Companies make £44 billion profit, directors take £270m but don’t pay living wage

“Nearly half of our top 100 companies raked in a combined £44billion in profits last year while refusing to pay a proper living wage.

At the same time, the fat cat bosses of those firms pocketed nearly £270million between them, a Mirror probe found.

A third of FTSE 100 firms have now pledged to pay all staff, agency workers and contractors the “real” living wage.

The Living Wage Foundation sets this at £8.45 an hour or £9.75 in London – above the government’s National Living Wage of £7.50 for 25 and overs.

There are 33 FTSE 100 firms accredited with the LWF and the other two-thirds include a small number that pay all staff and contractors above the rates but have not signed-up to the scheme.” …

Jeremy Hunt – drinking for US (that’s for the United States, not us the people)

Not at an NHS meeting, not at a social care meeting – special guest at a Boeing “drink tank”.

“Jeremy Hunt faced a torrent of criticism after it emerged he will be at a Boeing-sponsored “drink tank” while more than 4,000 UK jobs at rival firm Bombardier “hang by a thread”.

Theresa May has hinted that the UK Government could boycott Boeing after a trade dispute over aggressive tariffs broke out – a dispute which could ultimately see 4,500 workers at Bombardier’s Belfast factory made jobless. …”

Huffington Post UK

“Let’s be clear …”

Andrew Marr show this morning:

Question to Prime Minister:
“Is the Foreign Secretary unsackable?”

Mrs May’s A:
“Lets be quite clear. What we have is a government determined to deliver a Brexit for everyone.”

Owl says: if BBC journalists cannot call out a politician for failing to answer a question – then perhaps they should be working at any job but interviewing!

Bring back Paxman!!!

(Well, at least she DIDN’T say “Brexit is Brexit”!)

“Boris Johnson ‘says Cabinet minister’s salary of £141,000 is not enough to live on’ “

“Boris Johnson has told friends his minister’s salary of £141,405 a year is not enough to live on, according to reports.

The Foreign Secretary told friends his annual earnings were insufficient because of his “extensive family responsibilities”, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The Tory MP has four children with his second wife, Marina Wheeler. He also fathered a daughter during an affair with arts consultant Helen MacIntyre, failing to get an injunction to prevent the reporting of her existence. …”

MP getting £3,000 per month from a lobbying, that’s fine – isn’t it?

David Mitchell nails it in The Observer:

“The Tory politician James Duddridge pockets £3,300 a month from a lobbying company, but don’t worry. If it were a problem, it wouldn’t be legal.

What is the advantage of letting sitting MPs work for lobbying firms? What are the pluses of that, for the country? Because we do allow it, so I’m assuming there must be some upside.

After all, there are clear advantages to many things we don’t allow: smoking on petrol station forecourts, for example. Allowing that would mean, if you’re addicted to smoking, or enjoy smoking, or think smoking makes you look cool, you could do it while filling your car with petrol, polishing its bonnet, going to buy snacks, checking the tyres and so on. You wouldn’t be inconvenienced by either the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal or a hiatus in the image of nonchalant suavity that having a fag in your mouth invariably projects.

And the same goes for those essaying auras of Churchillian defiance and grit, or Hannibal from The A-Team-style twinkly maverick leadership, to which a lit cigar clamped between the teeth can be vital, particularly if you’ve got a weak chin.

Similarly, if you’re a pipe-smoking detective of the Sherlock Holmes mould and are, perhaps, investigating a crime on a petrol station forecourt, or merely passing across one while contemplating the intricacies of a non-forecourt-related mystery, you wouldn’t have to suffer a lapse in the heightened analytical brain function that you’ve found smoking a pipe crucial to attaining. Interrupting such processes to buy petrol may cause murderers to walk free.

And then there’s the possibility that allowing smoking at petrol stations will marginally increase overall consumption, and therefore sales, of tobacco products – all the Holmeses and Churchills and Bonds will be able to get a few more smokes in before they die of cancer – which would slightly improve trade and GDP, and so create jobs.

Maybe Duddridge just pops in once a month and is a master of clearing photocopier jams.

Nevertheless, I am not, on balance, in favour of allowing smoking on petrol station forecourts. The manifold advantages are, in my view, outweighed by the several disadvantages: passive smoking for non-smoking users of the forecourt, nicotine staining of the underside of the canopy, and various others I can’t currently bring to mind.

But you’d think, in a system that flattered itself as non-mad, as I believe the British one still does, practices that are legal would be bristling with more boons for the community than those that aren’t. That’s got to be the vague rule of thumb, right? So then, what are the good things about allowing sitting MPs to take paid work from lobbying firms? What are the upsides to that?

The downsides are as hard to miss as a few hundred thousand litres of subterranean petrol suddenly exploding. Let’s take an example from the news last week. It was reported that James Duddridge, a Tory MP who was minister for Africa from 2014 to 2016, is being paid £3,300 for eight hours work a month by a lobbying company called Brand Communications.

It’s one of the few lobbying companies not to have signed up to the industry’s code of conduct, which prohibits employing sitting MPs. You may say that makes it a nasty firm, but I don’t blame it. Why would it sign up to extra rules if it doesn’t have to? That’s like volunteering to observe a lower speed limit than the one prescribed by law.

The law is absolutely fine with Duddridge’s little earner. Former ministers’ jobs just have to be approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, itself described by the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as a “toothless regulator” (these committees are so bitchy!), since it has no statutory powers of redress. Then again, as its rulings are almost invariably “That’s fine”, what powers does it really need?

