Queens Speech. Dont they know there is a war on?


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The Queen's Speech:

I have 2 problems with the Queen's speech. Firstly the governments overriding priority should be that we are in the middle of a war and prosecuting that war should come before all other issues. Secondly it is fatuous rubbish.

One glimmer of light - if Labour intends to inflict all sorts of red tape and misery on people who employ part time, temporary and casual labour then maybe it will start to treat its own part time, temporary and casual labour in a decent way

BTB I have highlighted the only useful part of the speech.

"My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government’s overriding priority is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses, as the British economy recovers from the global economic downturn. Through active employment and training programmes, restructuring the financial sector, strengthening the national infrastructure and providing responsible investment, my Government will foster growth and employment.

My Government will also strengthen key public services, ensuring that individual entitlements guarantee good services, and will work to build trust in democratic institutions.

My Government will seek effective global and European collaboration through the G20 and the European Union to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the Copenhagen summit next month.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Bermuda and our State Visit to Trinidad and Tobago and to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in this, the Commonwealth’s 60th anniversary year. We also look forward to receiving the President of South Africa next year.

My Government will continue to reform and strengthen regulation of the financial services industry to ensure greater protection for savers and taxpayers. Legislation will be brought forward to enhance the governance of the financial sector and to control the system of rewards.

As the economic recovery is established, my Government will reduce the budget deficit and ensure that national debt is on a sustainable path. Legislation will be brought forward to halve the deficit.

My Government will introduce a Bill to enable the wider provision of free personal care to those in highest care need.

Legislation will be brought forward to introduce guarantees for pupils and parents to raise educational standards.

My Government will legislate to protect communities by ensuring that parents take responsibility for their children’s antisocial behaviour and by tackling youth gang crime.

My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting.

Legislation will be introduced to support carbon capture and storage and to help more of the most vulnerable households with their energy bills.

My Government will respond to proposals for high-speed rail services between London and Scotland.

Legislation will be introduced to protect communities from flooding and to improve the management of water supplies.

My Government is committed to ensuring everyone has a fair chance in life and will continue to take forward legislation to promote equality, narrow the gap between rich and poor and tackle discrimination. The Bill would also introduce transparency in the workplace to help address the differences in pay between men and women.

My Government will continue to enshrine in law its commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020.

My Government will legislate to provide agency workers with the right to be treated equally with permanent staff on pay, holidays and other basic conditions.

Legislation will continue to be taken forward on constitutional reform. My Government will also publish draft legislation on proposals for a reformed second chamber of Parliament with a democratic mandate.

A Bill will be introduced to strengthen the law against bribery.

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom. My Government is committed to the Northern Ireland political process and will continue to work with Northern Ireland’s leaders to complete the devolution of policing and justice and to ensure its success.

In Scotland, my Government will take forward proposals in the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution. My Government will continue to devolve more powers to Wales.

Members of the House of Commons.

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government will work for security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for peace in the Middle East.

Legislation will be brought forward to ban cluster munitions.

My Government will work towards creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, including addressing the challenges from Iran and North Korea.

Draft legislation will be published to make binding my Government’s commitment to spend nought point seven per cent of national income on international development from 2013.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels."
I think the appropriate phrase is 'fiddling whilst Rome burns'.

As for the last point about the '...government's commitment to spend 0.7% on national income on international development from 2013...' Who committed them to that? I thought they were 'committed' to reducing the national debt. Surely if we're broke we shouldn't be spending 0.7% of our income on other nations, maybe it could be spent on, oh I don't know, national debt perhaps? Or maybe a few more hospital beds or policemen, or controversial for this site I know how about some more helis :twisted:
The Sunday Essay: Why foreign aid's broken - And how to fix it
Many thanks to Jamie Gardiner for this week's Sunday Essay. Thanks also to every other CoffeeHouser who sent in a submission. If the various authors don't mind, we'll consider some of those submissions for future Sundays. If any other CoffeeHousers would like to submit an essay, please click here for further information - Pete Hoskin

There’s an old quip that foreign aid is a matter of taxing the poor in rich countries to help the rich in poor countries. Most of us aren’t quite that cynical. Empathy may be blunted by distance, but where we hear about unimaginable suffering that could be relieved for just pennies, our humanity compels us to dip into our pockets. Even supporters of aid, though, have to step back periodically to read out the scorecard and justify the bill. It’s not a small bill – government aid costs each UK taxpayer £258 a year. Yet most taxpayers would be horrified to learn how much of that is wasted and spent in the wrong places.

