January 2012

Tax cuts

I read, with disbelief, today's headline in the Telegraph: "Speed up the tax cuts, urges Clegg." Bearing in mind Mr Clegg's only wish is to raise taxes, I was baffled initially. But, then I read the article and, true to form, it's a tax cut for the less well-off, paid for by the better-off! In a previous blog, I have explained how the so-called 'wealthy' are already paying nearly 70p in the pound on tax and that any fair-thinking person might well conclude that was actually inequitable, which it is. Mr Clegg's posturing is purely political because he well knows that as a country we have to generate wealth before we can implement tax cuts of the sort he refers to. Taxing the wealthy more and more will only kill off any entrepreneurial spirit and see money and brains leave the country. Again, as I have said repeatedly, Mr Osborne needs to be bold, reduce the ridiculously high rate of personal taxation, drop Corporation Tax faster and give businesses incentives to employ more staff. Our economy is flatlining and, while low interest rates are preventing an economic catastrophy, the Chancellor needs to free up business with a dose of good, old-fashioned Conservatism. 

 

Posted on 26 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Welfare Reform

 

Defeated in the House of Lords, or not, Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are essential is we are to begin to tackle the dependency culture which blights so many lives. Work has to be a better option than idleness, yet we have a welfare system, which currently does not encourage those within it to get back on their feet. The benefits’ cap of £26,000 – the total payable to any one family in a year - has the support of most MPs and over 70 per cent of voters. It seems an adequate sum, considering that a taxpayer must earn £35,000 to reach that level of income after deductions. Indeed, many couples struggle to earn that amount together.

 

 

 

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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The overmighty European Court of Human Rights

 

The Prime Minister is right to take on the Strasbourg judges who make a mockery of our courts. Too often, judgements made in the interests of national security are being overturned on the basis of human rights. One is left asking, “What about our rights?” It is extraordinary that we are unable to deport those who would do us harm, whether or not they might be at risk in their home country. Perhaps they should have thought of that! Take, for example, radical cleric Abu Qatada. He’s been in prison for five years fighting deportation to his native Jordan, despite evidence that he is truly dangerous. Last week, the ECHR ruled that we may not deport him. This week, the PM will say that in cases which have been properly dealt with by national courts, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should have no jurisdiction as a court of appeal. I think most of the country would back him. We are a sovereign nation, with our own laws and judiciary, yet somehow the ECHR has become a higher authority, able to over-rule judges’ decisions made here.

 

 

 

Posted on 22 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Disastrous discount

 

The owners of the Costa Concordia have reportedly offered the survivors of the disaster a 30 per cent discount off a future cruise. Quite apart from finding this a little insensitive, to say the least, I can’t imagine that many of those of those who made it to shore will ever go near a cruise ship again, let alone one owned by Costa. Survivors report spending hours lying injured in cold, dark water, waiting for a rescue which should have been co-ordinated by the Captain. As we know, he had long since fled. Although the Captain of the ship is ultimately answerable for his actions, it should not be forgotten who appointed him.

 

 

Posted on 22 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Mansion tax

It is not easy operating with a Deputy Prime Minister who's so inclined to pile taxes on the so-called wealthy. I am glad to read that Mr Clegg has accepted that a mansion tax will not be introduced while there is a Conservative majority in government. This willingness to attack those with large homes is politicking of the worst kind and would inevitably target many who despite living in large houses have little income. I keep hearing comments along the lines that they - the wealthy - have the broadest shoulders so should bear the biggest load. The Daily Telegraph did point out in an excellent leader recently that the current tax rate on these wealthy people is nearly 70 per cent, if you take into account the 50p rate, National Insurance contributions and the loss of allowances. I would have thought that this, to any fair-minded person, is actually inequitable! My second point is why should the wealth creators be punished when a spendthrift Labour government was largely responsible for getting us into the current mess in the first place. Some fairness is certainly needed in the tax system and we should start by removing the 50p rate.

