John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
  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:
Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families)
  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, therefore, be relatively straightforward to identify where the uncertainties are and where on the spectrum of uncertainty people sit.

Once we have identified the spectrum of uncertainty it will be possible to work out how the uncertainty is reduced and hence generate a trend that can be used to identify how public policy will be driven by reality.

James Howard has been very helpful in creating a website for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and although it is easiest for me to upload data to my own reference website The main website is the appgopo one.
Monday, July 30, 2007
  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 management style can create a climate of fear in which the usual checks and balances do not operate.

Because the information about individual cases is kept to a relatively small number of people it is entirely possible to have very good people working properly in one part of a local authority and others who are abusing procedures elsewhere. My criticisms should, therefore, be seen as ones relating to the system as a whole rather than a generalised criticism of “social workers”.

Mr Hemmings produces no evidence for the allegations he makes. All my colleagues and everyone involved in Child Protection / Adoption take these difficult decisions extremely seriously and practice based on evidence.

I have two sources of evidence statistical evidence that demonstrates that the trend in care proceedings has been to take increasing numbers of young healthy white babies into care whilst no substantial shift has occurred with older children. I have also the source of individual cases where I act as a lay advisor in accordance with Family Proceedings Amendment (no 4) Regulation a statutory instrument agreed in 2005.

Mr Hemmings doesn’t know what he’s talking about but why let that get in the way of old fashioned Social Worker bashing as you climb the greasy pole?

This ad hominem style attack trying to allocate an ulterior motive to me is the sort of statement that causes me concern as to the understanding of argument and evidence gathering, but does not deserve a response.

As a an ex child protection Social Worker, who worked in a hospital social work team, I find the MP’s statement outrageous, professionally insulting and above all so completely untrue and based on ‘urban myth’ that I am shocked that he has aired the view.

Figures as anyone knows, but politicians certainly do know, can be interpreted in any manner of ways, particularly if you have a bias or slant in mind when you review such things.

I was never under pressure to meet government targets, nor to hurry through adoptions of white children under 5 to the ‘army of adopters’ waiting.

One aspect of the system is to determine where the adoption targets can have an effect. The targets are those for local authorities and, therefore, would be expected to have an effect on the decisions taken in gateway meetings. The strict legal position which can be checked in many legal textbooks (I recommend Michael Fordham’s Book on Judicial Review section 62 on bias) indicates that decisions that are biased by a management pressure should be discounted. However, the gateway decisions are not discounted.

It particularly causes me concern when managers change the recommendations of individual social workers where the individual social worker recommends that a child remains with his/her mother. The manager cannot be expected to have as much knowledge about the individual case. This action, in fact, is unlawful.

I find the suggestion that anyone working in social care would consider targets before a child’s welfare, insulting, unrealistic and contrary to our profession’s Code of Conduct. Furthermore, social workers do not ‘snatch’ any child or make decisions about adoption. These are made by a court based upon evidence, professional opinions and assessments provided by people from a range of disciplines. Yes, young white healthy babies are adopted more easily, but this does not signify a correlation between this fact and and their placement for adoption.

Funding should not be related to targets either, but rather to need

Sadly people are affected by their own financial and management concerns. A social worker visited me recently and told me that in his experience there is a climate of fear in a number of Local Authorities with the pressures on individual professionals being unreasonable. There is evidence from the Webster/Hardingham Case (Norfolk) of inappropriate pressure being placed on individuals (the Health Visitor) to change their professional view. This is, in fact, unlawful.
The courts rely on the opinions of the professionals. When courts refuse second opinions, which is frequently the case, then this cases a bias in the system against birth parents. Readers should study the judgment in the case OLDHAM MBC v (1) GW (2) PW (3) KPW (A CHILD BY HIS GUARDIAN JACQUELINE COULTRIDGE) & FORBES (Intervenor) (2007) in which two parents had their child wrongly removed and the courts demonstrated substantial resistance to allowing them to collect the evidence to prove that the children were wrongly removed.
I accept entirely the argument that the way in which the Family Court operates is a substantial part of the problem. The lax approach to evidence and the way in which the Family Courts frequently rush to judgment has created an environment in which proper procedures are frequently not followed. The reason why more scrutiny is needed in the family courts (not necessarily publicity, but independent scrutiny) is that is where things go particularly wrong.
I would tend to agree that funding should be related to need.

