You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

One upon a time there was a country which had a rather good education system. Then a government came along which decided that it did not so much want a good education system as a fair education system in which every child had the right to an education of equal quality. Forty years on this has been achieved. All pupils emerge equally thick.

Actually, that is unkind: many pupils rise and shine despite the system of comprehensive school education that was imposed on us by the Wilson government, a system which has steadily reduced the excellent to the level of the awful over the intervening period.

Some of those who did not make it are represented here in today’s Daily Mail, though some of the quotes are from University Challenge, which may merely indicate that entry requirements to the Ivory Towers are not what they were:

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE (BBC2)

Jeremy Paxman: What is another name for “cherrypickers” and “cheesemongers”?

Contestant: Homosexuals.

Paxman: No. They’re regiments in the British Army who will be very upset with you.

BEG, BORROW OR STEAL (BBC2)

Jamie Theakston: Where do you think Cambridge University is?

Contestant: Geography isn’t my strong point.

Theakston: There’s a clue in the title.

Contestant: Leicester.

PHIL WOOD SHOW (BBC GMR)

Wood: What ‘K’ could be described as the Islamic Bible?

Contestant: Er. . .

Wood: It’s got two syllables . . . Kor . . .

Contestant: Blimey?

Wood: Ha ha ha ha, no. The past participle of run . . .

Contestant: (Silence.)

Wood: OK, try it another way. Today I run, yesterday I . . .

Contestant: Walked?


BBC NORFOLK

Stewart White: Who had a worldwide hit with What A Wonderful World?

Contestant: I don’t know.

White: I’ll give you some clues. What do you call the part between your hand and your elbow?

Contestant: Arm.

White: Correct. And if you’re not weak, you’re . .?

Contestant: Strong.

White: Correct – and what was Lord Mountbatten’s first name?

Contestant: Louis.

White: Well, there we are then. So, who had a worldwide hit with the song What A Wonderful World?

Contestant: Frank Sinatra?

LATE SHOW (BBC MIDLANDS)

Alex Trelinski: What’s the capital of Italy?

Contestant: France.

Trelinski: France is another country. Try again.

Contestant: Oh, um, Benidorm.

Trelinski: Wrong, sorry, let’s try another question. In which country is the Parthenon?

Contestant: Sorry, I don’t know.

Trelinski: Just guess a country then.

Contestant: Paris.

THE WEAKEST LINK (BBC2)

Anne Robinson: Oscar Wilde, Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Archer have all written books about their experiences in what: Prison or the Conservative Party?

Contestant: The Conservative Party.

BEACON RADIO, Wolverhampton

DJ Mark: For £10, what is the nationality of the Pope?

Ruth from Rowley Regis: I think I know that one. Is it Jewish?

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE (BBC2)

Bamber Gascoigne: What was Gandhi’s first name?

Contestant: Goosey?

GWR FM, Bristol

Presenter: What happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963?

Contestant: I don’t know, I wasn’t watching it then.

RTE RADIO 2FM, Ireland

Presenter: What is the name of the long-running TV comedy show about pensioners: Last Of The. .?

Caller: Mohicans.

RICHARD AND JUDY (C4))

Q: Which American actor is married to Nicole Kidman?

A: Forrest Gump.

LINCS FM PHONE-IN

Presenter: Which is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?

Contestant: Barcelona.

Presenter: I was really after the name of a country.

Contestant: I’m sorry; I don’t know the names of any countries in Spain.

NATIONAL LOTTERY (BBC1)

Q: What is the world’s largest continent?

A: The Pacific

RICHARD AND JUDY (C4))

Presenter: On which street did Sherlock Holmes live?

Contestant: Er. . .

Presenter: He makes bread. . .

Contestant: Err…

Presenter: He makes cakes . .

Contestant: Kipling Street?

THE BIGGEST GAME IN TOWN (ITV)

Steve Le Fevre: What was signed to bring World War I to an end in 1918?

Contestant: Magna Carta?

BREAKFAST SHOW (RADIO 1)

Chris Moyles: Which ‘s’ is a kind of whale that can grow up to 80 tonnes?

Contestant: Ummm. . .

Moyles: It begins with ‘s’ and rhymes with ‘perm’.

Contestant: Shark.

JAMES O’BRIEN SHOW (LBC)

O’Brien: How many kings of England have been called Henry?

Contestant: Well, I know there was a Henry the Eighth. . . er . . . Three?

CHRIS SEARLE SHOW (BBC RADIO BRISTOL)

Searle: In which European country is Mount Etna?

Caller: Japan.

Searle: I did say which European country, so in case you didn’t hear that, I can let you try again.

Caller: Er . . . Mexico?

PAUL WAPPAT (BBC RADIO NEWCASTLE)

Wappat: How long did the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel last?

Contestant (after long pause): Fourteen days.

DARYL DENHAM’S DRIVETIME (VIRGIN RADIO)

Denham: In which country would you spend shekels?

Contestant: Holland?

Denham: Try the next letter of the alphabet.

Contestant: Iceland? Ireland?

Denham (helpfully): It’s a bad line. Did you say Israel?

Contestant: No.

THE VAULT (ITV)

Melanie Sykes: What is the name given to the condition where the sufferer can fall asleep at any time?

Contestant: Nostalgia.

STEVE WRIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON (RADIO 2)

Wright: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which jungle-swinging character clad only in a loincloth did he play?

Contestant: Jesus

NATIONAL LOTTERY (BBC1)

Eamonn Holmes: Dizzy Gillespie is famous for playing what?

Contestant: Basketball.

DOG EAT DOG (BBC1)

Ulrika Jonsson: Who wrote Lord Of The Rings?

Contestant: Enid Blyton.

NATIONAL LOTTERY (BBC1)

Eamonn Holmes: There are three states of matter: solid, liquid and . . ?

Contestant: Jelly.

FORT BOYARD (CHALLENGE TV)

Jodie Marsh: Arrange these two groups of letters to form a word – CHED and PIT.

Team: Chedpit.

SIMPLY THE BEST (ITV)

Phil Tufnell: How many Olympic Games have been held?

Contestant: Six.

Tufnell: Higher!

Contestant: Five.

NOTTS AND CROSSES QUIZ (BBC RADIO NOTTINGHAM)

Jeff Owen: In which country is Mount Everest?

Contestant (long pause): Er, it’s not in Scotland, is it?

