CENTRAL Government spending PRIORITIES

This is an edited version of the full text.  If you desire the full dusicssion please ask on norman.harris@20ccltd.co.uk

I list below what I believe should be the sequence of priority for the settlement of the Governments spending department’s budgets.  The reasoning for the sequence in this section will be explained in later pages of this document.  The lower on the list the stronger the squeeze on funding and the demand for clearer priorities, effective methods of delivery and reduced expenditure.

The sequence is deliberate as I see the importance of settling the needs of each of the Departments in their order of priority to the nation.  It is does not mean that they get all they ask for, they still have to show value against the requirements that are asked of them.  But the funds will get progressively tighter as the sequence proceeds

The position on the list of Overseas Aid may get the hearts of some readers racing, as comes close to the early debate in the GE2017 campaign on whether or not to retain the 0.7 of GDP for Overseas Aid.

Defence and Security

“Defence and Security is the Number One priority of any Government to its people”, David Cameron made this statement and I believe most in the country would agree and certainly his Party’s voters.  But nevertheless 17,000 servicemen posts were cut.  This is initially equivalent to 17,000 more unemployed.  And even more important we remain weaker in terms of both the world’s perception and the resource of boots on the ground.

So if the first priority of Government is to protect its citizens, I put the Intelligence Services, Armed Forces, and Police at the top of the Governments, Spending Budget Allocation list.

We undoubtedly live in dangerous, hard to predict times, as the 3 months April to June 2017 have shown, so the Intelligence Services do play a major part in providing the information to stop an attack before there is real damage done, MOST OF THE TIME.  The sophistication of their operation and the effectiveness of their integration within the UK and with trusted allies abroad must be closely monitored by Parliament’s Security Committee.

The Armed Forces have their job laid down in the regular Defence Strategic Reviews, which is to defend our shores, protecting our oversea interests and projecting our power as and when required by Parliament.  They can be the back up to the Police in times of emergency as was seen in recent terror attacks and the flooding disasters before.

So, in summary, the Policy Objectives of Defence and Security are:

  • ·         Defend our shores
  • ·         Defend our Overseas Territories
  • ·         Project Power at the instigation of our Government to deter aggressive acts of other nations

This last point may be carried out under the NATO or UN banner, but having talked to military men about UN missions the troops must remain under British command.

Defence – NO CUTS in our Dangerous World

Fabric of Government

Although the costs are relatively small on the scale of Governmental spending I have grouped a number of areas that must always be adequately funded, into what I term “the fabric of government”.

These services cover the costs of Parliament, the Courts, Prisons and the Fire Service.  The latter must be evenly provided for across the whole country.  Although the funding allocation is more complex. 

Although I have argued that we have too many legislators, we have got to have Government.  But their costs should fall on the national budget or on the regional area in which they legislate.  I am sure that this is already the case.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do pay for their own parliaments or assemblies.  It is probably also largely the case for funding the Courts.  But the variation that unfortunately permeates in areas like social care, in the administration of justice and the practice of sentencing is not good.  This should be largely the same throughout the UK.  I shall return to sentencing.

As should the cover provided by the Fire Services.  It is interesting that in France they are a branch of the military.

Our coasts have a number of agencies involved.  Protection is the Royal Navy and this falls under Defence and Security, but the Coast Guards (a fifth branch of the military in the USA) are more concerned with civilian jurisdiction.  The military do provide a recently reduced Search and Rescue cover at sea.  The Border Force do have boats.  Lighthouses are Trinity House and coastal life-saving is the RNLI – a charity.  The American model of an integrated service should be considered as it may have advantages.

