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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Azamara Quest Regains Full Power as Engine Room Fire Quickly Extinguished



Life rafts ready for deployment but now not required.



Julian Bray Reports:


Azamara Club Cruises said the fire was confined to the engine room of the Azamara Quest and was quickly extinguished.

The cruise line  said it would be offering passengers a full refund for the cruise and was planning to cancel the rest of the cruise once the ship reached Sandakan. The company's president and CEO Larry Pimentel was planning to fly to Sandakan to meet passengers personally.

Royal Caribbean International said there were approximately 60 British Citizens and 300 Americans on board out of a total of 617 guests, all are well and safe. Azamara Club Cruises is a member cruise line of  Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Late Friday, the cruise line said engineers aboard the ship had restored power to one of the ship's engines. "This additional power has permitted the ship to re-establish air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration and food preparation onboard for the comfort of our guests and crew,"

A later report confirmed that full motive power  and propulsion has now been restored by the permanent onboard engineering crew, and the ship is making rapid progress towards port.  The cruise will however still be cancelled and passengers disembarked.  It is thought the ship is approximately 110 miles off the coast of Balikpapan (Borneo), Indonesia, and in in calm seas.

The high specification super luxury Azamara Quest was on a 17-night sailing that departed from Hong Kong, China, on Monday, March 26, and included ports of call to Manila, Philippines; Sandakan (Sabah), Malaysia; Palapo (Sulawesi), Benoa (Bali), Semarang and Komodo, Indonesia and was scheduled to finish in Singapore on Thursday, April 12.


Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5    skype julian.bray.uk

Friday, 30 March 2012

TITANIC ... IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE PASSENGERS


Jenny
Julian Bray & Morag Irving 01733 345581 
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"Let me tell you about Jenny. Jenny was another member of crew who had also worked onboard Olympic before joining Titanic. At night Jenny slept with one of the stokers, and in the daytime patrolled the remote dark areas of the ship. Jenny as you have probably guessed was the ships cat and sadly had just had kittens. 2 dogs survived the disaster but Jenny did not."

As curtain raiser for what will be a year of RMS Titanic celebrations here is a lengthy extract from our lecture notes, from a series of five expanded lectures on RMS Titanic .This extract is taken from lecture four and deals with the people on board. What comes over is a completely different tone and style to recent film and TV productions.  Remember, we are looking at lifestyles with 21st Century eyes, all this happened over 100 years ago. Enjoy!     Copyright Julian Bray & Morag Irving 2012.


The full series or invidual lectures are normally presented podium style with a lavishly presented PowerPoint which contains many new illustrations and technical data. The second half of the presentation is an audience led Q&A no areas are off limits....




There is something so very special about a maiden voyage, everything you touch is new, you are the first person to sleep in the sheets, the crockery and cutlery is brand new and unused. The Champagne is chilled and ready, the guest list is also sparkling. ... 


*** Morag Irving and I were lucky enough to be on the maiden voyage of  the Independence of the Seas to Cobh formerly Queenstown in Ireland in 2008. The maiden voyage of the Independence followed a similar course to Titanic who visited Cobh on her own maiden voyage in 1912, sadly of course as we now know Titanic’s maiden voyage was also to be her last voyage. ***  Julian  Bray


Passengers arrive in Southampton on two specially chartered trains leaving from London to meet Titanic. One is reserved for first class the other for second and third, the railway company has built an extension to the line to take people to the ship.

55 people who have booked passage fail to arrive. Among them is the Vanderbilt family,  they decide they don’t want to be on a maiden voyage, although they have paid for their suite.  Their luggage is already loaded, and as they are unable to take it off they send a manservant to accompany the luggage to New York, neither the luggage or the unfortunate man will arrive.


On boarding Titanic, via the iron gates leading to the lounge first class passengers remarked they could still smell fresh paint. Carpets were still being laid just prior to departure, plants and flowers for the ship were loaded, supplied by a nursery in Southampton, the ship was alive with activity. Stewardess Violet Jessop tells us how she dreaded the departure days, she has worked on several other White Star Liners, working her way up to first class. Friends and families of those sailing send flowers to the ship. Passengers called for vases, ‘as large as possible Violet’ to put the flowers into, backwards and forwards with arms full of flowers, which would need daily attention throughout the journey. Why couldn’t they send chocolates thought Violet?


Entry via third class is a little different. Passengers are examined by the crew. A medical condition will prevent entry to America through Ellis Island. Those refused entry are sent back to Europe at White Star’s expense. First class and officers are exempt from this examination. On arrival at New York the process begins again, with 3rd class and crew attending a muster to ensure all are healthy, any ill health or even coming from a part of the world perceived to be a danger will quarantine the  entire ship for up to 3 days. No ship is allowed to dock in the US until this has been carried out.

Third class single passengers have been spared the indignity of dormitory accommodation normally provided on liners. Instead cabins have been designed some to hold 4 persons, but each with hot water and heating. Third class accommodation is good an improvement on other ships. Food is plentiful although ‘hearty’ by today’s standards.


Titanic had been docked at Southampton for several  days loading goods and taking delivery of items ready for departure. The clock on the Grand Staircase was fitted in Southampton, she had arrived with a mirror masking the gap where the clock would be, time had ran out in Belfast and many of the small niggles were being ironed out as departure loomed. Mr Andrews who designed the Titanic is onboard with 6 men from Harland and Wollf to make notes of things that need attention and list possible improvements. Titanic has benefited from following Olympic, they are sisters but they are not totally identical. Suites onboard Titanic are larger than Olympic, boasting the first private decks. The swimming pool is heated the first heated pool at sea. Part of an open deck on Olympic is enclosed on Titanic, the Atlantic spray is not welcomed on first class.


Possible improvements to Titanic will be incorporated into her  new sister, at the moment she is to be called ‘Gigantic’ that will change, Mr Andrew’s doesn’t know this yet, he never will; nor will the other 6 men from Harland and Wollf.
The one time Titanic was seen ‘Dressed all over’ was Friday  5th April, Good Friday. Dressed all over is the description given to a ship flying all her flags. A brand new Renault car is loaded onto the ship in a crate , it belongs to Mr Carter travelling home to the US  with his wife children and two servants. The Carters would survive the journey, the car bought for $5,000 would not, nor sadly would Mr Carters two dogs.

Three hoots on the huge whistles and she is ready to go, the gangplank is pulled up and 8 crewmen have missed the ship, 2 make a jump for it and are onboard. The other 6 walk away, they have missed the ship, no wages for them; but, they are the lucky ones they just don’t know it yet. 6 tugs pull her out of the dock, pushing and shoving. A near collision with the liner ‘New York’ is quickly avoided.
Father Browne travelling from Southampton to Cobh manages a quick photograph, he will not keep this, thinking to disregard it a bad image, amateur photography is a popular new pastime. The  photographs from the journey end up in a bank vault they are valued at over 2 million pounds. On arrival at Cobh crewman John Coffey aged 24 jumps ship. He hides with the mailbags being taken off, although he has signed on for the round trip. Cobh is his hometown, maybe he only signed on to get a free passage home.

