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Tag: Politics

Leveson could legislate for a non-statutory regulator

The press are against statutory regulation of their activities. That is the message they have been sending to the Leveson Inquiry. But most people fear that, without a legislative underpinning, press regulation will be toothless. How then to reconcile those two opposing views? Do it like this … Read more »

You mean we’re NOT supposed to avoid tax?

Tax avoidance has become a hot topic. The Times newspaper has recently unmasked a scheme in which income tax is avoided by the ludicrously simple means of saying the salary is only a loan which might have to be repaid (but never actually is). One of the newspaper’s columnists, David Aaronovitch, has been writing about the immorality of tax avoidance (both links behind a paywall).

I used to think it was easy to spot the moral dividing line when it came to tax avoidance. If our government had created the exemption, that meant they positively wanted us to take advantage of it. Anything else was almost certainly a loophole and morally objectionable, even if it was legal. But does that distinction still apply?  Read more »

Leveson and the Living Trees

Like many people, I have been following The Leveson Inquiry intermittently. As someone with a background in regulatory policy, I am particularly interested in the way that many witnesses have expressed a concern that regulation of the press has become inseparable from regulation of the individual because the internet has given any individual with a website (or even just a Twitter account) the power to be a journalist. I think the argument is flawed. Read more »

Court takes a liberty with our freedom

The European Court of Human Rights has decided today that police “kettling” of crowds – holding them within a police cordon for hours at a time – does not deprive them of their liberty. Read more »

What equal pay teaches us about the Human Rights Act

The European courts have been causing controversy (again). Judgements handed down in Brussels and Strasbourg have left conservatives (small “c”) aghast and Liberals (big and small “L”) defending the rights-based approach. But scratch beneath the surface and, often, it’s not the rights that objectors object to. Read more »

“I’m Hayman and I’m ’aving hoops”

Lovers of Life on Mars may have thought that DCI Gene Hunt was giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday. In fact, it was a real (ex-)cop, former Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman. Read more »

Bankers cooking with Gas?

The separation of retail and investment banks is back in the news following the Chancellor’s recent Mansion House speech. Ever since the Government bail-out of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds in 2008, there has been a pressing desire to ensure that tax-payers are never again called upon to rescue the financial system. The Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, is looking at alternatives. The Chancellor has endorsed their interim report and awaits the final report in September.

Compulsory separation of business entities is not new. It has been used as a solution to behavioural business problems in many contexts, usually after a period of fierce debate during which the business(es) argue that separation is unnecessary and unworkable, or a combination of both. Read more »

The Hutton Contribution

I had always thought that employee contributions into a pension scheme were a mistaken idea. Should I be re-thinking that in the light of Hutton’s report out today? Or should Lord Hutton? Read more »

Who’s optimistic now?

“You were the future once …”

When David Cameron famously made that remark on his first encounter with Tony Blair across the despatch box, he employed a very effective communication device. This week, Ed Miliband tried the same trick (“Mr Cameron, you were an optimist once”). It was clearly intended to have the same effect – if not a bigger one. The words “hoist” and “Cameron’s petard” must have been bandied excitedly around the new leader’s drafting table when some bright spark came up with the idea.

But it hardly registered at all. Why not? Lots of reasons, actually … Read more »

Probably the best regulator in the world?

I see the Treasury has been consulting on its new approach to financial regulation. Some of the main ideas – reforming the tri-partite model – have been discussed at length elsewhere. What caught my eye were the issues which address our new government’s approach to regulatory culture. Read more »