Let’s have some popular spending cuts


                Too many UK politicians think spending other peoples’ money is popular. It’s how they define their job. In opposition the Conservative leadership did tell the party we needed to prepare to cut spending. We were advised that we would not find it comfortable or easy, but it would have to be done.

            Instead, in government, there are still a whole series of areas where Conservative MPs and many voters are keen to see cuts, where the government resists.  Tomorrow the government could make itself popular, and contribute to reducing the rate of increase in state borrowing, by announcing no more aid for Egypt. What’s not to like about that policy?

           Daily we see pictures on our tvs of an army in control with the latest in armoured vehicles, small arms, and plenty of troops. That may well be their spending priority, but it shows a state with plenty of money to spend on defence and internal repression. They could spend more of that alleviating sickness and poverty if they wished.  Giving them more money seems perverse in these conditions.

            The government could make itself even more popular, and possibly save some money, by saying it intends to persuade the EU to stop giving aid to Egypt as well.  Even better would be to secure agreement to that cut , along with agreement to sending the money the EU plans to spend on Egypt back to the impecunious member states. They could decide whether to cut their deficits a bit more or spend at home as they see fit. Again, what’s not to like with that policy?

           Over the week-end more news came out about the possible future escalation of the costs of HS2. The government has recently announced an enormous spending increase of £10 billion on delivering HS2. Critics think they will want to add more tunnels, more noise abatement, and more station  stops to win people over to the Midlands and northern routes, which in turn will mean more cost. If the government is not careful Labour will decide to offer to cancel HS2 as part of its future spending plans, and suggest much more attractive ways of spending all that money.

             There has also been recent news about increases in spending on consultants by government. There is plenty of evidence of that at local level in many of the higher spending Councils as well. As a necessary process of slimming bureaucracy is undertaken, it is most important to avoid simply hiring back the same or similar  people through contracted franchises or consultancies, sometimes at higher cost. The approach should be to slim and raise productivity by natural wastage, and avoid extra consultancy and contracting out costs in compensation.

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


  1. Cliff. Wokingham
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    I am hearing more and more often now, that HS2 is something that we have little or no choice over. I am hearing that this project is, in effect, a diktat from the EU; is there any truth in that? Thank you in anticipation of your reply.

    Reply We could cancel it tomorrow if the government wished.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      I think it’s more part of a “plan” agreed within the EU, rather than a “diktat” from the EU.

      This section of the EU’s website relates to its interference with transport:


      NB – “infrastructure is unequally developed across the EU. For example, most Eastern EU countries lack purpose-built high-speed rail lines, and conventional railway lines are often in poor condition.”


      “The European Railway Agency at a glance”

      “The construction of a safe, modern integrated railway network is one of the EU’s major priorities. Railways must become more competitive and offer high-quality, end-to-end services without being restricted by national borders.”


      “Poland: EIB increases support for high-speed trains”

      And so forth.

      • Vanessa
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Well said Mr Cooper. I don’t know why the MPs are so ignorant of our true masters. They think they are out masters but theirs are more powerful !

        I look at the EU website because none in Westminster tells the truth.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        The EU is only interested in railways that link EU countries so that good and people can more easily travel between EU states. They have no interest in purely domestic trains.

        I doubt there’s any EU country that would care how long it takes to get from London to Birmingham (though they may be interested in how long it takes to get from London to Edinburgh if Scotland secedes).

        Reply The EU favours a complete network of fast trains across the EU, which could include trains across the main island of the UK. However, the provision and decision on new track and trains remains a UK responsibility so we do not have to follow their suggestions.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      One assumes that they will continue with it until the election is lost in 2015 and just leave the decision to the next government who will actually have to pay for it.

      This is an outrage as it is very clearly an appalling “investment” that will give a hugely negative return and is already blighting many properties, businesses and areas.

      Please cancel it now. But they won’t because trains are a religion (like quack energy) to the Libdems and Cameron is a Libdem.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        @lifelogic … ‘One assumes that they will continue with it until the election is lost in 2015 and just leave the decision to the next government who will actually have to pay for it. ‘

        I do wish people would stop using expressions like ‘the next government will actually have to pay for it’

        I know what you mean, you know what you mean – that it will be the next government that has to ‘find’ the money. But, in the end, the only people who will pay for it are US. The taxpayers of this country.

        I’ll no doubt be dead by the time HS2 is built. Why do I care? Because I won’t (hopefully) be dead in the interim years when the ‘government’ is wasting money that could be spent on something useful.

        And my kids, and yours, will end up paying for this nonsense all their lives. 50 thousand, million pounds is a LOT of money for one railway line.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Indeed quite right, I am slipping into “BBC talk”. I should have said the next government who will have to authorise or hopefully cancel it all and then write off the vast expense wasted by Cameron & the coalition on this nonsense so far.

        • bigneil
          Posted August 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          £50bn IS a lot – but it won’t be that at all – treble it at least- and adding more stations just slows down travel times and increases fuel consumption due to acceleration time and time again – so in my mind the HS2 is a total waste and non starter. – -I can only assume they want more stations so they can disperse the next load of freeloading foreigners to their taxpayer paid for houses in the north even quicker – -touch of sarcasm crept in there.

