Sunday, July 16

Disqualification and dishonour

Direct from Westminster, a story without honour of yet more ill concidered regulation from a dishonourable government.
Last Wednesday 10 Downing Street went into melt down at the news that Tony Blair's chief fund raiser, tennis partner and Middle East Envoy had been arrested. Lord 'Cash Point' Levy, who denies all wrong doing, was arrested under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 and the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

The pressure at Downing Street increased on Thursday afternoon when it was announced that the police are considering corruption charges into yet unnamed individuals in the upper tiers of the Government.

If Tony Blair is eventually interviewed by the police over this very messy affair in September it is almost certain that his departure from 'Number 10' will be sooner rather than later and indeed under a very dark cloud.

By Friday morning the press managers in Downing Street were desperate for a story to take the heat off 'the boss'. The 'story' that was published on the front page of The Sunday Telegraph additionaly featured in The Sunday Times and covered elsewhere today was the product of the experienced No 10 press office. Whilst the bringing forward of the '' hire illegal immigrants and you'll be disqualified'' story did not completely take the heat off Blair it did manage to push 'Lord Cashpoint's ' arrest off most of the front pages from the Sunday's editions of the nations newspapers.

Against the background outlined above it is no wonder that the announced controversial plans are full of holes and apparently ill considered consequences. The supposed crackdown plans where whisked from the embattled Home Office's civil servants desks and prematurely announced to the press on Friday. By the time I was on my second pint in the Red Lion in Whitehall late on Friday afternoon the Sunday hacks were well advanced in their condemnation of the Home Secretary's brain child.

The proposed legislation will disqualify company directors who's businesses are found to be breaching immigration rules on two separate occasions; a draconian two strikes and you are out. The penalty may sound a good idea, until the detail is considered.

The legislation, says the Number 10 press office, is aimed at 'rogue' employers such as those who employed the 21 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned whilst working at Morecambe Bay in 2004. There is already ample legislation to weed out such practices.

The draft disqualification legislation would mean that directors would face sanction even if their contractors or sub-contractors were employing illegal immigrants.

The obvious problem is that of potential employees producing forged documents. No matter company directors would still face prosecution. Clearly under the Home Offices plans business people will being held responsible when the actual problem is that the government has lost control of our borders and almost anyone can now get in and stay in undetected.

The alternative for business owners of not employing 'foreigners' is not an option since that could lead to discrimination proceedings. Amazingly the planned legislation does not appear to provide for sanction against non-incorporated businesses i.e. those that are not limited companies (thus do not have directors). There is a possibility that sole-traders will be exempt from prosecution which cannot be the governments intention.

Understandably David Frost, the Director General (DG) of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) reacted angrily to the governments plans. He said to The Sunday Telegraph: ''It is just not on for small business to take the rap for this -- particularly when we have evidence that the Government has been handing out National Insurance numbers, which are absolutely central to this problem, like confetti.''

The DG of the BCC added that he will be protesting in person tomorrow (Monday) with the small Business Minister.. I assume that he will be joined by a senior official from the 195,000 member strong Federation of Small Businesses. Though that is very much an optimistic assumption since I am unable to locate a squeak from the FSB in the press or the internet on this vital matter.
To be fair this issue has been brought forward and may be not yet appear as urgent on the Federation's lobbying priorities list. Perhaps I am being a tad critical since the FSB policy people may well be better acquainted with what goes on in the offices at Number 10 rather than in the pub across the road from Downing Street.
Peter Troy, Sedgefield


Anonymous said...

Oh my - 'New' Labour and trying to manipualte the headlines!? Who would have thought it...

Rosi Glytisine said...

Has anyone taken this up with the FSB - why were they not also protesting at the office of the Small Business Minister along with or preferably ahead of the British Chamber of Commerce ?

Diane- FSB Member said...

Does the FSB Lobby on behalf of small businesses any more? I hear the CBI and the Forum of Small Business fight our corner but the lack of response to this governments constant attacks,regulations and downright lack of understsnding by the FSB is sadly lacking. This apparent acquiescence to the government is more and more worrying.

Time to listen to your membership FSB.

Stewed Cabbage said...

Last time I went to a FSB confrence most of the members who I met that were the activists in the organisation not actually in full-time busineses. Which is probably why the FSB is becoming out of touch.

log book said...

full ov shitt

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