How should the public sector present its case for money


            Uk politics is dominated by the debate about how much money each public service needs and deserves.  Labour specialise in defending each and every public service, regarding any attempt to do more for less or to reduce certain types of public service as damaging and against the public interest. The public sector itself spends a lot of time and some of the taxpayers money on presenting its case for more cash.

           Of course those managing public services should be expected  to stand up for their own service. They need to tell the politicians making the financial decisions what the consequences are likely to be for any given level of financial support. The issues arise as to how much they should spend on promoting their views on financial resources, whether they should do all this in public as well as in private, and how can those making financial judgements be sure they are getting a fair and balanced understanding of what the money will buy?

         In recent years some public sector managers and public sector suppliers have worked with lobbyists, PR and advertising people to get across their need for cash. They often hire a dining room in the Commons to present their general case to groups of MPs over meals or at receptions. Various interests provide financial support and other back up to All party Parliamentary groups. In the health field most different types of illness have groups and campaigns to explain the importance of their treatment group, the need to use certain drugs and protocols and the like. How much of this is sensible? Should there be any limits on what the public sector pays to lobby the public sector? Is it better if the lobbying is done by a private sector supplier who hopes to get the contract or the extra business  if the case is accepted? 

           Should some or all of this argument be made in private to Ministers responsible and to MPs taking an interest, or should it be part of a public campaign? If it is public, does it make the relationship between public officials responsible for proposing budgets, and politicians having to settle the budgets, more difficult?

           The politicians have to be the taxpayers’ representatives as well as the service providers’ leader. They are the substitute for the many choices of individuals in the market weighing price, value, need  and performance. They require good impartial information from their managers about the options for service delivery. They need to find a way of driving quality improvement and cost reduction. They need to choose between the nice to have and the essential to buy, to end up with a balanced and affordable package for taxpayers and service users.


  1. lifelogic
    July 9, 2013

    As you say “The politicians have to be the taxpayers’ representatives as well as the service providers’ leader.” Ministers so often sound like PR staff just reading out the lines of their departments. We see it in the honours list too with perhaps 80% being from the state sector when 80% work in the private sector.

    Half of what the state does is pointless or worse actually very damaging. They are, furthermore, paid (with pensions) 50% more than the private sector. Sort these things out, pay less to the feckless, reduce taxes and the economy, deficit and growth are all solved.

    MPs are the only check on exploitation of the 80% private sector by the 20% state sector. They have clearly failed totally in this, indeed most do not even try. Look at the wasteful, bloated, biased BBC for a start.

    I never though I would agree with anything Peter Mandelson said, but I see that:- “Mandelson derails support for HS2 with stark warning super-fast train link will be ‘expensive mistake’.

    Meanwhile Michael Gove is obsessed with children learning to spell “accommodation” and similar, it would not make them any cleverer. Why not just spell it more sensibly? A single ‘right’ spelling is just as daft as a single ‘right’ accent or a single government prescribed curriculum.

    Then with the time saved you could teach them something useful. Such as why wind farms are PV economic lunacy, why HS trains usually make little sense, how the climate change religion caused such pointless damage to the economy and how people in the state sector get paid 50% more for doing far less of any use. Perhaps some understanding of compound interest and probability and why taking payday loans and buying lottery ticket is a bit dim?

    Meanwhile Theresa May basks in praise after the Abu Qatada deportation. You’d imagine the deportation of Abu Qatada was the greatest triumph of statesmanship since Churchill.

    She said all the right things but failed totally to say what the government would actually do about the legal system and the Human Rights Act to prevent a repeat.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 9, 2013

      Perhaps go on to teach the pupils how, the wasteful state sector, makes all of us about half as rich, maybe get them to do a spreadsheet to see how much tax that Income tax, NI, fuel and other duties, stamp duty, vat, IHT, parking taxes, council taxes and the rest take of us in a lifetime and what little of any use we get in return. I note today that parking taxes/fines are going up by up to 70% too. Perhaps get them to think about BBC bias perhaps and how pernicious it is.