In the mailbags taken off at Cobh is a letter written by officer Wilde to his sister. Officer Wilde writes he doesn’t like this ship ‘I have a queer feeling about it’ he is correct, Officer Wilde will not complete the journey.

In second class Esther Hart also has premonitions about this voyage. She takes the measure of sleeping all day and staying awake fully dressed at night. The Harts are travelling to Winnipeg to start a new life.  This will save her life and that of her daughter Eva aged 7, Mr Hart is lost. Esther and Eva are deported from the US as with Mr Hart goes their only way of support. Eva remains outspoken about this and the sanctuary of Titanic as a grave site for the rest of her life.
It is sometimes said Titanic is cursed by the presence of an Egyptian mummy among the cargo. No such item is listed in the cargo manifest. Although among the strange listed are  10 bags of suspenders belonging to Baring brothers in Southampton.


The crew came predominately from Southampton, some had been onboard since she left Belfast, preparing the ship. Many coming from the same street. The new crew signing on to the ship were glad of the work; as many had not worked for the 6 week duration of the coal strike, and unemployment  in general was very high in Southampton, 17 thousand are out of work in the area. The port is filling up with vessels unable to move as they have no coal. Six other White Star ships had been emptied of coal in preparation for the maiden voyage.
A planned visit to Liverpool, where White Star Lines had their head offices had to be cancelled, due to the coal strike ongoing at the time, coal was too precious and was saved for the Atlantic run. It is rumoured Olympic arrived in Southampton from New York with coal stored aboard in passenger accommodation, some cabins being used to store coal.

Titanic’s passengers expected and received the highest level of service, this is what they had paid for no allowance was made for a maiden voyage with a new crew. A suite on the Titanic would cost an average £870 pounds in 1912, while a suite on Cunard would cost £450. A third class passage to New York was £3. The exchange rate onboard is $4.80 to the pound. Travelling to New York onboard the Olympic almost identical to her sister Titanic, the Prince of Wales describes his suite, B53 as ‘too pretty for me’.
The Titanic is the last word in style and comfort. Spies from rival liner company Cunard board to look over the new ship, they report the main staircase is too big and could be made a single throughway. They dislike the black and white linoleum at the bottom of the stairs. Many of the luxurious furnishings on Titanic including the Turkish baths are copied into future Cunard liners.

Crew rely on passengers to tip them at the end of the voyage, and help supplement the wages, some  frequent travellers avoid doing this; they become known to the crew. 684 of the crew lost are from Southampton. Their pay is stopped the day Titanic sinks. A fund is started to help them, the King donates £250, Queen Alexandra £200.  Woolworth’s in New York has a special counter manned by crew waiting to go home, all profits are given to them. Olympic unable to get to her sister in time starts a fund among her passengers £1,700 is raised for Titanic’s crew.

Captain Edward Smith was at the pinnacle of his career, his nickname among regular travellers was ‘The Millionaires Captain’. Regulars on White Star Lines would alter their travel arrangements in order to travel under the command of Captain Smith. The captain’s table is small and intimate, it seats only 6; it will be used only once. White Star’s first class clientele was predominantly American, and Captain Smith was no stranger to the New York route. Previously he had commanded the Olympic, also taking her out for her own maiden voyage, this was to be his last trip before retirement. Edward Smith was born in that traditional English sea faring county of Staffordshire, first going to sea aged 16.
His first command was as a Naval Reserve in the Boer War, this entitled him and subsequently Titanic to fly the blue flag of Naval reserve, ordinarily it would be red. This was to be his last voyage, retiring after 30 years with White Star. It is sometimes said Captain Smith had an exemplary record of safety at sea, not quite true. Olympic under his command had crashed into a naval ship the Hawke in 1911 and Olympic had to return to Belfast for repairs, some of the parts intended for Titanic have been cannibalised for Olympics’ repairs. The captain’s  salary was £1,250, to put this into context, Captain Lord of the Californian’s salary was £240 annually.

Captain Smith lived in Southampton, in Winn Walk, although his house has now given way to a block of flats. Everyone who served under him went on to speak well of him and the families of some of those also lost attended his memorial and subscribed to a fund in remembrance of him. The American inquest into the Titanic disaster found Captain Smith reckless and apportioned a large amount of blame to him. The British inquest found both Captain Smith and the White Star line free of any charge of  negligence.


Violet Jessop the  stewardess in first class accommodation. She had worked her way up to the position, serving on Olympic and other White Star liners. 17 hour days were normal for stewardess and stewards, the pay for this is £2 a month. Violet doesn’t want to join Titanic, but she has friends among the crew; they persuade her to join them. Life below stairs is not without humour, the crew form a family.  
Crew quarters on Titanic are much better than other ships, bathrooms have been provided, rooms are still shared and the space is cramped, but the bathrooms are  a major step forward. Maids and menservants travelling with families are given their own dinning room. Some accommodation for servants is included for free when booking a suite on Titanic.
Violet will survive the Titanic disaster and went on to  also survive the sinking of the Britannic, Titanic’s sister ship where she worked as a nurse during the First Word War.  Violet wrote about her experiences, in her book ‘Titanic Survivor’, well worth a read if you find it. Violet points out some of the mistakes made  in ‘A Night To Remember’ the 1950’s Kenneth More film about the Titanic. Ladies are shown in the film wearing the huge cartwheel hats popular in 1912 at table and indoors. Violet points out they would never be worn indoors, but always removed! The same mistake is made in the James Cameron film.

Alice Cleaver was a lady with a past, she was hired by the wealthy Allinson family of Montreal who needed a children’s nurse at short notice for their journey home on the Titanic. The Allinson’s have 2 children, Trevor and Helen. Unknown to the Allinson’s though, Alice had just been released following a  three year sentence for the the infanticide of her child.
When notice was given to put on lifebelts and assemble on the promenade deck Mrs Allinson appeared to suffer what we might now term a panic attack, the family go back to their suite to collect lifejackets. Mrs Allinson, Helen and Mr Allinson were never seen again. Alice took baby Trevor Allinson to the deck where she found a seat in a lifeboat for herself and Trevor. On arrival in New York the family can not understand how Alice has survived and the others have not. Photographs of Alice holding baby Trevor are doctored to soften Alice’s appearance.


