Friday, January 12, 2007

Debora L.Spar, The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception. HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PRESS 2006:

Deborah Spar’s latest book, ‘The Baby Business’ introduces a new and distasteful (?) subject of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation), commonly known as “test tube babies”. This medico-scientific advances in human fertilisation has raised a storm of controversy involving, ethical, moral and commercial issues. Want a child, but don’t or can’t do it the traditional way, well you can go to your neighbourhood fertility clinic, with luck and sufficient funds for the baby of your preferred gender and optimal genetic mix using IVF. There are several different IVF techniques available, but the usual process involves; interalia, the women taking fertility drugs to help her produce more eggs. The eggs are then harvested and fertilized in the laboratory. The woman is given hormone drugs to prepare her womb to receive the fertilized eggs. The fertilized eggs are placed inside the womb and a normal pregnancy follows. As a result of IVF a child growing up today could have two fathers and three mothers. The sperm donor that produced the sperm, the woman that sold her eggs to the clinic, the surrogate mother who rented out her womb, and the infertile parents, that are bringing up the

Sunday, December 24, 2006


‘There are many arguments for the new proposals but one is that the Charities Act 2006, which passed into law on 9 November, brings Oxford and Cambridge - and the individual colleges - for the first time into the scope of charity regulators. A letter read out during the Congregation’s first debate on the White Paper showed that the Higher Education Funding Council strongly favours, though it will not immediately enforce, a majority of independents among a charity’s trustees’


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Politicians are again in the firing line again opinion polls inside Europe and Turkey are reporting declining support for the very idea that Ankara should join the European Union (EU) by 2015. In fact opponents on both sides of the Aegean Sea utilise many of the same arguments in their case against Turkey joining as Europe’s first predominately Moslem Middle Eastern state.

On the European side there are distinct advantages in Ankara joining the EU, despite many European’s valid concerns and worries. But EU politicians should follow the advice of Italian political strategist Niccolo Machiavelli ‘take advantage out of a disadvantage.’ If the EU fails to implement the reforms required and make the necessary compromises in its negotiations over the role of the Turkish military and Cyprus, then the prospects of Turkey joining look increasingly doubtful. To read more

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rachael Evans

Rachael Evans
Mr. Norman Evans has asked me to inform you that his wife Rachael died suddenly at home on her 87th birthday (29 September 2006), which she had just celebrated

To read the messages posted by her friends and Labour Party colleagues in Oxfordshire see

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Labour's NEC:Time for change?


Less than twenty percent of Labour Party members, even bothered to return their ballot papers for election of constituency representatives in this year’s Labour Party National Executive Council poll, on a slate dominated by soft literati left activists of the party.

The question that is now being asked is it time for the NEC to be abolished since a majority of members regard it as an irrelevant, time serving relic, which no longer represents the views of the majority of the membership, at this time.

Clearly, when four fifths of the party membership did even trouble to participate in this poll, then this election is meaningless. These results demonstrate that those elected represent a small but organised unrepresentative group, able to punch above their weight, but not truly representative of the party as a whole. NewmanEditor

Saturday, July 29, 2006

EU Accounts -Problems of Probity


Complaints in the media about the EU Accounts are hypocritical. The reasons why there is not greater probity on this issue or real political concern are as follows:
1. Any solution would have to increase the powers of the European Commission and Parliament to investigate and fine member states government’s public finances. I doubt our Chancellor would not permit an intrusion, nor would member states government be prepared to surrender such power to Brussels.
2. There is no European wide common standard of public finance accountancy; each state has its own traditions and standards. So it makes the job of the European Court of Auditors a very difficult one.
3. As the EU has grown the opportunities for human error and yes fraud have grown.
4. Member states implement over 90% of the EU budget on behalf of Brussels. Each with its own tradition of accountancy means it is not always fraud that is to blame for tracing funds.
5. Implementing EU policy is often very difficult, take the CAP, policy makers have to administer an agricultural policy that has to deal with widely different farming regimes from the giant agribusinesses of East Anglia to Artic rain deer herders and Spanish olive groves.
6. There is the problem of differing administrative cultures and languages, which can make it hard to achieve things.
7. The present system allows for politicians the flexibility to divert funds to pet public projects which a strict interpretation of the rules would not allow.
8. In public finance, accountancy traditions are not always the same as for business, if you read the background to the stories over the years, what you learn is much of the missing EU budget funds can not be accounted for to the criteria that the European Court of Auditors works to. Which can mean they know where much of it is, but do not have the quality of evidence required.
Just to put things in proportion the British Department of Work and Pensions has not had its books signed off for the last thirteen years. Also using a business comparison, an accountant signing off the books of a firm does not mean all is right with the firm, as investors found to their cost with ENRON.

If you really want this matter tackled then the following things have to be achieved:
1. The European Parliament has to have a powerful Parliamentary Accounts Committee that works with the European Court of Auditors with full powers to investigate and fine member governments.
2. A common European Standard of Public Finance Accountancy has to be introduced.
3. The European Commission has to take full control of implementing its £67.2 billion budget.
4. The systems for implementation of the budget have to be simplified.

I should think many a euro-sceptics and pro-european politicians are working together, for the above mentioned reasons, to prevent such reforms in improving the probity of EU accounts from ever being implemented.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006




What a pleasure it is to see a student elegantly dressed. It makes a change from the dirty torn t-shirt and stonewashed ragged jeans. Oxford was, this month, in danger of losing the tradition that students be dressed in a dark suit, black shoes, a white bow tie, and plain white shirt and collar, with a cap and gown, known as subfusc. Subfusc is an ancient form of attire, worn by students at every formal university occasion including Examinations and Encaenia.In Oxford it has been a common sight to see students dressed in subfusc, dashing to exams on a bicycle, looking vaguely like penguins from a distance. It has always given me a chuckle and a sense of pride about living in Oxford.Unfortunately, this proud tradition was under threat from Oxford University Student’s Union (OUSU).Its President, Emma Norris launched a campaign to make the wearing of subfusc voluntary at university formal occasions by students. But the campaigners made a mistake, which successful revolutionaries never make - they consulted the electorate.The student body held a referendum on this issue via the internet; the second time they had used such a system, but only those with student usernames could take part. Of the 4,000 who were polled, over 80% voted in favour of keeping the status quo!Consequently, to her surprise, Emma Norris had to announce that, by the students’ vote, that subfusc would continue to be compulsory. So we will still see the joyful site of students celebrating the end of exams dressed in subfusc, popping balloons and champagne. Esto perpetua.