EU Referendum Act 2015

Just in passing - who gave the Supreme Court authority to act in this matter in the first place?

Brexit ruling: The Supreme Court Judgement - The principal issue - Majority Judgement

 

The Supreme Court judgment

“.. The 2016 referendum is of great political significance. However, its legal significance is determined by what Parliament included in the statute authorising it, and that statute simply provided for the referendum to be held without specifying the consequences ..”

 

Therefore this gives rise to the following questions:

  • How many (if any) previous Acts have been passed without a conclusion?

  • If there were none then why was the EU Referendum Act 2015 the exception?

  • If there have ever been other previous Acts of this nature without a conclusion, then how were they ultimately resolved and with what outcome?

If the Act was ‘advisory only’ then why was the public not made aware of this fact at the time prior to the vote, rather than retrospectively? This is especially relevant given the following quote from EU Referendum Bill Receives Royal Assent

 

Quotes:

“‘.. It is vital that the public is able to make an informed choice ..’”

“‘.. The EU Referendum Bill was introduced to Parliament on 28 May 2015. The Bill started in the Commons, and then passed through the Lords in the usual way. Both Houses had to agree to every part of the Bill ..’”

 

Something does not ring true here!

Surely it is very concerning that all parties throughout the process – UK Government, House of Commons, House of Lords and presumably those Civil Servants drafting the Bill all either overlooked or deliberately chose to ignore the conclusion of a ‘leave vote’

In fact it does rather stretch credibility that all these esteemed worthies missed the one critical aspect of the entire process – the conclusion

Unless of course none of those concerned with vetting the Bill actually wished a ‘leave vote’ and deliberately ignored the conclusion in case the vote went against them - affording the ability to challenge matters in the way we have just seen

Interestingly enough, this approach would seem be rather in keeping with the ‘independence’ demonstrated by some members of the Supreme Court

Daily Mail Review of Supreme Court Judges Links to the EU

So where do we go from here? Since holding people to account seems to be in vogue at the moment, how about an impartial investigation into the following:

  • The impartiality of some of the Supreme Court Judges. It is debatable whether impartiality can be maintained when those close to them have made public statement on the subject or they themselves have ‘.. taken the EU shilling ..’ or potentially have an EU pension

  • The Civil Servants who drew up the Bill and whether they raised the matter of a conclusion with their political masters

  • The House of Commons – who may try to block the process

  • The House of Lords – who may try to block the process

After all, a great number of those above potentially wished to remain in the EU and with this in mind could they be truly regarded as independent?

REFERENCES

Was EU referendum advisory

Legislation required before UK gives notice on leaving the EU

 

Tags: , | Categories: European Union | UK Government

One really does have to wonder whether this challenge is really about legality or simply a smoke-screen for something else - stymying the actual vote or at least watering down the effects so that there is no real change; and why the issues were not raised by MP's rather than the legal system

Background

The question on the ballot paper was unequivocal: Did we want Britain to remain in the EU or leave?

The result was a clear majority of 52 per cent to 48 per cent and the vote was to Leave

MP's voted 6-1 in favour of holding the referendum in the first place

Funding for the Original Case

Perhaps not as transparent as it could have been

A great deal of the funding seems to have been provided by expats and others who have chosen not to live in the UK in the first place, as well as undisclosed businesses with their own agenda

Deir Dos Santos - CASE

Written Case of Deir Dos Santos

Question

Is the UK legal system in place to rectify errors, oversights or wishes of the disenfranchised when Parliament passes Acts?

At the time the 2015 European Union Referendum Act was passed, Parliament was quite at liberty to address the matter of the Royal Prerogative and limit its use – as has been done in other instances

Whatever the reasons were, at the time Parliament chose not to do this

Therefore is it appropriate at this stage for the legal system to try to re-write the 2015 European Union Referendum Act to exclude the Royal Prerogative after the event

Surely this approach is an abuse of the legislative process in trying to gerrymander the system in the aftermath of a majority vote that many disagreed with

Original Ruling

Justification for the original ruling seems to have been based upon historic precedents as far back as:

  • 1610 Case of Proclamations. The argument put forward was flawed because the impact of the statement ‘.. Brexit would have a direct impact on substantive legal rights under UK domestic law ..’ 

The actual direct action is to trigger Article 50, which by definition is an international treaty event (Royal Prerogative)

Everything subsequent to triggering Article 50 becomes an indirect domestic (Parliamentary) consequence relating to cause and effect and should not therefore be a material consideration in any judgement

  • 1689 Bill of Rights

‘.. For the reasons set out in the judgement, we decide that the Government does not have power under the Crown's prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union ..’ 

However, once one acknowledges that Article 50 is clearly an international treaty event and therefore subject to the Royal Prerogative then this judgement is instantly flawed. The fact that it is the causation of a 'knock-on' impact under UK domestic law is secondary and entirely irrelevant

However:

Let us just stop and think for a moment about the impact of a ruling against the Government over Article 50 on the basis of any secondary consequential events as a result of 'cause & effect'.

Supposing that as a result of a ruling against the Government the BREXIT vote was 'watered down' or even in the worst case scenario cancelled all together, against the wishes of the people.

What would be the consequence of the judiciary interfering with the peoples vote and effectively subjugating Parliament to their wishes - and if it is deemed acceptible what of anything in the future or even better let's trawl through the past and see if we can mount a legal challenge to anything historic that we don't like

Legality of the European Communities Act 1972

Was the UK's membership of the EU contrary to UK law and therefore invalid?