    • zorro
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      With all these workarounds to stop inconveniencing people/voters, it is costing more and more……and defeating the whole object as the trains have to slow down. Why oh why do we have to suffer this nonsense….. 🙁


    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Re Your Reply…

      Thank you John for the reply sadly, you have answered a question I didn’t actually ask.
      I am only a simple man and would ask that you answer simply too, so that I and others can easily understand your answer, perhaps restricting your answer to yes or no would assist to this end…..I am hearing that this HS2 project is, in effect, a diktat from the EU; is there any truth in that?

      Thanks again and also thanks to the other posters who have pointed me in the direction of the EU information sites.

      Reply I did answer. No it is not a dictat or compulsory requirement. The EU favours more HS trains, but does not force countries to build them.

      • Cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Thank you John…..That was clear!

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        From Mr. Redwood’s reply … ‘The EU favours more HS trains, but does not force countries to build them.’

        Does the EU encourage, with money, the building of HS trains?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it does, see for example this press release from the European Investment Bank:


          “The European Investment Bank (EIB) is increasing its loan for PKP Intercity’s Pendolino trains from EUR 224m to EUR 342m. The project consists of the purchase of 20 modern high-speed trains and the construction of an associated maintenance depot in Warsaw. With the increase of financing, the Bank aims to ensure smooth project implementation by completing the financing plan.

          The high-speed passenger connections will be available between Gdynia, Warsaw and Krakow/Katowice. This section forms part of a Trans-European Transport Networks project connecting Gdansk, Warsaw, Brno/Bratislava and Vienna. Further high-speed train services are now also expected to be provided to Gliwice via Katowice, to Wroclaw via Opole and to Rzeszow via Tarnow. Services with the new trains may start in December 2014.”

          Etc etc.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          Even if the EU pays for part of the cost, which it is unlikely to do, the UK will still have to pay the bulk of the construction cost and all of the maintenance costs.

          • Cliff. Wokingham.
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink


            Of course, the EU doesn’t actually have its “own” money as such; it merely has money that it takes off of the member states in increasingly large quantities. What I find offensive, and this applies to HM Government too, is that when we, the taxpayer, give them one pound, that one pound suddenly becomes just a few pennies by the time the EU (or HMG) has sloshed it around their bureaucratic machinery.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Why do the EU favour HS trains when they are clearly less efficient than coaches, many cars and planes for most journeys? Are the EU just mad? Why do they think the EU bureaucrats can decide how to travel better than the actual travellers?

    • Acorn
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Come on you Redwoodian luddites, get with the Euro programme. Not satisfied with operating an out-of-date economic theory; pretending we are still on a Gold Standard with a fixed exchange rate, you want to stick with seventies train technology!!!, WTF.

      “The Fourth Railway Package – Completing the single European railway area” is based on, would you believe it, the UK model of separating track from train. See; we are at the heart of Europe, and you want to leave it. Oh mon dieu.

      Play the video, it’s a Euro Commission hoot. http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/rail/packages/2013_en.htm .

      I just can’t understand why you Conservatives are so, can I say, behind the curve. 😉 😉 😉 .

      • Acorn
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        PS. JR, have you checked with CCHQ what the stance is on the Muslim Brotherhood? Your posts and moderating suggest we should be pro Brotherhood on the door steps. Currently, Hague doesn’t know if his arse is bored or countersunk. Please advise.

        Reply Not at all. I have not checked, and have no wish to be either pro or anti MB. It’s not my country or my conflicts. I wanted to write about democracy, not mainly about Egypt. As I have repeatedly said I have only visited once and do not know the main players. As I understand Hague’s position the UK recognises countries, not governments. They deal with whoever is in charge, which at the moment is the military following their expulsion of the MB elected government. The UK has condemned the military intervention but has also accepted that the military has considerable public support from the anti MB voters in Egypt.

  2. D Hope
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Do you know how much aid egypt receives? Any is clearly too much in the circunstances.

    I used to be in favour of HS2 but given the deficit and the fact that I spend too much of my life in traffic jams on the motorways or stood on packed trains i really think there are many more effective places to spend the money

    • zorro
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Yes, get rid of first class carriages and increase capacity, and improve roads whee practicable.


      • lifelogic
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        We could save far more time than HS2 just with better ticketing and less congestion at the links at either end.

        Even the Libdem Lembit Öpik is against it now – surely the project is doomed than goodness. Alas we have Cameron and Clegg though.

      • behindthefrogs
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes get rid of first class carriages. It would increase capacity particularly in the rush hour. A large number of first class travellers do it on expenses and so any savings should also eventually finish up in the pockets of the general public.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          Get rid of first class carriages! Can you be serious?

          You expect BBC executives and ‘talent’ to travel cattle class between London and Manchester.

          You expect senior public sector people to travel with the plebs! Have you lost your mind?

  3. Bazman
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    If the TV licence where to be abolished this would free up enough money to pay for all the infrastructure Hs2 and five new airports across the country as well as giving tax cuts to all of the population by up to 70%. Competition across all industries would flourish so much that in effect we would not have to do any work. The weather would also be improved and global warming would be a myth allowing free energy to be produced from fracking. The BBC would be replaced by giving each person their own satellite as well as satellite dish to watch anything they like free from state interference. Pensioners would get an extra £150 a year and SKY would put their services to telletransportation competing with the airlines. All this would be so popular it would put the Tory part in power for the next thousand years.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Spoof comment.