THE WEAKEST LINK (BBC2)

Anne Robinson: In traffic, what ‘j’ is where two roads meet?

Contestant: Jool carriageway?

QUIZMANIA (ITV)

Greg Scott: We’re looking for an occupation beginning with T.

Contestant: Doctor.

Scott: No, it’s ‘T’. ‘T’ for Tommy. ‘T’ for Tango.

Contestant: Oh, (pause) Doctor.

BIG QUIZ (LBC)

Gary King: Name the funny men who once entertained kings and queens at court.

Contestant: Lepers.

DANNY KELLY SHOW (RADIO WM)

Kelly: Which French Mediterranean town hosts a famous film festival every year?

Contestant: I need a clue.

Kelly: OK. What do beans come in?

Contestant: Cartons?

TALKSPORT

Andy Townsend: How many wheels does a tricycle have?

Caller: Two.

Townsend: The Beatles were known as the Fab…?

Caller: Five.

MAGIC 52 (NORTH-EAST ENGLAND)

Presenter: In what year was President Kennedy assassinated?

Contestant: Erm…

Presenter: Well, let’s put it this way – he didn’t see 1964.

Contestant: 1965?

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? (ITV)

Chris Tarrant (asking the audience): ‘Jambon’ is the French for which food?

11 per cent of the audience: Jam.

DAVE LEE TRAVIS SHOW (BREEZE FM)

DLT: In which European country are there people called Walloons?

Contestant: Wales.

JANICE FORSYTH SHOW (BBC RADIO SCOTLAND)

Forsyth: What is India’s currency?

Contestant: Ramadan.

OWEN MONEY SHOW (BBC RADIO WALES)

Money: In 30 seconds, name as many well-known politicians as you can.

Caller: Er. . . Tony Brown. . . and Nigel Benn. (Silence.)

Doh!

COMMENT THREAD

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Holding, as I do, the Church of England to be a contemptible little church and being instinctively anti-clerical, it is very rare indeed that I find the observations of Rowan Williams anything other than risible. One of Rory Bremner’s very best characters is his lisping, dotty Cantaur whom he has to perfection. But William’s attack on 24 hour drinking is no more than sound common sense.

Quite why people need to be able to drink in licensed premises at four o’clock in the morning midweek is utterly beyond me. If they have enough money so to do, it implies they are in full-time employment. Thus one is driven to wonder what the quality of their work is five hours later when they are in front of a computer doing something which affects people’s lives whilst trying to work out why there are two monitors.

Nor can one quite believe the breath-taking stupidity of ministers who foisted a 24 hour ‘chucking out time’ on the Police. Once upon a time all the Rozzers had to do was police a city centre for the drunks from about ten-thirty to midnight at the latest, after which the only people out and about were Burglar Bill and insomniacs.

Now some police forces are having to wage something akin to a war of attrition from six in the evening to six in the morning as this or that hostelry or night club pours its customers out onto the pavement where they then set about trying to donder someone they do not like the look of.

Williams is “very concerned” by reports that a review ordered into 24-hour drinking by Gordon Brown last year would conclude that the legislation had been largely a success. He is right to be so. Quite how the government can think that a culture of 24/7 drunkeness is a success is a tribute both to their stupidity and their willingness to spin anything no matter how bonkers into something that is a success.

The British public as a whole are highly unlikely to agree. They have effectively been excluded from most town centres after nine p.m. for fear of encountering a drunken mob and know only too well that the police are effectively being overwhelmed. For Labour to judge 24 hour drinking a success is frankly an open-goal moment for the Tories.

I would go back to a situation where all licensed premises close at the latest at midnight midweek and one o’clock on Fridays and Saturdays. Drunks of whatever age and sex should be put before the courts and given a short custodial sentence that would put their jobs at risk. If public drunkenness had consequences for the drunks for a change instead of for the rest of us, we might make some progress.

COMMENT THREAD

Nicolae Ceauşescu & wife on trial just prior to summary execution


Derek Conway has announced that he will not stand at the next election. Though many column inches have been written on the affair, there remain a number of issues which the affair throws up that bear consideration. First of these is a reminder not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Of that sound if basic dictum Richard North reminds us in his piece. With it I respectfully concur: more than ever it is vital that MPs have the wherewithal to hold Government to account and to challenge where necessary the administrative acts of government departments that impinge on their constituents. For those tasks I am content that public money should be spent and that it should be in reasonably generous measure.

In particular I am not against the employment of family members by MPs. It is in the nature of our constituency system that having a wife as the MP’s secretary in the constituency office means that he will have an immediate conduit to what is happening outside the Westminster Village and to the grassroots of his local party which he might not so effectively have with an ordinary secretary.

And the very nature of an MP’s life means that having a wife minding the shop ensures that both remain in daily contact and give one another mutual support which must surely improve the prospects for the subsistence of their relationship as a whole. There is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that more than one marriage has been saved because the spouse was employed by the MP.

The trick, however, will be to balance the need for well-briefed and informed Backbenchers on the one hand and for proper scrutiny and accountability for their expenses and allowances on the other.

The problem arises with the small minority who are not applying their expenses and allowances honestly and honourably. The employment of family members on essentially bogus jobs is one aspect of that but the use of ‘postage’ on purely party political matters is another area of abuse (Labour MPs with marginal constituencies often seem to be prolific letter writers, the suspicion being that they are using public funds to send out propaganda). And the whole business of the use of the housing allowance is an aspect of the wider problem with many voters looking askance at what looks like a heady dose of personal enrichment taking place.

In addition it is the constant series of attempts by MPs to conceal from the public gaze the nature and extent of their expenses and allowances that prompts people to believe that they have something, probably a considerable something to hide and that the manner in which expenses and allowances are being used is somehow discreditable. In that sense MPs are very much the author of their own misfortunes.

All that we ask is that public money is applied to the purposes for which they are intended and that a proper account is given of what is spent, with proper receipts and so on, like any other business. In addition the public should be able see what is being spent on their behalf in considerable detail so that MPs can return to a state where they are, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion. That does involve more work but it need not involve greater controls. If, as I advocate, Westminster moves to a system of placing details of parliamentary expenses online, the controls will come from the eagle-eyes of the public who, when these things are disclosed, are quick to spot when snouts are in the trough and when they are not.