Variations in sentencing certainly attracts the attention of the media.  It is right that it should.  It often the case of a judge stepping out of line.  This could be avoided by a stricter matrix of the crime vs. the sentence.  I believe there is such a rule, it needs to be continually revised, in the light of trends in crime, e.g. knife and acid attacks, and consistently applied.  I would add a further column to the matrix, the death penalty.  This is a case where it is often said that the public is at odds with their legislators.  This could be tested by a referendum.  But wearing my dictator’s hat I would re-introduce the severest penalty where there is no “reasonable doubt”.  Such a case was the murder, nay assassination of Drummer Rigby.  Almost carried our on TV, no doubt as to the perpetrators.  Why keep them alive in our over-crowded prisons.  They need extra guarding as they are a risk of harming and, worse, inciting others and other terrorists could act to release them and they cost the taxpayer as much as living in a good hotel.

Then there was Jo Cox’s murderer, again no doubt as to the perpetrator.  Yes, I know of “balance of mind disturbed” – insanity, but I think everyone must be a little insane at the time of committing a murder, but the population have to be protected for the possible next time.  If they were not insane then the act is even more heinous.  Brady was another, kept in custody for nearly 60 years and he never gave up his secrets, the only thing he possessed of any value. 

As a final footnote I regard anyone who covers their face as having something to hide.  Their identity, WHY?  There are hoodies, and religious zealots and those entering the Courts and this is fair until they are convicted, and then they should be seen and visible.  They all disguise their identity and that is wrong.

Education

After Defence, it is Education, Education, Education. 

In my dictatorial opinion, education would have a higher priority than health, because the more educated people are, the greater likelihood of them protecting their health.  Clearly this is not always the case.  But the individual’s chances of many diseases is not random, but lifestyle.  Education is therefore has a purpose to fit children and young people for a fulfilling life in modern society, but also as long and as healthy one as possible.

So what is a fulfilling life in modern society?  It is not endlessly lounging around or playing electronic games or doing nothing by choice.  It is not getting into drugs which damage your health and bankrupt your budget and possible drive you to crime.  It is not about getting a university degree which society does not value.  Free education to 18 but not beyond to university.  The individual must decide they are prepared to work and that there is a good chance the benefits of income will pay off the costs.  A true life changing decision.

It is a choice to be made by the individual that they want to work on in education themselves.  It is not a soft option nor a guarantee of future riches.  Sitting around in uni, can some not even spell the full word? - university, for 3 years is not a right, it is to develop individual’s talents in some subject that society as a whole is prepared to pay for.

The move to make students loans have to be paid back was correct and I hoped that the student would research the earnings potential that might result from success in their chosen courses.  However the safety nets put place have negated this effect.  No student repays until he/she earns £21,000 pa and also the debt is written off after 30 years.  All this now achieves is generous funding of many universities and inflated salaries of their Vice Chancellors in some, with my Alma Mata, I am sorry to say, leading the way.  It is often forgotten that when the Government went for students paying the fees with the help of loans, they removed the limit an available places, thus expanding that choice.  Unfortunately it seems that teaching quality has not always followed.

Business, Commerce and Society want people who have employable skills.  To this end the move back into favour of apprenticeships is generally good.  Too often is seems we get graduates in subjects such as media and other arts subjects, where there is a limited number of potential posts and they are not employable in society and so they move into teaching young people which tends to perpetuate the problem.  I believe that these are disenchanted adults and that they have developed into a politicised teaching cadre, aided I understand by similarly biased textbooks. It is Business and Commerce that generate the wealth which pays for all the nice Education and Health and Social Services that we all value when we need them.

Education has to have a purpose.  In the younger years it is to enable the children to read, write, be numerate and fit in to the society of their peers and family.  In the teenage years to give them a deeper knowledge of their chosen subjects and understand society and to chose their first path of life.  This does not have to be a degree.

Throughout this process the student cannot be shielded from competition in exams, on the sports field or elsewhere.  Life is competition, for jobs, for partners and for our nation in this competitive world.

So Government must provide a good standard of primary, junior and senior education in all schools and FE colleges up to the age of 18.  This seems to be pretty well monitored by OFSTED.  As indicated above education after 18 must be a deliberate choice and available, but not free.

