Back to public spending

 

                Talk at Westminster is moving to future spending  plans. The need for more action to curb the deficit into the next Parliament is hitting Ministerial deasks. The Treasury is engaged in detailed negotiations with the main departments over how to reduce the rate of increase in cash spending beyond 2015.

                The government  imposed a pay freeze on public sector pay for a couple of years, yet public sector pay continues to rise faster than private sector pay. In the most recent quarter total pay including bonuses in the private sector has slowed to zero without an official freeze. Public sector pay rose by 1.4% with a freeze.  The rate of reduction in staff numbers in the public sector has also slowed recently. The government needs to revisit the size and cost of its overhead, and to use natural wastage more extensively to cut out less needed posts, to raise productivity and cut costs. Numbers employed in the public admin and defence category fell from 1.71m in December 2010 to 1.579m in December 2012.

                It should also revisit the question of hom many staff it employs in expensive central London offices. It could employ fewer in total, and employ more in outer boroughs where offices costs are half the central costs. It could let out the central space freed for good rentals and lease premia, or sell peripheral buildings outright.

                The latest NAO Report does make good reading for the business case for HS2. I have favoured deferring this project. It might make sense to start it from the north, from Manchester and Leeds, rather than from London anyway,and defer the spend until the budget deficit  is under better control.  I assume the government will not wish to say the business case is poor and we cannot afford the project.  Far smaller sums spent on upgrades and removing bottlenecks on the exisiting west coast line  might be the better immediate rail investment.

               It needs to step up its asset sale programme, starting with assets like Citizens Bank, still owned by RBS. It is time taxpayers got some cash back for their large unwise and forced investment in RBS shares.

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132 Comments

  1. Posted May 17, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Is it not the case that the public sector uses the pernicious practice of automatic promotion regardless of merit or increase in responsibility to beat any government-imposed pay freeze? Until this practice is stopped, government will never have any control over public sector pay.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      The bureaucrats have no interest in being efficient, quite the reverse, nor even in delivering anything remotely useful. Only the ministers/government provide any democratic control to ensure the state sector delivers anything valuable at all. They clearly fail most of the time in this. They spend most of their time making speeches and going to PR and spin events. Anyway so much direction comes direct from the EU without any real democratic input at all. The parasites are simply killing the golden goose all over the EU.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Start with cutting the number of MPs, cut EU civil service number- we do not need tow sets, one in the EU another in the UK, cut the pay and cut their pensions. The same with the EU pension- dependent monsters WHO TROT OUT RUBBISH to preserve their own greed.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Promotion can be the most efficent way of ridding a dept of incompetence, without the hassle of firing people. Obviously private industry can’t quite afford this route but the public sector has a guaranteed income.

      • Posted May 19, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Is this what happened in banking?

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Kevin

      Ref:.”…..automatic promotion…..”

      Not always the case, most public sector jobs have a pay scale within a pay banding, thus it is typical for a single pay band, to have five scales within it.

      Automatic increases each year are based on service time (not ability) until you reach the top of your scale.

      Thus if you have been employed within your band for less that 5 years you automatically get an increase each year as well as a cost of living rise.

      Thus until everyone is on the top scale of their band (at least five years service) then the automatic increases happen, pay freeze or not, because only cost of living increases have been frozen.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        John

        Your idea of moving offices from London to less expensive areas is ok in theory to reduce office rental costs , but salaries will remain the same as it is a National rate, although you may save a few pennies by not paying the London weighting allowance.

        Add in the cost of moving, redundancy, re-hireing those who have been made redundant on ever higher Consultants fees, and you will find you have moved, but saved diddly squat if past records are anything to go by.

        The BBC is just finding out that the move to Salford is actually costing them a fortune !!

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Giving that in the public sector jobs are paid on a pay scale it’s not possible to give someone a promotion without actually promoting them to a higher position. So unless all the admin assistants suddenly became managers it’s clear that they haven’t been promoted.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Uni
        How charmingly innocent you are of the subtle ways the hugely ccomplex public sector job descriptions, grade definitions and pay scales can be used to their advantage.
        There are dozens of different grades of just administrators.

      • Posted May 19, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Many like to have their job tile promoted not pay so instead of being a labourer they can be mechanical handler. They are the same ones who a decrease in your pay as a rise in theirs not seeing that they can now expect their pay to be decreased too. Nitwits.

  2. Posted May 17, 2013 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Continued austerity for the wealth creators and yet bloated wasteful government everywhere. I see that zombie bank RBS seems to be cutting out 1400 jobs. Well they are not really in the lending business at all anymore as sensible rates, so they could cut far more. Just an answer phone saying “no” and get lost would suffice. They should also get rid of those Natwest helpful banking adverts which just highlight how far the reality is from the adverts. There main business seems to be the exploitation of customers until they leave.

    HS2 is already causing damage to the economy and people in urban areas are not even getting proper compensation for the damage, blight and uncertainty caused. Cost is what you pay and value is what you get. With HS2, concord, the Olympics, the millennium dome, most government IT projects……… the cost is many times the value. The scheme should be dropped, it is a net destroyer of jobs and growth. Just leave the money with the productive sector and fire all the HS2 planners, paper pushers, tax collectors and parasites involved.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      All to predictable, isn’t it ?

      A reduction in Civil Servant numbers of 131,000 over three years or just 7.6% of the total, is a pathetic performance for a Government that inherited such a massive deficit when it came to office. It goes a long way towards demonstrating why it has proved impossible for the Government to get it’s spending properly under control.

      More than 30 years ago, the fictional James Hacker in Yes Minister showed us just how difficult it is for a PM and ministers to introduce real change into the system.

      We have copious real world evidence : the same kind of mistakes are being made under this Government as under the last, the common thread being the Civil Service. There still appears to be no accountability : has anyone been fired over the rail franchise debacle or the numerous IT disasters we have seen in recent years?

      DC should have introduced a nation-wide public sector pay cut when he came to office. This is what Canada and Ireland did to help overcome their financial problems. Even better, if he had proposed a pay cut of, say, 10%, he could then have allowed the unions to negotiate this down to a total pay freeze, as long as it was accompanied by real public sector pension reform.

      Perhaps we need a move towards the US Presidential system where a new administration results in a complete change at the top of every department ?

      Then we have HS2. I’m in favour of improving road and rail infrastructure but the cost of this line is ridiculous. As you suggest, John, some smaller much needed improvements should be done first and we desperately need some new roads. A Southampton to Exeter motorway, for example to link to the M27 and M3.

      The whole sorry mess is being made infinitely worse by the need to appease the LibDems on every issue, just to bolster Clegg’s position against Cable.

      The Childcare farce is a perfect example.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Indeed and there is so much state sector fat available cut out perhaps over 50% if anyone actually tried too.

        On child care it is surely up to the parents and the school what care they want why on earth do MPs have anything useful to say on child care ratios. They say little sensible on anything else and have little expertise in the subject.

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          Given that most of the people criticising the plans to let child care facilities look after more children per adult are working in these child care facilities it’s clear that those with expertise are criticising these plans.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            Here we go again, uanime5

            Those with the “expertise” to criticise simply want to continue the easy job they have looking after very few children and as a result, ensure that costs to parents remain very high.

            That naive idiot Clegg has fallen for their propaganda hook line and sinker.

            Can you explain why childcare services in almost all other countries in Europe look after more children than ours do ?

            The proposed new rules just bring the UK inline with your socialist Utopia, France. Sooner or later your wonderful EU will interfere in this area like it does in everything else and their rules will undoubtedly be closer to the EU average than our current rules.

            The present situation here is, frankly, ludicrous :

            Our current rules say that a properly trained childminder can only look after one child under the age of 1 whereas a new mother with no training or experience can look after her own twins or even triplets !

            The logic of the argument being made by these vested interests is that on grounds of safety a mother of twins should have one of them taken away or be forced to employ a childminder.

            A mother of triplets would be required to employ two,

            Would you support that as well ?

            I hope not. If you don’t, then logically you must be in favour of increasing the numbers.

            Which is it ?

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        There still appears to be no accountability : has anyone been fired over the rail franchise debacle or the numerous IT disasters we have seen in recent years?

        No one has been fired because if they were people would start asking why the minister involved allowed these problems to occur in their department. Lack of accountability begins at the top.

        DC should have introduced a nation-wide public sector pay cut when he came to office.

        That’s illegal and also would have resulted in a huge strike. So unless Cameron wanted to start his first term as Prime Minister being unable to do anything he shouldn’t try to cut public sector pay.

        Perhaps we need a move towards the US Presidential system where a new administration results in a complete change at the top of every department ?

        How exactly is replacing experience civil servants with ministerial yes men going to fix these problems? We need better ministers, not more fawning to these ministers.

        I also noticed in your demands for cuts to the public sector your ignored the time when a large number of customs staff were fires and the result was huge queues because airports didn’t have enough customs staff. Your belief that you can cut large numbers of staff without actually effective any of the services is laughable.

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          You obviously haven’t noticed that the public coffers are empty.

          What part of the word BROKE do you not understand ?

          The alternative to cutting deeper is to increase taxes by about 30% which will kill off the private sector for good.

          It might be an inconvenient truth for you but, remember, only the Private sector generates the wealth that keeps the whole show on the road.

          To answer your other points :

          Ministers have to be able to rely on their officials to do their jobs correctly. They cannot supervise the process leading to every decision personally.

          In the case of the rail franchise debacle, heads should have rolled but they didn’t. Unless there is a serious consequence to making a serious mistake that costs millions, they will keep happening.

          The career heads of the Civil Service have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. If they were replaced by private sector appointees with new ideas and some idea how to run a business efficiently, there would at least be a chance of some kind of reform.

