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13 October 2009

Fast News

Snouts in trough

How the mighty suffer! Having enjoyed nearly three months off on holiday, MPs returned to the House of Commons and were asked to repay some of their outrageous parliamentary expenses.

While MPs were away sunning themselves, an inquiry going back over five years of their expenses claims was carried out by retired civil servant, Sir Thomas Legg. Money-grubbing MPs are now squealing over the repayments.

However, MPs' constituents - struggling to pay their winter fuel bills, rents and mortgages, etc, - will be wanting to know why MPs are being asked to repay only some of their 'John Lewis' list expenses and only some of their 'second-home' allowances. As far as most people are concerned, MPs' fiddled expenses' amounts to fraud - and they should be punished accordingly.

Labour's car boot sale

Having ratcheted-up the national debt by hundreds of billions of pounds in order to save the hides of the fat cat bankers, the government has decided on a giant car boot sale of 16 billion of national assets in the forlorn hope of plugging the deficit.

Up for auction, in an initial 3 billion tranche, are items such as the horse racing Tote, the Dartford Crossing (of the Thames) the student loan book and "non-financial" local authority assets.

As with previous privatisations, the likelihood is that these government assets will be sold to the private sector for a song.

It was the Labour government in 2001 who part privatised the ministry of defence research firm DERA to form QinetiQ. This turned the ten most senior managers of QinetiQ into millionaires overnight, making an almost 20,000% return at the taxpayer's expense.

Moreover, this privatisation plan - supported by the Tories - is simply a short-term measure designed to make the government's balance sheet look better but which will diminish government revenue in the long term.

And will the sale of more local authorities' assets include important community resources such as school playing fields and libraries, etc?

Roll out the cuts

School students asked to bring in their own toilet paper is one result of public service spending cuts in Ireland.

The request was made in a letter by the principal sent to parents of pupils of St John's Girls National School in Carrigaline, County Cork. The school's 'cost containment' programme also means ending the free-book scheme for low-income students, the school library grant and a special grant for Traveller children.

In April 2009 the ruling Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition government in Ireland passed a brutal austerity emergency budget (the second in six months) in a blatant attempt to make the working and middle classes pay for the country's economic crisis while continuing to bail out the banks.