To borrow a phrase of which this Government is particularly fond, if all is above board then MPs have nothing to worry about.

It was interesting to note the views of a Westminster insider, Peter Riddell in the Times. His piece was echoed elsewhere in the MSM which gave a distinct flavour of established political journalists earnestly sympathising with their sources over a good lunch whilst repeating over and over: “Do not bite the hand that feeds you, do not bite the hand that feeds you!”

Riddell, who I always think if as a confirmed Labour supporter, got very sniffy at those of us who have singled out the quite excellent Phillip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering who does all his own staff work and manages to reply to emails with considerable promptitude and is consequently the cheapest MP in terms of expenses and allowances:

MPs, and peers for that matter, cannot retreat behind a club, “we are all ladies and gentlemen of honour”, attitude. The public no longer accepts that. MPs can no longer benefit from arrangements over pensions, expenses and allowances that do not apply to those working in the public and private sectors. But this should not mean hair-shirted self-denial, where MPs who do not employ staff and pride themselves on low expenses, such as the Tory Philip Hollobone, are applauded by naive antipolitician populists. MPs need staff to deal efficiently with the problems of their constituents. So it is wrong to regard allowances as a personal bonus or part of their pay.

‘Naïve antipolitician populist’ is not something I have been called before and in any event it is nonsense so to describe those who would introduce a system of full disclosure and accountability into the lives of MPs. I am not ‘antipolitician’, merely in favour of MPs removing one of the obstacles to their being restored to a position of respect. Nor are we calling for ‘hair-shirted denial’, merely that it be demonstrated that money is being spent properly and that all is open and above board.

If we point to Mr. Hollobone it is simply to make the point that it is possible to be an efficient MP who is assiduous and well-briefed without spending huge swathes of public money. Guido Fawkes had an encounter with Hollobone last year that was recorded thus:

MPs expense figures have just been released.* Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) is the least expensive MP coming in at under £44,551. Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) is four times as expensive at £178,116.

Guido called Hollobone’s office to try and figure out the anomaly:

Guido Fawkes “Is Hollobone there?”


Office “Yes.”


Guido Fawkes “Can I speak to him?”


Office “Yes.”


Guido Fawkes “Thanks.”


Guido waits patiently.


Office “It is me.”

It turns out that the reason he is some £23,340 cheaper than even Dennis Skinner (£67,891) is that he doesn’t employ any office staff. He answers his own correspondence (he can type) and he says dealing with constituents is his favourite part of the job. So it is no surprise that he is rated in the top decile for responsiveness by WriteToThem.com, whereas Liam Byrne, despite all his staff and great expense, comes 158th.

Strong suspicions remain that the principal resistance to openness comes from Labour who reckon that they have most to fear (and, dare one say it, to lose) from any system of full and detailed disclosure, egged on by the awful Mr. Speaker Martin (whose rank inadequacy in the job was well covered by Paxo on Newsnight last night), who gave David Maclean’s bill exceptional help last year and who himself has come under scrutiny for his wife’s penchant for her travel expenses and penchant for nipping off to Harrod’s Food Hall by Taxi, all of which seems to be coming out of the public purse, and for his having instructed expensive libel lawyers for advice on suing someone or other, doubtless one of the many journalists who have rightly called his impartiality into question.


Ian Dale also has a piece today on Conway, of whom he is a friend. Of the criticism which led to Conway stepping down he says this:

The last forty hours have not shown the Conservative Party in its best light. The baying mob is something I hope not to see again for a very long time. Whatever Derek did or did not do he did not deserve some of the comments that have been thrown his way.

“Baying mob”? I see it differently. His unwillingness to join publicly in criticism of his friend is creditable but, frankly, this is not an accurate or fair description of the process that took place leading up to Conway’s suspension from the party.

Most of the criticism (though I acknowledge that some of it was expressed very fruitily indeed) was almost entirely ad idem: that people were utterly fed up with this sort of thing, that Conway’s behaviour clearly fell far below that which must be the minimum expected of MPs, that decisive action by Cameron was needed and that this was a clear opportunity to put blue water between Labour and the Tories. The leadership, having thought about it, agreed.

His reaction, I believe, shows how some parts of the Party were found to be out of touch with majority opinion at the grassroots and that they have been taken aback, not to say shocked at the ferocity of the reaction. It is for that reason that one is minded to describe what happened as the Conservative party’s “Ceauşescu Moment” after the occasion when the late and unlamented dictator of Romania sought to address what he expected to be an adulatory rally of the people and was suddenly subjected to boos and derision, whereupon he retreated in utter confusion. Four days later, after a perfunctory and distinctly ad hoc trial, Ceauşescu and his ghastly wife were shot by firing squad.

Incidentally one is much cheered to note that even the glitterati of the world of political journalism can fall flat on their face: Ben Brogan made this observation concerning what is to happen on this topic:

For the moment though Downing Street says it is a matter for the House of Commons. I’m told that Jack Straw is having a think. If he has any sense he will start by reversing the exemption from FoI that MPs awarded themselves last year.

Frequent visitors here will know that that Bill, David Maclean’s Kafkaesque Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, having passed its Third Reading in the Commons failed through having no sponsor in the House of Lords and thus there is no such FoI exemption.

Finally one must add this. Derek Conway, whatever now happens to him with further enquiries, has recovered something of his reputation by his prompt declaration that he is now standing down as an MP. This honourable course is in considerable contrast to the limpet-like activities of the likes of Hain, Harman, Wendy Alexander and all the other labour worthies who, over the years, having been caught with their trousers down, have clung to office tenaciously.

But then Labour do not do ‘honour’ anymore, from their rotten Leader downwards.

COMMENT THREAD

The Conway affair has intrigued in terms of how it has played out since breaking. Initially it was being hawked about, by the BBC’s Nick Robinson, for one, that Conway was a popular MP who had friends in high places and that Cameron would not be keen to take on these vested interests. Yet within twenty-four hours Conway was toast.

In the old days, perhaps even as recently as a couple of years ago, the wagons would have been laagered by Conway’s chums and the thing would have been squared in a smoke-filled room somewhere in the Palace of Westminster. Publicly there would have been references to Conway being a ‘popular MP’, ‘many friends in Parliament’, ‘good chap’, ‘sound fellow’ and ‘anyone can make a mistake with all these bloody forms we have to fill in, can’t they?’ and the soi-disant’ Old Guard’ would have smartly manoeuvred themselves to ensure that one of their own did not get the chop.

