Saturday, March 15, 2008

MP pay and expenses

This post has been inspired by the latest newspaper reports that MPs are demanding their salary increase from £61k to £100k instead of generous expense allowances which are currently in the spotlight. Part of this increase is justified by them because they will loose £15k of that increase in tax.

I'm not saying the job of an MP is an easy one - regular travel between their constituency and parliament is a long journey for some MPs. However when you look at the qualifications, experience and knowledge required to be an MP I feel they are presently overpaid. The sole skillset of the job is being able to speak in parliament to represent the views of their constituents in parliament. This is supposedly how a democracy works. If I have an opinion I tell my MP. If a large number of people have the same opinion that is the opinion my MP must speak for in London.

In practice this does not actually happen. I am strongly against our country being governed by Brussels. Most of the population have spoken to demand the referendum on the European treaty. Our government and MPs have failed to respect the wishes of the population. The votes in parliament on this issue were a farce - with the lib dems asking for a different referendum and then ensuring that the vote for a referendum was lost. I feel let down by the whole system.

There are so many really daft laws passed by parliament. I use the law about using a mobile phone while driving as an example.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is now illegal. If I am driving 100% safely what is the problem? Let's break this down. It is OK to talk to passengers. So the concentrating on a conversation not driving argument is false. It is OK to smoke. So the one hand on the wheel argument is false. I know what I would rather drop in an emergency out of a cigarette or a phone! It is OK to take your eyes off the road to dial and text if the phone is in a holder, so the dialing or typing on keypad argument is false. What really takes the mick is that if you are stationary at lights or in a traffic jam it is illegal to hold your phone, maybe to check for a missed call or send a quick text. If a vehicle is stationary that is the most safe state it could possible be in.

Were all our highly paid and extremely important MPs asleep the day this law was scrutinised?

Anyway now Brussels has control of our statute books, we can lay off our 646 MPs as soon they will be left without any power over our country. And then the money can go to more deserving causes like medical staff and police pay.


Update: The other thing I meant to say about the daft mobile phone law is the unintended consequences. 1: If I need to use my phone when driving I will now hold it on my lap and have to take my eyes off the road. As things were I always held the phone up high so it was easier to look at the phone and watch the road. 2: If I am driving and witness an accident or a crime there is no way I will go to the trouble of reporting it. The reason is because I could predict if I did I would be prosecuted for using the phone regardless that making that call could save someone's life or catch a criminal.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Death of Chief Constable Michael Todd

I am saddened to read of the tragic apparent suicide of Manchester Police's Chief Constable. Reports of his coroner conclude he walked up Snowdon on a very cold day and deliberately let himself freeze to death.

Before this incident I would not have been able to name our Chief Constable - which is a great testament to his work.

The chief constables you can name such as Richard Brunstrom are the ones that are in the press for doing a bad job, or outraging the public. This guy lives on a different planet and has become a one man force against minor speeding offences and has been very outspoken about legalising drugs.

I have unfortunately had to contact the police a few times since moving to Manchester City Centre. On every occasion I have been impressed with their sensitivity and professionalism. Much work has been done by Mr Todd to improve links between the police force and the communities of Greater Manchester.

There are many 'liaison' officers assigned as the face of the police force to meet with the community at a local level and ensure the police are delivering a satisfactory service.

It is for this that I will remember and miss Michael Todd. May his team continue focusing on this aspect of policing in his honour.

I also wish to take this opportunity to say how terrible the mental health services are in Greater Manchester. As I mentioned in my previous post I have needed treatment for depression myself. When I lived with my parents I had treatment from the North Wales Health Authority. They were fantastic. I was offered regular help from senior doctors.

I have tried to access services in Greater Manchester. My GP agreed I was in need of similar help within Manchester and tried to make a referal but I was ignored and left with no help or support at all. Were such services available to people in need, more lives may be saved and deaths due to depression and suicide such as Michael Todd's may be prevented.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Developing medication such as Seroxat

Have read today that our stupid government who have now signed our whole country over to Europe are thinking of making it even more difficult for large drug companies to produce new treatments.

The current system of regulation is extremely thorough. The costs involved in taking a drug to market are phenomenal and the process takes years.

I have taken Seroxat. It is an anti-depressant. Claims an anti-depressant can cause suicide are utterly stupid. A number of people that take anti-depressants do so because they are seriously depressed and are on the brink of suicide. Without such medication a large proportion would probably attempt suicide. Saying that with the medication a few still do does not point the finger of blame to the medication. Think of the large number that make a proper recovery. Any GP will tell you they have seen drugs like Seroxat successfully treat plenty of patients.

The proper question to ask is should these large companies be discouraged from their work? Definately not! Advances in modern medicine are amazing. People need to ask where would we be if no-one took the risk of making new treatments. They should be assisted not hindered in their noble work.