Was Britain Taken Into The EU Illegally?

Therefore perhaps the Supreme Court should address this issue before passing judgement on something that is dependant on valid membership of the EU in the first place

In any event, if everything was perfectly correct at the time then WHY did the following take place?

'.. In 1975, when the Government changed, Harold Wilson sought to put right the clear constitutional error by organising a retrospective referendum (something quite unprecedented in British history) designed to obtain the permission of the British people for Britain to join something it had already `joined' ..'

Clearly there are some questions that need answers before moving forward on the current legal challenge to Article 50

Legality of the CFP

In fact why not start with the legality of the European Communities Act 1972, when the UK joined the European Union and the impact of EEC and Council Regulation 2141/70, concerning the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) which was only adopted on the morning of 30 June, the day the British application for membership was made and remained illegal for many years thereafter

In October 1971, Geoffrey Rippon, Britain’s chief negotiator stated ‘.. one thing is certain . . . we should not sign a Treaty of Accession which would commit us to the present fisheries policy..’

A number of Ministers at the time, made a similar statements and MPs voted on accession to the treaty during a debate in which the passage relating to fisheries was NOT published; so the debate was on flawed principles engineered by those who drew up the debate topic

During the first 22 years of its existence the CFP was completely illegal; according to the EEC's own laws and none of the Articles quoted in the treaty, numbers 7, 42, 43 and 235 mention fisheries

Article 38 is usually quoted as the source but was, in actual fact, left out of the regulation in the haste to draw it up

Finally, authorisation was retrospectively inserted into Article 3 of the Treaty of Maastricht many years later! - ergo: no-disclosure is surely definate grounds for a challenge on membership of the EEC

Therefore, if any such challenge on this matter was upheld and it was found that the UK should never have joined the EEC in the first place, then the BREXIT issues of today would surely be extinguished as they could not exist - 'cause & effect'!

Geoffrey Robertson QC 

'.. That’s what the Civil War was about – the right of parliament to stop the Crown doing things that weren’t in the national interest ..' 

However, quoting the National Interest introduces yet another facet - the voting public and a definition of National Interest

Apart from a few pockets, the majority of the population voted to leave the EU, however, in a great many cases their MP representatives in Parliament ignored the wishes of those they represented. Therefore we have a situation whereby the people voted one way and their MP's wanted something else

Where does the National Interest stand in this instance and who takes primacy – MP’s or voters?

Sovereignty

What was the net effect of the 1972 European Communities Act for UK Parliamentary Sovereignty?

This has already been answered and interpreted by UK courts as granting EU law primacy over domestic UK legislation

Therefore, if there was a conflict between an act of the British Parliament and EU law, Parliament would lose out and EU law would prevail. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) became in effect a Supreme Court of Europe, interpreting EU law with judgements that were binding on all member states

Based upon this concept of ‘EU law being granted primacy over domestic UK legislation’ one cannot include the concept of the Sovereignty of Parliament because it has already been relinquished by the 1972 European Communities Act. Until Parliament repeals the 1972 Act and takes back that part of its sovereignty that was lost to EU law, Parliament does not currently have absolute sovereignty because part of it has already been ceded to the EU

Therefore the Sovereignty of Parliament and the 1972 European Communities Act are by definition mutually exclusive 

Royal Prerogative

The Royal Prerogative has always contained powers relating to foreign affairs, which have historically involved the making of treaties at international level. Therefore the ability of the Government to ratify treaties remains a prerogative power, as does the power to amend or withdraw from treaties

However, obligations arising from international law treaties do not take effect at domestic level until Parliament chooses to incorporate all or part of the international law into the domestic sphere, which means a separation between between the two

The EU involves an international treaty and as such falls under the remit of the Royal Prerogative in isolation to separate domestic ratification though Parliament

Is the actual Article 50 an international event or a domestic one? Clearly without clouding the issue by introducing any subsequent 'knock-on' effect, Article 50 falls into the domain of international - ergo: subject to the Royal Prerogative and there can be no other interpretation

In any event, surely the whole point of the Royal Prerogative is that it is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognised in the UK as the sole prerogative of the Sovereign and the source of many of the executive powers of the British government

This is especially so where it is recognised that the four major personal prerogative powers which are exercised by the monarch are:

  • The dissolution of Parliament
  • The appointment of the Prime Minister
  • The granting of the royal assent to legislation
  • The dismissal of government

This makes no sense in the context of the Royal Prerogative needing to be ceded by Parliament in this instance – it is already the default position (especially as Article 50 is an international event) and any restrictions needed to be specified at the time of the 2015 European Union Referendum Act.

The assumption of action was implicit when the 2015 European Union Referendum Act was passed - otherwise why bother to have a referendum if Parliament was not prepared to act on the results?

Therefore is it Dominic Chambers who is looking at it ‘.. from the wrong end of the telescope ..’ in his argument

By default Parliament has already ceded the necessary powers and it is up to Parliament to specifically restrict any powers it does not wish to cede – this was not done at the time in the 2015 European Union Referendum Act and one cannot revisit this matter retrospectively after the event because the results didn't go ones way

Arrogance of Dominic Chambers

‘..  Lord Carnwath suggests it would be strange if parliament expressed its will through a resolution but then there was still a need to go back to parliament for legislation to implement it.

Chambers suggests it might be “odd... to the man on the Clapham omnibus” but not to lawyers ..

