The Lords stance on tax credits is indispensable, not unconstitutional

Original post from The Guardian


Most MPs understand how vital our work on scrutinising legislation is – and where our remit lies. Pity David Cameron isn’t one of them

‘The House of Lords regularly proposes amendments to, and votes on, bills that involve government spending.’ Photograph: PA
‘The House of Lords regularly proposes amendments to, and votes on, bills that involve government spending.’ Photograph: PA

Andrew Lloyd Webber was required to fly across the Atlantic to add an extra vote to the Conservative total in the fight in the House of Lords against amendments to tax credit regulations this week. The government lost despite such desperate measures. And tomorrow it is likely to lose another debate on tax credits, in the House of Commons.

The flight of Lloyd Webber indicates just how significant the chancellor and prime minister believe these votes to be. We have to ask ourselves why. If there were a clear majority in the elected house – the House of Commons – in favour of what are, for many vulnerable people, catastrophic cuts, the government would have been able to get them through without much of a fuss. But that is far from the case. Although the government has won three votes on tax credits in the lower house it is important to know that a number of Conservative MPs are now “livid” that those votes happened when they did not have the information they needed to assess the impact of the cuts. They are asking for more information in tomorrow’s debate.

The government is talking nonsense when it claims that the votes in the Lords were unconstitutional and unprecedented. The tax credit cuts were put forward in the welfare reform and work bill, and not the budget. The House of Lords regularly proposes amendments to, and votes on, such bills, which always involve government spending. Had the tax credit cuts been introduced in the budget, the Lords would not have sought to amend them. Was the government trying to slip through these huge cuts to the welfare budget without debate? If so, putting them into regulations was very clever. Regulations tend to be given far less attention in the House of Commons than bills.

The government argues that it is unconstitutional for the Lords to vote on regulations, particularly those involving finance. The clerk of the parliaments – the highest authority on procedure – wrote a guidance note for me on my motion to hold off on the cuts, giving the government time to consider all aspects of them. He made abundantly clear in this note that “procedurally, the Meacher motion is entirely in order under the rules of the house” – and was entirely clear that my amendment was perfectly constitutional and was not unprecedented.

What was new was that my amendment was a “delaying” motion. The Lords, in passing it, were saying that we decline to consider the tax credit cuts regulations until the government provides a report making clear what these cuts mean to poor and vulnerable households. But, of course, the Lords can simply throw out a regulation. This is much more drastic than deferring a decision. The clerks agreed with us that there is no reason why the house should not defer consideration of an amendment, if it has the power to do something much more draconian. Admittedly, it is true that the house has chosen not to use a delaying power until now.

The fact is that George Osborne now has to make concessions, and those concessions will have to be more significant if he has no majority in the elected house. He has already indicated that he is working on some transitional arrangements that will mean the full effect of the tax credit cuts will be felt over time, instead of hitting home on 1 April next year. This will ease the pain considerably for current claimants – at least for a time – but it does nothing for new claimants. I hope he will find a way of protecting people who can earn very little, for reasons of their own disability or health problems, or those of their children; or because they are carers as well as workers in the economy; or have limited abilities. I am hoping that MPs will press home the importance of this point.

And will the Conservative leadership destroy the House of Lords? I doubt it. They have many friends in the house. The fact is that the MPs leave the work on regulations to the House of Lords. MPs are extremely busy with their constituencies and don’t have time for this very detailed work.

The House of Lords has many highly qualified professionals, including lawyers, who do an excellent job on regulations, and indeed on bills and European regulations as well. There are good reasons why MPs don’t actually want to abolish the Lords – such a move would make their lives impossible.   …………’

New laws for more open and safe care in the NHS

New laws for more open and safe care from Department of Health

An extract ‘Two new important laws to help improve patient safety, transparency, and leadership in the NHS come into force today.

The first is the statutory Duty of Candour, which places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform and apologise to patients if there has been a mistake in their care which has led to significant harm.  ……’

‘……..The second new law relates to ensuring strong and safe leadership in healthcare organisations. Under the new regulations, all NHS board members will be required to undergo a Fit and Proper Person’s Test before they are appointed.  ……’

For more information follow Fit and proper persons requirement and the duty of candour for NHS bodies*

It would appear that this is welcome news, which may be long over due, but will it make a difference. Only time will tell, for, no matter how much legislation is created, if the organisations do not abide by it, then will there be any difference. Will the monitoring by CQC (Care Quality Commission) be sufficient? Are the new laws robust enough? For as stated in the Duty of Candour ‘.. a mistake in their care which has led to significant harm.’ why not all mistakes, whether there is harm or not?