If Mr Hemming really thinks that the Courts are making Orders to allow the removal of children on grounds that the ‘mother might get post-natal depression’ or that the child ‘is at risk of emotional abuse in the future’ then he is catastrophically ill-informed. Is he perhaps a Daily Mail reader who believes that social workers can waltz into someone’s home and remove a child on a whim (or to meet the adoption targets he refers to)? Does Mr Hemming realise that social workers need to meet the threshold laid down in the Children Act 1989 before a Court considers making an Order? Is he aware that the primary goal of Children and Family Services departments is to keep families together and that children are removed, on the Order of a Court, as a last resort? That even when children have been removed the social worker is obliged to consider rehabilitation plans?

I am a lay advisor and have appeared in the family courts as a Mackenzie Friend. I am quite surprised at the low bar that some courts accept for the Section 31 threshold. One of the difficulties is that there is a closed shop for legal advisors that receive legal aid for work in Public Family Law. I am aware of a number of legal advisors (solicitors) that are paid both by the Local Authority and also by legal aid acting for parents against the local authority. This creates a conflict of interest. In my view this should not happen. The rules changed on 1st July 2007 and I have written to find out whether this is still permissible.

I am also aware of situations in which the legal advisors have informed the court that the parents accept an interim care order when the parents wish to contest it. Furthermore I am aware of situations where the legal advisors have informed the court that parents accept the S31 threshold when the parents do not. To a certain extent these situations have caused some of the lower bar tests such as likely emotional abuse and neglect to result in Interim Care Orders being passed by the courts.

I am aware that there are various legal requirements in various codes. However, the emphasis previously from CSCI and now Ofsted is on adoption. Theoretically practitioners are subject to judicial review for failing to act in accordance with the law. That is, however, a theory. In practise they are subject to a management kicking if they don’t hit the adoption targets. You cannot blame individuals for a system that forces them into bad behaviour.

I am a social worker of 21 years experience working with children and families in statutory agencies. I currently work in the Family Courts where the final decisions to adopt a child, are made. I find your comments quite astounding, and I do not find that they match my experience in any way. Have you based your views on a good body of evidence, or just a handful of anecdotal information? Do you accept how much more difficult it could make an already extremely complex job, if views such as these are publicised without first being tested against the reality of the situation?

I have looked at the statistical evidence (mainly SSDA903) and also around 130 cases where I would argue that the system has misbehaved in some form or other.

Never have I read such ridiculous comments as those in this article. Clearly the author is not a practising social worker out there in thefield. Could it not be the case that the increase in adoptions fromcare is as a direct result of clearer social work practices under theprovisions of the new Children Act? Further, the New act places asignificant emphasis on retaining children permanently within theirfamilies of origin even when parents are unable to provide direct careor safety. Certainly in my direct experience this is the case and LocalAuthorities are increasingly supporting children young peoplepermanently within their extended families via Residence Orders andSpecial Guardianship arrangements. It is my opinion that this articleexpounds a biassed and uninformed view of children, particularly veryyoung in the care system.

The statistical evidence remains that there is an increase in adoptions outside the birth family. Targets do skew decision making. That is why they have an effect. However, the use of special guardianship as an alternative to adoption is sensible.

The proposal that social workers are literally 'tearing new born babiesfrom their mothers arms' is preposterous. As an Adoption manager in a local authority who do indeed have a highpercentage of Looked After children placed for adoption, I can assureyou that in each case we have tried extremely hard to re-unite the childwith its birth parents or in its extended family. Social workersassessments are also examined carefully by the courts - we do not andindeed cannot simply place children for adoption without clear evidence.Where is John Hemmings evidence to the contrary? A childs birth parents have many opportunities to put forward theirevidence and it is not uncommon for numerous assessments to be carriedout within the extended family - to ensure that all possibilities areconsidered.Often young children are difficult to place for adoption - as there arefrequently uncertain prognosis about their health or development and theissues in relation to their birth family history is the same whateverthe childs age.I would be grateful if these comments could be forwarded

I have dealt with a number of these issues above. The Judge in the case of X Council V B & Ors which dealt with the issue of Emergency Protection Order was Justice Munby who recently gave permission for the local authority involved to be named as Blackpool, which just so happens to be the same local authority as referred to in the question.

In this case the local authority made an ex parte application for an Emergency Protection Order for older children. This followed, of course, the case of P, C and S v The United Kingdom which related to the use of an EPO for a newborn baby.

