The UK Government is continuing to get itself mired in accusations of sleaze and cronyism. Following the scandal of an MP who took nearly £100,000 to lobby the Government in favour of two companies we found that a former chief law officer was paid hundreds of thousands a year to advise a Caribbean tax haven on how to avoid paying tax to the UK. Then the Government was forced to disclose a secret list of fifty companies who got “VIP” treatment in the award of lucrative Covid contracts. Nearly all of them were referred by current or former Government ministers, or by major donors to the Tory party. I’m supporting calls by SNP colleagues and others for a complete overhaul of the rules on MPs having second jobs, and for a ban on major party donors being given jobs for life in the house of lords.
The Government are very keen to turn this into a debate on whether or not MPs should be allowed to have other sources of income. I need to declare an interest here as I spend an hour or two a month doing online opinion surveys and I send the money from this to local charities. I don’t see this as a problem. The problem is that some MPs are neglecting the job they were elected to do – being an MP is in effect their second job. And of course there are some who act as if their only reason for wanting to be an MP is to get favourable access to ministers for their clients.
Huge congratulations to the children of Kinglassie Primary School who recently won the top prize in a Young Writers competition. The young stars finished top out of 19,000 entries with their “Ridiculous Writers” stories. The results were delayed for over a year because of Covid and the P4/5 pupils are now in P6/7 – talk about good things coming to those who wait!
Next week Parliament will begin its detailed examination of the Finance Bill which covers all the tax measures in the recent budget. Hidden in the small print of the background papers I discovered that for the second year in a row casino owners are being given a tax cut while many of their workers (and low paid workers everywhere) will see their tax bills rising in real terms. Needless to say I won’t be supporting this.
NHS Fife are making good progress with their flu jags and Covid boosters. I got both of mine a couple of weeks ago and it was good to see how many people were coming for their appointments. Vaccination by itself won’t stop the pandemic but along with other precautions such as face coverings and regular self testing it’s already saving lives.