          Finally, you completely missed my point about reducing the size of the state. The Government simply should not be interfering or directing large sections of our national life.

          You will see a perfect example of this at the dept of transport when the last post I wrote appears.

          Of course we need to maintain border security and if necessary increase it. It would be cost effective as every illegal immigrant prevented from entering the UK costs us money in health care, housing etc. The same applies to tax evasion. Staff in that department bring in at least 10 times what they cost to employ.

          But there are many more areas where there is gross inefficiency or non-essential jobs that could be cut.

          We had an example this week concerning the Fire Service. A welcome reduction in the number of fires of 40% yet the same amount of money is being spent on the Fire Service !

          Why ?

          I don’t know from where you derive your income, uanime5, but it seems most unlikely that you work in the private sector, if at all.

          Those of us who run businesses or work in them are simply fed up with the ridiculously high taxes we are paying and want to see them reduced dramatically.

          It should be a case of He Who Pays The Piper………….

        • Posted May 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          I believe you are mistaken and that, as far as I know, unilateral pay cuts are not illegal. A cut may be against the terms of an employees contract in which case the employee could accept the change or resign and go to a tribunal with a constructive dismissal claim.

          You have claimed in the past that you had studied law, which one?

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I agree, only the rich businessmen will be able to afford HS2, and by the time it is built, they will either be using something like helicopters, or not travelling because the are using video links.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Exactly, as usual yesterdays solution to yesterdays problem at vast pointless taxpayer expense.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        I’ve been saying much the same thing in other circles EP, and I wholeheartedly agree. HS2 could be overtaken by events, in this case, technology. Who knows? By the time HS2 gets built, we could even have instantaneous teleportation!

        Realistically though, electronic communication is moving on a pace, and threatens to render HS2 unnecessary.

        Tad

        • Posted May 19, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          Meeting is very much part of business and will never be replaced by technology.
          When my butler informs of someone trying to telephonically contact me I instruct him to tell them to %$^$ off. I would advise all others to do the same.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

            Tell me what the latest reports show then Bazman, about the likely financial ‘benefits’ of HS2. Is it absolutely vital that the meetings to which you refer, take place half an hour earlier, or the deals don’t get done at all?

            I know you have a really big chip on your shoulder, and the working class hero ‘butler’ jibe was probably tongue-in-cheek, but I’m solidly working-class myself, and I doubt if I could ever afford to use HS2.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            A fair point Tad. Thanks to the privatisation fiasco and rip off fares hidden in smoke screen of tariffs travel by train has become a middle class method of transport and it looks like heating and electricity are going the same way for the same reasons.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: Another list of what LL doesn’t personally like, no logic, just personal dislike or missunderstanding.

      For example, Concorde; what was their to dislike (apart from the fact that it was a project of a forward thinking 1960s Labour government and the French…), until the “Oil Shock” of the 1970s it was an economically sound development project – hence why the USA and their own commercail aircraft sector attempted to place fake barriers in the way, such as noise and pollution etc.

      The Millennium Dome; The (sale and re-brand into the) O2 has come good, the idea of celebrating the “Millennium” might have been ‘a bit naff’ but the project has regenerated a significant area of basically polluted waste ground to provide both commercail and national exhibition/event space.

      The Olympic; Whilst many did not like the hype, the Olympics did show-case the UK, and the various stadiums and venues etc. will do for Stratford what the Millennium Dome has for the Greenwich Peninsula. Of course, I suspect, Mr Lifelogic’s real beef against the Olympics is more to do with the opening and closing ceremonies, how dare they not celibate Thatcherism and all things 1980s rather than the creation of Great Britain and our national real wealth – funny how so many on the right complained about the highlighting of the welfare state in 1945 but said nothing about the the highlighting of Thomas Telford, I.K.Brunel, Alexander Fleming or even our greatest PM ever, one Winston Churchill – the true saviour of the free world…

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        It is nothing to do with what I like or dislike. It is to do with what makes economic sense and what is just pissing tax payers money down the drain as usual and making us all poorer in the process.

        Concord was an absurd waste of money for a handful of thirsty planes to get people to New York a tiny bit faster, usually having drunk and eaten too much on route from my experience. So many, one assumes, just have to sleep the off using the hours they saved. Tony Benn should be ashamed of all the jobs that were destroyed and the taxes wasted with this clearly absurd venture and silly high speed pub/restaurant for the rich.

        I watched none of the Olympics, but I saw a little of the absurd celebration of the functionally incompetent NHS on the news. An NHS which causes so many pointless deaths, through its absurd management, rationing, delays, daft employment laws and funding structures.

        The Olympics was an extremely expensive way to “show-case the UK” clearly the payback will be far, far less than was wasted on it.

        • Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          @Lifelogic: Re Concorde; Care to cite were Concorde (in BA days) did not pay its way – goodness knows what you would have made of that new fanged iron horse back in the early 1800s, why would anyone want to go that fast, a gallop is quite fast enough! 😛
          Come to think of it though, for those who think they are wealthy, but slag Concorde off in a way that makes it clear they could not afford to travel on her, I suppose there is plenty enough reason to dislike…

          Oh and by your rational you should be against nuclear power, given your logic the Harrier Jump-Jet would not have got to the design stage.

          Tony Benn should be ashamed of all the jobs that were destroyed

          What jobs were they, as I understood it, Concorde actually created employment in the UK (and French) aerospace industry, but then if you are correct why didn’t Heath call time on it in 1970s. Tony Benn might have been wrong about a lot of things but Concorde wasn’t one of them, even had it not reached commercial flight, the lessons learned from the planes development have gone on to be used both in commercail and military design – Oh and in case you are thinking of the bankruptcy of Rolls-Royce Ltd. when the UK government had to bail the company out (via nationalisation) that wasn’t due to Concorde engines but the development of the RB211 engine for the Lockheed TriStar.

          Re Millennium Dome/O2 Arena; Care to cite were the O2 arena is loosing it’s owners money, or not paying tax on their income, or that it has not brought Tourist/sporting money into the UK from holding such events?

          Re NHS side swipe;
          An NHS which causes so many pointless deaths, through its absurd management, rationing, delays, daft employment laws and funding structures.

          Swap NHS for Medicare and you could be talking about the so called US health care system…

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Just one small point Jerry, how much did Concorde cost in terms of its development, and weren’t those costs written off by a Labour government at the tax-payer’s expense?

        Concorde was intended to be bought by the US, but that was politically unacceptable from the outset, and Boeing were instructed to press ahead with their own version of an SST. Although that never came to fruition, it was a clear statement of intent – American airlines weren’t going to be allowed to buy British, and the US government even initially engineered a way to ban Concorde from the very route is was intended to service.

        Yet a project which could have secured our aircraft industry’s future, TSR2, was cancelled, by a Labour government no less, after most of the development work had already been done, and prototypes were in the air. Interestingly, the performance of the TSR2 was so good, it could even put many a modern military aircraft to shame, so its service life would probably have been long, thus repaying the initial investment handsomely.

        Don’t get me wrong, from the point of view as someone who loves aircraft, and loves Britain even more, I want to see this nation taking a lead, and Concorde was a brilliant achievement. But we need to be realistic and build things that can get a return, and not just do something because we can, or even as a glorified technology demonstrator. I sure as hell could never afford to use Concorde, but I still paid for it through my taxes!

        If we want to look at an area where we SHOULD have taken a lead, which WOULD have delivered proven and massive economic benefits, it was in the building of rockets and satellites. It is often said that man walked on the moon because of American money, German engineering, and British brains. We could have stolen a march on the rest, but thanks to political reticence and myopia, we languished, and our talent went abroad.

        Even the jet engine itself was sold to the US by the Attlee government for just £1, 800,000 (source: Sir Frank Whittle himself) instead of developing it for our own gain. They’re just not fit people to ever hold public office!

        But I want to see daylight between them and the Tories!

        Tad Davison

        Cambridge

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          @Tad Davison: You missed a few thing off your conclusions Tad, at the time we could afford to invent Concorde, there was a market (prior to the 1970s oil shock) for Concorde, the USA was not the only market. TSR2 was indeed a shame but it was being overshadowed by the development of an aircraft that could fly backwards, hover, sideways and didn’t need a long runway.

          As for rockets and satellites, indeed but we (as are the current ESA) were always going to be hindered by the lack of suitable lunch sites in our own country, it would have meant cooperation and perhaps the relocation to Australia but then the project and much of the economic benefits would have fallen to them and not the UK.

          Yes, perhaps we should have kept our version of the jet engine to ourselves but would that have stopped the USA acquiring the technology, no because they would have simply done with the jet engine what they were already doing with the rocket engine – offer a new life to a group of German designers/engineers. As it was, in 1945 the UK was a USD starved nation at a time when we needed be USD rich due to the need to import vast amounts of food from the USA, your quoted figure of £1, 800,000 does indeed sound laughable today but in 1945 it was a vast amount of money – had we taken your suggested course of action I suspect that people like you would have been critical because we had not sold the technology and thus help fund our post war survival/recovery.

          As for your quip about Labour not being fit for office, I think you are somewhat taking the events of almost 70 years ago rather out of context. Many in 1945 felt the same way about the Tories (they would have voted for Churchill as PM but not a Tory government), you seem to forget that the UK was as indebted (to the USA) in 1945 primarily due to the policies of the Conservative government in the late 1930s. Just who were not fit people to ever hold public office, those who had to try and clear up the mess -both material and socail damage- or those who, thought their idiotic, out of date policies, did much to encourage the mess to be created in the first place…

          Cherry picking events, grand isn’t it Tad, one can ‘prove’ just about any point of view by doing so, of course one has to just hope that no one points out the “Cherries” you missed!