In both cases it has been accepted by the courts that what was done by the local authority was wrong. Let me emphasise that P, C and S found specifically what was alleged ie 'tearing new born babies from their mothers arms'

I can, of course, have no exhaustive evidence to specifically deal with whether or not Blackpool have “tried extremely hard to re-unite the child with its birth parents” simply because of the difficulty of getting a proper truly independent consideration of an issue after the events. We do, however, have a judgment that demonstrates that Blackpool have previously applied inappropriately for an EPO on an ex-parte basis.

Is John Hemming familiar with the Working Together To Safeguard Children (HM Government 2006)


Why oh why does an MP not know that social workers do not have the power to "snatch" children. He is only fuelling the public perception that this is what we do.

It is the Local Authority Children’s Social Workers that apply for court orders for EPOs, ICOs or at times ask the police for to act to take a child into care. To that extent it is not reasonable for social workers to hide behind the courts. Particularly if an EPO ex-parte is applied for or the police are asked to act by a social worker then a Social Worker should not try to make the courts responsible for what is in essence an action initiated by Social Workers without any chance that parents can defend the situation.

Any applications that are put before the courts by local authorities are based on multi-agency decisions decisions ( as per working together) and it is the courts that decide if children can be removed from their parents. Social workers can only make recommendations.

One of the most worrying aspects of the Webster case was the bullying of the Health Visitor to make her change her professional opinion. There is clear evidence that this form of bullying goes on. It may not appear in “working together”, but that does not mean that it does not happen.

As a social worker of over 20 years standing, who has removed children permanently from their families, can you supply me with the research information which allows you to make such certain statements about how and why social workers remove children inappropriately from their families in order to meet adoption targets?

See above and statistics at

In all cases decisions to remove children permanently are made by a multi professional process, have you 'shadowed' a social work or CAFCASS team? What have you to say about other agencies roles in the decision making process?

The problems rest with a number of cases which are wrong. Clearly intervention is needed in some circumstances. The argument I am putting forward is that the decision making processes are skewed and causing both interventions to occur when they shouldn’t and also interventions to not occur when they should.

Do you know that in many instances, social workers are often faced with pressure to leave children at home in abusive situations, in order to meet the targets of reducing the numbers of 'looked after' children?

Whereas there are budgetary constraints there are no central government targets relating to the number of “looked after” children or “children in care”

Perhaps you would like to meet front line workers face to face to explore this subject more fully, if so I would be only too pleased to attend.

I have met a number of front line workers. I would be willing to have an exploration session in the future at which we could discuss how the system should be changed. Perhaps Community Care would be willing to facilitate this.

I completely support your recent comments and i think clear investigation is needed.

Thank you for this supportive comment. Many social workers are frightened to speak out about what is going on. We need an honest open debate to take the situation forward so that we are protecting children, but also supporting families.

I am a practicing social worker primarily with physical impairments however adults with Physical Impairments are an extreme target with regards to babys and small children and it is becoming a little concerning.

There are some easily identifiable targets that make it easier to obtain ‘adoptible commodities’ to hit the adoption targets.

An example i went out on a community care assesment friday, to a young family, mother is 22 with Cerebral Paslsy and slight learning difficulty however college educated with prospects a husband and 12 week old baby, a child care worker had been into the care environment and deemed that the way in which the family were living and taking care of the baby was not to HER standards and therefore the continuing care team started care proceedings, i was asked to go out and see if before it got to this to see if could provide a parenting package to assist them... when in reality the couple are managing just fine, the baby was clean, well fed, happy and a bundle of joy - the parents were coping had engaged in their own support networks with surestart amongst other groups and i identifed no risk at all.

I am glad you are willing to stand up and argue the case for parents.

I think a point to be made is that practioners today are self analysing situations based on their own living, their own opinions on how others should live, yes there is a clear line between good care and bad care but i think some of us are forgetting our normal is not the normal in which we are supposed to be assessing upon. we are suppose to asssit family units to remain together not take away at any given opportunity!

Good Work

This is why the system need to be changed to ensure that the simplistic approach of simply taking children into care and getting them adopted is not seen as the only way forwards.
I do not agree that children are being removed without good cause. I left front line children and families because I was refused permission to remove when clearly there was significant risk to the baby/child. I do agree that focus of protection is placed on younger children and those over 5 get left at risk and yes that is due to the government targets of preventing children from being in long term foster care. However I do agree that not enough is being done for parents who are not providing their children with good enough parenting. Also no money is being placed in preventative service and all the money is held in fostering and adoption to meet the targets. High case loads prevent practitioners from being able to work alongside parents to improve parenting and families power is being taken from them we need to utilise the skills of extended family members. Too much emphasis is placed on statistics.

