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Written Question 31st July 2007

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many ministerial red boxes his Department and its predecessor bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.

A:The number of Ministers red boxes ordered by BERR and its predecessor over the previous five years were as follows:

Number Cost (£)
2002-03 0 —
2003-04 0 —
2004-05 1 604.50
2005-06 9 749 each
2006-07 8 749 each

Banner Business Supplies are the sole supplier of Ministers boxes and are an Office of Government Commerce (OGC) approved supplier.
Gareth Thomas (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development)

Written Question 31st July 2007

Children, Schools and Families: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many ministerial red boxes his Department and its predecessor bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.

A:Red boxes are ordered as and when they are needed from the Department's stationery supplier, Business Banner Supplies. Ministerial boxes are used by successive Ministers over many years.
Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families

Written Question 31st July 2007

Children, Schools and Families: Adoption: Standards

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effect of the targets on adoption on the numbers of children remaining with their birth families.


A:A national adoption target was announced in 2000 to increase the number of adoptions of looked after children by 40 per cent. by the year ending March 2005, and to exceed this by achieving, if possible, a 50 per cent. increase by the end of March 2006.

The target related to children who were already looked after.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families collects statistics on the number of adoptions of Looked After Children in England. Relevant information is published in the document "Children Looked After By Local Authorities Year Ending March 2006" which is available at:

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/VOL/v000721/index.shtml.
Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Familie…

All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil

The first event for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, which I chair, was held on 24th July and David Strahan of The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre gave the major presentation with Chris Skrebowski of The Energy Institute and myself answering questions.

This was an informative event with about 50 members of the public present.

The objective of the APPG is to raise the debate about Peak Oil. It was, therefore, useful that The Government's Chief Scientist Sir David King has submitted his view and Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency has also agreed to do a presentation and answer questions.

It is the process of answering questions that hopefully will tease out the differences in assumptions. The world is in a geological sense a defined entity, but there is some uncertainty about exactly what the definitiion is. Similarly the rules of physics are a reasonable stable set of rules (at least at the macroscopic level at which energy policy sits). It should, therefo…

Community Care Article before Editing

I agreed to response to questions from readers of "Community Care". Sadly, they have decided to edit out much of my answers. Hence I post them here.===================================================================I suggested to Community Care that rather than me simply write an opinion piece that I should offer to answer questions raised by those people who work in Children’s Social Services. I am making relatively fundamental criticisms of the system and, therefore, it is my responsibility to justify and evidence the case being put forward.

One point to emphasise, however, is that in all professions there are people who are better and those that are worse. One difficulty I have identified is that of dealing with bad behaviour from individual practitioners or indeed from management or politicians. I am aware of a number of individual situations where complaints from individual staff have resulted in false allegations being made against the staff complaining. This mana…

Another child dies in care

This story (link) is about a toddler sadly being drowned in a domestic swimming pool. A similar situation where a toddler died caused the parents' other children to be taken into care.

What happens when the same thing happens with a local authority "in loco parentis".

We also have a story about children being abused in foster care in Coventry.

I am aware of three deaths this year in foster care where further independent* investigation should occur: Camden, Portsmouth, Trafford.

I know that the local safeguarding childrens committee should investigate, but this is the people responsible for the problems investigating themselves.

*independent - meaning financially independent of the system.

Vegetable Oil - now essentially duty free for driving

Legally popping a bottle of vegetable oil requires that a duty of 27p is paid. However, the HMRC recently agreed a de-minimis limit which basically means that people who use under 2,500 litres of vegetable oil a year don't have to pay the duty.

That means that people who pop a bottle of rape seed oil in their [diesel] tank bought in the supermarket are no longer breaking the law.

Even if you convert entirely to vege oil and run at about 20,000 miles a year you now have duty free driving.

Salma's story in the Sunday Telegraph

One effect of the secrecy of the family courts is that it has prevented the voice of children being held in care being heard. Generally action has only been taken about maltreatment of children in care when they hit adulthood.

Clayton v Clayton does have the effect of removing any block on children that are in care talking about the difficulties they face.

