Friday, October 20, 2006

Send the Bill to the Taxpayer...

Many moons ago I used to run quite a successful company which organised policy conferences. So I know a bit about what it costs to put on a conferenc for sixty people. So when I read this in Hansard, you can imagine my reaction...

Caroline Spelman: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission (1) how much has been allocated for the Electoral Commission’s conference on the regulation of political party financing; (2) who has been invited to attend the Electoral Commission’s conference on the regulation of political party financing.
Peter Viggers: I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the conference on the regulation of party finances held by the Electoral Commission in September for representatives of overseas regulatory organisations and academic specialists in this field. The commission informs me that the cost of the conference, which was attended by more than 60 delegates from 15 countries, was £45,000. The Commission also incurred travel and subsistence costs of £14,000 in relation to the attendance of certain key speakers. I have asked the chief executive of the Commission to write to my hon. Friend with details of those who were invited, and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.

Quite astonishing. Where did they hold it? The Maldives? I hope someone will pass me a copy of The Electoral Commission's letter, as I suspect it will mae very interesting reading.

I actually believe the Electoral Commission is a good thing and has an excellent chairman in Sam Younger. It is right that electoral issues are separated from government and overseen by an independent organisation. However, the Commission is becoming far too big and far too bloated. Discuss.

11 comments:

Og said...

Well said. One gets the impression that NO ATTEMPT is made to keep the cost of this sort of thing down, and it doesn't matter if there are tories involved, there is still a cavalier attitude taken.

I am still boring on about the news last month that THREE civil servants were sent on a two-day jolly to Cornwall to pick one grape from a Cornish vineyard in order to, "er....., well....., um...., Europe! That's it! European laws, confirmed by Parliament! It's the law. We had to do it. It was thought that represenatation by another Govt dept apart from DEFRA would be advisable. Health and Safety, probably. Or Transport. One of the two, anyway. The trip was a TREMENDOUS success and has contributed to all three civil servants being able to achieve one of their GOALS for the month".

We all know that we could cut government spending by 10% and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to essential public services.

Praguetory said...

This means that they spent 5 times as much on this 60 delegate conference as they did on targetting the 2.5m overseas voters who are eligible to vote (Source Hansard).

For more check this.

Nobody can tell me they haven't got their priorities all wrong.

Raggasonic said...

Whether anecdotally, or empirically, it is well known that government bodies do not get value for money. There's no drive to make a profit, cut costs or make efficiency savings because there's usually a blank cheque. So when the electoral commission pays a lot for a conference, you can imagine a lot of people are trousering cash. I'm sure the organisers billed high and so did the venue etc, knowing that no one in government has an incentive to spend their time chasing low prices.

If this is just one quango, imagine what happens to larger budgets like the NHS's purchasing of medicines. The pharmaceutical companies sell their wares to the NHS for higher prices than the other foreign health services pay.

And many an IT worker knows how their employers regularly stitch up the government. Just look at the recent £175,000 redesign of the DTI website which frankly could have been done by a couple of geeks for £1750...

red tamarin said...

It's only going to get bigger when they finally incorporate the Boundary Commission into the organisation...

Anonymous said...

Sam Younger excellent? Nonsense on stilts, he's a wimp and NuLabour has walked all over him.

newmania said...

PRAGUETORY knows his stuff doen`t he.

This sort of individual item has caused great hilarity in Islignton where the cost per flower of a new flower bed was about £500 per bloom ( just for the flowers ). Nowadays this information has to be available but goodness me it is hard to find. Luckily for us one dedicated retired chap has made it his life`s work to read everything our Coucil "Make available" . Large tracts turn out to be nonsensical .Noone else even looks.

Why why why ? I have a theory:


Manacur Olsen has a good description of a Monarchy. A stationary bandit. Indeed the aristocracies of the West are often derived from nomadic Warrior elite who preyed on agrarian peoples before settling down. Their problem was that if they actually starved their prey to death they would cut of their own revenue .They lived in an increasingly symbiotic parasitical relationship with the country.
Thus our monarchy evolved into the democracy we know today. Unfortunately with the great expansion of the state of the 20th century we have pretty much gone back to where we started. Socialist derived ideas seemed to imply that the state actually created wealth .It does not. Next time Gordon Brown takes credit for the economic good fortune of the last ten years bear in mind he didn’t make, do, or sell a damn thing. We did it, the agonised parasite-state’s host. The state is now so large that it has become more like a faux country of its own .Parts of it compete with other parts to suck in resources and the notion of having to keep the poor wealth producer alive is forgotten . We are often wrong to ascribe logical motives to the hunger for our money. The beast we fed until it ate the whole freezer is simply shouting. FEED ME. SEYMOUR FEED ME! Sometimes I could swear I hear a speed camera whisper just that.


In every dark unregarded coerner you will find the state munching with horrible sallivation upon your money. This conference example is one of thousands

Peter Hitchens said...

WTF were people from 15 countries doing discussing this countries electoral procedures at our fucking expense?

william norton said...

The Electoral Commission is a toothless, valueless nonentity which should be abolished.

Anonymous said...

To get away with rigging general elections, the Electoral Commission has had to be fixed so it keeps quiet. Money usually works these days. Labour harvested postal votes to win power in 2005. Without them they would have lost the election. The election was a travesty according to international observers, and must never be allowed to occur again. Yet no changes have been made to postal voting rules and procedures. And now the count can be delayed 24 hours providing further ballot rigging practices such as selective ballot box content removal.

The Electoral Commission can expect a lot of slush to play along.

Lagwolf said...

The people who organise the governmental conferences have absolutely no care for cost. As its not "their" money. But then again the EC will probably say there is no way they could cut their costs.

kinglear said...

This is no surprise. I have a daughter who is on the gravy train who recently had to organise an out of town meeting.
She booked rooms at a Travel Inn, immediately adjacent to the venue. She presented her arrangements to her boss, and was roundly castigated.
" Oh, no, we get paid so little ( really? and the pension too?) we are allowed to pamper ourselves a bit on these occasions." Cue an extra £120 per person - plus food and drink of course.