It is clear that some children are removed without good cause. Where the argument rests is how many wrongful adoptions occur. I argue that it is of the order of 1000 a year say some 20 per week.

However, I am pleased to note that you agree with me as to the effect of the targets and the fact that all the money has gone into this route. Money after all does have an effect on what happens and the Public Sector Agreements have corrupted Social Work in putting pressures on departments to behave inappropriately.

In conclusion

I have tried to answer the questions asked and am pleased that some practitioners are willing to put their heads above the parapet and say that I am right. Many more tell me that I am right, but understandably do not wish to be quoted by name.

The system is badly broken. This wrongly reflects on everyone working in public family law. There are many good people working hard to protect children. They are, however, being put at risk by the bad behaviour of a few driven by the financial rewards.

We need to look forward as to how to resolve the problems that we face. It is not acceptable to allow the gradual slide into a culture of management bullying and fear driven by financial targets.

The Family Courts have to accept responsibility for their part of the problem. It is wrong to simply see Social Workers are the whipping post of the problems in society. Many lawyers have made a good living whilst undermining their own clients’ cases. There are experts who earn a lot of money simply repeating unproven theories. In the mean time children and families suffer and also real child abuse happens without action being taken.

Please do not think that I am the only MP concerned about this issue. There is cross party concern and a demand to see the system change.

I am happy to work with the profession to work out how changes should be made and if Community Care are willing to facilitate a meeting at some stage I would be willing to engage with professionals at a meeting.

  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.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
  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.
Friday, July 27, 2007
  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.
Powys UA, Welshpool Gungrog
LD F Jump 234 (41.0 -30.2), Ind 143 (25.1 +25.1), Ind 98 (17.2 +17.2), Con
95 (16.7 -12.1). Majority 91. Turnout 30%. LD hold. Last fought 2004.
  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 children, which is what the system is designed to do.
There are a number of points behind this question. There is an assumption in government that the Public Family Law system works. It doesn't. Salma's story which has been in the The Campden Journal recently shows how badly it works for children in care who know they shouldn't be there, but are returned time and time again until in her case she died.

Secondly the government mix up all the different categories of children in care. That means they cannot produce many proper policy conclusions.
John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): As an ex-cub, scout, venture scout and assistant scout leader, I welcome the recognition of the importance of scouting in its centenary year and hope that funding follows.

The Minister will be aware that I am concerned that children are inappropriately put into care and that research demonstrates that 70 per cent. of children return to their parents when they escape from the control of the state at the age of 16. I am particularly concerned about deaths of children in care, particularly one that occurred in the Trafford local authority area earlier this year. We must ask why arbitrary bureaucratic rules prevent children in care from making toast for each other but do not allow people to prevent them from acting as youth prostitutes. Will she look into the treatment of children in care, including the activities they are allowed to be involved in?

Beverley Hughes: As an ex-Akela, I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of scouting.

It is very important that children in care are firmly included in the opportunities that the strategy is making available to all young people. In our White Paper, we proposed dedicated sums of money for each child in care to be spent in conjunction with them to give them access to extended activities through schools and in the community. The attributes that I talked about are particularly important for the most disadvantaged young people, many of whom end up in the care system.
Note the effective way in which Ms Hughes doesn't answer the question at all. She doesn't handle the issue of the views of children in care and she doesn't engage with the issue of children that die in care (as did a baby earlier this year in the care of Trafford).
Thursday, July 26, 2007
  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.

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.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
  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)
Monday, July 23, 2007
  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, July 22, 2007
  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.
Friday, July 20, 2007
  Lib Dem Spokespeople House of Lords


Rt Hon Lord McNally

Lord Dholakia OBE DL
Lord Wallace of Saltaire


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

Lord Thomas of Gresford OBE QC
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone (Penal Reform)
Lord Wallace of Saltaire

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

Rt Hon Lord Maclennan of Rogart

Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Lord Avebury (Africa)
Lord Dykes (Europe)

Lord Garden KCB
Lord Lee of Trafford
Lord Addington

Baroness Northover
Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Lord Clement-Jones CBE
Baroness Bonham-Carter
Lord Addington (Sport)
Lord Lee of Trafford (Tourism)