Deaths caused by the smoking ban

I did vote for the Smoking Ban and continue to think it was the right thing to do although we should have also had the option of Smoking Rooms - rather than the silly things that are now happening with outdoor smoking rooms.

However, sadky today we heard of the the first death that can be linked to the smoking ban of someone shot for asking someone else to stop smoking. Similarly I heard today of someone seen driving whilst smoking three cigarettes. Sounds quite dangerous and also linked to the smoking ban.

Recent floods and insurance

If the recent floods involve an insurance payout of £1bn and using figures from 2005 net property premiums are 8.7bn with a payout of 7.7bn then one would expect that this flood in isolation will put premiums up by about 15%. With the previous floods and what may happen later we could see an increase in premiums of 40% or more.

Community Care Debate

Community Care is the house magazine for Social Work. They suggested I wrote an opinion piece, my alternative proposal was to answer the questions of their readers.

The link is part of the answer. I am expecting them to put up more of an answer later.

Interestingly a number of social workers spoke out in support of my arguments. I know that many people privately agree, but I was quite pleased to find some people working in social work who confirm publicly what I say.

Harrying the government in questions

Two interchanges from yesterday

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The Government have caused a number of problems by conflating section 31 and section 20, but will they commit to listening to the voices of children who say that they want to leave care and return to their parents? I know of cases where children have run away from care to go back to their parents, only to be returned time and again. Will the Government start listening to the voices of children who want to return to their parents?

Kevin Brennan: It is the principle the Government follow that wherever possible children should remain with their birth family. It is absolutely legitimate to make criticisms and to look into the issues raised by children in care and adoption, but what is not legitimate is—sometimes in pursuit of a headline in a popular newspaper—to accuse the Government, professionals in the social care sector, local authorities, and indeed the courts, of not trying to act in the best interests of childre…

Written Parliamentary Question 26th July 2007

Justice: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many ministerial red boxes the Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.


A:Red boxes are used by successive Ministers over a number of years. The specific information requested for the last five years could be provided only at disproportionate cost as the information is not recorded centrally.

Red boxes are ordered via the Department's stationery contract with Banner Business Supplies
Maria Eagle (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice)

Written Parliamentary Question 26th July 2007

Innovation, Universities and Skills: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many ministerial red boxes the Department has bought since establishment; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.

A:None.
David Lammy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills)

Give us back our children - Sue Reid

The link is to Sue's story in the Daily Mail. Another story today is about how England's youth is the worst behaved in Europe. So we have more state intervention in the Family and our youth are the worst behaved. There is evidence that these two aspects are linked.

Red Boxes

The entertaining thing about the question about the cost of red boxes it it demonstrates whether or not individual departments are willing to answer slightly embarrassing questions.

Often Special Advisors prevent questions being answered because they appear slightly embarrassing.

The embarrassing part of this is that the boxes are expensive and often not bought through a tendering process.

Once we have responses from all of the departments I will collate them to find out how good each department is at answering the question.

Written Parliamentary Question 24th July

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were: and what tendering process was used in selecting them.

A:The information requested by the hon. Member is only available for years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Number of boxes Total value (£)
2004 0 0
2005 (1)8 3,600
2006 (2)6 2,900
2007 1 490
(1 )Two separate orders
(2) Three separate orders

The requirements for these boxes are infrequent and are satisfied through single source procurement strategy with Barrow and Gale. There is no current long-term contract in place. During 2004 the opportunity was taken to market test the prices and those provided by Barrow and Gale were found to provide the best value on price and quality.
Jim Murphy (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

Written Parliamentary Question 24th July 2007

Wales: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.


A:Ministerial boxes are used by successive Ministers over many years. No new boxes have been ordered in the last five years.

Any new ones would be ordered through contracts put in place by the Ministry of Justice
Peter Hain (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

Floods and Gloucestershire (and South Worcs)

One of the problems faced by people in the floods is an absence of water and electricity. Those depending upon services for their lives are particularly at risk.

We have looked at this in Birmingham Emergency Planning and are happy to help, but have not been contacted. The government has said they are doing this contingency planning, but if they are then they should have contacted Birmingham.

