Swire goes back to the Maldives

It is SO heartening to see Swire standing up for democracy … in the Maldives … again … and again … and again

“Oral Answers to Questions – Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Topical Questions (20 Feb 2018)


Hugo Swire: The recent extension of the state of emergency and the arrest of former President Gayoom and two Supreme Court judges has shown President Yameen tightening the grip in the Maldives and the further extinguishing of the democratic institutions there. Given the fact that at any one time there are literally thousands of British holidaymakers on those islands, and that until recently the Maldives…”

Swire sees the light on hospital beds (because it could be a big vote loser?)

Owl is concerned that local MP Hugo Swire is very, very slow in the uptake. After resting on his laurels by seeing community beds in his constituency staying while those in Neil Parish’s patch of EDDC have all gone (except for Tiverton – not part of East Devon which can’t be closed because it is a PFZi hospital), he finally wakes up and realises that it has left a black hole that will stop many people voting for either of them next time! AND result in people switching their votes to Claire Wright (Independent, East Devon) and maybe Caroline Kolek (Labour, Tiverton and Honiton)!

Sir Hugo Swire said the area’s demographics are 20 years ahead of the national average and it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ the two services should have separate funding.

This comes after Dr Mike Slot raised concerns to Devon’s health watchdog that carers are not available to implement ‘care at home’ – the model the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) moved to after it closed 140 community hospital beds across the county.

Dr Slot said: “The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care so that patients could be cared for in their own homes.

“This may or may not have been realistic since many of the patients in the hospital system cannot be managed in the community, even with excellent community services.

“However, with or without community hospital beds, it is an excellent idea to expand community services so that all those patients who can be cared for out of hospital can remain at home.

“Unfortunately, there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job.

“When GPs ring the single point of access number asking for rapid response or night sitting, the carers are not available.”

In a joint statement, the CCG and provider trust the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital acknowledged that recruitment had been ‘challenging’ in a few places, but the bodies were working hard alongside other agencies to address the issues.

A spokeswoman said more than £2.5million had been redirected into growing and strengthening their community teams so more people can be cared for at home.

They added: “A large part of the reinvestment has been to increase the number of nurses, therapists and support workers and in most areas we have successfully recruited the additional staff.”

Social care was brought under the remit of health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the last cabinet reshuffle – a move welcomed by Sir Hugo, who said: “I think in future there will be far greater use of hubs.

“We must look to do the same with social care. It requires brave, strategic thinking. We have to get it right.

“The East Devon demographic is where the country is going to be in 20 years’ time. Sidmouth is even ahead of that. East Devon should be a template – use us as a guinea pig for integration of health and social care.”


Port Royal: Modesty (EDDC) versus ambition (Hugo Swire)

Owl reported last week in Hugo Swire’s grandiose ideas about redevelopment of Sidmouth’s Port Royal, including his suggestion to bring in Prince Charles’s design team:


Thankfully, the district council has gone for a more “modest” plan. Swire bemoans this and says plans should have been more “ambitious”. Sadly, these days “ambitious” is a word often interchangeable with “greedy” in modern planning terminology!

“District chiefs will not bring in the Prince of Wales’ design team after they opted for a ‘more modest’ direction for Port Royal.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire said the Prince’s Foundation could create a development that has the community’s backing.

But a scoping study for the site revealed a number of ‘unresolved uncertainties’ so East Devon District Council (EDDC) has limited its proposals to marketing the Drill Hall. A spokeswoman said: “Had we felt that it was possible to go forward with a comprehensive redevelopment of the Port Royal site then the involvement of the Prince’s Foundation was certainly worthy of exploration.

“However, as explained, this is a much more modest and specific direction proposed that involves the Drill Hall site only.”

Sir Hugo told the Herald focusing the redevelopment on the Drill Hall would be ‘missed opportunity’ and it required an ambitious approach.”


“Male MPs ‘seat-blocking’ safe constituencies in the Commons, says new report”

East Devon has two safe(ish) seats (though getting less safe by the day)!
Hugo Swire and Neil Parish are male.
Claire Wright is Independent and female.
Just saying …

“Male MPs are effectively “seat-blocking” safe seats in the Commons and holding back gender progress, according to new research that calls for an overhaul in the way politicians are elected to Parliament.

The new study from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) claims that hundreds of seats have effectively been “reserved” by male politicians – forcing women to contest in marginal constituencies in order to enter public life.

The research, published on Tuesday, shows that of the 212 currently-serving MPs first elected in 2005 or before, just 42 are women. …

Jess Garland, the director of policy and research at the ERS, added that while Britain has experienced progress in gender equality at recent elections, it is being “held back by Westminster’s broken voting system, which effectively ‘reserves’ seats for men”.

She continued: “Over 80 per cent of MPs first elected in 1997 or earlier are men, with the one-MP per seat one-person-takes-all nature of First Past the Post leaving few opportunities for women’s representation once a man has secured selection. Sitting MPs have a huge incumbency advantage, and since open selections are relatively rare, we face a real stumbling block in the path to fair representation. …

Swire takes on another job: non-executive director of an airport lighting company

Following on from the previous 2 posts, here’s another source of income in the last few months:

“From 18 June 2017, non-executive director of ATG Airports, Newton Road, Lowton St Mary’s, Warrington WA3 2AP:

24 November 2017, received £10,086.72. Hours: 15 hrs. (Registered 05 December 2017)”

Only £1,000 an hour for this one!

ATG Airports describes itself as

From a simple system controlling a single runway airstrip to the complex multi-runway operation of a major international airport, each and every atg airports airfield lighting control system is designed with the future in mind.”

