John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Thursday, April 30, 2009
  Flights into BHX from Mexico
I have spoken to Birmingham Airport about the flight in from Mexico on Tuesday next. They are guided by the Health Protection Agency about how to handle this flight and ensure that if there is anyone infected that they don't infect other people.

I am also concerned that the best possible efforts are made on the flight to ensure that no cross infection occurs on the flight. Those points will be made to the authorities.
 
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
  Demolition of Meadway Blocks Kicks Off etc
There have been a number of local development projects that I have been concerned about. It is always a challenge keeping things on track as politicians do not have the authority to instruct people to develop sites. We do seem to have a local group of "rent an arsonist" who attack closed pubs. They hit the Yew Tree and Wagon and Horses some time ago. Then the Manor House (which is now demolished) and now the Ring O Bells is looking rather sad.

It is sad to see these buildings disappearing, but as things change it becomes difficult to maintain traditional structures. Government policy has caused problems for pubs for many years and there does not seem to be any shift in direction.

The Wagon and Horses is now Aldi. The original proposal here was a non-starter, but we could not leave the site in the state it was. This is the outcome.
IMG_1086
Which looks better than the Ring O Bells now looks (this remains an issue to be resolved)
IMG_1094
After many years nudging the project back onto the rails after it comes off the tracks the Swan Redevelopment is progressing.
IMG_1070
We have, of course, in the above picture Bakeman House. Wheeldon House is now getting similar improvements.
IMG_1088
As did Frogmoor, Gosmoor and Danesmoor in the past.
IMG_1091
However, the meadway blocks are being demolished and the site redeveloped.
P4280013 (Large)
Which leaves The Manor House and the Iron Lane junction as another place to be resolved. We hope to have a new plan for this triangle in the current financial year.
IMG_1101
 
Sunday, April 26, 2009
  Family Courts - guidance
The link is to all the practise directions and guidance relevant to the new rules.
 
Friday, April 24, 2009
  Suicide over 3K legal bill
The link is to a story about someone committing suicide as a result of a 3K bill from Treasury Solicitors.

I agree with the European COurt of Human Rights that Judicial Review with its costs is not an adequate remedy for the misbehaviour of the state.
 
  Election Results 23rd April 2009
Aberdeenshire UA, Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside
Con 1144 (31.5; -18.3)
LD Rosemary Bruce 969 (26.7; +0.6)
Ind 842 (23.2; +23.2)
SNP 617 (17.0; -3.1)
BNP 44 (1.2; +1.2)
Ind 19 (0.5; +0.5)
Turnout 43.7%
LD Rosemary Bruce won on the 5th count
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Highland UA, Inverness West
LD Alasdair Christie 1503 (59.6; +34.5)
SNP 556 (22.0; -6.8)
Lab 210 (8.3; -7.7)
Christian People's Alliance 115 (4.6; +4.6)
Con 111 (4.4; -2.5)
Solidarity 27 (1.1; +1.1)
[Ind (0.0; -23.2)]
Turnout 38.3%
LD gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2007

Redbridge LBC, Wanstead
Con 1300 (37.3; -5.6)
LD Kate Garrett 1030 (29.6; +17.9)
Lab 694 (19.9; -7.7)
Green 256 (7.3; -10.5)
BNP 171 (4.9; +4.9)
UKIP 33 (0.9; +0.9)
Majority 270
Turnout 40.7%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Waverley BC, Alfold, Cranleigh Rural and Ellen’s Green
Con 429 (64.3; -5.9)
LD Richard Ernest Cole 238 (35.7; +13.5)
[Ind (0.0; -7.6)]
Majority 191
Turnout 45.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Wycombe DC, Totteridge
LD Steve Guy 733 (54.1; +36.5)
Con 408 (30.1; -10.9)
Lab 214 (15.8; -25.6)
Majority 325
Turnout 31%
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Erewash BC, Derby Road West
Lab 696 (39.0; +6.7)
Con 584 (32.7; -12.7)
LD Ian Neill 301 (16.9; -5.4)
BNP 205 (11.5; +11.5)
Majority 112
Turnout not known
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Immingham TC, Bluestone
No Description 201 (76.1)
No Description 63 (23.9)
Majority 138
Turnout 13.3%
Other hold

Party defending seat: Ind. Cause: Resignation
 
  Channel Island TV re Stuart Syvret's arress
The link is to my interview on Channel Island TV (recorded in Central TV studios, Broad St, Birmingham), about Stuart Syvret's arrest.
 
