FreeTrade Agreements cut prices

What a bizarre idea that if we gave a Free Trade agreement with the USA drug prices will go up. The whole point of an FTA is it takes tariffs and barriers off to make things cheaper. If it didn’t why would you sign it? The government has made clear it will not put the NHS at risk from an FTA.

Posted in Uncategorized | 110 Responses

MP service to the Wokingham constituency

Along with all other MPs my job as an MP ends with the dissolution of Parliament just after midnight on 5th November. All outstanding cases will continue to be handled, and I will work on them as needed  in my new role after that date as Conservative candidate.

Anyone wanting help can of course contact me and I will do what I can in my new role. I can be contacted through the Conservative office in Wokingham. Email john.redwood@wokinghamconservatives.org.uk.

Posted in Uncategorized, Wokingham and West Berkshire Issues | 3 Responses

Constitutional reform?

The UK has a written constitution. It is recorded in a range of documents including various Acts of Parliament, the Standing Orders of Parliament and the law. It is more flexible than countries that have a single written constitutional document that usually is difficult to amend or change. The supremacy of Parliament is such that sometimes a simple alteration of the Standing Orders of the Commons can effect changes that would otherwise take a long time.

The Parliament which dissolves at midnight has discovered imperfections in our current constitution, and has flexed it in ways that many think unreasonable. The next Parliament, assuming it has a majority government, would be wise to look at how the constitution could be improved in the light of the tribulations of the outgoing one.

The first recommendation I have is the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. This has given us 3 elections in four years when there is meant to be a five year gap, but it has also held a minority government hostage and got in the way of allowing a PM defeated in the Commons taking his case to the country. The previous system gave scope for the government to call for an early election if need arose. If a PM tried to do this for party advantage with no other good reason there was always the danger of a public backlash against a needless election.

The second is to legislate to place some limits on the capacity of the Supreme Court to intervene in Parliamentary matters. The advice a PM gives to the Queen, and the decision to prorogue should be matters for Parliament, not for the law courts. It makes little sense for Parliament as the ultimate embodiment of the people’s sovereignty to need to ask the courts permission over when it sits or how it transacts its business. That was the view of the English senior judges when the case came before them.

The third is to clarify in Standing Orders that major legislation requires a Money resolution and Queens consent where government prerogative is involved ( as with international negotiations and Treaties). Government needs to ensure legislation fits with its budget and foreign policy. Opposition is there to oppose and amend, not to run an alternative government.

Posted in Uncategorized | 89 Responses

Speaker election

As this Parliament struggles its way to a premature close making a further mockery of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act it has decided on one last decision to carry its waning power into the next Parliament. It has decided to persevere with the election of a new Speaker on Monday. Whilst the new Parliament could choose a different Speaker on its first day, this would be unlikely.

The election campaigns of the candidates have not been front page news. On many issues the candidates agree. They all want the role to be less flamboyant, more referee and less player. They all say they wish to raise standards of behaviour and to show respect for MPs and the institution.

To me the crucial question is how will they wish to redefine the balance in Parliament between allowing strong and telling criticism and investigation of government whilst at the same time allowing a government to govern,

Some reforms of recent years are good and should be kept. More frequent Urgent Questions and topical debates keep Parliament relevant and make governments answer when things are worrying or going wrong. Too many Urgent Questions that are not urgent, have been asked before or are not of wider interest can absorb too much time for no great purpose.

Question Times have been extended informally. The new Speaker should review with interested parties how long Questions should normally last and make arrangements accordingly. Making the PM or Ministers stay long after the appointed time is discourteous to people with busy diaries.

Opening up the House for better public access, and allowing use of Speakers House for charities and other civic institutions has been welcome. The Parliament buildings belong to us all and should serve the wider community.

The more recent constitutional experimentation should stop. Legislation should  be proposed by a government, with a Money resolution to show it fits into the budget and Queens consent where needed to show it is compatible with the way the government is using prerogative powers. Parliament rightly has plenty of powers to delay or make difficult the passage of an unwelcome government Bill. It should not create powers to speed through legislation the government opposes on a one day only temporary alliance of MPs against the government.

The next Speaker also needs to come to a view with the Commons on what remedial and improvement works need doing over the next decade to the fabric of the buildings.

Posted in Uncategorized | 120 Responses

Taxing the rich

I will let you into a well kept secret. Each time Conservatives have cut the top rates of Income Tax or taxes on wealth the rich have paid more tax.

When Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson in budgets cut the top rate of Income Tax from 83% to 40% there were howls of protest from Labour about a loss of revenue and the moral outrage. Instead the better off paid more tax in cash terms. They paid more tax in real terms after allowing for inflation. They paid a bigger percentage of total Income Tax.

How? More rich people came here or stayed here. More kept Income and wealth here to tax. More worked harder to earn more, and more took risks with their money to set up businesses and create more jobs which in turn produced bigger dividends. It was a win win for all.

The same thing happened when George Osborne cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%. Lib Dems in the Coalition blocked more tax raising rate cuts. With labour they want taxes to penalise success and deter risk taking.

Corbyn’s UK were he to become PM would be a hostile place for business builders, risk takers and hard workers with good earnings. Jealousy is not a good emotion at the best of times. It is a dreadful basis for an economic policy. We need to get tax rates down.Not only will more people be more successful but there will also be more tax revenue for schools and hospitals. Labour’s launch was unusual with its lists of people and roles they want to bash.

