Paul Rowen's Letter from Parliament
The big event in Westminster this week has been the Chancellor's Pre Budget Speech. As usual much of it had been trailed beforehand in the media. Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, was one of the first to call the banker's bluff on their bonuses. It really is quite unacceptable that people who only still have a job because of taxpayer's support should behave in this way.
One policy which Vince put forward was a limit on public sector pay rises of £500 pa for the next two years. This helps lower paid public service workers and puts an end to the massive pay rises some senior local authority or health service workers have been awarding themselves. Accompanying the speech is the publication of the "Red Book". This is a weighty tome that sets out all the assumptions used by the government in determining their economic policy.
The public administration select committee, of which I am a member, last week held a meeting on public sector cuts. We were told that the structural deficit was £90 billion or 10% of all public expenditure! Make no mistake, whoever the government is next year they will have to make cuts
Last Monday I was privileged to witness the march past of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. I was really proud of the thousands of Rochdale folk who turned out, including many primary schools. I know from talking to some of the lads afterwards how much they appreciated the support. They are very brave young men serving our country.
On Wednesday this week I had a meeting with Armed Forces Procurement Minister Davies together with the MD of a local company to discuss how the procurement policies of the MOD are affecting that company.
Last Friday I took part in an assembly at St Cuthbert's to present OS maps to year 7 pupils and following this I visited Oulder Hill where Year 13 students were taking part in a financial planning exercise produced by Barclays and being delivered by West Yorkshire Trading. I also attended the Rochdale Liberal Democrats Annual Dinner at which Lord McNally was the guest speaker. As usual the food and company were excellent.
Last Sunday was the Music Services Annual Christmas Cracker. Now in its 16th year Oulder Hill was packed and Fred Bowker made a guest appearance. This weekend I am attending the Lancashire Fusiliers Christmas Party and the Civic Carol Service. Christmas is certainly on its way!