How very different it has been on this occasion. Nick Robinson was able yesterday morning to write this:

Conway is a popular Tory MP who looked set to be his party’s Chief Whip if David Davis had become Conservative leader. He was even talked of as a possible Speaker. Although David Cameron might be tempted to make an example of him he would be taking on a powerful coalition consisting of those who never wanted him to be leader plus the parliamentary old guard who regard questions about their allowances as challenging the assumption that all MPs are “honourable members” until proven otherwise (listen to Roger Gale MP’s interview on Today this morning).

Meanwhile the likes of Roger Gale were doing their best to get the wagons laagered in the approved manner.

Yet something else happened which was that there was a torrent of very hostile opinion unleashed on such as ConservativeHome (here, here, here,) and elsewhere, none of which was in the least bit favourable to Conway and all of which was asking for prompt action to be taken by Cameron. By lunch Conway was an ex-Tory parrot.

I reckon that this veritable deluge of very hostile and critical material has had a significant impact on the decision and that the ‘Old Guard’s’ way of looking after its own has just been made quite obsolete. If so, it is possibly the first sign that the grassroots is finding ways of taking back control of things by using the medium of the internet and blogging.

Notable too was a sense that Conservatives are simply not prepared to go back to the ways of the Major era and expect high standards from their MPs. It also betokens an appetite for power which may have been lacking in recent years. If so these are both good signs.

Or am I making too great a claim for the medium?

COMMENT THREAD

Timing, they say is everything. That certainly applies to the Competition Commission’s recommendation that BSkyB be ordered to bring its stake in ITV (down from 17.9% to at least 7.5 %). John Hutton, Labour’s Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise, must have wondered how an angry porcupine had landed in his lap.

Rupert Murdoch (effectively owner of BSkyB as well as the likes of the Sun The Times and the Parson’s Gazette a.k.a. The News of the World) and his son James who is emerging as heir apparent to the Murdoch empire, will be spitting tacks this morning. Not only has this lost them several hundre million pounds but it will remove their effective block on ITV ending up in the hands of a rival of which Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin/NTL cable outfit remains the most likely.

There can be no doubt that Murdoch has played a significant role in British politics, notwithstanding that he is, for these purposes, an Alien national. The Sun pitched hard for the Tories in 1992 and later claimed that it had won the election for John Major. Since the mid-1990s Murdoch has shifted the group’s allegiance to Labour. The cynic might well think that he is careful to choose the winner of each election so as to ensure favourable treatment of his empire by the regulatory authorities.

Which is why the Competition Commission’s recommendation must have come as a wholly unwelcome addition to the burden of Hutton’s office. If he had not acted on this matter, which most right minded people will think was a quite deliberate attempt so stifle incipient competition, his party would look to all the world as if it was taking the sleazebag option, a perception that Labour does not exactly need to add to just at the moment.

The alternative was therefore to bite the bullet and follow the recommendation. The consequence of that, however, is almost certain to be a lengthy and complex court case as the Murdochs seek to overturn the ruling as well as inflaming them against Labour with the result that the Sun, The Times et al may well go out to bat at the next general election for David Cameron. Since Labour reckon that having the BSkyB group as hostile outsiders is very bad for their election prospects, many of them will be dismayed at today’s ruling.

David Cameron on the other hand must be hoping that nobody probes his views on the matter too deeply for he would love to go into the 2009/2010 election with Murdoch rooting for him as that might make a significant difference for the Tories, perhaps even between a hung Parliament and having a working majority, at which point the Murdoch bill for services rendered to the Conservatives will become due.

Which raises the whole business of whether the likes of Murdoch, who gave up any formal link to the UK when he took his carpet-bag from Australia to the USA (because, it is said, of restrictions there on non-nationals being involved in majority ownership of the media) many years ago. Thus one is entitled to ask why we continue to allow someone who is (a) hostile to our system of government (he is a notorious Republican and his papers have at times been very hostile to the Monarchy); (b) interferes with our electoral process; and (c) acts in a highly uncompetitive manner within the media market; and (d) is not a British national (and thus not entitled to participate in UK politics) is allowed to control such a large section of our media.

That said, he redeems himself somewhat on his fairly anti-EU views. It is said son James is fervently anti-EU. That might, for me, be the deal breaker. If the Murdoch media can be swung firmly and vociferously against the EU then I would be minded to consider that is so much in the national interest that it outweighs the disadvantages I have noted above by a country mile. That would at least be a counter-point to the perfervid support by the BBC of all things European and would turn me rapidly into a pragmatist on this issue.

It will be interesting to see how Murdoch reacts to the loss of the stake and some serious money. Labour may well find itself blasted. One hopes that Murdoch might start with some more trenchant and outspoken opposition to the EU in which the Times and Sunday Times now become more overtly anti-EU.

Perhaps, though, Labour has already discounted Murdoch and the Sun for 2009 and is looking to give its new chum, Sir Richard Branson, who was given a recent opportunity to cosy up to our dishonest and dissembling Prime Minister when the latter took Branson on his trip to China (when, quite coincidentally, of course, Brown came up with the latest wheeze to hand over Northern Rock to Branson’s control at a knock-down price), a chance to become a Labour Luvvie instead, just in time to go down with the sinking ship.

COMMENT THREAD

That the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee has decided to castigate Derek Conway MP for financial irregularities arising from his employment of his son as a ‘researcher’ at Taxpayer’s expense is most welcome. It is, however, but a small step on the road to dragging Parliament kicking and screaming into a position where they are properly accountable to the Taxpayer.

Our political masters hate this process and are resisting it at every turn. Only last May Labour Whips, Government Ministers and backbenchers gave succour to the passage of a Private Member’s Bill promoted by David Maclean (Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border and a former Chief Whip) called the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, a Kafkaesque title if ever there was one given that its intention was to enable the Commons authorities to withhold from public scrutiny any information concerning MPs expenses and allowances.

Fortunately a considerable expression of public opprobrium at this piece of chicanery ensured that Maclean’s bill died unloved and unlamented upon its arrival in the House of Lords who rightly would not touch it with a bargepole. Yet it is evident that MPs will use every opportunity to resist information about their expenses and allowances being made public and when such does happen, to limit the detail.

