MPs warn up to £1bn of Lotto charity cash could be siphoned off by legal battle

Oh dear, Nadine Dorries to decide – Owl

MPs urge ministers to stop up to £1BILLION of Lotto money earmarked for UK good causes being spent on Canadian teachers’ pensions amid legal battle over future of game

  • Camelot fighting Gambling Commission decision to let someone else run game 
  • European lottery operator Allwyn preferred applicant for the fourth licence
  • MPs worried about scale of possible damages that Camelot could receive  
  • Owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has made £300m since 2017 (Extract)

Camelot is seeking to have the decision overturned and be awarded the licence but the Gambling Commission wants to go ahead and give it to Allwyn before the court rules, arguing to do otherwise ‘poses a significant risk’ of reducing cash going to good causes.

However, the former chief executive of Camelot, Dame Dianne Thompson warned earlier this year that going ahead and then losing the case to Camelot could lead to massive compensation. 

She said drain up to £1billion otherwise destined for good causes via the National Lottery Community Fund and demanded the decision be delayed.

Now MPs are concerned that Camelot could scoop massive damages, cash that would go to its owner, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Tory MPs including Hastings and Rye’s Sally-Ann Hart and ex-Tory vice-chairman Ben Bradley have written to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries asking that she take steps to make sure money earmarked for good causes is not at risk.

In a letter seen by MailOnline they say that it would be ‘an unacceptable cost to the British taxpayer’ at a time when the economy and civil society is under severe pressure.’

‘Brexit bonus’ plan to allow motorists to drive HGVs without extra tests to help solve driver shortages

Surely this is madness – Owl

Motorists are set to be allowed to drive lorries without taking a test under a “Brexit bonus” plan to help solve driver shortages.

Stephen Rigley

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will launch a consultation on whether to lift the Brussels-imposed ban on motorists driving anything larger than a 3.5-ton vehicle.

It means motorists cannot drive vans and lorries up to 7.5 tons without taking further tests, or minibuses with up to 16 seats without restrictions.

Mr Shapps believes lifting the ban could increase the pool of commercial drivers, boosting job opportunities and the economy. It could also help address shortages of HGV drivers because some may graduate to drive heavy goods vehicles.

A government source told the Telegraph: “We are past the days when EU directives were handed down on tablets of stone, and we should be prepared to liberalise where we can, testing the necessity for maintaining driving restrictions that were once thought unnecessary in this country.

“Grant thinks we should have a fresh look at this, but of course this has to be done with due regard for safety.”

EU rules enshrined in UK law bar any motorist with a full driving licence gained after Jan 1, 1997, from driving any vehicle over 3.5 tons without a further specialised test.

Mr Shapps is understood to believe there is a strong case for returning to pre-1997 rules, where anyone with a full licence could drive any vehicle up to 7.5 tons.

In a letter to MPs, the Transport Secretary wrote: “It has been suggested that now the UK has left the European Union, we may wish to allow all car drivers – not just those who passed their test before Jan 1, 1997, the right to drive these larger vehicles without need for a further test.

“Changes to the licensing categories would potentially create a greater pool of drivers. I am quite happy to explore this idea and how this may work in reality – without making any commitments to legislative change at this stage.”

He said the consultation aimed to seek “evidence on the economic benefits of widening the recruitment pool for medium-sized goods vehicles and minibus drivers, which may attract more people to the industry and support economic growth by further strengthening our supply chain”.

A cross-party group of MPs called for the logistics industry to “get its house in order”, including better overnight facilities for drivers and new training routes to recruit more hauliers, as the sector faces labour shortages.

The Commons Transport Select Committee said that if the changes are not made within two years, then the most profitable parts of the sector should face a new tax.

Under the proposed Supply Chain Levy, large supermarkets, oil companies and online service giants could be forced to pay towards the cost of new facilities for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

Comments on hosepipe bans

From a correspondent:

Will the water user be falling into line with the hosepipe ban?  Let us hope for the sake of our environment that these Hampshire residents, heard on the Today programme of 05/08/2022, reflect the majorities’ view. That people will just “raise eyebrows” and “pay the price” for the gross mismanagement and profiteering. 