      1. uanime5
        July 10, 2013

        Given that more than half the population doesn’t earn enough to get into the 40% tax rate and many won’t earn enough to pay income tax all your lesson plan will show the average child is how little in taxation they will pay.

      2. Bazman
        July 10, 2013

        It doesn’t make us all half rich. Many rely on the state and it’s infrastructure in particular business.This is the key word that you choose to ignore in your rants and how it is to be paid especially for those who cannot afford to pay. What should they do in this case? Ta cuts when you have a low paid or no job do not help and do not tell us that tax cuts would magically create jobs. Stop writing propaganda.

    2. Lifelogic
      July 9, 2013

      Yet another daft ECHR judgement today, is Cameron going to say or actually do anything, other than his usual crass “I am a bit annoyed” sort of thing, too busy partying with Andy Murray I suppose. Still at least it has stopped the BBC telling us about Nelson Mandela every ten minutes.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 9, 2013

        And my own MP has in effect said that she doesn’t care if any of her constituents get carted off to a foreign prison without the need for any prima facie evidence of guilt to be produced in a UK court, because she thinks that the EU Arrest Warrant is a jolly good thing.

        1. lifelogic
          July 11, 2013

          Who is that?

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    July 9, 2013

    The distinction between private and public is not as clear as many would suppose. We all use public services in some respect and the removal of public services and duties would leave all unable to carry on with normal lives.

    Private services often have a way of getting cheap labour and undermining ability and experience , in the guise that it is in the public interest and not the collective organisations financial pot.

    Many drug companies promote their existing and new products in the community. They bring evidence of research and competing companies bring counter research and their own research. In practise, we practitioners have to make a separate case for every individual based on cost, efficacy , suitability , long term effects in relation to age , co morbidities , genetic predisposition and interactions of drugs. The guidance we get isn’t a prescription in itself , the protocols we use are not fixed if it would harm the individual. Every single life is as important as another. To speak in a fashion which does not address this individuality is a problem which politicians seem to have. In the NHS for example over the years individuality has been an important aspect of health care. We don’t not give tasks and piece work to staff. It has never been this way. An understanding is required for all aspects of health care. To get staff who are less expensive in the private sector there are many comments e.g. you don’t need to know this, stick to your role ( even though you may have the knowledge due to prior roles to understand you may be harming others) or only document what you do and not what you think. It is this putting down of staff to get cheap labour which is offensive , causes harm to the greatest organisation we have, and has an effect on patient care.

    1. DBC Reed
      July 9, 2013

      Margaret Brandreth’s comments are so right.
      The only thing to add is that privatisation which relies on the so-called efficiency of hiring trained staff for less money, or trying to get away with fewer of them, is not only dangerous but also reduces aggregate demand which has bottomed out in this country .We need the public sector (even, dare I say, it nationalised industries) to circulate money especially outside London where public sector national pay scales allied with lower housing costs would release a lot of money into local economies.

      Reply THat is exactly what the public sector is doing and has been doing for years. It did not stop a recession.

      1. alan jutson
        July 9, 2013

        Margaret / DBC Reed.

        Why is it that many Nurses and Doctors leave the NHS and work in Private Practice/Companies for more money, if private industry was dumbing down wages as you suggest.

        1. margaret brandreth-j
          July 9, 2013

          Many do not readily and voluntarily leave. They have no choice; agencies, p/t work , short term contracts, private take overs, deliberate undermining due to private organisations who want contracts. ad hoc shifts . Up until 1995 staff were respected and had f/t on going superannuated positions which encouraged good care and less stressful working conditions (hard work, but not having to watch your back every moment).
          They go for us at the least drop of a hat to break it down and get the money out of the NHS, the truth isn’t even important if more of the pro privates want the contracts. Then after deliberate turbulence has been created the NHS get the blame and not the silent but anarchic trouble makers.
          If then the private organisations then offer f/t work it has to be less stressful, so one would think.

        2. A different Simon
          July 10, 2013

          Alan ,

          There has got to be an even greater number of doctors (and part time nurses) who do both NHS and private work .

          Healthcare is maybe not a good example .