Key Infrastructure

Overview

This topic tends to disturb the logic of my positioning the spending priorities.  It is hard to justify spending on more rail or road improvements when the NHS needs cash.  But as I say in the NHS Section it will always need more cash.  More cash than society can possibly provide.

But the infrastructure is defined as Energy, Housing and Transport.  So let me solve the positioning problem by naming this Section as Key Infrastructure. 

Like Defence, the Government must see to it that there is enough power to heat, light and keep the activities of the nation going.  There are no votes in power cuts and the impact on essential activities in hospitals and factories is disastrous.

Housing is also vital to the nation’s wellbeing.  But whilst Central Government should make sure that Planning Regulations are not an undue constraint and that banks a willing to lend freely, but sensibly, it is up to the building industry to respond to private and local government social housing demand.

Roads are by far the most flexible form of transport in this country.  Traffic routes itself around obstacles once it possess the information on a constraint.  It is road that covers for rail outages.  But I require that transport is a level playing field. 

Rail has needed subsidies for years.  Users object to paying for the modernisation programmes.  On the other hand, road has been a cash cow for the Treasury.  Road tax and fuel tax receipts are far greater than that which Government spends on roads.  That should change.  By all means add in social costs (air pollution, road traffic accidents) into the equation, but then make it a balanced playing field.

This is the first of several areas where the market distortion caused by taxation policy should cease.

Air on the other hand pays more in taxes than it receives.  Arguably the demand for regulation is highest on this form of transport but it is undoubtedly covered by the tax inputs it makes to the State.  I repeat all forms of transport should be on a level playing field costing and paying the State nothing when all the sums are done.  My reason is that the economic movement of people and the cost of moving goods are fundamental of the cost of living.

Many other networks are also essential to the smooth running of society.  They carry voice and data, electricity and gas, and water.  In my boyhood every sizable community had its own water company.  Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn wishes to take us back to those days, but we need a water grid as we have electricity and gas grids.  The market generally does maintain them.  Where we have problems is in the more remote areas for broadband.  Many gas and liquid fuels can be supplied by road, albeit it costs more, I have little sympathy for those who wish to live in rural or remote communities yet demand all the facilities on their doorstep that they would have in the towns that they have shunned.

It is where new technologies are emerging such as carbon transportation that governments have difficulty in grasping the significance of the technology and taking the steps needed to assist its viability in the early stages of development.  Government has failed, so far, in the case of carbon transportation.  It succeeded in subsidising solar panels and wind turbines.  The outcry when subsidies were withdrawn was incorrect as otherwise the market would have been unduly distorted.  Subsidies are reverse taxation and can, as easily, distort the market.

Energy

The gap in the UK between installed capacity and maximum demand is the smallest it has been since the ‘50s.  Indeed the gap is equivalent to one major power station.  If one of our larger plants was to go offline at an unscheduled time, we could have brownouts.  Our generation industry is owned by the French and Germans who have no need to invest in capacity here unless they can see a better return here than in their own EU countries.  Successive UK governments have failed to fully comprehend the energy issue and they have not formulated a coherent policy and taken action to follow it through.  Further all parties have made the energy companies villains.  It will only get worse if we leave the EU.  We are slightly better off than before with our Qatar and Norwegian gas contracts but they have the same underlying problem as the Russian oil lines, the supplies have to come a long way to get here.  And recently Saudi has decided to attack Qatar politically.

These gas supplies need networks like the national electricity grid.  To add to this, Government is long overdue in addressing a carbon grid if we are to meet our carbon reduction targets.

Transport

Transport – Generally: A Level Playing Field

Transport systems are the arteries which carry the economic lifeblood of our country.  So this fundamental service is too important to be distorted by the vagaries of the taxation system.  Transport should not be a revenue generator and if there has to be a tax burden, it should fall equally on all forms of transport.  In short, it should be a level playing field.  And my general rule is that the users of a service pay the full costs of the service.

The #BenDict Transport Policy, has the basic principle of recovering all allocated costs of infrastructure, environmental damage and social costs, but otherwise the economics not being distorted by tax or dogma, political correctness or otherwise. We cannot afford to subsidise any form of transport.