          • Posted May 19, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Thanks Jerry, for the most part, that made interesting reading.

            Point one. If we could afford Concorde, why couldn’t we also afford the TSR2? They were both around at roughly the same time, (although the TSR2 was a little earlier), and it would have secured a lot of jobs, both at the time, and for the future. The reason you put forward, was the development of the Harrier, yet the TSR2 and the Harrier were to perform completely different roles. The Harrier was indeed a great aircraft, but so was the TSR2, and I recommend you see the documentary ‘TSR2 – The Untold Story’, freely available on YouTube. I think you’ll agree, there was something (questionable-ed) about the cancellation of TSR2.

            However, because of Concorde’s sonic boom, European countries especially wouldn’t let it fly supersonically over land, so the advantages were immediately lost on the far Eastern routes, unless it took the long way round, did the journey over the sea, and that meant landing and refuelling, at greater expense both financially, and in terms of journey time. And if the US wasn’t the only market, why didn’t other countries buy it?

            These were obvious failings in the project’s business plan from the outset, and it would have withered on the vine had not British Airways and Air France bought it. And there is much debate about how much French and British governments lent on their respective national airlines to get them to use it. Technically, Concorde was great, but commercially……………?

            We could go on for ever, and cite things like the Bristol Brabazon that was a real white elephant, or the fact that the Labour government of the day gave the Russians jet engines, which were later used against us in Mig 15s in the Korean war. But the point I am trying to make, and the one that bears relevance to this thread, is that governments of EVERY hue, make some awful and very expensive decisions, that can cost the tax-payer an absolute fortune. That has to be put right with the application of good foresight and adequate planning.

            One minor gripe though Jerry. You say, ‘had we taken your suggested course of action I suspect that people like you would have been critical because we had not sold the technology and thus help fund our post war survival/recovery.’

            The operative word there is ‘suspect’. Please don’t go putting words in my mouth, or try to make a point purely on supposition. You don’t know what I would or wouldn’t have done. Where you use facts, or try to make a good case, it is a lot more palatable.

            On the cherries that I have missed, I’d be happy to debate those with you.

            Tad

          • Posted May 22, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            As this didn’t appear first time, I’ll try again……..

            Thanks Jerry, for the most part, that made interesting reading.

            Point one. If we could afford Concorde, why couldn’t we also afford the TSR2? They were both around at roughly the same time, (although the TSR2 was a little earlier), and it would have secured a lot of jobs, both at the time, and for the future. The reason you put forward, was the development of the Harrier, yet the TSR2 and the Harrier were to perform completely different roles. The Harrier was indeed a great aircraft, but so was the TSR2, and I recommend you see the documentary ‘TSR2 – The Untold Story’, freely available on YouTube. I think you’ll agree, there was something altogether underhanded about the cancellation of TSR2.

            However, because of Concorde’s sonic boom, European countries especially wouldn’t let it fly supersonically over land, so the advantages were immediately lost on the far Eastern routes, unless it took the long way round, did the journey over the sea, and that meant landing and refuelling, at greater expense both financially, and in terms of journey time. And if the US wasn’t the only market, why didn’t other countries buy it?

            These were obvious failings in the project’s business plan from the outset, and it would have withered on the vine had not British Airways and Air France bought it. And there is much debate about how much French and British governments lent on their respective national airlines to get them to use it. Technically, Concorde was great, but commercially……………?

            We could go on for ever, and cite things like the Bristol Brabazon that was a real white elephant, or the fact that the Labour government of the day gave the Russians jet engines, which were later used against us in Mig 15s in the Korean war. But the point I am trying to make, and the one that bears relevance to this thread, is that governments of EVERY hue, make some awful and very expensive decisions, that can cost the tax-payer an absolute fortune. That has to be put right with the application of good foresight and adequate planning.

            One minor gripe though Jerry. You say, ‘had we taken your suggested course of action I suspect that people like you would have been critical because we had not sold the technology and thus help fund our post war survival/recovery.’
            The operative word there is ‘suspect’. Please don’t go putting words in my mouth, or try to make a point purely on supposition. You don’t know what I would or wouldn’t have done. Where you use facts, or try to make a good case, it is a lot more palatable.

            On the cherries that I have missed, I’d be happy to debate those with you.

            Tad

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      @liflogic
      “The scheme should be dropped”

      Sorry to disappoint you lifelogic, but the scheme is an EU project, so our government cannot do anything except hand us the bill.

      If we had a government dedicated to national independence, it might be a different story.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        Another reason to leave now.

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          If you do not live in Britain as you say, then you will be living in the EU. How do you square that one off? You do not live in Britain or the EU then you are calling for something that you will never have to live under the consequences off either way which is just typical.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I see Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, told Google’s northern Europe boss, Matt Brittin, that his company’s behaviour on tax was “devious, calculated and, in my view, unethical”.

      Companies have a duty to act in the interest of shareholders if they do not they will perhaps get taken over by other who will or just go bust. The responsibility rests entirely with MPs to set a sensible tax regime framework. Is Ms Hodge really too dim to see this. She and her fellow MPs are entirely to blame for this evil as she sees it. Google are just acting rationally given the absurd and complex system that MPs and Goverment have put in place.

      Anyway I am sure Google and their employees will spend the money far better than Ms Hodge and the Labour party would do. It is very hard not to spend it better than Labour after all.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        The Google chap should have just pointed out how childishly, foolish and naive Ms Hodge was being. If it is “evil” she and her fellow MPs are clearly the direct cause of it.

        • Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Lifelogic I agree completely.
          I’m not sure where this USA style inquisition panel has suddenly come from.
          We now see more of Mrs Hodges and others like Mr Vaz on the BBC Parliament Channel than the PM.
          These Committees seem to enjoy dragging busy people in front of them to give them a grilling.
          Perhaps they have forgotten that they are the law makers, so if they feel some well known companies are not paying them enough money to waste then change the law!

          • Posted May 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            Indeed they are a childish toy court and a pathetic political spin theatre.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        They are not going to spend it it on the infrastructure or education that allows them to makes these profits are they? However as you point out you build a fridge that works and not blame the maggots.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        This whole tax-chasing effort is clearly a distraction by government- /public-sector types to take the focus AWAY from the other side of the coin – the amount they spend. That is where the “evil” “immorality” really is.

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Evil to build infrastructure and educate the very people they are using to make the profits not to mention the very society that allows them to operate in this county. Your right wing fantasy is just that. Hard done by companies fighting against the state. many small bushiness are, but not these companies. Pull the other one.

      • Posted May 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2013/05/17/back-to-public-spending/#comment-193436

        Another parked or missed?

        John, I know you are very busy, please take these as nudges and not hot under the collared complaints. 🙂

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      The Government could save £10 billion from its net contribution to the EU and £12 billion in foreign aid (15% of our structural deficit). Note both are for the benefit of foreign nationals and their infrastructure whilst our public services are getting to extremes and our roads crumble.
      On a day its reported that 13% of our population weren’t born here we are still paying for their health, housing, education, whilst paying benefits to over 6.5 million who are economically inactive. 1 million of our young people are unemployed whilst Eastern Europeans pour in daily to take the starter jobs our young people traditionally held.
      3 years into this Government very little has actually been done, save the green religion, gay marriage, more laws and powers to the EU. Reform of the EUHCR or Human Rights law………thought so. Hot air and promises.

    • Posted May 19, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      @lifelogic
      “HS2 is already causing damage to the economy”

      Hilary Wharf, chairman of the HS2 Action Alliance, said: “It is a telling sign of HS2’s weakness that the Department for Transport have felt it necessary to distort the business case, and to mislead Parliament about it. The problem with HS2 is that it cannot be justified without bending the truth.”

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10066219/True-harm-of-HS2-hidden-by-minister.html

  3. Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Low paid civil servants should not be vilified for being awarded small inctements in pay. The low paid working should be rewarded for their efforts. It is important that the overall spend on public workers does not result in a witch hunt against admin level pay. There may be a case for reviewing the numbers and productivity of the posts though.

    The real problem with civil service pay arises in the middle and upper mangement levels. These posts compete (favourably) against private sector roles and are then awarded increments up the progression spine annually.

    In the private sector performance is judged on income generation and efficiency, any increments being awarded against these criteria. No one in the public sector is responsible for income generation (the taxes being taken from us under threat of imprisonment) so the salaries should be markedly lower.

    Both private and public sector executive pay is beyond control and I fear that punitive taxation may be the only weapon available to redress the balance in favour of the masses. If anyone earning over 20 the mean fte earnings level in their organisation were taxed at 80% over that level we would soon see earning at low and mid levels increase.

  4. Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    If they can make cuts to middle and senior management in the private sector they can do it in the public sector. A law should be passed that nobody earns more than the PM.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      A state sector equalisation tax perhaps? The state sector are, with pensions, paid about 150% of what the private sector are, they take more sick pay and have better, working conditions too. A new tax should perhaps equalize it automatically, adjusted every year up or down for the two sectors – to keep the net remuneration similar.

      This as clearly they are not going to attack the over payments from the top. BBC staff still on up to ten times the going rate. Usually for second rate, arty, socialists churning out lefty drivel.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Who is paid 150% more. The average worker? Many private companies are actually state funded so how do you square that off? Simplistic right wing nonsense without basis again. Leading to digressive fantasy that you think you will not be affected by. Which as you do not live in this country as you say, will not be.

        • Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          Average remuneration in the state sector (with pensions included) is about 150% of the private sector, just look at the published figures – this for fewer hours, more sick leave, little useful output and better job security.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

            A street cleaner or hospital porter is on 150% more than a similar worker in the private sector? In your dreams, but what does this tell you about the private sector then? No job security, no sick pay, minimum hours contracts and so on whilst the bosses reap often massive pay and benefits telling everyone how they cannot afford to pay more in their revolving door companies. You seem to think that this is a good thing.
            Your rants about the often very low paid public sector is just another way you think pay and conditions should be further eroded to create more desperation and lower costs to companies. What about the cost to the state in benefits to subsidies these companies. I am wasting my time with you as you are just plain thick, but others reading your propaganda need to be told.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Agreed

  5. Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Here is a suggestion for reducing office costs in central London, and reducing clutter on roads and rail at commuter times. No doubt vast numbers of government office workers sit in front of computers all day. Why spend two hours a day travelling to do this. Set up a spare bedroom at home as an office and work from there. For the last twenty years of my career running a business with a sales turnover of up to twenty million sterling from two offices in my home worked very well. No colleagues interrupting work with talk of football, no office politics, just me and my secretary to run a successful business. My best guess is that at least 30% of the day is wasted by distractions in a big office plus all the usual management meetings and leadership courses.
    Properly thought out, it would not be difficult to know who was value for money and who was not. If you can control a drone over Afghanistan to watch and bomb terrorists from a computer in Dallas, controlling a government department should be easy for a professional management.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      For those who are able to discipline themselves working at home can be very productive. But even those who need to be corralled and supervised need not commute to a city centre office. They could instead have employment centres located e.g. near the schools their children attend, and save the commute or the need to migrate to the London area.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      In my experience many of them sit at home doing little useful already.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Very good points.

      Projects like HS2 may be out of date before it’s finished due to home based working becoming a more common practice, or phone/internet conference calls.

      The cash for HS2 would still, if ring fenced for rail, be better spent on improvements and connectivity on the existing network. Particularly to move to european loading gauge (Platform, bridge / tunnel clearance) to have broader taller trains to increase capacity.

      Rail has to compete with Air. Air has no energy tax, rail does. (and other public transport like buses have much higher energy tax).

      The only argument about HS2 I don’t buy is the damage to the countryside. Last time I looked in the areas involved the M40, M25, M1, M6, M42, M6toll were all significantly wider than a two track railway line.

  6. Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    This is ridiculous.
    When the coalition was formed, everyone in government agreed that the main thing to cut back the debt. Nothing much has been done amidst a lot of hot air.
    I learn from the Australian today that China,according to Standard and Poor’s, is as indebted as the USA. Australia is worried about their tiny little debt. Compared with these two, the entire EU debt is quite small. Figures are for 2013: USA 13 trillion, China 12 trillion, EUrozone 9.5trillion.
    In another part of the paper the words ponzi scheme are used………

  7. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Well something serious needs to happen with rail in this Country, 100’s of passengers were left stranded outside in the rain at Wembley on the weekend, the rail company sold tickets they hadn’t put the return trains on for, 100’s more had to stand all the way back to the North West (at least 35 per carriage) soaked wet through because they weren’t allowed into the station. This return journey was entirely predictable, people that stayed in the football ground or went to local cafes and pubs in order to avoid standing outside in the torrential rain with their children and female partners were then left stranded as everyone that did queue got on first. We are encouraged to use more public transport, parking a car at Wembley was around £85 for the day! Yet when we do choose the rail for major events it turns into a nightmare. It is simply unacceptable. There were no drinks offered in first class and you couldn’t have made your way to drinks car in a packed out train. When I heard about this from family and friends I just thought it’s ridiculous and I’m glad I wasn’t personally caught up in it.

    I am from the North West and speeding up journeys for commerce and passengers from the Northern areas seemed a good idea to me but the connection speeds from Crewe to London isn’t to bad presently normally.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see what level of investment could deal with situations of this kind. Trains can only safely run a certain distance apart due to signalling, unless you go to 4 or 6 track widths with a huge investment in rolling stock and locomotives that would spend alot of time sat idle when huge national events are not taking place.

      To my mind the only error on the part of the rail operator here is to have returns tickets on the market that were valid in this predictable bubble.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Connections are poorly routed and slow at the moment. I believe the new hs2 rail links Crewe directly with Manchester Airport and Manchester Central but I’m only working on general gossip, I thought HS2 meant more competition for current train operators? Or will HS2 be the only rail link? If its HS2 or the milk run or the main operator that runs presently then we start getting more choice and more competition, cause at the moment it’s rubbish, and there was nothing stopping the train operator having a later service when they knew the kick off time of the match (another stupid selfish decision) they made enough money out of it.

  8. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I am loathe to admit it but the whole thing seems doomed to failure to me.

    Government should be run like a business. A business would take a long, hard look at its overheads and cut them to the bone wherever possible.

    In this day and age, offices in London seem quite ridiculous (although I appreciate some have to be there for practical reasons) and a business would have no problem relocating to less expensive parts of the country.

    Unneeded staff would be removed at the earliest opportunity.

    Office equipment would only be replaced when the old became too uneconomical to use and even then, value for money would be a priority.

    However, a business would know how much work has gone into making the profits that make it all possible. Every hard earned penny, therefore, would be spent in the most careful possible fashion.

    Publicly funded organisations don’t have this same sense of value when it comes to the money at their disposal. It is always far easier to spend other people’s money, especially when you know that another wedge of cash is just around the corner with no effort necessary on your part.

    In any organisation, the wage bill represents the greatest expense. We really need to be looking at the roles people are performing and asking “Is this role absolutely essential, is it a ‘nice to have in an ideal world’ or is it a completely pointless role?”

    With a deficit running into hundreds of billions, all but the first category should be removed.

    It wouldn’t be a popular move but this is about what is best for the country, right?

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      17 councils I read have signed public sector workers up to the Living wage rather than basing level 1 salaries on the NMW which is 20% lower than the living wage outside of London. Why are public sector deemed more worthy of a higher NMW or is this to raise local pay expectations across the board, I know our local Conservative council have done this recently. As pay bands above level 1 demand their differentials are maintained this is one big bill to swallow.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Given that the higher wages will mean that these people will need less benefits the fall in the cost of benefits should somehow result in a tax cut (several commentators have commented that benefit cuts somehow result in tax cuts).

        • Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          How? As their wages are paid out of taxes anyhow, this argument of yours only works in the private sector and the NMW hasn’t been increased by 20% because they know it would be suicidal for jobs, so yet another back of the fag packet agreed pay rise for rate payer supported staff that will require a further bung into their pension to support that increased cost too, plus demands from their union to maintain grade differentials. They think nothing in a small council of putting an extra £400,000 into their pension scheme whilst cutting services.

          These are Conservative run councils that are making these choices yet the Labour Party are claiming credit for what seems to be a joint party idea to trial, problem is you can’t turn the clock back on decisions like this and yet more local services will be closed to pay for it or we’ll get stung later. People working in the private sector who don’t seem to have any government watching over their pennies with other self serving demands – what can we expect for this extra 20%?

  9. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “The Treasury is engaged in detailed negotiations with the main departments over how to reduce the rate of increase in cash spending beyond 2015.”

    Why does the coalition government allow the opposition parties, especially of course the Labour party, get away with their false narrative of savage spending cuts?

    This is one of the few places where you will read that public spending is rising, not falling; is it government policy to allow people to think that it’s falling when it isn’t?

  10. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    It would help if the tax rules – made by Parliament were set so as not to leave so many loopholes that Global legally paying almost no taxes or even get tax back – in the case of Amazon. It is no use us ranting about them when our Government has the power to change the rules but chooses not to do so.
    There is a lot more the Government could do to save money but also to collect taxes due from overseas global companies.

  11. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Are departments taking on temporary staff?
    My daughter is taking voluntary redundancy from the civilian staff of a police force after 25 years (mainly because of travel costs – she’ll be better off at less pay locally) and she tells me that they are already taking on temporary staff through an agency.
    But ever mind , they’ve reduced the headcount!

  12. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Very disappointing figures. Not at all what the chancellor promised. How much is due to the lack of support by our LibDem friends, I wonder?

  13. Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I have had a chat with my 25 year old and 20 year old sons. They are quite happy if the government keeps borrowing between 120 and 150 thousand, million pounds each year. They say they can pay it back easily, and pay us for our overpriced houses, and pay taxes to fund their own public services no problem.

    They also say that as soon as they are able they are heading to Australia, Canada or New Zealand to live. I can’t imagine why.

    Mr. Redwood, please make the case for HS2. How on earth can a fast train share prosperity around the country? Rich businessmen can get from Leeds to London faster than now? People can get to an airport more quickly? Despite us having airports in Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands etc. I worked with some people from Newcastle 10 years ago. Even then they got from Newcastle to London in 3 hours. It wasn’t an obstacle to doing business.

    As the years go by, more and more business will be done face to face in virtual meeting rooms – with far better video conferencing than we have now. If you want to invest some money, invest it in technology start ups or in our energy infrastructure.

  14. Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I find the present,ongoing orgy of Central London office construction astonishing, at a time when it has never been easier to deploy most staff to the provinces with advantages all round (not forgetting the advantage of diminishing commuter rail congestion). Maintaining great herds of staff in Town is a foolish anachronism, and the London office space bonanza has an unhealthy ‘bubble’ feel about it.

    You are so right to urge that Government review its stultified (and … hubristic?) persistence in keeping armies of ministerial apparatchiks in Town for no valid reason – yes, sell that office space – but quickly, please, before that bubble bursts, punctured by barbs of the common sense which is so lacking around Whitehall.

