Pregnant Mothers and Stress
The linked article is interesting.“What is now clear is that high levels of stress in pregnancy can, in some cases, be detrimental to the health of the baby and to remain as stress-free as possible is certainly important. It is vital that pregnant women are given adequate support and reassurance from their family, friends and employers, to ensure they have a happy and healthy pregnancy."
Is something Childrens' Services should take into account. They should remember when causing stress to pregnant women that this affects the baby as well. A midwife in Birmignham told me that if a pregnant woman attends a child protection conference she is normally in tears as a result of the stress - caused by the people who are supposed to protect the child."The research is published in the May edition of Clinical Endocrinology. Professor Glover has previously shown a link between stress in pregnancy and the baby’s IQ. The greater the stress felt by the mother, measured by cortisol levels, the lower the IQ. The babies of stressed mothers were also more likely to be anxious and to show signs of attention-deficit disorder. "
This is another important point. We have more ADD these days. Is this caused by there being more stressed mothers?
As with most articles you cannot rely too much on the conclusions and should go back to source materials to check, but it does raise some questions.
In the matter of CW (A Child) (1) IW (2) SW Enfield  EWCA Civ 402 and Shaken Baby Syndrome
The following is my commentary on the judgment in respect of the above case:
The judgment is in the link.
On 27th March 2007 there was a hearing in the Court of Appeal where I appeared as a Mackenzie Friend. This related to a case where a couple (IW and SW) were asking the Court of Appeal to stop the Local Authority (Enfield) from having their daughter adopted whilst the case was considered by the European Court of Human Rights
I became involved in this case because I felt that it highlighted a number of the problems with the current system of Public Family Law. The Court of Appeal Judge (Munby) has since published an anonymous judgment which allows the consideration of the points of law and other aspects in public. This response is a response to that judgment that hopefully can also stand alone.
The history of the case is that IW and SW are married. IW was previously married to TW and had two children. The second child was taken to hospital on 30th March 1999 and was found to be suffering from serious injuries as a result of which he now suffers from cerebral palsy and a number of other disabilities.
Later on IW and SW had a daughter CW. The case is not about DW, the child that was injured, but instead about CW who is being taken through forced adoption because of what happened to DW – who was left in the care of his parents.
The first key issue in this case is that of what caused the brain injury and what can be known with any certainty as to what happened that day. The factual evidence was that DW had subdural haematomae and retinal haemorrhages.
A medical expert indicated that his view was that these injuries were as a result of DW being shaken.
The point of law at this point is that the medical evidence was in fact never challenged. During the set of hearings relating to DW there never was a judgment to put DW into care. Both sets of hearings resulted in conclusions that left DW in the hands of his parents. However, on 6th March 2000 District Judge Bradley concluded that DW was injured by one of his parents.
This leaves the start of this case squarely in the middle of the Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) debate. There are a number of unproven hypotheses about SBS. The first unproven hypothesis is that the presence of subdural haematomae and retinal haemorrhage (SHRH) demonstrate that in the absence of another known cause the infant has been shaken.
Bandak FA, however, wrote in Forensic Sci Int 30/6/2005“We have determined that an infant head subjected to the levels of rotational velocity and acceleration called for in the SBS literature, would experience forces on the infant neck far exceeding the limits for structural failure of the cervical spine. Furthermore, shaking cervical spine injury can occur at much lower levels of head velocity and acceleration than those reported for the SBS. These findings are consistent with the physical laws of injury biomechanics as well as our collective understanding of the fragile infant cervical spine from (1) clinical obstetric experience, (2) automotive medicine and crash safety experience, and (3) common parental experience. The findings are not, however, consistent with the current clinical SBS experience and are in stark contradiction with the reported rarity of cervical spine injury in children diagnosed with SBS. In light of the implications of these findings on child protection and their social and medico-legal significance, a re-evaluation of the current diagnostic criteria for the SBS and its application is suggested.”
There is also the Geddes hypothesis which indicates that we should not rely merely on subdural haematomae and retinal haemorrhages to conclude that a baby has been shaken.
Some things are certain. It is certain that SHRH can occur spontaneously as a result of glutaric aciduria. The appeal of Ian and Angela Gay against their conviction for the killing of their foster son was not just a salt poisoning case, but also an SBS case. In that case the jury accepted that a too rapid hydration of the boy was the cause of SHRH.