What a staggering display of arrogance by Dominic Chambers

Surely the whole point of the legal system is to be seen to be fair and understandable by the ‘common man’ and any convoluted argument he puts forward that is impenetrable ‘.. to the man on the Clapham omnibus ..’ cannot possibly be seen to have these qualities

Can Dominic Chambers not understand that this is precisely what the whole thing is about in the first place ‘Elites’ v ‘man of the street’! and once the law and rulings become opaque or obscure the system has failed

David Scoffield QC – N Ireland

He seems to be on different wavelength to everyone else. Is this hearing really about the politics of triggering Article 50 or limited to the legal issues?

Ronan Lavery QC – N Ireland

‘..  It would be unconstitutional to withdraw from the EU without the consent of the people of the Northern Ireland ..’

Don’t be so ridiculous – there was a vote throughout the UK and a clear majority/mandate to follow a certain course of action. Which part of a clear majority does Ronan Lavery QC not understand

Or is he advocating that every settlement within the UK can individually elect to be in or out of the EU? - a flawed argument

Everyone now seems to getting in on the act, pursing their own agenda with little or no regard to the issues

James Wolfe QC – Lord advocate for the Scottish Government 

Scottish Government Stance

‘.. At a constitutional level leaving the EU would limit the competence of the Scottish parliament and the competence of the Scottish government, Wolfe argues ..’ 

Since rewinds over history seem to be in vogue:

  • What about the Darien Scheme (bailout) and the events leading up to the Act of Union - this leads to the heart of historic competence
  • With the benefit of hindsight, the Scottish referendum a couple of years ago could have ended in exactly the same way as the Darien Scheme, with yet another bailout by RUK because of falls in the oil price etc. However, all this seems to have been glossed over by Nicola Sturgeon and her cohorts who backed a potential disaster - this goes to demonstrate present day competence?

Therefore in the light of the two matters above why should there be an expectation of future competence when it has not been demonstrated in the past - and history is often demed to be a window on the future

Once again a participant not restricting their case to the absolute matter at hand – stick to the topic - legality

Lord Pannick QC

Lord Pannick QC seems to be a gun for hire, who potentially has no beliefs other those that he is paid for or where he has an interest coupled with a difficulty over disclosure!

We see in the Sunday Times (11 December 2016)

 

Sunday Times (11 December 2016): - Greens Pannick Stations Mocked

Now the select committee has fired back a salvo. Gabriel Moss QC, who advised the inquiry, has produced a 10-page note responding to Pannick’s report. Moss reckons Pannick’s opinion could not “accurately be described as ‘an independent review’ ” due to his personal connections, and that it was instead “a forceful legal and factual argument” on behalf of Green, 64, and his empire.

Moss goes on to say the committee was free to make a 'value judgment' on 'the question of moral blame'. He argues the rights and wrongs of Green’s behaviour 'cannot be answered simply by pointing to arid technicalities of company law'

 

This is the interesting and very telling paragraphs in his defence of Philip Green which give an insight into Lord Pannick modus operandii

‘.. He argues the rights and wrongs of Green’s behaviour “cannot be answered simply by pointing to arid technicalities of company law ..’

Furthermore:

'.. Cynics pointed out that Pannick, 60, had probably been handsomely remunerated for his work, and that he is friendly with Green associates such as Baroness Brady and Lord Grabiner — a fact that was strangely not disclosed until the 64th paragraph ..' - mmm !

Perhaps we should compare the previous statements to his current task of influencing the BREXIT result - after all so far as Lord Pannick is concerned the law would seem to be nothing but an inconvenience in getting his own way

Tags: , | Categories: European Union | UK Government

With reference to the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset - surely an interesting and pertinent question should be

Why would anyone be comfortable with a foreign power (especially China) being involved with constructing a critical component of UK infrastructure?

The following would seem to be relevant considerations

  • Allowing the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to have such a close access to the UK’s energy infrastructure would give the state-owned firm the potential ability to build weaknesses into computer systems
  • CNNC has military links and developed the country’s atomic bomb and nuclear submarines
  • CNNC was not involved in the original Hinkley although rumour has it that the company agreed in principle to buy half of China’s 33% stake in the £24bn project. Therefore it is gaining 'backdoor' access to a project that it was never involved with in the first place - presumably this means that it was never vetted as a supplier in the first instance?
  • National Security - MI5 and MI6 have been warning the government about China's involvement for months - over national security and links to the Chinese military and Chinese Communist Party. Especially relevant in relation to the UK involvement in NATO and close links with the USA
  • Academic experts have also been warning us - and the government - for months about the dangers of involving China in a nation’s infrastructure construction program
  • The whole matter has been shrouded in a total the lack of transparency from the last Government – David Cameron and George Osborne do not appear to have looked into the background at all, in their headlong rush to 'cosy up' to China, where other considerations take second place
  • The possibility of old technology being used for the reactors - therefore they may well be out of date even before being comissioned
  • Who will build the reactors? - will it be Aviva or will Chinese General Nuclear be involved – if so, then there may well be safety issues
  • It is rumoured that the Chinese own first nuclear power station had building defects and reported minor leakages – however, corroboration is difficult because of state censorship
  • The huge cost of the entire project – both initially and with guaranteed future payments to the consortium building the project. With subsidies nearly 5 times as big as being previously stated - Hinkley Point C cost 30bn top-up payments NAO report - This also potentially breaches the EU’s state aid limits together with the French Governments ‘top-up’ for EDF with challenges coming from Austria & German Greenpeace
  • Eye watering cost to the taxpayer for 35 years from first becoming operational
  • Yet more levels of nuclear waste at a time when no-one has really come up with a viable method of disposing of the existing waste
  • Design of the reactor - so far proved impossible to make work and regarded by some as “unconstructable”
  • Problems exist with the Flamanville plant in Normandy (6 years behind schedule and € 7bn over budget). There would seem to be weak spots in the lid and the bottom which could reduce the resistance of the metal. The head of the French nuclear regulator, Pierre-Franck Chevet, warned any defects could be very costly to rectify - he explained: “This is a serious, even a very serious anomaly as it affects an absolutely crucial reactor component on which no risk of rupture can be taken.” - EDF's real problem is Flamanville not Hinkley Point
  • With all this in mind the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Project can be summed up as massively costly, potentially illegally funded, threat to national security, using outdated & incorrect technology, having safety issues and with a very real prospect of never being finished and costing the UK taxpayer an immense amount of money – hardly a resounding endorsement!

