COMMENT: CENSURE MOTION, CHRISTMAS PARTIES & COSY KINGDOM
On St Andrew’s Day last week the SNP put forward a motion of censure against Boris Johnston, citing occasions where he has not only condoned but actively encouraged serious breaches of Parliament’s rules by his colleagues – as well as any number of times he’s broken the rules himself. The Government’s majority meant the motion was never going to get through but it was interesting how few senior Tory MPs spoke in defence of their leader. When it came to the vote the two most senior Tory MPs in Scotland weren’t there to vote for the Prime Minister.
There was understandable outrage when it emerged that 10 Downing Street had hosted one, possibly two, social gatherings last Christmas that can’t possibly have been allowed by the Covid rules in place at the time. This has been particularly offensive to the many people who either cancelled or greatly reduced their own family events last Christmas, and those who spent Christmas in mourning for loved ones who lost their lives to Covid. It’s a sign of the arrogance of the present British Government that ministers are still going on TV insisting that no rules were broken – but mysteriously, when an interviewer presses them, they then claim not to know anything about it.
We had the top civil servants from HM Revenue & Customs in front of the Public Accounts Committee last week. I asked how much success they’ve had with enforcement action against the “agents” who talked thousands of people into signing up for what were basically tax avoidance schemes. The “Loan Charge” scandal has seen many of these self employed people pursued to the point of bankruptcy and even suicide but constituents are telling me the real villains of the piece seem to be beyond the reach of HMRC. At the same hearing I pointed out that when HMRC’s compliance and enforcement teams home in on small businesses and individuals they recover about £10 for every £1 of compliance costs. When they go for big businesses and wealthy individuals (by which they mean you earn over £200,000 a year or are worth over £2 million!) the figure is about £40 per £1 spent. I suggested to the tax bosses this might mean they need to concentrate more on the big tax dodgers.
I had a very useful video call with Cosy Kingdom to hear about the sterling work they’ve been doing to combat fuel poverty in Fife. There’s a lot I could say about the scandal of so many people struggling to pay their fuel bills in one of the most energy rich countries in the world. Cosy Kingdom can offer independent advice on anything from low cost insulation to choosing energy suppliers to problems getting Warm Homes Deal payments from your supplier. If you’re one of the very many people struggling with your fuel bills this winter you can call Cosy Kingdom on 01592 807930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.