The difficulty for the appellants, however, is that IW was a Fork Lift Truck driver. He had not any personal experience in considering the issues relating to SHRH. All he could do was clutch at some straws found on the internet. In the mean time a well paid expert gave sufficient cause for the judge to conclude that he was guilty. He did not have the knowledge to prove his innocence.
In essence, therefore, the judicial process here was in contravention of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights – the right to a fair trial. The significance of the key facts has not been properly considered and the defendants not given a proper opportunity to challenge them. The issue of “equality of arms” is important from a scientific point of view just as much as from a legal point of view.
The legal significance of SBS was considered in a Daubert hearing in Kentucky on April 17th 2006 and the court concluded:"The Court can further conclude that based on the medical signs and symptoms, the clinical medical and scientific research communities are in disagreement as to whether it is possible to determine if a given head injury is due to an accident or abuse. Therefore, the Court finds that because the Daubert test has not been met, neither party can call a witness to give an expert opinion as to whether a child's head injury is due to a shaken baby syndrome when only the child exhibits a subdural hematoma and bilateral ocular bleeding. Either party can call a witness to give an expert opinion as to the cause of the injury being due to shaken baby syndrome, if and only, the child exhibits a subdural hematoma and bilateral ocular bleeding, and any other indicia of abuse present such as long-bone injuries, a fractured skull, bruising, or other indications that abuse has occurred."
A matter peripheral to the core SBS debate occurred in a case recently concluded in respect of a baby in Oldham (OLDHAM MBC v (1) GW (2) PW (3) KPW (A CHILD BY HIS GUARDIAN JACQUELINE COULTRIDGE) & FORBES (Intervenor) (2007)). In this case the original expert was absolutely certain at the start of the case that a baby had been shaken. At the end of this case the same person was certain that the injuries caused could not have resulted from the baby being shaken.
The difficulty lies in the fact that the court is accepting the view of an expert that is not shared by all of those in that profession. Furthermore there is not a fair trial because the parents have not had the practical opportunity of bringing to bear an alternative expert perspective.
It was accepted by the court in the present case that the SBS hypothesis is unproven. The justification for accepting an unproven hypothesis was the difficulty of testing the hypothesis. This would, however, imply accepting any arguable hypothesis where a difficulty can be demonstrated in proving it.
In essence, therefore, the present case started with a determination of fact which actually is not only not based in rational argument, but instead in a leap of faith which is only maintained by excluding the alternate perspective. This is, therefore, not Article 6 compliant.
None of this mattered with the original couple (IW and TW) because the children were left with them and even when IW left the marriage (under pressure from the Local Authority) he was allowed unsupervised contact with his children.
In 2004 CW was born and taken into care on the basis of the previous dispute.
IW will accept that he has been quick to anger on a number of occasions. One of the things I have noticed about the relationship between Local Authorities and parents of children involved in care proceedings is the development of a substantial resentment of the behaviour of the authorities. Whether IW’s tendency to respond aggressively to social workers was caused by the social workers or not does not matter. It is accepted that he has been quick to anger.
IW also would not accept that he was responsible for the injuries to DW. It is important to note that there is a substantial body of opinion (accepted by the court in Kentucky) that indicates that the evidence is that he could not have caused DW’s injuries.
This unwillingness of IW to accept responsibility caused the Local Authority to consider that he was “in denial” about the situation. An alternative perspective, of course, is that in fact he did not want to accept responsibility for something that he was not responsible for in any way.
The system (court and local authority) also considered the rest of the family. The recommendation of the local authority was that none of the extended family were capable of looking after CW.
The court also dwelt on the father’s own medical condition. I have had the opportunity of reading the father’s medical file in which it reports the diagnosis that the father has multiple sclerosis. However, the original court considered that his claim to have multiple sclerosis was another reason why he would be a bad father.
The father would accept that he has difficulties working with social workers. The evidence is that the more that people have to do with the care system the harder they find to work with it. That is why children of women who have been in care tend to be taken into care. It is, therefore, not reasonable to consider that having difficulty working with social workers implies that someone is a bad parent.
After the final judgment in late 2006 the parents appealed to the ECHR. They feared what happened in the P, C and S case where the ECHR concluded that a child should not have been taken into care, but too late to stop the child being adopted. Hence they applied for a stay of proceedings to the high court and when that was refused appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The difficulty with this is that I was unaware of what the parents were doing until it had been done. It was not possible, therefore, for me to properly collate the evidence that they needed to challenge the original decision. Again, therefore, we end up with what is in essence an unfair trial. Munby J did go out of his way to collate documents. However, the system is in its operation inherently unfair as the state steamrollers parents and children who have little practical support in challenging the system.