Some years later the wider Allinson family are contacted by a woman claiming to be the lost Helen. The story given is baby Helen is rescued by Mr Andrews who has a new identity and has taken Helen to live in the Mid West. As proof of identity ‘Helen’ has family jewels that Mrs Allinson took on the voyage. It is thought ‘Helen’ is no other than Alice Cleaver who later disappears into history.
Alice is not the only shady character onboard. Card sharps regularly ply the transatlantic route, rich pickings on this voyage. In the warm lounges in front of blazing fires after several courses and well refreshed they challenge unwitting passengers to card games. They have to board under false names as they soon become recognised. The effects of Mr E Gilbert Dambon are found to contain gold watches, a ruby ring, diamond ring, a jewel case, $266 dollars in notes and a cheque for $1,315 dollars. No family is ever traced for Mr Dambon. Was he a card sharp or a jewellery thief? We will never know.


Mr Hoffman is onboard with his two small sons, Michel and Edmund. But again nothing is as it appears. Mr Hoffman is Mr Navrail who has abducted his two sons following the breakdown of his marriage. His sons arrive in New York Mr Navrail is lost. No one now knows who the two boys are. While they are in New York fellow passenger Edith Russell looks after the boys. Photographs are taken and placed in European newspapers in an effort to find their family. Eventually their mother sees the picture and arranges to travel to the US to pick them up. Edith Russell is a fashion writer who goes on to become a well known war correspondent.


Colonel J Jacob Astor boards with his wife and several  servants. J Astor is among the richest men in the world, he is the Bill Gates of 1912.  The title Colonel came from Astor’s participation in the US/Spanish war. The Astor family own the Astor Hotel among 700 other properties, the hotel will become the Waldorf Astoria. Even today, Bill Clintons daughter, Chelsea, holds her wedding in what was J Astor’s old home.  The Astor’s have spent the winter in Europe, following Jacobs divorce and rapid remarriage. Madeline Astor is 18 years old and in a ‘delicate’ condition, J Astor is 47 with a 19 year old son. J Astor is a ‘celeb’ the newspapers adore him, he sells newspapers. The divorce fills miles of newsprint, with the church questioning Astor’s rights to marry again.
Astor vanished for 16 days in the Caribbean, causing much speculation before re appearing. He is a man born out of his time, he invents bicycle brakes and writes what is to become science fiction. At the time he is perceived as an eccentric.


He is going home with Madeline. The Astor’s are among 8 other honeymoon couples onboard, only one of the honeymoon couples will survive. Jacob Astor will not survive, his body is identified by his initialled handkerchief, a diamond ring and the 2,400 dollars found in his jacket.
The Astor family send their yacht to Halifax Nova Scotia to pick up his body. The child Madeline is carrying is a boy, he will be called  John Jacob Astor after his father. Madeline re marries twice, but both marriages end in divorce, the last marriage is to a prize fighter she dies in Palm Beach in 1940 aged only 47.


What happened in their lifeboat during the course of that night  was to spell social disaster for another couple. Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife Lady Lucille Duff Gordon were travelling to Chicago to discuss business matters. Lady Duff Gordon had gone ‘into trade’ something looked down on by the upper classes at the turn of the century who none the less had been marrying into trade and money for the past hundred years or so. Lucille had a very successful and profitable  dress designing business, with outlets in Paris, London and New York.


The Duff Gordon’s were to be among the first passengers who appeared on the boat deck. They left the ship in lifeboat number one with 3 other passengers and 7 members of crew, a total of 12 people in a lifeboat designed for 35 people. The first lifeboat to leave the stricken ship.


During the course of the night Cosmo learned the crews wages stopped the minute the ship sank. He made the charitable or highly unfortunate gesture of writing each crew member in the lifeboat a cheque for £5, roughly 3 months wages.
This was to be severely criticised in the press, was it a charitable gesture or a bribe to cover up the fact the lifeboat never went back to look for survivors? It is to say the least a strange thing to do in a lifeboat surrounded by ice in the middle of the Atlantic to sit and write cheques. But, the shock of what had just happened did strange things to people that night. We are only now finding out about Post traumatic stress disorders.

Onboard Carpathia the ship which rescued the survivors the Duff Gordon’s continued to make some very serious errors of judgements. They grouped together the crew of lifeboat 1 for a souvenir photograph which shows a smiling happy group. This is onboard a ship filled with widows and grieving families.


The press had a field day with this. In an effort to claw back some dignity the Duff Gordon’s made a request to appear as witness’s at the British Board of Enquiry. They were to be the only passengers who appeared at the British enquiry. The enquiry then was not as we understand an enquiry now, the whole thing would be over in a month; now we would expect everyone to be interviewed and the process to take years. The room was filled with public ticket holders when Lady Duff Gordon spoke. Although exonerated from any blame by the enquiry the events of the night spelled social disaster for the couple. Lord Mersey in his conclusions to the official report writes he ‘regretted none of the lifeboats especially number one had attempted to save the drowning’.

Their business interests failed with World War 1 and they spent the rest of their lives living abroad ostracised from society. Lord Duff Gordon in particular said to be highly distressed at the turn of events.


Onboard Carpathia the Marconi operators work tirelessly to send lists of surviving passengers. They ignore all incoming messages, even one from the US president William Taft, enquiring after his friend Archie Butt who was travelling first class. Mr Marconi has made a deal with the newspapers and has imposed the news blackout. The operators are part of the deal and will earn a years wages for their part. Marconi operators although listed as crew as with several others were not employed by White Star, their employer was the Marconi company. 

As no response is made to his repeated requests eventually President Taft sends a US gunboat  to meet Carpathia as she approaches New York. Over a megaphone President Taft learns his friend has been lost. Mr Marconi becomes a little strange as the years go by. Towards the end of his life he declares himself a supporter of Mussolini and refuses to travel in a lift with anyone he doesn’t know personally.
I mentioned premonitions made about the Titanic. Perhaps the strangest of all is a book called ‘Futility’ published in 1898. It is a work of fiction about a ship called ‘Titan’, Titan is 800 feet long, Titanic is 882 feet. ‘Titan’ sails in April, Titanic sails in April.

‘Titan’ hits an iceberg on her maiden voyage and the majority of her passengers are lost, sadly we know how Titanic’s own journey ended. We are fully aware of the dangers of icebergs now, but that simply wasn’t the case before the disaster occurred. Hindsight is a wonderful but hard fought thing.


Finally, let me tell you about Jenny. Jenny was another member of crew who had also worked onboard Olympic before joining Titanic. At night Jenny slept with one of the stokers, and in the daytime patrolled the remote dark areas of the ship. Jenny as you have probably guessed was the ships cat and sadly had just had kittens. 2 dogs survived the disaster but Jenny did not.


Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

BUDGET: Fiscal Drag! Granny Tax and Carbon Reduction Schemes Axed





BUDGET 2012 Nothing for Peterborough

Edited version of full speech earlier today



Budget We will earn our way in the world by saying to all businesses – large and small: We will provide you with the modern infrastructure; new growth-friendly planning rules and employment laws; the kinds of schools and universities and colleges our future workforce needs.

And in return, you, British businesses, have the self-confidence to: invest, expand, hire, innovate and be the best.

We earn our way in the world if we stop being afraid to identify Britain's strengths and reinforce them, backing industries, like aerospace, energy and pharmaceuticals, creative media and science.

A deliberate strategy to create a more balanced national economy, where financial services are strong, but they are not the only string to our bow.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Stability comes first.

And the Report from the Office for Budget Responsibility reminds us today of the risks to stability.

Despite the welcome action by the European Central Bank, the impact of the sovereign debt crisis on the European economy has been significant. Another risk they identify is a "further spike in oil prices", and there is no doubt that the high oil price.Indeed, the Office for Budget Responsibility is slightly revising up in their growth forecast for the UK this year to 0.8%.

And 3% in both 2015 and 2016.The OBR's forecast unemployment rate is the same as it was last autumn.

They expect it to peak this year at 8.7 per cent before falling each year to 6.3 per cent by the end of the forecast period.

But they have revised down their estimate of the claimant count, which they now expect to be around 100,000 lower in each of the next four years than they previously forecast – peaking at 1.67 million this year rather than the 1.8 million they forecast in November.

And they forecast one million more jobs in the economy over five years.

Inflation is expected to fall throughout the period, from 2.8% this year to 1.9% next year, and then 2% by the end of the forecast period.

I am today writing to the Governor of the Bank of England to reaffirm the CPI inflation target of 2%.

The Government's credible and responsible fiscal policy allows the independent central bank to pursue an activist monetary policy consistent with targeting low inflation.

I confirm that the Asset Purchase Facility will remain in place for the coming year.

Fiscal forecasts  So employment is growing, inflation is coming down.

And so too is the deficit. When this Government came to office, the budget deficit stood at over 11%.

The state was borrowing one in four of every single pound it spent. Today, I can report that the deficit is falling and is forecast to reach 7.6% next year.

The share of national income taken by the state will have fallen from almost 48% when we took office to 43% next year.  So, Mr Deputy Speaker, let me turn to those fiscal forecasts.

The whole House will be pleased to know that these have improved a little from the forecasts I presented in November.

Borrowing this year is set to come in at £126 billion, £1 billion lower than I forecast in the autumn. And over £30 billion a year lower than its peak the year before we came to office.

Borrowing will then fall to £120 billion next year, if you exclude the transfer of Royal Mail pension assets. t will then fall to £98 billion in 2013-14; Reaching £21 billion by 2016-17.

So in total, borrowing is £11 billion less than I last forecast in the Autumn.,This will be used to pay down debt.

Public Sector Net Debt is now set to peak at 76.3% in 2014-15, almost 2% lower than previously forecast – before falling the following year. Spending

The transfer of the £28 billion of assets from the Royal Mail pension fund to the Exchequer will free it from its crippling pension debts, ensure the pensions of hard-working staff are paid and help to bring in new private sector investment.

The passing of the Welfare Reform Act two weeks ago was an historic moment. So I am today publishing analysis that shows that if in the next Spending Review we maintain the same rate of reductions in departmental spending as we have done in this review, we would need to make savings in welfare of £10 billion by 2016.

We will also address the rising costs of an ageing population, and the burden this places on future generations. We will be publishing a White Paper on social care. I've also said that we would consider proposals to manage future increases in the state pension age, beyond the increases already announced.  I can confirm today that there will be an automatic review of the state pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increases in longevity.

As a consequence, I can tell the House that the cost of operations – which are funded by the Government's Special Reserve and entirely separate from the defence budget – are expected to be a total of £2.4 billion lower than planned over the remainder of the Parliament. We will fund an extra £100 million of improvements in the accommodation of our armed forces and their families.

I will also double the families welfare grant which is used to provide additional support to the families left behind when people deploy. We've already doubled the operational allowance. Today, I am doubling the rate of Council Tax Relief. The thousands serving our country in operations overseas will receive 100% Relief on an average Council Tax bill. Low interest rates/gilts. At present, the longest gilt we currently offer to the market is 50 years.

The Debt Management Office will consult on the case for issuing gilts with maturities longer than 50 years, and the case for a "perpetual" gilt with no fixed redemption date – something Britain last felt able to issue six decades ago. i can confirm our gold holdings have risen in value to £11 billion.

This does not include the 400 or so tonnes of gold sold a decade ago for £2 billion, and which would now be worth six times that at over £13 billion pounds. And to ensure that there are new homes to buy, we are today expanding the Get Britain Building Fund that provides upfront finance to construction firms.

Credit easing  We are also passing on our low interest rates to small businesses, through the National Loan Guarantee Scheme.  This started operation yesterday. Barclays, Lloyds, the RBS, Santander and the new business bank Aldermore are all involved.

£20 billion of guarantees in total will be available. In the Autumn Statement I also allocated £1 billion to invest in funds that lend directly to the mid-cap businesses that are the backbone of our economy.

This is an alternative source of finance to the banks. 24 funds have submitted proposals.

I am today short-listing seven of them. And such has been the quality of the bids, I have also decided to increase the size of the Finance Partnership by 20% and I am also expanding the Enterprise Finance Guarantee.

Growth  Stability. Credibility. The low interest rates they bring. Do we watch as the Brazils and the Chinas, and the Indias of this world power ahead of us in the global economy; or do we have the national resolve to say: "No, we won't be left behind. We want to be out in front".

Exports and investment  First, exports.  Over the last decade, our share of world exports shrank as Germany's grew.

We sold more to Ireland than to Brazil, Russia, India and China – put together. That was the road to Britain's economic irrelevance. We want to double our nation's exports to one trillion pounds this decade. So we're expanding UK Export Finance and setting out new plans to help smaller firms in new markets. Exports abroad must be accompanied by investment at home.

I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England – we cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest growing cities in the world.
The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.

I confirm today that Network Rail will extend the Northern Hub, adding to the electrification of the transpennine rail route, by upgrading the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield – and improving the Manchester to Preston and Blackpool, and Manchester to Bradford lines. For years, transport investment in the north of England was neglected. Not under this Coalition Government. We are working with our great cities to devolve decision making powers – and we are striking a ground-breaking deal with Manchester to support £1.2 billion in growth-enhancing infrastructure.

We will support £150 million of Tax Increment Financing to help local authorities promote development. And we will provide an extra £270m to the Growing Places fund. In all this we are working with local areas to support their ideas for growing the private sector in parts of the country where the state has taken a larger and larger share of the economy. The Mayor of London is also a very effective champion for the city he runs so well.

