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Showing posts from October, 2008

Results: Thursday 30th October 2008.

Allerdale BC, Workington St John's
Lab 452 (35.6; -14.7)
Con 394 (31.0; -18.7)
BNP 257 (20.2; +20.2)
Ind 113 (8.9; +8.9)
Green 55 (4.3; +4.3)
Majority 58
Turnout 30%
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since 2007

Brentwood BC, Hutton South
Con 686 (73.4; -5.1)
LD Linda Price 199 (21.3; +6.4)
Lab 50 (5.3; -1.3)
Majority 487
Turnout 31.2%
Con hold
Percentage change is since 2008

Camden LBC, Kentish Town
LD Nick Russell 939 (36.5; +0.9)
Lab 863 (33.5; +3.2)
Green 518 (20.1; -6.3)
Con 171 (6.6; -1.1)
BNP 62 (2.4; +2.4)
UKIP 21 (0.8; +0.8)
Majority 76
Turnout 28.7%
LD hold
Percentage change is since 2006

South Oxfordshire DC, Thame North
Con 423 (50.5; +8.3)
LD Jeannette Matelot Green 287 (34.3; -9.5)
Lab 127 (15.2; +1.3)
Majority 136
Turnout 18.9%
Con hold
Percentage change is since 2007

Coedffranc Community Council, Coedffranc
Ind elected unopposed
Ind hold

Dover TC, St Radigunds
Lab 244 (32.7)
Con 219 (29.4)
LD Dean Stiles 93 (12.5)
Dover Alliance 86 (11.5)
Ind 72 (9.7)
Ind 32 (4.3)
Majority 25
Turnout 20.9%
Lab gain from Ind

Ga…

Gordon Brown's Boom and Bust

It is relatively straightforward to find the budget speeches of the past decade. They speak for themselves.


Gordon Brown 1997
For most people the acquisition of a house is the biggest single investment they will make. Homeowners rightly expect their investment to be protected by sensible policies pursued by Government.

I am determined that as a country we never return to the instability, speculation, and negative equity that characterised the housing market in the 1980s and 1990s.

Volatility is damaging both to the housing market and to the economy as a whole.

So stability will be central to our policy to help homeowners. And we must be prepared to take the action necessary to secure it.

I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery.

Gordon Brown 1998
Section 2: Stability and prudence
First, stability.

By spring last year, with consumer demand already rising by 5 per cent and the money supply by 11 per cent but industrial production up o…

ITPOES - Peak Oil Again

I went to the Peak Oil Task Force launch at the Stock Exchange Today. Will Whitehorn, Jeremy Leggett, Brian Souter and Ian Marchant all demonstrated a very good understanding of the situation. It even sounded as if individual carbon budgets/tradeable carbon budgets found favour.

Interestingly their report (see link for their website) is perhaps not as stark as the warnings from the IEA.

They have agreed to do an APPGOPO event as well.

It is an interesting comparison between the readiness of the private sector (although they want some public sector interest) and the lack of urgency in central government.

Climate Change Bill - the government admits being clueless

I intervened a number of times during the Climate Change Bill Third Reading. The link is to the debate in Hansard. I will extract the interventions and my speech then comment.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I am slightly confused about this issue. Last Monday, the Prime Minister said that we needed a constantly rising supply of oil, notwithstanding the use of renewables. Does the Minister have any idea of whether our oil consumption is expected to fall over time—whether or not aviation and shipping are included—and in which year would we first see a fall?

Joan Ruddock: I shall not speculate on the extraneous matters that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

John Hemming: I am a little confused by the Prime Minister saying that we need an ever-increasing supply of oil. Does the hon. Gentleman believe that as a result of the Bill there will be a reduction in the amount of crude oil used by this country?

Gregory Barker: I do not think there is going to be an immediate reduction in the am…

FT says oil production constrained

The linked story is based upon an IEA report which indicates a depletion rate of 9.1% rather than the normally expected figure of 8%.

There is still some vague exhortations to investment, but frankly there should now start to be a recognition that the geological constraints on the availability of oil have to lead to a change in the assumptions behind economic planning.

We must plan for reductions in oil availability rather than increases.

Reform Maths Quiz

It is interesting that Reform in announcing that I am one of the top 5 in their maths quiz have said:

Reform’s Deputy Director, Elizabeth Truss, said: “As we enter the worst recession in living memory, we need politicians who can do the math.”

I am, however, not as free market a politician as Reform would like. For example I take the view that we need medium term stability in energy markets something that a pure free market does not provide.