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Falkner of Margravine

Baroness Sharp of Guildford
Lord Watson of Richmond (Universities)
Lord Cotter (Skills)

Baroness Barker
Baroness Tonge
Lord Carlile of Berriew – mental health and disability

Lord Teverson
Lord Redesdale (Agriculture)
Lord Dykes (CAP reform)
Lord Greaves

Baroness Scott of Needham Market
Baroness Hamwee (Regional and Local Government)
Lord Dholakia OBE DL – Communities
Lord Greaves
Lord Burnett (planning)

Lord Smith of Clifton
Baroness Harris of Richmond DL

Rt Hon Lord Maclennan of Rogart

Lord Razzall CBE
Lord Sharman OBE
Lord Vallance of Tummel
Lord Cotter (small businesses)
Lord Redesdale (Energy)

Lord Bradshaw
Earl of Mar and Kellie DL

Lord Newby OBE
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Livsey of Talgarth CBE
Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay
Lord Addington (Disability)
Baroness Thomas of Winchester
Lord Kirkwood


Lord Shutt of Greetland OBE

Lord Addington

Baroness Harris of Richmond DL
Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Lord Teverson
Lord Lee of Trafford

  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. I cannot report these cases because that is a "contempt of court".
  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 sight of the fact that people want the Government and public services to do important things. If a target is able to focus work in that respect, that is what we should do. One example is cutting waiting times for hospital treatment.

  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) 1,885 (6.74%)
Toby Horton (UKIP) 536 (1.92%, +0.36%)
Chris Haine (Green) 348 (1.24%)
Stephen Gash (Eng Dem) 177 (0.63%)
Tim Grainger (Ch P) 177 (0.63%)
Alan "Howling Laud" Hope (Loony) 147 (0.53%, +0.15%)
Norman Scarth (Anti-Crime) 34 (0.12%)
Lab majority 6,956 (24.86%)
11.06% swing Lab to Lib Dem
Thursday, July 19, 2007
  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 the approach set out in chapter 1 of the 2007 Energy White Paper: that the key challenge is not one of insufficient global oil resources, but rather one of promoting—domestically and internationally—more investment across the energy sector and also improvements in energy efficiency.
Malcolm Wicks (Minister of State (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform)
  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.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
  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.
  Lord High Chancellor offers meeting on Family Justice
I raised the problems handling malpractise at Justice Questions today and Jack Straw offered a meeting to discuss the issue. That is good and I hope that we will now see some progress.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
  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)
Monday, July 16, 2007
  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.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
  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 corruption
  1. Many 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.
  2. 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 that should discount the opinion of the local authority. It is easy to fiddle an assessment.
  3. Experts make a good living out of allegations of abuse, but no money if they don't allege abuse. This creates yet another conflict of interest.
  4. It is difficult to report and get enforcement action for unacceptable behaviour by professionals.

I am not saying that these are the only aspects of the system that are corrupt. Any one of the four above would be sufficient to invalidate the conclusions of the system.

The system is in itself corrupting.
  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.
Friday, July 13, 2007
  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 126
(11.0; -2.9), UKIP 92 (8.0; -3.5).
Majority 467. Turnout 24.8%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Rotherham MBC, Valley
Lab 781 (43.8; -1.5), BNP 348 (19.5; +2.0), Ind 308 (17.3; +17.3), Con 197
(11.0; -10.4), LD Eric Shaw 150 (8.4; -7.4).
Majority 433. Turnout 19.5%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Staffordshire CC, Keele and Westlands
Con 1067 (41.9; +7.8), LD Marion Reddish 1005 (39.5; +6.6), Lab 268
(10.5; -13.9), UKIP 204 (8.0; +4.7), [Green (0.0; -5.3)].
Majority 62. Turnout 20.4%. Con hold. Last fought 2005.

Wells City TC, Central
Ind 282 (54.2), LD Denise Boulton 238 (45.8).
Majority 44. Turnout 31.4%. Ind hold.
  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 questions next week, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman can raise the matter then.

  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.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
  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.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
  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.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
  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.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
  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.
  Telegraph on Family Court secrecy issues
The linked story is to another Sunday Telegraph article in which they reveal another injustice.

The national media are now on a hunt for injustice - which is helpful.

There are also these letters in the Sunday Telegraph.