Journeys are NOT from A to B!  The efficiency of journeys must be measured in cost and time over the entire route from A to Z.  Journeys from D to T with possibly several interchanges along the way, as public transport often provides, are inherently less efficient in time, but necessary in crowded urban environments.  Such journeys do penalise the less mobile whether it be through disability or carrying children.  Dial – Ride is the ideal concept, but as far as I am aware you have to qualify and its operational range is limited to the Local Authority boundaries.

At the present time only roads bear a heavy burden of taxation in excess of subsidies.  By all means apply levies to cover the measured environmental, social and accident/injury costs.

This view is supported by a Department of Transports advert for a Head of Strategic Transport Analysis & Review which says “Transport plays a vital role in all our lives, it is a key enabler of prosperity providing us with access to goods and services as well as business, employment, education, social and leisure opportunities.  But transport also imposes costs, through pollution, congestion, noise and accidents.  The transport systems of the future will need to maximise benefits, whilst reducing negative impacts.”

So I would see to it that distorting taxation and political dogma will be eliminated.  All modes should be financed by the user on the basis of a level playing field.  Taxes where applied should reflect their measured social and environmental impacts.  To offset this all journeys to work or to seek work would be tax deductible at the cost of public transport.  Current dispensations for students, the elderly and disabled would remain in force.

Most of the analysis below is written from the point of view of a passenger.  It is how most of us see transport, although we should be alert to the movement of freight as its cost ultimately get paid by us in the Cost of Living.  However whether goods are moved by road, rail, air or sea is an economic business decision.  Although I project below that charges for congestion, pollution and loss of time, all influence the decision and cost.  The decision of the passenger is similar except practicality is also in the mix.  Car journeys are being moved to the category of anti-social and the lack of parking at the destination renders the mode impractical.  London was recently judged the worst place in the country to find a place to park.  Ever since WWII planning approvals have not allowed for the provision for adequate parking.  If that cost had to funded, some of our city centre buildings may not have been justified.

Air Transport

Air transport needs robust public regulation and the provision of air traffic control, (NATS).  There are perhaps social and certainly environmental costs and a calculation needs to be made to determine if the Air Passenger Duty (APD) and fuel duties cover those costs to the State and Society.  If not adjustments will be needed.

APD is a quite steeply graduated tax on flight passengers.  If the playing field is to be level, its justification has to be to cover the costs to society of flying.  This is a highly arguable point as since we are an island much of the flying miles are over water and, in Europe, over other countries.

There is currently the demand for a third London runway.  Long overdue through Government indecisiveness, but mainly lack of leadership over many vested interests.  Which location, Gatwick or Heathrow or other could get private funding?  That would decide it for this Dictator as then the taxpayer pays nothing.  I would favour Gatwick as one runway is very limiting, but I would hope BOTH would get enough private funding.  Fiddlesticks to Boris and Zac.  We need Leaders not Populists.

Road Transport

It has been a trait of human nature for centuries; if not millennia that you aspire to afford you own personal transport.  In history the progression from foot to horse to carriage.  And now witness the growth of personal transport in India and China.  First the bicycle, then the motor bike and now cars of all price ranges.  Why? Only the roads go from your own front door to your (multiple) desired destination(s).  All other forms involve enforced changes of the mode of transport, exposed to the elements, regrettably these days to dangers and time consuming.  Add to that the reducing mobility of the UK's ageing population and of mothers handling babies and small children.  Roads and buses are the “fall back” system for rail systems when difficulties are encountered.

But, popular politics is to drive people out of this most ubiquitous form of transport - their cars.  But is it the majorities wish?  Most probably not.  Should the single, lone woman working irregular hours be forced to leave her car at home?  If she can afford it and chooses to spend her income on a car, why should it be made more difficult, if not impossible?  She may well change her job location instead.  Cars for most of the day in most places still provide the shortest journey times and time is measured in either money or taken out of an individual’s limited and precious personal time.

