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The future of Government (if any)

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#81 Post by Alan H » November 19th, 2012, 1:25 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

The latest Tory wheeze: let's make it more difficult for plebs to challenge Government decisions:
A war on Judicial Review?

The Prime Minister is to “get a grip” on people forcing unnecessary delays to Government policy by cracking down on the “massive growth industry” of Judicial Review. David Cameron told business leaders today:
“When this country was at war in the 40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution. … everything was thrown at ‘the overriding purpose’ of beating Hitler. … this country is in the economic equivalent of war today – and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”
The detail of the changes is yet to be revealed (update – more detail is now available on the Ministry of Justice website, including the promise of a public consultation), but the PM plans to ” reduce the time limit when people can bring cases; charge more for reviews – so people think twice about time-wasting.”

Clearly some of the PM’s Dunkirk spirit rhetoric is aimed at cheering up business leaders, who need a lot of that at the moment. But putting the rhetoric aside, there is cause for concern here.

First, the underlying assumption is that Judicial Review, the right to challenge decisions of public authorities in court within three months of them being made, has grown out of control since the 1970s.

Has any proper analysis been done? There are reasons for the growth in Judicial Review which are unconnected to the rapaciousness of lawyers and unnecessary bureaucracy , such as the growth of the state, the decrease in trust of politicians and the more general point that Judicial Review is actually quite a good way of guaranteeing that decisions of public authorities are reasonable and fair.

Perhaps most importantly, a huge proportion of that increase is due to immigration decisions being challenged, not planning or other business-related decisions (see this graphic).

Anyone who works in administrative law, as the practice of Judicial Review is known, has seen really poor decisions, which had been upheld by internal public authority appeals processes (such as they exist), eviscerated by judges. The mere threat of judicial oversight can lead to irrational decisions being made again – for example, in the recent fuss over the West coast rail franchise.

Secondly, there are a some worrying statements which are said to underly the changes. For example, the original BBC story (screen grab here) said Downing Street figures showed “Around one in six [judicial review] applications was granted”. Following a little fact checking on Twitter, that has now been removed. Whilst it is right that permission to proceed (the first stage) is granted in around 6.5% of Judicial Review applications, only around 1% actually succeed at the substantive stage, that is win overall – see p.65 of the statistics for 2011. Which statistics are being used to justify this decision in Whitehall?

Of course, Government and business leaders have every right to worry if the courts are being slow, inefficient or overly-bureaucratic in holding up the decisions of public authorities. The three-month time limit to bring a Judicial Review is much shorter than in most other litigation settings. This is in recognition of the fact that public authorities need to be able to get on with making decisions and not be unduly delayed by unmeritorious court claims.

But it seems that the real problem here is court delays, not the judicial review system itself. At least, that is the thrust of the Prime Minister’s comments. From my experience, it sometimes takes around a year for a full judicial review to be heard, which makes a mockery of the initial three-month time limit – but judicial reviews of more urgent decisions tend to take a matter of weeks. Of course one of the best ways to tackle court delays would be to increase funding to the justice system. But that is unlikely to happen given the very significant cuts to the Ministry of Justice’s budget.

Unless the system can be made more efficient – for example, by further cutting the number of claims which are dealt with by High Court Judges – the only other option is to limit the rights of individuals to challenge Government decisions. And there may be problems there for the rule of law.

Thirdly, will the entire Judicial Review system be affected or just the part of it which concerns the kinds of decisions which affect business? The vast majority of Judicial Review applications are about immigration and asylum, not planning or business, so this is a very important question indeed. Whilst increasing the speed of planning challenges could (at a stretch – see below) be justified by the ‘wartime’ analogy, that logic is becomes more strained when it comes to immigration decisions.

Finally, it may be rhetoric, but this is the second time in a week that the Prime Minister has expressed frustration at having to cross his ‘t’s’ and ‘i’s’. He said in relation to Abu Qatada, who has avoided deportation to Jordan:

We have moved heaven and earth to try and comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of this country.
Lawyers will be very concerned indeed about this. The wartime analogy is also somewhat depressing. During wartime, the state becomes more authoritarian as it is focussed on a single existential threat. Niceties of rights protection and civil liberties tend to be suspended. Nobody could seriously want this to apply because we are facing the real but certainly not existential threat of a recession.