Swire’s latest income – £2,500 per hour advice

From the post below, we glean that Swire recently had a new source of income: £25,000 for 10 hours of advice given to a new company (incorporated in November 2017) “Apiro Real Estate Fund 1 L.P”.

Its website states that the fund “is focused exclusively on the real estate of the UK supply chains, a defensive investment sector that will continue to grow, despite the broader economy, as the penetration of delivery based e-commerce increases.”

Is the fund expecting a problem? “Despite the broader economy” they say.

Its Managing Director is:

Shezi Nackvi

Shezi is a highly experienced investment banker who has transacted investments valued at more than USD 1 billion over the last 20 years. He is currently CEO of Peninvest Limited, the Private Office of the Kamel family, one of Saudi Arabia’s most respected business families. As CEO of Dallah Albaraka (Europe) Limited, he also heads up the corporate side of the family’s business. An expert in real estate and private equity transactions, Shezi is an insightful and discreet investor who has worked closely with a wide range of government and business leaders. Previously, he held senior positions with Lehman Brothers, Bank of America International and the Abu Dhabi Investment Company.”

Let’s hope Swire’s £2,500 per hour gave them good advice!

Swire: is this ethical?

This is Swire’s current declaration of interests:

From 9 November 2016, Adviser to KIS France, a manufacturer of photo booths and mini labs. Address: 7 Rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, 38130 Echirolles, France. I expect to be paid £3,000 every month until further notice. Hours: 8 hrs per month. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment. (Registered 16 November 2016)

From 15 November 2016, Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. Address: Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. I expect to be paid £2,000 every month until further notice. Hours: 10 hrs per month. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment. (Registered 16 November 2016)

16 November 2017, received £25,000 for acting as adviser to Apiro Real Estate Fund 1 Limited Partnership, 1 Connaught House, Mount Row, London SW1K 3RA. Hours: 10 hrs. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment. (Registered 22 November 2017)

From 18 June 2017, non-executive director of ATG Airports, Newton Road, Lowton St Mary’s, Warrington WA3 2AP:
24 November 2017, received £10,086.72. Hours: 15 hrs. (Registered 05 December 2017)”


Now read the article below that he penned for Conservative Home – about why people should not be allowed to take selfies for passports but should use photo booths. He says in the article that he ” once chaired” a photo booth company does not say explicitly that it still employs him at a monthly salary of £3,000 for up to 8 hours work per month.

Is this ethical? Is it a conflict of interest? Should the website provide a disclaimer to make his relationship with the company clear?

The article:

A few weeks ago a Belgian court convicted 14 people of falsifying ID documents, some of which were sold to Islamist militants involved in the terror attacks on Paris and Brussels.

For many of my generation fake IDs were about getting into pubs and clubs, or buying a pint and a packet of cigarettes a couple of years before we were supposed to. For this generation, as the families of those slain in Paris, Brussels and countless other attacks will testify, the end results of fake IDs can now be unimaginably awful.

As a former Minister for Northern Ireland and more recently Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office I am all too aware of the threats we face at our borders. As a father of two teenagers I am also more than aware that we live in the “selfie” age. You only have to step outside the gates of Parliament to see hundreds of tourists with selfie sticks smiling in front of Big Ben. When it comes to passport and other ID documents, people are increasingly demanding a similar quick DIY approach.

The Passport Office has been testing the idea of selfie photos since April 2016 in line with the Government’s drive to get more business online. The idea was unsurprisingly popular as photos are free, quick and easy to take. Unfortunately it also exposes the passport process to unnecessary risks and it is often difficult for people to capture an acceptable image. Such selfies can easily be manipulated, for vanity or for more sinister criminal purposes, creating convincing false IDs.

Having already allowed the use of self-taken photos for their Passport card, the Irish Passport Office have identified the need and importance to provide a fully secure but easily accessible digital photo upload system. The Photo-Me photobooth has been approved for this process.

France has already rolled out that system. Here in the UK we are trialling a similar system, but it will not be operational until next year at the earliest.

In Ireland the Department for Foreign Affairs is working with Photo-Me International, a company I once chaired and one of the many providers of photobooths in the UK and across Europe. Following the Brexit vote one of the most important areas in need of resolution is the preserving of the Common Travel Area between the UK and Republic of Ireland, a vital aspect of which is commonality in terms of documentation. The DFA is working on an innovative scheme which will mean 90 per cent of the population are located within 10km of a photobooth.

Pictures taken in these booths will possess a number of key security features which smart phones do not. It will be impossible for the photo to have been edited in any way as the encrypted image is always held on secure servers. The images submitted have the highest acceptance level in meeting International Civil Aviation Organization standards which saves a considerable amount of time and money as the need for manual checks is greatly reduced. The images are automatically deleted six months after being taken providing passport providers with 100 per cent assurance the maximum six month old photo regulation is complied with. In addition, the technology present in the photobooths is already fully scalable for future biometric security regulations such as 3D, Iris reading, signature, fingerprint and facial recognition. This service will also be available in selected booths across the UK but for Irish citizens only. Importantly there is also no cost to the Government.

We already know that the number of forged passports seized at our borders is on the rise, with more than 1,000 confiscated a year. Britain’s exit from the EU gives us a golden opportunity to redesign and modernise our passports. It might be nice and convenient if we could upload selfies for our passport pictures. However, we live in an incredibly dangerous world. We owe it to our citizens to do everything we can to make sure our passport system is as secure as possible to help combat ID fraud and its sometimes deadly results.”