Also never forget the on-going impact of the Fukushima disaster even today with contamination and the very costly failure of the ice wall containment system - Fukushima ice wall a very costly failure

 

Fukushima ice wall a very costly failure

The biggest ticket failure was apparently a $270 million water decontamination system from French nuclear behemoth Areva. Designed to remove radioactive cesium from water gushing from Fukushima Daiichi’s three destroyed reactors, the machine was never fully operational, functioned only three months and processed only 77,000 tons of liquid — in total — a minute fraction of the 300,000 tons of contaminated water flowing from the site (and into the sea) each day

 

And now the Chinese Ambassador is trying to threaten the UK if we do not go ahead with this project - China warns of 'crucial juncture' over Hinkley delay

Quite apart from the USA Government and Companies being under constant threat of being 'computer hacked' by China - although less so since 2014 because they have now reverted to stealing intellectual property

Nevertheless, what price the 'mutual trust' mentioned by the Chinese Ambassador? China Still Successfully Hacking US, But Less - after all trust works both ways and has to be demonstrable not just rhetoric!

 

UPDATE - 11 August 2016

Chinese Hinkley backer is accused of espionage

 

Chinese Hinkley backer is accused of espionage (Times Newspaper)

“Britain’s Chinese partner in the Hinkley Point power station deal is facing nuclear espionage charges in the United States.”

China General Nuclear Power (CGN), a state-owned energy giant, is accused of leading a conspiracy to steal American power industry secrets to speed up the development and production of Chinese reactor technology. Szuhsiung Ho, a senior adviser to CGN, is due in court next week accused of recruiting American experts to obtain sensitive nuclear technology for China in a plot that threatened US security

 

 

UPDATE - 12 August 2016

Australia rejects energy deal with China over security fears

 

Australia rejects energy deal with China over security fears (Times Newspaper)

“Australia blocked Chinese investors from buying the country’s largest electricity network yesterday, citing national security concerns”

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute published a report last week warning that the sale of the network to Chinese investors would make the country’s defence bases and industry vulnerable to interference. The think tank added that Australia would become more vulnerable to cyberattacks originating from China

 

 

Furthermore ...

 

According to UK Government - Solar and wind power will be cheaper than nuclear (Times Newspaper)

“Solar and wind power will be cheaper than nuclear electricity before the Hinkley Point power station could be open, according to the UK Governments own projections”

 

 

UPDATE - 14 August 2016

As previously mentioned

May given legal get-out to pull plug on Hinkley nuclear plant

 

Sister Project - Flamanville in Northern France (Times Newspaper)

“Two years ago the EU approved a generous subsidy scheme that the government had agreed with EDF and CGN to underwrite the project. A key part of the deal was a Treasury guarantee for up to £17bn in loans”

“According to article 56 of the Brussels ruling, this guarantee was conditional on “objective evidence” that EDF’s reactor technology worked. This must be proven by Flamanville completing its “trial operation period” by the end of 2020”

“Flamanville is using the same reactor design intended for Hinkley. Under construction since 2007, the French project has fallen years behind schedule and gone billions of euros over budget”

“France’s nuclear regulator, the ASN, last year found “anomalies” in its steel reactor vessel. The watchdog is not expected to report back with suggested remedies until 2017”

 

 

UPDATE - 23 August 2016

China - State-run company’s rigs are ‘strategic weapons’

China takes control of North Sea oil drilling

 

State-run company’s rigs are ‘strategic weapons’ (Times Newspaper)

“A decade ago Cnooc was blocked from buying a US oil company over national security concerns. No concerns appear to have been raised in Britain when the company bought Nexen, a Canadian oil operator with a large stake in North Sea oil, in 2012. Cnooc has also drawn criticism for its operations in the South China Sea, which China has claimed for itself despite an international tribunal ruling to the contrary”

“In 2012 Wang Yilin, Cnooc’s former chairman, told Communist Party superiors that “large-scale deep-water rigs” of the sort used in the disputed region were China’s “mobile national territory and a strategic weapon””

 

 

UPDATE - 09 November 2016

Hinkley firm may have to turn off lights

 

Hinkley firm may have to turn off lights (Times Newspaper)

“The French company chosen to build Britain’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point may have to switch off the lights in its home country because of safety concerns over its reactors. With 20 of the 58 nuclear reactors in France out of service, officials fear that EDF, the state-owned energy giant, will be unable to meet demand if temperatures fall this winter”