    • Stewart Knight
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Beat me to it; suggesting getting rid of the TV licence fee. It would free up a mass of money to stimulate other parts of the economy, while denying the leftist liberal elite a mass of money, other peoples money, to indulge their ideological an discredited fantasies.

      I’ve never understood why the likes of Cameron don’t just announce the TV licence fee was being scrapped and the BBC sent to subscription. The BBC institutionally hate the Tories and support Labour and the left, and the public hate paying…it seems a no lose proposal for Cameron and would be popular, but then again….what does Cameron know about the public, what it feels and what it wants?

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Cameron clear likes the BBC think lefty line he put the dreadful Lord Patten there to make sure it continued.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Maybe because closing down media outlets that disagree with you is considered state censorship by most people.

        • Stewart Knight
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          The BBC is not a media outlet, but a State owned public service broadcaster, which is supposed to be unbiased. Is that clear? Anything difficult there?

          It is also not being closed down; it can exist in exactly the present state it is in, bias an all, only funded not by coercion of the tax payers, but by those who want to be fed its biased output.

          This is a step for democracy and towards true open debate as the BBC will survive if it can give the people what the people what it wants, not what it chooses to give them.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

            Totally agree with every word you have said Stewart.
            An excellent post.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

            To be replaced with what another SKY? Not for me.The BBC is supposed to raise the bar and educate and to this end it does much better than the rest. You want German TV, but no doubt as a middle aged man even watch any TV. When the BBC is reporting the same stories as the other channels does this make it biased. The licence fee is a red herring do you seriously think people volunteer a hundred quid a month to SKY?

        • Neil Craig
          Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Don’t remember you saying that when the BBC were pushing the story about the NOTW hacking story* in a successful attempt to prevent Murdoch being allowed to turn SKY into a real competitor for the BBC monopoly.

          *a story which certainly didn’t deserve its place as 1st item night after night and in which the only thing anybody remembers about it (etc ed)

      • Bob
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I would renew my subscription to a TV License if the BBC were sold off or scrapped and money raised was directed to providing free university education (in the UK obvs,).

        I refuse to fund the broadcasting arm of Common Purpose.

      • Eddyho
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        What does Cameron care about the public, what it knows and what it wants?

    • zorro
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Haha….TV licence brings in £?3bn……Bazmanomics…… 🙂


      • behindthefrogs
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        The TV licence should be replaced by an increase in council tax thus removing the costs of collecting it and chasing people who do not pay. This would be balanced by a reduction in governement payments to councils and a direct grant to the BBC.

        • cosmic
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t got a television and don’t want one and so I don’t pay a TV licence. I do pay Council Tax. I really can’t see why I should have to pay a TV licence through the Council Tax. If people who don’t watch TV don’t have to pay, then the same problems of licence evasion remain.

          Far better to go back to the original reasons for forming the BBC, asking whether they are still valid and if so whether the behometh we have now is necessary at all, or should be trimmed to say a couple of radio stations and TV channels with a pro rata decrease in the licence fee.

    • Mark
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I noted that at the weekend the BBC news website report on training activities for potentially illegal acts at Balcombe included a trawl for opinions from protesters (“Are you involved in the protests? Contact us ….”). Clearly other opinions and a balanced view are unwelcome.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink


      Thanks for providing the Labour Party’s next policy document.

      Socialist economics at its very best

      • Bazman
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Socialism for the rich?

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    America arms Egypt. There was an arms deal in 2011. Do we support America and stand by their side?
    The people who require AID are suffering and are not in control of the state of affairs.
    Good idea though : but diplomatically it is a difficult balancing act.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Another spoof comment.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        You are not exactly a think tank

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Nor do I claim to be one.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Sharp as a tack Denis. Are you some sort of lawyer or somebody?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          No, unfortunately I accepted poor career advice from some chap who visited our school and told us that the country would need lots of scientists and engineers. He forgot to say that it would be more lucrative to become a blood-sucking lawyer.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

            Maybe you should have become a comedian with your razor sharp wit and observation?

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    You are so right! The days when people were fooled (Mr Brown) into thinking that the government gave out magic money have long gone. Now we know where it comes from. I just wish someone would tell the Coalition!

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      The BBC still seem to believe in the Magic Government Money Tree. I suppose you get that impression working at the BBC given the pensions, pay offs and remuneration of the top staff.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        The Magic Government Money Tree is more commonly known as quantitative easing, and it bears fruit every time the banks need more money or the treasury needs to sell more guilts.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    So much commonsense.

    It will never catch on.

    Too Simple !.

  7. lifelogic
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    In general people and businesses invest, while governments just tax (thus preventing this) and generally waste the proceeds on pointless wars, HS2, trains, quack expensive energy, 150% over payment/pensions of state sector worker and 2 times the numbers required too, and endless transfers to augment the feckless.

    First change the idiot BBC/Guardian type of language “government investment” and “cutting back too hard to fast and risking a double dip”. Government only invest (or more usually waste) what they have prevented other investing or spending – usually far more wisely than they do.