Results: Thursday 23rd October 2008.

Charnwood BC, Loughborough Dishley and Hathern
Lab 838 (49.7; +5.0)
Con 490 (29.1; -9.7)
BNP 234 (13.9; -2.6)
LD Diane Horn 107 (6.4; +6.4)
National Front 16 (0.9; +0.9)
Majority 348
Turnout 35.5%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Chichester DC, East Wittering
Con 410 (40.3; +6.6)
LD Mary Green 364 (35.8; +7.0)
BNP 125 (12.3; +12.3)
Lab 69 (6.8; -0.4)
UKIP 49 (4.8; +4.8)
[Ind (0.0; -30.3)]
Majority 46
Turnout 25.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

East Dorset DC, Alderholt
Con 499 (53.0; -12.5)
LD David Tooke 442 (47.0; +19.7)
Majority 57
Turnout 41.8%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Merthyr Tydfil UA, Town
Lab 580 (35.7; +16.7)
LD Nigel Hulbert 461 (28.4; -18.1)
Ind 277 (17.0; -1.8)
Ind 125 (7.7; +7.7)
Ind 110 (6.8; +6.8)
PC 72 (4.4; -11.3)
Majority 119
Turnout 28%
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2008

Ribble Valley BC, Billington and Old Langho
Con 350 (61.1; +10.3)
LD John Green 181 (31.6; -17.6)
Lab 42 (7.3; +7.3)
Majority 169
Turnout 24.6%
Con gain from LD
Percentage change …

Chris Bryant continuing the oil consumption question

The point about the following is that we continue the question as to whether over time the government expect the UK to use less oil. I accept the point about balancing priorities, but there will be an aggregate cut in usage forced on the country. Trying to deny this just makes the adjustment harder.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I congratulate the Deputy Leader of the House on the skill with which he is defending the indefensible on issues such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

On Monday I raised the issue of oil with the Prime Minister, at columns 33 to 34 of Hansard, and he said that we needed a constantly increasing supply. I find that rather strange, because if we are going to do something about climate change we need to reduce the consumption of oil. May we have a debate about the pressures on Ministers? The Prime Minister has clearly lost the plot, and perhaps the Deputy Leader of the House, standing in for his boss, standing in for her boss, would do a …

Oil Market Reports

On current figures production is Jun 86.51 Jul 87.80 Aug 86.78. September is expected to drop about 1mbd. Estimated global demand is Q3 86.51 Q4 88.03. Q4 has heating demand in the northern hemisphere.

We can see that production has been greater than demand for almost a year now, but looks like going back into an excess of demand over production. If OPEC manage to contract supply a bit then it could drive up earlier, but a price response will probably happen before winter is out.

HFE Bill - Report and Third Reading

I voted against the programme motion on the basis that it was curtailing debate wrongly. I voted for a number of amendments, but against one that simply messed up the wording. I then voted against the Third Reading.

The general reasoning was that the GMC continue to refuse to investigate unethical research. Hence we need as tight as possible criminal controls on research until the regulatory systems and health authorities are willing to properly investigate detailed documented evidence of unethical research (including giving babies lethal concentrations of Carbon Monoxide even if not for lethal periods).

Prime Minister loses the plot on peak oil and climate change

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley, Liberal Democrat) Hansard source
The recent high prices and volatility in the price of oil is symptomatic of geological constraints on supply—also known as peak oil and gas. Do the Government have a view as to when peak production will occur globally, and does the Prime Minister believe that it is worth doing that research?
Gordon Brown (Prime Minister; Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour) Hansard source
The hon. Gentleman is right to raise the question of supplies of oil for the future. That is concerning all countries. Not only do we need stability of supply, but, even as we move into nuclear and renewables, we will need a constantly rising supply of oil. That means that we must ensure that the demand for oil is met by supply, otherwise the price will go up again. We are, therefore, looking at what supply of oil there is, and we are trying in the North sea to increase the production that is available from some of the smaller ma…

The bank restructure a few figures

I found out that the contracts for the bank restructure are in the Commons Library. (This available on the net here, but be careful they are 15Mb. I have had a glance through them and not warranting anything about the figures it appears that RBS is issuing 22,863,936,713 shares at 65.5, HBOS 7,482,933,000 shares at 113.6 and LLOY 2,885,200,000 shares at 173.3. The government is getting an underwriting fee of 1.5%. On the market figures today it looks like the RBS shares will be mainly issued to other than the government. Lloyds is touch and go, but the government may end up holding a lot of HBOS.

Also the preference shares are to be listed immediately. That would allow the government to sell them at a profit.