Another step on the way to a system of proper accountability was taken recently with a decision of the Information Commissioner to order disclosure of greater information concerning several named MPs expenses. On the face of it this was most helpful yet within the decision lie the seeds of means by which MPs can seek to evade disclosure:

In making his decision the Information Commissioner considered whether the information requested related to individuals acting in an official rather than a private capacity. In the Information Commissioner’s view if individual MPs had not been elected to carry out their role as public representatives they would not be entitled to claim the related expenses. However the Information Commissioner fully accepts that MPs are entitled to a degree of privacy and are entitled to expect that personal information about their private lives will be appropriately protected from disclosure.

The Information Commissioner ruled that it would be unfair to disclose the specific sums paid to named staff members during the year covered by the request. The Information Commissioner believes that releasing the total staffing costs broken down by month for the year requested and the number of staff this pertains to each month would not be unfair.

Now this decision would have enabled Mr. Conway to continue to evade disclosure of the very details of the payments of salary and bonuses to his son which have been declared to be a ‘serious breach of the rules’ and the member of the public who complained would never have had the wherewithal to mount his complaint. The facts would have gone unremarked, unreported and Conway would have gone unpunished.

Indeed as Roger Winnett records at Three Line Whip, this information only became available because some worthy soul decided to leak a document to the team he was working with at the time (on The Sunday Times). It was not information that was publicly available and working up a case concerning Derek Conway and the payments to his son was by no means straightforward as Winnett’s account reveals. These details would still be hidden from disclosure under the Information Commissioner’s ruling.

The issue of MPs and Peers expenses is not going to go away and the sooner that the political class realises this the better and we shall be able to establish a proper system by which they may be openly and fully accountable to us. Such accountability is one of the essential ingredients in the recipe for restoring public trust and esteem for our politicians.

The more scope for evasion which is built into such a system the more people will suspect that MPs have something to hide. It will go on being a corrosive acid eating away at the trust that ought to exist between MPs and the electorate who pay for them.

I must make it plain that I have no problem with the principle of paying MPs and Peers expenses and allowances to enable them properly to carry out their duties. But I draw the line at those expenses and allowances being used as a means whereby MPs substantially enrich themselves or their families unless they are employed after a properly open and competitive process. In addition I see no reason whatsoever why MPs should be able to claim expenses without proof whatsoever of their having been incurred at all let alone properly incurred. No other responsible organisation in the country does that and none would be allowed to get away with it by the Revenue.

Nor can I see any rational basis why Parliament should not forthwith move to a system such as that operated by the Scottish Parliament whereby details of MSP’s expenses are placed online and may be viewed in considerable detail.

I understand the concerns about privacy of MPs and their families and their security but if you are in receipt of public funds for which you must account, some element of privacy and security must be foregone. In that sense the Information Commissioner’s report on expenses cited above must surely now be viewed as redundant.

I mention this not only because it would allow for the concealment of the information which did for Mr. Conway but would, as I have indicated, provide all sorts of means for the evasion of the requirement of full disclosure.

Of course one does not seek such things as credit card details or bank details. But I would envision a second home being purchased with any allowance being subject to disclosure as to its actual and beneficial ownership since this would be an easy means for the concealment of an improper relationship (witness the Robinson-Mandelson affair). Details of relationships to employees ought also to be fully disclosed.

I have no doubt Mr. Conway is a chastened man. He has let his family and his party down very badly as well as make it more difficult, for a moment, to carry the war to the Socialist enemy who is far harder at it than he.

Further revelations are said to be due from the Daily Mail which make matters much worse for his position but that will have to wait until the facts are clear.

Parliament’s wheels grind exceedingly slowly (except when Gordon Brown is in a hurry to hand over control of the country to a foreign entity, in which case the whole thing gets done in jig time) but it has finally gotten around to the case of Derek Conway MP and the employment of his son as a ‘researcher’.

This tawdry affair is one upon which I posted as long ago as the end of May 2007 (here) and is, one hopes, evidence that The Huntsman does not go easy on Tories found with their snouts in the trough. Whilst my biggest strictures are reserved for sleazebag Labour, on the grounds of their breathtaking hypocrisy and the fact that most of their sleaze is designed to sustain Labour in power, which is a true form of corruption, Tories who stray must expect a shotgun blast too if we are to bring the tendency of our political class to help themselves to an abrupt end. So Conway must get it in the neck.

The report of the Standards and Privileges Committee may be found here. Conway has been ordered to repay some of the sums of money involved and is likely to be suspended for ten days for what was, as the Committee found, “at the least an improper use of Parliamentary allowances: at worst it was a serious diversion of public funds.”, though it is right to say they inclined to it being somewhere between the two.

The committee made two observations which are perhaps the most important in the context of the whole affair:

[Conway] also seemed to be oblivious to the broader reputational risks to the House of any perception of personal benefit to his family.

Members’ use of allowances is a perennially sensitive issue, and allegations of real or perceived misuse risk damage to the reputation of the House as an institution, as well as to the personal reputations of individual Members. Mr Speaker has commented that “Members themselves are responsible for ensuring that their use of allowances is above reproach”. It is in our view important that Members can demonstrate robustly, if challenged, that this is indeed the case.

Somehow I doubt that, notwithstanding such strictures, this will be the last such piece of ‘snout in the trough’ activity we shall see from our political class. In the meantime Conway will have ten days to cool his heels and reflect. Sadly this may only be a short respite for Parliament as the space around the trough about to be vacated pro tempore by Conway will surely be occupied swiftly by another of our Parliamentary porkers.

COMMENT THREAD

Amongst the many issues of flagrant bias of which the BBC is guilty is that of the European Union whose integrationist cause its minions slavishly support at every turn – only the other day I heard a Radio 5 Live presenter snort with derision when someone dared to suggest we should leave the EU: “It’s far too late for that!”.

There has for some considerable time been a deeply poisonous relationship between the BBC and the European Investment Bank (EIB) which has seen the former borrowing huge sums from the latter, a matter upon which my colleague Dr Helen Szamuely at EU Referendum reported back in 2006 and as Dr. Richard North has also reminded us in the wee hours of today.

The issue raises its ugly head again with the reporting by The Sunday Times of the totality of the position which has been revealed in a letter from Zarin Patel, the BBC’s finance director, to Bob Spink, a Conservative MP.

