Money matters

I have been a critic of our political system for several years now, simply because I think it is old and decrepit and no longer fit for the 21st century.

I wonder how many taxpayers realise just how their hard earned money is being managed by successive governments.

To start with it has become an unwieldy, unmanageable machine made worse by the formation of subsidiary government structures which have to be expensively self funded before even the remainder of its overall budget funds are allocated.

So let’s begin where the hard working tax payer’s money starts to drain away:

1) 650 MPs’ salaries in excess of £70m per annum (excluding expenses) plus a pending 11 per cent increase.

2) 775 House of Lords (daily allowance payments) c. £60.5m per annum.

3) 500,000 civil servants who work for both Houses, salaries undetermined but in £billions.

4) 300-plus top civil servants and quango chiefs £50-60m (excluding their departmental staff salaries).

5) 127 Scottish Assembly members plus their own civil servants and advisers. (Sum not specified).

6) 60 Welsh Assembly members plus their own civil servants and advisers. (Sum not specified).

7) 102 Irish Assembly members plus their own civil servants and advisers. (Sum not specified).

8) 50,000 civil servants working directly for the EEC Parliament in London, who incidentally bypass David Cameron et al, in ensuring the EU edicts are strictly implemented.

9) Lastly, an undetermined number of consultants (friends of top ministers) who also have their snouts in the trough.

So we are talking in billions of pounds even before the start whistle blows.

And to think that it took just 300 British civil servants to successfully run the whole of the sub continent of British India? Talk about finding ways to save on budgetary spending.

Ian G Hunt, Hill View Road, Swindon


A bigger portion

Does your regular correspendent Steve Thompson realise that the size of that national cake is restricted by our very small manufacturing sector?

It is only by increasing industrial output that the size of the national cake can be made bigger.

Only when this happens can we all get a bigger slice of the national cake in the form of higher wages.

Steve Halden, Beaufort Green, Swindon


Somebody cares

At last a group – Better Swindon – of truly caring people, whose deep concerns are above and beyond the political spectrum. Thank you!

We desperately need honourable, open, caring and trustworthy people at the helm of our broken society. It is absolutely crucial that we embrace the needs and quality of life of all our people across the age span and the divisions within our community.

We need an ambassador who will represent our elderly population which is destined to represent half the inhabitants in our country by the year 2050.

Also an ambassador to speak for the large physically impaired group of children and adults in our community because at this moment in time, both these highly significant areas of humanity are totally ignored.

Their voice, their needs, their valuable contribution to society and their very precious quality of life has all been dismissed, and in many cases, physically, mentally and emotionally abused.

The need for respect, caring and universal love is paramount in life’s journey from the cradle to the grave!

Mary Ratcliffe, Old Town, Swindon


Putin’s no beacon

Perhaps the most extraordinary assertion I have read in your letter pages is that of Steve Nibbs when he writes that President Putin is “a beacon in this ever darkening evil world”.

The man was a KGB agent and as such would have persecuted Mr Nibbs for his Christian beliefs, and for writing letters to the papers.

He is not much better now and imprisons those who oppose him.

Steve Nibbs is entitled to his opinions on homosexual men and women, and to express them within the limits of the law, but he is wrong to assume that gay people are any more of a threat to young people than straights, in fact there are more heterosexual paedophiles than gay ones.

If he carries on in this manner he will appear as silly as that councillor from Oxfordshire who says floods are God’s revenge for gay marriage.

Steve Thompson, Norman Road, Swindon


Hunting the truth

I read with interest the Rev Jones’ letter of the 22nd of this month.

I have to admit I have never heard of anyone breeding foxes for hunting but if you have to go back to before the war to find evidence of this I do not believe it warrants a place in any modern debate on the issue of hunting.

‘Cub hunting’ as it used to be known was the hunting of that year’s cubs when they were almost fully grown. It is like calling someone who is 18 a child even though they are really adults.

It did not involve ‘throwing the cubs to the hounds to train them’, rather the covert was surrounded by hunt followers and the fox ‘cubs’ were then selectively killed by the huntsman.

He could do this because foxes always leave a cover in a similar pattern. The dog fox left first followed by a couple of his sons then the vixen would go with one or two of the strongest of her daughters. The rest of the foxes left in the covert would be the younger individuals that the huntsman would then attempt to catch – with the help of the hunt followers who would try and prevent those foxes leaving the cover and escaping – to reduce population numbers and improve the health of the species by selectively removing the weaker members of the litter.

This also had the effect of spreading out the young foxes which would reduce the local damage by the foxes by helping to maintain a low density of the animals meaning they were more tolerated by farmers and landowners in the area.

As for the Veterinary Association of Wildlife Management, it has no ‘vested interest’ in either side of the hunting debate; it merely carries our scientific research and draws its conclusions from the results and evidence it collects.

A Holman-Baird, Name and address supplied


Dear diary...

My diary is not up to date like Mr Warner's but I’m sure when Mr Healy was asked to leave that plane he was going on holiday, some may think he was going to a conference, others may think that these so called conferences are a holiday.

Mr Warner didn’t explain why Mr Brown felt the need to use the budget left by Mr Clarke. Was he that short of ideas, and wasn’t it in the late 90s that he sold off one of our biggest assets, the gold reserve, at rock bottom prices? If that surplus was three times over, why didn’t he scrap the tax imposed by the previous government like Mr Osborne has done?

My diary is once again at fault as I don’t recall Mr Brown ever getting to his feet as either chancellor or prime minister and saying the basic rate of income tax was to be lowered.

I do recall him standing up and scrapping the 10p tax hit and as a result thousands of the poorest lost millions in income. He quotes about the national debt; do his figures include the cost of all the PFI schemes, which Mr Brown used, so to avoid it being on the national debt, or the public sector pension fund debt or other such hikes?

Don asked about the sell off of public assets. State owned companies around the late 80s were costing the government about £300m in subsidies.

After they were privatised they were contributing between £3.3bn and £5.8bn in corporation tax. In 1980, British Steel received £1bn in support from the treasury, on a turnover of £3bn.

Soon after privatisation it was contributing £200m a year in taxes.

I have asked this question before but never got an answer.

Can either Don or Mr Warner tell us if any state firms have been sold off since 1997, starting with British Nuclear Fuels for instance? Or the attempt to sell off the Port of Dover?

On current themes, since Mr Milliband said he would cap energy prices, over £7bn has been wiped off the share prices of two of the companies involved and now he is at again with the banks, saying they shouldn’t have more than 20-25 per cent of market share, yet his friend Mr Brown encouraged Lloyds and HBOS banks to merge which went against a law he himself personally sponsored, in order to get it completed in 2008. Some diary.

T Reynolds, Wheeler Avenue, Swindon