Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Challenge Now for the Conservative Party

Commenting on the Pre-Budget Report, Gainsborough Constituency MP, Edward Leigh says:
"Thank God, David Cameron and George Osborne renounced Labour’s spending plans last week. We were like passengers who had to decide what’s more dangerous: stay on the runaway coach or leap off and risk a broken leg?

"Well, now we know. The coach is careering full-tilt over the cliff, and if we had not jumped off and been given a few bruises by the establishment commentariat, we would now be heading for political oblivion. The scale of Government borrowing projected for next year is staggering, more than we’ve ever let ourselves in for in history: £118 billion, or around £4,680 for every household in the country.

"What point would the Conservative Party have had if we had endorsed this? What purpose would we serve? For months, no, years, we on the Tory Right have begged our leadership to steer our own course. Ours is a party of fiscal rectitude or it is nothing. As for the cut in V.A.T., we can argue that’s the worst thing to do. We must oppose it. Who can argue against the fact that high marginal tax rates have destroyed the working-class culture of thrift and work?

"If tax cuts are needed now, thresholds should have been raised to take people out of paying tax altogether and encourage them back into work, to spend their money as they have to.

"How will it help the poor to give them a few pence more off consumer items they don’t need?

"As for the promised tax rise for the “rich” – i.e. people who create wealth – this all adds up to a picture of a return to the Callaghan years.

"I firmly believe the corner is turned and the Conservatives are on the way to victory. We now have to work out how we’re going to achieve the same outputs for a lot less spending. This is an enormous challenge for an incoming Conservative government. We need to work on it now."

Friday, 21 November 2008

Action needed to stop energy firms ripping off Lincolnshire’s households

Vulnerable families and pensioners need help in face of rocketing energy bills

Giles McNeill, Prospective Conservative Candidate for Nettleham & Saxilby Division’s County Council seat, called today for urgent new measures to help families and pensioners across Lincolnshire who are facing soaring energy bills and are struggling to make ends meet this winter. The average gas and electricity bill in the East Midlands has now soared to £1,264.00 a year.

One in five families is now estimated to live in fuel poverty. According to Age Concern, there are more winter deaths in Britain than in colder European countries‚ such as Finland‚ Denmark and Austria.

Conservatives have launched a series of proposals to tackle fuel poverty, which would:
• Cut the fuel bills of the poorest households by introducing tough new rules that make it illegal for energy companies to charge over the odds on pre-payment meters.
• Oblige every energy company to offer ‘social’ tariffs to vulnerable households.
• Make energy companies provide information on energy bills that shows customers whether they are on the cheapest tariff available – and, if they are not, makes clear how much they would save if they switched to the cheapest tariff, and how to do it.
• Reform Post Office Card Accounts so that people can pay their utility bills through direct debit style payments, cutting the energy bills of up to four million ‘unbanked’ people by £100 a year.

Giles said:
“With gas and electricity bills at record highs, people across Lincolnshire face their toughest winter for years. Without immediate help, many will have to choose between staying warm and going into debt.

“It is completely unacceptable that the most vulnerable people on pre-payment meters should be targeted by the energy companies to pay more than their fair share. That should be banned at once.

“And all customers should have the right to be told what the cheapest tariff is – instead of paying more because they are baffled by the complexity of what energy companies offer.

“The Government must end its dithering and act immediately to save the poorest from spending this winter worrying whether they can afford to keep warm.”

Monday, 17 November 2008

Tax cuts needed to keep Lincolnshire working says Giles McNeill

Action required to boost the economy and reduce unemployment

Ahead of the publication of the Government’s draft Budget - the so-called Pre-Budget Report on 24 November, Giles McNeill, Prospective Conservative Candidate for Lincolnshire County Council in the Nettleham & Saxilby Division, has called for tax cuts to help Lincolnshire’s economy and reduce unemployment. The latest official Government figures show the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the Gainsborough constituency is now 1,200 a rise of 202 from this time last year.

Conservatives are calling on the Government to introduce tax cuts to create new jobs, under an innovative scheme which will help firms take on extra employees, boost the economy and reduce the damaging social costs associated with unemployment.

Private sector firms who hire someone who has been claiming unemployment benefits for more than three months and who has not previously worked for that company in the previous year, would receive a credit against employers’ National Insurance bills.