The conclusion was a short hearing at which certain documentation was requested and then collated.
Munby J’s judgment is correct in that the parents have not properly challenged the threshold criteria. That, however, is because the procedures currently operating in the family court and the generalised rush to judgment does not permit them to obtain a fair trial.
There is also an issue with S31 of the Children Act 1989 which sets the bar for the threshold criteria at a ludicrously low level. The mere fact that the father has been shown to be quick to anger with social workers and a judge is considered sufficient to remove his daughter for life. That is not, however, a problem with the interpretation of the law, but instead with the statute itself.
Munby J is, however, fundamentally wrong where he considers the issue of adoption targets.
All Children’s Services Department of Local Authorities have targets for the number of children adopted from care. This is having a substantial impact on the operation of care proceedings. The statistical evidence that I have at this state is that the increases in numbers of children taken into care are increases in the age cohort of children that were previously not taken into care. In other words the children the targets were established to get adopted are not getting adopted instead a completely new group of children are being taken into care and then adopted. That, of course, is not proof of the argument that children are taken into care merely to get them adopted.
Generally the children being additionally adopted are taken into care at a very young age. These are the “adoptible commodities” described by social workers as children that are attractive to potential adopters.
In the absence, therefore, of proof that the cause of the massive increase in newborn babies being taken into care is something other than the adoption targets that remains the only thesis.
The effect of the adoption targets means that the opinion of the local authority is conflicted. To that extent any judgment that relies upon the opinion of the local authority is unlawful as it is relying on unreliable opinion. Personally the opinion I see as demonstrating a care case orientated towards adoption is that of the assessment of the other family members. Where the local authority takes the view that the rest of the family are unacceptable as carers regardless of proper evidence then it seems clear that they are driving towards adoption.
The courts also rely on the independence of the Guardian ad Litem. The difficulty is that there is an inherent bias both with the Local Authority and CAFCASS towards intervention. Intervention is generally damaging both to the child and the wider family. However, the machinery of the state continues to create havoc through inappropriate intervention.
The UK has a particular interest in forced adoption. The question as to whether forced adoption is in itself in contravention of the ECHR has not been considered by the courts. In the rush to increase in a cost effective manner the number of children forcibly taken from their parents at an early age no consideration has been given to the impact on those children when they hit adolescence.
There have been a number of cases recently where birth parents and children have been reunited as the children go into late teens. Where an adoption is resented deeply by the birth parents because it is based in a miscarriage of justice this is not an issue that can be resolved simply by court orders. In the case of forced adoptions based upon miscarriages of justice there may be a few years of quiet whilst the children grow up and the birth parents are suppressed by the courts. However, that won’t last and the trauma caused to all involved including the adoptive parents is something where responsibility has to be clearly lain at the feet of the family division and the professionals responsible for these travesties.
Sadly this case cannot be taken any further in the UK. The refusal of permission to appeal means that the issues cannot be considered in the House of Lords. It does, however, continue n the ECHR.
What is good about this case is that the key issues can be debated properly in public. This is needed for other cases.
This case, however, demonstrates the real and urgent need for a proper consideration of evidence in contentious cases. It also raises questions about the over reliance on experts in public family law cases. Much of the decision-making is based upon opinion rather than fact. This probably requires changes to statute, but until such a stage as proceedings can be discussed in public it will not be possible to perform a systematic review of this.
Last night was the meeting of Enterprising Communities. A massive wrangle driven in part by the Balsall Heath Forum and in part by Respect occurred. The biggest row was about whether it was a meeting of a Joint Board or a Joint Meeting of Two Boards.
Constitutionally until last night there was not a "joint board" and all meetings were in fact meetings of both boards. However, because some papers had been titled "Joint Board Meeting" about a half hour of wrangling occurred.
In any event finally the meeting voted about 18:1:1 (1 against 1 abstention) to go forward properly (generally Respect abstained and BHF voted against).
The difficulty faced by the organisation was that if it did not conclude on a way forward then the membership of the boards lapsed. I normally don't comment that much on what is happening in Birmingham, but to spend some time debating whether the words Joint Board Meeting meant (Joint Board) Meeting or Joint (Board Meeting) was relatively novel as a mechanism for filibustering.