We will work with him on plans this summer to go on investing in London transport, lengthening commuter trains, extending the Underground and exploring new river crossings in east London. So from the allocation made to the Mayor through the Growing Places Fund he will be creating a new £70 million development fund to attract new business and new jobs.
And the Mayor has persuaded me of the opportunities the new Royal Docks Enterprise Zone offers our largest city if we offer enhanced capital allowances there – so we will.

24 Enterprise Zones are now going ahead, across England. Chinese investment pouring into the zone in Liverpool. The Marches Zone in the West Midlands is already expanding.

I want other parts of the United Kingdom to benefit from these policies.  The Chief Secretary can confirm today that we will offer enhanced capital allowances for businesses starting up in the new Scottish enterprise areas in Dundee, Irvine and Nigg and there will be a new Welsh Enterprise Zone in Deeside, while we look forward to the first Enterprise Zone in Northern Ireland.

Energy. I also want to see investment in our world-leading energy sector, including renewables. We've launched the Green Investment Bank; open for business next month.

We've introduced a Carbon Price Floor into our tax system to encourage investment and set the rate today.

Combined Heat and Power plants will not be liable to carbon price support rates on fuels used for heat.  Renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain's energy mix – but I will always be alert to the costs we are asking families and businesses to bear.  Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment was established by the previous Government.  It is cumbersome, bureaucratic and imposes unnecessary cost on business. So we will seek major savings in the administrative cost of the Commitment for business.

If those cannot be found, I will bring forward proposals this autumn to replace the revenues with an alternative environmental tax.

Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years.  And so my RHF the Energy Secretary will set out our new gas generation strategy in the autumn to secure investment.

I also want to that ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea. We are today introducing a major package of tax changes to achieve this.

We are also introducing new allowances including a £3 billion new field allowance for large and deep fields to open up West of Shetland, the last area of the basin left to be developed. A huge boost for investment in the North Sea.

Aerospace/ Science/ Creative hub  We shouldn't be shy about identifying our successful industries and reinforcing them. Around one fifth of the world's top 100 medicines originate from UK research.

So we're backing our life sciences sector through creating the Francis Crick Institute at St Pancras and cutting taxes on patents to make this one of the most attractive places in the world to invent new medicines. We've protected the science budget. Now we're committing £100m of support, alongside the private sector, for investment in major new university research facilities.

The film tax credit, protected in our spending review, helped generate over £1 billion of film production investment in the UK last year alone. Today I am announcing our intention to introduce similar schemes for the video games, animation and high-end TV production industries. Not only will this help stop premium British TV programmes like Birdsong being made abroad, it will also attract top international investors like Disney and HBO to make more of their premium shows in the UK.

To be Europe's technology centre we also need the best technology infrastructure. Two years ago Britain had some of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe; today our plans will deliver some of the fastest – with 90 per cent of the population having access to superfast broadband, and improved mobile phone coverage for rural areas and along key roads across the UK.

But we should not be complacent by saying it is enough to be the best in Europe when countries like Korea and Singapore do even better. So today we're funding ultra fast broadband and wifi in ten of the UK's largest cities. Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and London. My HF for Brighton Kempton asked me to help small cities too – no doubt with his own city in mind.  I agree. £50m will be available for smaller cities too.

The fastest digital speeds in the world available in our cities, with the most connected countryside in Europe – and the most creative digital content anywhere. That's what a modern industrial policy looks like. And the Business Secretary and I have asked Michael Heseltine to review by the Autumn how Government spending departments and other public bodies can work better with the private sector on economic development. From Liverpool to Canary Wharf, Michael knows how it's done.

You can't earn your future if you can't get planning permission.

Global businesses have diverted specific investments that would have created hundreds of jobs in some of the most deprived communities in Britain to countries like Germany and the Netherlands, because they couldn't get planning permission here. That is unacceptable.

Next week my RHFs the Communities Secretary and the Planning Minister will publish the results of our overhaul of planning regulation. We're replacing 1000 pages of guidance with just 50 pages.

We're introducing a presumption in favour of sustainable development; While protecting our most precious environments. The new policy comes into effect when the National Planning Policy Framework is published next Tuesday. This is the biggest reduction in business red tape ever undertaken.

In time, my RHF the Education Secretary's school reforms will do more to improve the long term economic performance of our economy than any Budget measure ever will.
But we've got to help the young adults who've already been let down by the school system.

We're offering a record number of apprenticeships and our Youth Contract comes into force next month.

I can tell the House, we are also exploring the idea of enterprise loans. Young people get a loan to go to university or college.

We now want to help them get a loan to start their own business. We're also looking to see whether we can make public sector pay more responsive to local pay rates. It is something the last Government introduced into the Court Service.

London weighting already exists across the public sector. Indeed, the Opposition have proposed the interesting idea of regional benefit rates.

So we should see what we can do to make our public services more responsive, and help our private sector to grow and create jobs in all parts of the country. We've asked the independent Pay Review bodies to look at the issue.

Today, we publish the evidence that the Treasury are submitting to them. And some departments will have the option of moving to more local pay for those civil servants whose pay freezes end this year.

Tax reform, New infrastructure and investment.

Ambitious reforms on planning, education and welfare to help businesses to create jobs.

These will all help Britain earn its way in the world. But we also need a tax system that supports work. Two hundred years ago, Adam Smith set out the four principles of good taxation – and they remain good principles today. Taxes should be simple, predictable, support work, and they should be fair.

The rich should pay the most, and the poor least. The tax system this Government inherited from its predecessor had drifted far from these principles. We have already addressed some of the problems. We've established an Office of Tax Simplification to drive out complexity.

Companies are now moving to Britain, not away. We've stopped the jobs tax. We've taken one million low paid people out of tax altogether. We now need further reform.

We need to give Britain a modern tax system fit for the modern world. Tax transparency

The first goal is a far simpler tax system, which businesses can easily navigate and where ordinary taxpayers understand what they are being asked to pay. So we will radically change the administration of tax for our smallest firms. Last year, I asked the Office of Tax Simplification for recommendations.

They have proposed that we tax small firms on the basis of the cash that passes through their businesses, rather than asking them to spend a huge amount of time doing calculations designed for big business.  So we will consult on this new cash basis for calculating tax for firms with a turnover of up to £77,000 - double what the Office proposed. This will make filling in tax returns dramatically simpler for up to 3 million firms. We are also pressing forward with our ambition to integrate the operation of income tax and national insurance I announced at last year's Budget – so we don't ask businesses to run two different payroll tax administrations.