Since the Prime Minister is invoking the Second World War, it seems appropriate to invoke perhaps the most famous dissenting judgment in our legal history, that of Lord Atkin in Liversidge v Anderson [1941] UKHL 1. He said:
In this country amidst the clash of arms the laws are not silent. They may be changed, but they speak the same language in war as in peace. It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty for which on recent authority we are now fighting, that the judges are no respecters of persons and stand between the subject and any attempted encroachments on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law
Judges have become quite good at making sure, on behalf of individuals, that the Government dots its ‘i’s’ and crosses its ‘t’s’. Any significant change to that system must be supported by evidence that it really isn’t working and that the proposals will really address its deficiencies. Anything less risks making public authorities less accountable to the public they serve. To paraphrase Lord Atkin, we should think very carefully indeed before silencing the law.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Lifelinking
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#82 Post by Lifelinking » November 19th, 2012, 2:34 pm

Great post on a very important issue Alan, thank you.
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Alan H
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#83 Post by Alan H » November 19th, 2012, 7:49 pm

Surprise, surprise...
Has there been a huge growth in the number of judicial reviews?

19 November, 2012 - 14:12 -- Federica Cocco

The government announced today a crack down on the huge growth in judicial reviews by reducing the time limit for bringing cases, and charging more for reviews. But what is the evidence behind the policy change?

"There has been a huge growth in the use of judicial review, far beyond what was originally intended. The number of applications has rocketed in the past three decades, from 160 in 1975 to 11,200 last year – an increase of almost 7,000%. At the same time, the proportion of successful applications is very low. In 2011 only one in six applications determined were granted permission to be heard and even fewer were successful when they went ahead." [emphasis added]

Chris Grayling, Ministry of Justice press release, November 19, 2012

"First, judicial reviews. This is a massive growth industry in Britain today. Back in 1998 there were four and a half thousand applications for review and that number almost tripled in a decade. Of course some are well-founded – as we saw with the West Coast mainline decision. But let’s face it: so many are completely pointless. Last year, an application was around 5 times more likely to be refused than granted." [emphasis added]

David Cameron, speech at the CBI conference, November 19, 2012

In a speech at the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) today, David Cameron announced a clamp down on the use of judicial reviews, a type of legal action which enables individuals to ask a judge to consider the legality of action taken by public bodies, including the government.

According to the Prime Minister the practice has now become rampant, and government cannot keep up with current levels which stop it from proceeding with policies to help boost the economy.

The sentiment was echoed by a Ministry of Justice press release on the same day. Chris Grayling shared the concern over "the burdens that ill-conceived cases are placing on stretched public services as well as the unnecessary costs and lengthy delays which are stifling innovation and economic growth."

The numbers indeed appear to be staggering. Reporting on the story, the Telegraph quoted the Ministry of Justice: "the number of applications for judicial review rose from 160 in 1975 to 11,200 last year."

Indeed in 1974 - rather than 1975 - there were 160 applications for judicial review in England and Wales, as reported in a 2006 House of Commons research paper on Judicial Reviews.

Dotting the i's and crossing the t's

Neither the PM's speech nor the Ministry of Justice press release explain what is behind this incredible rise. The UK Human Rights Blog proffered that the rise could be traced in the growth of the state or the decrease in trust of politicians.

To answer this question, we first ventured to find out what the source for these figures was.
In 2011 the Ministry of Justice released its annual Judicial and Court statistics report which presented those same figures: 11,200 applications for permission were received. But the table below, from the report, presents an interesting caveat.

This MoJ table divides the judicial review applications into three categories: immigration/asylum; criminal; and, “other”. It is clear from here that the significant increase was driven by immigration and asylum cases, which at 8,649 make up three fourths of all applications from 2011.

By looking at past data - beginning from 2004 - it becomes clear that if we don't take immigration and asylum cases into consideration, there has been no explosion of judicial review cases, but rather a very modest increase. In the past 10 years, the total figures for “other” have ranged between a low of 1,685 applications in 2004 to a high of 2,228 in 2006. Figures from 2011 are slightly lower, with 2,213 non-immigration and non-crime JR application.

