Conservatives are right about Government waste and the need to keep a challenging approach! I have been asking Parliamentary Questions which have revealed high spending by Government on hospitality and first class air travel etc., I noticed recently how often departments “redesign” their websites, here are the tables showing how much taxpayers are spending on refreshing these sites very regularly – of course some entries are missing due to the usual non-answers by Ministers! (click on the costs to see the answer I received in Hansard)
|Department||Redesigns since 2005||Total cost|
|Business, Innovation and Skills||6||£175,000|
|Children, Schools and Families||4 (since its inception in June ’07)||£16,060|
|Communities and Local Government||2||£1,289,859|
|Culture, Media and Sport||1||£39,488.29|
|Ministry of Defence||4 (+ 2 “design enhancements)||£1,316,079|
|Energy and Climate Change||1||£8,435|
|Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs||1||£181,378|
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office||2||Cannot be disaggregated|
|Department of Health||1||£513,000|
|International Development||1 (+ 1 “simple redesign)||£970,419|
|Ministry of Justice||2||£107,950|
|Leader of the House||1||£24,155.39|
|Northern Ireland Office||1||£4,185.94|
|Prime Minister||1||Cannot be disaggregated|
|Women and Equalities||2 (since its inception in ’07)||NO ANSWER YET|
|Work and Pensions||1||£216,000|
I also asked each department about spending on departmental intranets:
|DEPARTMENT||Intranet designs since 2005||Cost|
|Business, Innovation and Skills||4||£28,253|
|Children, Schools and Families||1||£116,525|
|Communities and Local Government||2||Cannot be disaggregated|
|Culture, Media and Sport||None||0|
|Ministry of Defence||3||£625,828|
|Energy and Climate Change||1||£2,185|
|Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs||2||£245,032|
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office||2||£28,680|
|Department of Health||2||£69,576|
|Ministry of Justice||2||£4,725|
|Leader of the House||None||0|
|Northern Ireland Office||3||£8,800|
|Prime Minister||(No10 uses the same intranet as Cabinet Office, see above)||0|
|Wales Office||(no internal website)||0|
|Women and Equalities||(no internal website)||0|
|Work and Pensions||None||0|
Me out and about in Letchworth Garden City today:
It was a key recommendation of the Committee of Standards in Public Life (the Kelly Committee) that parliamentary candidates should file and publicise a declaration of interests to strengthen transparency and accountability in public life.
I have made a Declaration of Interests, which sets out that I have no outside financial interests and hold unpaid positions of responsibility in various voluntary organisations.
My declaration form is below:
Here is a photo of me and my team hitting the streets and campaigning for your support!
We had the first Hustings of the Campaign with all five candidates, in Braughing Village Hall, courtesy of Braughing Parish Council and chaired by Graham Frary, Parish Council Chairman.
Over fifty residents attended and were able to ask questions on a wide range of subjects. Particular issues of interest were Labour’s plans for an increase in National Insurance, which Oliver described as a “tax on jobs”, and planning, where local residents felt that too much development was being allowed.
With strike ballots very much in the news, it is worth considering whether there should be a turn-out threshold for the results to stand. At present a simple majority of votes cast is enough. Given the potentially drastic impact of a strike, there is a case for requiring a majority of those balloted. This would enhance workplace democracy by putting a premium on turnout. Some argue that in a General Election not even a simple majority is required to elect an MP. But there is a difference between deciding on a strike action – yes or no – or electing an individual MP taking account of their qualities and party policy issues. It is noteworthy that in that other area of workplace democracy – trade union recognition – there is a threshold that 40 per cent of those balloted must support recognition. Conservatives introduced modern workplace democracy with the introduction of secret ballots. A reasonable ballot threshold would further encourage turnout and legitimacy.
In my last blog, I was remembering when the last Labour Government lost its grip on the nation’s finances and was damaged after a welter of strikes in 1978/1979 known as the Winter of Discontent. A number of readers have commented to me that it just does not make sense to strike in the current economic climate with the risk to the employer’s business and jobs. As though the BA strike threat was not bad enough, we now hear of a threat of a first national rail strike in 16 years after the RMT union voted for industrial action. This lunchtime RMT announced 54% of members voted for industrial action over signal workers’ job cuts. Train operators have condemned strike action. Perhaps the unions sense that the government is a lame duck and will be desperate to find a way out, hoping they will apply pressure to meet strikers’ demands. But jobs are precious and the success of business is vital to see jobs created and protected. Strikes damage business anyway, but to strike in the middle of an economic crisis didn’t make sense in 1978/1979 and doesn’t make sense now.