Socialist Worker

The missing millions

Issue No. 1860

MILLIONS OF pensioners won't get payments they are entitled to - that's the assumption underlying New Labour's alternative to the state pension. The Pension Credit is due to come in this October. The government's 'planning assumption' is that only 73 percent of pensioners will take up the means-tested alternative to benefits by 2006. And that is without breakdowns in the system and computer technology which have dogged similar schemes.

Bosses' killing veto

THE GOVERNMENT is to allow big business to water down proposals for a new corporate killing law. The Home Office has admitted any legislation drafted this autumn will go out to industry for consultation. That could mean the proposed law is not even debated until after the next election.

The Home Office has already indicated it will not imprison company directors found guilty under any new law. Meanwhile the number of workers killed on construction sites went up by 40 percent compared to last year.

Bid to ban protest

SOME MPs are pushing a special law to remove an anti-war protester from outside parliament. Brian Haw has kept up a one-man vigil for two years and the High Court dismissed previous attempts to remove him. So a group of MPs are pushing for a special law.

Barry Hugil from civil rights group Liberty says, 'If this legislation is passed it could potentially endanger the rights of every single person in this country.'

Train takes his strain

THE HEAD of the rail network is getting free first class travel from the train operating companies - and threatening to double fares for the rest of us. Richard Bowker, head of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), gets £250,000 a year. His authority wants to scrap the only cheap long distance train ticket that can be bought just before travel.

Virgin Trains has asked to lift the cap on its saver tickets so it can increase the price by 20 percent. Bowker is not only accepting free travel from Virgin Trains but he was a top executive at the company before joining the SRA.

Tests breach rights

ASYLUM SEEKERS do not carry diseases into Britain. A pilot study from Dover found 'no actual serious illnesses detected among people who claimed asylum. No TB, no AIDS/HIV. Nothing serious.' And a committee of MPs has stated that mandatory screening of asylum seekers would breach human rights. But the Cabinet Office is still trying to test all asylum seekers.

Nuclear waste clean-up

Our cash for their mess

THE COST of clearing up the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants is rocketing. The bill has already reached £3.2 billion. British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) does not know the full cost of 'decommissioning' its eight Magnox nuclear reactors. It has only worked out the figures for the first two years but the whole process will take 100 years.

BNFL had originally set aside £380 million to run down the Hinkley Point and Bradwell reactors. It has now been forced to earmark an extra £415 million. The company depends heavily on public subsidy. We are all paying the price of nuclear power.

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Article information

Sat 19 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1860
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