Written Parliamentary Question 30th May 2007
Education and Skills: Adoption Q:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2007, Official Report, column 662W, on adoption, what intensive targeted work has been carried out by his Department with local authorities to improve placement stability for children in care; and what assessment he has made of the effect of this work.A:
Too often, children who stay in care long-term are affected by numerous changes of carer, which impacts on their security and wellbeing, their ability to make and maintain friendships, and their schooling, which is often disrupted as a result. The Department appointed a small team of independent consultants—all former senior managers in social services—to work with 34 local authorities who had a significant contribution to make to the department's PSA target on improving stability for children in long term care. Each local authority received five days' free consultancy to help them develop their own action plans to improve stability. Each authority is also being encouraged to share their learning with others in the same region, and materials are being developed to facilitate this. Telephone consultancy was also offered to 50 more local authorities, if they wished to accept it. The work ended in March this year, and it is therefore too soon to identify the impact it has had on performance.
Beverley Hughes (Minister of State (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills)
The Scottish Question
This Scottish Question is about adoption. Scotland had 120 children adopted from care in 5-6. England had 3,700 in 2006. Scotland has a population of about 5M and England about 51M. For all that it matters you can scale up the scottish figures by 10. That would give 1,200 adoptions from care.
Scotland has a form of jury in children's cases.
Is that the reason why more children are adopted from care in England than Scotland?
If it isn't what is?
The wonders of Modern Technology - using the TV as a TV
Finally the Wii has been linked to the wireless network. This means that my children can now watch Youtube vidoes of kittens on the TV. For the moment the TV has reverted to being used to watch TV. It does confuse the cats.
To be fair it does show how well people have implemented Internet Protocols on different equipment. The ActiveX control used by YouTube manages to run on the Wii.
The rank hypocrisy of family court judges
The title is one of Camilla Cavendish whose article is linked, but it is a sentiment I share.
The secrecy in the family courts does not protect the children it protects the system and those who operate it.
I have written a response to Munby's published judgment
(the publishing of which we need to thank him for), but it may be published elsewhere first.
Although I don't agree with the judgment it is good that it is published and we must thank him for this. If other judges published their judgments this would be a step forward (and perhaps they would recognise that their judgments are not generally supported).
Written Parliamentary Question 24th May
Health:Departments:Ministerial Red BoxesQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) how many ministerial red boxes her Department bought in each of the last five years; and how much each cost;
(2) what tendering process is used to decide which company supplies ministerial red boxes to her Department.A:
The Department orders red boxes from Banner Business Supplies as and when they are needed. Ministerial boxes are used by successive Ministers over many years. Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)
Submission to UN
A submission to the UN Human Rights Commission asking for an investigation into UK Public Family Law has now been written and should be posted off later today.
There will probably be a bit of tooing and froing whilst this is put into the right form.
Freedom of Information: Don't believe the hype
I have just checked the words of the freedom of information amendment bill.
It does exempt the House of Commons from being a "public authority" (and the House of Lords). Furthermore it is wrong to make letters written by an MP to say the local health trust exempt automatically. If they contain confidential details about an individual's case then they are exempt, but if they merely talk about generalities then they should be treated as any other documents.
Letters written to an MP remain outside FoI in any event.
Written Parliamentary Question 22nd May 2007
Justice: Prisoners Release: Acquittals Q:
To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1420W, on prisoners release: acquittals, in what cases remand prisoners are entitled to (a) travel warrants and (b) housing benefit and council tax benefit and mortgage interest for a limited time.A:
All prisoners who are released from prison custody are issued with a travel warrant to an agreed destination. Housing and council tax benefit and mortgage interest are available on release in all cases where prisoners meet the eligibility criteria to receive these benefits. If a remand prisoner is already in receipt of these benefits they continue to be payable for up to 52 weeks or until conviction. Gerry Sutcliffe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice)
Written Parliamentary Question 22nd May
Education and Skills: AdoptionQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of progress towards adoption targets for local authorities on children and families.A:
The Government have set a number of targets on adoption.
The following target was included in the Department of Health publication 'Improvement, Expansion and Reform: The Next Three Years (Priorities and Planning Framework 2003-06)':
"Maintain current levels of adoption placement stability (as measured by the proportion of placements for adoption ending with the making of an adoption order) so that quality is not compromised whilst increasing the use of adoption as follows:
By 2004-05 increase by 40 per cent. the number of looked after children who are adopted, and aim to exceed this by achieving, if possible, a 50 per cent. increase by 2006, up from 2,700 in 1999-2000. All councils will bring their practice up to the current level of the best performers.