Thursday, April 23, 2009
  Masterman-Lister v Brutton & Co [2002] EWCA 1889
I have linked to Bailli on this. I am having another go within the UK to demonstrate why the decision of the Court of Appeal in RP v Nottingham and also HP v Birmingham was wrong.

Both of these cases are now in Strasbourg as well.
 
  Budget 2009
The budget looks like an attempt to hold things together until the General Election in the vain hope that something will turn up.

A few years ago I got a copy of the Treasury Economic Model programmes. However, without the data that the Treasury put into the model the model cannot be properly scrutinised. The treasury refused to provide the figures.

I would presume that the government have "kitchen sinked" the 2009-10 figures so they can point to improvements from their forecast for what I expect to be a general election in 2010. However, it is still not clear that their forecasts beyond that are at all reliable.

Superficially it appears some progress has been made on bingo taxation, however.

The real challenge is one of how we move towards providing public services in a more cost-effective manner. We haven't really managed to do that in the past. My own personal view is that we need to look at the bureaucratic overhead in running services and try to move away from overly complex assessments towards designing systems with localised feedback.

The government has gradually made the provision of public services more and more complex and at the same time prone to error. It is that approach that needs a systematic revisiting.

Talking as I do to refugees who have left the UK for other European Countries it seems clear that public services in other places are a higher quality. In Sweden, for example, they are very worried about any patients who have been in an English hospital. They immediately place them in an isolation unit to protect against MRSA.

Those doctors who have been concerned about "dumbing down" in the NHS are I think right to be concerned. I have seen two people recently in my advice bureau who have been harmed by wrongful initial diagnosis by less qualified practitioners.
 
Monday, April 20, 2009
  Statebook - a Prototype
The link is to a prototype spoof of Facebook by the Open Rights Group. It makes the point as to what the government can do by "sharing information".
 
Sunday, April 19, 2009
  Lenny Harper's affidavit about corruption in Jersey Police
The link is to the Mail on Sunday's report of Lenny's affidavit for the court hearing in the RCJ.

The Court's reasoning for rejecting the application was that proceedings needed to be initiated in Jersey. There is no system of private prosecution in Jersey and the AG has said that he does not think he is subject to judicial review.

What is needed, however, is an attempt to do this.
 
Saturday, April 18, 2009
  My phone number is now a state secret (in Jersey)
The linked story is a bit odd. The Jersey police on returning Senator Stuart Syvret his mobile phone had erased my phone number.

It is all a bit weird. There will be an emergency meeting of the Jersey Parliament on Tuesday.

I wonder, however, what the police had to benefit from by deleting my phone number.

It is worth listening to the interview on the link about this.
 
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
  Really Dreadful Adoption story from Russia
I don't think this happens here. What happens here is that children in care are experimented on by doctors. This has been documented in the past (Kendal House and other projects).

I am not sure what happens today in relation to children in care being part of research projects. The old rules on court secrecy kept this secret, the new rules make things easier to find out.
 
Saturday, April 11, 2009
  US Family Law refugee in Netherlands (2008)
This case has just been pointed out to me. It is quite a complex case including allegations of MSbP. It does demonstrate, however, that there are quite a few family law refugee cases over time.

The challenge in private law cases (which is what this essentially was) is to find a way forward that does not have this dreadfully adversarial approach where the state acts as a steamroller.

One concern I have about this case is that it should have been possible to avoid the children losing contact with one of their parents without using the state hammer.
 
  Hoffman on the European Court
Lord Hoffman has criticised the decisions and processes of the Strasbourg Court. Where I am positive about the Strasbourg Court is that it is independent of the cosy consensus that exists in the legal establishment in the UK.

