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Finding my religion

As 2006, the year when tax angles went from obtuse to non-existent, drew to a close, the news that someone had absentmindedly put their grandson through an X-ray scanner at Los Angeles airport said it all for me. Despite what the child’s nappy contained, it was not likely to be deadly.

Compliance without defiance is the current mode so who should be surprised?

This year will see a number of key events conclude, gain pace or just as likely be moved to the ever-growing “too difficult” pile.

The FSA’s retail review is first off the block and this is one debate we must all take part in. Status disclosure has been an abject failure, as those taking advice from a “partner” think it equates to independence.

But, wait, maybe it does or will a certain bank have to retreat from its aggressive position on its multi-tie?

This year’s Budget should have a very short time slot. After all, much of its contents have already been rolled out.

Talks on pension term assurance continue. Thank goodness, perhaps the word “pension” in the title may encourage the FSA to restrict its sales to those who understand pensions or is that too much like common sense?

Given the Government’s position on alternatively secured pensions, the waiting list is growing for the new religion I am founding, known as “100 per cent tax-free cash for all”. I have just got to make sure that our principled religious objections are fully aligned before the inductions take off. I just hope that running a new religion does not have to become a controlled function under the FSA.

Will this Government tackle the issue of public-sector pensions, after we were told that it now costs us each £800 to £900 a year to fund them? Perhaps we should all stop paying council tax in an act of civil disobedience until all public-sector defined-benefit schemes are wound up and replaced by the national pension savings scheme? This could include the House of Commons scheme which should lead by example in the benefit reductions.

The NPSS is likely to cost employers more money as they will presumably need advice as to what to do with their often superior current schemes. The level of contributions proposed, neither age-related nor sufficient to produce significant benefits, will in the current form simply deny a level of means-tested benefits to a greater number of people. This is of no concern to MPs who will retire on the most generous scheme for benefits within public service.

Many years ago, when the Scots voted for their own parliament, Mel Gibson was most successful in drumming up support for the Scottish National Party. His film Braveheart, many feel, tipped the balance to enable the creation of the Scottish Parliament. Perhaps Alex Salmond of the SNP could ask Mel to be visible around the time of the elections as this could swing it, as long as Mel does not say anything out of turn.

Scottish independence is a real possibility. If it came about, I would get a new passport and more credibility for my stock phrase that I am in England doing missionary business.

Let us not forget Gordon Brown’s seat in Dunfermline. Can you be Prime Minister when you are not an elected member? The move to nationalism in Scotland could have that inconvenient byproduct – a fact, I am sure, which is not lost to my namesake in the Home Office.


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