By ‘waste’, we mean aid money that never actually reaches aid projects. A scandalously high proportion doesn’t even manage to leave Whitehall. The Department for International Development (“DFID”) is like a huge sponge that sucks in aid money. It has a staff of 1,800. This legion of bureaucrats get to fly business class when posted overseas, while the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Development Association fights poverty on a salary of £380,000 a year. Altogether £234 million is spent on administration. This would be enough to double the annual income of almost 1.3 million of the world’s most desperate dollar-per-day poor. And before accepting it as inevitable, ask the question: what does DFID actually do? Not actual aid work, certainly – the agencies that it passes money onto do that. It is an obese bureaucratic middleman that eats its way through £234 million just deciding where to spend the aid budget.

Not content with channelling aid money through the oversized bureaucracy at home, DFID gives a growing proportion directly to other national governments so that it has to go through their bureaucracy too. Currently £500 million is handed out as government-to-government ‘budget support’ aid. Here, there is the added and larger problem of kleptocratic officials skimming off money to fund their own lifestyles. Last year we gave £90 million and £40 million directly to the governments of Tanzania and Uganda respectively, for example, even though around 20% of procurement spending in these countries is lost to corruption. But instead of insisting on giving our money to aid projects directly, we continue to feed it through pilfering governments.

Of the money that actually makes it as far as an aid project, too much is misdirected – spent, that is to say, somewhere other than where the need is greatest. We don’t even manage to spend our aid money in the right countries. Most people assume that aid goes to help the poorest countries in the world. In fact, only 50% goes to ‘Least Developed Countries’, or the poorest of the poor. The biggest recipient of UK aid is not Ethiopia or Sudan or Liberia. It is India, which has an income per head 8 times that of those other countries. It also has a space programme, a nuclear bomb, $312 billion in foreign exchange reserves and a foreign aid programme of its own. Astonishingly, we also give money to China, which has an income per head twice as large as India and has $1.7 trillion in foreign currency reserves.

If aid goes to the wrong countries, it also goes to the wrong projects within these countries. In particular, we misdirect scarce funds into expensive economic development projects. We justify this as addressing the ‘root causes’ of suffering. But all our experience tells us that the link between development aid and actual development is non-existent – what matters is whether a country’s own policies are pro-growth. Between 1990 and 2002, China received a paltry £13 per person in aid, but its annual economic production grew by £1250 per person. By contrast, in that same time period Zambia received £550 per person in aid, but annual economic production fell by £70 per person. The story of devoured development aid with little to show for it is replicated right across Africa: in the past 50 years the world has sent over £500 billion in aid to Africa, far more than to any other continent. Yet over that same period Africa experienced zero growth and the proportion of the world’s poorest people living there increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 2.

The price of throwing away money on development projects is that we neglect the humanitarian crises arising from war, famine and disease that create the most extreme and blameless suffering on our planet. Most people think this is where the bulk of our aid goes; in reality, only 13% of the aid budget is spent on humanitarian relief. The result of this neglect is that 2 million babies die each year from diarrhoeal diseases, even though the oral rehydration salts that would save them cost only 5p. 1 million people die of malaria, when medicine to treat it costs 6p and preventative bed-nets cost £2.50. An aid policy that prioritises development spending over humanitarian relief is the equivalent of a health policy that funds expensive long term treatments that have no track record of success, but turns people away at the emergency room.

So the story of our aid spending is one of waste and misdirection. If we concede – as we surely must – that the policy is broken, then the next question is: how do we fix it? There are no panaceas, but there is a decentralising reform that would reduce waste, increase scrutiny and raise the quantity of money available without a rise in taxes. The government should wind-up the DFID bureaucracy, and spend the entire aid budget topping-up private donations to approved charities doing priority humanitarian work. The exact top-up rate would be adjustable: it would be decreased if spending looked like going over-budget, and increased if there looked like being some money left over. Irrespective of ideological leaning, this reform would achieve 3 things that should gladden the heart of anyone who cares about aid. First, it would replace the expensive bureaucrats who decide where to spend aid money with ordinary people who will do it for nothing. This unlocks £234 million to spend on aid instead of administration. Second, it would subject projects to a far greater degree of scrutiny, because individuals donating their own money are less tolerant of waste than officials who are spending someone else’s. Third, the top-up will act as an added incentive for people to give to their favourite charities, so private donations will increase too. This raises the total amount available.

Aid policy is never going to win an election, or be the first section that people turn to in a party’s manifesto. But as long as the government spends £258 of our hard-earned cash each year on aid we ought to demand value for money. And remember: foreign aid is one area where it isn’t melodramatic to say there are places in the world – perhaps refugee camps in Chad or camps for the displaced in Somalia – where some people will live if our aid spending is as effective as it can be, and will die if it is not. Let’s make sure that it is.

"Queen's Speech. Don't they know there is a war on?"

Clearly not. More important business to attend to.

Agenda Item 1 - 'Spin' for a General Election victory.
Agenda Item 2 - How to secure more pay and allowances without annoying the public.

This 'Agenda' can be applied to Labour of Conservatives but not to Liberals as they cannot aspire to achieve Item 1.

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