    Assertions that the HS2 folly would ameliorate the ‘north – south divide’ are mere fantasy, pure nonsense … but transferring many thousands of London posts to the North would certainly help …. and be supportable by a genuine, sound business case.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Central London employers really should be the ones who pay congestion charges and the premiums and subsidies for peak commuter travel on public transport. It’s their choice of location that causes it all. If they paid the cost directly, they might take a more rational approach to location.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Look at the BBC moving out of London – at huge expense. Politicians just dont seem capable of grasping the public sector firm enough to make changes. Somebody needs to come in with a will of iron and sweep aside all the vested interests, red tape, laws and parasites. The whole of Government just seems like a very sick person.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        @javelin: Good point, lessons should be learnt from the fiasco of the politically inspired and enforced that was the move of the BBC from TVC in W12, moving out of London can actually cost more than staying put, especially if the building is built and paid for.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Enter the alternative party we are no longer allowed to name.

        Apparently we have a lower level of serious crime, but no fewer police.
        We have a lesser number of fires, but no reduction in firefighters.
        The laws of supply and demand don’t rule in the public sector.

  15. Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “The US opts for more public sector austerity than the UK and grows faster”. Take a look at the US (Philly) FED May Business Outlook Report JR; you may want to rethink your recent posting. Every index it calculates is going down.

    The thing that is not clear, and I think we should be told, is what level of unemployment, will the coalition be satisfied with, such that it can pronounce that austerity has been successfully completed? As we are currently at 7.8% I assume it wishes to be truly European at 12.1% or a bit higher at an Irish like 14%?

    Can I suggest two really good privatisations that would allow two whole government departments to be shut down namely Health and Education.

    If you divide up the Heath budget it is costing, on average, circa £2,000 for each of 63 million of us plus, who knows how many health tourists. Every body gets a charge card issued by several insurance companies with the basic premium (say £2,000 p.a.) paid by the state. A co-payment of a few percent would help throttle trivial use and possibly a no claims discount. Very much like insuring your car. Shut down the Health Department, let the medics get on with it and sort themselves out. Three year employment contracts renewable yearly, should improve productivity and sickness absence considerably. Set up a cabinet level outfit to manage mission critical public health defence.

    Same goes for Education Department. On average it cost circa £6,500 p.a. for each primary and secondary child. Give them an education charge card, spend it in any licenced school they want. All schools effectively become private sector entities.

    Both would rent current assets from the state, terms and conditions would apply to maintain the public purpose of those assets and any future expansion of services.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      But they said the NHS was wonderful on the Olympic opening ceremony.
      And education was at the centre of Tony Blair’s plan for the 1997 government.
      Never was so much spent by so many on so little… and followed up by so little reform when the Conservatives arrived.

  16. Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    John,

    Regarding HS2: I have heard that this is an EU diktat, is that true?

    I think one area where we could reduce public spending, is where we have one publicly funded body, being investigated by another publicly funded body, who then hand over to another publicly funded body to prosecute the original public body, in a publicly funded court who then issue a large fine against the original publicly funded body…..The fine is eventually paid out of public funds which deprives that body of funding so in effect, we’re just funding layers and layers of non productive public sector jobs……There must be millions and millions of pounds sloshing around in the situation I just described.

    Reply There is a trans european network plan, but it is not I am told mandatory. The UK can decide whether to have this or not.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      The Spanish have just spent a fortune building their TGV running from Barcelona under the Pyrenees and 12 miles to Perpignan’s new station- where it stops. The French do not plan to build the track to Montpellier for at least 20 years. So it can’t be mandatory.

      We took 10 years messing about before building the Eurostar track 80 miles to London and then decided it was to the wrong station and changed it. When the Chunnel was sold to shareholders the link was to have been completed and the income was part of the expected income for the project.

      Why is it that HS2, which costs far more and has no economic case, is so popular with the civil servants? The answer may be to do with long term job creation in their departments.

      • Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        @stred: “The Spanish have just spent a fortune building their TGV running from Barcelona under the Pyrenees and 12 miles to Perpignan’s new station- where it stops. The French do not plan to build the track to Montpellier for at least 20 years. So it can’t be mandatory.

        Apologies to John is this appears to be going off topic, I think it does have some relevance to any HS2 debate and I do come back on-topic eventually.

        A good point, but the whys and wherefores of these Spanish High Speed lines are a lot more complex than it first looks, unless you are a more than a little clued up on the railway systems of that party of Europe! The Spanish railway systems of old used three different track gauges, meaning that it was either totally incompatible with that of its neighbours or time/costs were inured in either transshipping or changing wheel sets on the passenger cars/freight wagons thus the logic for these HS capable lines made sense. Also whilst you are correct in saying that the Spanish/French cross boarder HS line stops at Perpignan the rail line carries on as a medium speed line to Montpellier (if think) were the HS TGV line from Paris is accessed. The French SNCF have been running TGV trains at medium line speeds to Perpignan for years…

        Now I come to the point that is relevant to the debate about the proposed HS2 line, the suggested involvement of the EU and just what might actually be the base requirements for such a route, there might not be any requirement to have a HS line, just a line that is capable of running Trans-European HS rolling stock (in other words, a compatible track/loading gauge), the UK could most likely deliver such a requirement a lot cheaper and without the need to build a completely new rail line. What is more, because this would not be a dedicated HS line it could operate in the same way as the CT and HS1 does, meaning that both passenger and Freight can share the infrastructure.

        • Posted May 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Jerry. The different track gauge certainly caused problems. The French trains stop at Port Bou on the border and the timetables do not coordinate either. A good way to miss a plane at Gerona, as I found out. However, perhaps this discovery that we do not actually have to build a high speed track and may be allowed to run a TGV up the old not so grand vitesse track is interesting. We can satisfy the commissionars and point out that this is what our EU loving neighbours do between Perpignan and Montpellier.

          As to the problem of track capacity, this could be overcome by linking trains together and fitting them with automatic decouplers. Two trains could set off from London, one going to Manchester and the other to Liverpool. They leave a few minutes apart, then link up just outside the station. Then they travel together, using one series of signals slowing, stopping and starting together. At Crew the rear train lets go or decouples from the front and turns left to Liverpool while the other carries on.

          Track gauges could be altered by adding a third rail in order to carry two widths if necessary. TGVs could be shunted up the track and the travel times would only be half an hour or so different. Alex Salmond would possiblyget a bit hot under the kilt about it, but who cares?

  17. Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    At times like these, I am always reminded of the words of Oscar Wilde.

    “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

    But let’s not forget who ultimately pays for it! It’s not their money they are wasting, it’s ours!

    And of course, there’s a whole tier of ultra-expensive bureaucracy we in the UK could do without and never miss!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  18. Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mr. Redwood, for pointing out that we have more immediate, and beneficial, rail infrastructure needs prior to any future HS2 vanity-project investment.

    It is bizarre that, although European rail carriages and freight wagons use the same track width as the UK, the larger Continental loading gauges mean that most of our rail network is incompatible with European rolling stock.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge#Continental_Europe

    Is there not an excellent case for the UK to claim European Infrastructure Funding to enable at least one route to be upgraded to permit European-size wagons to proceed from the Tunnel (via Holyhead, or elsewhere) to the Republic of Ireland?

    That kind of development, unlike HS2, would genuinely do something for the North of England …. and it would be grand to recover a little of the money we have handed over to Europe, before we leave the EU.

  19. Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Talk at Westminster” – well that just about sums it up. As they say in Texas “all talk and no cattle” JR – all this banging on about costs and savings that might/could be made seems to be like water off a ducks back. The front bench are just not on the same sheet as you. I like what you say but a vision crossed my mind that you are becoming the “Tony Benn” of the right.

  20. Posted May 17, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    The government ought to say that the business case for HS2 is unsustainable, and that therefore it is cancelled.

    They can point out that two thirds of the cost of HS1 has already been written off – a route with surely rather better traffic prospects. Repeating the folly with 5 to 10 times as much spending is surely a failure to learn from experience – at taxpayer expense.

  21. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    1.579m in December 2012 civil servants!!!!!

    What strikes me as how ludicrous the above sum of people employed by the STATE above, in effect clients of the state dependent upon their livelihood (ergo they have no interest in reducing the size of the State) is in the comparison with India in the 19th Century.

    India back then with a population of approximately 228million people (that’s over 3 1/2 times the population of Britain today) and with a geographic land mass of some 1.8 million Sq. miles compared to Britain’s 151,000 Sq. miles (source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html ) was successfully and rather efficiently run by only 1,200 civil servants led by a handful of commissioners. And that was in the days before telephone, internet, e-mail and mass air travel!

    Steam engines were the major transport link for people and postal communications combined with the emergence of the telegraph yet somehow 1,200 guys with a handful of commissioners directing and leading them successfully administered and efficiently ran the machines of governance of some 228 millions over an area 12 times, yes 12 TIMES the size of Britain!

    Yet we need 1.579 million people to administer the machine and rusty cogs of government in our small corner of the globe!

    If ever there was a more damming indictment of how large, complex and over burdensome the modern state has become clogged with reams and reams of legislation governing everything we eat, drink, smoke, burn, dispose of, live in, travel in, and lets just take smoking as an example….oh yes folks our (beloved of the majority political class) EU even has legislation governing how wide the size of black lines on a packet of cigarettes should be!

    Just look at the amount of words on this document! http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=EN&numdoc=32001L0037&model=guichett
    I wonder how many man hours, meetings, focus groups, research and haggling over ginger snaps in a smoke filled back office went into that one, and don’t forget that where you have legislation you have to have record keeping and enforcement and all of it paid for with OUR money!

