to that extent something positive will come out of it.

    £1000 is hardly going to “level the playing field” with running costs to a UK haulier of £150,000 per year for an average mileage 44T artic.

    Needless to say the idea is potentially good but wrecked by EU rules capping how much can be charged. Not only that but the foreigners won’t be charged for a year after we start paying.

    Not only will a few UK Hauliers end up worse off but we now discover that the Reduced Pollution Certificates which benefitted some vehicles to the tune of £500 a year, will also have to go.

    In a “Listening to Industry” meeting held by DfT last year, Industry told them that this was, if I remember the actual phrase, – “a complete waste of time”- particularly given the extra bureaucracy and the pathetic net income.

    My opinion is that this is just another example of this government trumpeting decisive intervention but delivering a pup.

    • Tony Baverstock
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      “So effectively this is a job creation scheme funded by foreign hauliers, so to that extent something positive will come out of it.”

      Who will simply pass the costs on to UK consumers, or non UK buyers of UK produced goods.

  45. Lady Carole
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Consultants of any kind usually means jobs for the boys .Going from past government usage of them they charge the earth and produce nothing in fact with the superfluity of government employees we already have why consultants at all are the people already employed incompetent?

  46. Bazman
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    The soft touch is not the Japanese tourist getting into a museum free. It’s this governments freeing up of the tax laws allowing billions to be avoided being paid to the exchequer at the cost of higher taxes on the middle and worse services for everyone and in some cases tax evasion in developing countries that receive aid from us. These billions given to the very rich in the form of tax loopholes being legalised needs to be justified to the rest of the country.

  47. Simon Jones
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s all very well charging visiting lorries etc a tax but the problem is that we will not see a reciprocal reduction in the amount of tax we have to pay. It was the same with tuition fees. Cameron’s hideous, bloated state machine just consumes more and more of our money and we see nothing in return. Maybe a few jobsworths will get bigger bonuses or even more luxurious travel arrangements but we will see nothing but the demand for more and more money to keep the gravy train riders in comfort.

  48. Mactheknife
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Anyone wishing to come to the UK should either a) have a job lined up with “sponsorship” from their employer, and / or b) proff of sufficient funds to support themselves whilst seeking work – but there should be a time limit to this.

    In 2005 I went to work in Dubai and you can not work there without sponsorship and guarantees from an employer that you will be financially supportred. As part of your residency application there are also restrictions on health grounds so you are tested for HIV, TB etc and your work visa and residency declined if you have these.

    The UK should adopt some similar policies in this current financial climate.

  49. Jools
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The British government tried to bring in a Brit Disc charge for foreign hauliers, but the EU wouldn’t allow it.

    It’s now going for a vignette (pay-by-day) charge when the EU is pushing for distance based and emissions based charging. The Commission has been angling for COMPULSORY road pricing for all vehicles on all English roads after 2015, and it will suit both it and the tax-hungry Blue Labour government to have it introduced just for lorries at first, so as not to awake the natives.

    Then it will be extended to all drivers (in England that is) and everyone’s journeys tracked. However it will not be the planet that’s saved, but the EU’s Galileo military satellite that has had money problems.

    Don’t be fooled into supporting this racket. Drivers already pay five times over to use the road and are NOT about to get respite – the EU admits road charges will go up.

    • Tony Baverstock
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      “Don’t be fooled into supporting this racket. Drivers already pay five times over to use the road and are NOT about to get respite – the EU admits road charges will go up.”

      Don’t be fooled because the costs will just be passed on to us the already over taxed.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Re your 2nd para: can we not push back? The word ‘no’ comes to mind. It might involve a total renegotiation of our relationship with the EU but we are going to promise to do that in our 2015 manifesto, are we not?

  50. David Langley
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I had a grandfather who because of his job had more cash than most. He was a soft touch to half of Wakefield who would lurk around his office hoping for their daily handouts. I noticed that when he died they did not. Simply, they moved on to some other soft touch. We in fact are bankrupt and borrowing more than we earn. Therefore it seems logical to me that we stop being a soft touch to foreign people and the EU in general, and take care of our own finances until we can be legitimately a soft touch again and more importantly afford it.

  51. Tom William
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    On the subject of increased Foreign Aid, wasted or not, could ministers please stop telling us that it is important “for our security”, while cutting our armed forces.

    Do they think we are that gullible?

  52. Barbara Stevens
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Firstly Mr R, international aid should go back to the foreign office and not be an expensive department on its own. It should also be downgraded to a possiblity of funding depending on our own situation, I would prefer zero donations for at least the next five years. We have given enough.
    Has for foreign nationals having health treatment and not paying, the present and past governments have failed to implement new guidelines and inact them. While we suffer with some hospitals having debt, NHS treatments ceasing or failing to be there, we the taxpayers should not be funding foreigners at all. Payment for treatment should be paid up front or no treatment allowed. We are not the benefactors for health treatment for the world.
    Has for foreign lorries paying for the use of our roads, why not? We have to pay and it will all help to keep maintainace of our roads, which heavy lorries cause many of the problems. Its about time we started to look after NO 1 and stop worrying about what others think. May be MPs should begin the new thinking?

  53. Steven Whitfield
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    This Government like all others assumes it doesn’t need to trifle with such matters as raising revenue from foreign truck drivers or health tourists. It like all others is a victim of the British entitlement culture that prevents our leaders acting in the national interest.
    It’s much easier to parade the cosmopolitan credentials by letting everyone help themselves to Uk taxpayers money than to take the action needed.
    It’s no coincidence that we are almost the only country in the world to have sold off most of it’s manufacturing industry and infrastructure like airports and energy companies. Our leaders know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  54. Bazman
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    So why aren’t all the British trucking companies moving to northern France to avoid all this absurd and unfair taxation? Leaving these shore to a more friendly regime and taking all their taxes and jobs with them like all other sensible businesses would to give greater profits an higher wages to their owners and employees. Registering their trucks in Europe. I just can’t understand why they stop here and not just move to Switzerland or somewhere more with a more conducive tax regime?

One Trackback

  • 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.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page