A detailed consultation on how we do this is being published next month. We will also address some of the loopholes and anomalies in our VAT system. For example, at present, soft drinks and sports drinks are charged VAT; sports nutrition drinks are not. Hot takeaway food on high streets has been charged VAT for more than twenty years; but some new hot takeaway products in supermarkets are not. And some companies are using the VAT rules that exempt the rental of land to avoid tax that their competitors are paying.

We're publishing our plans today to remove loopholes and anomalies, but we keep the broad exemptions on food, children's clothes, printed books and newspapers. We should also simplify the age related allowances – which the Office of Tax Simplification have recently highlighted as a particularly complicated feature of the tax system.

The NAO points out that many pensioners don't understand them. These allowances require around 150,000 pensioners to fill in self-assessment forms, and as we have real increases in the personal allowances, their value is already being eroded away.

So over time we will simplify the tax system for pensioners by doing away with the complexity of the additional age-related allowances for anyone reaching the age of 65 on or after 6th April 2013 and I will freeze the cash value of the allowance for existing pensioners until it aligns with the personal allowance.

This will protect the existing level of allowance pensioners have, while introducing a single personal allowance for all, no pensioner will lose in cash terms.

Under this Government, pensioners next month will receive the largest ever cash increase in the Basic State Pension of £5.30 a week. Now, we want to simplify the Basic State Pension and its interaction with the second state pension.

So I can confirm that we will introduce a new single tier pension for future pensioners, set above the means test. This is currently estimated at around £140. It will be based on contributions.

And it will cost no more than the current system in any year. We will bring forward further details later this spring. My HF the Member for Ipswich recently proposed to this House that we send to taxpayers an annual statement showing them just that.

I think this is an excellent idea – and I intend to put it into practice.

HMRC contacts roughly half of taxpayers each year. From 2014, these 20 million taxpayers will at the same time receive a new Personal Tax Statement. This will tell people how much income tax and national insurance they have paid; their average tax rates; and how this contributes to public spending.
In other words - how much, proportionately, of their tax bill goes to fund the healthcare, education, or welfare; and how much is spent on servicing interest payments on the national debt.

People will know what they are paying – and what they are paying it for.

A tax system that is simple and transparent: that is our first goal.

Business tax

Our second goal is a tax system that is more competitive for business than any other major economy in the world.

Our predecessors wanted to increase taxes on small business. Instead we've cut the tax rate on small companies to 20%.

Our predecessors wanted to increase national insurance on jobs. We have cut it.

Our new Controlled Foreign Company rules will be legislated for in the coming Finance Bill and will stop global firms leaving Britain as they were, and encourage them to start coming here.

This Government also supports research and development here in Britain instead of abroad. We've already increased the generosity of the R&D tax credit for smaller firms.

I confirm that from next year we will also introduce an "Above the Line" R&D tax credit that business organisations like the EEF, IOD and CBI have campaigned hard for.

And we will help new start up businesses recruit and retain talent – by more than doubling the Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme grant limit to £250,000 and easing the rules so that academics in our universities can turn great ideas into great companies.

The Treasury will review for this autumn what more we can do to encourage employee ownership.
All of these tax reductions will help win business for Britain. But the headline rate of corporation tax remains the most visible sign of how competitive our country is.

We've already cut the rate from 28% to 26%. This April it is due to fall again to 25%. I can announce today a further cut of one percent – to be implemented right away.

From next month, Britain will have a corporation tax rate of just 24%. And we will continue with the two further cuts planned next year and the year after.

So that by 2014, Britain will have a 22% rate of corporation tax.


18% lower than the US.

16% lower than Japan.

12% below France and 8% below Germany.

An advertisement for investment and jobs in Britain.

And a rate that puts our country within sight of a 20% rate of business tax that would align basic rate income tax, the small companies rate and the corporation tax rate. I am also increasing the rate of the bank levy to 0.105 per cent from next January, so that the additional corporation tax cuts do not benefit the banks; and so our levy will raise the £2.5 billion a year that we said it would.

Duties. This Mr Deputy Speaker brings me to the main duties.

Let me start with alcohol duty.

The Government will shortly be publishing its Alcohol Strategy to address the growing problem of alcohol abuse, and the many billions of pounds it costs our NHS and criminal justice system.

But today I have no further changes to make to the duty rates set out by my predecessor.

Turning to tobacco duty. Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK.

There is clear evidence that increasing the cost of tobacco encourages smokers to quit and discourages young people from taking it up.

So duty on all tobacco products will rise by 5 percent above inflation. That's 37 pence on a packet of cigarettes. This will take effect at 6pm tonight.

One area where I am today making substantial changes is gambling duties. The VAT treatment of gaming machines is being repeatedly challenged by operators in the courts.

So I will introduce a new Machine Games Duty – with a standard rate of 20% and a lower rate for low stakes and prize machines of 5% of net takings. The current duty regime for remote gambling introduced by the last Government was levied on a 'place of supply' basis.

This allowed overseas operators to largely avoid it – and much of the industry has, as result, moved offshore.

90% of online gambling consumed by our citizens is now supplied from outside the UK.

And the remaining UK operations are under pressure to leave.

This is clearly not fair – and not a sensible way to support jobs in Britain.

So we intend to introduce a tax regime based on the place of consumption: where the customer is based, not the company.

And from this April we will also introduce double taxation relief for remote gambling.

These changes will create a more level playing field, and protect jobs here.

I turn now to fuel and vehicle excise duties.

High oil prices have put real pressure on household budgets and on businesses.

That is why we took action in last year's Budget to cut fuel duty so it is 6p lower than our predecessors planned.

We have also scrapped the last Government's fuel duty escalator of annual above inflation rises, regardless of the oil price – and are today confirming the fair fuel stabiliser.

Above inflation rises will only return if the oil price falls below £45 on a sustained basis – currently equivalent to around $75 dollars.

These measures mean that this Government has eased the burden on motorists by £4.5 billion at a time when money is very short.

I do not propose to make any further changes to the fuel duty plans already set out.

I am increasing Vehicle Excise Duty by inflation only.

To encourage fuel efficient fleets, we will extend the 100 per cent first year capital allowance for low emission business cars, reduce the CO2 threshold for the main capital allowance rates; and increase the percentage list price of company cars subject to tax.

I can also announce that I am again freezing VED for road hauliers.

Personal tax/ Tax avoidance

Mr Deputy Speaker,

I now turn to personal and property taxation.

My goal is a tax system where the lowest paid are lifted out of tax altogether, while the tax revenues we get from the richest increases.

Most wealthy people pay their taxes – and without them we could not begin to afford the public services on which the country depends.

But under the last Government, it was the boast of some high earners that, with the help of their accountants, they were paying less in tax than their cleaners.

I regard tax evasion and – indeed – aggressive tax avoidance – as morally repugnant.