          If one forgets about “professionals” and considers clerical staff or maintenance staff for instance , the person who works for a private contractor is unlikely to receive a vocational pension so is typically 30%+ worse off than if they would be working for the state .

          What will happen is that society will end up subsidising the lower overall package with old age benefits . Not in all cases but in many cases the net saving is illusory .

          I’m not in favour of having pensions schemes which are only accessible to state workers .

          My contention is that the stockmarket is , and will remain , fundamentally unable to deliver adequate returns for pensions and that current returns would drop if more people were try to use it to do so . Would you agree with this ?

        3. BRIAN
          July 10, 2013

          Even more doctors are emigrating or taking early retirement than entering private sector in UK. NHS will collapse for this reason despite meddling of pseudo-medics like Brandreth

          1. margaret brandreth-j
            July 11, 2013

            This is a rude comment. I am certainly not a pseudo medic having qualified in medicine and prescribing . This reflex ,jumping, irrational reaction is what we are all fighting in the health service.

      2. Credible
        July 9, 2013

        Wasn’t it having to bail out the private sector banks that caused the recession?

        1. uanime5
          July 10, 2013

          No the recession was caused by the banks spending too much money on bad debt and they needed to be bailed out to prevent them collapsing 9which would have made the recession worse).

          1. Edward2
            July 12, 2013

            Im amazed Uni
            Experts have spent years first analysing then writing lengthy books on the complex causes of the global recession and you have reduced it to one simplistic paragraph.

    2. libertarian
      July 9, 2013

      This is total nonsense.

      There is nothing provided by the public sector that couldn’t be equally as well provided by the private sector.

      Clearly all of you banging on about lower wages have clearly never run a business.

      You also clearly dont understand basic economic flows. Nationalised and public sector do not create any wealthy they purely move it around.

      I truly despair at the lack of basic thinking skills. Money is NOT a zero sum game

      Who do you think buys the products or services and how do you think the sale price is arrived at? Does it not dawn on you that if it costs more ( in wages and taxes) to make something then it will cost more for the consumer to buy

      A monopoly be it public or private is never efficient. The banks were bailed out by idiot politicians and should never have been bailed out

      1. margaret brandreth-j
        July 12, 2013

        I have been a director of an Insurance brokers for medical and dental staff.
        The fact is the NHS is the biggest employer in the UK , therefore more staff are paid. If more staff are paid , then there is more money around to be spent . If there is more spending then GDP will increase.
        If you mean that the organisation doesn’t make a huge amount of money for itself and create capital then you are probably right , but it is a public service and growth appears as those employees spend.

  3. Narrow shoulders
    July 9, 2013

    An interesting piece and one which compliments an article last week in the Evening Standard. Anthony Hilton was lamenting the coalition’s missed opportunity at the start of its administration to redefine what government should and should not provide.

    To address your question about representations being made in public or private, all government should be transparent but necessarily away from prying eyes so I would advocate one to one minuted meetings with the minutes released shortly after implementation. One to one should ensure robust debate and full disclosure.

  4. Mike Wilson
    July 9, 2013

    ‘ …They need to choose between the nice to have and the essential to buy, to end up with a balanced and affordable package for taxpayers and service users. …’

    A simple list of the 5000 employees of Wokingham Borough Council – with names redacted – by department, with job title, 50 word job description, salary and pension benefits would be a start.

    The thing is, no politician actually wants to get rid of the ‘nice to have’ but – at the moment completely unaffordable – jobs or services. We do not NEED Arts and Communities Officers. We cannot AFFORD Arts and Communities Officers. But, no politician is prepared to say ‘get rid of people we don’t need and cannot afford’

    Our present crisis is surely a hiatus. We’ll have a few years of a moratorium on recruitment … then everyone will march on blithely allowing the state to become ever bigger.

    1. REPAY
      July 9, 2013

      “Our present crisis is surely a hiatus. We’ll have a few years of a moratorium on recruitment … then everyone will march on blithely allowing the state to become ever bigger.”

      I am afraid only the markets and the impending bankruptcy will stop this. Public spending rose 40% under Labour in real terms. The 2% of “cuts” is nothing and yet it is presented as enormous pain and routinely designed as “swingeing”.

