‘Armchair Auditors’ strike lucky

Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government Secretary, coined the phrase ‘armchair auditors’ to describe the actions of the public when reviewing all of his department’s expenditure in the past year.

Some people have got at the data with all the rapidity of a fox in a chicken coup.

  • Guido has spotted a bill of £7,500 from the Smith Institute, Gordon Brown’s dodgy think tank. He wonders if other government departments have similar bills? Good question Guido.
  • The TaxPayers’ Alliance have had a rolling blog all day as they trawl through the figures. They’ve totalled up the bills from SOLACE  – (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers) the representative body for senior strategic managers working in the public sector, which come to £104,000. Hmmm. This is like a senior staff union, however you dress it up.
  • The Daily Mail is indignant, well, what do you expect, and the Daily Telegraph picks out the ‘gory’ stuff too.
  • This news doesn’t figure among the lead stories on the BBC website, again, what do you expect. Their little piece HERE is buried in the politics page. Sorry Beeb, this is a BIG topic. Maybe they’re afraid transparency will be catching.

Praise deserved to the department that first in publishes their expenditure. Good job Eric.

Divorcing Europe, the programme summary

This is the summary of the BBC’s Divorcing Europe radio programme, which I promised in my earlier post. It’s just as I thought, 28 minutes is far too short a time to do anything other than look at the principles involved. Here’s my summary,

  • There’s an exit clause built into the Lisbon Treaty, which is news to me.
  • Greenland exited the EU in the 1980’s, proving leaving is possible.
  • Leaving wouldn’t be quick, a two-year harmonisation process would be likely.
  • Having Daniel Hannan, particularly, represent the intellectual argument to leave the EU gives it credibility and momentum.
  • The effects of leaving the EU on our fishing industry was discussed, without any conclusion. To understand more on fishing, read THIS on The Great EU Debate website, and also watch the video. 
  • Amazingly, the programme concluded that it’s an important debate, under-discussed for too long, and that it’s one that the country needs.

Divorcing Europe, a radio discussion this evening

Alerted by Iain Dale’s blog, I’ll be listening to BBC Radio 4’s Analysis: Divorcing Europe programme at 8.30 pm this evening.

It’s good to see they include MEP Daniel Hannan in the line up. It’s only a 30 minute programme, so a pretty short overview of the key arguments. Its’ taken many years, but this subject is at last getting a decent airing. Listen to Daniel Hannan’s views HERE, or dip into the TaxPayer’s Alliance website The Great EU Debate. Methinks this is a nice-to-have debate, but nothing will happen on this front for years, and years, if ever. I’ll provide a brief summary later.

Good work on uncovering the number of Quango’s

Even before I looked into the reasons for the disastrous foot and mouth outbreak at Pirbright in 2007, I’ve been concerned about the democratic deficit of Non Departmental Public Bodies, otherwise known as Quango’s.

It’s no easy task to investigate the activities of Quango’s, their operation, their funding and particularly their costs. As I said, looking deeper into the causes of the foot and mouth virus leak from The Institute of Animal Health’s laboratories at Pirbright was involved and time-consuming.

So, we must thank the good work of the TaxPayer’s Alliance for their latest work: Guide to the UK’s Semi-Autonomous Public Bodies.

I’ve added Public Bodies as a new category to this blog, as I’m keen to see how effective David Cameron is in abolishing quango’s.

Ugh, higher vehicle excise duty applies to 88% of cars

Congratulations to The TaxPayers’ Alliance, for publishing the table of how much extra Vehicle Excise Duty is payable on new cars.

Here’s what they say is the effect of the Chancellor’s tax rises:

A heavy majority of the different car models in current production will face increased taxes under the new charging structure, even compared to the 2008-09 rates:

  • 88 per cent of cars will pay more under Darling’s new charging structure.
  • 2 per cent of cars will pay the same under Darling’s new charging structure.
  • 9 per cent of cars will pay less under Darling’s new charging structure.