Army redundancies: Soldiers told of fate

The government had planned to cut the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000. Only for the latest job cut almost 4,500 Army personnel found out they were unnecessary.

According to ministers Army needed to be more flexible so these cuts were compulsory.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that about 84% of these 4,480 Army personnel were volunteers for the redundancy.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“Although smaller, our Armed Forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need.”

However, Jim Murphy the shadow defence secretary said these cuts were nothing else but a failing strategy.

By 2017 the number of regular soldiers need to reach 82,000 and those of reservists has to increase from15,000 in 2010, to 30,000 in 2018.

In the words of the BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt the government had to make these redundancies because of the announced in 2010 cut in the budget of the MoD.

She added this was an unsettling process not only for the soldiers but also for their families.

The day of the redundancies was a difficult one for all those who were told they would not be part of the Army any more. These people had to be given some time in order to find a place for living and a job.

What was announced was that despite these redundancies the Army had to sign employment contracts with 10,000 new soldiers and officers this year, as well as 6,000 reservists.

The total number of recruited operational staff between October 2010 and February 2013 for the Army, navy and air force together is more than 35,000.

The Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said:

“By doing things differently and by making sure that we focus our military manpower on the jobs that absolutely have to be done by people in uniform, we shall be able to sustain a brigade in the field on an enduring basis, and put a division into the field when we need to. We’ll still be able to deal with the challenges of the future.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, also stated that British army was a strong one and the country had to be proud of it.


Tax Evasion Measures to be Taken – G8 Summit

G8 leaders agreed on new measures to deal with money laundering and tax avoidance. They include giving automatic access to information to their residents` tax affairs and a requirement that all shell companies identify their effective owners. G8 includes UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Canada and Japan.

The main purpose of the new measures is to “fight the scourge of tax evasion”.

David Cameron hosted the summit in Northern Island. Another important event, which happened is the launch of free trade negotiations between EU and the US, which Cameron referred as “the biggest bilateral trade agreement in history”. Hopefully the future  legal agreement will be beneficial for both sides.

The Three Ts – Tax, Trade and Transparency – this is placed at the top of the UK agenda, for its presidency of G8

The summit was overshadowed by the conflict in Syria and Vladimir Putin called for talks for Syrian peace to be held in Geneva  as soon as possible, which was discussed, however no for the Geneva talks was given, and the statement made no mention of what role Mr Assad could play in the future

The summit has been overshadowed by the conflict in Syria.

The G8 leaders – including Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad – backed calls for Syrian peace talks to be held in Geneva “as soon as possible”.

All G8 leaders agreed on that transparency is required for multinational companies, which should tell the authorities what tax they have paid and where.  ”Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes,” the communique said. It follows revelations about the ways in which several major firms – including Google, Apple, Starbucks and Amazon – have minimised their tax bills.

Illegal activities, including tax evasion and money laundering, will be tackled by the automated sharing of tax information. Speaking during the summit, Mr Osborne said more progress had been made on reforming the global tax system in the past 24 hours than the “past 24 years”.

These and many other topics have been discussed during the summit.

Super-jails Should Replace Run-Down Prisons – Policy Exchange

A recent report announced that 30 of the old prisons have to be replaced by 12 “super-jails” gathering thousands of prisoners.

According to ex-Ministry of Justice Deputy director Kevin Lockyer this would save £600m annually but the Prison Reform Trust claims that spending money on gigantic jails would be a huge mistake.

Deputy Director said that the appearance and the functioning of the new prisoners would be just like those of campuses.

He suggested the closing of Brixton, Feltham, Holloway, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs, which will lead to a high demand of legal documents- especially employment documents and HR policies.

In his words with the changes proposed the prison budget would save about 20% and the budget of Ministry of Justice would save 9%.

Mr Lockyer said: “In fact, newer prisons outperform older ones, regardless of their size. New hub prisons will not only reduce reoffending and improve safety, they will also deliver vast financial savings and better value for money for the taxpayer.”

He stated the decision of the problem was not trying to reduce the number of prisoners and jails but thinking more carefully about the cutting of cost per prisoner.

The report pointed out that almost a quarter of the prisons were built in the Victorian era and most of the others were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The money for the new prisoners needs to come as borrowings from the public sector.

On the other hand, Juliet Lyon Prison Reform Trust director declared taxpayers’ money should not be spent on super-sized jails as the rates of crimes and reoffending were falling. She added that prison governors, prison inspectors and prison officers also did not like the idea.