    2. alan jutson
      July 9, 2013


      Absolutely agree, ref essential, and nice to have.

      Also Budgets should start from zero, not from the level that they had last year.

      Every penny spent should be questioned and listed.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    July 9, 2013

    JR: “They need to choose between the nice to have and the essential to buy, to end up with a balanced and affordable package for taxpayers and service users.”
    Unfortunately for us they are not very good at it, HS2 being a classic example. All the three main parties in Westminster are addicted to high spending with its associated waste and the taxpayers are the last to be considered. You only have to look at the so-called deficit reduction plan for the evidence – overall spending and taxes both up. Tax, borrow, spend and waste – the shared manifesto of the LibLabCon parties (or should that be party?).

    1. Mike Wilson
      July 9, 2013

      @Brian Tomkinson ‘ … Unfortunately for us they are not very good at it, HS2 being a classic example. …’

      It’s funny sometimes. I generally think politicians are as much use as a chocolate teapot. Incompetent, daft, self interested, out of touch, bereft of ideas … and so on.

      But then, every now and then they do something that simply astonishes you. Whose stupid, idiotic, moronic idea was it to spend what will no doubt end up as more than FIFTY, THOUSAND MILLION POUNDS on a bloody railway. A railway, we are told by these stupid, idiotic, moronic politicians that is going to breach the North South divide! That is going to move wealth around the country! That means businessmen in Manchester, on business trips to China, will be able to get to Heathrow an hour quicker for their 15 hour flight!

      What’s the big idea I wonder? We already have an amazing freight distribution network in this country with companies like Amazon delivering goods ordered on line the next day etc. The fares will be too high for ‘ordinary’ people. By the time the railway is built we could have fibre optic broadband everywhere – with the need to move people around diminishing all the time as, no doubt, 3D high quality video conferencing will be on every desktop. Ye gods, you can already ‘facetime’ on a mobile phone. Who the hell needs to travel on a train to see people?

      How will this wealth travel around the country? Do they want house prices in the North to go up to the same as in the South – so everyone will need to earn a fortune to put a roof over their head making the whole country even more globally uncompetitive? Or …. pause, and bow your head … do the want the wealth spread around so that house prices in the South fall?

      Even Mandelson, whose brilliant idea it was originally (so I read), is now saying it might not be worth the money. (Worth the money! What planet are these people on?

      No, HS2 has finally convinced me that all our current politicians should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act and we should start with a fresh bunch that have some sort of functioning brains.

  6. lojolondon
    July 9, 2013

    John, when is the Conservative party going to do something about the publicly-funded propaganda wing of the Labour Party?

    The BBC is completely biased towards the Labour party. If a company, had donated £8m to the Tories, and representatives of that company were working within the Conservative party to manipulate the British democratic process of electing members by deselecting potential candidates not favourable to the donor, and inserting candidates who are members of that company, there would be an almighty outcry.

    The Labour party and Unite (stand ascused of doing this in more than one case ed). The BBC has exercised the exact opposite of investigative journalism, but repeating from Miliband and Harmann that ‘Falkirk is a one-off’.

    Compare the deafening silence when our democracy is subverted to the massive publicity afforded when NOTW was accused of hacking phones, or when a (non-Labour!) MP was accused of calling a police officer a ‘Pleb’.

    Today there are 4 articles on the subject –
    1 Miliband: Reforming Labour’s relationship with unions after Falkirk selection row
    2 Robinson: Is Miliband off the hook?
    3 I won’t meddle in union row – Blair
    4 Harman: Falkirk problems a one-off

    This is a massive cover-up by the BBC.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 9, 2013

      well they are the BBC what did you expect? Cameron put Lord Patton in charge to make sure the big state, pro EU, fake green, lefty agenda continued.

    2. Martin
      July 9, 2013

      BBC bias? Well as Monsieur Farage is always on the BBC it strikes me that the BBC is very anti EU.

      Indeed the BBC’s presenters never ask Monsieur Farage why he is not MEPing in Brussels or Strasbourg!