We've increased both the resources and the number of staff working on evasion and avoidance at HMRC.

Taken together, the anti-avoidance measures in this year's Finance Bill will increase tax revenue over the next five years by around £1 billion – and protect a further £10 billion that could have been lost.

This week, we have signed a further agreement with the Swiss to stop UK residents from evading tax.

We've done all these things – but today we do even more.

On coming to office, I asked Graham Aaronson QC to establish whether a General Anti-Avoidance Rule could work in the UK tax system.

He recommended that such a rule would improve our ability to tackle tax avoidance without damaging the competitiveness of the UK as a place to do business.

We agree.

So we will introduce one.

We will consult on the details of the new Rule and legislate for it in next year's Finance Bill.

A major source of abuse – and one that rouses the anger of many of our citizens – is the way some people avoid the stamp duty that the rest of the population pays, including by using companies to buy expensive residential property.

I have given plenty of public warnings that this abuse should stop.

Now I'm taking action.

I am increasing the Stamp Duty Land Tax charge applied to residential properties over £2 million bought into a corporate envelope.

The charge will be 15%.

And it will take effect today.

We will also consult on the introduction of a large annual charge on those £2 million residential properties which are already contained in corporate envelopes.

And to ensure that wealthy non-residents are also caught by these changes, we will be introducing capital gains tax on residential property held in overseas envelopes.

We are also announcing legislation today to close down the sub-sales relief rules as a route of avoidance.

Let me make this absolutely clear to people.

If you buy a property in Britain that is used for residential purposes, then we will expect stamp duty to be paid. That is the clear intention of Parliament.

I will not hesitate to move swiftly, without notice and retrospectively if inappropriate ways around these new rules are found.

People have been warned.

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is fair when money is tight, and so many families could do with help, that those buying the most expensive homes contribute more.

From midnight tonight, we will introduce a new Stamp Duty Land Tax rate of 7 per cent on properties worth more than £2 million.

I also intend to deal with the unlimited use of income tax reliefs.

Let's be clear – most rich people pay a lot of tax.

It is also right that we have tax reliefs that promote investment, support charitable giving and reflect genuine business losses.

But it can't be right that some people make unlimited use of these reliefs year after year.

Everyone in this country and particularly those with the highest incomes should contribute a fair share to the Exchequer.

Some reliefs – like the Enterprise Investment Scheme and pension's relief are already capped – and I don't intend to make any significant changes to pensions relief in this Budget.

But to make sure that those on the highest income contribute a fair share I am introducing a new cap on those reliefs that are currently uncapped.

From next year anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 of these reliefs in any one year will have a cap set at 25 per cent of their income.

We've capped benefits.

Now it's right to cap tax reliefs too.

Mr Deputy Speaker, that brings me to rates of income tax and the additional rate of 50 pence.

This tax rate is the highest in the G20.

It is higher not just than the tax rate of America but also of major European countries like France, Italy, and Germany.

It is widely acknowledged by business organisations and international observers as harming the British economy.

Like the previous Chancellor who introduced it, I've always said it was temporary.

But I also said three years ago that I would not be prepared to reduce it while we were asking the whole public sector to accept a pay freeze.

I will stick to those pledges.

A 50p tax rate, with all the damage it does to Britain's competitiveness, can only be justified if it raises significant sums of money.

In last year's Budget I asked HM Revenue and Customs to look at the evidence, and especially to look at the self-assessment tax receipts that have come in since this January.

I am publishing their report today.

And what it reveals is that the 50p tax rate has caused massive distortions.

HMRC find that an astonishing £16 billion of income was deliberately shifted into the previous tax year – at a cost to the taxpayer of £1 billion, something that the previous Government's figures made no allowance for.

Self assessment receipts this year are below forecast by some £3.6 billion, while other tax receipts have held up.

The increase from 40p to 50p raised just a third of the £3 billion we were told it would raise.

Of course, the previous Government initially proposed a rate of 45p and then increased that to 50p.

Let me tell the House what HMRC say about the difference between 50p and 45p.

Their figures tell the story.

The direct cost is only £100 million a year.

Indeed HMRC calculate the loss of other tax revenues may even cancel that out.

In other words, it raises at most a fraction of what we were told – and may raise nothing at all.

So from April next year, the top rate of tax will be 45p.

No Chancellor can justify a tax rate that damages our economy and raises next to nothing.

It is as simple as that.

And thanks to the other new taxes on the rich I've announced today, we'll be getting five times more money each and every year from the wealthiest in our society.

So the richest pay more.

The economy benefits.

Britain is competitive again.

Now the Shadow Chancellor has said that the HMRC report is not enough and that the Office for Budget Responsibility should pass judgement.

They have.

Because these days the direct costing the Treasury applies to every Budget measure is independently assessed and certified by the OBR.

And unlike the previous government they also assess the cash flow consequences of forestalling.

When it comes to the £100m direct permanent costs of this measure, the OBR say "we believe that this is a reasonable and central estimate".

And they also assess as reasonable the estimate that the new taxes I've introduced on the rich today directly raise five times that amount.

That is half a billion pounds we can now use to help people on lower and middle incomes keep more of their earnings.

Child benefit

Mr Deputy Speaker, in the Spending Review, we took the difficult decision to remove child benefit from families with a higher rate taxpayer.

I said then that I simply could not justify asking those earning £15,000 or £30,000 to go on paying Child Benefit to those earning £80,000 or £100,000.

And I stand by that principle.

All sections of society must make a contribution to dealing with the deficit – without this measure we wouldn't get the job done.

But I said I wanted to do this in a way that is fair and that does not involve setting up some new means tested tax credit system for millions of families.

And I said I would set out exactly how this measure would be implemented in this Budget.

We want to avoid a cliff-edge that means people lose all their Child Benefit when they earn just a pound more.

So I can today confirm that instead of withdrawing child benefit all at once when people earn more than the higher rate threshold – the benefit will only be withdrawn when someone in the household has an income of more than £50,000.

And the withdrawal will be gradual, 1% of child benefit for every extra £100 earned over £50,000 so there is no cliff-edge, and only those with an income of more than £60,000 lose all their child benefit.

This means an extra 750,000 families will keep some or all of their child benefit.

90% of all families will remain eligible for child benefit.

We can afford to implement the child benefit policy in this way because instead of extending the full benefit of this Budget's increase in the personal allowance to all higher rate taxpayers as we did last year – we will pass on a quarter of the benefit to higher rate taxpayers, and spend the rest on helping families with children towards the bottom of the higher rate band.

Personal allowance

Mr Deputy Speaker, that brings me on to the personal allowance – and central goal of this Budget: which is to support working families.

This Coalition Government believes that the best way to support working people on the lowest incomes is to take them out of tax altogether.

