Think Pieces

Roads and Congestion

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

Our report The Road from Inequity shows that country dwellers pay far too much for road space, while urban road users pay far too little. Car users add to the congestion in towns, making public transport even less reliable and attractive, because there is no economic reason for them not to. The CBI has calculated that the consequent delays, pollution and accidents costs the country billions.

Life in the Hot Lane

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

But reserving the route to specially-equipped buses would ensure that only a small fraction of the capacity of the rail right-of-way would be utilized. Only twenty buses per lane per hour are expected to use the system in peak-time in 2016 - taking up less than five per cent of lane capacity! Cambridgeshire expects to receive some £70 million of taxpayer's money to implement this sadly inefficient project. Could it do better?

The Political Conditions

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

The supposition throughout was that this was about economics. In fact many, if not most, of those who support entry do so for political reasons. While they advance arguments that this will be good for the British economy, they support entry because they maintain it will make the UK more influential in Europe, and more tied in with the development of a united Europe. Similarly, many opposing entry cite economic arguments but are opposed to the political implications of UK membership.

Do we need a Department for Education and Skills?

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

Even in those days, however, it seemed to me that the Department of Education in London was attempting to control in detail the day to day running of schools. For example, if a local education authority wanted to close, open or expand a school, permission had to be given by the Secretary of State. In practice, of course, the civil servants compiled the case for and against approval. In practice also, I personally obtained greater information where necessary at times visiting the school itself. Usually, but not always, the Secretary of State confirmed the approval or rejection given to him.

Forget the Tories: We want a Vietnamese government

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

How do we compare with other countries? The on-line CIA World Fact Book*** is a wealth of interesting information. Their figure for the UK government budget is a lowly US$540 billion at the then exchange rate, but the same factors apply to budgets for the other countries too. So dividing that budget by the number of workers employed in each country**** gives us a comparative figure for the burden of government in that country, as shown in this table of selected countries:


Our over-centralized schools

Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

Bad schools reinforce a spiral of decline in too many localities. Disadvantaged by low levels of literacy and numeracy, communities suffer under high levels of disaffection, unemployment, and crime. The middle classes can escape by going private or moving house. But the poorest remain trapped inside a near-monopoly system that is too centralized to respond to their needs.


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