  7. Acorn
    July 9, 2013

    Separating the purchasing and the provision of public services still proves elusive in the UK political economy. In principal, the purchasers are politicians that allocate public resources for different services. The providers, for their part, can be either public or private and their task is to produce the services based on the purchaser’s orders. The operations are coordinated through contracts where the terms of the purchasing and provision are defined (i.e. what is produced, how much, with what cost etc) ( HT Finland).

    In applying separation principles, the UK always hits the same hierarchical problem of everything being dictated by Westminster and Whitehall. It is the classic British problem; the further you are away from the front line, the more you get to dictate what goes on at the front line. Finland recognised the problem and gave up trying to run everything from Helsinki. Hence, over half of all public spending is spent by local government in Finland. Health services are organised by municipalities in local joint ventures using proper contracts that separate purchasing from providing.

    It is the basic managerial structure of the UK political economy that is the problem. An over dominant executive in Downing Street, that wants to play El Presidente on the world stage; and, be Chief Exec of all the local councils at the same time.

    1. uanime5
      July 10, 2013

      I feel giving local organisations more say over the budget would be a good thing. Though there would need to be some sort of a regional authority to oversee them, with Parliament overseeing the regional authorities.

      1. Mark B
        July 11, 2013

        More levels of bureaucracy we cannot afford.

        Yes, let the local councils collect and spend the monies from local populace. But, let the local populace tell the council exactly what can and cannot be spent. After all, it is their money and, councils and government is there to serve the people, is it not ?

  8. Neil Craig
    July 9, 2013

    If there were a ban on promotions, pay rises and most of all, new hires (preferably a legislated one) until such time as the budget was in balance, this would put pressure on civil service departments not only to cut themselves but to propose where other departments could be cut.

    1. uanime5
      July 9, 2013

      Why would the Civil Service reduce their staff levels when they know that they won’t be able to get more staff?

      Also if there’s a ban on promotions and hiring how will you replace senior Civil Servants when they leave?

  9. John Eustace
    July 9, 2013

    When it comes to understanding the lobbying of the drugs industry I highly recommend reading “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre.
    It’s not just the Banks that have been engaged in questionable practices these last few years.

  10. forthurst
    July 9, 2013

    “Should some or all of this argument be made in private to Ministers responsible and to MPs taking an interest, or should it be part of a public campaign?”

    The supplementary question would be, “if a decision is taken in private, should the public be informed of the decision and how it was reached or should the public be given a cover story designed to hide the reasons for that decision or should the public never be informed formally of the actions having been taken?”

    That supplementary question brings to mind the wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria, the invitation to large numbers of non-Europeans to immigrate and of course the Climate Change Act 2008.

    How far in practice is the Climate Change Act ‘saving the planet’? Will the lights go out? Richard North on his EU Referendum site has done some extensive research into the Short-Term Operating Reserve (STOR); this is the reserve that the National Grid can call on when high demand and low wind would tend to overwhelm those sources of energy of which the public are aware, sources whose capacity is either being relentlessly taken out and not replaced or being deliberately hamstrung (Drax) in order to ‘save the planet’. Organisations have backup generators because of the unacceptable consequences of blackouts caused by technical failures. However, the Grid has negotiated with some of these to use their generators both to supply their own needs and to supply an excess to the Grid when otherwise the demand on the Grid would be overwhelming; thus the backup generators cannot only reduce the peak demand but also can contribute to the supply available to the Grid’s other users. However, the situation has now moved on and an industry has been created whose primary purpose is to supply standby power to the Grid. Of course the reason that private sector has stepped in here is the very high prices, far higher even than for windmills never mind that for proper elctricity generation equipment, which the Grid will pay for obviating the negligence of politicians and keeping the lights on. Of course, these backup generators use diesel which does not save the planet and is far too expensive for use in conventional power stations.

  11. English Pensioner
    July 9, 2013

    I find it a matter of concern that governments set up organisations with public money to lobby the the government to do something that the government wants to do, but which the public or MPs are so not keen on. The aim being to try to convince the public and their MPs that there is real demand from the electors for action.
    According to media reports, a so-called charity which is canvassing for increased foreign aid was set up with tax-payers’ money with the object of persuading MPs and the public that this is a good idea.
    If true, as far as I am concerned this is intolerable deceit and should be banned.

