Its on our tab


untitled (15)The cost of running our Parliamentary democracy is a substantial sum, according to a BBC website from 2009 which suggests that following some cost cutting the annual cost had reduced to around £500M. I could not find any more up to date figures following a search on the internet, and note that the right wing Tax Payers Alliance which were behind the BBC report do not have anything on their own website either. Perhaps they might like to do a follow up, although clearly they might not want to embarrass their Tory pals. A couple of years earlier Phil Taylor, a Conservative Councillor from the London Borough of Ealing wrote about the need to cap this spending. He too is no longer focusing on this topic, any connection to a Conservative dominated coalition is probably purely coincidental.

In any economic equation, there are several factors to consider, cutting costs can be a false economy if the end result is that the organisation does not operate effectively. One element that was missing from these assessments, is the use of the time that half a Billion Pounds pays for. If this figure is largely a fixed cost, using this time becomes a major priority. In the last few days several events have taken place in the House of Commons that might suggest that more focus is needed, at least at the moment.

A major issue that has been debated in Parliament this week is the second reading of a bill on transparency and lobbying. I have already commented on it and I am certain that it will feature in future blogs. However after wasting over three years to get this legislation onto the agenda, and rushing the first draft into its first reading in July, the Bill is now to go through the committee stages next week yet only three days have been allowed for a piece of legislation that has been challenged from all parties as being ill thought through. There is a substantial risk that this legislation will become a white elephant or lemon due to the failure to invest sufficient time in its passage.

The second matter is a debate that is also vitally important, the United Kingdom Corporate and Individual Tax and Financial Transparency Bill which returned for its second reading on Friday, a day when Parliament is often poorly attended and finishes its work early. Despite this an earlier debate on Deep Sea Mining which was largely a rubber stamping exercise was allowed to run much longer than anticipated, with accusations of filibustering by Michael Meacher. This led to an inadequate debate on the Tax Bill which Mr Meacher was to introduce. The failure to use this limited time more effectively shows a disregard for priorities that the Government claims to be high on its list and the uncessary delay on the earlier matter suggests that a waste of our money has taken place in order to allow the Government to play at tactics.

Finally a question by Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby on Thursday which feels like dejavu as I have written twice before here and here about Simons abuse of Parliamentary time in order to get his name into Hansard. On this occasion he was asking a question about a policy which he suspects Labour want to introduce when they are next in power. The reference is here and the question and answer are below:

Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown) (Con): Tourism in Brighton and Hove is worth a staggering £1 billion a year. This morning, Labour twice failed to rule out a tourism tax in oral questions, and the Leader of the Opposition has failed to reply to a letter of four weeks ago. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan), who is in his place, seems to think it is a good idea. May we please have a debate on this disastrous policy? Mr Lansley: If I may say so to my hon. Friend, I must not hold the Government accountable for the policies of the Labour Opposition—or, indeed, of any Labour council—but I can at least note that, as our old friend David Mellor once told us, dogs bark, ducks quack and Labour puts up taxes.

It is clearly a waste of Parliamentary time to ask questions about policies that are not being proposed. Perhaps in the approach to 2015 General Election, Simon could make better use of the time he has at his disposal and focus on issues that will make a difference to his constituents, and avoid wasting funds that are set aside for better purposes.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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1 Response to Its on our tab

  1. Further to Ian’s contribution, may I add my own criticism towards Simon Kirby’s skulduggery over raising his question of a Tourist Tax in the Commons, by bringing to your attention this by another well respected political commenter in Bighton.
    http://gettingreadyfor2015.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/simon-kirby-is-a-very-frightened-man-indeed/

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