This would be funded by using money that would otherwise be spent on welfare payments to give tax cuts worth £2,500 per head over a year. It is estimated that the plan could create around 350,000 new jobs across the country over the next year. Simple safeguards would prevent abuse by ensuring that only genuinely new jobs would be eligible.

On top of this, Conservatives have already proposed:
• A two-year council tax freeze, paid for by cutting back on government advertising and consultancy fees.
• Taking family homes out of inheritance tax and nine out of ten first-time buyers out of stamp duty, funded by introducing a levy on non-domiciles.
• Allowing small businesses to delay their VAT payments by six months.
• Cutting payroll taxes for the smallest companies.

Giles said:
“I am very concerned about the state of the economy. Jobs, businesses and livelihoods across the Nettleham & Saxilby Division are at risk, and it is clear that we cannot rely on Gordon Brown to produce the positive policies that will help us cope with recession. Change is desperately needed.

“Cutting taxes for local firms who create new jobs is one of the ways that we can support our local economy, in a fiscally responsible way.”

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Spelman welcomes defection of Labour Councillor

Caroline Spelman has welcomed the former Labour Councillor Lindsey Cawrey to the Conservative Party.

The Lincoln City Councillor decided to defect to the Conservatives after becoming disillusioned with the Labour Party under Gordon Brown’s leadership.

She said,
“My decision was based on my inability to reconcile my conscience with the ‘leadership’ of Gordon Brown, the current Government’s lack of direction, its lack of positive leadership and its refusal to listen to the people of the country.”
Caroline, the Chairman of the Conservatives, described Lindsey as a “strongly committed” councillor, and praised her work on environmental matters.
“Local Government forms the backbone of our political campaigning operation and I am sure that Lindsey will make a valuable contribution to the campaign of our local candidate for Lincoln, Karl McCartney.”

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Labour County Councillor Defects to Conservatives

Cllr. Lindsey Cawrey (member for Lincoln City’s Boultham Ward) has announced that she will join the Conservative Group on the County Council with immediate effect.

Speaking today Cllr. Lindsey Cawrey said:
“I have become disenchanted with the Labour government and I can no longer remain in the Labour Party that I have served for the past six years.

“It has taken many months to align my conscience with my actions, however, I regret to say that I no longer feel comfortable in a Party led by Gordon Brown. My decision was based on my inability to reconcile my conscience with the ‘leadership’ of Gordon Brown, the current government’s lack of direction, its lack of positive leadership and its refusal to listen to the people of the country.

“My ideals and principles are now more in-line with the Conservatism of David Cameron. Therefore, I have made the decision to join the Conservative Party from where I feel better able to serve the best interests of the people of Lincolnshire.

“I shall not be standing again in the County Council seat of Lincoln Boultham at the next County Council election in 2008.”

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr. Martin Hill OBE, today commented:
“I warmly welcome Lindsey as a member of the Lincolnshire County Council Conservative Group. For a long period I have been impressed by her commitment to Lincolnshire, and, in particular, to environmental matters, as well as her effective chairing of the Scrutiny Development Committee.

“Like millions of people, Lindsey has become totally disillusioned by the Labour Party under the ‘leadership’ of Gordon Brown. It is to her great credit, that she has decided to have the courage of her convictions, and will not seek re-election in the County Council elections in June as a Labour candidate, but will be part of a winning Conservative Party.

“I know that this has been a challenging period for Lindsey, and she has considered her position very carefully, not least because she will have to resign as Scrutiny Committee Chairman. Lindsey has been a very effective ward representative for six years, and I know that this decision will not deflect her from that role in the short period before the next County Elections.

“I look forward very much to working with Lindsey to continue to safeguard the best interests of the people of Lincolnshire in these very difficult times.”

Karl McCartney, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln said:
“I am ecstatic that Lincoln now has a Conservative County Councillor representing the City of Lincoln’s interests. Obviously since the increase in Conservative votes in Lincoln since 2004, I fully expect that Cllr. Cawrey is the first of many Lincoln City Conservative County Councillors, as will be born out on County Council election night in 2009. Having met Lindsey, I look forward to working with her towards winning the next General Election, and welcome her as a Conservative Party member.”