Many measures force the road user to rail through offering no other practical choice, i.e. with little or no regard of the economic or social impact.  So short of draconian bans, deterrents are bound to fall short of the desire of the ardent anti-road pressure groups.

But first a word or two on congestion.  This is what people, whatever their choice (enforced or otherwise) of transport mode complain about most.  It is also has a considerable bearing on increasing the cost and environmental inefficiencies of the entire system.  On the roads there is much that can be done to reduce congestion.

If outright bans are to be considered, then pedal powered rickshaws should be top of the list.  The stress and congestion caused to other road users are considerable.  As well as the fact they are un-regulated and seem dangerous for the passenger.  Cycles in generally do move faster and the rider is at least keeping fit.  They rarely give way to pedestrians as they should as the recent case in the Old Bailey exemplifies and I hope the the punishment matches the crime.  Although the logic of a 10 mph cycle going down a bus lane, followed by a bus capable of 30 mph does take imagination.  Whilst on speed limits.  The movement for large areas in towns to be reduced to 20 mph is a good idea, but not if the police find it impossible to enforce.  Similarly on limits we are rightly exhorted to look out for motor-cycles, but often they are riding considerable in excess of the limit in build-up areas, their speed defeating the look right, left and right again.

The car industry is highly innovative and better at publicising itself than Rail or Air, partly because they have an eager audience.  But Air and Rail “drivers” are certified for their high level of competence.  This is not practical for the majority of road drivers.  I want to give road users a break, by incorporating the Road Tax into the petrol excise tax, which is too high, so could stay unchanged.  But I also want to drive bad drivers off the road.  Every offence should not just get points on their licence, but an increase in their insurance premium.  The price will drive them to be more careful or off the road.  Driving without insurance would be an automatic jail sentence.  Young drivers also deserve the benefit of the doubt until they have an accident.  One method might be for them to have a normal premium but a very high excess backed by a guarantor.

Freight vehicles are individually the most polluting and need controls, but freight will only be attracted onto rail if it is more economic otherwise costs, prices will go up.  This is probably a hard economy to achieve as loading on and off is a significant cost and delay.

The Economist many years ago did a revealing article on the progress of electric vehicles (EV) since 1906!  They do transfer their carbon and other emissions to a more rural site but they also come a step closer to my vision of coming out of a bar, pressing a key on your communicator and around the corner comes a vehicle to take you safely home under automatic control.

Rail Transport

The movement of people by rail in urban areas is essential.

The nationalisation debate is interesting, as younger commuters tend to favour it and they did not experience the nationalised period of British Rail.  Rail and Road are currently similar with their structure, like the roads the rails are state owned and on both the road and rail the vehicles are privately or corporately owned.  However there is nothing magic about nationalisation producing better management.  Indeed it is less likely as without the motive of and measure for some profitable return there are no reasons to censure managers who are not performing and politics will pervade all critical decisions even more.

The annual campaign against rail fare price rises has started as I update this section.  It is understandable as no-one wants to pay more.  The formula was set to improve the outdated infrastructure and one can see that this is happening.  I started commuting in the days of slam door carriages!   My transport philosophy is that of a level playing field and the users paying for what is consumed by their journeys.  Rail are much favoured in this regard over roads.  But I see no justice in the principle that UK taxpayers as a whole paying for reduced fares for London Commuters.  Yes it will be hard when 25% or more of your salary goes on fares.  But lack of skilled staff should encourage more businesses that do not need to be in Central London and to re-locate.  Thus reducing the crowded commutes and gradually relieve the pressure on London housing and it prices.

Water

This final infrastructure need is clearly is not really Transport.  I have long argued that clean, usable, water is the most precious world resource.

So water is even higher up the list of possible world crises than food, but far less obvious.  In the UK it is already menacing us.  Meters should now be compulsory and better efficiency regulation is essential, perhaps some form of franchising, which progressively erodes the area monopolised by the less efficient suppliers.

