Monthly Archives: December 2010

Jim Pickard

Chris Huhne yesterday’s dismissed a Telegraph splash – predicting a 42 per cent rise in bills – as “ludicrous”, as I reported on this blog. Decc’s own predictions are for a real terms rise of about 32 per cent by 2030 (from £500 to £640 per household) which you might argue is quite similar.

One can only wonder then what the energy secretary made of today’s Times headline saying: “Electric bills will double by 2030 to fund new generation of nuclear power stations.” (page 25) Read more

Jim Pickard

Today the FT has splashed on the deputy prime minister warning bankers to show restraint during bonus season for risk of a public backlash. The government would not stand idly by if this failed to occur, Nick Clegg warned.

As George Parker reports: Read more

Jim Pickard

Bob Russell, the outspoken Lib Dem MP for Colchester – and tuition fees rebel – made it into the news this week after the publication of his robust letter to a constituent who had complained about the cost of the imminent royal wedding.

‘[With] reference to your email raising concerns over the cost to taxpayers for the Royal Wedding next year: Haven’t you got something better to do in your sad life? ‘Bit of a spoilsport, aren’t you? What a miserable person you must be!’ Read more

Jim Pickard

Perhaps we should not read anything into this, but new data just released by Downing Street – under its transparency drive – show that David Cameron received 23 gifts worth more than £140 apiece from May to September. Here is a link to the list for the latter months. The largesse included whiskey, jewellery, rugs, wallhangings, a hamper and a tennis racket (most of it was handed in to officials).

Nick Clegg received no presents from May to July and in August and September he was gifted just once: a briefcase from his South African counterpart which he did not keep.

A big announcement is about to be made by the Ministry of Defence.

Bernard Gray — the former Labour adviser and author of a high profile report into defence acquisition — will be taking over as chief of defence materiel. Read more

Jim Pickard

There was something faintly depressing – as well as predictable – at the comments from David Cameron’s spokesman this morning ruling out any review of Britain’s drugs policy. And at Ed Miliband taking a similar stance.

The issue has reared its head once again after former cabinet minister Bob Ainsworth called for legalisation. But is such a controversial subject that party leaders fear they cannot even raise the possibility without being mauled by critics. Read more

Jim Pickard

A harmless story about Bob Roberts, the new director of news for the Labour party. His name is in fact David.

The change of assumed name occurred more than 20 years ago when young cub reporter David Roberts arrived at the South Wales Evening Post in Swansea. Read more

Jim Pickard

Chris Huhne this morning criticised a Telegraph headline – suggesting bills would rise by £500 because of his energy reforms – as “ludicrous” and “absolutely bonkers”.

The splash quoted a website called uSwitch predicting that bills would rise per household by £500 from their current average energy bill of £1,157. (Although it’s not clear by when). Huhne said the rise would instead by from £500 per household to £660 by 2030.

The difference can be explained by the fact that the uSwitch figure relates to total energy bills (including gas) whereas Huhne is just talking about electricity, the subject of the review. Both estimates are in real terms, ie before inflation.

Curiously, however, there is not such a massive difference in the proportionate increase. Huhne’s rise amounts to 32 per cent over the period, while USwitch is predicting 42 per centRead more

Jim Pickard

The announcement has just gone out about the business leaders who will now sit on Whitehall boards. Lord Browne, former head of BP, was responsible for reeling in several big names including Andrew Witty of GlaxoSmithKline, Barbara Stocking of Oxfam and Sam Laidlaw of Centrica. Curiously there are gaps in the DWP and Defence where no appropriate candidate could be found.

A full list of appointed Non-Executive Board Members isRead more

Jim Pickard

Eric Pickles has claimed that councils can make huge savings – enough to counteract the impact of imminent cuts – by administrative changes such as cutting pay and merging departments.

Indeed there are numerous examples of council waste or extravagent spending. BBC London is reporting today that Newham Council (now laying off dozens of staff) spent £111m on buying and refurbishing its head office. Read more

Jim Pickard

The National Audit Office has just published a far from positive report about MPs’ expenses for 2009/10. The Whitehall spending watchdog examined £98.1 million on the reimbursement of costs incurred by members during the period.

It found there was: Read more

Jim Pickard

As I had predicted, the coalition yesterday lost a minor vote on the chief coroner but won an easy victory over tuition fees. I watched the debate from the press gallery in the Lords, which was more packed than usual.

There were some robust defences of the policy from coalition peers, including Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, who argued: “We do not complain when young people have to take out a mortgage debt of £150,000 or £200,000 to buy their house. This is not like a credit card debt; it is much more like a mortgage.” Read more