John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Saturday, November 29, 2008
  Eternal Vigilance
I have linked to part of the proceedings of the Employment Bill. The relevant section follows. The attitude of the Labour Party is that they don't need to legislate to prevent vindictive acts because they are nice people and wouldn't do that sort of thing. Sadly, however, although some people are nice and would hold themselves back - others are vindictive and as such systems need checks and balance to prevent vindictive acts obtaining state sanction.

As yet Gordon Brown has not commented on "Green-gate". At some stage he will have to.

Natascha Engel: The hon. Gentleman is trying to legislate for something that I do not think will ever happen. The idea that a trade union might be purely vindictive and get rid of somebody because 40 years ago they were a member of such-and-such an organisation just will not happen.
Mr. Djanogly: I assure the hon. Lady that in Nazi Germany a person’s membership of the Communist party 20 or 30 years previously may well have been taken into account in deciding how they were dealt with. Such treatment is therefore conceptually possible. As to whether it has happened in this country, I do not have any proof. Is it conceptually possible? Is it a fear that as legislators we should be looking at? I think it is.
Natascha Engel: The point is that we do not live in Nazi Germany. If we are legislating on the basis that we are living in Nazi Germany, we should start all over again.
Mr. Djanogly: I see myself as a guardian of democracy in this country, and I hope that all of us do to some extent.
Michael Jabez Foster: Is it not the case that Nazi Germany did not have proposed new subsection (4H), which will impose reasonableness? With respect to the hon. Gentleman, any of those bizarre examples, such as someone who was a member 20 or 30 years ago, would be unreasonable unless their conduct had been different in the meantime.
Mr. Djanogly: I think that I have made my point.
Mr. Binley: Does my hon. Friend agree from his history lessons—I lived through it—that vindictiveness occurred in the union movement consistently in the 1970s? Before saying that it did not, one should talk to many of my friends who fought that battle in Nottinghamshire and other parts of the country. It may happen again, and we need to be aware of that when we are writing law. We are not writing law for a week or a month; we assume that we are writing law for a long time indeed, and we must take that into account.
Mr. Djanogly: I totally agree with my hon. Friend.
John Hemming: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and that our role is to ensure that the laws operate properly and protect people against vindictive actions? Although I would disagree with him on this occasion in valuing the right of voluntary association where a person does not suffer any disadvantage as an important issue to be taken account of, it is our responsibility as hon. Members to protect the freedoms of the people of this country.
 
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