A story in the Mail on Sunday
Adoption targets
Saturday, July 07, 2007
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:
The following are examples of expenditure that would normally not qualify under this
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 damaged buildings is an insurable cost;
- authorities whose policies may bear less risk than the Zurich Municipal
SELECT Policy would still be bound by its definition of normally insurable risks
as regards qualifying expenditure under a Bellwin scheme: authorities whose
policies include cover for greater risks than the basic SELECT Policy should
exclude from their qualifying expenditure all costs for which they are covered
and will be compensated.
- Damage caused by terrorism remains an insurable cost.
b) Environment Agency levy costs and those costs reportable for FSS purposes relating to
flood defences.
c) loss of income (e.g., from facilities closed as a result of the emergency), as this falls
outside the scope of section 155 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989;
d) the normal wages and salaries of the authority's regular employees, whether diverted
from their normal work or otherwise, and the standing costs of the authority's plant and
e) longer term works of repair and restoration, such as tree planting and repair or
refurbishment of damaged but not dangerous structures;
f) any element of betterment, e.g. repairs to buildings to a significantly higher standard
than their condition on the day before the incident;
g) expenditure eligible for any other specific grants, e.g. police grant;
any amounts in respect of specific works on flood defence or coast protection which had
already been allocated within budgeted expenditure to these works
h) before the incident occurred (however, subsequent amounts for emergency work
resulting from the incident above the level of any amounts thus allocated would usually
be eligible for assistance);
i) any expenditure on flood defence or coast protection that will be compensated by the
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by means of grant or credit
j) any capital expenditure which is of a long term or preventive nature and not therefore
connected with the immediate action to safeguard life or property following an
emergency or disaster (refer to item q at Annex A for further guidance on this).
  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.
Friday, July 06, 2007
  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
Frontbench team: Nick Gibb, Maria Miller, Tim Loughton

Communities and Local Government:
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government: Eric
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

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

Environment, Food & Rural Affairs:
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Peter
Frontbench team: James Paice, Greg Barker, Bill Wiggins, Ann McIntosh

Foreign Affairs:
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: William
Frontbench team: David Liddington (Also attending Shadow Cabinet), Mark
Francois, Keith Simpson

Shadow Secretary of State for Health: Andrew Lansley
Frontbench team: Mark Simmonds, Stephen O'Brien, Ann Milton, Mike

Home Affairs:
Shadow Home Secretary: David Davis
Frontbench team: David Ruffley , Damian Green, James Brokenshire,
Andrew Rosindell

Law Officers:
Shadow Attorney General: Dominic Grieve
Shadow Solicitor General: Jonathan Djanogly

Innovation, Universities and Skills:
Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills: David
Frontbench team: Boris Johnson, John Hayes, Adam Afriyie

International Development:
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development: Andrew Mitchell

Frontbench team: Mark Lancaster, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice & Lord Chancellor: Nick Herbert
Frontbench team: Henry Bellingham, Edward Garnier, David Burrowes,
Eleanor Laing

Northern Ireland:
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Owen Paterson
Frontbench team: Laurence Robertson

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Theresa May
Frontbench team: Shailesh Vara

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: David Mundell
Frontbench team: Ben Wallace

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Theresa Villiers
Frontbench team: Julian Brazier, Stephen Hammond, Robert Goodwill

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Philip Hammond
Frontbench team: David Gauke, Mark Hoban, Justine Greening

Work & Pensions:
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Chris Grayling
Frontbench team: Nigel Waterson, Mark Harper, James Clappison, Andrew

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Cheryl Gillan
Frontbench team: David Jones

Chief Whip: Patrick McLoughlin
Deputy Chief Whip: Andrew Robathan
Assistant Chief Whip: John Randall
Whips: Simon Burns, Michael Fabricant, Angela Watkinson, Crispin Blunt,
David Evennett, John Baron, Brooks Newmark, Richard Benyon, Stewart
Jackson, Jeremy Wright, Nick Hurd

Chairman of the Conservative Party: Caroline Spelman
Chairman of the Policy Review and Chairman of the Conservative Research
Department: Oliver Letwin
Thursday, July 05, 2007
  This child died because she was wrongly taken into care
The link is to a story about a child that was taken into care. She didn't want to be in care and ran away on a number of occasions.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
  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 care because of the demand for young children to adopt. The comparable figures for 1995 were 910 children adopted and 2870 taken into care. This gives an adoption ratio of 32%.