    • REPay
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Under Brown all government spending became “investment”! BBC fell in line, of course. The biggest investment, naturally was in the salaries and pensions of the 750,000 new public sector workers we didn’t realize we needed!

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink


    • uanime5
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Given that when the Government cut this investment the economy faltered it seems that the private sector invests far less effectively than the Government.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Id just ask you to recall Uni just a few Government “investments” in failed projects such, TSR2, Blue Streak, The Dome, The Helicopter fiasco, HS2, the aircraft carriers but no planes fiasco, virtually every IT project from 1985 to date and investment in State industry such as British Steel and British Leyland….
        I have hundreds more but you get the idea.
        Billions wasted and no one ever sacked.

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    If you hadn’t realised by now that Cameron doesn’t give a fig for your views perhaps today’s Telegraph headline “David Cameron plans for second coalition with Liberal Democrats” will make you think. In a reply to you just on Saturday I wrote: “Who’s idea was it to have a coalition? Your leader’s and do you know I think he is happier with that than being PM of a Conservative government.” Your views come way behind those of Clegg and the Lib Dems. Many of us who voted Conservative long ago gave up on your leader and your party. Your party’s reneging on promises made at the last election is often excused by you and your colleagues as a consequence of coalition government despite the fact that it was at Cameron’s instiagtion. You won’t be able to use that excuse any more but no doubt many will. You tell us that you advised against a coalition what will you do now? Why on earth should anyone want to vote for your party when your leader is clearly only interested in keeping his own job?

    Reply I will continue to represent my constituents and stand up for the views and values on which I won the last General Election in Wokingham.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      “The manifesto could distinguish between “core” promises that would be non-negotiable and pledges where a compromise was possible, the minister said.”

      Cameron should say now whether his plan to demand EU treaty changes and then hold an “in-out” referendum in 2017 would be a “core” promise, or he would be prepared to sacrifice it in order to remain Prime Minister.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        I agree and I think we would both agree that he will do anything to stay as Prime Minister. We know he intends to do all he can to enforce our government’s subservience to an unelected, anti-democratic foreign

  9. lifelogic
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile it is reported in the telegraph:- David Cameron has started planning for a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats after 2015.

    Well somewhat unlikely that he or the Libdems will, post election, be in anything like that position. Surely the few libdems remaining (and especially their members) would surely prefer Miliband and Labour to the ejected Cameron. Last time I looked the betting odds gave him 20% chance of an overall majority and Labour about a 70% chance of one. Without a UKIP deal or a real change of policy (of which he seems totally incapable) he has virtually no chance at all.

    He could not even beat the sitting duck Brown and that was before it became clear he was a serial ratter, an expensive quack energy man, a pro EU, tax borrow and waste Libdem in all but party. True Miliband is useless but he will beat Cameron after his dreadful record, after all he will not be much worse.

    • zorro
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Yes, but interesting that he seems to prefer Coalition than a Tory government in the future……Actions speak louder than words.


  10. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    As I keep saying, why can’t we have referenda on such things? In general who cares and why whether (most) MP’s want to give to Egypt in the first place or burn money on the fatuous HS2. I was thinking about this yesterday and then saw it confirmed in a Mail Leader that essentially nobody except politicians wants HS2.

    That Leader referred to “5 mimutes” being saved which I hope is hyperbole but whatever the time saved by HS2 it is peanuts and I believe that HS2’s proponents in effect concede that but say the real reason is capacity. So bring back the Great Central Railway which just lies there pretty much still complete with a full size loading gauge and perhaps straighten in out a bit–Job Done and £100 billion minus say £1 billion = £99 biliion saved.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink


      They are now talking about more Stations (press reports) to make it more inclusive:


      The more it stops, the less time saved !

      • Vanessa
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        And the less “high speed” ! God help us against these (politicians ed) with our money !

  11. Nick
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Cost of one DLR line – 140 million.

    Cost of HS2 – 80,000 million.

    So for HS2 you could have 571 DLR lines in the UK. Enough even for cities not part of HS2.

    Conclusion. Its’ fraud. They are on the take like the were on the Olympics.

    PS. When are we going to get an audited sef of accounts for the Olympics to see how much debt is left?

    PPS. Still waiting for audited accounts for the pensions, as promised. Are you going to answer that question at the hustings for the next election John? Why they haven’t been forthcoming as promised.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I suspect you are right.

  12. sjb
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I don’t think they can switch the spending from armoured vehicles etc to social welfare because the $1.3billion of US military aid is ring-fenced for buying kit from US arms mfrs.

    Military coups are meant to trigger the suspension of US aid.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      sjb–Coups do, in theory at least, trigger the suspension of US aid under US domestic law no less, but only if the US Govt wants to suspend the aid (scilicet upset the country the US is buying friendship from) because if it doesn’t want to it can accidentally on purpose simply forget to declare the coup to be a coup. It’s a gr8 life if you don’t weaken.