Putting all the pieces together we can see the following:

May 2002: The BBC received € 40,400,776. According to the EIB this was for ‘Co-production of television programmes’. The Sunday Times report suggests, however, that it was to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK. This does not square with the official reason given, as above, by the EIB.


March 2003: The BBC received € 96,463,023. This, the EIB states on its website, was for the construction of a BBC digital broadcasting centre in London This new building in the BBC’s Media Village development in West London, was later sold for a profit which rather begs the question as to whether the BBC really needed this centre or whther the aim all along was a purely commercial one. It also provokes the thought that this profit was applied back to general BBC purposes, which of course, include news broadcasting, something which Mark Thompson, said, back in 2006, could never happen.


November 2006: The BBC received € 74,794,316. The EIB gives the official reason for this loan as “Production of new BBC programmes” though again The Sunday Times has it as “to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK.” Again this not what the EIB says the loan was for.


This makes for a total indebtedness over the last six years to the EIB on the part of the BBC of € 211,658115 (which is £ 157,132,973 at today’s rate of exchange €1.34 = £1 for which my source is the BBC Business site). This, even by the standards of today when many billions of pounds can be used to prop up Northern Rock, is a substantial amount of money and represents 5% of the BBC’s £3.1 billion budget, so it is not an amount to be sneezed at.


Now this raises a strong suspicion that the BBC’s well-known and well-documented bias towards all things to do with the EU is keenly supported by the EU itself. So what is the BBC’s explanation for all this:

A BBC spokesman denied any pro-Brussels bias: “There were no editorial obligations whatsoever attached to the three EIB loans. The BBC’s commercial businesses go to the European Investment Bank as opposed to any other commercial bank for purely commercial reasons.”

Well, that is as maybe, but then perhaps it might be wise to see the matter through the eyes of the EIB and more particularly how and why it feels able to offer such commercially competitive loans.


In the first place let us look at the some of the terms of the EIB Mission Statement:


Our Mission is to further the objectives of the European Union by making long-term finance available for sound investment.

We are at the service of the Union.

We were created by the Treaty of Rome; our shareholders are the Member States; and our Board of Governors is composed of the Finance Ministers of these States.

We offer first-class terms and conditions.

Our financial soundness derives from the strength and commitment of our shareholders, the independence of our professional judgements and our record of achievement. It enables us to borrow at the finest terms, which we pass on in our lending conditions.

We work in partnership with others.

Our policies are established in close coordination with the Member States and the other Institutions of the European Union. We also cooperate closely with the business and banking sectors and the main international organisations in our field.


I have highlighted several features of the EIB’s objectives which, on any reasonable view, demonstrate how the relationship of the BBC with the EIB is an unacceptable one. In short the EIB is furthering the aims, which as we know are integrationist and federalist, of the European Union and must therefore consider that by lending to the BBC those aims are being furthered. That fact alone makes the relationship an unacceptable one in a broadcasting institution which is supposed to be impartial.


Again the EIB says this of its activities:

The operational strategy of the Bank is:

  • To finance viable capital projects which further EU objectives
  • To borrow on the capital markets to finance these projects

Let us then look at how the EIB saw its loan to the BBC in 2002:

The European Investment Bank finances capital investment furthering EU integration


You could not have a clearer set of admissions as to the real purpose of this loan, which is designed to further a political objective which is opposed by the British people and to which the British people have never been asked nor given their whole-hearted consent.

Then there is Article 267 of the Treaty of Lisbon which sets out the purpose which the Bank is to serve:

The task of the European Investment Bank shall be to contribute, by having recourse to the capital market and utilising its own resources, to the balanced and steady development of the internal market in the interest of the Union. For this purpose the Bank shall, operating on a non-profit-making basis, grant loans and give guarantees which facilitate the financing of the following projects in all sectors of the economy.

One can make the point, in passing, that by being a highly favoured partner of the EU the BBC is enabled to have access to what are, on the face of it, cheap loans: one is bound to ask if this is giving the BBC a highly unfair advantage as against its commercial rivals in the UK and Worldwide? It is, I suggest, noteworthy in this context that the BBC refuses to disclose what the commercial basis for these loans is.

Let us then look at the Statute of the Bank:

Article 20

In its loan and guarantee operations, the Bank shall observe the following

principles:

1. It shall ensure that its funds are employed as rationally as possible in the interests of the Community.

It may grant loans or guarantees only:

a) where, in the case of projects carried out by undertakings in the production sector, interest and amortization payments are covered out of operating profits or, in other cases, either by a commitment entered into by the State in which the project is carried out or by some other means; and

b) where the execution of the project contributes to an increase in economic productivity in general and promotes the attainment of the common market.


It is clear, you may think, that the BBC is therefore engaging entirely in the promotion of a political objective of the EU.
Certainly that is what the EU & EIB think they are doing.That is in clear breach of its duty of impartiality.

Given what we know of the BBC’s attitude towards the EU, which is to support it at every turn, it comes as no surprise that it is singled out for the generosity and largesse of the EU’s own investment bank. And these are huge loans which have been utilised to further the BBC’s commercial mission in the world. In addition there do not have to be any ‘editorial obligations’ attached to such loans for the BBC well knows that it is unwise to bite the hand that feeds it.

Let me then pose another question: if the BBC was institutionally hostile to the EU, would it receive loans of this size from the EIB? The answer is ‘no’.

Even if, which I do not believe, there is no relationship between the BBC’s editorial views and the fact that it gets enormous loans from the EU, do not these transactions fail the second part of the test “creates or gives the appearance of creating a conflict of interest”? If so they are loans which should not have been undertaken by the BBC.

We should now be told, in the interests of transparency, what were the terms of these transactions and whether they were genuinely commercial and in the meantime, in the interests of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality, these loans should be repaid and none further entered into with the EU.

COMMENT THREAD

Amongst the many issues of flagrant bias of which the BBC is guilty is that of the European Union whose integrationist cause its minions slavishly support at every turn – only the other day I heard a Radio 5 Live presenter snort with derision when someone dared to suggest we should leave the EU: “It’s far too late for that!”.

There has for some considerable time been a deeply poisonous relationship between the BBC and the European Investment Bank (EIB) which has seen the former borrowing huge sums from the latter, a matter upon which my colleague Dr Helen Szamuely at EU Referendum reported back in 2006 and as Dr. Richard North has also reminded us in the wee hours of today.