We do need to trust the NHS, which currently we may do or not. But if we did not have the NHS we would all be far worse for it not being there.


Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.


Jewellery Tax

On seeing the DM headline I double checked the date to see if it was 1 April, as only a fool would now vote Lib Dem. They wrongly assume that only the rich have such assets. What about the people who have worked all their life on a modest income and instead of spending any surplus income on frivolities, spent it on items to enhance their home and themselves, such as, good quality furniture and fittings and good quality fashion accessories. Then in retirement they have all they need for a comfortable life together with a reasonable pension and their home is now mortgage free.

Then comes the Lib Dems and brings these retired persons into a wealth tax bracket, they forget,  that they will not just be taxing the rich, but those who have invested for their retirement.

Why not go to full on Utopia, or would it be Dystopia, but is that a matter of opinion.

Now how could this be achieved, a welfare state could be created.  In the UK this started in 1906-1914, with the Liberal Welfare Reforms, which introduced:

  1.   Old-Age Pensions Act in 1908,
  2. the introduction of free school meals in 1909,
  3. the 1909 Labour Exchanges Act,
  4. the Development Act 1909, which heralded greater Government intervention in economic development
  5. the National Insurance Act 1911 setting up a national insurance contribution for unemployment and health benefits from work.
  6. then in 1942 came the Beveridge Report       

The Beveridge Report was the means by which the Labour government endeavoured to expand the welfare state.

Beveridge was opposed to “means-tested” benefits. His proposal was for a flat rate contribution rate for everyone and a flat rate benefit for everyone. Means-testing was intended to play a tiny part because it created high marginal tax rates for the poor (the “poverty trap“).

One of the main sections of the Beveridge Report was the National Health Service Act of 1946, which created the NHS, a free at point of provision for health care for all UK residents,which was implemented in 1948.

Another was the expanding of National Insurance to provide for the costs related to the various benefits created by the enacting of the Beveridge Report.

The idea being that those persons in employment would pay contributions to the state, in the form of National Insurance contributions and Income Tax, by way of PAYE for employed persons and payments paid direct to HMRC for self employed persons.

When there is a high ratio of persons employed or self employed persons to persons unemployed, the money collected to pay for the benefits to all persons will be more than likely sufficient to meet all costs required.  Where there is a high rate of unemployment, or the ratio of persons who would not normally be employed (children and retired) is considerably higher than those in employment, the costs may not be covered. Any shortfall in the costs would need to be either covered by government borrowing, the criteria for benefits be adjusted accordingly or taxation introduced into new areas.

This brings me back to the start of this article and the Lib Dems thought of introducing a Jewellery Tax.

But is there another option?

Instead of a percentage of any income paid to the government, in the form of National Insurance contributions and the various forms of taxation, why not all income be paid to the government. Then, in the form of an allowance, a proportion of this is then paid out to every legal resident of the country.

This would mean no one would need to apply for benefits, because everyone would be given their appropriate allowance. This means there would be no one who could be claiming any benefits to which they were not deemed to be entitled and so this would ensure there were no longer any, so called, ‘benefit scroungers’.  It would also solve the situation regarding illegal immigrants, as no one would receive an allowance until they were legally registered as a UK resident. It would solve benefit fraud.

To administer this system every person, as soon as they are born would need to be registered, as would anyone coming to the UK to legally reside, they could then be issued with an Allowance Card, similar to the various plastic cards already around today, for use as credit, debit or other cards.

All persons deemed to be eligible for work would be allocated a job, in line with their abilities, so therefore no one would be without a form of employment, so the benefit ‘Job Seekers Allowance‘ would no longer be required. There would be some people who are deemed unable to work, due to them having some form of disability, here people with disabilities would be assessed, using health based criteria  and be given a dispensation from the requirement to work. this would require their allowance to be increased accordingly to ensure their additional needs , due to their disability, could be met, so the various disability benefits would no longer be required.

A reason to live, yes or no?