  13. Iain Gill
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Remove free NHS from any for foreign national without indefinite leave to remain who is from a country which does not give similar free healthcare to Brits in that country.
    Remove free schooling from foreign national children where both parents are foreign nationals and all have no indefinite leave to remain and all are from countries which do not offer reciprocal free schooling to Britiish children in their country.
    Remove the perk which allows foreign nationals to work their first year here on a work visa without paying any national insurance.
    Remove the so called expenses which foreign nationals can count against their tax bill which Brits working away from home within the UK cannot claim.
    Go after the most obvious big tax avoidance measures by big business.
    Chase the big Indian and Chinese multinationals using British intellectual property without paying the correct licence and copyright fees.
    Stop all aid to countries with any of 1 a space programme 2 nuclear weapons 3 inter continental missiles 4 air craft carriers. Drastically reduce the aid programme.

  14. lifelogic
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    And now we have:- MPs were at the centre of a new food scare last night after the Commons banned traditional scrambled eggs and omelettes – because they are ‘too dangerous’.

    I shall continue with my soft boiled eggs, eggnog and steak tartare. Restaurant food in the UK and even France now is usually fairly dreadful (lowest common denominator) industrial pre-packaged rubbish, we will just have to do it ourselves at home I suppose. Or will they ban that and the supply of good ingredients soon too?

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      And my dozen of Oysters to start.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        I once tried oysters Lifelogic, after hearing of their aphrodisiac properties.
        Like you I had a dozen, but sadly only two worked.

        • Vanessa
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Lucky you ! Two eh ?

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink


            Yes, but which two was it ?

      • zorro
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        A man after my own heart……I did once eat an obscene amount of oysters from a certain restaurant which offered a deal in Paris. It was wonderful!


  15. Atlas
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    HS2 is a “Rail line too far”.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    We would have had drastic public spending cuts in 2009, if the Labour government hadn’t hit upon the cunning plan of getting the Bank of England to create vast sums of new money and indirectly lend it to the Treasury.

    One can describe it as the Bank rigging the gilts market in favour of the Treasury; one can describe it as the Bank intervening in the market to support the price of gilts by buying up the surplus, in the same way as the EEC intervened in markets and built up mountains of butter and beef and filled a lake with wine; or one can describe it as the Treasury and the Bank agreeing an indirect mechanism for them to swap their respective IOU’s, with the Treasury’s IOU’s, gilts, travelling from the Treasury to the Bank and the Bank’s IOU’s, money, travelling in the opposite direction from the Bank to the Treasury.

    But if anybody still has any doubts about the overall result of “quantitative easing” as it has been practised in the UK so far, they need only look at the £375 billion stock of gilts now owned by the Bank:


    each of which says “The Treasury owes money to the Bank, to be repaid with interest”, making the Bank the government’s largest single creditor by miles.

    When this started the Labour government was having to borrow about a quarter of all the money it was spending, and if it had found that it could no longer borrow from normal gilts investors, which looked increasingly likely to happen fairly soon, and if for some reason it had not been possible for the Treasury to fall back on indirectly borrowing from the Bank – say because the Chancellor refused to contemplate it, or MPs refused to allow the Chancellor to authorise it, or the Governor refused to implement it – then the Labour government would have had no choice but to make drastic cuts in its spending.

    Which would have included immediately slicing maybe a quarter off state pensions and social security benefits and the salaries of public employees, assuredly leading to its total annihilation at the 2010 general election, rather than just defeat by a Tory party which still failed to get an overall majority.

    And, reverting to a comment on the previous thread, the Bank’s creation of £200 billion to save the bacon of the Labour government and incidentally prevent economic meltdown was done not only without a single formal vote being taken in the Commons, but without any motion to provide MPs with an opportunity to thoroughly debate the proposals and agree that the Chancellor could go ahead without the need for a formal vote; and nor has there ever been a motion to be debated and approved by MPs for any of the subsequent tranches of “quantitative easing” under the present Chancellor.

    And I stick with my previously stated view that this has to change, that MPs should wake up to their responsibilities and insist that the Chancellor must seek their prior approval through a formal motion before he authorises any further round of money printing and gilts market rigging by the Bank.

    Reply Money printing expressly needs the consent of the Chancellor. He in turn needs the support of the Commons. As I have explained before, successive Chancellors have enjoyed the support of the Commons on this. Oppositions have not bothered to table hostile motions, showing they have agreed with the money printing. The Opposition could oppose this and force the issue any time it liked. The few sceptical backbench MPs have recognised that the overwhelming majority opinion in the Commons favours QE, so there has been no opportunity or point to a rebel motion.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      “The Treasury owes money to the Bank, to be repaid with interest”,

      Well, actually they are not paying interest on it at all, Osborne is just keeping the money – this was disclosed some time ago.

      • zorro
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        He’s receiving the interest on the maturing gilts, a bit of a circular mechanism.


      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        The Treasury does pay the interest on the gilts to the Bank, or more exactly to the wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank which was set up to deal with the asset purchases. But as the Treasury owns the Bank it also owns all its profits, and as part of that the interest paid on the gilts can get recycled back to the Treasury. In principle it would be clearer if the Bank agreed to waive the interest payments, but apart from anything else there are normal gilts investors who have holdings of some of the same classes of gilts as those bought by the Bank, and they will expect to receive the interest they were promised. So in practice it might be more complicated to pay the interest due to those investors but not pay any interest to the Bank, than to more simply just pay the interest to all those owning the gilts and then claw it back from the Bank.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      JR, the motion should be tabled by the Chancellor or another Treasury minister, and it should ask MPs to approve a draft letter of authorisation that the Chancellor proposes to send to the Governor. Therefore it would be a government motion, not a hostile motion from the opposition or from rebel MPs. It’s hardly unprecedented for the government to seek express approval from MPs before taking some action, it’s just that it wasn’t done for this case when Darling started “quantitative easing” early in 2009, it has never been done since, but it should be done.