Yes there is water transport but I have not seen any realistic case for it winning back its trade uses of the 19thC.  It is however a wonderful leisure facility and should pay its way on that basis.  There are many hobbyists prepared to stump up or work for free on any special renovation needs.  All strength to them.  Apart from its fuel needs it need not be taxed.  But the land it occupies should be part of the local government area’s tax base. 

But returning to water that we drink, cook, wash in, grow our crops and feed our farm animals for food.  There are vast areas of this planet in both the developed and under-developed world that do not have a sufficient supply of usable water.  The less thinking public say that it rained last week so we will be OK.  There were floods last year so how can we be short.  Flooding is an unrelated issue in the modern urban world as most of that water is wasted.  Similarly in Bangladesh through deforestation and there are no doubt more areas to follow through the similar denial of the rules of good husbandry.  Flooding is fine in the rice growing areas provided it arrives at the expected time of the season and in the normal volume.  But water to use productively has to be managed.  This management is under stress is developed places like southern California and south-east England.  The problem is in more dramatic in places like northern Africa and southern India.

I am a firm believer that if technology was given its head by politicians with the experience to understand the technologies that many of our problems, not just water, could be solved.  Three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by water and we spend our time worrying about what if the level raises by 10 cms.  It would fall if we channelled the seas and oceans into the dry areas using the heat of the sun which dominates such areas that I mentioned above to desalinate the water to create expanding areas to grow food.  This is not impossible, many parts of the Middle East do that today on a limited scale.  Yes it needs financing, but labour is cheap in these areas – and they once built the pyramids!  The idea of moving the Mediterranean water to irrigate the Sahara Desert is not new, a French engineer proposed it in the 19thC, the idea should be revisited.

So the problem of water to live with can be largely solved and the suffering from having far too little eliminated.

Health

There will never be enough money for the NHS.  With an ageing population and advances in all kinds of treatments, desired expenditure can only rise in real terms.  Unrestricted demand will always outstrip the resources that the tax payer can afford.  The NHS is a bottomless pit in terms of its cash needs. 

When the NHS was created it led the world, but was in the main it was just that – Health.  Now Mental Health and Social Care are inextricably linked.

Never would I consider removing the NHS principle of treatment free at the time of need.  But, except for the accusation of jumping the queue, I do not see any problem with private treatment.  It is one procedure less to be funded by the NHS and if a private hospital can, say do a quality hip replacement for less cost than in NHS, so be it, it will cost the NHS less to send and pay for that patient.

So since the starting flag has dropped on public debate with the recent report on the massive cash shortfall in the NHS.  Everyone will agree that any rationing of treatment is difficult for all, emotional for many, possible life threatening for an unfortunate few and heart rending for their close family

As I say above the NHS is a bottomless pit in terms of its cash needs.  However, all of us that have had cause to be grateful for the skills in the NHS, but will have seen that there is also much that can be done more economically.  These issues have to be attacked without excessive union obstruction.  Studies could be done to identify savings particularly in support services.  They can save money immediately by not being obliged to offer translation into a myriad of languages.  If someone is living here they should be able to function here in English.  If they are a visitor they will normally have a resident friend or contact here.  Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural does not mean multi-lingual when dealing with their daily lives outside of the family.

Where do the boundaries lie?

At one end of the social spectrum of conscience is the prolonging of lives of all ages, but especially for chronically ill and probably damaged babies and children, just because it is possible.  Charlie Gard is a classic example.  Why the authorities will not let him go to the US, the parents have raised the money, instead of the hard-pressed NHS squandering money on legal fees, equivalent to many hip replacements or transplants.

IVF for all, no matter if the woman has already had a child or children and/or where the parent/child age gap will make physical play with the child in its adolescent years difficult and communication gap may be more like grandparent to grandchild.  And what about the increasing demand for the resolution of gender issues?

Then there are those who after deep consideration wish to end their lives before their suffering becomes too great.  Euthanasia has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, so with the right safeguards, why not?

