Church of England calls on govt to drop 42 day pre-charge detention plans

Yes, really.

I expect The Sun and the rest will be claiming this as proof that the Church is soft on “Islamo-fascist” terrorism…

It’s actually proof that few people outside of Number 10 think the government’s plans will be of any benefit.

The Church of England has called on the government to drop proposals to extend the period for which terrorism suspects can be held without charge.

Ministers have published plans to increase the maximum detention period from the current 28 days to 42.

The Church’s ruling body, the General Synod, said the move would disturb the “careful balance” between individual liberty and national security.

A motion was supported by 235 out of 244 synod members meeting in London.

‘Oppressive’ move

Dr Philip Giddings, of Oxford, who presented the motion, said he was aware the government was in a difficult situation but that there was no compelling evidence in favour of change.

“So far the 28-day limit has proved sufficient. The government suggests that soon it might not be,” he said.

“Clearly it is difficult to draw a hard and fast line. Hard cases make bad law.

“Four weeks is already a considerable disruption of the life of an innocent person, and his family. Six weeks would be even more oppressive.”

Dr Giddings said terror suspects could be subject to continued surveillance or control orders as an alternative to custody.

Calling on Darling to tax the non-doms – what’s Barber on?

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress has written to Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, requesting that he holds firm on the issue of taxing non-domiciled plutocrats.

How typical of the Labour-loyal union leaders to compose polite letters to government ministers. Haven’t they got it yet? Brown is just an uglier version of Blair…

Dear Alistair,

You will, of course, be aware of the recent debate over your proposals to introduce a flat rate charge for those registering as non-domiciled for tax purposes after they have lived in the UK for seven years.

I’m sure many will have been struck by how negative and inflexible has been the reaction of representatives from the City and the CBI to what are, after all, extremely modest proposals. It displays a worrying failure on the part of our wealthiest individuals and organisations to understand the growing dissatisfaction with the unfairness inherent in our tax system. In particular, there is an accurate and growing perception that while SMEs and those on middle incomes have no choice but to pay their fair share, the wealthiest are free to escape their obligations.

There is still an obligation on those who gain the most material benefit from the UK economy to explain how to address these popular concerns about the unfairness in the tax system. On this, however, they are silent.

We are simply not convinced many wealthy or talented individuals would leave the UK as a result of these minor tax changes. In any case even with non-dom status they are still meant to pay tax on their UK earnings. Non-dom tax breaks therefore provide a disincentive for the UK based super-rich to invest in the UK.

We, therefore, think it is vital that you remain firm in the face of business lobbying on the non-domicile proposals. Indeed, we would prefer you to go further and bring the UK into line with the rest of advanced economies in the world and expect those previously non-domiciled to pay tax in line with residency rules. We have calculated that such a move would raise £4.3 billion extra tax revenue – enough to help the Government meet its target of halving child poverty by 2010.

As the TUC’s recent report – The Missing Billions – revealed, there is a wider problem of tax avoidance and tax planning by the wealthy in the UK which leaves public services under-resourced, reduces the Government’s room for fiscal manoeuvre and, as mentioned above, places an unnecessarily heavy tax burden on SMEs and those on middle incomes. The report calculated that £25 billion is lost to tax revenues as a result of tax avoidance and £8 billion is lost as a result of planning by those earning over £100,000.

We fear that if City and business leaders are successful in resisting a modest change on the single aspect of non-domiciliary arrangements, then they will destroy any serious debate about how to respond to a much wider problem that has the potential to become a major political challenge in the coming months and years.

Yours sincerely,

Brendan Barber.

Private sector involvement in NHS = money for nothing

Staggering, but sadly, not unexpected. The whole point of private sector involvement is not efficiency, cutting waiting-lists, or any other “what works” reason, but rather the state guaranteeing profits for multinational corporations. In other words, it’s Reverse Robin Hood – the taxpayer picks up the bill for this corporate welfare…

From The Morning Star:

Private clinics ‘ripping off the NHS’

(Wednesday 13 February 2008)
HEALTH campaigners hit out at greedy privateers on Wednesday for ripping off the NHS by raking in a guaranteed income despite treating hardly any patients.
New government figures showed that private clinics are being paid in full despite treating as little as 50 per cent of the work specified in their contracts.The private treatment centres were set up to do minor surgery and diagnostic tests in a bid to cut waiting lists, but the figures revealed that just four of 25 such clinics created in the first wave of openings are doing enough work.

Two waves of independent-sector treatment centres (ISTCs) have been opened since the concept was announced in 2003.

But some are only doing half the work set out in their contracts, while the first group were given lucrative guaranteed contracts by the government to entice them into the health service.

This caused anger in the NHS, as hospitals do not get such promises and have to “compete” for patients, as they are paid per person treated.

When ministers announced the second wave of centres, they said that they too would only be paid per patient.

Some of the second wave have now been scrapped because of a lack of demand and ministers have announced that there will be no third wave.

But, because of the nature of the guarantees given to the first group, the government has to pay the full amount of the contract regardless of how many patients the centres see.

UNISON head of health Karen Jennings said that the health union had warned from the beginning that ISTC contracts were too rigid and expensive and would destabilise local NHS hospitals.

“These latest figures confirm that ISTCs are not delivering value for money,” she said.

“We now have the spectacle of millions of pounds being paid out to private companies for operations that never take place.”

“This is money that should have gone into the NHS to build up capacity, meet local demand and improve patient care.”

Health Emergency spokesman Geoff Martin branded the privateers’ money-spinner “a rip-off on a massive scale.

“NHS beds are running at full tilt, yet these private clinics are having an easy ride at the taxpayer’s expense,” he stormed.

“It is just another example of the government’s corporate welfare policy of featherbedding the rich and powerful at the expense of public-sector workers and the taxpayer.”

The government claimed that the clinics would make up the work shortfall in the future.