“There is scope to close some outdated prisons and reinvest the money saved into effective community solutions to crime.”


Law Firms Warned on Debt Recovery

SRA  is now dealing with ensuring law firms, involved with debt recovery work, have proper control over what is being done in their name. Many law companies dealing with this matter have been warned, as the authority has noticed that cases, where solicitors working with debt recovery companies are in danger of breaching the Code of Conduct have increased.

Solicitors, dealing with two different cases, who failed to maintain their independence have been handed out fines and costs orders, counting over £140,000. Many other law firms have received a warning note, letting them know advising firms on putting their independence at risk, or being involved in overly aggressive or misleading correspondence

David Middleton, SRA executive director for post-enforcement, said: ‘While we are committed to working constructively with firms, we will take enforcement action against regulated persons who fail to address the issues and risks associated with debt recovery work. We expect firms to ensure they supervise all work their name is attached to.’

The first case referred to a solicitor, working with a debt recovery company, whose nature of arrangement was found irresponsible and resulted in a breach of his duties. The solicitor was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £35,000.

In our opinion, it is very important to have all necessary legal documents in place, and what is more, in cases like this it is advisable to request a document, drafted especially for you.

In the second case, the relationship between the solicitor and the debt recovery company was compromising his integrity and independence. The arrangement meant the solicitor had recklessly misled the court by facilitating the conduct of litigation by the debt recovery company.The solicitor was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.


Jobseekers Bring Legal Challenge Over Retroactive Legislation

Despite a court judgement, benefits rebates were blocked to a quarter of a million so three jobseekers decided to challenge this application of the law.

According to them Duncan Smith has breached the European convention on human rights as he pushed through the legislation.

This made jobseekers work for free or face having their benefits stopped. Jobseekers, who submitted many job application forms, decided to complain so while the government’s plan was being investigated it was announced to be in breach with the law.

After the final decision of court appeared and government was said it had to pay the denied benefits to most of the jobseekers, it rushed a bill which had to make their actions legal and allow them to avoid “paying back money to people who didn’t do enough to find work”.

However, the government’s move was stopped because solicitor group Public Interest Lawyers, representing three jobseekers, announced it violated human rights.

In their opinion, what the government was trying to do was to retroactively alter the interpretation of a previous act.

In the opinion of Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers the denial of the government to take into consideration the jobseekers’ claims asking for their benefits, not only did act against the court ruling but also breached the right of the jobseekers.

“It interfered in an ongoing judicial process and deprived our clients of their right to claim back what was wrongly taken from them. Contrary to the assurances Iain Duncan Smith gave parliament, the legislation is not compatible with the Human Rights Act and it is in clear breach of EU law.”


Attorney General Urges Supreme Court to Reject Prisoners’ Right to Vote

Attorney General Dominic Grieve stated again that he still believes prisoners should not take part in the elections giving their votes.

The current UK law and legal documents says that only prisoners on remand are allowed to vote but two prisoners serving life-sentences brought a case fighting for their rights claiming they wanted to take an active part in the elections.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of Chester and McGeoch, this will put the end of the ban in the UK preventing prisoners from voting.

The High Court has already rejected a similar appeal brought by Chester in 2009.

The opinion of Dominic Grieve is that the UK Supreme Court needn’t follow the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights according to which each nation could take their own decision if prisoners should be allowed to vote or not.

“This court is entitled to take its own course and should do so where it has sufficient doubt about the soundness of the reasoning adopted by the European court of human rights,” he told yesterday.

In his words, these cases appear to raise interesting constitutional questions.

Last November the government published the Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill. It proposed two alternatives- the first one says that prisoners sentenced four or more years in jail should be banned voting and the other says those sentences to 6 months or more should also be banned.

In October, David Cameron stated that this government would definitely not allow the prisoners to vote.

On the other hand, the mother of the girl killed by Peter Chester accused him of wasting taxpayer money.

“Where were my human rights?” she asked. “Where were Donna’s human rights?”


Financial Rules On Non-EU Spouses Slammed By Parliamentary Group

A group of MPs and peers announced that the financial restrictions on who is permitted to bring a non-EU spouse and who is not usually destroy families.

Due to the new rules if a British citizen wants to sponsor a visa for a spouse from outside of the EU, they need to prove that their annual income is minimum £18,600. This can be done by using legal documents proving it.

In case the same guy wants to sponsor a visa for a child the amount increases to £22,400 and another £2,400 on top of that for each additional child.

However, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration asked for cancellation of these rules as many families suffer because of them mentioning the fact that there are British children who are not able to see their non-UK parents.

The people who think the policy is not that bad say that tax payers have to receive a reduction to the cost.

“If you are bringing someone into the country, then you should be expected to support that person without recourse to public expense,” said Mark Reckless, a Conservative MP who sits on the home affairs select committee. “Over time, it might be possible that the regulations could be adjusted. There will be hard cases and we learn in light of those experiences.”

Those on the opposite opinion said the restrictions were too cruel and pointed some evidence showing that around 47% of the working population of the UK would not meet the new requirements.

The figures that the government published show that the number of citizens unable to comply with the requirements is 18,000. Despite this fact it declared that the changes were necessary.

David Cameron: Intelligence Agencies Work within Law

According to PM David Cameron intelligence agencies operate within the law.

There are allegations that certain agencies have gathered and shared phone records and internet data.

It is still not confirmed or denied if GCHQ had been given access to a US spy programme called Prism but America’s National Security Agency and the FBI are expected to get access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Skype, Microsoft and some other of the world’s top internet companies. They all said they would not give the US government access to their servers.

Mr. Cameron stated that UK’s intelligence agencies kept people safe as at the same time operated within the law. The Legal Stop also keeps their clients safe and helps them find a wide variety of business documents, corporate documents, employment documents and HR documents.

In the words of Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind due to the British law such agencies need to get ministerial authority so that they get the opportunity to look at the content of the emails of British citizens.

An increase of 137% was registered for the intelligent reports GCHQ did in the 12 months to May 2012.

However, the minister with responsibility for GCHQ announced that UK citizens had nothing to worry about.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told Today: “These agencies do vital work for us week in and week out. But it’s also vital that the public have confidence that they are operating in a framework of legality.”

Conservative MP Dominic Raab shared his opinion that the happening changes influenced seriously the view of the people so public confidence would erode.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects the content of people’s phone conversations.

Government officials may scoop up information on duration and timing of certain calls.

Mr. Obama announced surveillance programmes would protect the US from terrorist attacks


Ofgem to Receive New Powers After Fears of Energy Market Rigging

With the aim to stop the manipulation of the energy market the energy regulator Ofgem will receive new powers which will lead to lots of changes.

After many people expressed their concerns that providers and financial institutions may be rigging the energy prices, now Ofgem will be able to inspect company premises and obtain potentially incriminating data, including a wide variety of legal documents.

In case it finds something wrong it would be able to fine the perpetrators.

The energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey will soon announce the new powers to the Parliament. These come as a consequence of the Libor scandal where banks were misreported to lend to one another trying to rig the system.

This led to fears about similar manipulation in the energy markets where the prices of oil, gas and energy may also be rigged so that the speculators may earn money on the shoulders of the average consumer.

Many say that reports may show what the current situation is, but in fact they may also be counterfeited and in he end consumers are deceived again.

One of the price-reporting agencies received a report with false data so that Ofgem and the Financial Services Authority conducted an investigation.

According to the European Commission the Remit legislation has to be adopted till the end of this month.

In order to get all the possible details of any attempted market manipulation EC authorities would ask for reports from companies of their buying and selling activities relating to oil, gas and power.


Met Police Discusses Positive Discrimination Law Change

The government and the Metropolitan Police are now arguing about a change in the law saying it would allow them to positively discriminate when hiring new officers.

The discussion is over a policy due to which when a white person joins their ranks one from an ethnic minority must also be recruited, so dear employers think about your Equal Opportunities Policy.

Most people think this “50-50” system would not be helpful enough as less than 50% of the London’s population considers themselves as “white British” and at the same time nine in ten officers are white.

The talks with the government are still going on but Simon Byrne, Met Police assistant, stated that if the proposed plans started functioning, these would lead to a change in the law as it would amount to “positive discrimination”.

According to him modern London is a non-stop changing place so the force had to think of proper ways in order to reflect its diversity better.

In his words things had to change as with the years this organization got mainly white males.

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, also told the Guardian that the ethnic makeup prevented the UK police from struggling with terrorism.

“A big part of dealing with terrorism and crime is gathering intelligence, having people who get to know local people so they have the confidence to pass information.”

However, there were many who did not like the idea.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police branch of the Police Federation, John Tully, said that people who have chosen this job should only prove they were capable of coping with it. The skin and background should not have any influence for the choice of police officers.