Sunday Telegraph Story

The linked story is about a case where the intervention of Childrens Social Services has simply undermined a family. One of the state's reasons for taking the baby is that the father does not agree with what the Social Workers think.

Lib Dem Spokespeople House of Lords

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT SPOKESPEOPLE AND OFFICE HOLDERS IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS
LEADER
Rt Hon Lord McNally

DEPUTY LEADERS
Lord Dholakia OBE DL
Lord Wallace of Saltaire

LORDS SPOKESPEOPLE

HOME OFFICE
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
Lord Avebury (Civil liberties)
Baroness Harris of Richmond DL (Police)

SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER FOR JUSTICE
Lord Thomas of Gresford OBE QC
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone (Penal Reform)
Lord Wallace of Saltaire

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
Rt. Hon Lord McNally
Lord Tyler
Rt Hon Lord Maclennan of Rogart
Lord Smith of Clifton

CABINET OFFICE
Rt Hon Lord Maclennan of Rogart

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS
Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Lord Avebury (Africa)
Lord Dykes (Europe)

DEFENCE
Lord Garden KCB
Lord Lee of Trafford
Lord Addington

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Baroness Northover
Lord Roberts of Llandudno

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT
Lord Clement-Jones CBE
Baroness Bonham-Carter
Lord Addington (Sport)
Lord Lee of Trafford (Tourism)

CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES
Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Falkner of…

By Election Results 19th July 2007

Ealing LBC, Cleveland
Con 1519 (43.3 +5.7), LD F Fruzza 1288 (36.7 +1.5), Lab 539 (15.3 -2.9),
Green 165 (4.7 -4.3). Majority 231. Con Hold. Last fought 2006.

Ipswich BC, Castle Hill
Con 1028 (60.6 +11.8), Lab 385 (22.7 +3.5) LD N Cheeseman 284 (16.7 -6.0),
Green [0.0 -4.3], Ind [0.0 -5.0]. Majority 643. Turnout 28.7. Con hold. Last
fought 2007.

Rushmoor BC, Heronwood
Lab 423 (37.3 -1.7), LD P Bowers 382 (33.6 +7.7) Con 330 (29.1 -6.0).
Majority 41. Turnout 24.9. Lab gain LD. Last fought 2007.

Swansea UA, Llansamlet
Lab 769 (37.0 +11.5), LD C Jones 581 (27.9 +13.6), PC 283 (13.6 -4.9), BNP
226 (10.9 +10.9), Ind 221 (10.6 -17.6), Con [0.0 -13.6]. Majority 188.
Turnout 20.9. Lab hold.

Conflicts of Interest in the Family Division - new rules

The new code of conduct from the SRA (see link). Has the following:

3.01 Duty not to act
(1) You must not act if there is a conflict of interests (except in the limited circumstances dealt with in 3.02).

(2) There is a conflict of interests if:

(a) you owe, or your firm owes, separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients in relation to the same or related matters, and those duties conflict, or there is a significant risk that those duties may conflict; or

(b) your duty to act in the best interests of any client in relation to a matter conflicts, or there is a significant risk that it may conflict, with your own interests in relation to that or a related matter.

There is no exception to this. The point about Public Family Law conflicts is that the solicitors don't want to upset the Local Authority as they might otherwise find instructions dry up. I have seen a number of cases where there is evidence that the solicitors have acted to undermine their own clients. …

Yesterday's exchange in the house

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The Government have caused some confusion with the announcement about changes to public service agreement targets. Will the Leader of the House arrange for an oral statement on the issue of adoption targets and whether they are to be cancelled? Roughly between 15 and 20 children are wrongfully adopted every week and it would be useful to clarify the situation before the recess.
Ms Harman: We want to ensure that those children who cannot be with their parents because of the risk of neglect or abuse are properly taken into care. If a permanent placement can be found for such children with a family by way of adoption, we would all agree that that is much better than leaving them in a children’s home or moving them from one foster carer to another. On targets, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary is reviewing targets. We want to make sure that we do not have more than are necessary and that they are mutually consistent, but we must not lose sigh…

Ealing and Sedgefield

Labour held on to Ealing Southall because the opposition vote was divided. This was because the tories ran a strong campaign. Labour could easily have been lost had the tactical message been recognised. Then we could have won that seat.