  12. Lindsay McDougall
    July 9, 2013

    If politicians were to remove from the public sector as many activities as possible, this problem would be vastly diminished in scale. Who ultimately pays for these public sector lobbyists? The taxpayer, I think.

  13. outsider
    July 9, 2013

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    The water industry (mainly regional and local monopolies) may offer a useful analogy. The financial regulator sets price limits every 4 or 5 years. The process, simplified, is that the companies make bids to be allowed to make extra investment and offers on service and efficiency in detailed documents, while telling the public all the good things they plan to do. Corresponding consumer groups argue publicly on behalf of charge payers that the companies can do better and do not need to invest so much. The regulator compares the different companies costs and efficiencies, tried to impose the best on the others, marks down investment that is not considered strictly (or legally) necessary, negotiates and comes to a verdict. Naturally, the system is flawed: the consumer groups are sponsored by the regulator and the emphasis tends to fluctuate cyclically between lower prices and more investment, partly because of prevailing political pressures. But the principles are good.

    Compare that with public services. The providers put in bids and argue publicly and by political lobbying for more money. The departmental ministers are concerned with outcomes, for which they are likely to be judged responsible, rather than inputs or the interests of taxpayers. The same natural bias dominates departmental Select Committees.
    Only the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary represent taxpayers. They are also the overall financial regulators. After the event, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have a watchdog role but they usually only pick at small bits. So disaster looms if, as is usually the case, you have a Chancellor who wants to be PM and reckons that joining the spending bandwagon is the best way to court popularity. What would Gladstone do today?

    Taxpayers are woefully under-represented in this system. Even backbench MPs , with honourable exceptions, will bat for services rather than economy.

    Somehow, Parliament needs to redress the imbalance. I suggest that this could be helped if departmental spending bids were presented to existing or different Select Committees at the same time as they are sent to the Treasury. They could then be assessed in detail and in public before the Treasury makes its decisions.

  14. Alte Fritz
    July 9, 2013

    Other readers have noted how public and private sectors overlap. The legal aid system was at its height a system devoted mostly to making prosperous those middle class lawyers who were not very good at persuading the paying client to hire their services. Fast forward to today and a whole industry of consultants has a vested interest in, for example, HS2.

    In truth, we are not very good at being objective judges of what society would like and what it needs. The roots of this problem grow very deep.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      July 10, 2013

      Having spent a career as a transport consultant, I can assure you that politicians get the consultants they deserve. What should happen is that politicians ask ‘Is this a good project?’, then the consultant does an accurate cost benefit analysis and says ‘yes’ or ‘no’. What actually happens is that the politicians say ‘We have decided that this is a good project. Go forth and justify it.’ Throughout my career, I have tried to avoid daft projects, and I have paid for it with three redundancies.

      What is happening right now is that consultants are being invited to climb aboard the HS2 gravy train, justify it and design it. Some will do that and will not work on humbler road projects that would be a lot more viable. As Boris says, HS2’s cost estimate will continue to escalate, as much as anything because environmental protection costs and compensation will escalate.

  15. REPAY
    July 9, 2013

    No public sector organization should be spending taxpayers’ money on PR consultants and lobbyists for more cash. That is the job of the BBC and the trade unions!

  16. Julian
    July 9, 2013

    No lobbying should be allowed within Parliamentary premises unless invited by Ministers or possibly select committees. The whole lobbying industry needs radically pruning and laws should be considered so that anyone who has been a lobbyist should be barred from becoming and MP for say 10 years. You could also consider banning Ministers from taking paid jobs in the field of their Department for a longer period. I don’t see how it can be right for people who have been lobbyists in a particular industry to then become an MP and effectively act as an elected agent for that industry.

  17. uanime5
    July 9, 2013

    Perhaps the coalition should formalise how each part of the public sector is allowed to lobby the Government regarding what resources they require. Though as long as the coalition awards more money to the more interesting sounding plans and pet projects you shouldn’t be surprised if other parts of the public sector hire people from the private sector to make themselves sound more interesting.