Posted in Uncategorized | 169 Responses

The choice in the election

The polls and betting suggest the choice is between a Conservative led majority government or a Corbyn Labour led minority government. There is a large divide between what Labour is offering and what the Conservatives propose.

Labour’s approach is  based on  large increases in taxes and borrowing, to finance a large expansion of the state. In particular they want to nationalise large swathes of the utility sector with discounted  compensation to existing owners, and wish to take 10% stakes in quoted companies.

The Conservative approach is likely to be based on the controlled increases in public spending on heath, education and the police they have announced, with some tax cuts to come. I would like to see the 1% of GDP stimulus from this combination that I have been arguing for.

We know from past experience at home and present experience abroad that the Labour high tax high spend high borrowing strategy will miscarry. Taxing the successful, hard working and prudent more will send some of them abroad and others will be less motivated to grow their businesses and create more jobs. Excessive borrowing by the state can crowd out credit for business and for individuals to buy assets for themselves. The Labour leadership have admired some latin American countries like Venezuela in the past for their generous expansion of welfare and state spending, only to see the misery economic collapse creates. Well intentioned socialism often ends up creating shortages in the shops,  a balance of payments and overseas borrowing crisis, and more poverty as businesses pull out and jobs are destroyed.

Conservative and Coalition economic policy since 2010 has stabilised a badly damaged economy and has created conditions for many more jobs including full time and better paid jobs to  be created. Inflation has stayed under good control, productivity has been disappointing and real wage growth like much of the rest of the advanced world weak. Banks are now stronger and debts under better control.

The right things to do  now are to pursue policies that can help lift productivity and therefore real wages at a faster pace, to ease conditions sensibly without alarming international investors.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Foreign leaders and elections

It is usually best if Presidents and Prime Ministers stay out of each other’s  elections . In free societies media interviewers can ask foreign leaders to make comments and they do so if they wish.

There are two big differences between President Obama’s intervention in our referendum and President Trump’s remarks yesterday. President Obama was clearly encouraged to intervene by the UK government who were committed to Remain. They  used the intervention to try to persuade voters, drawing attention to it as part of their case in the referendum. The UK government did not ask President Trump to make comments yesterday and is not planning to use his comments in their election campaign.

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The retreat from globalisation

Tariffs and other barriers are going up between the USA and China, the USA and the EU, around Iran, between Japan and South Korea and between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. There is a new economic nationalism abroad.

It is also pronounced in some businesses and industries. The vehicle industry in particular is retreating to home factories under the weight of falling demand for diesel and petrol cars.

The Japanese car makers are moving more production from the EU to Japan, partly owing to a rare move to zero tariffs in their new Agreement with the EU. Ford is pulling out of European factories. If the Fiat/Chrysler/Peugeot merger goes ahead they may wish to concentrate EU production in the two home bases of Italy and France.

Globalisation is not always the right answer. Complex supply chains come about often because companies find cheaper components and raw materials from afar which they reckon they can weld into their production to cut costs. Sometimes this turns out to be a false economy. Long distance travel for components both increases travel costs and in some cases adds an additional risk of delay to supply. Too many competing suppliers may not breed good long term relationships between assembler and component maker.

There is a rival school of thought to globalisation which says working closely with a limited number of suppliers that are nearer to the main factory may produce better results. Today suppliers often have to operate full transparency with large corporate buyers, who will expect to know their costs, margin and investment rate. For certain finished products to qualify as coming from a given country for Free Trade Agreement purposes there is often a minimum total value requirement which affects how many components can be foreign sourced.

President Trump’s America first policy is designed to onshore jobs that have gone abroad. It is finding that in the current climate of industrial recession worldwide, with a particular problem in the vehicle industry, it is difficult to increase manufacturing jobs by these means. As the UK comes out of the EU we need to rebuild UK capacity to make more components for industry at home and produce more of our own food.

One of the reasons we need to get on with our exit from the EU is the opportunity it will give us to have our own trade policy, to lower our average tariff and to do a better job at promoting home produced food and goods . It has been damaging to be caught in the US/EU crossfire in the recent tariff disputes.

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Prosperity not austerity

Hong Kong is in recession. Germany probably is in recession. Italy was in recession last year and still performing weakly.  The US and Chinese economies have slowed. It is time for a UK stimulus to boost our economy.

The government is right to increase spending on schools and hospitals. It also needs to provide some tax cuts for all to increase take home pay, make it cheaper to buy a home and a car and take VAT off items like female hygiene products, home insulation, and other ways of improving home fuel efficiency.

The UK economy has been slowed by the world background and by its own tight monetary and fiscal policies. It’s time to relax sensibly. The aim should be prosperity for the many, with more and better paid jobs.

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This site in the Election

All MPs lose their jobs when Parliament dissolves. This is not an official MP website so it makes no great difference to this site. I will continue with the blogs and will declare the costs of the site as an election expense.

I have amended my biography. All past references to my role as MP will stay in the archived materials but are of course references to my last service and not to my current position.I am the Prospective Conservative candidate for Wokingham and will write some blogs about the election. I will continue to provide general commentary about other issues where appropriate.

I will not be publishing contributor exhortations to vote for other parties or overtly partisan anti Conservative material during the election period. There will be plenty of that elsewhere. Contributors should not name candidates or particular seats in pieces either to promote or denigrate. National campaigns, policies and arguments are of wider interest.

All articles will be written and published by John Redwood of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

The Conservative election agent is David Edmonds of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

Promoted by David Edmonds on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

    Promoted by David Edmonds on behalf of John Redwood both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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