In Sedgefield a 3 week campaign was insufficient to dislodge Labour.

Virendra Sharma (Lab) 15,188 (41.48%, -7.28%)
Nigel Bakhai (LD) 10,118 (27.63%, +3.19%)
Tony Lit (C) 8,230 (22.48%, +0.91%)
Sarah Edwards (Green) 1,135 (3.10%, -1.52%)
Salvinder Dhillon (Respect) 588 (1.61%)
Dr Kunnathur Rajan (UKIP) 285 (0.78%)
Yaqub Masih (Ch P) 280 (0.76%)
Jasdev Rai (Ind) 275 (0.75%)
John Cartwright (Loony) 188 (0.51%)
Sati Chaggar (Eng Dem) 152 (0.42%)
Gulbash Singh (Ind) 92 (0.25%)
Kuldeep Grewal (Ind) 87 (0.24%)
Lab maj 5,070 (13.85%)

5.24% swing Lab to Lib Dems

Source: BBC News website

Sedgefield results:

Phil Wilson (Lab) 12,528 (44.77%, -14.11%)
Greg Stone (LD) 5,572 (19.91%, +8.02%)
Graham Robb (C) 4,082 (14.59%, +0.19%)
Andrew Spence (BNP) 2,494 (8.91%)
Paul Gittins (Ind…

Written Parliamentary Question 19th July 2007

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: Oil

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Government plan to review their estimate of when global oil supply will peak following the recent Medium Term Oil Market report published by the International Energy Agency; and if he will make a statement on global oil supplies.



A:Although the International Energy Agency's (IEA) July 2007 Medium-Term Oil Market Report has revised downwards projections for future global oil production capacity, it nevertheless still sees total capacity increasing by around 10 per cent. between 2007 and 2012 and remaining above demand. Moreover, the report also notes that:

"While hydrocarbon resources are finite, nonetheless issues of access to reserves, prevailing investment regime and availability of upstream infrastructure and capital seem greater barriers to medium-term growth than limits to the resource base itself."

The IEA report therefore supports…

Written Parliamentary Question 19th July

Duchy of Lancaster: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them.


A:Red boxes are used by successive Ministers over a number of years. The specific information requested for the last five years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Red boxes are ordered via the Department's stationery contract with Banner Business Supplies. The contract was agreed following a joint competitive procurement procedure with HMRC.
Edward Miliband (Minister of State, Cabinet Office)

Yesterday's exchange in the house

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The Minister will be aware that the many thousands of parents who are victims of malpractice in the family courts are prevented by law from making representations about the effectiveness of the Human Rights Act. Does he have any proposals to make it possible for such people to make representations about malpractice to Members of Parliament?

Mr. Straw: I do not have proposals at this stage, but I understand the concern that the hon. Gentleman raises and I am very happy to meet him and talk about how we deal with the problem.

Fake Winners and Consequentialism

The link is to the story about fake winners on Children in Need and Comic Relief. This is a relatively mild example of consequentialism where the ends justify the means.

I have always accepted that the means are part of the ends in the sense that one has to consider the whole. However, we should not lie and cheat even to achieve a good objective (in this case charity).

Another area where this is an issue is, of course, child protection. We should not accept lying and cheating by professionals even if their intentions are the good intentions of protecting children. The fact that they fail as a consequence is not surprising, however.

The debate about opt in and opt out for organ transplant is similar. The problem with opt out is that if the system failes then the state owns your organs. If you cannot be found on the register as someone who objects then things change.

The consequence of consequentialism is a harsh nasty society where people are maltreated with the best of intentions.

Written Parliamentary Question 17th July 2007

Health: NHS: Finance

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the planned capital expenditure for the NHS in 2007-08 was in the (a) 2006 and (b) 2007 Budget; and what the reasons are for the difference between the two figures.