“I think when hosepipe bans are announced people want to do their bit but for the environment and want to help. But there is the issue that people in our community have seen years if not decades of water leakage and the water companies not doing their bit. So at this time when bills are high and people are wondering where their money is going being asked additionally to stop using hosepipes is going to raise eyebrows on the south coast.” 

“I am disappointed as at much that its us lawn lovers who are going to pay the price for mismanaging maybe allowing the leakage to continue over years and years.”

[The relevant part of the programme starts at 1hr 36mins of the recording. Worth listening to the end to hear the Chair of British Water try to explain why additional reservoirs are only in the planning stage, not actually being built]

Who runs a caretaker government when the caretakers are on holiday?

What do you call a country with a caretaker government when the caretaker has gone on holiday in the middle of an economic crisis and a European war?

Sean O’Grady 

Why, the United Kingdom, of course. It seems Boris Johnson might have had a point when he said that this was no time for a protracted and distracting leadership election. Of course, that was the price the country paid when his government collapsed beneath him through his own fault, and thus he cannot escape culpability. Still, so it is proving: Britain is drifting into recession and an existential struggle for survival for the most vulnerable in society. Families who, in Theresa May’s famous phrase, were just about managing in 2018 or 2019 are now faced with a squeeze on living standards unprecedented since the Second World War: higher fuel and food prices, energy bills, council tax, tax and national insurance, with rents and mortgages up.

The situation is getting dire and it demands leadership. But the caretaker prime minister is demob happy and on his second honeymoon, the caretaker chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, is away on holiday and the caretaker deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, is busily spinning for the former proper chancellor, Rishi Sunak. Meanwhile, the caretaker foreign secretary is touring the country making impossible promises and bad policy on the hoof. The likely future chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, doesn’t know the whereabouts of Boris Johnson (one can only hope that Carrie Johnson does). It’s not ideal.

A new premier won’t be in office for another month, nor many of the new ministers, and problems are piling up. Contrary to some expectations, the next prime minister will also mean a change of policy in key areas, and more radically so in the case of Liz Truss. Strong and stable government, to borrow again from the Big Theresa May Book of Doomed Slogans, is at a premium.

It is difficult to find encouraging precedents for such a collective dereliction of duty. Funnily enough, the last Tory leadership election in 2019, which yielded Johnson, was another exercise in self-indulgence because vital Brexit negotiating and preparation time was spaffed away on a meaningless contest between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

In economically and geopolitically sunnier times there was even some mild amusement to be had from the usual tussles for power when the PM is indisposed or away. Of course, modern communications mean that prime ministers are able to keep abreast of events even when they’re on the other side of the world, as has been the case for decades – provided, that is, they still want to take an interest in the job. Margaret Thatcher disliked not being in control; she didn’t bother with holidays much at all.

Others did “chillax”, as David Cameron put it. For example, there was never much of importance going on that Tony Blair wasn’t aware of, even if he was relaxing in Tuscany or hanging out in the Caribbean hideaways of Cliff Richard or Richard Branson, but it was fun to see John Prescott, Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown try to show who was in charge. Prescott even went to the seaside to name a crab “Peter” as a bit of fun. But at least the civil servants had a range of powerful personalities to turn to if they needed a decision and didn’t want to trouble the PM. Not so much now, though.

Only rarely has the British government suffered from such lassitude as it does today. In the early 1950s, Churchill – approaching 80 and in his Indian summer as premier – suffered a series of strokes, unbeknown to the public. Usually his experienced designated deputy, Anthony Eden, took over seamlessly, but on one occasion Eden was also sick in hospital with a persistent gallbladder complaint and the government was run by the chancellor, RA Butler. It was a time of some international tension and the country was emerging from post-war austerity, but no harm was done during the hiatus before Churchill’s return. Now things are much more dicey, and much of the country is already suffering financial hardship.

Many voters will wonder why they have to wait another month without some help.