What is interesting is that the Telegraph refers to this as an "assault on planning laws," though neither the text of Mr. Cameron's speech nor the MoJ press release make a specific reference to planning rulings.

Applications related to planning - stocked in the "other" category - constitute only a minority of all applications. Indeed, MoJ figures from 2006 show that out of 10,657 total applications, only 140 related to town and country planning.

The Telegraph also claims that "only one in six applications [roughly 17%] is actually granted," but what do they mean by granted? According to the 2011 MoJ statistics release (page 65):
"There were 18,811 applications for permission to apply for judicial review in the Administrative Court, a 12 per cent increase on 2010. Of these, 11,200 were received, 6,391 applications were refused and 1,220 were granted."

We're not entirely clear what happens to the thousands of applications that are sent but not received, and we will investigate this further. Unhelpfully the Ministry of Justice statistics do not contain definition of the different categories used.

From the table above, we gather that out of all permission applications submitted in 2011, roughly 6% had permission "granted," i.e. were accepted for review. Out of the 396 substantive judicial reviews that were dealt with in 2011, having passed the first hurdle of getting permission, 173 (44%) were allowed.

The government gave two numbers to justify the needs it sees for reform of judicial review. The first was that the number of JRs has increased dramatically. This is correct, however it is largely because of immigration and asylum claims and does not necessarily reflect on the judicial review procedure in general. Secondly, the government is correct to say that there is fairly high rate of refusal of JRs across all topics. It will presumably be a matter for debate whether this is a good reason to restrict its availability.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#84 Post by Dave B » November 19th, 2012, 8:34 pm

Yes I heard some of that on the radio. So, is Cameron ill informed and his staff are making an even bigger fool of him than he does himself or is he deliberately distorting the data to suit his nefarious needs - commonly known as "telling porkies" - I wonder?

Added later: when are politicians, and others who give speeches at these sort of meetings, going to realise that providing data is available under the the FoIA some one is going to pick such speeches apart and check everything in them? That also goes for newspaper who do not check the facts before they publish - 'ang on, been there before haven't we?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

lewist
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#85 Post by lewist » November 20th, 2012, 7:55 am

Dave B wrote:Yes I heard some of that on the radio. So, is Cameron ill informed and his staff are making an even bigger fool of him than he does himself or is he deliberately distorting the data to suit his nefarious needs - commonly known as "telling porkies" - I wonder?
Probably all of those, Dave. I think we have enough experience of your namesake to know that the truth is what he declares it to be. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Dave B
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#86 Post by Dave B » November 20th, 2012, 7:57 am

Think I'll change my given name :sad2:
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

lewist
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#87 Post by lewist » November 20th, 2012, 6:27 pm

Dave B wrote:Think I'll change my given name :sad2:
There's nothing wrong with your name, Dave. It's more yours than it is his. :smile: Keep it and be proud of it!
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Dave B
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#88 Post by Dave B » November 20th, 2012, 6:42 pm

lewist wrote:
Dave B wrote:Think I'll change my given name :sad2:
There's nothing wrong with your name, Dave. It's more yours than it is his. :smile: Keep it and be proud of it!
Just so long as I don't marry anyone called Sharon. Why was that combination of names always the butt of jokes I wonder?

Perhaps because they have boring websites like this. Or this.

Think I am losing the will to live . . . :rolleyes:
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#89 Post by Alan H » December 8th, 2012, 11:34 am

An antidote to the 'it's all Gordon Broon's fault':
Why are the Tories laughing? Because they've got away with it yet again
However wrong things go for them – the election, phone-hacking, the economy – the Tories have an uncanny knack for spinning it to their advantage

Deborah Orr
The Guardian, Friday 7 December 2012 19.00 GMT

No recovery to speak of, austerity to go on … it’s all a jolly good laugh. Danny Alexander, George Osborne and David Cameron at the autumn statement. Photograph: Reuters Tv/Reuters
Whatever else one might say about the Conservatives, they are very good at seizing unlikely chances to advance their own agenda. They didn't win the last election. Their economic predictions have clearly not come to pass. Their closest allies in the media – a key employee, a close friend – await trial. Yet these aren't the nightmares for the Conservatives that they really ought to be. On the contrary, the party has managed to turn all of these potential catastrophes to its own advantage.