“The scandal came to light after it emerged that the reactor vessel at Flamanville — where EDF is building a reactor of the sort intended for Hinkley Point — contained potentially dangerous flaws. Amid fears that EDF’s existing nuclear plants could also contain unsafe components, France’s nuclear watchdog ordered a programme of tests on 18 reactors. Analysts said that a drop in output because of the tests was likely to cost EDF at least €1 billion”

 

 

Tags: | Categories: China | Energy | UK Government

The trouble with Government & Central Bank interference in markets is the law of unexpected / unknown consequences and this has been a situation repeated over history

Recessions are the markets way of weeding out potential issues. Inevitably some businesses go to the wall but in theory a severe downturn does leave a stronger more vibrant market with more opportunities, for those who can weather the storm

However, once Central Banks get involved in their misguided attempts to influence markets, a short sharp recession can drag on for years or decades whilst ‘zombie’ businesses are propped up and can keep going despite the fact that they should have been wound up years before

This is where we are today – a global foul up by Central Bankers, who, for some reason, seem to believe they know better than anyone else and continue to implement damaging policies in attempts to bolster consumer spending and all manner of other remedies to avoid a recession. Most of which only make the situation worse by kicking the problem into the 'long grass' for the future

  • Unfortunately they never seem to take on board the resulting fall out
  • Why are houses so expensive that the UK younger generation cannot afford to get a foothold on the housing ladder? - could it be because the knock on effect of low interest rates is increased property prices 
  • Is it really a good thing to encourage consumer spending at all costs – and ignoring the individual debt cost - generally incurred by those who can least afford it?
  • What happens when pensioners who were able to live on the interest from their capital can no longer do this with zero interest rates - inevitably they will go to the State for support to supplement their non-existent interest receipts - so this backfires on the State. After all we are now being told that within 8 years 20% of the population will be over 65 year old - so how many of these have been let down by the BOE decisions & how are they to make up for their shortfall in their income as a direct result of Central Bankers?

Therefore, how does a race to the bottom by Central Bankers benefit anyone with ever lower interest rates, whilst each country tries to 'steal a march' on others by reducing their rates even further?

Furthermore, why is there such a disparity between Credit Card interest rates and the BOE rate? – and what, if anything, has been done about the usury rates charged by Credit Card providers. How about policies such as making Credit Card interest rates no greater than say the Bank Rate plus 10%

And now these 'Masters of the Universal' have hit upon negative interest rates, helicopter money and all sorts of ideas that will only exacerbate the current situation in an attempt to ensure short term fixes at the expense of future problems

Enter Perpetual Bonds – Wow, here is a winner! 

We all know that global debt is pretty much beyond counting so this could be the answer to Government dreams

Essentially Perpetual Bonds - aka Consols but potentially ex coupon - have no maturity date, and when one couples this with zero or negative interest rates, Governments around the world suddenly have an epiphany

Why don’t we issue ‘perps’ combined with zero/negative interest – which would solve the global debt problem. After all if one can get enough ‘suckers’ to buy these bonds then:

  • It is very cheap money (borrowing) – bond holders are paying you interest to hold your paper
  • Here is the kicker, you never have to pay the money back (perpetual bond) and over time the debt will erode to nothing anyway

So why not load up these bonds with the entire global debt and just move on - problem solved

OR SO THEY THINK!

Tags: | Categories: Bank of England | Economics | UK Government

Negative interest rates have been on the cards for sometime and seem to be one of the solutions of Central Banks - who are themselves fundamentally flawed by insisting on interfering with the markets

Why is it that the banking system seems to constantly get away with ridiculous practices that would not be permitted in any other industry - whilst at the same time lining their own pockets with disproportionate salaries?

If zero/negative interest rates are the order of the day then they should apply to everything across the board and not selective areas. Should the banks choose to impose negative rates on credit balances the they also ought be subject themselves to the same interest rates when they lend out money - resulting in the fact that they should pay borrowers interest rather than charge them interest.

This would apply in paying interest to those who hold mortgages or overdrafts and the biggest disgrace of all are the interest rates charged by credit card companies which is bordering on usury at 25% plus, when the Bank of England rate is so low

Yet nothing seems to be done about credit card interest rates by the Government - why not?

However, at the same time nobody seems interested in putting a stop to the banking systems use of 'fractional reserve banking' - unless digital currency puts an end to this practice

All this would seem to be a push to do away with cash and replace it with a digital currency such as bitcoin and if this came to pass the current banking system as we know it would become superfluous. After all why would anyone hold money in the current system with the potential of a run on the banks or RBS scenario when it would be held in a new (revamped) style central bank

Unfortunately once this 'demise of cash' occurs, consumers could be 'forced' to spend a certain amount or otherwise incur penalties and far too much control then passes over to the Central Banks - to abuse their position at will

In the meantime, how do the Central Banks propose to deal with any future recessions under their current policies? After all, the present problem is too much global debt in one form or another and the Central Banks will have used up one of the tools in their armament by forcing down interest rates from sensible levels to levels that bear no relation to risk and will eventually become the new norm for a whole generation 

Making the 'fallout' from even a modest interest rate rise very considerable

Furthermore, what do Governments do when their entire ageing population comes knocking on their door because they cannot afford to live with 0% interest on their savings, which have become worthless?

And as for the farcical 'stress testing' for residual capital on the banks balance sheets after an 'adverse scenario' - whose money is it anyway on their balance sheets and if it were not for the bankers slight of hand, claiming clients money as their own would they even be in this situation in the first place? What about ring fencing client money in the first place rather than claiming it as their own?

