The Government launches an attack on democracy to ensure Public Order Bill is not weakened
Using power for personal advantage is not always about monetary gain. The Government’s recent shenanigans to try and bypass a House of Lord’s amendment to the Public Order Bill is nothing more than a dangerous and cynical attack on our democracy.
The House of Lords recently rejected one of the most sinister clauses of the Public Order Bill which defined ‘serious disruption’ as ‘anything more than minor.’ Peers amended the bill to require a more objective and proportionate test for the term. However, so anxious is this Government to ensure that these draconian powers are on the statute book that they are trying to bypass this amendment by introducing a statutory instrument that would reinstate its original definition through secondary legislation. This cynical attempt to undermine democracy in this way is unheard of and sets a very dangerous precedent that will provide the police with unrestricted powers to stop most demonstrations.
This move has sparked outrage among many peers, especially Baroness Jenny Jones, a Green Party member who has been vocal in her opposition to the bill. She tabled a rare parliamentary procedure, called a ‘fatal motion’, for June 13th 2023. This could have blocked the statutory instrument and prevented the government from overriding the will of parliament, but the motion was lost by 154 to 68 votes. As covered in our news report on June 15th, Labour peers were, shamefully, instructed to abstain.
Baroness Jones accused the Government of being ‘cheating, nasty’ and acting like a ‘seventeenth-century monarch’ by using a ministerial decree to reverse a vote in parliament. She also warned that this is part of a trend of legislation that undermines parliamentary democracy by giving ministers increasing powers to make, delete or change laws with minimal scrutiny. It is scandalous that a petition has had to be launched in the hope of persuading the Labour peers to support this motion. They have merely passed a motion of regret, which doesn’t change anything.
How some of the elite became even richer during the Covid pandemic
For most of us, the Covid pandemic was a challenging and frightening experience. Tens of thousands of people died prematurely, many more suffered and continue to suffer from long Covid, and families are still trying to come to terms with the deaths of their loved ones. However, in the midst of all this misery, a small minority of the elite, with contacts in the Tory government, became even wealthier than they were already.
The Guardian had already disclosed the sordid details of Baroness Mone and her husband’s attempts to get their hands on the money they could see the Government squandering with very few checks. It didn’t matter that your company wasn’t even registered or that you didn’t have any experience in PPE. All that was necessary was to be a friend, a neighbour, or just a friend of a friend of those ministers making procurement decisions
PPE Medpro was one of a string of companies set up by Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband. When it was awarded two high-value contracts, the company was less than 3 weeks old, with zero employees, no contracts, no premises, no previous transactions of any kind, and with £100 in the bank. The Guardian reported that within weeks of winning the contracts they had been able to treat themselves to a jet, a racehorse, and a yacht.
So it is no surprise that the Fraud Report, by the NAO (the National Audit Office,} released on the June 7th, confirmed the facts already in the public domain. According to the report, Baroness Mone’s company received £50 million from the Government to supply face masks and gowns but failed to deliver them on time and with adequate quality. The report also found evidence of nepotism, conflict of interest, and misuse of public funds in the awarding of the contracts. The report has called for a full investigation into Baroness Mone’s role and actions and has recommended that she be stripped of her peerage and face legal action.
Estimated £600 million lost tax through Private Equity Tax Loophole
The Good Law Project, together with Dale Vince founder of Ecotricity, have decided to legally challenge HMRC over a sweetheart deal reached in 1987 with private equity representatives that limit the amount of tax they are required to pay on their vast earnings. Their success means that the money made by executive managers is classed as Capital Gains and not trading income. As a result, instead of paying a tax bill of 47%, they are only paying 28%. Were private equity to be taxed correctly, HMRC could collect an estimated £600 million more in revenue each year from just a couple of thousand people.
Greedy British Pharmaceutical Industry looking to extract even more money from our collapsing NHS
The Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which represents the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, is pushing hard to overturn an agreement known as the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access – or VPAS. This is a crucial agreement designed to keep the greed of the pharmaceutical industry in check. This cap on branded medicines was negotiated in 1978. Yet after four decades, big pharma has decided to try and rip up the rulebook.
There has always been a great deal of secrecy around how much the NHS actually pays for the drugs purchased from these big pharmaceutical companies, although it is known that Pfizer made nearly $37 billion in sales from its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021, and had another bumper year in 2022. Some critics have argued that these big companies spend more on marketing and rely heavily on publicly funded research. So, while the NHS is on its knees, these big companies are looking to extract an extra £2.5 billion every year – a fee which with the current state of the NHS, could push it even further into decline.