Those photographs of George Osborne, flanked by his prime minister, David Cameron, and his chief secretary, Danny Alexander, as they laughed on Wednesday at shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, stammering as he made a reply to the autumn statement? It's easy to see the trio as men who are laughing as they deliver the terrible news to millions of people that there's no economic recovery to speak of, and austerity will have to be extended. But actually, that's fanciful, as everyone really knows. They're just men laughing because they can't believe they've managed to get away with it again. They're just men laughing because, whatever their problems may be, Her Majesty's opposition is not one of them. Well, that's why Cameron and Osborne are laughing. Alexander is laughing because he's still so thrilled to be allowed in the gang.

The photograph certainly says something, captures something. But it expresses the opposite of born-to-rule callousness. It expresses the fact that these two men got where they are today – the top of the Tory party – because they are ruthless in their realisation that you don't get to rule just because you are born to any more, but that you also have to fight hard and dirty to protect a system that exists to support, nurture and advance the ambitions of yourself and those in similar positions to you.

First, it's important that the coalition is in the picture, not just the Tories. That brilliant Tory stroke – hugging the Lib-Dems so tight that they have been suffocated to death. By doing that, they managed to get into government and to destroy Westminster's third party, thus shoring up the first-past-the-post voting system, from which the Conservatives benefit so much. Brilliant.

Second, it's important that the picture was taken at a contemporary economic ritual. The Conservatives have had awesome success in promulgating the nonsensical idea that the crash was caused by Labour incompetence and overspending, when it was really caused by Labour's failure to tackle the neoliberalism introduced by the previous Tory administration. Genius. Not only do the Conservatives fail to take responsibility for the results of the banking deregulation that their party "masterminded", they also manage to look as though they are the poor sods picking up the pieces after a socialist failure. That's such good insurance, too. They can carry on saying, for a while yet, that the problem they inherited was huge. And they're right. It was huge, because it had been being stoked up since the Big Bang 26 years ago.

Third, it's important that the press should have a field day with this picture, and be seen to be mocking the government precisely as Cameron wags his finger at it. If the Tories ever played a blinder, it was in their handling of the phone-hacking scandal. Their escape from disaster has been Houdini-like, their grasping of victory from the jaws of defeat purely and simply awesome.

Let's not forget how tricky things had been for the Conservatives. They had ignored years of rumours about "dark arts", to the point where Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his chief spin doctor and counted former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks as his close friend. It now transpires that the News of the World, under these editors, was so mired in criminality that it had to be destroyed, like a diseased and dangerous dog. Yet Coulson and Brooks had been recorded on film, at a select committee hearing no less, Brooks admitting the police had been known to sell stories to the paper, and Coulson interjecting to qualify what she'd said and wrap the conversation up. Cameron was able to brush aside the fact this pair knew things they could not openly talk about, because he wanted them as allies.

Yet now, having commissioned the Leveson report in response to the scandal, Cameron looks heroic as he insists the press must be free of government interference. Meanwhile, press interference in government, which is every bit as worrying, is manifestly apparent in this very manouevre.

Far from stepping back from manipulative, sensationalist mendacity in the run-up to the publication of Leveson's report, the press has actually turned it up a notch, in its successful attempts to smear the Leveson proposals as threatening their freedom. Take the Sun on Sunday (which replaced the News of the World). Here's Dr Sara Payne, arguing that "Free Press can be a bastion of hope for victims". "I am broadly in agreement with the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, who believes statutory underpinning of the Press would contravene the Human Rights Act. Surely if his proposal breaks European law it is dead in the water?"

How strange. The Sun publishes an edition in the Republic of Ireland, where News International has quite happily signed up to statutory underpinning that doesn't "break European law". Why did no one on the Sun's staff think fit to point this out to Dr Payne?

