Sunday 28 April 2013

Fighting the Government for savers and against inflation (2)

This series is a report on my attempts to get questions raised in Parliament about the Government's failure to protect small savers against inflation, taxes and theft by banks. Part 1 is here.

The latest news that should (ought to) turn up the gas under this issue is Matt Taibbi's article for next month's edition of Rollling Stone magazine (htp: Jesse) detailing another gigantic price-fixing swindle by banks who have previously been exposed in the Libor scandal. As Taibbi reports, not only has the door opened to reveal that virtually all markets are rigged (against us, the ordinary people), but - astoundingly - an American court has accepted defendants' argument that nobody expected the interest rate market not to be fixed.

All the more reason why you might look at the Move Your Money website.

Here are some of the newer email exchanges between myself, my MP and his researcher:

MP to me - March 3, 2013:

I am happy if you wish to work with my researcher on written parliamentary questions on this issue.

(N.B. note the "written")

Researcher to me - March 12, 2013:

[...] I understand you wish to ask ministers about maintaining the value of savings vis a vis inflation and purchasing power parity of the pound against other currencies – it would help if you could give me an indication of exactly what you would like to ask or if you could draft a question I could amend?

For instance, I’m not sure if you would like to simply ask a question along the lines of ‘ To ask the Chancellor of the exchequer what steps he has taken or plans to undertake to maintain the value of savings against increased inflation and devaluations of the pound’ -- or alternatively you might want to ask the Treasury if you have a particular scheme or strategy you would like them to adopt?

Don’t worry about phrasing, I can amend a question so that it will be accepted by the table office.

We can table a written parliamentary question to any department with ease and departmental oral questions in the house occur every few weeks, I am sure we could arrange for John to ask an oral question if his diary allows – Questions to the Prime Minister during PMQs on a Wednesday are more tricky – you can put in written Questions for oral response or try to catch the eye of the speaker if you are a member, but demand is, obviously, high and this would require John to both be in the chamber and willing to use what is an infrequent opportunity to gain significant publicity for a cause, on this issue. That’s not saying he would be unwilling to do so but I don’t know if he has an issue he does want to raise at PMQs and it might take a few months before that opportunity presents itself.

A written or oral question to the Treasury would be most feasible with a reasonable turnaround on a response.
Me to researcher - March 12, 2013:
[...] I have some ammo to use in framing questions, the idea being to get govt to accept that there is a moral case for protecting the value of savers' money and in fact there's a couple of passages in Hansard that strigly  [sic; intended "strongly"] indicate that acceptance in the year that NS&I Index-Linked Savings Certificates were first introduced.

It may well be true that the financial situation is serious, as your boss says - in fact I've been blogging about it since 2007 and warned of the banking crash both there and in the letters pages of the Spectator - but there is absolutely no justification for making the prudent pay the cost, or for forcing them to gamble with their money just in order to try to avoid losing it to inflation.

I wd very much like your help in framing Qs that will make the ministers, Chancellor and PM bloody well squirm.
Researcher to me - April 18, 2013
I’ve still got this on my list of things to do – You suggested you would be back in touch, but I do not seem to have a follow up email from you since the one below

Could you confirm if you have a question in mind, or if the more general one I suggested below would suffice? [The question was omitted from his email]

Me to researcher - April 21, 2013:

Sorry, been away a few days.

I don't see the general question you refer to, but since Cyprus I have two serious worries - which should apply to many of my ex-clients and people generally:

1. How to set aside money and preserve its spending value, without being eroded by inflation and taxes and without being forced to accept any kind of investment risk;

2. How to be sure that no portion of savings below the deposit insurance ceiling will not be seized in some form of bank bail-in or pseudo-tax, but be payable in the form and to the schedule expected by the saver.

I understand that Tam Dalyell was feared as a Parliamentary questioner because his questions were short, to the point and allowed no room for irrelevant waffle in reply. Do you think you could frame questions on that model?

Also, should they not be asked as PMQs rather than handed off to get some dusty reply from the Treasury? My experience of the latter pretty much destroyed my confidence in getting anything other than fluff and party political twaddle.
No reply received before my next email to him - April 27, 2013:
Further to my last email of 6 days ago, perhaps you could spare the time to look at the latest article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. It may give you some idea of why I now (as a former IFA of 23 years' experience in the financial industry) regard the whole bank and trading shebang as irredeemably systemically corrupt. Any government that wishes to retain its claim to authority needs to protect the life savings of the little people.

Do please let me know how you are getting on with framing appropriate questions as previously discussed.

Best wishes

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