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Baroness Thornton's gross distortion of ConservativeHome

In a recent House of Lords debate on Local Government funding, the Labour peer Baroness Thornton said:

I read on the ConservativeHome website a contribution from a member of the Conservatives' flagship authority, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, urging 100 cuts in council services and demanding that there be cuts in care to looked-after children, that staff spending on older people and the disabled be reduced, and that youth services be slashed. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Beecham will have something to say about that. Hammersmith and Fulham is a case in point; not content to wait and see whether the big society can step in and look after the disabled or the young or the under-fives, it is in fact already closing down these facilities willy-nilly. I would like the Minister's view on that website and on those 100 proposed cuts.

There could scarcely have been a more brazen distortion of the list I wrote, which was entitled, 100 ways to cut the Council Tax without cutting key services. For instance "Cuts in care to looked-after children" is a strange way to describe a proposal that more of them should be placed for adoption.

Saying I want "youth services slashed"  is an idiosyncratic interpretation of my view that Council-run Youth Centres may provide less good value for money than "higher grants to charitable and church groups which run youth groups, or partnership arrangements with the private sector or groups like the Prince's Trust who provide facilities for the young." Nor do I make any apology for saying that priority within social care budget should be found to install sprinklers in care homes.

The Guardian has reported that Baroness Thornton was :

claiming £22,000 a year in expenses by saying that her mother's bungalow in Yorkshire is her main home. As a result the peer, who has a £1m house near Hampstead Heath, has been able to claim around £130,000 since 2002.

She escaped sanction in a ruling described as "unbelievable."


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