Total of British Soldiers killed in Afghanistan = 241
The tentacles of freedom on information are probing another hallowed citadel of secrecy.
There is no reason why any of the dark recesses of public spending should remain unilluminated. More than 100 letters and memos written by ministers and members of the Royal Household during negotiations over public subsidies paid to the Queen for the upkeep of her palaces.
The Royal Family made strenuous efforts to avoid being caught in the public's right-to-know law. MPs and taxpayers' groups want a greater say in how the Royal Family is subsidised after a string of scandals over public money being spent on minor royals.
This year it emerged that £250,000 had been spent on redecorating Princess Beatrice's university accommodation. The cash helped redecorate a private four-bed apartment at St James's Palace for her use while she is a student. Last year Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were made to pay rent of £120,000 a year to stay in their Kensington Palace apartment, after almost seven years of paying only a nominal fee. Buckingham Palace has said that the royal couple will be charged the full commercial rate from 2010 to remain in their five-bedroom, five-reception home.
The move followed demands by MPs on the Commons public accounts committee that full rent should be paid for the property after it emerged that the prince and princess were paying a nominal amount.
It's all good healthy revelations. It cannot be good to have minor royals joining the dependancy culture and becoming dependent on Housing Benefit.
Cut Top Pay
The Top Pay Commission could produce pay guidelines for public bodies and investigate when they were breached.
Committee chairman Tony Wright said the "gulf" between average earnings and top pay was not "sustainable or desirable".
We were told that the rot started in 1979 with the throwing away of controls under Thatcherism. We recommend that all public sector workers paid more than about £100,000 a year should have their salaries published. The explanation we suggest for soaring salaries is a "contagion" from pay hikes for top executives in the private sector.
Make Cruelty History
The Animal Tormenters For Fun (ATFF) came a cropper today. Otherwise known as the Countryside Alliance they have been spending fortunes since 2004 trying to frustrate the democratic will of Parliament. Today, it’s official: There is no ‘human right’ to hunt.
ATFF had argued that the Hunting Act 2004 breached human rights under Article 8 (the right to a private and family life), Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and also Article 1 of protocol number 1 (protection of property). The Court dismissed the case on all counts.
The Court ruled that the Acts did not negatively affect the hunters’ right to private and family life. Further, they said that the hunting community could not be regarded as an ethnic or national minority or that the hunting lifestyle was indispensable for a persons identity.
The Court also ruled that the concept of home did not include the land over which the hunters allowed people to hunt or hunted themselves. In essence hunting is a public activity and not a private one. The Court ruled that the hunters did not have a valid claim for compensation and that the bans did not restrict the hunters right to free assembly.
The ECHR ruling perceptively concludes: “the bans had been designed to eliminate the hunting and killing of animals for sport in a manner causing suffering and being morally objectionable”.
That is precisely the reason for the ban. No-one has a legal freedom to be cruel for sport. The Keep Cruelty History website will soon go live, enabling voters to find out how Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in their constituencies currently say whether they will vote to bring back cruelty.
My views are well known to my constituents. I wonder what my opponents think?