By 2004-05 increase to 95 per cent. the proportion of looked after children placed for adoption within 12 months of the decision that adoption is in the child's best interests, up from 81 per cent. in 2000-01, and maintain this level (95 per cent.) up to 2006, by locally applying the timescales in the national adoption standards, taking account of the individual child's needs."
The period during which this target operated came to an end in March 2006.
The target helped significantly to raise the number of adoptions of looked after children, where adoption was in the child's best interests. Between 2000-01 and 2004-05 the proportion of looked after children placed for adoption within 12 months of the decision that adoption was in the child's best interests remained stable at around 80 per cent.. We will be reviewing the factors that influenced performance against this target in light of the full implementation and bedding down of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
In addition, in 2004, the following Department for Education and Skills Public Service Agreement target was introduced:
"To narrow the gap in educational achievement between looked after children and their peers, and improve their educational support and the stability of their lives, so that by 2008, 80 per cent. of children under 16 who have been looked after for 2.5 or more years will have been living in the same placement for at least two years, or are placed for adoption."
The percentage of looked after children under 16 who have been looked after for 2.5 or more years and who have been living in the same placement for at least two years, or placed for adoption, has remained stable at around 65 per cent. since this target was introduced. As a result, we have undertaken intensive targeted work with a number of local authorities to help support them in improving placement stability.
Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)
Written Parliamentary Question 21st May
Trade and Industry: OM EnergyQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 27 April 2007, Official Report, column 1361W, on OM Energy, what his definition is of academic validation of the technology; and who validated the technology. A:
By academic validation, I mean that appropriately qualified experts have judged that the technology works. The experts were Dr. Juan Matthews PhD, FInstP (DTI International Technology Promoter), Dr. Fulcieri Maltini, former World Bank scientist and fuel cell expert who conducted the on-site inspection, and Professor Derek Fray, B.Sc.(Eng.), Ph.D., D.I.C., M.A., A.R.S.M., C.Eng., M.I.M., F.I.M.M., F.Eng., Head of Cambridge University Department of Materials Chemistry, who met the scientists involved.
Ian McCartney (Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Cleveland 20 years on
The question being asked is whether or not things have got better since the scandal of false diagnoses of sexual abuse in 1987 in Cleveland. 121 children were removed from their families because of false claims.
It is important to recognise that this was not good for the children concerned. A "false positive" for child abuse is in itself abusive of the child. It causes emotional trauma and insecurity. Given the limits as to numbers of foster carers available children can even be placed in risky situations.
The question is whether the situation has improved since then. Because of the secrecy it is much harder to monitor the situation overall. However, it seems quite clear on the evidence that I have that generally things have deteriorated.
MTAS - It didn't work
So, the government have admitted that MTAS was a mess. This shows how their approach of ignoring all criticism really is not the best thing to do in the long term. (see link).
If, however, you look at the Department of Health website in an attempt to find out what they are saying should happen, it is not there.
Written Answers - Health: Sharon Payne (10 May 2007)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will apply for rescindment of the court order relating to the provision of the medical files held by Sharon Payne to the Attorney GeneralA:
It would not be appropriate for the Secretary of State to seek a rescindment of this court order as this remains the responsibility of the Attorney-General.(Caroline Flint (Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health)
Eurovision Song Contest
Even if you ignore the balkan block vote and what appeared to be an attempt by the Serbian government to fix the result Eurovision demonstrates the unpopularity of the UK.
Scooch produced what was a good Europop number, but appeared nowhere in the results because of political allegiances.
Damned if they do, damned if they don't
The excuse used by people to defend the current system is that Children's services are "damned if they do and damned if they don't".
The problem is that when you look in detail at situations considerable questions are asked. The linked story is one where the investigation was recently released into the death by starvation. It seems odd that nothing could be done.
At the same time the system clearly intervenes where it shouldn't. In the mean time the UK's figures for child deaths (the only abuse statistic that is properly comparable between countries) show a relative decline in the UK's position.
I am working on getting some form of generalised review of the UK's system of Public Family Law. Comparing countries is difficult because the stastics are not that comparable. However, we cannot allow the current mess to continue.
