Posts Tagged ‘Peter Cruddas’

The cure for lobbying scandals is simple: More politicians with backbone

20/04/2012, 07:30:40 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Come the nuclear holocaust, political lobbyists will work for the invertebrates, bartering for concessions from the reigning cockroaches.

What is certain is that the indestructible public affairs industry will get past the government’s wishy-washy consultation on reigning-in Westminster’s pin-striped influence-peddlers which closes today.

Spurred into action by a cavalcade of lobbying calamities, ministers propose a statutory register of public affairs professionals; once they’ve blown the cobwebs of it from the last time it was proposed. So back around the track we go.

Constitutional affairs minister Mark Harper is in charge of spinning this old record. The stated purpose of the register is “transparency” in a bid to “open up politics” and make it “more accessible to everyone.” A White Paper is promised in due course.

But a statutory register (replacing the voluntary one that’s already in place) is roughly the equivalent of one of those photographs of a house for sale in an estate agents window. It’s a superficial gesture that gives us a partial flavour, a rough idea, without telling us anything specific about the contents – and only a fool would draw a conclusion on that basis.


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Revealed: £1.9bn surge in gambling as desperate Brits try to bet their way out of recession

26/08/2011, 08:00:27 AM

by Atul Hatwal

As George Osborne’s economic vice gets ever tighter, new HMRC figures show that struggling Britons gambled £1.9bn more than last year. It follows two years where the total amount gambled actually fell.

Based on government receipts from the duties levied on gambling since the start of this financial year, the projections for 2011/12 are of another big increase, by £3.5bn to £48bn.

This is the first time since government records began in the mid-1990s that gambling has risen while household incomes have fallen.

Earlier this year, a major survey by the gambling commission found that nearly three-quarters of Britons – 73% – had gambled in the past year, up from 63% in 2007 when the survey was last conducted.

Most worryingly of all, the numbers with a problem gambling habit was estimated to have risen to 451,000, an increase of 5% since 2007.

When in opposition, David Cameron was quick to position himself as an opponent of gambling.

In 2007 he over-ruled his shadow chancellor in opposing the Labour government’s plans on casinos and led the Tories in a U-turn on their previous commitment to support the proposals.

In the House of Commons, he was clear that his fears on problem gambling were at the heart of his concerns. Following the awarding of a super-casino for Manchester he said,

We congratulated Manchester, because we thought the review had been conducted properly, but then we found out that the decision to put it in Manchester, they hadn’t looked at really important issues, like will this encourage problem gambling”?

The current minister responsible for gambling, John Penrose, couldn’t have been clearer in his views in an EDM he tabled in 2006 on the problems of gambling addiction in his local area,

“I don’t want to see one form of addiction – drugs, being replaced by another – gambling”.

But since those early days in opposition, the Tories have adopted a very different approach. (more…)

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