Bill's Archived Comments

Week beginning Monday, 13th November 2000

Equalisation of the 'Age of Consent'

The House of Lords voted today, for the third time since the present government was elected, to block the equalisation of the age of consent for gay men at 16, the age at which it is set for heterosexual relationships. As a Conservative, I am angry that once again it is the unelected Conservative Peer, Baroness Young, who has led the blocking campaign. Until the leadership of the Conservative Party comes out clearly in favour of equality for ALL citizens it seems clear I will have no option but to abstain at future parliamentary elections; I have no intention of voting for the kind of bigotry which seems to exist within the Conservative Party under its current leadership, but nor could I countenance voting for any other Party. The Labour government now needs to 'put up or shut up' on its earlier pledges on this matter - they should force this legislation through using their powers under the Parliament Act - if they do not, then it would seem their pledges on this, as on so much else, mean little.

Chancellor Brown's pre-Budget Statement

Once more, Gordon Brown has proved his mastery of slick presentation to disguise the paucity of his ideas. The reduction of duty on ultra low-sulphur petrol sounds like a gimmick - it is apparently currently available mixed with older-style fuel so it is in practice impossible for the consumer to know what is being pumped into a car's tank. Similarly, the continuation of the winter fuel allowance for pensioners SOUNDS  good, but of course some pensioners might prefer to choose for themselves how they wish to spend THEIR money - and of course those living in residential accommodation do not benefit from this anyway. With each budget, this Chancellor has increased the complexity of tax legislation, rather than its simplicity. One is forced to ask what is his motivation - one might be forgiven for wondering whether this is to confuse people and inhibit them from investigating whether there may be exemptions to which they are entitled, instead hoping that they will simply pay up. I hope enough of the British electorate can see through his manipulations to give the Labour government a major reality check at the next election.

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