    Government whether it’s the EU or our own Wastemonster sorry meant to say Westminster is far too big.

    I’ll leave you all with a simple question a friend of mine put to me once;

    “If you don’t believe that Britain is governed totally by political rules, regulations, orders and diktats, please name me 6 everyday activities, yes, just six, that you undertake that does not require a. permission, b. licence, c. regulated action, d. regulated packaging, materials, ingredients, tools etc. i.e. 6 activities that never touch the state or a regulator.”

  22. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I listened to the HS2 case also and started to rethink.
    If employees are to be deployed to peripheral offices it would be a good idea not to sell them off or else new higher priced premises would be needed, yet I know what you mean, there is always room for reshuffling and letting people work from home, saving their income and public income.This is certainly a better way than saving on paper clips and photocopying . Natural wastage is a hard one especially in consideration of the older person whose pension has been ruined . It may be a case that everyone works until simply not able to.

  23. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Looking at Cameron and other ministers trying to make cuts, improvements and efficiency savings I can see numerous legal options have been placed just below the water line to scupper many changes. Some of these are human rights, others seem to be consultation legislation or working time directives. To compliment this there also eems to be a need to bring in laws to chane policies that should have been a simple directive from Government – for example prosecuting dangerous dogs on private land.

    It seems to be the legal system and the lawyers that run it has become the enemy of many politicans.

  24. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I don’t want England to drift back little by little into the ‘3rd world’. I still struggle with the cost of HS2 but I want it to go ahead. I can’t help thinking that many of those who oppose it, including some MPs, do so for selfish reasons, for reasons of self preservation, or some people don’t want to be disturbed when they take the dog for a walk.

    It won’t benefit me, and it won’t be within earshot or sight, so I am not directly affected, as I live in the south west of Oxfordshire, but if we don’t develop our transport systems we will fall further and further behind everyone else. We were once pioneers of these high speed trains but gave them up because they were thought too expensive and didn’t seem to work too well. Now we will need to buy them from others.

    We gave up building jet airliners when the Comet crashed, because it all seemed to get too difficult and would have been expensive to fix. Now we don’t make jet airliners, others do.

    We gave up our rocket programme when we had a few failures and some said it was too expensive to continue. The French took over the bits that worked and fixed the rest.
    There is a massive list. Our leaders have failed us on a massive scale for at least 70 years. All because the small minded and the bean counters prevailed. The Australians are correct to call us ‘whinging Poms’.

    Some say we don’t need to speed up journey times, well how about going back to age of the horse and cart? I imagine these same people would have opposed the paving of muddy roads, or the development of the original railways.

    Our airports are full because we haven’t kept up, and we argue about disturbing toads or newts or bats or some old hedgerow or trees. Our roads are falling to bits, and our rail systems are full. We live lives which are far too comfortable, we behave as if the world owes us a living. Just like we think the NHS is wonderful when it is killing people in their thousands and no-one pays.

    In a bizarre way I hope the lights do go out, and we do run out of generating power.
    Maybe then our arrogance will take a bit of knock. Maybe then the welfare bill will be cut and the lazy and the spongers and those with non-jobs who tell us how to live our lives will be forced into some form of real work, when they will be happy to take whatever they can get, they won’t demand a ‘living wage’ then, maybe their ‘dignity’ will be need to be redefined.

    Just take yourselves back say 20 years, look round the world as it was then, and look at it now. We have fallen further and further down lists, other countries have had courage, national pride and determination to modernise. Then look at us here.

    There are few a brave forward thinking souls battling away against the odds, but as for the rest, their negativity here makes me tired.

    Apart from that I’m a happy smiley little soul really and enjoy life.

  25. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The common consensus, is that we need to streamline government to provide a model that will actually do what it is supposed to do, without the excess baggage (although there will always be those of a different view, who, for whatever obscure reason, don’t seem to want an efficient system, and are quite happy to have their taxes wasted).

    But rather than get this done early in this government’s term of office, the waste might be trimmed at a more sensitive time, nearer to the 2015 General Election, if it happens at all. That would seem to be an awful attempt at political expediency either way.

    Similarly, the gay marriage issue is coming back to the Commons next week, and promises to cause much division and disquiet. As I understand it, gay marriage wasn’t even a Tory manifesto commitment, so why do these politicians deliberately create a problem, when one didn’t exist in the first place?

    In the case of the former, is it a question of the Cameron-led government deliberately giving in to the liberal left who have waste and bureaucracy in their DNA, and in the case of the latter, is the Cameron-led government deliberately trying to destroy the traditional Tory right by showing them to be ‘intolerant and backward’?

    If this is Mr Cameron’s idea of ‘modernising’ the Tory party, I wonder how many people reject it?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  26. Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    There is US research that you get more ‘bang per buck’ for upgrades & maintenance than new-build.

  27. Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The government imposed a pay freeze on public sector pay for a couple of years, yet public sector pay continues to rise faster than private sector pay. In the most recent quarter total pay including bonuses in the private sector has slowed to zero without an official freeze. Public sector pay rose by 1.4% with a freeze. The rate of reduction in staff numbers in the public sector has also slowed recently. The government needs to revisit the size and cost of its overhead

    To blooming right John, once again you are one of the few Conservatives who seem to get it, even if the detail can get clouded by party or political dogma at times.

    This is a classic example of how the government is content to take the easy options, rather than be like Thatcher and tackle the real issues, the real problems, they prefer to blame the welfare budget, scroungers and so called shirkers etc… Thatcher would have targeted the pay of civil servants, taken on the unions, the civil service down sized both a bloated civil service and government – and did – not the poor/sick or those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own!

    Many ministerial positions and departments these days seem to exist only to give employment to the ever expanding civil service or for solely party political reasons. For example why can’t the FCO deal with the over seas aid budget rather than have a separate DfID (that seems to be more a function of pure party politics than a function of state), after all the FCO knows far more about such countries than any other department, talk about two people doing the job of one, except in this case there are whole duplicate departments doing the work of one…

    Why is there a Ministry for Justice, yet the Home Office also/or manages crime, policing, Law and Justice (prisons), surely “Justice” could be a rolled (back) into one Ministry. The formation of the Ministry for Justice and the earlier Department for Constitutional Affairs from which it grew seems to have been due to nothing but party politics by Blair’s government.

    This sort of waste is rife and wide spread across government but nothing is being done about it, it is the very face of the Big State that so many complain, I doubt much if any of it would fall foul of any LD veto, it’s just that no one seems to want to take on the unions and civil service, not to mention that for the Tories it is politically opportunist to attack “welfare” because it plays out well in the right wing tabloid press.

  28. Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I was involved, as an engineer, with a large private storage company in the pitch for the Scotish part of the now failed NHS medicalk records computerisation. The sales team stood at the front of the meeting, before the customer(the NHS) arived and told us not to say anything to them about the fact that their plan was unworksable. The flaw, that finally killed the project, was that each surgery would use its own programs and the central data would be linked by yet unwritten glue software. Instead of adopting one structure they would use hundreds. We all (worried? ed) it wouldn’t work but we were not allowed to say anything as the bid for the hardware was worth millions. Nobody spoke and we won the contract and ten years later it was scrapped. (Keen-ede)sales teams earning commision selling to fools from the government. This was the Scotish, first part, of the NHS medical records computerisation. The whole thing earnt us loads of money and cost the country dear, for nothing.

    HS2 is a similar idea, say it is build in the next 20 years. It will be so out of date to be worthless. At least we should use Magnetics. Will anybody listen, I doubt it. Just drive on, encoraged by the wolves providing the hardware, with no thought or analasis of the sense of the project.

    • Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      @Pleb: So what did you do “Pleb”, tell the truth (be the whistle-blower) or sit there dreaming of your pay-slip?

      • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        Why the simplistic and snide remark Jerry? I thought Pleb’s comment was worth reading and the point should be taken on board. The fact is, whistle-blowers don’t just risk their immediate career by speaking out, they can risk their future. Don’t just snipe, have the guts to tell us what you would have done in the same situation!

        • Posted May 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          Tad Davison: “Why the simplistic and snide remark Jerry? [..//..] The fact is, whistle-blowers don’t just risk their immediate career by speaking out, they can risk their future.

          Because complaining so fearlessly after the event is not being fearless at all, yes indeed whistle-blowers do put their salaries and careers at risk [1], silently complaining whilst cashing the cheque. Oh and yes, I would have been a whistle-blower or at least resigned, had I not, I would not then complain about a problem I was fully a part of…!

          But hay-ho, it seems as though being a part of the gravy-train is only wrong so long as other people are on it and not you.

          [1] and that is why they need legal protection from such victimisation and/or ‘blacklisting’

  29. Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    With regard to HS2, the fundamental question is, “what is the North for?”. Before the industrial revolution, much of the North was sparsely populated commensurate with the productive capacity of its agricultural land. With the industrial revolution and the mechanisation of agriculture, large numbers of agricultural workers migrated North to work in the new burgeoning industries of coal, iron and textiles. A large middle class, educated in grammar schools and techs provided the intellectual muscle driving the new technological industries. These industries have largely gone, but have not been replaced with any others with comparative employment prospects or possibilities for added value creation. It is a pity that the SE has already been overfilled from abroad, by malignant design, since the obvious solution otherwise would have been to encourage many Northerners to migrate back from whence their ancestors came. So the question remains, “If HS2 is built, what new possibilities for trade and industry will it open up which did not exist when the journey time by passenger train had been up to an hour longer?”.