Someone who expresses the views that I express in public would be unable to make a living as a barrister in England simply because the judges would take against him (or her). This has been confirmed to me by barristers who support (some of) those things I say, but are unwilling to say them in public.

Lord Hoffman's detailed speech I hope to upload onto the JFF website as the only available copy is in Word which is not that good.

I would like to look at the three issues that he raises. These are the Sanders Case and self-incrimination. A case involving Hearsay and a third case about flights in Heathrow and Judicial Review.

Dealing with them in reverse order. Judicial review is a very difficult procedure to succeed with in England and involves major risks being taken by anyone with average wealth. From that perspective, therefore, it is not an "adequate remedy". I, therefore, agree with the European Court when "the Court nevertheless held by 16 votes to 1 (that being Sir Brian Kerr, the UK ad hoc judge) that judicial review had been an inadequate remedy."

It is not surprising that the UK judge felt that it was OK and it shows the strength of an external perspective. The concept of adequate remedies is an important concept otherwise people are powerless against the state.

The second one was where hearsay evidence was admitted in a criminal trial. I am concerned about the deontological versus consequentialist approach that has driven legal culture in recent years. On one side we have the treatment by the state of a defendant and the use of unreliable evidence. On the other side we have the consequence of someone guilty going unpunished. He cites a case where hearsay evidence was admitted. There is actually a good argument for a retrial in this situation - a retrial in which the hearsay evidence is not allowed. I do think we really need to take a look at the extent to which justice in England and Wales has been polluted by both unreliable expert opinion (something the law commission have noticed recently) and hearsay evidence.

The third case was the Sanders case. Someone has turned up to my advice bureau now so I will hope to comment on this later.
 
Friday, April 10, 2009
  Family Proceedings Amendment (No 2) Rules 2009
Both of the Statutory Instruments for the family courts are now available. I have loaded them on the JFF website and they are available by the link.

This is not the expected opening of the family courts as journalists are potentially allowed to attend proceedings, but cannot report on them.

Nor do these rules allow second opinions - probably the main cause of the miscarriages of justice in the family courts.

However, they are an improvement. In particular there is a section in the rules:

Communication of information for purposes connected with the proceedings

11.4.—(1) A party or the legal representative of a party, on behalf of and upon the instructions of that party, may communicate information relating to the proceedings to any person where necessary to enable that party—

(a) by confidential discussion, to obtain support, advice or assistance in the conduct of the proceedings;

(b) to engage in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution;

(c) to make and pursue a complaint against a person or body concerned in the proceedings; or

(d) to make and pursue a complaint regarding the law, policy or procedure relating to a category of proceedings to which this Part applies.

(2) Where information is communicated to any person in accordance with paragraph (1)(a) of this rule, no further communication by that person is permitted.

(3) When information relating to the proceedings is communicated to any person in accordance with paragraphs (1)(b),(c) or (d) of this rule—

(a) the recipient may communicate that information to a further recipient, provided that—

(i) the party who initially communicated the information consents to that further communication; and

(ii) the further communication is made only for the purpose or purposes for which the party made the initial communication; and

(b) the information may be successively communicated to and by further recipients on as many occasions as may be necessary to fulfil the purpose for which the information was initially communicated, provided that on each such occasion the conditions in sub-paragraph (a) are met.


This allows "any person" to be told of what is happening for the above reasons and for that person to pass on the information. This is helpful for MPs as MPs can now as MPs (without making use of Article IX of the Bill of Rights) get total access to the proceedings in the family court as can in fact journalists as long as it is for the above purposes.

The question, however, is how it becomes possible to press for changes outside the system. To have an effect on government it is necessary for people to understand widely what abuses of process have been going on.

I am already able without using Article IX (as above) to talk generally about what happens in the court. However, it becomes possible for better investigative work to be done. It is also easier to take up complaints with the appropriate regulatory authorities which is nigh on impossible at the moment.

Most importantly CAFCASS and the local authority cannot hide behind family court secrecy when responding to enquiries from MPs (or indeed Councillors or anyone else).