Keeping hopeless cases alive, with long court battles over Human Rights.  The costs of these battles reduce the money available for other, more routine cases.  They illustrate the complexity of the debate and the emotions it will certainly arouse.  Perhaps a new Court system needs to be established for litigation with the NHS that can be cheaper and somewhat more rapid.

So whatever rationing system is devised, I would see to it the preventative programmes and early diagnosis got a high priority.

And safeguards must be in place for the poor especially to keep them in work and those suffering with chronic disease that is not obviously self induced.  But reflecting why I put Education before Heath in my spending priorities there are those who do not look after their health.  Excesses of smoking, eating, alcohol and drugs can before it kills you involve huge demands for health services and indeed social care.

All this raises a debate on the value and quality of life.  How much research should be done for a rare condition, compared with common afflictions?

Sport, Culture and the Arts

I will be regarded as an arch Philistine for these propositions, but I do not think Government money should be spent on Sport, Art and Culture.  Nor the keeping alive of little used languages in the regions of our country.  English is a world language and that is all our citizens need to master.  It is helpful to learn Spanish, and even Chinese, Russian, & Arabic if they want to enhance their understanding of the world around us and in a few cases perhaps their careers.

Funding of the Arts by Local Authorities is fine if their electorate supports the taxation that will be required in the future.

Support from the National Lottery if it continues to be well controlled is great.

The caveat on all this is the in schools up to 18 years Sport, Art and Music must feature to enable the children to be informed enough to make satisfying choices in life.  After that they join the adult world and if they want ballet, art or sculpture, they pay for that enjoyment, although much of the latter is free in museums.

I would also cut the BBC down to size.  Major events, tragic or otherwise shows just how many reporters/presenters they have.  The national ones elbow the loyal local ones out of the way, with several teams turning up, one from each channel.  I would pull the BBC out of all local UK radio and leave that service to the local commercial stations.  They BBC would still have the popular national channels and thus the listeners choice.

Overseas Aid

Whilst our Government is inflicting austerity on many sectors of the poorest in the UK, why give 0.7% of our GDP away.  It may make many elite people feel satisfied or smug.  But for me this money is needed to satisfy the needs of our poorest.  If I were a rich man I would certainly give a percentage of my income to charity, but the charities chosen would be for the benefit of humans in the UK.  I also feel that the better the wellbeing of the UK population the more they will give to good causes, wherever they may be.  The recent huge response to the Grenfell Tower demonstrates this.  So no Government overseas aid during an austerity drive, except where there is a natural disaster in a Commonwealth country. 

We should not be giving money to the poor of India and Pakistan to improve their living, when their governments are spending on nuclear armaments.  I would cite an exception.  If the aid is building by a British company or by our military, then is should be allowed to go ahead.

I will be returning to the topic of Charities in my policies on taxation.

This is the appropriate point to insert my views on refugees.  Their democracy or system of government has broken down with the disastrous consequences that we witness frequently on TV.  Again like those in the UK needing our benefits system it is the children that get to your heartstrings.  There are so many in large extended families.  We cannot take them all and Europe cannot take them all and also many of them are economic migrants.  That said the countries are probably not that kind to their poorest.  We could and should set up a system to select the best against a points system of the skills we need, but not where it means taking a large swathe of dependents, probably destined to become dependents of our stretched State services. 

An opportunity was missed in the Syrian conflict to set up a no-fly zone.  The West has the military power to set up save havens and feed them there.  They are closer to home when repatriation becomes possible.  Russia should be able to be persuaded to help, especially if refugees begin to be re-directed to their land borders.  They do not want large numbers of Muslims arriving in their southern regions.

The countries which are the sources of economic migrants must be pressured to be more democratic, develop their economies and helped in setting up systems of training.  In other words deal with the problem at source.  Giving money to countries in order to stem the flow or refugees at source is a great policy when we can afford it.  Regrettably the starting point has to be shutting our back door.