On St David’s Day in London and Bristol

As a Welshman St David’s Day has been an occasion to be marked all my life.  But for the last quarter century I’ve celebrated my home country’s national day as a resident of England.  This morning began with a walk through Victoria Tower gardens, bathed in sunshine, with daffodils already open among the trees.

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The debate about tax

The Budget is just three weeks away and the dividing lines are now clear on tax.  I have always believed that tax should fall lightly on the low paid and heavily on unearned wealth.  Entrepreneurs should be rewarded but speculators profiting from capital gains should not.

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Diamond Elizabethans – 60 people who have changed Britain

The BBC is launching another one of those national lists that will probably become a major talking point this year.  In the last decade we had Great Britons, when Churchill pipped Brunel to be the greatest Briton of all time.  Now Radio 4 is confining itself to the last 60 years.  To mark the Diamond Jubilee, James Naughtie will be profiling the 60 public figures who have made the greatest impact in these islands during The Queen’s reign.

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High Pay – time to call a halt to the executive gravy train

Vince Cable has made announcements this week on Coalition Government proposals to help rein in excessive levels of pay for company directors and senior staff.  It’s an issue that I have raised on many occasions so I’m pleased to see action at last.

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Speaking up for Bristol’s High Streets in Parliament

Parliament yesterday spent over 6 hours debating the future of our high streets and town centres.  The debate came on the back of the Portas Review of the High Street, commissioned by the PM and DPM.  Mary Portas made 28 recommendations, most of which I endorse.

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Success for Bristol Green Doors

Great news that a Bristol group have been awarded Government funds to promote home energy efficiency.  Bristol Green Doors has secured £78,000 from the Local Energy Assessment Fund.  My Lib Dem colleague Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is today announcing the first 80 beneficiaries of the £10 million fund.

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Tobacco plain packs – a protection against the “Silent Salesman”

This morning I was pleased to help launch Europe’s first major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of glitzy tobacco packaging to children.  The Coalition Government will shortly launch its consultation exercise on whether to follow the example of Australia and introduce the plain packaging of cigarettes.

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Homage to the Chartists

It will be interesting to see how much progress will be made in this Parliamentary session on the Coalition Government’s ambitious programme of constitutional reform.  This will be the crunch year for a breakthrough on House of Lords reform.  I suspect regulation of lobbyists will hit the statute book but a deal on party funding will founder on the rocks of self interest.

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The Iron Lady and me…

Last night I made a rare visit (these days) to the cinema.  What drew me was the opening night of the Iron Lady.  Everyone of my generation has an opinion of Margaret Thatcher, you either like her or loathe her.  I’ve always been in the latter camp and the film didn’t change my view.

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Caring for the homeless at Christmas

I’ve been to visit the charity Caring at Christmas to see them getting ready to give Bristol’s homeless an enjoyable festive season.  They’re located at the Julian Trust shelter in St Pauls, which provides beds all year round.  But from Christmas Eve through to 2nd January the building is open 24 hours a day.  There will be extra beds, with 5o people staying for the whole of the holiday period.  They will be joined by three times as many people who will pass through for some of the meals and entertainment.

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