John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, February 27, 2011
  Two more telegraph stories
There are two more family court stories in The Telegraph. This one strikes me as one where the children were taken moreso because of conflicts between the mother and the authorities than for any other reason. Banning her from having any contact is an extreme outcome which can only really be read as some form of punishment for the mother - not what the system is supposed to be about.

This one is moreso about how the Family Courts swallow almost any rubbish as expert opinion, but don't normally allow parents a right to a second opinion.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
  French TV on the family courts in England
The link is to the story on French TV about the Family Courts in England.
Friday, February 18, 2011
  Prisoner votes - a few facts
A number of issues have been missed from the debate about whether or not convicted prisoners (as opposed to those imprisoned for default, contempt or on remand) should have the right to vote.

Firstly, the European Court of Human Rights did not offer any compensation.

Secondly, the court looked at the third article of the first protocol to the European Convention, not the original convention.

Thirdly, the UK is not alone in not allowing convicted prisoners the vote.

It is entirely possible for the Council of Europe to clarify this particular issue. Hence a lot of the hot air relating to the issue arises from a misunderstanding as to the details of the issue.

The details are important.
  Where the parties stand on AV
parties stand

What I have tried to do is to identify where the parties stand on AV. For example the Tory Party is mainly against it, but there are some tories that support it. The Labour Party are split, but probably more support it than oppose it etc.

I have then put the party logos onto a chart indicating where I think they stand. If anyone thinks I need to adjust the location of any particular political party (or add another) can they please either add a comment or email me at parliament.

If it is a party I don't already have then can I please also have a link to the logo.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
  Forests and today's announcement
I am pleased that the government have decided to have a rethink about the policy in respect of the Forests.

I did not support the government (ie was a rebel) when the policy was voted on in the House. I do think think that there are some good ideas in the middle of this. For example the RSPB do a good job of managing public space. There can be merit in extending this approach.

However, there was too much of a rush and what ever is done in respect of England's Forests we need to do with the support of the country as a whole. Hence I think it is a good idea to have a panel to look at the issue and to pull it from the Public Bodies Bill.
  NUS accepts that John Hemming was right on Student Fees
The NUS have circulated a memo which is on their website here.

That includes the following:
"the vastly increased numbers of graduates that will never pay the loan off are in fact what makes the system relatively progressive"


"Much has been made of the Government’s 80% cuts to teaching budgets; of course, whilst thats true, there has not been an 80% cut to the overall Universities budget- in fact the subsidy has been moved into this state backed, loan based voucher scheme. Overall the Government will put in about 40% less, with the rest assumed to be being made up by larger contributions from richer graduates."

In other words the subsidy is being moved from a general one into one which benefits the less well off graduates. What is what I said.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
  Forced Adoption in the UK on Belgian TV
This link gives a story in French on Belgian TV about the protest on Monday and the forced adoption system in England. This is about 17 mins in.
  Launch of the West Midlands AV Campaign
The following video is from my comments at the launch of the West Midlands AV campaign.

Visit for more info and to get involved in the campaign for better democracy"
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
  Further Comments on Darul Uloom and Channel 4
The Channel 4 documentary has now been broadcast. It and many of the press reports confuse the Darul Uloom in Birmingham and the Mosque in Keighley. Just in case there is any uncertainty I condemn the treatment of children in the Keighley Mosque and support the Police's action in making an arrest in Yorkshire. (For the avoidance of doubt: This was not happening in the Birmingham School - later edit see comments)

However, Yorkshire is not Birmingham. It is Darul Uloom that is in my constituency.

One problem with Channel 4's approach is that they did not allow the management at Darul Uloom the opportunity to see the programme and identify who was claimed to have said what. This also includes uncertainty about translation. The management want to take some time to look at the details of this and investigate things. It would have been far better had this happened before the broadcast to give a balanced report.
  1. The programme repeats on numerous occasions the statements of a sixth former criticising Hindus. This is the most misleading part of the programme. The individual concerned was expelled from the school in August 2010 well before the management knew they were being bugged.