E&OE

Family Law Reporter

There is clearly some good news in that the government have responded to New Clauses 8 and 9 with something.

If we can get family court proceedings reported then we should be able to get something done about the corruption in the system. The challenge, of course, is to ensure that it is reported.

Hence I intend to ensure that a Family Law Reporter media outlet starts business. This will ensure that the stories the judges don't want to get told are told as well as those that the judges want told.

Derivatives again (probably)

The link is to a story about a French bank losing about 600m Euros. This has to be a derivatives trade.

It always surprises me how little understanding the senior management of some banks seem to have about the risk profile of derivatives.

It is a bit like juggling with bombs. It is ok until you drop one.

The UK Banking Rescue - Investment commentary

I want to have a more detailed look at the proposals for the UK banking rescue.

Firstly this is based upon the system used in Sweden. It was, in fact, the Liberal Democrats that proposed this first. The idea for the equity is that the government underwrites a rights issue. A rights issue is where people who already hold shares are allowed to buy more at a cheaper price than they originally bought.

If they decide not to put any more money in then the underwriter buys the shares. The underwriter charges a fee. In this case the underwriter is the government.

The question, of course, is the price of the rights issue. For RBS the current price is around 68p. It is difficult to find published figures as to the rights price, but a broker I know believes it is 65p.

The other thing the government is doing is putting in some subordinated debt. The point about such debt is that it is more secure than equity. In the UK they are charging a rate of 12% whereas in the US it is 5-6% (figures from …

Results: Thursday 16th October 2008

Kirklees MBC, Dewsbury East
Still counting (12:09pm Friday 17-10-2008)

Kirklees MBC, Dewsbury East
Lab 1513 (37.4; -2.0)
LD Dennis Hullock 1405 (34.8; +14.3)
BNP 690 (17.1; -10.6)
Con 345 (8.5; -3.9)
Green 58 (1.4; +1.4)
Ind 17 (0.4; +0.4)
Ind 15 (0.4; +0.4)
Majority 108
Turnout 31%
Lab gain from BNP
Percentage change is since May 2008

Redcar and Cleveland BC, South Bank
Lab 652 (49.9; -0.6)
LD Toni Meir 288 (22.1; +12.3)
BNP 206 (15.8; +1.4)
Ind 101 (7.7; -7.3)
Con 59 (4.5; -5.8)
Majority 364
Turnout 27.6%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Tewkesbury BC, Churchdown Brookfield
Ind 598 (39.0; +2.2)
LD Tony Stokes 508 (33.2; -7.0)
Con 364 (23.8; +5.8)
Lab 62 (4.0; -0.9)
Majority 90
Turnout 45.3%
Ind gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2007

Watford BC, Tudor
LD Darren Walford 932 (50.0; +3.1)
Con 486 (26.1; -12.4)
Lab 273 (14.6; +4.0)
Green 91 (4.9; +0.9)
BNP 83 (4.5; +4.5)
Majority 446
Turnout 40.8%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

QALY - Quality Adjusted Life Years

NICE use QALYs to calculate the effectiveness of drugs. I heard tonight that someone aged 60 cannot have a QALY of more than 0.6 per year.

This sounds very wrong, but is not clear on the NICE site.

It may be this is the reason why NICE have been so difficult on revealing their formulae.

The challenge now is to get to the Truth.

Grandparents - what rights?

The link is to a daily mail story which demonstrates the self-serving nature of some of the practitioners who behave in an unaccountable manner.

This is a specific criticms of a number of practitioners, not all practitioners.

Council of Europe Enquiry

A further resolution at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been tabled as part of the Enquiry process.

(Link for full details)
1. The Assembly recognises that the protection of human rights is one of the Council of Europe’s core values. It recognises that children are particularly vulnerable and that systems must be in place to protect those children considered “at risk”.

2. The Assembly believes, however, that those who are tasked with protecting children need to be accountable for their actions and need to operate in a way which protects the human rights of all the people they are dealing with.