Tags: , | Categories: Bank of England | UK Government | US Government

A second referendum petition – created on 24 May 2016

EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum

‘.. We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60%, based on a turnout less than 75%, there should be another referendum ..’

At the time of the referendum result was announced the petition had 22 signatures and as such was regarded by those who are currently complaining as having no relevance

All petitions run for a period of 6 months and this one expires on 25 November 2016

However, with petitions of this nature one cannot have a ’one timescale fits all’ approach because clearly it is absurd to allow any petition to be retrospective after an event has already taken place. The event itself should be the cut of date for a Parliamentary debate

Here a few of the petition results as at 26 June 2016

162,227 people were from outside the UK – most of whom did not have a vote in the referendum in the first place i.e.

  • France 17,383
  • North Korea 18,827
  • Spain – 11,016
  • Vatican City 31,379

(To verify these figures just download the Government json file and run it though an online json/csv converter & load in Excel)

The results of the referendum have been announced and they showed a vote for leaving the EU by 52% to 48%

One simply cannot resurrect something because one doesn’t like the result and anyway surely this just epitomises the whole EU ethos surrounding a complete lack of democracy  - which is why many voted leave in the first place

Tags: | Categories: European Union | UK Government

Let’s keep the issue simple so that it does not become too involved

The Bank of England is making a great mistake in clamping down on borrowing so late in the economic cycle when it should really have been addressed far earlier. Their proposal for mortgage ‘stress testing’ is badly thought out and will inevitably be subject to the law of unforeseen consequences by penalising buyers in poorer areas of the country

Firstly the BOE dropped interest rates to artificially unrealistic levels and held them in this depressed state for a number of years, whilst ignoring the impact on savers, who were held out to dry

Secondly the BOE imposed no controls (stress testing) early on at the start of the economic cycle on mortgage affordability and took no account of interest rates inevitably returning to their mean. They now seem surprised that anyone who could, took out unaffordable mortgages, at unrealistic long term interest rates, on unrestricted multiples of income. What did the BOE really think would happen with the introduction of cheap money – one doesn’t really need a crystal ball to predict the outcome?

Now both the BOE and politicians are caught in a dichotomy between economic and social considerations, because interest rates cannot be raised without the inevitable social fallout when mortgage repayments rise and existing home owners cannot afford their repayments. We are told that a 0.5% rise in rates will cause problems for 750k mortgagees and no politician likes the prospect of political suicide such as this

Nevertheless this is the present reality, so what is to be done?

The simple facts are

  • Any housing bubble will be driven by London and the South East in the main, although there are other pockets throughout the country as well
  • Other areas in the county are either stagnant or have falling house prices

The question therefore is how to curb one without affecting the other.

With this in mind, we need to ask what element under state control affects housing irrespective of location and remains pliable. Surely the answer is the rating system and by controlling the rates it is surely remarkably simple to influence the housing market, as well as raising money from wealthy areas to support those that are less fortunate

The current rates system has a cap at the highest band H, which equated to a house price of £320k as at April 1991 (or approximately an average of £1.05m today)

Therefore by definition anyone with a house valued at more than band H is getting a ‘free ride’ by not paying the same proportion of their house value as those lower down the scale; furthermore, the greater the house value the more inequitable the whole situation becomes

Possible Solution

Adopting the following simple approach would allow the weighting to be in favour of those areas in the country where house process have stagnated whilst potentially curbing possible housing bubbles in areas such as London

Change the rating system to be a single percentage for all domestic properties (say – 0.3%) over the entire country and use the latest Land Registry purchase as the base value of the property

  • Easy to implement & collect
  • Simple to change the percentage if necessary
  • Automatic adjustment every year according to Land Registry records – no challenge to RV possible
  • Accommodates asset rich/cash poor who have owned their house for many years
  • Everyone pays the same percentage on the last purchase price of their house

Naturally there will be objections but on balance this is probbaly the simplest and fairest solution to a difficult issue. After all if one can afford to purchase an expensive house then you should be able to cover the running costs; alternatively don't buy the property, it really is very simple

Reference

Mansion Tax Acceptable Idea With Shambolic Presentation

Tags: , | Categories: Bank of England | UK Government

After many years of trying to publish documents relating to the run up to the Iraq War conflict we now find out that full transcripts of Tony Blair’s conversations with US  President George Bush will be withheld; effectively stymying the Chilcot enquiry and making it a complete waste of time and money - or as some have said 'a whitewash'

Sir John Chilcot - in a letter, told the Cabinet Secretary:

‘.. My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the inquiry's conclusions ..’

Furthermore, these documents could form the foundation of impeachment proceedings against Tony Blair and a motion was tabled in Parliament on 25 November 2004 as follows:

CONDUCT OF THE PRIME MINISTER IN RELATION TO THE WAR AGAINST IRAQ

That a select committee of not more than 13 Members be appointed to investigate and to report to the House on the conduct of the Prime Minister in relation to the war against Iraq and in particular to consider

(a) the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group that in March 2003 Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had been essentially free of them since the mid 1990s,

(b) the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that he was wrong when in and before March 2003 he asserted that Iraq was then in possession of chemical or biological weapons or was then engaged in active efforts to develop nuclear weapons or was thereby a current or serious threat to the UK national interest or that possession of WMD then enabled Iraq to inflict real damage upon the region and the stability of the world,

(c) the opinions of the Secretary General of the United Nations that the of Iraq in 2003 was unlawful, and