  2. The programme also makes a number of other comments about the mosque. I can deal with some of them now, but others will have to wait until a detailed investigation.

  3. The erstwhile deputy head of the school did make comments against integration, but he resigned in a mutual decision with the school, six months prior to his speech regarding integration, due to conflicts between his views and the school's. Hence his comments should not be held against the school.

  4. There has been a tendency in Birmingham from time to time for people to have patterned short haircuts. There was some degree of banter with the comments regarding haircuts in assembly about this as it does not fit with the school's policy. However, this is not about encouraging people to hate those people who shave in any event.

  5. A visiting speaker did make a reference to a historical speaker's criticism of those men who don't have beards, but it should be noted that perhaps 2/3rds of the congregation shave.

The mosque school do try to discourage their students from getting involved in the local street gang culture. I think also that is something where the mosque school are trying to do the right thing.

To me the key point about all of this is that the managment have a policy of not tolerating hate speech. They have enforced this policy. They enforced the policy because they wanted to not because they were pressurised to do so by being filmed.

To sum it up Darul Uloom are working towards a united society and have acted to expel extremists even involving the police to ban one individual from the premises. For this they should be congratulated not criticised. On the other hand Channel 4 have given them a kicking. That I think is unfair.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
  Darul Uloom - JMIC and Channel 4
JMIC is a centre in Yardley Constituency. They have for many years worked with all faiths in the area and interfaith meetings have been held at the centre. They also work closely with the local police.

Channel 4 have contracted with Hard Cash productions to place secret cameras and bugging devices in the mosque and an attached school (called Darul Uloom).

In 6 months of recording they picked up amongst other things one of the sixth form students criticising Hindus. They are publishing this tomorrow in the Depatches programme.

Well before the school was aware of the secret recording they had decided to expel this student from the school. A copy of the letter (edited to remove his name) is attached below.

I think it is misleading of Channel 4 to critise the organisation for the comments of someone who was expelled from the school for his comments. This is not the only explusion from the school over a number of years.

What is clearly the truth is that the organisation acts toward encouraging people to work together and for cooperation between people of all faiths and none. The mosque is also criticised for encouraging students to "hate the sin, but not the sinner". The mosque discourages attendees from being involved in drinking, drugs and gangs.

I think it is good for society for people to be discouraged from getting involved in drugs and gangs. Hence I think Channel 4 are wrong to criticise this.

However, what Channel 4 are doing in demonising this organisation is to create a unsafe situation for the 130 children that go to the school. The school is being closed early for the safety of the children following a discussion with the police about safety. If Channel 4 had produced a more balanced programme this would not have been necessary.

What we need are organisations committed to unity rather than segregationist ones. We also need organisations which take action against people who argue for division. JMIC and Darul Uloom are committed to unity and take action against people who argue for division.

The following letter proves that they don't tolerate racism. They have a track record of taking action. What more can you ask for?
2010 08 03 explusion
Saturday, February 12, 2011
  Gary Moore
I know its a bit late, but he really deserves the celebration of his life and in particular this track.
Friday, February 11, 2011
  Oldham Care Case
The link is to a story in Oldham about a case of a mother who was brought up in care who has had her baby taken for adoption on the basis that her mother was in care.

This case, although it was deemed without merit by the Court of Appeal has managed to get accelerated proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights.

This is one reason why I don't want to lose the safetynet of the ECtHR.
  Prisoner Votes and the European Court of Human Rights
The issue of which prisoners should be allowed to vote was discussed in the House of Commons yesterday.

There are some points that have been missed from the debate:

Firstly, the European Court Judgment that said that there should be some consideration of a change in the law did not pay any compensation to the person complaining.

Secondly, the judgment also said that one reason why they felt that things were wrong was that parliament had not looked at the issue. Well parliament now has.