A:Departmental expenditure limits for the Department and national health service are available in annex C of the Budget 2006 and Budget 2007. As set out in Budget 2007 the Government updated the capital figures for 2007-08 for the NHS in England to make them consistent with projected levels of spend, leaving aside exceptional items. NHS spending plans were unaffected by revisions to expenditure figures published in Budget 2007.
Ben Bradshaw (Minister of State, Department of Health)

Library Briefing on Adotion and Children Paper 2001

Quoting from Page 44 (which is the Local Government Association response)

Clause 1 Family Support and balance of rights
Clause 1 (4) (a) refers to having regard to the wishes and feelings of the child. Children
should have the right to consent to adoption and to be made a party to the proceedings.
The value of contingency, concurrent and parallel planning should be recognised in the
Bill and in the adoption standards. There are real concerns about targets which may rush
agencies into placing children for adoption when the best plan, in accordance with the
wishes of the child, may be to work with the birth family to enable them to care for their
child. The Government’s target is to increase by 40% (preferably by 50%) the number of
looked after children adopted and in legally secure placements.

Secretive and Corrupt Family Court System

It has been accepted for some time that the Family Justice System in the UK is secretive.

I came to the conclusion after studying it over the past year or so that it is also corrupt.

That is a strong allegation that I make in the Mail on Sunday today. However, it is justified.

Some reasons for corruptionMany solicitors also work for the local authority. This does not necessarily mean that a firm of solicitors will not fight the case properly for their clients. However, it creates a conflict of interest. It is an unacceptable conflict of interest. I am aware of cases where it appears that the parents' solicitors have actually acted to undermine their clients' cases. I know there are good solicitors and I work with some. However, such a conflict of interest is unacceptable.Courts rely on opinion commissioned by the local authority or indeed the local authority's opinion when it also is conflicted. The pressure of the adoption targets creates exactly the sort of bias tha…

Murkier and Murkier activities in Ealing

Tom Watson reveals that on 15th June 2007 the company Tony Lit was then MD of donated £4,800 (just below the declarable limit) to the Labour Party. (see link)

Prague Tory reveals that this action is clearly against the assurance that Labour give on their website.
"The information you have provided will not be shared with any organisation or individual outside the Labour Party without your consent, nor transferred outside of the United Kingdom."
I suppose it makes the point that you cannot trust either the Tory Candidate - in his assurances of longstanding support of the Conservatives - or the Labour Party.

I must admit, however, that I find that £2.50 a year of my Musicians Union membership fee goes to the Labour Party. I have told Labour MPs that I am happy for this to continue if they stop selling peerages.

Tom also has a photo of Tony Lit with Tony Blair just before they both jumped ship.

By-Election Results: Thursday 12th July 2007.

Camden LBC, Haverstock
LD Matt Sanders 1160 (43.4; -0.2), Lab 1000 (37.4; +3.0), Green 299 (11.2;
+0.4), Con 213 (8.0; -3.2).
Majority 160. Turnout 34.1%. LD gain from Lab. Last fought 2006.

Craven DC, Cowling
Con 351 (64.3; +47.4), Ratepayer 136 (24.9; +24.9), Ind 59 (10.8; -34.3),
[Ind (0.0; -38.1)].
Majority 215. Turnout 31.2%. Con gain from Ind. Last fought 2004.

Hounslow LBC, Hanworth Park
Con 1054 (41.1; -3.3), Lab 729 (28.4; +2.1), LD Simon Martin 507 (19.8;
+4.2), Ind 201 (7.8; -5.9), Green 73 (2.8; +2.8).
Majority 325. Turnout 32.3%. Con hold. Last fought 2006.

Kent CC, Maidstone North East
LD Ian Chittenden 1620 (56.2; +12.5), Con 831 (28.8; -1.3), Green 187 (6.5;
+2.5), Lab 164 (5.7; -12.5), UKIP 81 (2.8; -1.3).
Majority 789. Turnout 24.3%. LD hold. Last fought 2005.

Kidsgrove TC, Kidsgrove
Lab 231 (43.8), LD Gary Turner 171 (32.4), UKIP 126 (23.9).
Majority 60. Turnout 10.1%. Lab gain from Ind.