Lincoln Conservative Association Chairman Mrs. Rachel Hubbard said:
“Membership of our Association is increasing all the time and we obviously welcome Lindsey as part of our team, I am sure she will make a valuable contribution.”

Monday, 10 November 2008

Action needed to protect families from unscrupulous lenders and bailiffs

Giles McNeill warns that new Government laws will put family homes at threat

Homes across Lincolnshire are at threat of seizure by unscrupulous lenders or invasion by aggressive bailiffs, Giles McNeill, prospective conservative candidate for Lincolnshire County Council, Nettleham & Saxilby Division, warned today. At a time when families are struggling to manage their debts, the Government is weakening the rules which protect family homes.

• New powers for bailiffs break into your home: Labour Ministers are changing the law to allow bailiffs the legal right to break into family homes to collect civil debts. These new provisions will permit bailiffs to use ‘reasonable force’ to enter homes, such as knocking down a door or smashing a window, to collect debts such as missed credit card bills, an unpaid parking fine or TV licence fee. Conservatives have pledged to reverse these new laws, which undo common law rights and liberties dating back centuries.

• Family homes at risk from unscrupulous lenders: Conservatives are also pledging to stop the small print of another Labour law. The Government is making it easier for lenders to get a ‘charging order’ against a borrower’s home. A charging order gives lenders a legal stake in the borrower’s home, even if the missed payments are an unsecured debt.

• Need for more protection against forced sales: Conservatives are calling for new rules to prevent families from losing their homes as a result of missing credit card bills or other unsecured loans: We do not believe families should be forced to sell their homes to repay relatively small debts. That is why we are proposing new rules to prevent anyone from being forced to sell their home to repay unsecured debts of less than £25,000.

Giles said:
“Borrowers must be responsible for their debts, but I am alarmed that the Government is to allow unscrupulous lenders to force families to out of their homes for small sums, such as missing credit card payments.

“It is even worse that Ministers are to give bailiffs new powers literally to break down the door of family homes to collect debts, such as an unpaid parking ticket or TV licence.

“At a time when so many families are suffering from a soaring cost of living and an economy built on debt, it would be wrong in principle and in practice to impose these new state powers. We must protect Lincolnshire’s families in these difficult economic times, and we need a greater sense of social responsibility from the Government and lenders towards those who are struggling to make ends meet.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Call to give Local Firms in Lincolnshire Access to More Government Contracts

Massive Whitehall procurement budget should help small and medium firms

Giles McNeill, Prospective County Council Candidate, today added his voice to calls for the Government to do more to help local firms in Lincolnshire hit by the economic downturn. Conservatives are demanding that Whitehall opens up the massive £125 billion government procurement budget to small and medium firms across the country.

The government is the biggest purchaser of goods and services in the economy, but Whitehall bureaucracy means that small businesses are locked out of this system. Making it easier for small businesses to win government contracts would provide companies in Lincolnshire - and across the country - with a crucial source of revenue during the downturn, helping to protect local jobs.

The Conservative action plan includes:
• Scrapping the rule requiring companies to provide three years of audited accounts when bidding for government contracts. This unnecessary rule locks start-up companies out of the procurement system – simply because new companies may not have three years of audited accounts.
• Immediately introducing a single questionnaire to be allowed to bid for government contracts worth less than £50,000. This would only have to be filled in once and logged for future contract bids. This will radically reduce the administrative burden involved in bidding for government contracts.
• Requiring all government contracts worth over £10,000 to be published online, so that small companies can for the first time find out exactly what contracts are available. At present, it is not mandatory for contracts to be published online. As a result, over 75 per cent of small and medium firms report that it is difficult to find out about procurement opportunities.
• Aiming for 25 per cent of government contracts to be awarded to small and medium enterprises. This is something that United States federal government does, and would help overcome the risk aversion that leads to them being overlooked for government contracts.

Giles said:
“This is another part of the Conservative action plan for small business, which also includes proposals to defer VAT bills, cut payroll taxes by 1p and reduce the small company corporation tax rate.

“We need to open up the government’s procurement system and get money to small businesses across the country. It’s not just small firms that will be helped – taxpayers will benefit from the innovation and greater efficiency that small businesses can bring to government contracts.

“Small firms in Lincolnshire are facing a very difficult time and jobs are at risk. If Labour Ministers were serious about making a difference, they would adopt this action plan.”