(d) whether there exist sufficient grounds to impeach the Prime Minister on charges of gross misconduct in his advocacy of the case for war against Iraq and his conduct of policy in connection with that war

Let us not forget that the Chilcot enquiry was set up by Gordon Brown in an attempt to head off any attempt to impeach Tony Blair and accordingly this is hardly a satisfactory conclusion after all these years - as they say in the insurance industry ‘time and distance’ can solve most issues

Therefore, it would seem as though the Cabinet Secretary is potentially interfering in areas outside his remit and thereby protecting Tony Blair from the consequences of his actions by preventing him being held to account

Under the deal that has been thrashed out, the information being disclosed of discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Bush will be limited to “quotes or gists” and the inquiry's use of the material “should not reflect President Bush's views

Clearly I am missing something here – but WHAT DEAL? Surely this is the tail wagging the dog because something of this nature should not be subject to a bartering/deal process? We have an enquiry underway which has every right to expect full disclosure on all the facts and yet Mr Blair and his cronies have once again managed ‘covertly’ to supress information that could implicate him in a conspiracy; thereby preventing the electorate from judging the issue for themselves – all under the dubious guise of sensitively handling the UK/US Head of Government channel

Does this mean that the US sanctions withholding evidence of possible collusion by Tony Blair in an attempt to take the UK to war in Iraq?

Perhaps someone could explain at what point ‘sensitively handling the UK/US Head of Government channel’ becomes a cover-up because it very much looks as though this line has been crossed? Furthermore, by this cover-up, Mr Blair has also managed to avoid possible impeachment and so as far as he is concerned this is a win-win situation, never mind the fact that this decision is an absolute disgrace and not necessarily in the best interests of the UK

Interestingly enough this latest arrangement has all the hallmarks of the Dr David Kelly cover up which also involved Tony Blair and related to the Iraq War - UK Secret Courts Bill Sneaking In Via Back Door

Frankly it is actions such as this that give WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and  Edward Snowdon a good name and becomes in danger of vindicating their actions – although, this is probably precisely the opposite effects to those intended by the security services

Finally, we come to Sir Jeremy Haywood part in all this - he was principal private secretary to Mr Blair in 10 Downing Street in the run-up to the war and is hardly an impartial arbiter in this process, although he obviously does not believe in recusing himself from being a party to any decision. The extraordinary thing is that no one in authority has told him to sit this one out and remain on the side-lines over this decision – WHY NOT?

References:

A Case to Answer- Produced for Adam Price MP August 2004

Tags: , | Categories: UK Government

Does the electorate get the politicians they deserve and if so, what mistakes have we made to be landed with such a woeful crop of petty crooks? There is not one statesman/woman in the whole of Parliament, which by any standards is a pretty poor show

We have finally reached the stage where Parliamentary Privilege and a review on codification of the law on privilege is now well overdue

The time has passed for MP expenses to be overseen by a Parliamentary watchdog (the Independent Standards Commissioner) and the whole process needs to be passed over to the police and courts under the criminal justice system to sort out these crooks

Maria Miller is just the latest in a long line of corrupt MP's who have got away with their actions because of self-regulation. These abuses must now stop! Furthermore, history has always demonstrated that self regulation rarely works successfully and because of its nature is always inherently open to abuse of one sort or another

Perhaps asking the Prime Minister to stand down over this matter would be rather severe, however, bearing in mind his total lack of judgement in this latest episode and the strong feelings about corruption in our elected representatives this option should not be discounted

Let us be clear about this matter, by all recognised standards Maria Miller has been found to be a thief and stolen from the taxpayer

Nevertheless, it is telling that the Commons Standards Committee regarded Maria Millers 'attitude' throughout as far more important than the actual deed of theft. This decision sends out the stunning message that theft by MP's is perfectly acceptable provided you have the right attitude when caught.

Unfortunately, this stance is totally devoid of any 'moral compass' and just shows how removed from reality MP's have become by this crass decision, which subsequently concluded that Maria Miller should repay far less than had been assessed by the Commons Watchdog. So not only can one steal from the taxpayer, it now turns out that one doesn't even need to repay what has been taken - let the good times roll!

Therefore the message is - crime does pay especially if you are an MP, ring fenced from the law of the land and judged by your potentially equally corrupt peers

Quite frankly the country is thoroughly fed up with having an elected 'den of thieves' trying to take as much out of the system as possible with their grubby little paws and getting away with it because of self-regulation. Jail sentences at the very least, should be the order of the day for these people

The real issue is that these practices are so endemic and ingrained in the political physic of entitlement (theft is just a 'perk' of the job) that those involved do not actually believe they are doing anything wrong

As for those supporting Maria Miller, make a note of them and ask yourselves whether they themselves have been doing just the same as Maria Miller because there is a strong probability that they have been at it as well. Furthermore, Mr Cameron really has dropped the ball with this one and those of his ilk need to seriously address their position in all this. Do they condone stealing from ‘The People’ because that is precisely what has occurred and one can be pretty sure this was not in any election manifesto.