Newcastle Under Lyme BC, Westlands
Con 696 (60.9; +1.2), LD Michael Shenton 229 (20.0; +5.2), Lab 1…

Scotland vs England adoption target issues in parliament

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The Leader of the House might be aware that in Scotland more than 65 per cent. of children who leave care aged under five return to their parents. In England, more than 60 per cent. of children taken into care aged under five are adopted. The children in care Bill will be debated later this year, but will the Leader of the House ensure that Government time is given to debate such issues before the draft Bill is published?
Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. We need to be absolutely sure that children at risk of neglect or abuse are put in a place of safety and well cared for. We also want to ensure that if parents can care for their own children, they are supported in doing so. For too long, the family justice system has been a poor relation to the criminal justice system. What it does affects people’s lives for ever, and it is a big priority for the Ministry of Justice. The Secretary of State for Justice will answer questio…

Political Merry-go-round in Ealing

Notwithstanding the political merry-go-round going on in Ealing some Tory MPs have told The Times that they don't think they will win. (See link)

There are 4,000 postal votes which means that the election will be won or lost on the day. All the signatures are going to be checked which does help, but doesn't prevent gangster politics where the voter is watched whilst voting.

Priorities all wrong

This story (linked) is about the death of a 4 year old as a result of physical abuse. Why when this is happening is "the system" concentrating so much effort on "likely emotional abuse".

It is just the same as many others of these deaths. The evidence is not complicated.

Written Parliamentary Question 12th July

Treasury: Inheritance Tax: Gifts and Endowments

Q:To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will increase the limit of the annual exemption from inheritance tax for gifts; and if he will make a statement.




A:Under the current inheritance tax rules, most gifts made more than seven years before death are not regarded as within the chargeable estate for tax purposes. Gifts made within this period are brought within the taxable estate; however they will only be subject to IHT where the taxable estate exceeds the nil-rate band of £300,000. Where gifts made within this period may be liable to IHT, there is an exemption of £3,000 each year; there are also various other gifts reliefs available. The Government keep all taxes under review.
Jane Kennedy (Financial Secretary, HM Treasury)

Scottish Destination Statistics

I have uploaded the scottish destination statistics which show what happens to children who cease being "looked after" in Scotland.

In Scotland children generally return to their parents. In England the majority of children under 5 taken "into care" end up adopted.

Problems with Family Court processes in the USA

Practicing family attorney Gregory Hession confirms child protective service agencies engage in abusive, deliberate and dirty tricks motivated by federal funding.

Every year thousands of families are forcibly separated from their children based on unsubstantiated or outright false allegations of child abuse. Gregory Hession, a practicing constitutional and family law attorney in Mass., says that for these families, the nightmare has only begun.

Children in child protective services (CPS) have been abused, wounded, brain washed, drugged, adopted out and some have even died. Hession has represented hundreds of these families and has dedicated himself to exposing CPS abuses and reuniting loving, deserving families. He documents CPS abuses in the July 23, 2007, issue of The New American magazine.

This, of course, is happening other than in the UK. I think the situation in England is worse than that in the USA, however.

Cathy Lynn Henderson and Shaken Baby Syndrome

My attention has just been drawn to the success of Cathy Lynn Henderson's appeal (through a writ of Habeas Corpus) in June. This was in the USA. It is a case where the evidence proving Non Accidental Head Injury has been accepted as to be unreliable.

I have chased up the new Attorney General on this because it is very important to a number of families in the UK.

IEA - Peak Oil is a plateau, but sooner than expected

The IEA have been "optimists" in predicting a peak in oil supplies at 2030. They are now saying there will be a plateau in about 2011.

This links to Chris Skrebowski's approach of monitoring peak production by looking at the production pipeline.

I have tended to take the view that as far as Oil goes the production curve would not be symmetrical and could see more of a plateau particularly as it is likely to cause waves of global recession as demand is constrained by supply in circumstances where the energy intensity of GDP remains relatively constant.

