This week we are awaiting some important figures to tell us whether the UK economy went forward in the first three months of this year or not. We already know that prices went up more than the Bank forecast, that wage increases are very low and household budgets are still being squeezed.
I have been stressing to government Ministers that more needs to be done to ease the pressure on family bills, and more needs to be done to move the economy forwards more rapidly. I welcome the measures the government has taken to keep Council Tax down for the last two years, and welcome the increase in Income Tax Thresholds. Every little helps. Our local Council has to work hard to keep its bills down when it receives much less grant than many other Councils for services other than schools.
This week the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury has come out with an important paper striving to get more value for every pound spent by national government. He rightly thinks a lot more can and should be done to ensure public money is spent wisely, and confined to those things which only the public sector can do and where there is general public enthusiasm for the public service. I aim to keep the costs of my Parliamentary office well below the level of the average MP, to show that you can run parts of the public sector for less and still deliver a good service. I am hoping it was around half the average last year.
I do not think this year is a good time to be discussing setting up a new House of Lords, with salaried Senators backed by expensive offices putting a new charge on the taxpayer. I have been urging Ministers to delay any such idea. I have also had numerous emails against any change to the marriage laws. I recommend that all who feel strongly about it should respond to the government’s consultation. Again, I am not keen to see such contentious legislation coming forward as a priority when we need to concentrate government energy on securing a good economic recovery.
I am getting used to my blue bag for the refuse. It turned out to be bigger and tougher than some feared, and seems to do the job just fine. It is good to have weekly recycling collections, so you can keep more materials for reuse without space and bin problems.