3. The Assembly notes the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, X. v. Croatia (Application No. 11223/04) dated 17 July 2008, which held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) on account of the applicant’s exclusion from the proceedings which resulted in her daughter being adopt…

Results: Thursday 9th October 2008

Bristol UA, St George West
LD Tony Potter 923 (34.0; +9.1)
Lab 816 (30.1; -8.2)
Con 509 (18.8; -18.1)
Ind 257 (9.5; +9.5)
Green 116 (4.3; +4.3)
English Democrats 93 (3.4; +3.4)
Majority 107
Turnout 32.9%
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Cheshire CC, Knutsford
Con 1647 (58.7; +11.4)
LD Caroline Aldhouse 818 (29.1; -2.0)
Lab 342 (12.2; -9.4)
Majority 829
Turnout 28%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2005

Cheshire East UA, Knutsford
Con 1679 (59.7; +2.1)
LD Caroline Aldhouse 817 (29.0; +5.0)
Lab 318 (11.3; -7.2)
Majority 862
Turnout 28%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

East Hampshire DC, Holybourne and Froyle
Con 424 (54.6; -13.6)
LD Dean-Paul Phillips 352 (45.4; +21.6)
[Ind (0.0; -8.0)]
Majority 72
Turnout 35.6%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Haringey LBC, Alexandra
LD Nigel Scott 1460 (49.9; -6.0)
Lab 772 (26.4; +5.9)
Con 443 (15.2; +6.3)
Green 221 (7.6; -7.3)
BNP 27 (0.9; +0.9)
Majority 688
Turnout 35%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Isle of Wight UA, Mount Joy
Con 2…

New Clause 8 - talked out by the government

New Clause 8 was the clause to increase accountability and reduce miscarriages of justice in the family courts.

This fell yesterday because it didn't have time. It was in fact this amendment that was talked out by the government not the smacking ones - they came later.

The way amendments work at the report stage is that they come in strings. Once The House has started to debate a string then any votes required to conclude the business can occur.

Yesterday's strings were:
Long-term residential placements and duties on local authorities
Govt NC19 + NC6 + NC24 + NC26 + NC28 + 13 + 14 + 18
+ Govt 8 + Govt 9

Fostering
NC7 + NC13 + NC23

Family proceedings
NC8

Human rights, immigration agency, pilots etc
NC17 + 5 + Govt 4 + 6

Reasonable chastisement
NC18 + NC25 + 15 + 16

Supplementary and technical provisions
Govt 7 + Govt 10 + Govt NS1

You can see the amendments themselves on the parliament website Under the billhere.

What the government did was to delay the 10 minute rule bill by having a division i…

Iceland

Well, Iceland has a population of around 320,000. What we seem to have from Iceland is Bjork and dodgy banks. It is bigger by population than the Wirral and slightly smaller by population than Wakefield. Were it to be an English local authority by population it would be the unlucky 13th largest.

If they borrow approx £3bn from Russia that works out at around £10,000 per resident (including babies). More importantly this is real money that is needed to be paid back to Russia. The funding offered by the UK government is the availability of funds which in itself is likely to make the actual offering of funds less likely.

HSBC have already said that they don't want any money from the government. It is obviously best for banks not to have to call on the solvency money and when people are assured of solvency then they should be comfortable to provide private liquidity.

This is, however, uncharted territory.

There are two big problems that face the world and this country to varying le…

Bailing out the banks' customers and their customers/employees

I tend to think that the UK proposals with Tier 1 capital for the banks are better than the USA proposals which involve the government buying "toxic" debt. Although some of the "toxic" debt may indeed be quite sweet and undervalued what the USA proposals do is to reward the shareholders.

What the UK proposals do is to underpin the banks so that the government gets its money back, but the shareholders and management only win out once stability returns and the consequences of their decisionmaking is recognised.

To that extent they do not bail out the banks, but instead bail out the banks' customers.

For those that argue for insolvency they need merely to look at what has happened with IceSave where the bank accounts have been frozen. Imagine what would happen if a big bank's accounts got frozen. People's wages would stop being paid and noone would be able to pay for anything until the administration had made some progress.

To that extent this bails out the…

Plumbers to spot child abuse

The link is to an article about how plumbers at Lincoln City Council are going to be trained to spot child abuse.

What all of this ignores is that more people that are under pressure to report things the more reports there will be. The system's problem is not a lack of reports, but instead a lack of action.

The more reports there are the less action there will be as there is no additional resource going into the system to handle the reports.

Obviously people should be concerned about child abuse, but we really need to concentrate on the serious cases and not overwhelm the practitioners with masses of reports of situations which frankly often don't require any intervention.

Malcolm Wicks going as well

One little snippet in the middle of the government reshuffle is the departure of Malcolm Wicks.

Malcolm Wicks has been responsible for Energy issues although how much freedom of manouvre he has had is unclear. Our energy situation is a total mess. We continue to have insufficient gas storage even though the situation is clear. The market trades at the marginal price resulting in increasing fuel poverty and an expectation of a growth in winter deaths. The start of the next decade seems to be worse than the current situation in terms of electricity and we don't have enough generation infrastructure for demand.

