Monday, 24 March 2014

In the press again #equalmarriage

On St. Patrick's Day the following letter appears in both the Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter under the headers: "Gay 'marriage' plans: the bill will be millions" and "Gay 'marriage' causing fiasco over legislation."

The British Government now realises that same-sex 'marriage' will require a massive rewrite of legislation dating back to 1285.

Over 2,000 laws referring to marriage have to be changed at a cost of many millions of pounds and all to support a whim of David Cameron, who is determined to push ‘gay marriage’ through despite the majority of the population objecting to it, including many gay people.

The Government plans to take the word 'husband' and 'wife' out of legislation and replace them with 'partner' or 'spouse'.

he proposed change for the word 'widow' is the phrase 'woman whose deceased partner was a man'.
Other legislative changes are to be made to prevent a man becoming queen in the event of a king 'marrying' a man, to stop a man from becoming the Princess of Wales, should the Prince of Wales enter into a same-sex ‘marriage’ and to ensure the 'husband' of a male peer is not referred to as lady, duchess or countess.
This ill-thought-out fiasco is to be funded by the taxpayer.

The Republic of Ireland, and other countries, need to be on their guard to stop their governments foisting similar misguided legislation on them.

Dr Owen Gallagher
Co Antrim

The first thing I noticed was the highly accurate estimate of many millions of pounds. Now  as an economics graduate and the former employee of a Member of Parliament this was like waving a red rag to a bull. Especially as this was coming at the time that Ben Summerskill was back in my attention with his cost of legislation quote from the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats fringe event in 2010. Where had this figure been plucked from?

Therefore the first place I went to check was the Government's own impact report, something that is carried out by civil servant statisticians (oh yeah I was in a Government department stats branch too in my working life) for every piece of new legislation. So yeah there is a current estimate of cost of implication of between £3.3m and £4.7m. However, as a economist you do not merely factor in the cost but also the benefit. Further down on the same page comes the estimate of benefits between £0.1m and £15.7m.

These figures are over the first 10 years of the legislation and there is notes that the costs of the legislation are not expected to continue past the initial 10 year period but of course that the benefits to the economy will. Indeed the cost of only £4.7m is actually quite small in the grand scheme of things, during the week, after I'd pressed send, we learnt that the new pound coin was going to cost hundreds of millions to implement.

So it was that I took to my keyboard nad had my responses in The Newsletter on Saturday and the Belfast Telegraph today. The unedited text appeared in the former and I include that below, but I was glad that The Newsletter gave me the heading "Economic benefit of equal marriage outweigh the cost" and the Belfast Telegraph "Marriage law costs warning 'a scare' tactic".

Here is the text of the published letter:

I note that Dr Owen Gallagher takes the highly accurate figure of “many millions of pounds” in his letter (March 17) as a reason for Government to think carefully before introducing equal marriage.

However, all new legislation will incur a cost. That is why statisticians work out the impact that legislation will have.

I can only assume that Dr Gallagher is drawing his figure from the Government’s own Impact Assessment of the legislation from August last year which does indeed give a figure of between three and four million pounds as the cost.

However, this report also lists the economic benefit as well, which is put at between four to five times as much as the cost over the first ten years.

While the cost will be up front the benefits will continue beyond that 10-year period.

I would hazard a guess that by merely quoting the costs and not the benefits that Dr Gallagher’s doctorate is not in economics.

However, the costs of the introduction of this legislation are not great in the grand scheme of things.

To try and use this figure, which comes to about five pence a person, as a means to scare people is a cynical misinterpretation of the facts.

You can read more of my published letters down the years on the published letters tab.

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