Still this is a massive shift in the official position of what is the world's main "official" source of global energy statistics.

New Seven Wonders of the World

There is no sense me trying to replicate the Wikipedia page (linked). It is an interesting piece of news that a conclusion has been reached (announcement on Friday 6th) as to a new Seven Wonders of the World.

For any more, however, read Wikipedia.

Bellwin

Councilrs in the north expecting a bonanza from Bellwin will not be surprised to find out that there is a substantial equivalent to an "insurance excess" before they get any dosh.

Typical government spin.

Sheffield's Threshold is: £1,393,290

In other words they have to pay the first £1.4 Million.

Furthermore it only covers some costs. The "small print" of Bellwin is the following:
EXAMPLES OF INCIDENTS THAT WOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO QUALIFY
The following are examples of expenditure that would normally not qualify under this
scheme:
a) costs which are normally insurable, whether by the authority or any other party (e.g.
under household insurance policies);
The Department currently takes the Zurich Municipal SELECT policy, that can now be
obtained for costs exceeding £100,000, as its definition of what is normally insurable by
the authority for the purpose of schemes set up under section 155. Authorities should in
particular note that:
- the shoring-up or dismantling of damage…

Autistic mum’s baby taken into care

THE grandfather of a baby taken into care immediately after he was born is accusing social services of discriminating against his daughter because she has a form of autism.

The baby’s 21-year-old mother has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition associated with problems concerning social and communication skills.

see link for more details.

Byelection Results Thursday 5th July 2007

East Northamptonshire DC, Hihamferrers Lancaster
Conservative Elected unopposed.
Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Gateshead MBC, Dunston and Teams
Lab 793 (62.1; +7.7), LD Michael Ruddy 285 (22.3; +1.6), BNP 131
(10.3; -4.3), Con 69 (5.4; -5.0).
Majority 508. Turnout 20.3%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

North Tyneside MBC, St Marys
Con 1992 (76.8; +3.2), Lab 363 (14.0; +2.3), LD David Banks 239 (9.2; -5.4).
Majority 1629. Turnout 37.6%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Oldham MBC, Saddleworth West and Lees
LD Barbara Beeley 908 (51.3; -3.7), Lab 416 (23.5; +4.7), Con 243
(13.7; -12.5), BNP 202 (11.4; +11.4).
Majority 492. Turnout 22%. LD hold. Last fought 2007.

Shaw and Crompton PC, West
LD Kirsten Stott 363 (54.6), Ind 235 (35.3), Lab 67 (10.1).
Majority 128. Turnout 17%. LD gain from Con.

I am not sure anyone actually posts local government by-election results to a blog so I might just start doing it.

Cameron's Full Team

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform:
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform:
Alan Duncan
Frontbench team: Mark Prisk, Jonathan Djanogly, Charles Hendry.

Cabinet Office:
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster: Francis Maude
Frontbench team: Greg Clark

Children, Schools and Families:
Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families: Michael
Gove
Frontbench team: Nick Gibb, Maria Miller, Tim Loughton

Communities and Local Government:
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government: Eric
Pickles
Frontbench team: Grant Shapps (Also attending Shadow Cabinet) , Alistair
Burt, Paul Goodman, Bob Neil, Jacqui Lait

Culture, Media & Sport:
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: Jeremy Hunt
Frontbench team: Hugh Robertson, Ed Vaizey, Tobias Ellwood

Defence:
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: Liam Fox
Frontbench team: Andrew Murrison, Gerald Howarth, Dr Julian Lewis

Enviro…

New Stats show that over 60% of toddlers in care get adopted

New Statistics obtained from DCFS (erstwhile DfES) and released by John Hemming MP, Chairman of Justice for Families show that 60% of the numbers of children under 5 taken into care are now adopted."The system", he said, "is supposed to try to reunite families rather than simply drive towards adoption. However, in 2006 4,160 children under 5 were taken into care and 2,490 were adopted. There will be a small number that have not been adopted at that time and remain in care for a while. That means that the 60% figure is in fact an under estimate rather than an over estimate as the lag is in the numbers adopted." "Looking at individual cases," he said, "it is clear that the government's forced adoption machine is substantially a one way conveyor belt. We know of a number of miscarriages of justice like the Webster Case in Norfolk where children are wrongly taken off their parents. With these figures it is not surprising that children are taken into …