Failings found over baby's murder
This is the other side (see link) quoting from the article:Social workers failed properly to follow up child abuse allegations about a baby from Swansea who was later murdered, a report has found.
The cases that cause great concern like this one that involve clear physical harm to a child. On one hand we have the system intervening because an "expert" states that there may be emotional abuse in 5 years time. On the other hand the system fails to intervene in an obvious case of a baby being hurt badly.
The Climbie inquiry found that the time spent on Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy prevented people from dealing with the more serious case.
Tony Blair - a hard act to follow
Tony Blair is an effective salesman and has managed to sell over time a number of rather bad policies. He did, however, make progress in Northern Ireland.
His failure on Iraq is one issue, but also his failure to properly manage the civil service has caused a number of problems. He has presented these things well, but the reality is flawed.
Legislation and Sausages
I must admit today was one of those Bismarck Sausage Days."To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. Otto von Bismarck
There is a problem. The problem is that now and again there are people who are not UK citizens who commit crimes. If you have someone who is continually attacking other people who is not a UK citizen then the obvious thing to do is to deport them.
This is not new. The old system had the judge recommending deportation, but the Home Office then forgot to do it. The government have now brought in what they call "automatic deportation". The problem with their way of doing it is that it will unravel in two ways. Firstly it will fail to deport people that it should, secondly that it will deport people that it shouldn't.
Our immigration law is a total mess. There are different categories of immigration and different rules in terms of the rights to work, vote and interface with state services.
The system produced today creates a judicial muddle. We proposed a simple system whereby the judge in the original court looked at the issues and made a decision. The government has the judge only considering the sentence. Then the Home Secretary has to make a decision. This decision will be subject to judicial review and as the Immigration Minister (Liam Byrne) said they get 74 judicial review applications a week.
The new system treats theft (eg stealing electricity) as something that can result in deportation even for a prison sentence of a day. So someone who has worked, paid taxes and lived in the UK for 30 years or more can be deported for fiddling their electricity meter.
In the mean time there can be continual anti-social behaviour from someone who has just arrived and merely depends off the state and they are allowed to stay. Furthermore people who have committed violent crimes are still likely to be released before the deportation occurs from time to time.
Written Parliamentary Question 9th May 2007
Ministerial Red BoxesQ:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; and how much each cost.A:
During the last five years HM Treasury has purchased only one box pouch in 2005-06 and just one despatch box in 2006-07. The total cost including VAT was £1,388 and £511 respectively.
John Healey (Financial Secretary, HM Treasury)
Written Parliamentary Question 9th May 2007
Ministerial Red BoxesQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) how many Ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; and how much each cost;
(2) what tendering process is used to decide which company supplies Ministerial red boxes to his Department.A:
The MOD has purchased a total of 11 new ministerial red boxes over the past five years. The cost of each box purchased in each of the previous five years has been:
2002 One box at £585
2003 One box at £559
2004 Two boxes at a total cost of £916
2005 Two boxes at £564 each
2006 Four boxes at £550 each and one box at £720.
The MOD purchases its ministerial red boxes from Banner Business Supplies but has on exceptional occasions approached Barrow and Gale (formerly BH Leather Ltd.) directly.
Respect wins three seats
I have linked to the story about Respect on their website. Nationally they won three seats. (Birmingham, Bolsover and Preston) They have lost a councillor recently (in Tower Hamlets) who has defected to Labour.
What we noticed was that they piled people into Springfield, Sparkbrook and Moseley Wards. We won 3 of the wards in the Hall Green Constituency and Respect won Sparkbrook (but with a lower vote than last year).
What is clear is that Respect split the vote against Labour in the inner cities allowing Labour to hold on in Bordesley Green, Nechells, Lozells, and Aston.
Given their lack of electoral success in the elections they will have some difficulties holding together. The deal in Bethnal Green was a one election deal which is why George Galloway is not expected to stand again.
This gives Respect a considerable challenge because they have little electoral success and need more wins to hold together.
The BNP went into reverse from 2006 which is good news. They, however, won far more seats than Respect (although it is difficult to find out exactly how many).
The Greens gained 19 seats and held 26 doing well in Brighton. Brighton, if I remember rightly, is an area where they get good results generally including in the parliamentary election.
Respect and the Greens fish in the same pond and I think you may see a gradual flow from Respect to the Lib Dems, Greens and Labour.
snatch and run
There is clearly a problem in a number of countries with forced adoptions. The link relates to some stories from Canada.