I don't think that the issue is finished with, however. It may be that people who have been imprisoned for less than 2 years are permitted to apply to court to get a vote if their offence did not involve abusing the human rights of anyone else.

Noone, however, is suggesting that there will be any proposal for serious offenders to get the vote. The front benches of all parties abstained from this vote.
  Peak Oil and Shale Gas
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas met on Tuesday and had some interesting and varied presentations on Shale Gas.

It does appear that Shale Gas will have some effect on the consequences of peak oil. It won't delay the oil peak itself - and in fact may make it earlier through price effects, but it will provide an alternative if not entirely substitutable supply.

Hence although initially the gas price is likely to detach from the oil price one would expect over time at least the West Texas Oil Price to be affected by gas. That will affect Brent.

It is not on the website yet, but should be soon.

The current situation does, however, have the effect of additional uncertainty in the renewables market.
Monday, February 07, 2011
  Three Cheers for Baker J
The link is to the judgment for a Court of Protection Case where costs were awarded against the local authority.

It is nice to know of judges who don't mind taking against the local authority.

However, the processes here are too complex for what are relatively straightforward issues which should be litigated by exception rather than of a matter of course.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
  The court of protection
The link is to an article I have written in The Daily Telegraph about the Court of Protection.

What particularly concerns me about the Court of Protection is that there are judges to try to stop people complaining to their Members of Parliament.

If all is well in the Court then why are people not allowed to complain to their MP?
Thursday, February 03, 2011
  Comment on Forests Votes yesterday
In the end I did not support the government in the vote although I did oppose the Labour Party.

I opposed the Labour Party because in power they sold 25,000 acres of forest land without any protection for public access. The first time people realised that Labour had sold the forest was when padlocks were placed upon access routes and traditional permissive paths shut off to the public without warning. Labour’s record on defending our forests is poor, hence I could not support Labour's proposals.

I did, however, rebel on the government vote and did not support the government. I do think government policy is an improvement on the existing policy left by Labour. Forests were already being sold under the previous Labour government, the government is improving existing law by proposing to change the law to ensure that if any commercial land is leased off then rights of access are maintained.

At the same time the government is proposing to treat the important (Heritage) forests differently and to ensure that they never end up in commercial hands. I, however, believe that the government needs to go further in protecting the forests. As well as meeting Caroline Spelman I have also written to her suggesting that the model for maintaining the Heritage Forests is improved so that charities can manage the forests on a lease with a peppercorn rent. This is the model that is used for the Westley Vale Millennium Green. It allows the government to stand behind the charitable trusts to ensure that our forests remain for the public benefit and actually keeps ownership of all nationally owned forests in public hands.

Personally I think the idea of organisations such as the RSPB and National Trust being more involved in managing forests is a good idea. The RSPB, for example, have a lot of experience in managing land for the benefit of biodiversity. However, I think the government should strengthen this part of their policy which is why I rebelled on this occasion and will lobby them to strengthen this policy.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
  Westley Vale Millennium Green and the Heritage Forests
One key part of the proposal from the government about Forests that causes concern is the proposal to allow charities and trusts to own the Heritage Forests.

In Acocks Green we recently had the 10 year anniversary of creating the Westley Vale Millennium Green. This was an interesting ceremony with wassailing and the local pagan group blessing the Green.

Given that I have been a trustee of this for some time you would expect me to be positive about it. However, a local group was responsible for setting up and maintaining the green.

This sort of model for a Heritage Forest does not concern me although having a leasehold arrangement seems better than a transfer. There also needs to be some underpinning in contractual terms to ensure public access. There may also need to be the availability of contingency funds.


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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Published, promoted, and printed (well not really printed I suppose, more like typed) by John Hemming, 1772 Coventry Road, Birmingham B26 1PB. Hosted by part of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, United States of America. This blog is posted by John Hemming in his personal capacity as an individual.

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