It is a little confusing reading National Grid's Winter Outlook. They have a very low figure for LNG imports this winter. However, people are expecting much more. They are also expecting a lot from Norway, but there does not seem to be good evidence for this.

It will take some time to bottom out the gas predictions as they have done the report in a different structure …

Government Reshuffle in full

RESHUFFLE: Ministerial appointments

The Prime Minister has completed his reshuffle.

Downing have announced the following appointments:

Liam Byrne MP, John Healey MP, Jim Knight MP, David Lammy MP, Pat
McFadden MP, Anne
McGuire MP, Malcolm Wicks MP and Michael Wills MP are to be made members
of Her Majesty's most honourable Privy Council.

Stephen Carter CBE and Paul Myners CBE. are to become Life Peers.

Other Ministers:

Law Officers:

Attorney General - The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC ***

Solicitor General - Vera Baird QC MP

Advocate General for Scotland - Lord Davidson of Glen Clova QC

HM TREASURY:

Financial Secretary - The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP

Minister of State - Phil Woolas MP**** (jointly with the Home Office)

Economic Secretary - Ian Pearson MPf (jointly with the Department
for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform)

Exchequer Secretary - Angela Eagle MPf

Financial Services Secretary - Paul Myners CBEJ

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE:

Minister of State (Europe) - The Rt Hon Carol…

Results: Thursday 2nd October 2008.

Braintree DC, Witham West
Con 508 (40.9; +1.2)
Lab 373 (30.1; +3.2)
LD Joy Reekie 182 (14.7; -2.2)
Green 178 (14.3; -2.1)
Majority 135
Turnout 24%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Herefordshire UA, Leominster South
Ind 515 (41.4; +20.8)
Con 397 (31.9; -12.2)
Green 200 (16.1; -4.9)
LD Matthew Lane 131 (10.5; -3.7)
Majority 118
Turnout 28.1%
Ind gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Hillingdon LBC, West Ruislip
Con 1351 (52.4; +1.4)
LD Adrian Betts 860 (33.4; +2.3)
Lab 147 (5.7; -2.5)
BNP 111 (4.3; +4.3)
Green 55 (2.1; -7.5)
National Front Regain Control Of Britain 52 (2.0; +2.0)
Majority 491
Turnout 32.3%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Lincolnshire CC, Bourne Abbey
Con 760 (41.4; -12.9)
Ind 355 (19.3; +19.3)
BNP 239 (13.0; +13.0)
Lab 202 (11.0; -34.7)
LD Peter Morris 198 (10.8; +10.8)
Green 42 (2.3; +2.3)
UKIP 41 (2.2; +2.2)
Majority 405
Turnout 21%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2005

Oswestry BC, Castle
LD Romer Hoseason 198 (38.7; +0.3)
Con 174 (34.1; -27.5)
Ind 139 (27.2; +27.2)
M…

Winter Outlook 2008/9

There is an important long term aspect of the Grid's Winter Outlook viz:

144. In terms of the outlook for 2008/09, with a relatively low level of wind generation in
the overall generation mix, it is not yet critical to meeting demand even in our 1 in 20
demand levels scenario that we require a significant output from wind. Demand can still
be met by other sources of generation and/or imports through the interconnector in the
event of no wind generation output at the time of peak demand. Our work over the
summer has though led us to conclude that there are challenges that we will face as GB
system operator where wind generation is a large proportion of the generation fleet and
that controllable flexible sources of generation or demand management need to be
developed in parallel with a significant expansion of the wind generation capacity. We are
already contributing to further investigation and identifying potential solutions to these
issues through our engagement with the energy industry and…

RK and AK v The United Kingdom

The link is to this case on Bailli. When I first saw the headline I thought it related to an Oldham case of medical misdiagnosis where the rules of court prevented the parents from obtaining a second opinion without permission - a real contravention of a fair trial that is systematic in the Family Division.

It, however, refers to the question of having an effective remedy. This issue is not resolved by the 1998 Human Rights Act. It does raise the issue about the masses of cases involving errors by experts that the UK is now clearly liable.

The summary from the European Court's Website is as follows:
R.K. and A.K. v. the United Kingdom (38000/05)
The applicants, R.K., and his wife, A.K., are British nationals who were born in 1972 and 1976, respectively. They live in Oldham (United Kingdom). They have a daughter, M., who was born in July 1998.

In September 1998 M. was taken to hospital with a fractured femur; doctors concluded that the injury had not been accidental and she was place…