The Mail, another recent convert to Chakrabarti and her passion for human rights, is also signed up to the Irish regulatory regime. Why, if such a regime is so threatening to their freedom, do these media companies operate in this territory? How do they bear the government interference they must struggle under there? Easily. There isn't any.

The reason self-regulation has never worked for the British press in the past is because it isn't taken seriously enough by enough of the industry. Why isn't it taken seriously? Precisely because it's a law unto itself. Ordinary people had no one else to complain to if the Press Complaints Commission let them down, unless they could find a bottomless wallet and head for the libel courts. The grand eminences of press and government are united in wanting to keep it that way. No surprise there. They aren't ordinary people, so they do have greater access to bottomless wallets.

All a new press body needs is a contract with Ofcom, just as the Advertising Standards Authority has, so that there's somewhere other than expensive civil courts for people to go, if the new press body doesn't satisfy them. It's easy to see why the press doesn't want that. It's easy too, I'm afraid, to see why the Conservatives wish to please the press. For now, the right-leaning press might be happy to flirt with the idea of mocking the Conservatives and criticising their economic policies. But, come the next election, they'll fall back in line beautifully. What if any of the claims they make for the Conservatives don't quite seem legal, decent, honest and truthful to you? Complain to the new press body. And remember that if it wasn't for Cameron, your right to have your complaint examined would be statutory. Never mind. You'll just have to do what people do when they are let down by any other complaints procedure. That's right: Take it to the media. Or complain to your MP. Good luck.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Nick
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#90 Post by Nick » December 14th, 2012, 12:11 pm

Pathetic, just pathetic. :sad2:

lewist
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#91 Post by lewist » December 14th, 2012, 9:28 pm

Nick wrote:Pathetic, just pathetic. :sad2:
I'm glad you see it that way, Nick. The trouble is that these people are running the country at the moment. Here we are shielded from some of their excesses and lies but not all. In England you do not have a 'devolved' government to part protect you from them.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#92 Post by Nick » December 15th, 2012, 2:43 pm

I meant the article, Lewis...

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Alan H
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#93 Post by Alan H » December 31st, 2012, 10:57 am

In these difficult economic times, where belts have to be tightened, spending curbed, sacrifices made, we must remember that we're all in it together:
Spoiler:
2012-12-31_10h49_32.png
2012-12-31_10h49_32.png (667.5 KiB) Viewed 3024 times
OK, it's an old photo, but nevertheless...
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#94 Post by Alan H » January 3rd, 2013, 1:16 pm

A dose of localism the role of councils in public health is the title of a new report issued by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) after two meetings with Westminster City Council.

The recommendation that grabbed the headlines today was:
linking welfare measures to behaviours that promote public health.
Welfare
Linking welfare measures to behaviours that promote public health. Relocalisation of council tax benefit and housing benefit combined with new technologies provide an opportunity for councils to embed financial incentives for behaviours that promote public health. The increasing use of smart cards for access to leisure facilities, for instance, provides councils with a significant amount of data on usage patterns. Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents.
Now, they could well be intending to give additional benefits to residents to encourage (incentivise) them to take up exercise, but I somehow doubt that's what this means and that the headlines today probably more correctly sum up the intentions.

This blog post gives more criticism: Westminster Council’s proposals for obesity: awful, awful, awful and this sums it up nicely:
It’s a very shiny-looking report, with a picture of an apple on the front. The existence of apples, illustrated by a photograph of one, is literally the only thing which is in any way evidence-based within the entire report. There is not even a reference section. The report is entirely what a few wonks think might be a good idea.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#95 Post by Alan H » January 10th, 2013, 9:21 pm

Awwww...the poor little things...how can they possibly survive on such a measly pittance?
MPs call for '32% salary increase'

MPs' salaries have been frozen since 2011

Members said they deserved an £86,250 salary in an anonymous survey conducted by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

The research also found more than a third think they should keep final salary pensions.

The findings emerged as Ipsa published a report on its initial consultation into pay and pensions.

The Commons voted against a 1% pay rise in 2011 and, last year, agreed to extend the pay freeze into 2013.

But the survey found that 69% thought they were underpaid on their current salary of £65,738.

The average level suggested for the appropriate level of pay was £86,250.