The issue raises its ugly head again with the reporting by The Sunday Times of the totality of the position which has been revealed in a letter from Zarin Patel, the BBC’s finance director, to Bob Spink, a Conservative MP.

Putting all the pieces together we can see the following:

May 2002: The BBC received € 40,400,776. According to the EIB this was for ‘Co-production of television programmes’. The Sunday Times report suggests, however, that it was to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK. This does not square with the official reason given, as above, by the EIB.


March 2003: The BBC received € 96,463,023. This, the EIB states on its website, was for the construction of a BBC digital broadcasting centre in London This new building in the BBC’s Media Village development in West London, was later sold for a profit which rather begs the question as to whether the BBC really needed this centre or whther the aim all along was a purely commercial one. It also provokes the thought that this profit was applied back to general BBC purposes, which of course, include news broadcasting, something which Mark Thompson, said, back in 2006, could never happen.


November 2006: The BBC received € 74,794,316. The EIB gives the official reason for this loan as “Production of new BBC programmes” though again The Sunday Times has it as “to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK.” Again this not what the EIB says the loan was for.


This makes for a total indebtedness over the last six years to the EIB on the part of the BBC of € 211,658115 (which is £ 157,132,973 at today’s rate of exchange €1.34 = £1 for which my source is the BBC Business site). This, even by the standards of today when many billions of pounds can be used to prop up Northern Rock, is a substantial amount of money and represents 5% of the BBC’s £3.1 billion budget, so it is not an amount to be sneezed at.


Now this raises a strong suspicion that the BBC’s well-known and well-documented bias towards all things to do with the EU is keenly supported by the EU itself. So what is the BBC’s explanation for all this:

A BBC spokesman denied any pro-Brussels bias: “There were no editorial obligations whatsoever attached to the three EIB loans. The BBC’s commercial businesses go to the European Investment Bank as opposed to any other commercial bank for purely commercial reasons.”

Well, that is as maybe, but then perhaps it might be wise to see the matter through the eyes of the EIB and more particularly how and why it feels able to offer such commercially competitive loans.


In the first place let us look at the some of the terms of the EIB Mission Statement:


Our Mission is to further the objectives of the European Union by making long-term finance available for sound investment.

We are at the service of the Union.

We were created by the Treaty of Rome; our shareholders are the Member States; and our Board of Governors is composed of the Finance Ministers of these States.

We offer first-class terms and conditions.

Our financial soundness derives from the strength and commitment of our shareholders, the independence of our professional judgements and our record of achievement. It enables us to borrow at the finest terms, which we pass on in our lending conditions.

We work in partnership with others.

Our policies are established in close coordination with the Member States and the other Institutions of the European Union. We also cooperate closely with the business and banking sectors and the main international organisations in our field.


I have highlighted several features of the EIB’s objectives which, on any reasonable view, demonstrate how the relationship of the BBC with the EIB is an unacceptable one. In short the EIB is furthering the aims, which as we know are integrationist and federalist, of the European Union and must therefore consider that by lending to the BBC those aims are being furthered. That fact alone makes the relationship an unacceptable one in a broadcasting institution which is supposed to be impartial.


Again the EIB says this of its activities:

The operational strategy of the Bank is:

  • To finance viable capital projects which further EU objectives
  • To borrow on the capital markets to finance these projects

Let us then look at how the EIB saw its loan to the BBC in 2002:

The European Investment Bank finances capital investment furthering EU integration


You could not have a clearer set of admissions as to the real purpose of this loan, which is designed to further a political objective which is opposed by the British people and to which the British people have never been asked nor given their whole-hearted consent.

Then there is Article 267 of the Treaty of Lisbon which sets out the purpose which the Bank is to serve:

The task of the European Investment Bank shall be to contribute, by having recourse to the capital market and utilising its own resources, to the balanced and steady development of the internal market in the interest of the Union. For this purpose the Bank shall, operating on a non-profit-making basis, grant loans and give guarantees which facilitate the financing of the following projects in all sectors of the economy.

One can make the point, in passing, that by being a highly favoured partner of the EU the BBC is enabled to have access to what are, on the face of it, cheap loans: one is bound to ask if this is giving the BBC a highly unfair advantage as against its commercial rivals in the UK and Worldwide? It is, I suggest, noteworthy in this context that the BBC refuses to disclose what the commercial basis for these loans is.

Let us then look at the Statute of the Bank:

Article 20

In its loan and guarantee operations, the Bank shall observe the following

principles:

1. It shall ensure that its funds are employed as rationally as possible in the interests of the Community.

It may grant loans or guarantees only:

a) where, in the case of projects carried out by undertakings in the production sector, interest and amortization payments are covered out of operating profits or, in other cases, either by a commitment entered into by the State in which the project is carried out or by some other means; and

b) where the execution of the project contributes to an increase in economic productivity in general and promotes the attainment of the common market.


It is clear, you may think, that the BBC is therefore engaging entirely in the promotion of a political objective of the EU.
Certainly that is what the EU & EIB think they are doing.That is in clear breach of its duty of impartiality.

Given what we know of the BBC’s attitude towards the EU, which is to support it at every turn, it comes as no surprise that it is singled out for the generosity and largesse of the EU’s own investment bank. And these are huge loans which have been utilised to further the BBC’s commercial mission in the world. In addition there do not have to be any ‘editorial obligations’ attached to such loans for the BBC well knows that it is unwise to bite the hand that feeds it.

Let me then pose another question: if the BBC was institutionally hostile to the EU, would it receive loans of this size from the EIB? The answer is ‘no’.

Even if, which I do not believe, there is no relationship between the BBC’s editorial views and the fact that it gets enormous loans from the EU, do not these transactions fail the second part of the test “creates or gives the appearance of creating a conflict of interest”? If so they are loans which should not have been undertaken by the BBC.

We should now be told, in the interests of transparency, what were the terms of these transactions and whether they were genuinely commercial and in the meantime, in the interests of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality, these loans should be repaid and none further entered into with the EU.

COMMENT THREAD

Amongst the many issues of flagrant bias of which the BBC is guilty is that of the European Union whose integrationist cause its minions slavishly support at every turn – only the other day I heard a Radio 5 Live presenter snort with derision when someone dared to suggest we should leave the EU: “It’s far too late for that!”.