Campbell Shadow Cabinet

Leader
The Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell, QC, MP
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Deputy Leader
Vincent Cable MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Michael Moore MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
David Heath MP
Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department
Nick Clegg MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Nick Harvey MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Norman Lamb MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chris Huhne MP
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Lynne Featherstone MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Lembit Öpik MP
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Party President
Simon Hughes MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Danny Alexander MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Susan Kramer MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Andrew Stunell MP
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip
Paul Burstow MP
Shadow Secretary of S…

HQ07XO2284 - Application issued

So, the application to allow a limited (further) opening of the Family Courts has been accepted by the issuing office in the Queens Bench Division.

I have issued it in Queens Bench because it is an application that links really to administrative law rather than family law.

Although Master Turner will be looking at it for directions I am expecting a judge to have to consider it.

Enfield closes Fassit for a few hours

The link is to the FASSIT website which is one of the groups trying to help people fight the miscarriages of justice in the Family Courts.

On 19th June the London Borough of Enfield obtained an interim injuction preventing people from talking about one particular miscarriage of justice.

This resulted in the fassit website being taken down whilst it had all references to this case removed from it.

These actions by local authorities are counterproductive for two reasons:
a) They merely ensure that people go outside the jurisdiction of the courts for their web hosting.
b) They act to undermine adoption. If the local authority prevents people talking about the truth in respect of some cases then this raises questions about more cases. If people refuse to adopt when they find out the truth then they worry if they are prevented from finding out the truth.

We do need to think about the effect that this rush to judgment has on adoptive families. There are two families who adopted the Websters…

Cameron's Shadow Cabinet

David Cameron
Leader of the Conservative Party

William Hague
Shadow Foreign Secretary

George Osborne
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
General Election Campaign Coordinator

David Davis
Shadow Home Secretary

Liam Fox
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Lord Strathclyde
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords

Caroline Spelman
Chairman of the Conservative Party

Philip Hammond
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Francis Maude
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster

Andrew Lansley
Shadow Secretary of State for Health

David Willetts
Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills

Peter Ainsworth
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Andrew Mitchell
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

Alan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory reform

Theresa May
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Oliver Letwin
Chairman of the Policy Review and Chairman of the Conservative Researc…

Smoking in Parliament - the new rules

SMOKING BAN: Where you can smoke

The ban on smoking in public places became law yesterday.
As a reminder, smoking is allowed on the Parliamentary estate only in
the following places: The House of Commons Terrace when the smoking ban begins on July 1.Commons Court (North West corner, Commons Court)North Terrace (between Portcullis House and Norman Shaw South)A designated area on the west side of Canon Row courtyard.
Smoking will be allowed in three designated areas in the House of Lords: Black Rod's GardenState Officers; Court Peers' Inner Court.
Smoking will also be permitted in an area at the end of the Lords Terrace abutting the Commons Terrace, but this will be subject to review.

MPs and House staff who bring in visitors will be responsible for making sure their guests do not smoke - except in designated areas. If a visitor does smoke the passholder must inform them that a no smoking policy operates and ask them to stop.

If a visitor continues to smoke they should be asked to leav…

Brown: Government Appointments in Full

MEMBERS OF THE CABINET:
Prime Minister: Gordon Brown
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Alistair Darling
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: David Miliband
Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor: Jack Straw
Secretary of State for the Home Department: Jacqui Smith
Secretary of State for Defence; and Secretary of State for Scotland: Des Browne
Secretary of State for Health: Alan Johnson
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Hilary Benn
Secretary of State for International Development: Douglas Alexander
Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: John Hutton
Leader of the House of Commons (and Lord Privy Seal); Minister for Women; and Labour Party Chairman: Harriet Harman
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; and Secretary of State for Wales: Peter Hain
Secretary of State for Transport: Ruth Kelly
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: Hazel Blears
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip: Geoff …