YouGov conducted online interviews with 100 MPs on Ipsa's behalf, and weighted the results slightly to represent the Commons by party, gender, year elected, and geography.

Conservative MPs were the most likely to believe they were underpaid, according to the results.

On average, Tories said their salary should be £96,740, while Lib Dems thought the right amount was £78,361 and Labour £77,322. Other parties put the figure at £75,091.

A fifth of those questioned said they should be paid £95,000 or more.

The prime minister's official spokesman said David Cameron believed it was a matter for Ipsa, when asked about the prime minister's thoughts of MPs' demands for more pay.

'Regain trust'
Ipsa took control of MPs' pay and pensions in October last year - so MPs no longer get a vote on it.

The watchdog will put firm proposals out for consultation in the spring, with final decisions likely to be taken in the autumn.

It said it was not proposing to introduce performance-related pay, regional pay or to take outside earnings into account.

Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said: "In the past, MPs have agreed their pay and pensions among themselves.

Continue reading the main story
MPs' pensions

A funded final salary scheme
Normal retirement age is 65, minimum age is 55
MPs can contribute either 11.9%, 7.9% or 5.9% of their £65,738-a-year salary
Payments are now increased in line with the consumer prices index
Accrual is capped at two-thirds of an MP's final salary
The coalition agreement included a commitment to consult with the Ipsa on "how to move away from the general final salary pension system"
"So this new approach of independent decision-making marks a real and important change and is another crucial step in helping Parliament to regain the trust of the public.

"The consultation we held over the autumn has been hugely informative and important in directing our thinking. It also serves to show the spread of views and depth of feeling on this issue."

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Hiking politician's wages at a time of pay freezes, benefit caps and necessary spending cuts would be completely unpalatable to taxpayers."

He said most people think MP's current salaries are "about right".

MPs have a funded final salary pension scheme; they pay a fixed contribution and the Exchequer is liable for the balance.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Fia
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#96 Post by Fia » January 10th, 2013, 9:54 pm

As an essential public sector worker who hasn't had an increase for 3 years longer than the MPs, and even with other income have never earned more than £17,000 in a year my heart bleeds :angry:

To be fair, I know they have to pay other folk to do fulfil good constituency MPs role but it's still an eye-wateringly high income to me. Bet I could do better job for half the money....

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Alan H
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#97 Post by Alan H » January 10th, 2013, 9:57 pm

Fia wrote:As an essential public sector worker who hasn't had an increase for 3 years longer than the MPs, and even with other income have never earned more than £17,000 in a year my heart bleeds :angry:

To be fair, I know they have to pay other folk to do fulfil good constituency MPs role but it's still an eye-wateringly high income to me. Bet I could do better job for half the money....
I thought this was particularly galling:
MPs' salaries have been frozen since 2011
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#98 Post by Dave B » January 10th, 2013, 10:13 pm

I think their constituency and secretarial expenses should be decoupled from their salary, give them a fixed sum per constituent per annum.

Then they should be paid on performance . . .
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Nick
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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#99 Post by Nick » January 14th, 2013, 4:04 pm

Dave B wrote:I think their constituency and secretarial expenses should be decoupled from their salary, give them a fixed sum per constituent per annum.

Then they should be paid on performance . . .
I think they are met by expenses, Dave, though some do pay extra from their own salaries.

If MP's were being hired by a company to do equivalent work then I would expwect them to be right in their assessment of the monetary worth. But I think it is right, somehow, that there remains an element of public service in being an MP, and it does give them considerable market advantage in other areas. For example, though Michael Portillo is clearly a clever chap, and seems much nicer now he is not in Parliament, would he have managed to become a TV presenter or journalist if he were a complete unknown?

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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#100 Post by Dave B » January 14th, 2013, 4:27 pm

But I think it is right, somehow, that there remains an element of public service in being an MP
There I have to agree with you, Nick!

If there is no "vocational" element in a person's desire to become or remain an MP I feel they are in the wrong job. I do wonder about the motivation of any MP who seeks a ministerial position (or any person who seeks any position where they feel able to exercise "power" if it comes to that) - but then, I am just an old sceptic! It should be 20% them and 80% their constituents - why do I sometimes get the feeling the ratio is often reversed?