 

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Downsizing

I am sure that asking the elderly to downsize to a smaller property is not the solution to the country's housing needs. This is an idea put forward by Housing Minister Grant Shapps, which regrettably and understandably has upset many elderly people. The elderly should be respected, especially after the many years they have contributed to our nation. Once frail and vulnerable, it is our turn to repay the debt by ensuring that, as far as possible, they are foremost in our minds when making policy and laws. This latest idea will only cause distress and confusion and should go no further.  

 

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Royal Yacht

HURRAH ... and well done Michael Gove for suggesting our Royal Family should once again have a yacht to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The removal of Britania in the first place was a disgrace and I welcome any move to see another yacht in her place. She was not some private toy for a privileged few, but a floating standard bearer for our country. She also raised multi millions of pounds in invisible earnings. We are a maritime nation and this royal flagship is an important reminder of our proud island history. Britania stood for everything that was good about this country and the sooner another yacht sails the high seas the better.    

 

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Aircraft carriers

I am already aghast that we have scrapped our two aircraft carriers and will have to wait for some years before, and if, their replacements are operational. I say 'if' because I am not sure under present management whether the Royal Navy will be allowed to have two expensive warships which need protection vessels on the sea around them, aircraft in the air above them and submarines underneath them. A carrier strike force is one of the most expensive defence assets you can have. I now read in the Daily Telegraph that the aircraft which will fly from them - the F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) - may not be able to land on the deck because of a 'design flaw' regarding the arrestor hook. I have also been told by a former Royal Naval officer that the new carriers will not be able to steam fast enough to launch a fully-laden JSF in still conditions. This former officer said the ships would have to steam at about 32-34 knots, but will have a top speed of only 27 knots. If this is true, there will be serious consequences. I shall be asking the Defence Secretary whether this is true. It appears that yet again the procurement procedure has failed, at least potentially, wasting I am sure multi millions of pounds, money which are armed forces need desperately if we are to retain them at all.  

 

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Portland helicopter

The Prime Minister listened politely for about 20 minutes, interrupting only occasionally to confirm a point or pose a question. Cllr Mike Goodman, the CEO of Portland Port, Steve Davies, and I were extremely grateful for his time. We were not expecting a miracle at this meeting and we did not get one. However, Mr Cameron did acknowledge we had some salient points which he advised us to put to the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening. This I intend to do and am meeting her with my colleague and neighbour Oliver Letwin next Wednesday. I sincerely hope we can persuade Ms Greening to think again because there is no doubt in my mind that, if we lose the helicopter, lives will be lost at some point in the future because a rescue takes too long, especially if the victim is in the water. This airborne asset is far too important to be sacrificed for some money-saving exercise. The sheer number of missions the helicopter flew in 2011 (202) prove that. We shall fight on in the hope that common sense prevails.  

 

Posted on 12 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Unintended consequences

I'm afraid that I have to agree with today's excellent leader in the Daily Telegraph on the Prime Minister's plans to curb excessive boardroom pay. This is not government's business and I fear the unintended consequences. Mr Cameron has now placed himself in a pickle, because if he doesn't do something Labour and others who resent any form of success will be howling their protest. I would agree that generously rewarding those who are responsible for failure is an affront, but that's for business to sort out, not politicians. What worries me more is, that where we Conservatives dare to go to interfere with big business, the Opposition parties will follow in spades, given the opportunity, making this country less competitive and hamstrung with more regulation and taxes. We should be careful for what we wish for.       

 

Posted on 9 January 2012 by Richard Drax

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Union for me

I think 'saddened' is the right word to describe how I feel when I hear and read about the Scottish First Minister's continuing plans to drive a coach and horses through the Union. Alex Salmond's motives for wanting a referendum on Scottish independence are questionable. They are also irresponsible. For, not only will he ruin Scotland economically, but he will divide our country and her rich and enviable history. I would call on all Scottish people to give Mr Salmond an emphatic 'no' if and when they have a referendum. I believe that united we stand, divided we fall. 

 

Posted on 9 January 2012 by Richard Drax