  30. Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The BBC move to Salford doesn’t seem to have saved any money.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Roy, I suspect that it will have cost money, but saving money wasn’t the (original) rational for why it was done, it was pure North/South politics by the last Labour Government.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      – it could hardly be expected to do so, despite the opportunities for so doing, given that the move was administered by a wholly unaccountable “Leviathan wallowing in a jacuzzi of public cash”.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        @boffin: Another rant at the BBC from someone who doesn’t actually understand how TV is funded in the UK, it is the commercial TV companies who are (and always have been) “wallowing in a jacuzzi of public cash”, back in the 1960/70s the ITV network wasn’t referred to as “A licence to print money” by the companies own directors/shareholders for nothing you know – and the public could not escape funding them, even those without a TV.

        Whilst the subscription TV companies/channels have stolen some of the water from the jacuzzi, especially the way they can get people pay to watch adverts (!), the older commercail sector is still capable of wallowing – always assuming they commission the correct programmes of course, but in dumbed-down, tabloid, Britain that is easier than ever… 🙁

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Maybe, maybe not yet but it will be in the long run I’m sure and it is fabulous for Salford giving a big boost to the region.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        @a-tracy: I doubt they even notice, people forget that the locality has been a centre of TV excellence since the 1960s, what with “Live from the North” Granada Television and their longest running TV soap and all that.

        As for a boost to the region, how is importing hundreds of staff or services [1] giving a boost, yes a few might benefit 9estate agents, shops and the like, but for most the only boost they might feel in in the value of their homes but equally others will get priced out. A better boost would have been some other industry, one not so specialised.

        [1] whilst the BBC might have moved to locations around the country, many of its suppliers are still located in and around the UK’s broadcast, media and film industry hub – London.

        • Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          It’s brought infrastructure in, it’s changed and improved roads, created higher skilled work for local people and local graduates so they don’t have to all funnel their way down to London. Hopefully it will have more agglomeration and as you said stop the London centric nature of just about everything in this Country! There are plenty of people that make money out of the Northern regions and hold concerts including classical musicians, football matches, rugby, instead of seeing the usual B listers served up from London all the time.

          It takes time to change and we can’t continue to only have one successful hub in the UK. The changes I expect in the future are more local purchasing, more local hires, more local talent interviewed, more Northern biased good news stories, ask again in 20 years time if it made a difference and hopefully if there’s someone like me in charge up here it will but if we’ve got a disgruntled Head who would rather be back in London perhaps you’ll be right which would be a travesty.

          When you say ‘some other industry’ what other industry do you suggest we’re worthy of?

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

            @a-tracy: Thanks for proving this move was more about political and regional jealousy than any sound industry reasoning…

          • Posted May 21, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            This is more about supply and demand if you only ever create a demand in one area and supply its needs from everywhere else in the Country then you will never see any expansion in the rest of the UK.

            Our economy needs to move forward to benefit the whole of the population, its views like yours that has created the desire within the SNP to leave the UK, you cannot ignore everything else outside the M25.

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m right with you Roy! We could do with the BBC giving value for money, and a bit of impartiality won’t go amiss. I e-mailed the BBC earlier to complain about the level of bias in a news story, but those complains never see the light of day.

      Another example of appalling waste, yesterday’s issue of the Cambridge News and Crier carried a story where the ‘ A council has been criticised for ‘rewarding’ arson and yobbish behaviour in Cambridge with seaside holidays, parties and boat trips.

      Cambridge City Council Community Safety Partnership has agreed to spend £5,000 on treats for youngsters to tackle anti-social behaviour.’

      Cambridge City council is run by Labour and the Lib Dems. You get what you vote for folks – including an absolute waste of our money!

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        @Tad Davison: Glad you complained, but did you actually ask for a reply, if not you will not get one! But that doesn’t mean that your complaint has not be passed-on and taken up with the people concerned.

        If you have had a reply and the outcome is not to your satisfaction you can respond within a given period (you need to quote any given reference given to your complaint), if the first stage complaints procedure doesn’t reach settlement then you are able to (as I’ve said before) take the complain to the BBC Trust – those findings are published on the Trusts website.

        Oh and before someone asks, I have no connection with BBC complaints procedure what so ever, other than someone who has used it themselves and in a couple of cases have actually had either editorial policy or operating policy amended. In neither case did I have to resort to complaining to the BBC Trust either…

        • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          Been there, done that Jerry. I don’t say in print that a complaint hasn’t seen the light of day, unless it hasn’t! When I have asked the BBC about previous complaints, they have no record of them. To be properly in tune with the public’s views, they must take them on board.

          Tad

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            @Tad Davison: Funny how it seems to work for everyone else though…

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I do not think saving money is ever very high on the BBC agenda it is not their money after all.

      • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic: Same applies to BSkyB, it’s their subscribers money…

        • Posted May 19, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “Same applies to BSkyB, it’s their subscribers money…”

          Subscribers = voluntary contributors.

          TV licence = extorted under threat of imprisonment.

          It no longer surprised me that you are incapable of recognizing the distinction.

          According to the Daily Mail, 3000 people per week are prosecuted for non payment of the TV licence.

          Nobody is prosecuted for non payment of their Sky subscription.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

            APL: Please cite the law that makes one watch TV, there is none, thus TVL fee = voluntary contributors.

            Not having a TVL doesn’t make it illegal to own and use a TV, just the broadcast receiver part, thus one can still watch commercail DVDs or use it in conjunction with a games/computer console.

            Oh the other hand BSkyB, via their subscription channels, broadcast adverts, thus Sky = non voluntary contributors (in the shape of people being forced to pay for these adverts via the shop tills). Had subscription channels been banned from broadcasting such adverts then you would have been correct but that is not the case.

            As for non payment of the TVL, your point being what, how many people are prosecuted per week for not having VED, breaking the Law is not the issue as no one is being forced to watch TV just as no one is forced to drive a car on the public roads.

            Sorry APL but all you ever seem to do is show up your total lack of understanding about how the broadcast media works when ever you try and rant against the voluntary TVL fee and by extension the BBC.

          • Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Please cite the law that makes one watch TV, there is none, thus TVL fee = voluntary contributors.”

            The law applies to apparatus that can receive a broadcast signal. If you buy a TV and intend to watch only ITV, or, for example Polish satellite channels you are still obliged to pay the BBC licence fee = Non voluntary.

            Good luck trying to prove before the magistrates that while your TV set can pick up BBC channels, you never watch them.

            You will shortly be making the case that running the central heating during winter is voluntary and that paying VAT on your energy bills is a voluntary act.

            Jerry: ” non voluntary contributors (in the shape of people being forced to pay for these adverts via the shop tills). ”

            This has already been addressed, the reptition is becoming tedious. But one more time for the hard of understanding.

            Don’t like that a product contributes to SKY profits, don’t buy that product, buy a product from an alternative manufacturer. That is the free market in action.

            There is too, a case that advertising increases sales and leads to falling prices. If a product gets wider coverage and increased market share as a result of SKY advertising – that is a benefit to all consumers, including those who don’t subscribe to SKY but may now buy the produce cheaper in the shops.

            Jerry: “breaking the Law is not the issue as no one is being forced to watch TV”

            But they are being forced to pay for the BBC ( under threat of imprisonment ) even if they do not watch the BBC = NON VOLUNTARY.

            You are actually being very silly, if there is a legal sanction in the event you don’t do a thing, that thing is not voluntary.

            Nobody is forced to pay the SKY subscription, nor the advertising ‘overhead’ for products advertised nor will anyone from SKY come around to your house and have you arrested if you buy from a competitor.

            Take away the element of compulsion, introduce subscription for the BBC and my dispute about the BBC would evaporate too.

            I haven’t even touched on what a BAD idea it is to have a state funded broadcaster.

          • Posted May 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

            Jerry
            Given that 99% of homes have a TV and want to use it to watch TV programmes, the TVL is about as compulsory as it can get. Given that you have to have a TVL before you can start to watch SKY or ITV etc your very strange argument on adverts is a non starter.

            Thanks for telling us that there isn’t a law that makes it compulsory to watch TV, I never knew that.

            But as you keep telling us, you are an expert in all matters to do with the media, so we must not dare to argue with your superior knowledge.

          • Posted May 23, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            @APL & Edward2: Funny how people like you never complain about having to buy access to 500 odd other channels that you will never watch just so that you can watch the Footie or what ever, no it’s just wall to wall anti BBC with tall stories about bias.

            The only people being biased are BSkyB shareholders, most likely…

    • Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      The BBC move to Manchester was done for reasons of political correctness, not to save money.

      A report criticised the Beeb for being so overwhelmingy based in London and the South East and that’s what drove the decision.

      Nobody seemed to think of the problems that this would cause such as failing to attract guests to appear on the flagship breakfast TV show forcing them to interview them by live link from —-London !

      Another gravy train with hundreds of millions paid out in redundancies, relocation packages and transport.

      It’s a complete joke ! Just like HS2………….

      • Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Perhaps the Northern Head of the BBC needs to really think about Northern talent to interview. Or are you saying that outside of London there is no-one worthy of putting on the tv that is willing to travel. Are we really so bereft up here or is it lazy tv production?

        I don’t watch morning tv, what guests were interviewed by video link last week to give me an idea of the talent you’re talking about?

        • Posted May 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          @a-tracy: The place for “regional” content is on the regional magazine shows surely, the editorial considerations for the Breakfast Time programme are national and will thus reflect that?

      • Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        Perhaps if travel is the problem this is another supportive reason for better, faster rail links to the centre of our Country.