Let’s just start off with a few simple rules for MP's

  • any MP who knows or suspects another of any action that in the 'real world' would be regarded as a criminal act, should be duty bound to report the matter; failure to do so should result in a automatic lifetime ban from Parliamentary Office with all accrued benefits to date being withdrawn (i.e. repayment of personal pension contributions and no Parliamentary Pension)
  • any colleagues 'automatically' supporting or seeking to influence and investigation or the outcome are instantly removed from office under the same terms as the previous rule above (i.e. no pension etc.). This includes the Prime Minister and any of his cohorts because although loyalty is to be admired - misplaced loyalty to cover up theft before the outcome of any investigation or directly contrary to the findings, demonstrates a fundamental lack of judgement which is detrimental to the country; as does trying to interfere or influence the outcome. So goodbye .....
  • there should be a transparent 'menu' system for fines if found guilty. Start off with repaying the amount in question and then having a 'de facto' fine of 10 (ten) times that amount as well
  • all/any gains made by an MP by using these schemes (i.e. second homes) belong to the taxpayer - or better still have the country utilise a system of 'digs' similar to Youth Hostels in days gone by and remove the concept of second homes because these are simply a licence to abuse the system

Nevertheless, ultimately MP's should be made subject to the law of the land, without fear or favour, like everyone else and it is about time someone did something about this matter as a matter of urgency

Tags: | Categories: UK Government

The Thatcher era championed the principles of selling council houses and property ownership by introducing the idea of the 'right to buy'. Whilst the underlying reasoning was sound and born of the best intentions, this was a deeply flawed policy that simply depleted a national asset by transferring it into the hands of the private sector with no mandatory replacement rules in place

All that happened was councils 'trousered' the proceeds and failed to build new council houses to replace those they had sold

One of the underlying reasons behind selling these houses was the run down state of the existing council house stock and the potentially huge costs of refurbishing all the properties.

However, what no-one could have foreseen at the time was the enormous subsequent housing price boom affecting just about every property in the UK; with houses becoming a very profitable tradable asset class in their own right (i.e. buy-to-let et al)

Unfortunately, even though the problems must have been obvious to successive Governments along the way, not one of them had the political courage to put a stop to selling the national housing stock. Furthermore, it was not unusual for 3rd parties or non-residents to offer residents funding to purchase council houses on their behalf. One of the prime areas for this was children purchasing their parents council houses, which is all well and good but, deprives others in need of a home in the future

Coming to the present time

Councils now realise that they have insufficient social (council) housing stock to meet their obligations because vast swathes have already been sold and they have long ago spent the proceeds without providing replacement houses

This is their present dilemma and they need some way of addressing the problem without funding it themselves - enter 'affordable housing' and note the name change. We no longer call these properties by their traditional name of 'council houses' because of a possible stigma; so in this world of spin doctors let’s call them 'social', 'affordable' or any other sanitised name we can come think of to change people’s perception

However, the concept of affordable housing gets even more interesting - with local councils thinking up ever more ingenious ways via their planning departments

  • If you are a land owner or developer then the local council will refuse to award planning permission unless a certain percentage of the development is allocated to affordable housing. This inevitably degenerates into a bartering process between the Council and the land owner or developer - pretty similar to a market bazaar
  • Who pays for these affordable houses - initially the developer, however, the costs are inevitably passed onto the subsequent purchasers of other houses on the development. Therefore, this becomes a tax on house purchasers to subsidise the welfare system
  • Any new mixed housing estate with affordable housing means that those purchasing 'market' priced houses are paying a premium to the developer to underwrite building affordable houses. Presumably this is simply another covert Council tax to make up for their mistakes of the past?
  • Is it right that youngsters who have saved for years to try to purchase their own (barely affordable) first home, have to effectively underwrite the costs of affordable housing for others who contribute nothing on the same development?

The planning system would seem to be holding landowners and developers to ransom (blackmailing them) because:

  • Planners have stated that they will not give planning permission unless they obtain a 'kick-back' to the tune of 25%-35% of affordable houses built for them at no cost to the local Council
  • It has been stated that local Councils are only prepared to pay agricultural prices for building land and not the going market rates. The reason for this is because they control the planning system and without their approval planning will not be granted - ergo they have capped the land price at agricultural levels unless they get what they want (i.e. cheap or free land). Therefore the planners artificially depress a free market for their own benefit
  • Furthermore, Local councils have the powers to approve their own affordable housing developments that would not otherwise be granted planning permission if a free market development was requested. So the same development can be refused to the private sector but still gain approval if put forward by the Local Council (with the accompanying 'back-handers' of course)

Could someone therefore please explain how these potentially corrupt planning practices of blackmail and artificially depressing land values in the UK is any different from similar corruption in 3rd world countries?

Surely it is very simple, authorities insisting on baksheesh in any form are actually employing either bribery or blackmail. Interestingly, the UK has recently introduced The Bribery Act 2012, so why does it not apply in these circumstance to Councils in the UK?

Quote

The Bribery Act 2010 creates a new offence under section 7 which can be committed by commercial organisations which fail to prevent persons associated with them from bribing another person on their behalf.

 

Finally we have the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) - which is a sound idea, provided that the Local Councils do not become too greedy in their implementations of the levy. Also can we be assured of CIL fund 'ear-marking' - i.e. if funds are raised for infrastructure, then they can ONLY BE SPENT on infrastructure and not hijacked to cover some shortfall in another area

Does the CIL actually have to have some basis on fact or is it an arbitrary additional tax pitched at a level the prevailing Local Council thinks they can get away with? For instance is there a standard infrastructure cost calculation that applies to all Councils throughout the UK?

Oh! ... and let's not forget that Local Councils are themselves exempt from CIL on affordable housing. This implies that this type of housing does not have any impact on the local infrastructure. Is it really feasible for affordable housing to have a zero infrastructure footprint?

Tags: , , | Categories: UK Government | UK Local Councils