And the best way of getting money directly into pockets of working families on middle incomes is to increase the amount of their earnings they can keep before they pay tax.

That is why this Government has set itself the goal of raising the personal tax free allowance to £10,000 – and we've promised real increases every year to reach that.

In my last two Budgets, we have made great strides forward.

Last year, the personal allowance rose by £1,000.

In two weeks time, it will go up by another £630 to £8,105.

Together, these increases have taken over a million low income people out of tax.

And today, I want to go much further and much faster.

I am announcing the largest ever increase in the personal allowance – the amount people can earn tax free.

From next April that amount will increase by £1,100.

Every working person on low or middle incomes will benefit. People will be able to earn up to £9205 before they have to pay any tax.

Millions of working people will be £220 better off every year.

That's £170 better off after inflation.

Because higher rate earners will also benefit, 24 million people earning less than £100,000 a year will gain from this measure.

We are in touching distance of the goal of £10,000 personal allowance that we all share.

And I can tell the country that as a result of our Budgets, people working full time on the minimum wage, will have seen their income tax bill cut in half.

And this coalition Government will have taken 2 million people on the lowest incomes out of tax altogether.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in the middle of this Parliament, in difficult economic times, this coalition Government has not settled for a "do nothing" Budget.

We have not ducked the difficult choices – we've taken them head on.

A competitive top rate of tax.

More revenues from those best able to pay.

Fewer reliefs.

A tax cut for working people.

Support for families.

Low income earners taken out of tax altogether.

Alongside it, one of the lowest rates of business tax in the world.

A simpler tax code.

And a country where its citizens know the tax they are paying – and what they are paying it for.

We have achieved all this – and kept to our deficit plan.

Let us be resolved.

No people will strive as the British will strive.

No country will adapt as the British will adapt.

No country will value those who work as we will value them.

Together, the British people will share in the effort and share the rewards.

This country borrowed its way into trouble.

Now we're going to earn our way out.

I commend this Budget to the House.







Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Monday, 5 March 2012

Philip Madoc, the actor dies in his sleep....Julian Bray remembers..

Actor Philip Madoc has died at the age of 77 on Monday morning, his agent has said


Actor Philip Madoc has died at the age of 77 early this morning, his agent has said


Sad news reaches us that Welsh actor Philip Madoc has died aged 77. Madoc, who played the title role in BBC drama The Life And Times of David Lloyd George, also appeared in shows including Doctor Who and The Last Of The Mohicans.

Julian Bray had the pleasure of meeting Philip Madoc in the early 1970's when his London  Kensington house was used for a film location shoot. As lunchtime approached, Philip Madoc turned to Julian and asked if there was a good restaurant nearby, as the production company hadn't had time to book a film caterer. I suggested using my then wine bar Brays' at 1998 Fulham Road, Chelsea.

Over lunch Madoc confided there were very few good film catering companies around, as they were all booked up years ahead . Within weeks and thanks to some introductions by the Welsh born actor, an embryonic Brays Location Services was born on the back of the wine bar and running a bistro on wheel type menu, within two weeks Brays had been signed up by Penny Lent, to provide a twice weekly location catering service for London Weekend Televisions World of Sport. Mark ! productions The Professionals and Euston Films  Minder series. Feature films and ridley scott productions followed, The rest as they say is history. The success of that venture was clearly down to Philip Madoc!      

His agent Michael Hallet said on Monday: "He passed away in hospital in Hertfordshire this morning after a short illness with his family around him.

In an episode of Dad's Army Madoc played a captured U-boat captain, in which he demands the names of his captors, prompting a furious Captain Mainwaring to shout the famous line "Don't tell him Pike".

The Merthyr Tydfil-born actor gained a reputation for playing villains, but insisted he did not mind. The actor, who was divorced from Hi-de-Hi star Ruth Madoc, leaves two children and several grandchildren.

A statement released by his family said: "He will be greatly missed by his son, daughter and grandchildren. Although he suffered from cancer, he was very well looked after by the staff at Michael Sobell Hospice in Northwood, for which the family are very grateful. He died peacefully in his sleep."

Julian Bray comments: "Truly a huge talent , has been lost. with an all round sense of fun and superb comedic timing. He will be missed by his many fans and his theatrical colleagues alike.

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Thursday, 1 March 2012

MV Costa Allegro docked... Julian Bray considers the options



Julian Bray reports: The striken cruise ship Costa Allegra without power for three days when a generator plant fire knocked out all four generators, has now tied up (8am UK time) alongside in Mahe, Seychelles. Apart from some back up batteries and small portable generating sets -dropped by helicopter along with fresh food and water- the ship was in darkeness, no air conditioning, no vacuum toilets, no below decks lighting and no hot meals or drinks.  Passenger said they had lots of fresh fruit for the first wo days but they were reduced to salami sandwiches on day three.

The Costa Allegra would have tied up sooner, but the tow by a French trawler fishing boat took longer than expected as the French Captain of the towing vessel refused to let additional ocean going tugs take a line! It's all a matter of money, as the towing salvage fees would have to be shared. 

But  as the ship is now tied up the dockside, the questions at  Costa Cruises  remain to be answered. The four generator sets are contained deep within the hull of this former container ship  and under normal circumstances cannot be easily removed and swapped over. They literally have to cut a hole in the side in order to slide them out.

Depending on the extent of the damage, there are still a few options open to the teams of engineers who will soon be swarming all over the vessel.

The cruise company can mount emergency auxillary power units on the open decks of the ship, and use them to provide sufficient energency power to get essential systems working, so the ship can steam under its own power to any nearby shipyard for repair.

The second option would be to  repair the generators and cables in situ, if the fire damage is localised.

The third option is to continue towing the now empty cruise ship to a shipyard, then consider further  options.

Whatever they do, this ship will not immediately be back in action, and in view of recent history the Carnival USA parent company might just decide to scrap the entire ship.

Modern cruise ships have adopted externally fitted electrical propeller pods  which can be rotated in most directions giving both motive power and precision steering. In fact one large cruise ship fitted with such a system continued with its cruise programme, with one of the external pod units out of action.

The cruise line simply discreetly missed out a single port of call on each cruise, with the ship travelling at a slower speed,  until there was a convenient break in the overall cruise programme, when in a three day layover, the ship was fitted with a completely new pod, and then returned to normal cruising.

Not likely to happen to the Costa Allegro which belongs to a an earlier generation of ships...this could well be the last commercial voyage. Meanwhile some 50 percent of the passengers have opted to spend a few days in the Seychelles, a brillant tourist boost for the islands as  Aliane St Ange from the Tourist Board, has been the ideal ambassador for the islands and apparently has been talking to the passengers directly for the last three days, as they have had teams on board the cruise ship!
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