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Is this a stalking horse fretting in his stable?

Simon Carr

Twenty Bills are being presented today in the name of John Mann. An unusual parliamentary procedure to do so in such bulk. None of them have a chance of proceeding (the session has run out of Fridays) but it’s often interesting to try and see what this opaque – not to say hermetic – MP is up to.

The Bills range from moving Government departments to the regions to limiting the number of peers to 300 (unpaid).

He also proposes . . .stalking horse 21 300x203 Is this a stalking horse fretting in his stable?

* Bringing all troops back from Germany by 2015

* No bonus payments to higher rate tax payers in the public service.

* A maximum salary for public service employees.

* New council tax bands for £500,000, £1m and £1.5m houses.

* Corporate tax reductions greater than £100,000 have to be approved by Parliament.

* Abolish end-of-ministerial career grants, and limit ministerial salaries to backbench pay + 25 per cent.

These Presentation Bills may be just a showy form of Early Day Motions. But Mann obviously sets some store by them as he was in a private meeting all yesterday afternoon while his Treasury Committee was quizzing the FSA.

John Mann is one of nature’s stalking horses – solitary, clever, exasperated – and I can’t help wondering whether this list of populist policies mightn’t be something to do with that. It looks like the start of a manifesto. He says it is a list of cost-cutting measures that would move the pain of the cuts from the old, weak, poor and vulnerable to those more able to bear it.

But whether his main reproach is to the Coalition or to his own leadership remains to be seen. It’s a Question To Which The Answer Is I Don’t Know.

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