  18. Bazman
    July 9, 2013

    Anyone see the Northern China on SKY News and it smog? Something else. with the sun almost blocked iust due to coal fired power stations and free coal to the residents.Cutting years of the average Chinese persons life by up to five years. The fantasists are seriously telling us their is no need for clean efficient energy and we should not be trying to develop the technology to sell. Is this smog caused by to many taxes and regulations on coal absurd green energy by any chance? Get real and stop having fatalistic fantasies as for many they are fatal…Ram it.

    1. Edward2
      July 11, 2013

      It is you who lives in a fantasy world Baz.
      A world where all the energy needs of this nation can be provided for by tidal power, windmills and solar panels.
      You have told us you are against nuclear and you have told us you are against fracking for gas, so that leaves very few alternatives.
      You show little understanding about power generation by burning coal, which is very much different and cleaner in plants in the UK and Europe than China.
      China still routinely burns coal for basic home and factory heating just as we did a hundred years ago.

      1. Bazman
        July 11, 2013

        The point is that as the world grows energy needs to become even cleaner and the market for this technology is massive. Even today in Britain traffic pollution is bad. Spend a day in London and you can see the dirt where the clothes rub. More seriously these microscopic dirt particles are very hazardous to health. I have never claimed to be against coal, oil or gas, only nuclear on the grounds of cost and safety. Alternative or renewable sourced energy do not work and this is the point. More research and investment is needed as well as more efficient cleaner ways of using fossil fuels and conservation of the energy released. Doing nothing is doing something. Ram it.

  19. Richard1
    July 9, 2013

    As you say politicians need to be taxpayers’ representatives as well as cheerleaders for public services. Too often we hear automatic praise and a reluctance to challenge poor service in the public sector. The most extreme case of this remains the NHS. Only this week David Cameron felt obliged to repeat the absurd mantra that “our NHS is the envy of the world” whereas the evidence, as well as the direct experience of millions of Britons who have been able to contrast the NHS with other countries’ health services, know that the opposite is the case. We do not feel obliged to praise the many ‘hard working’ ‘dedicated’ and ‘wonderful’ people working, for example, in the banking industry, before venturing a criticism or suggestion for improvement. Let’s cut this cant when talking about the public sector and start being more demanding for what we get for all that money.

  20. Bazman
    July 9, 2013

    Eb Silly Band asking cleaners to volunteer money to political parties and supported by Tory MP’s in this view. You could not make it up. The lack of trade Unionism has put us in the position of corrupt bankers and massive inequality today. Ram it.

  21. wab
    July 9, 2013

    “Should there be any limits on what the public sector pays to lobby the public sector? Is it better if the lobbying is done by a private sector supplier who hopes to get the contract or the extra business if the case is accepted? ”

    All lobbying of any MP or senior civil servant, by anyone, private sector or public sector, is a sure sign of potential corruption of the democratic process. MPs and senior civil servants should be forced to publish on the internet in some standard format and in some standard place who they meet and when and for how long and what organisation they are representing, possibly excluding those meetings with individual constituents (as long as it is an individual rather than a business issue). The bottom line is transparency.

  22. matthu
    July 10, 2013

    What the government needs to do is present the public sector’s case in a better light.

    For example, they could create a new definition of “fuel poor” that cut the official number of “fuel poor” families from 3.5m to 2.5m. That would make it appear that public spending was having a good effect.

    Then they might also be able to persuade DECC to drop its legal commitment to eradicating fuel poverty where reasonably possible by 2016. Of course they would have to promise to create a new “framework” that will set goals to tackle the problem, but that would be welcomed by everybody.

    So, in a stroke you cut the number of “fuel poor” and eliminate the risk of failing to meet your legal commitments to the poor.

    Hang on … are we still meeting our International commitments to ensure that wind farm owners get paid? Yes we are, so that’s okay then.

    Yes, that should do it!

    Just don’t expect this to increase your share of the vote.

  23. Javelin
    July 10, 2013

    Transparency, responsibility, delivery.

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