There has for some considerable time been a deeply poisonous relationship between the BBC and the European Investment Bank (EIB) which has seen the former borrowing huge sums from the latter, a matter upon which my colleague Dr Helen Szamuely at EU Referendum reported back in 2006 and as Dr. Richard North has also reminded us in the wee hours of today.

The issue raises its ugly head again with the reporting by The Sunday Times of the totality of the position which has been revealed in a letter from Zarin Patel, the BBC’s finance director, to Bob Spink, a Conservative MP.

Putting all the pieces together we can see the following:

May 2002: The BBC received € 40,400,776. According to the EIB this was for ‘Co-production of television programmes’. The Sunday Times report suggests, however, that it was to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK. This does not square with the official reason given, as above, by the EIB.


March 2003: The BBC received € 96,463,023. This, the EIB states on its website, was for the construction of a BBC digital broadcasting centre in London This new building in the BBC’s Media Village development in West London, was later sold for a profit which rather begs the question as to whether the BBC really needed this centre or whther the aim all along was a purely commercial one. It also provokes the thought that this profit was applied back to general BBC purposes, which of course, include news broadcasting, something which Mark Thompson, said, back in 2006, could never happen.


November 2006: The BBC received € 74,794,316. The EIB gives the official reason for this loan as “Production of new BBC programmes” though again The Sunday Times has it as “to pay for the acquisition of overseas rights to programmes made by the BBC in the UK.” Again this not what the EIB says the loan was for.


This makes for a total indebtedness over the last six years to the EIB on the part of the BBC of € 211,658115 (which is £ 157,132,973 at today’s rate of exchange €1.34 = £1 for which my source is the BBC Business site). This, even by the standards of today when many billions of pounds can be used to prop up Northern Rock, is a substantial amount of money and represents 5% of the BBC’s £3.1 billion budget, so it is not an amount to be sneezed at.


Now this raises a strong suspicion that the BBC’s well-known and well-documented bias towards all things to do with the EU is keenly supported by the EU itself. So what is the BBC’s explanation for all this:

A BBC spokesman denied any pro-Brussels bias: “There were no editorial obligations whatsoever attached to the three EIB loans. The BBC’s commercial businesses go to the European Investment Bank as opposed to any other commercial bank for purely commercial reasons.”

Well, that is as maybe, but then perhaps it might be wise to see the matter through the eyes of the EIB and more particularly how and why it feels able to offer such commercially competitive loans.


In the first place let us look at the some of the terms of the EIB Mission Statement:


Our Mission is to further the objectives of the European Union by making long-term finance available for sound investment.

We are at the service of the Union.

We were created by the Treaty of Rome; our shareholders are the Member States; and our Board of Governors is composed of the Finance Ministers of these States.

We offer first-class terms and conditions.

Our financial soundness derives from the strength and commitment of our shareholders, the independence of our professional judgements and our record of achievement. It enables us to borrow at the finest terms, which we pass on in our lending conditions.

We work in partnership with others.

Our policies are established in close coordination with the Member States and the other Institutions of the European Union. We also cooperate closely with the business and banking sectors and the main international organisations in our field.


I have highlighted several features of the EIB’s objectives which, on any reasonable view, demonstrate how the relationship of the BBC with the EIB is an unacceptable one. In short the EIB is furthering the aims, which as we know are integrationist and federalist, of the European Union and must therefore consider that by lending to the BBC those aims are being furthered. That fact alone makes the relationship an unacceptable one in a broadcasting institution which is supposed to be impartial.


Again the EIB says this of its activities:

The operational strategy of the Bank is:

  • To finance viable capital projects which further EU objectives
  • To borrow on the capital markets to finance these projects

Let us then look at how the EIB saw its loan to the BBC in 2002:

The European Investment Bank finances capital investment furthering EU integration


You could not have a clearer set of admissions as to the real purpose of this loan, which is designed to further a political objective which is opposed by the British people and to which the British people have never been asked nor given their whole-hearted consent.

Then there is Article 267 of the Treaty of Lisbon which sets out the purpose which the Bank is to serve:

The task of the European Investment Bank shall be to contribute, by having recourse to the capital market and utilising its own resources, to the balanced and steady development of the internal market in the interest of the Union. For this purpose the Bank shall, operating on a non-profit-making basis, grant loans and give guarantees which facilitate the financing of the following projects in all sectors of the economy.

One can make the point, in passing, that by being a highly favoured partner of the EU the BBC is enabled to have access to what are, on the face of it, cheap loans: one is bound to ask if this is giving the BBC a highly unfair advantage as against its commercial rivals in the UK and Worldwide? It is, I suggest, noteworthy in this context that the BBC refuses to disclose what the commercial basis for these loans is.

Let us then look at the Statute of the Bank:

Article 20

In its loan and guarantee operations, the Bank shall observe the following

principles:

1. It shall ensure that its funds are employed as rationally as possible in the interests of the Community.

It may grant loans or guarantees only:

a) where, in the case of projects carried out by undertakings in the production sector, interest and amortization payments are covered out of operating profits or, in other cases, either by a commitment entered into by the State in which the project is carried out or by some other means; and

b) where the execution of the project contributes to an increase in economic productivity in general and promotes the attainment of the common market.


It is clear, you may think, that the BBC is therefore engaging entirely in the promotion of a political objective of the EU.
Certainly that is what the EU & EIB think they are doing.That is in clear breach of its duty of impartiality.

Given what we know of the BBC’s attitude towards the EU, which is to support it at every turn, it comes as no surprise that it is singled out for the generosity and largesse of the EU’s own investment bank. And these are huge loans which have been utilised to further the BBC’s commercial mission in the world. In addition there do not have to be any ‘editorial obligations’ attached to such loans for the BBC well knows that it is unwise to bite the hand that feeds it.

Let me then pose another question: if the BBC was institutionally hostile to the EU, would it receive loans of this size from the EIB? The answer is ‘no’.

Even if, which I do not believe, there is no relationship between the BBC’s editorial views and the fact that it gets enormous loans from the EU, do not these transactions fail the second part of the test “creates or gives the appearance of creating a conflict of interest”? If so they are loans which should not have been undertaken by the BBC.

We should now be told, in the interests of transparency, what were the terms of these transactions and whether they were genuinely commercial and in the meantime, in the interests of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality, these loans should be repaid and none further entered into with the EU.

COMMENT THREAD

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