      Reply There was no need to table a motion as most MPs were in agreement. The government is most unlikely to do as you suggest – it has the authority to print money unless and until Parliament says it doesn’t.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        There is something rather unsatisfactory and disturbing about your comment: “There was no need to table a motion as most MPs were in agreement.” How do you know most MPs were in agreement if it was never debated? In addition, a debate might elicit other concerns or limits on further action. As it is, no one in parliament cares. How many other things are not pursued because MPs can’t be bothered or don’t want to be seen to be anything other than the lobby fodder the majority of them are?

        Reply Sometimes you need to trust the judgements of those of us who spend a lot of time in Parliament understanding its moods and views. The three party leaderships have all supported QE and so do most of their followers. There are only a few MPs against it.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          But, JR, surely this is a matter of a) principle and b) precedent?

          Principle because you should be able to answer a query from a constituent by giving him the Hansard reference and saying:

          “Here is the motion that we MPs approved to allow the Chancellor to authorise the creation of another £50 billion of new money”,

          or whatever the sum, even if there was so little dissent among MPs that there was no need for a formal vote; but instead of being able to cite that express approval:

          “We agreed to it”

          you can only fall back on tacit approval:

          “We let it happen”.

          And precedent because some years down the line there may be a Chancellor who points out:

          “It has never been the case that this House must approve the creation of new money by the Bank of England before it can be authorised by the Treasury.”

          Frankly it’s a poor show that once again our elected representatives are letting power entrusted to them by their constituents slip from their hands.

          Reply I do not think you understand Parliament. If at any point it became a matter of general concern amongst MPs, then a way would be found to force a debate and a vote. In circumstances where only a very small minority are against QE arranging a debate and a vote would be difficult, and end in farce.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

            I do understand, but find it a bit worrying that while there’s widespread concern about QE among the population there’s no great concern among MPs.

          • sm
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            No vote means no accountability for our MP’s even those that would welcome it. Something which is controversial could lead to a de-railing of the gravy train.

            So those who control the timetable and the sinecures can pull the levers behind the curtain.

            We really deserve better and 100% reserve banking properly controlled via a constitution is the way to go.

            I think we get it (there is no appetite for democracy) all right.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        “The government … has the authority to print money unless and until Parliament says it doesn’t.”

        Well, I suppose the Treasury may have that authority, but I would really like to have the Chancellor explain the precise legal basis on which he and his predecessor have done it, and I would have thought that MPs would also want that explained.

        Consider that when Parliament passed the 1946 Act to nationalise the Bank, under Section 4 the Treasury was empowered to give the Bank directions:


        “The Treasury may from time to time give such directions to the Bank as, after consultation with the Governor of the Bank, they think necessary in the public interest.”

        Fine so far, but note at the end of that sentence the amendment made by the 1998 Act, annotated F1, which added the words:

        “except in relation to monetary policy”

        and that is the current law.

        Now on the one hand “quantitative easing” is presented as being a matter of “monetary policy”, which of course it is, but on the other hand the open letters sent by both Darling and Osborne to authorise it seem to contain directions to the Bank, which would clearly be contrary to the 1998 Act.

        Reply There has been legislation since. QE was legal, it had the backing of most MPs, and was signed off by the Chancellor who kept the Commons informed. The Oppositions decided not to demand a debate or vote against.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          I know there has been legislation amending the previous Acts, but not to reinstate the previous power of the Treasury to give directions to the Bank in relation to monetary policy. That power could in fact be temporarily restored through Section 19 of the 1998 Act, with the express consent of Parliament, but neither Darling nor Osborne have seen fit to invoke that Section on “reserve powers”.

  17. David Cee
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink


    I read your blog regularly, and as I do so (perhaps like many others?) I think “that makes sense” and “that is exactly how I feel” – in key policy areas.

    I just wish you had more leverage and a senior position in government to make essential changes for our future prosperity. Why do we have to settle for mediocrity in policy making? How many Conservative MPs do you think share your views – approx?

    Best wishes, D.

    Reply On the big issues over 100 share my views where they differ from the government. How policy made is made is an interesting and complex topic of itself – I may do a few pieces on this in due course.

    • Atlas
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      John, I for one would be most interested in your analysis of how Policy is made.

      I have my suspicions that it is really all done by the Civil Service ( as outlined in ‘Yes Minister’), since Ministers come and go. I guess though that it is the civil-servants at their EU meetings who really set the agenda.

      Reply The EU looms very large now. it both generates a large agenda which Ministers simply have to push through the Commons to comply, and acts as a major brake on national political initiative seeking to respond to public opinion.

      • zorro
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        It certainly does now, but it was to a far lesser extent I think when John was a Minister…..