"The error the government have made," he said, "was to look at the proportion of children in care at any one time that get adopted. There are two problems with this. Firstly, children that are taken into care do not get adopted (and should not get adopted) that quickly when the parents are fighting to keep them. Secondly, there are larger numbers of chidren that it is very difficult to get adopted and adoptions normally fail with older children so it is an error to attempt to force adoptions of 10 year olds."

"It has taken me a few months to get figures from the DfES as to how many children are actually taken into care (the flows) rather than numbers that are actually in care. However, I have now got figures for 1995 and 2006. The really disturbing trend is in the large numbers of newborn babies taken into care. I am aware of cases where babies are put in care because their mothers might get post natal depression. This is simply an evil way of working. We do need to think first of the children and their wider families rather than responding to the government's demand for more and more adoptions. England and Wales (and probably Northern Ireland, but not Scotland) have struck out in a way which is alien to human nature. This needs to come to an end."

"I regret the government's decision to increase the secrecy in the Family Courts. These statistics and the reported cases clearly demonstrate the need for more scrutiny rather than less."


Note for Editors:
"In care" means that there is a care order of some form. This can be a police protection order, Emergency Protection Order, Interim Care Order or a Full Care Order. Normally a case will start with one and then end up with a care order under S31 of the 1989 Childrens Act. This is to be distinguished from those cases where Section 20 of the 1989 Act is used for a "looked after child". These are voluntary rather than compulsory.

The raw statistics are available at:
The source of the statistics quoted in this release is the DfES. (now DCFS)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007
  Campbell Shadow Cabinet
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 State for Children, Schools and Families
David Laws MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office; and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Norman Baker MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Olympics
Don Foster MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Scotland
Alistair Carmichael MP
Leader in the Lords
The Rt Hon Lord (Tom) McNally
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Julia Goldsworthy MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Sarah Teather MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Roger Williams MP

Also attending as members of the Shadow Cabinet
Lords Chief Whip
Lord (David) Shutt of of Greetland
Shadow Attorney General
Lord (Martin) Thomas of Gresford
Shadow Minister for Housing
Paul Holmes MP
Shadow Solicitor General
David Howarth MP
Chief of Staff and Chair of Campaigns and Communications
Edward Davey MP
Chair of the Manifesto Group
Steve Webb MP
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader
Tim Farron MP
  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' children who now know that the children should have remained with their birth parents.

That is not a good situation.
  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 Research

Chris Grayling
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Cheryl Gillan
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

David Mundell
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Theresa Villiers
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones
Shadow Security Minister and National Security Adviser to the Leader of
the Opposition

Eric Pickles
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Michael Gove
Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

Sayeeda Warsi
Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion

Nick Herbert
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Owen Paterson
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Jeremy Hunt
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Patrick McLoughlin
Opposition Chief Whip

Baroness Anelay of St Johns will replace Lord Cope of Berkeley as
Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Lords when he retires on the 27th
July 2007

Attending Shadow Cabinet:
Grant Shapps - Shadow Housing Minister
David Lidington - Shadow Foreign Office Minister
Monday, July 02, 2007
  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:
Smoking will be allowed in three designated areas in the House of Lords:
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 leave the premises. Passholders are told they may seek the help of Police or Security Officers.

Smoking is also banned in any vehicle that is provided by the House of Commons. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that passengers do not smoke.
  Brown: Government Appointments in Full
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 Hoon
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families: Ed Balls
Minister for the Cabinet Office; and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Ed Miliband
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: James Purnell
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Shaun Woodward MP (Unpaid).
Leader of the House of Lords (and Lord President of the Council): Baroness Ashton of Upholland Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Andy Burnham
Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills: John Denham
Lords Chief Whip and Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms: Lord Grocott (Attends Cabinet)

