Saturday, January 28, 2012

This week I voted three times against our Government - twice on the benefits cap, and the third time, on charges to be imposed on a parent with care if she has to use the state to recover the contribution by the absent parent.

The cap if £500 a week, and that sound like a lot of money when many people in work aren't getting that much. But the limit applies everywhere, and in London a family with three or more children will be paying £350 a week in rent, leaving them with £150 to cover food and drink, clothing and shoes, transport, heat and light. Among those who objected to my interview on the World at One on this subject was an Australian banker, who disagreed when I told him that instead of making people on benefits contribute towards eliminating the deficit, I would like to see a 75% rate of income tax levied on income over £250k a year. He said this would drive the top earners abroad, to which my answer was that there would be many others ready to take their places at more reasonable salary levels. But yes, there ought to be international agreement on curbing top salaries if possible, to stop companies relocating in states wherte inequality is greatest, such as the UK and the US at present.

On the third vote, moved by the former Conservative Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the question was about the payment of fees to the Child Suppport Agency where the two parents in dispute are unable to reach agreement on the contributions each should make to the maintenance of their dependent children. Almost invariably in these cases its the mother who is left to look after the children while the father absconds and shirks his responsibilities, refusing to cooperate. Why on earth the mother should have to pay a fee to recover her rightful due was not explained satisfactorily by the Government. The Minister said it was to persuade the parties to cooperate, but its never the 'parent with care' who is obstructive.

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