A retraction

I feel I owe a retraction from my previous piece: http://matthewhutton.com/2009/03/uk-democracy-still-functions/

The MP’s last week published their expenses in full after blacking out almost all of the detail – unfortunately they didn’t quite black out enough:
Railway ticket for my MP

Now aside from blacking out the class of travel, the number of people travelling, the ticket type and the destination and start points – none of which are actually national security issues (which is the only reason not to publish them) – ultimately if you are doing something you don’t want to reveal you have to use your £60k salary to fund it.

Unfortunately he hasn’t quite blocked out all the useful information on the ticket. The ticket says Y-P on it, which means that it was bought with a young persons railcard. Now my MP is quite young, but he’s been in power since 1997 so he can’t possibly be under 25.

So either he was travelling illegally under a young persons railcard – or he is claiming other peoples rail journeys under expenses and hiding it.

I suppose he could be claiming for some of his staff, and they could be under 25, but that is stretching the excuses.

Copyright Reform: Updated

I sent my European Parliament members an email this morning about the EU extending copyright from the current term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 years to 95 years. The vote on this issue is going to be this Thursday.

Anyhow within today I got an email from both of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s today as well as from UKIP, all of whom agree with my position on the EU Copyright laws. From this I will definitely be voting Liberal Democrat in the next election.

The other amusing thing was that one of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s is a Baroness and she replied within minutes, I find it very interesting to see “establishment” figures like a Baroness agreeing with me politically here. Its actually like the Economist being pro-drugs legalisation. Now I agree about drugs legalisation for the same reasons that the Economist brings up, but regardless on your position it is definitely a liberal position to hold.

Amusingly if you read a more downmarket news source that the “common man” reads like the Daily Mail and the Sun they will be anti-drugs legalisation and much more right wing.

Anyhow I found out about this vote from Arstechnica, which led me to the following website. I personally thought the sample email given there is rubbish, so here is what I wrote instead:

I have heard that this week the European parliament is voting to extend
copyright terms for sound recordings. Personally I think this is a bad
idea as the terms are currently long enough.

I think this because independent studies including the UK governments
Gower report (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/gowers_review_index.htm)
are opposed to this move. This information is covered on pages 49 to 57
of the report. The University of Cambridge has also collected a list of
other independent studies and their conclusions which is available at
the following link:
http://www.cipil.law.cam.ac.uk/File/Studies+Signatories.pdf

According to the Gower Report the life of the vast majority of creative
works is very short – only 3% of record company income comes from works
released before 1966. Additionally when the US considered extending the
copyright term beyond 50 years, 17 economists including 5 Nobel prize
winners estimated that extending copyright beyond 50 years would have
no affect on investment decisions on new works as the income was to be
received so far into the future.

The flaws in this bill especially apply to retrospective copyright as
in those cases the works in question have already been made under the
current rules, extending those copyrights isn’t going to make more
works magically appear in the past as that is impossible, all that is
going to be done is that a few already very rich artists and record
labels will be made even richer while providing no net benefit to the
average citizen as according to the Gower report less music would be
available to the consumer.

Updated: I have to also credit the Green party representatives for getting back to me within just over 24 hours.

UK Democracy still functions

I sent my MP an email on Monday over the chief medical officers plans to introduce minimum prices of £0.50 per unit of alcohol (US$0.70, €0.53) which has been rejected by Gordon Brown (UK Prime Minister) and was pleasantly surprised to receive an acknowledgement in the post this morning.

I’m impressed that he’s managed to read the message and respond to it so quickly, and on that basis I’ll almost certainly be voting for him in the next election.

I sent the email in the first place because the government is wrong to reject the proposal as it makes sense, it also isn’t particularly controversial as its just raising the minimum alcohol price to the same price as it is in China’s supermarkets given purchasing power parity – and the Chinese have pretty cheap alcohol.