  18. Anthem
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I applaud any spending cuts (a corresponding reduction in tax would be equally welcome, too but I understand that with a budget deficit cuts have to be made just to prevent the country from going bankrupt) but let’s cut spending because it’s the right thing to do, not because it is popular.

  19. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Popular spending cuts with Moi…
    Firstly – a cut in our overblown commitments would help.
    Secondly – Sufficient armed forces to deter a direct attack on Blighty should be the policy – even if that means relying more upon ‘weekend warriors’ !
    Thirdly – with most young wannabe warriors being online – as a matter of course – do we really need all those ‘high street’ recruitment outlets anymore ?
    Transport = simples = NO2 HS2. Signed, Anorak !
    Politics !…
    Firstly – far too many politicians – in the Commons and more so the Lords.
    Secondly – Councils. The nonsense of two tier local government (in England only) should be abandoned. Counties should take precedence over Districts – except for those larger Urban Districts (over 100,000 population ?) – and even then, the number of Councillors and the number of elections should be reduced.
    Thirdly – the ‘civil’ service. Just how much of their ‘paper pushing’ could be eliminated by going online ? – the more the merrier !

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Reduce the number of MPs and also the number of levels of government.

      Stop reworking every EU law and accept them as passed in Brussels.

      Stop Scottish and Welsh MPs debating and voting on issues that only affect England. Save the costs of them being in Westminster by concentrating on such issues say on Mondays.

  20. peter davies
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    What on earth is the point of employing professors to go around the world and do huge number crunching exercises which rightly concludes that HS2 will do little if anything to help the UK economy and implying that it is regional transport links that need priority and trans country links like HS2 will if anything suck more into London only for the govt to plough ahead with it anyway?

    Why bother going through that exercise in the first place?

    Every project at any level starts off with a feasibility analysis exercise and from what I understand this one fails at the outset so should be scrapped.

    Not to mention by the time it gets built we will more than likely have maglev technology.

    Time to stop pandering to EU wishes and put the interests of the UK first – politicians need to remember it is us that vote for them, not their so called EU bosses.

  21. Pleb
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Bring in internet voting for elections. If my bank can protect and identify me then so can the electorial system. Think of the cost savings on that.

    Scrap the following……
    House of Lords.
    House of commons subsidies on food and drink. (Full English breakfast costs 20p!!)
    First class travel on trains, free up lots of space.
    HS2 white elephant, escpecially by 2024.
    Trident. The other countries near us don’t do this, why do we.
    BBC license fee, compete with Sky.
    All public sector saleries to be capped to £100k. Any that don’t like it can go private.
    All public sector pensions to be capped at £50k per annum.
    Of course non of this will happen and the next election will see a lib/lab coalition. The insanity will continue.

    Reply I do not buy full Engllish breakfast, but there is no way it costs 20p!

    • Pleb
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:58 am | Permalink

      Is that the best you can do? how pathetic

    • zorro
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      To reconfirm the need to get rid of 1st class…..on my way into London, three almost empty 1st class carriages, everyone else crammed and standing in the four other carriages……Ridiculous.


      • Robert Taggart
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Hoping an MP or two were travelling among the ‘plebs’ !

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Broon did suggest that no one in the public sector should be paid more than the PM.
      Sounds like a goal worth working towards – mefears it will take some time mind !

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    The reference to “spending cuts” itself plays to Labour’s agenda. Really what is needed is more efficient public spending which will result in a reduction, the one must follow the other. I again note the example of Hammersmith Council which has reduced council tax 3% a year for the last several years with no reduction in services at all that I can see – just presenting this baldly as “the council has cut/slashed spending” is not correct.

  23. Chris S
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I believe that some senior politicians read the comments on John’s blog so perhaps we could have a mature and sensible debate about HS2 ?

    I know it’s cloud cuckoo land, but let’s assume for the moment that £50bn-£80bn is available for growth promoting infrastructure projects.

    How would this vast sum be best spent ?

    HS2, more motorways, more railway tracks, canals, housing projects etc, etc.

    Any suggestions ?

  24. uanime5
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Surely it would be better to spend the aid money for Egypt on humanitarian aid, specifically humanitarian aid to help the displaced and injured in Egypt. Simply cutting aid to Egypt will just harm the Egyptians as the interim Government is likely to cut everything except military spending while they’re engaged in a conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Council are firing their staff, then rehiring them as consultants because the Government keeps making them close down their departments and hire people from the private sector. If the Government let councils do these things in house this problem wouldn’t keep occurring.

  25. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes, yes, yes – to removing the BBC licence fee.

    For too long the gravy train has been running. Massive salaries, fantastic working conditions, incredible pensions, no measurable delivery mechanism (did we get value for money), money extracted from us on pain of imprisonment! How did it ever happen? How did we ever get into the position that the state says ‘you will pay for the BBC or go to prison – if you have the temerity to have a TV’

    I, for one, refuse to pay it. Stuff them.

    And they are always going on about expenses? How can they claim expenses for taxis and lunches? I can’t – unless I am entertaining someone to try to win export business. They have a champagne lunch lifestyle and charge it to expenses. Are they taxed on these benefits in kind?