  31. Posted May 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I think too few people in this country realise the current ever rising public sector costs and deficit are unsustainable. I suspect the crunch point will be 2015-17, unless stagflation is replaced by substantial growth. So far the private sector and their employees have taken the brunt with the current UK recession / depression since 2008. Many cuts in Government departments have been due to making savings to pay the interest on the UKs ever increasing debt burden. The interest was £31bn in 2008-09 and is estimated to be £47bn in 2013-14 which is a £16bn increase or half the cost of the defense budget! This is about 6.5% of Government spending or 7.7% of Government tax and other receipts.

    0% private sector wage growth is actually a slight annual decrease:

    March 2013 average weekly earnings £463 per week
    March 2012 average weekly earnings £466 per week
    (Source: Shaun Richards Mindful money 16-05-2013 blog)

    There might be a slight distortion from deferred bonuses where the 50% tax rate dropped to 45% in this tax year, but the real world UK trend in stagflation with falling real wages is well established, with about an 8% drop since 2008.

    Part of this is due to QE increasing inflation (a temporary blip according to the BOE) which has been running well above the 2% target since December 2009! The other BOE failure has been engineering a fall in Sterling’s value which was meant to help rebalance the economy and boost exports. Lets hope the next head of the BOE does rather better than Lord King’s record since 2002.

    The number one priority and what the Government need to work much harder on is getting the UK public finances onto a sustainable footing. The lack of UK growth has hit the Government’s fiscal targets, but there has been too much discretionary spending like overseas aid and energy policy with more things like HS2 and electric car charging points in the pipeline. They are already beginning to lose the confidence of the markets, hence the loss of the AAA rating, if this accelerates so gilt interest rates go above 6-7%, they will have to print money, directly or indirectly through QE to cover the deficit will lead to much higher inflation and many other ugly economic outcomes. The Chancellor needs to make real progress on this by next autumn’s budget statement or the pressure will really start to increase.

    This is only part of the problem where since 2000 Government spending has gone up from £250bn to £722bn without an almost three times increase in GDP. This has lead to much higher taxes and Government spending as a percentage of GDP, where it is currently 49%, just 1% short of being officially a socialist state! The increase of the tax burden over this time has led to a massive squeeze on the private sector, so it is no surprise that in this economically difficult time it is struggling to produce any economic growth. So the other aim must be to cut public sector costs and taxes to rebalance the economy and boost growth.

    Ultimately, it is only economic growth that is going to get the UK out of the current situation and to start boosting incomes and standards of living. There is no other way.

  32. Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    The phrase “lost control” resounds every time Cameron opens his mouth. Mrs. Thatcher managed to slash public spending in about 4 years and this country was starting to see “green shoots”. Why is this little Etonian so incapable of making any difference whatsoever even with all his fellow school chums with their heads in the trough unable to bring this country out of recession? Is bumping along the bottom the best they can do?

  33. Posted May 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The government needs to revisit the size and cost of its overhead, and to use natural wastage more extensively to cut out less needed posts, to raise productivity and cut costs.

    At a time when there are 2.52 million people unemployment and the Government is calling the unemployed “scroungers” is reducing the number of jobs actually in the best interests of society? If the government is cutting state jobs then they shouldn’t be condemning people for being unemployed.

    • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      uanime5, when are you going to realise that every public sector job that serves no purpose is a drain on resources that could be redeployed elsewhere to create wealth.

      I will give you a simple example :

      Anyone who has a few inexpensive classic cars and motorbikes has to constantly look over their shoulder to make sure they are all taxed, MOTed and insured, or, critically, SORNed when they are not in use.

      There is a whole government department no doubt employing hundreds if not thousands of people issuing reprimand letters and collecting substantial fines from innocent owners who simply overlooked sending in a piece of paper to register their vehicle as off the road.

      The original purpose of the SORN system is defunct as with so many number plate recognition cameras around, anyone using a vehicle uninsured or without an MOT and tax can easily be identified and prosecuted as they should be.

      Yet the SORN regulations mean that an entirely law-abiding person like me can be fined for keeping my own vehicle locked in my own garage for the simple oversight of forgetting to send in a piece of paper.

      By anyone’s calculations the jobs of all the staff involved in this paper chase have to be defined as non-jobs. The millions of pounds stolen from innocent members of the public in fines for this non-offence would be far better in their owners wallets for them to spend on goods and services whose providers would then employ more people in real jobs that generate wealth for the country.

      If the staff involved in this department were all made redundant tomorrow they would not be missed and a substantial drain on the taxpayer would be eliminated.

      If those same people subsequently obtained employment in the private sector they would be creating wealth, not reducing it.

      This is but one example of how the state could and should be rolled back but nobody in Government is tackling this kind of waste and bureaucracy.

      Only yesterday I received a £100 fine for failing to submit a tax return last year for a new business that had not then commenced trading. After I received a tax return, I telephoned HMRC on the 11th January 2013 at 13:20. I spoke to someone called Karen Cumber and advised her of the situation. I was assured that a note would be made and no return would be required. Obviously it had not.

      Yesterday I was told I could not be put through to her to discuss it nor could my case be dealt with by telephone because, despite having completed a form containing all the information about the business, this had not been recorded and they had insufficient info to be able to verify that I was a person they could discuss it with ! I would have to write in.

      When I refused to do so, the case was reclassified as a complaint and would be dealt with by the department.

      Two further examples of waste and inefficiency.

    • Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Here we go again, more left-wing garbage!

      Please, for the sake of all of us who bother to read your posts, think in these terms – it is not about consigning people to the dole, it’s about rebalancing the economy from the tax-absorbing state sector, to the revenue-earning pubic sector.

      The transference of jobs from the bloated public sector to the private sector, not deliberately making people unemployed, or giving them a life on incapacity benefit as happened under the last Labour government.

      You surely must know there are more people now in work in the UK than ever before. And had the last Labour government trained our own young people to the standards expected of industry, instead of letting education slip down the league table, we wouldn’t have to import those skills from abroad.

      So those who are presently unemployed would now have jobs, had it not been for Labour. Little wonder they were so quick to open our doors to everybody, rather than upset the ‘educators’ by getting them to up their game, and give our own people a proper education and a real chance!

      This intransigence and complete reluctance by some, to acknowledge reality is very worrying. How does any political party ever hope to change the mind-set of a brick wall?

      • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        *private

  34. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but you can’t leave it until 2015. We need more deficit reduction now, and it looks like selling state assets will play its part. Word on the the street is the Government’s share in Lloyds can be sold within 6 months because the share value is coming back up to what Gordon Brown paid. It’s all smoke and mirrors because we have had 4 to 5 years of inflation since GB bought those shares. Still, a sale is right. Much as I would like the Government’s majority share in RBS to be sold, there is the dreadful sceptre of the LIBOR fiddling related suits coming through the US courts, so what price will the shares command.

    We have only to look at what is happening to BP. BP is having to fork out for fictitious damages, the objective presumably being that some Yankee company can buy out BP on the cheap. We really need to raise a hue and cry over what American litigation is doing to our businesses in the US. Has Haliburton been forced to pay anything for the oil spillages, or will (the company’s US ed) connection be enough to stave that off?

    • Posted May 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I remember saying at the time of the disaster that Obama wanted to see BP destroyed, given his anti-British zeal. I was somewhat ridiculed but I’m still sure that is what he wants to see achieved. He may not be directing events in that direction on a daily basis but I’m in no doubt he has given a ‘nod and a wink’ to those who are.

      The US should not be seen as a friendly state under Obama’s leadership. I long for a leader who will stand firmly against Americans threats and intimidation.

    • Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Fictitious damages? Like what? Even prostitutes saw a drop in earnings! The knock on effect was vast. An apologist stance is not real and there is a lot of circumstantial evidence and the buying and selling of stock that this disaster was known about before it happened.

  35. Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    As to HS2, it is not just a question of the business case for this project in isolation but also, given that there is £32B available, is this project the most beneficial way of spending it.

    And as to starting it other than at London, I agree there is a good case for starting it in the North. But if we are considering long term national strategy, why not start it at a new hub airport south of Glasgow and aim for the tunnel!!!!?

  36. Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I have never commented on the NHS and costs etc. I must say that with all the money going into it there should be a wonderful experience awaiting any of us “going sick”. A seamless and paper free medical environment where your case notes are read and understood by all having care for you. The resulting information being disseminated to all those having the hands on care you have paid for and deserve. Basically its a shambles, my wife and I are now getting on a bit and have experienced and are experiencing the NHS in all its colours. Patchy is the best description, my local GP service has no idea from day to day what our respective consultants are up to. Their computer systems do not connect so letters and e-mails have to flow. Only generated by visits and phone calls and pressure and pleading by yours truly. A truly opaque system where sloth and inefficiency can flourish. The most obviously overweight and unfit people I have seen are working in the NHS, many treat you as a necessary evil to make their days difficult. I admire immensely the A&E departments and to one who has had to use it quite a few times they are indispensable under the current system. No one trusts phone calls to unavailable doctors at night and the only resort is in the car and off to A&E and take your chances.

  37. Posted May 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Reading the comments on this topic and previous ones over the last few months it has become increasingly obvious that there is a total mismatch between what voters want to see and government programme.

    In times of financial difficulty ministers should be asking two questions of their civil servants :

    1. Irrespective of Treasury demands, I want a series of options and the resulting consequencies of cutting expenditure and headcount in the department by 5%,10%,15%, 20% and so on up to 50%.

    2. Before any project is put into our programme, is it necessary, will it reduce public expenditure and and will it promote growth.

    The coalition as a whole should be asking itself ‘s the same questions.
    They could start, say, by making savings by cutting the number or MPs.

    Now let me see, isn’t there a plan on the shelf to do that already ?

    How much will it save and why are we not implementing it ?

    What a pity we can’t surcharge Deputy Prime Ministers like we can Councillors, isn’t it ?

  • 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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