Hence these rules are perhaps 2/10 for improving accountability compared to the old rules at 1/10. It will be difficult to steer a path towards revealing what is going on, but it will be easier from 27th April than now.
 
Thursday, April 09, 2009
  Tom Watson and Barbershop Tags
Tom Watson recently posted an excellent youtube rendition of a walk in the black forest. That is a tune I need to get the form for some time. I normally do chords substantially in the left hand, however.

My preferred source of youtube unusual music is mainly barbershop tags. I suppose it fits into an age in which things don't require a lot of concentration. Some of the more interesting tags involve people individually doing a multitrack recording with video. A creative video novelty is This one

This is quite a good example of a multitrack, but although it has a lot of hits the harmony is not as good as others with a relatively traditional cadence at the end.


This again is relatively traditional


If I get some time I will try to highlight some really good ones (musically), but it is worth rummaging the search engines for barbershop tags multitrack or not.
 
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
  Parliamentary Expenses - the international situation
The BBC have done some useful research on how other countries deal with parliamentary expenses. It is interesting that it was in Sweden where a cabinet minster lost her job temporarily for buying nappies using the parliamentary credit card.

Sweden, which is a country with a high level of transparency, seems to give a good solution for how to deal with the "second home" issue.

My view as to the principles of the expenses system are as follows.

It is obvious that the current system is indefensible on a number of bases. It was established to give a tax free bung to members of parliament rather than a salary increase. I am not saying that it should be replaced by a salary increase, however.

Firstly, any scheme should be determined by an independent body. That is because of the mess that we are in at the moment.

Secondly, the rules that apply to MPs expenses should be the same principles as apply to anyone else's expenses. A situation which allows a tax free bung for MPs only is not right.

Thirdly, we should concentrate on the issue of what the cost is to the taxpayer.

What the Swedish Parliament does is to have a number of flats for MPs. However, those MPs that live elsewhere get a simple allowance and declare any profits or losses on that allowance to the taxman. This is a lower cost option for the tax payer than maintaining a flat. It also maintains the same principles as would apply to anyone else in the same situation who was not an elected official.

When lives in a property they own there are taxation issues, maintenance and utility issues and a cost of capital issue. Those are best handled by simply paying a sum of money that would be less than were someone to be in a state owned flat. That payment should be treated in the same way from a tax perspective as would be normally expected.

In the mean time the House of Lords pays no salaries and Peers get by on "expenses" alone. Some day this must be sorted out as well.
 
Monday, April 06, 2009
  Stuart Syvret Arrested
At 9am this morning Senator Stuart Syvret was arrested for an "information crime". He has told people about corrupt practises in Jersey. This is something for which the regime wishes to arrest him.

No need to say more really.
 
Sunday, April 05, 2009
  Transparency and Recession
The link is to the government's acceptance that they got their forecasts wrong.

A few years ago I tried to get details of how they did their forecasts so I could check them. It is important to have reliable forecasts.

They refused to provide the information. I tried getting it through the Information Commissioner and that failed as well.
 
Saturday, April 04, 2009
  Hoffman attacks ECtHR
The link is to a law lord attacking the European Court. The problem is that on many things like Hearsay evidence and Mental Capacity the European Court is plainly right.

Our judges may be happy to have an unreliable system of justice that is a machine for miscarriages of justice, but if the courts were not secret this would not be tolerated by the nation.

Hence the battles to keep secret how bad the Family Courts really are.
 
Friday, April 03, 2009
  Election Results 2nd April 2009
Huntingdonshire DC, Ramsey
Con 626 (38.1; -8.1)
UKIP 520 (31.6; +9.8)
LD Robert Mumford 432 (26.3; -0.9)
Lab 67 (4.1; -0.8)
Majority 106
Turnout 25.8%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Redcar and Cleveland BC, Dormanstown
LD 809 (42.4; +17.3)
Lab 667 (35.0; -17.1)
BNP 305 (16.6; +16.6)
Con 125 (6.6; -16.2)
Majority 142
Turnout 36.8%
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Leeds City, Temple Newsam
Con 1785 (28.0; -5.9)
BNP 1502 (23.6; +1.4)
Lab 1476 (23.2; -6.4)
LD Ian Dowling 1468 (23.1; +15.6)
Green 137 (2.2; +2.2)
[Ind (0.0; -6.9)]
Majority 283
Turnout not known
Con gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2008