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Re: The future of Government (if any)

#101 Post by Nick » January 14th, 2013, 5:15 pm

Fun stuff from Tim Worstall at the Adam Smith Institute. Somewhat tongue in cheek, but raises some interesting thoughts as well as smiles. :wink:
Let's get medieval about paying MPs
Written by Tim Worstall | Sunday 13 January 2013

Our Honourable and Right Honourable Members of Parliament are offering us one of the less wholesome sights in politics: the discussion of how fat they should wax upon our money once again. Unsurprisingly for a group who get to decide themselves about how much of our money they should be paid the answer seems to be "more". More than they have been paid and more than almost all of us earn: earnings that must be scalped to pay them.

It's not an edifying sight their trotting out the usual arguments. They're terribly important so they should be well paid. I am particularly amused by their insistence that higher pay is needed to attract the "right types". They're too dim to understand that if higher pay is indeed needed to attract the right types then this obviously means that the current pay is insufficient to attract the right types. Which is why we've got the bozos we do, namely those arguing that their pay is too low to attract the right types. All those MPs thus making this argument are people arguing that they themselves should not be MPs. Which they may well be right about of course.

Given my own increasing age I am becoming increasingly convinced of the righteousness of the old ways of doing things. I would thus suggest that we should get properly medieval on the subject of political pay. Not quite to the extent of determining the sum in groats but certainly to adopt the method of determining how many groats it should be.

Simply abolish payment to MPs from central tax funds. Indeed, abolish payments to MPs from taxation altogether. My thanks to Mr. Dillow for having found this parliamentary document upon the historical pay of MPs. From which we get the following:

Payment of Members of Parliament can be traced back as far as the 13th century, when the shires and boroughs allowed their representatives certain wages for attending Parliament; knights received four shillings a day, and citizens and burgesses two shillings a day for the duration of the Parliament.

In modern terms this would be the constituency itself paying the constituency's representative. This of course is as it should be. Rather than some deduction from central funding the link between MP and the represented would be immensely strengthened by such a system. Local and regional variation would inveitably follow:

For example, in 1296 the two Aldermen representing the city of London were paid ten shillings a day and, in 1463, the Borough of Weymouth paid its burgesses with a wage of five hundred mackerel.

I admit to finding the thought of Richard Drax being paid in mackerel amusing. But over and above the amusement there is an important point here. MPs are not the centre's appointees over us. They are our appointees over the centre: we should thus be paying them directly, at the rate we approve of and are willing to dig into our pockets to provide. Their pay should not be some abstraction from central funds at all.

Another way of putting this is that we should reverse the nationalisation of how politicians are paid. This would truly be a return to a welcome localisation.

I see one further glory in such a system. There are plenty of constituencies where the election result is a foregone conclusion. It is the nomination proicess for one or another party that actually determiners who the MP is. By demanding that, even after such a pocket borough process, pay for the MP must be raised, directly and voluntarily, from the constituents we would produce a welcome diminution of party political power in our democratic processes. If some ass with a blue rosette, donkey with a red, does indeed get imposed by the central party machine they've still got to be competent enough to convince the provincials to actually pay them.

I am also convinced by this argument:

In general, the payment of Members by their own electors had ceased by the end of the 17th century. Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 30 March 1668 remarks:

"At dinner ... all concluded that the bane of the Parliament hath been the leaving off the old custom of the places allowing wages to those that served them in Parliament, by which they chose men that understood their business and would attend it, and they could expect an account from, which now they cannot."

If it was a good enough system that old Sam would mourn its passing it's a good enough system for me to advocate its reinstatement.

Of course, this is partly a result of my increasing age and my consequent reaching back into history for examples of how much better it all was before it went to the dogs as a result of the youth of today. Give me a few more years and I'll be reviving millennia old ideas. Although for the life of me I cannot even at present see why a decently bred horse couldn't do a better job than some of the current executive so perhaps Caligula did have something apposite to teach us.

But even if this could be dismissed as just an old way of doing things, we are constantly urged to at least consider the wisdom of the ancients, aren't we?

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