Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Cyclists to blame for their injuries if not wearing a helmet

This was reported in The Independant recently. In a high court ruling, the judge claimed that the cyclist was partially responsible for the injuries suffered by the cyclist, even though the motor cyclist that hit him was found to be "entirely to blame".

This sets a very serious precedent, and is wrong for so many reasons. It is wrong to penalise someone when they are not at fault, or in this case, blameless. There is no legal requirement in the UK to wear a helmet, it is down to the discretion of the rider to make that decision. Practically everything we do in life carries a risk, from crossing the road to boarding a bus. Cycling to work must sensibly be classified as a low risk activity. When a pedestrian is involved in an accident that is not their fault, they do not wear helmets. Is this case really any different?

The next question is: are we going to see the same precedent creeping into other areas of compensation within the UK?

MPs expenses at the centre of another furore

This week we have another story relating to the abuse of the MPs expense system. Jacqui Smith's husband Richard Timney submitted an expeneses claim for £67 to his wife, who then processed the claim. This included two adult pay-per view adult films. Further details of the case can be found here from The Guardian.

Whatever the details of this case may be, it seems clear that the entire expenses system requires reviewing, as it is simply too easy to abuse by those who wish to do so. The expenses that MPs receive is very generous, and it would seem that many MPs are simply using the expenses system to top up their salaries, rather than for its intended purpose.

From Derek Conway paying his feckless son a salary whilst he did no work, to the John Lewis shopping list, to the reimbursement for viewing porngraphy, there is seemingly no end to the scams that MPs seem willing to take to abuse the system.

My solution would be to stop the payment of second homes to MPs, and replace it with a fixed sum that covered the cost of an overnight stay in the capital. I would not pay to decorate or furnish any homes, I would not pay for their food, I would not pay their living and upkeep expenses. Like the rest of us, they receive a salary, and they should learn to live on it.