Law officers
Attorney General: Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Attends Cabinet)
Solicitor General: Vera Baird
Advocate General for Scotland: Lord Davidson of Glen Clova
HM Treasury
Financial Secretary to the Treasury: Jane Kennedy
Exchequer Secretary (Parliamentary Secretary): Angela Eagle
Economic Secretary (Parliamentary Secretary): Kitty Ussher
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Minister of State (Europe): Jim Murphy
Minister of State: Sir Mark Malloch Brown (Attends Cabinet)
Minister of State: Kim Howells
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Meg Munn
(they had Digby Jones here as well, not sure if this was right)
Ministry of Justice
Minister of State: David Hanson
Minister of State: Michael Wills
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Bridget Prentice
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Maria Eagle
Home Office
Minister of State and Minister for the West Midlands: Liam Byrne
Minister of State: Tony McNulty
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Vernon Coaker
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Admiral Sir Alan West
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Meg Hillier
Ministry of Defence
Minister of State: Bob Ainsworth
Minister of State: Lord Drayson (Unpaid)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Derek Twigg
Scotland Office
Minister of State: David Cairns
Department of Health
Minister of State: Dawn Primarolo
Minister of State and Minister for the South West: Ben Bradshaw
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Professor Sir Ara Darzi
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Ann Keen
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Ivan Lewis
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Minister of State: Lord Rooker
Minister of State: Phil Woolas
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Joan Ruddock
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for the South East: Jonathan Shaw
Department for International Development
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Gareth Thomas
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Shriti Vadera
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Shahid Malik (Unpaid)
Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
Parliamentary Secretary: Helen Goodman (Unpaid)
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Minister of State: Stephen Timms
Minister of State: Sir Digby Jones
Minister of State: Pat McFadden
Minister of State: Malcolm Wicks
Minister of State: Lord Drayson (Unpaid)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Gareth Thomas
Department of Work and Pensions
Minister of State: Mike O'Brien
Minister of State and Minister for Yorkshire and the Number: Caroline Flint
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Anne McGuire
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: James Plaskitt
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Lord McKenzie of Luton (Unpaid)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for the East of England: Barbara Follett
Wales Office
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Huw Irranca-Davies
Department for Transport
Minister of State: Rosie Winterton
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Jim Fitzpatrick
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Tom Harris
Department of Communities and Local Government
Minister of State: Yvette Cooper (Attends Cabinet)
Minister of State: John Healey
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Baroness Andrews
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Parmjit Dhanda
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Ian Wright (Unpaid)
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Minister of State: Jim Knight
Minister of State and Minister for the North West: Beverley Hughes
(Attends Cabinet when social policy issues are being discussed)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Kevin Brennan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Lord Adonis
Cabinet Office
Parliamentary Secretary: Phil Hope
Parliamentary Secretary and Minister for the East Midlands: Gillian Merron
Minister for the Olympics and Minister for London (Paymaster General): Tessa Jowell (Attends Cabinet)
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Minister of State: Margaret Hodge
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Gerry Sutcliffe
Northern Ireland Office
Minister of State: Paul Goggins
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Minister of State: Bill Rammell
Minister of State: Ian Pearson
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: David Lammy
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Lord Triesman

Deputy Chief Whip (Treasurer of HM Household) and Minister for the North East of England: Nick Brown
Government Whip (Comptroller of HM Household): Thomas McAvoy
Government Whip (Vice Chamberlain of HM Household): Liz Blackman
Junior Lords of the Treasury
Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury): Frank Roy
Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury): Steve McCabe
Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury): Alan Campbell
Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury): David Watts
Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury): Claire Ward
Assistant Whips
Assistant Government Whip: Siobhian McDonagh
Assistant Government Whip: Michael Foster
Assistant Government Whip: Tony Cunningham
Assistant Government Whip: Alison Seabeck
Assistant Government Whip: Diana Johnson (Unpaid)
Assistant Government Whip: Mark Tami (Unpaid)
Assistant Government Whip: Sadiq Khan (Unpaid)
Assistant Government Whip: Bob Blizzard
Assistant Government Whip: Tom Watson
Assistant Government Whip: Wayne David
Deputy Chief Whip (Captain of The Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard): Lord Davies of Oldham Baronesses and Lords in Waiting
Baroness in Waiting: Baroness Crawley
Baroness in Waiting: Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Baroness in Waiting: Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton
Baroness in Waiting (paid as Parliamentary Secretary): Baroness Morgan of Drefelin
Lord in Waiting: Lord Evans of Temple Guiting
Lord in Waiting: Lord Bassam of Brighton
Lord in Waiting: Lord Truscott (Unpaid)
Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister: Ian Austin; Angela E Smith
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chief Whip: Sarah McCarthy-Fry

Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington QPM to be the Prime Minister's Senior Adviser on International Security Issues
Lord Lester of Herne Hill to advise the Secretary of State for Justice on aspects of constitutional reform
Joan Ryan MP to be Special Representative to Cyprus
Baroness Neuberger will work with the Prime Minister, the Government and the voluntary sector to champion volunteering

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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