Camden LBC, Belsize
LD Tom Simon 1136 (46.0; +5.4)
Con 952 (38.6; +1.7)
Lab 270 (10.9; -3.2)
Green 109 (4.4; -3.9)
Majority 184
Turnout 29.8%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Huntingdon TC, East
Con 751/716 (51.2)
LD Patricia Shrapnell 567 / Jacqueline Buck 562 (38.6)
Lab 150/103 (10.2)
Majorities 184/149
Turnout 21.1%
Con hold x 2

Bridport TC
Con 381 (40.7)
LD Harry Britton 335 (35.8)
Ind 149 (15.9)
Lab 70 (7.5)
Majority 46
Turnout 27.1%
Con gain from LD

Calderdale MBC, Skircoat
Con 1327 (36.8; -17.2)
LD Pauline Nash 1209 (33.5; +0.5)
Lab 274 (7.6; -0.2)
Ind 238 (6.6; +6.6)
BNP 235 (6.5; +6.5)
Ind 229 (6.4; +6.4)
Green 92 (2.6; -2.6)
Majority 118
Turnout 38.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

South Holland DC, Moulton, Weston and Cowbit
Con 937 (81.1; +28.5)
LD Anne Elizabeth Ramkaran 219 (18.9; +18.9)
[UKIP (0.0; -16.6)]
[Ind (0.0; -30.9)]
Majority 718
Turnout 21.9%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Arun DC, Felpham West
Con 630 (52.1; +12.8)
LD Martin Denis Lury 269 (22.2; +6.2)
BNP 165 (13.6; +13.6)
UKIP 89 (7.4; -8.8)
Lab 56 (4.6; +4.6)
[Ind (0.0; -28.4)]
Majority 361
Turnout 30.2%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007
 
  Tom Brake's own video
This is further on the klimate kamp kettle.
 
  The politics of the 1600s
This CNN report is interesting it is another symptom of a reverting to the politics of the early 1600s (prior to Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights).

An interesting theme is the throwing of a shoe. It is sad that people take it out on the police. However, the strategy of the police including imprisoning an MP (Tom Brake) - who was not guilty of any offence - is something that needs reviewing.

The danger of the strengthening of the executive (the King) against the people is a generalised striking out against "the system" which does not try to analyse its failings, but is merely a randomised retaliation.

We do need to reemphasise democracy. However, arguing for that is a challenge in the environment where MPs are seen as spending more time on filling in expense returns rather than protecting the people of the UK.
 
Thursday, April 02, 2009
  Angela Eagle - One Year Ago
The link is to what Angela Eagle said exactly one year ago today viz:

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Angela Eagle): The Liberal Democrat motion has been much commented on, possibly because it reads like the storyboard for “Apocalypse Now”, or perhaps even “Bleak House”. According to the motion, we are facing an

“extreme bubble in the housing market”

and the “risk of recession”, and we must

“act to prevent mass home repossessions”.

Presumably that is why the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Browne) got through his entire speech without mentioning any of those things until the last minute—they obviously keep him up late at night.

Fortunately for all of us, however, that colourful and lurid fiction has no real bearing on the macro-economic reality. In difficult economic times—here I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban)— [ Interruption. ] —at least in part; I do not want to get him into trouble. In difficult economic times, it generally pays to remain calm and to apply a cool, analytical mind to the situation. Hysterical over-reaction, as this motion demonstrates, might attract a few cheap headlines and some doom-laden Lib Dem press releases, and it might even frighten a few voters ahead of local elections, but it is not mature or responsible, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Mudie) took some time to point out.

Now that we have had “Apocalypse Now” and “Bleak House”, I am going to talk about “An Inconvenient Truth”, which is that the economy is strong and stable. That underpins our whole response to the Liberal Democrat motion.
 
  Library of Birmingham
Birmingham City Council's press office have uploaded their first video.
 

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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