December 2nd, 2013

SKETCH: Public Servants Beyond Control

Yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee was enquiring into whether Gift Aid is being abused, or is doing what it’s meant to (increase charitable giving).

In the course of several seething exchanges, Margaret Hodge said to the head of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs:

“That inconsistency is unacceptable. Really, really unacceptable.”

“You are saying absolutely the opposite of what you’re saying in the report”

“You are giving me a graph that doesn’t even tell me what it’s measuring!”

“I didn’t understand a word of that.”

Lin Homer’s department allows its officials to brief information to journalists that it steadfastly refuses to Parliament.

To journalists they can say: “This is the inside track that justifies the cosy, sweetheart, one-soapy-hand-washing-the-other behaviour of HMRC.” And then to the Public Accounts Committee they say: “We will not answer your question. It’s client confidentiality, you see. We’d like to. Yes, transparency is a target which we are increasingly out-performing.”

The committee found no way through Ms Homer’s administrative thicket to attack her position effectively.

Are we lay members of the well-informed, well-connected, politico-media-lobby-academic class sure we have a clear idea what we’re up against?


  1. 1
    Bald coot says:

    Time this Homer woman was put put to pasture. She has dome more than enough damage to this country.

  2. 3
    Chris Patten says:

    We at the BBC have much to learn from the excellent transparency arrangements at HMRC

  3. 4
    Nige says:

    Wouldn’t be nice if Cameron, Clegg, with his colouring book of course and Milliband all boarded a boat and sailed to the edge of the world and went over. Even better if they were towing a massive barge which contained the whole of the house of commons and the house of lords and took them all with them, nirvana.

  4. 5
    Margaret Hodge says:

    I am going to scream and scream and scream.

  5. 6
    No taxable pikey says:

    That’s one “administrative thicket” that I would want to steer wel clear of.

  6. 8
    Maximus says:

    Welcome to the UKreign.

  7. 12
    Alec says:

    Come back Hecules, there’s another stable here for you.

  8. 13
    Anonymous says:

    It remains odd that there is no Minister directly in the line of fire for the dire antics of HMRC. Oh yes there is “the First Lord of the Treasury” and the resident of No.11, but in terms of day to day operation all is in the hands of self serving, useless and unaccountable box wallahs.

    The problem is simple: HMRC is not well run, never has been, has fewer and fewer staff who understand an increasingly complex tax system that is subject to constant political tinkering.

    In fact it would disgrace a Banana Republic, so Homer is ideal for the job

    • 18
      broderick crawford says:

      Yes there is a specific Minister

      His name is David Gauke and he has a wife

      I ll leave it there before the SICURITATE cone a knocking

      • 19
        Anonymous says:

        Wrong, wrong, wrong.

        He, as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, has “strategic oversight of the UK tax system”.

        In terms of responsibility for the day to day operation of HMRC there is no Ministerial input. The buck stops with….. nobody elected.

        Which of course suits career politicians just fine

  9. 14
    aka says:

    Flat tax rates can be understood by idiot staff, lazy taxpayers can*t be bothered to fiddle them.
    Accountants and lawyers can easily adapt to learning new skills. Do not weep for them.

  10. 20
    Idiot Select Committees says:

    The Public Accounts Select Committee conrinually blames HMRC for implementing the laws which the politicians have legislated.

    Marge Hodge is just showboating and encouages heat rather than light is shed.

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Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)

A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”

Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.

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