    • Edward2
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Mike
      I spent many lunchtimes and evenings entertaining export customers to try to build business, only to find the Revenue later refused my portion of the total cost and I had to pay Benefit in Kind tax on the value of my expenses.
      And being salaried this “overtime” which was often at weekends, was unpaid.
      I do wonder just how the BBC manages to get away with it.

    • Chris S
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      There are aspects of the BBC I detest ( the lefty, luvvy outlook, political correctness etc but compared with Sky, the BBC provides an immense amount of quality original material as well as imported stuff at a fraction of the cost.

      Yes, some of the salaries are too big and the appointments are frequently biased towards the Guardian reader faction but

      If they retired Humphries and Naughtie I would be reasonably happy with everything else.

      I hate to say it but, if it were privatised we would soon realise what a huge mistake had been made.

      • David Price
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        “the BBC provides an immense amount of quality original material as well as imported stuff at a fraction of the cost.”

        But why must we be forced to pay for it? The BBC is supposed to be a public services broadcaster, not an entertainment corporation with the aim of beating all the commercial competition.

        If the execs and “talent” in the BBC wish to enjoy the fruits of winning in the commercial market place then they should go and work for a commercial broadcaster.

        Or is “free at the point of delivery” sports and quality TV supposed to be a human right?

  26. Mark B
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    HS2 is an EU / Delors (then President of the EU Commission) fantasy which has its roots here in EU Directive EU directive 96/48
    (see EU links)




    This was also covered by Christopher Booker and Dr. Richard North in a Telegraph Column back in January 2012.


    Whilst we can indeed cancel it. Like all projects of this nature their comes a ‘no turning back’ point. Civil Servants know this and, will do all they can to keep this project rolling (pun intended) so as to keep themselves in employment and to have such a prestigious project on their CV.

    It is a vanity project par-excellence, and a very costly one. Once politically we have reached a no turning back, that is when the costs will begin to spiral.

    This is just sheer vanity and madness that will cause no end of misery.

  27. Sue
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I have an idea!

    Each department in every single government sector, local & national should produce a statement of accounts (detailed, so there is no cheating). We should also be consulted about wage ceilings and all bonuses/expenses of course. Infact, anywhere that public money is spent (no exceptions). The statement of accounts should then be released for all to see.

    The public can then peruse which departments are wasting money on what they consider unnecessary or just plain cheeky and decide where to make cuts via a questionnaire or referendum.

    The cuts should then be reflected into income tax cuts and/or rebates.

    Yes – A fully transparent government, open for all to audit!

    What’s not to like?

    Reply This government is publishing large amounts of information about spending which you should have a look at.

    • Sue
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Some do, and I do check. Whether I trust them to be accurate is another matter.

      What is the point of publishing what they spend if we have no powers to intervene? The vast majority of voters don’t approve of HS2, overseas aid and our overpriced EU membership but we’re just ignored.

  28. Julian
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I would like to raise a wider question – what is the free enterprise right doing to sell the idea? The idea of free enterprise as a philosophy is always on the back foot and there seems to be zero ‘buy-in’ to efficiency and cost-cutting in the public sector. Labour has been clever and strategic in realigning its support base from the ‘working class’ to the public sector. The right needs a plan to win hearts and minds.

  29. Neil Craig
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Not sure you should be too worried about Labour making a sane decision on HS2.

    However UKIP have already made that sensible decision and may well enhance it by saying that we could instead build a Hyperloop at a cost of about £4bn rather than £80bn. Since Hyperloop is far cheaper to run and much faster it is what the Americans call a n0-brainer. Assuming the BBC (with its legal commitment to “balance” and its true position of being above the law) do not continue to succeed in censoring any mention of the actual policies UKIP stand for, it is likely that voters will choose the party with respect for brains.

    Reply And who would build hyperloop? Why do you think hyperloop, a technology which still does not exist anywhere operating at full scale, would be so cheap? Do be realistic.

    • Neil Craig
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      If the designer Elon Musk can put a commercial spaceship in orbit, as he has, and designed the Tesla car I think he has a rather better construction record than Network Rail or the British government don’t you?

      Anybody want to take my side bet that Hyperloop will be up and running long before the 2035 dateline for HS2? But just not in Britain unless UKIP gets a share of power.

      Reply It may well be tried somewhere. We need the results of more development work. Saying we can build a major route today for £4bn is unbelievable

  30. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Amen to your comments on aid to Egypt and spending on HS2. We could make it easy for ourselves by not contributing to EU foreign aid or Baroness Ashby’s budget and repealing our Accession to the Lisbon Treaty. Why wait for a referendum?

    Do we really want another Coalition with the LibDems?

    Governments at all levels continue to misuse consultants. A consultant should be appointed for a particular project for a particular period for an agreed lump sum or on agreed terms and conditions. Consultants should not have long term roles as quasi-employees. The whole point is to avoid long term financial commitments.

  31. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    One cut HMG should not make – keep the old War Office – for another Ministry or two to use.
    One other cut HMG should be spared – Admiralty Arch – there must be some government ministry to put in there ?
    All HMG offices – the ‘head office’ anyway – should located within the ‘Whitehall Village’. All those other unremarkable offices – 1 Victoria Street, 102 Petty France, Caxton House, Great Minster House… – should be disposed of. They be at best unprepossessing edifices – not of the stature we should expect !

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

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

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

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

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page