Taking down the election posters
It is so good that we don't have to take down the election posters on Lamp Posts because we didn't put them up.
I don't think there will be any politicians driving to bring back lamp post posters. We will keep the boards for a few years just in case, but they are really things for recycling now.
Cameron Candidate Gets No Votes
The "Cameron Effect" clearly has not hit Tony Blair's constituency wherein a Conservative Candidate managed the relatively rare achievement of getting no votes at all.
See link for press story.
New Trimdon & Trimdon Grange
Bowes Shirley Conservative Party 0
Foster Amanda Marie British National Party 75
* HOVVELS Lucy Labour Party 441
(from the Sedgefield Election Web Page
Good results in Birmingham
We were very pleased to win Hodge Hill and move into second place in Tyburn. This means that our sitting Councillor in Tyburn will be able to hold her seat in 2008.
We were also pleased to hold Springfield (a seat we lost last year).
Notwithstanding the framing of our candidate in Bordesley for postal vote misdirection he still won 2,628 votes against Labour's 3,908.
Sadly we lost Dilawar Khan in Sparkbrook. He had his nose broken at the start of the campaign and his car smashed up on election day. This is a worrying movement towards more violent campaigns that Respect need to be held responsible for.
Written Parliamentary Question: 2nd May 2007
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when his Department expects to cease providing support to OM Energy Ltd.A:
The key objective of UK Trade and Investment's Global Entrepreneur Programme is to create self sustaining, high growth UK technology businesses by attracting both worldwide intellectual property and entrepreneurial talent here. The latest phase of the OM Energy project will include the recruitment of highly experienced global management team to take forward the next stage of the company's strategy. This will limit the need for significant ongoing support from the Global Entrepreneur Programme. (Ian McCartney, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry)
Why two days before the election
One Lib Dem Candidate and a Lib Dem Councillor in Birmingham have been arrested in respect of allegations about the 2006 Local Elections. The real question is why this has been done two days before the election (this morning) rather than after the election. (Mohammed Saeed and Cllr Zakar Ullah Choudhry)
Superficially it appears that the police are intervening in the election itself. They arrested one of our candidates in the 2006 election. He, however, was found to have not committed any offence (the postal votes found with his wife were his, his wifes and their children).
We know that some form of setup is going on because a postal vote was misdirected to the same Lib Dem Candidate's house. It is a bit like harrassing people with Pizzas and Taxis instead we have harrassment with postal votes.
Obviously we need to investigate the allegations further, but it all seems a bit fishy to me.
The truth of the UK Family Courts and forced adoption
The linked story is from York. It is another one where the children (who were forcibly adopted and taken to Canada) are returning to their birth mother.
The UK Family Courts decided that it was "in the best interests of the children" to remove them from their mother.
What use is it to have this sort of thing done to families where in the end no-one has won.
The adoptive family lose out, the birth family lose out and the children themselves lose out.
Written Parliamentary Questions: 1st May 2007
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the status is of the OM Energy projects; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Government support for OM Energy.A:
Phase one of the OM Energy project has progressed well with its objectives being fully met including academic validation of the technology; the establishment of a UK company; the securing of private seed capital investment; the filing of a worldwide patent; and the design of a next generation laboratory prototype. Phase two will begin shortly and discussions are under way with top UK engineering firm to evaluate potential market applications and the design of commercial prototype.
Government support has been effective because much of this activity was achieved with assistance from UK Trade and Investment's Global Entrepreneur Programme. This has seen the formation of a pioneering UK company, developing an exciting technology in the renewable energy sector. (Ian McCartney, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry)OM EnergyQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent by his Department on assistance to OM Energy Ltd.A:
OM Energy is a client of the UK Trade and Investment's Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) and an inward investment success having migrated from Russia in 2006. The company has received no financial help from the GEP. The type of assistance provided has been within the terms of the programme, namely advice, signposting, guidance and introductions to key relevant networks, including business angels.(Ian McCartney, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry)Prisoners Release: AcquittalsQ:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what financial and other assistance is available to those who are released from prison having been on remand and are found to be innocent.A:
Remand prisoners are eligible for all induction and resettlement programmes within the prisons and are able to access practical support to effectively help them re-integrate back in the community.
Currently there is no financial scheme that covers such prisoners. However, remand prisoners are entitled to travel warrants and in some cases to housing benefit and council tax benefit and mortgage interest for a limited time. (Gerry Sutcliffe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office)