Duddridge himself says it’s all legit because Brand Communications is “not a public affairs company”, but the company’s website says “James will bring his deep knowledge of Africa, experience of operating at the highest levels of government and extensive networks to Brand Communications”, which sounds a bit public affairsy to me.

But I don’t know: maybe it’s fine. We can’t know it’s definitely not fine. Admittedly, according to the Times, the head of one of Britain’s leading lobbying firms called it “an appalling example of bad practice”, and the chairman of the Association of Professional Political Consultants said, “MPs should not be lobbyists. It is wrong to be a lobbyist and make the law at the same time,” but maybe it’s still fine.

Maybe James just pops in once a month and is incredibly helpful in ways that don’t conflict with his public duties. Maybe he’s full of creative ideas, a huge boost to office morale and a master of clearing photocopier jams. And then he pops back to parliament and doesn’t think about Brand Communications until the next month, no matter what issues concerning their interests cross his desk as an MP and member of the Commons International Development Committee. Yes, maybe it’s fine.”

EDDC’s strategy for dealing with budget deficit: bleed residents dry?

“There is a significant shortfall projected in 2020/21 (£1.412m) which is as a result of an assumed rebasing of business rate income thereby reducing our income by £1.2m. It is proposed in the Finance Plan that work is started now in bridging this gap and driving self- sufficiency of the Council. Members have indicated that the strategic theme within the Transformation Strategy “Maximise the value of our assets through commercial thinking with a focus on income generation, sustainability and developing local economies” is one they believe has significant potential. The Financial Plan considers how this might be progressed with the use of a Member Group (possibly the Budget Working Party) to consider business cases and suggests that a fund is created to unlock barriers to the Council progressing this aim. Detailed recommendations will be presented within the 2018/19 Budget approval process.”

Click to access 041017-cabinet-agenda-combined.pdf

page 60

Anti-abortion Rees-Mogg defends investment in abortion pill manufacturer

Summary: Rees-Mogg doesn’t mind at all if his investments are unethical and it’s ok to lie about what pills can be used for – the Vatican would find that ok.

“Multi-millionaire Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg has admitted his investment firm profits from abortion pills – even though he wants to deny rape victims the right to terminations.

His company has nearly £5million-worth of shares in the Indonesian firm Kalbe Farma, which produces the pills to prevent ulcers.

They also trigger terminations, can be bought in pharmacies and are used widely in Indonesia – where there are an estimated two million illegal abortions each year.

Father-of-six Mr Rees-Mogg defended the investments and said he would not resign his investment post.

But he admitted: “It would be wrong to pretend that I like it but the world is not always what you want it to be. …

The staunch Catholic, who is tipped to succeed PM Theresa May, is a partner in Somerset Capital Management, the investment firm he co-founded in 2007.

The North East Somerset MP, 48, is paid more than £14,500 a month for 30 hours of work for the company.

He will not reveal the dividend payments he receives for his 15 per cent share in the firm, based in London’s upmarket Belgravia.

But partners have trousered nearly £60million between them since 2010.

According to this year’s interim report, two of Somerset Capital Management’s investment funds hold £4.8million in shares in Jakarta-based Kalbe Farma.

The pharmaceutical firm make misoprostol, a generic abortion drug sold under the brand name Invitec. They also manufacture oral contraceptives.

Invitec is marketed under its other use as a gastric ulcer preventer because abortion, other than in cases of rape or to save a mother’s life, is illegal in Indonesia.

But the international women’s rights organisation Women on Waves say it is available in Indonesian pharmacies.

The Dutch-based organisation advises women in Indonesia on how to obtain the drug and the circumstances in which terminations are legal in the country.

It says: “Abortion is permitted to save a woman’s life, in cases of foetal impairment and in cases of rape. Spousal authorisation is required. Misoprostol is available in pharmacies under the names Chromalux, Citrosol, Cytostol, Gastrul, Invitec and Noprostol.”

Mr Rees-Mogg defended the investments.

He said: “Kalbe Farma obeys Indonesian law so it’s a legitimate investment and there’s no hypocrisy. The law in ­Indonesia would satisfy the Vatican.”

In an earlier phone call, Mr Rees-Mogg said he had been unaware the company made the drug.

But he added: “I don’t manage the funds and haven’t done so since I became an MP. But the funds have to be run in accordance with the requirements of the investors and not according to my religious beliefs.

“This is not something I would wish to invest in personally but you have a duty as an investment manager not to impose constraints on investors.”

Mr Rees-Mogg accepted he did profit “in a very roundabout way”.

He went on: “This company does not procure the abortion of babies. It’s not my money in these investments and I profit from the total amount of client money we hold, not the investments we make.”

The Eton and Oxford educated MP caused uproar this month when he was interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain by Susanna Reid and denounced abortion as “morally ­indefensible” in all circumstances.

That, he said, included cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest. He added: “Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception.”

The MP said this was not government policy, but his own personal view based on Catholic teachings.

… Misoprostol can be prescribed to prevent stomach ulcers, or induce labour in pregnant women by causing contractions.

But when used with another drug, mifepristone, it ends pregnancy in NHS medical abortions to avoid surgical procedures.

Misoprostol is often used alone to bring about an abortion, particularly in countries where termination is illegal.”

Source: Daily Mirror