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.

Seen Elsewhere

Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette
Jenni Russell and Her Child’s Godfather, Ed Miliband | Breitbart
Labour’s Left and Right are Growing Restive | Staggers
Corrupt, Incompetent UN Has No Right to Lecture Us | Dan Hannan
Mirror’s Lazy Lie | Guardian

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

Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”

orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?

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