John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, December 30, 2012
  The title of the spouse of the monarch
This article in the Sunday Express highlights the fact that currently Queens regnant are treated as being less important than Kings regnant.

It is, in fact, a matter of discussion as to what title the Monarch's spouse is given when the Monarch is crowned.

There are a number of options to deal with this:

  1. To give the monarch the choice of a number of titles for his or her spouse
  2. To have all called the same.
  3. To have a resolution of parliament to resolve the issue each time.
I personally think a bit of flexibility is best so the option of calling them all the same is not the one I would pick. However, it should be clear who is the monarch and who is the spouse.

There is a bill coming to parliament that would facilitate resolving this aspect of sex discrimination where a Queen is treated as being less important than a King.

 
Friday, December 28, 2012
  Chinese Family Law
This proposal from the Chinese Government is an interesting aspect of family law that probably does not exist in any democracy.

"China has passed a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly or risk being sued.
The law does not specify how frequently such visits should occur, but warns that neglect could risk court action."

 
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
  Marriage and proposals for change
There is a continuing debate about Marriage and the meaning of Marriage.

In 2011 Mostyn J addressed the all party parliamentary group on family law and spoke about what marriage was from a legal perspective. The speech can be read via the report here

Historically marriage was more about children than adults.  Today, however, from a legal perspective it is mainly about an ill defined economic contract which can cost at lot of money to terminate.

The aspects of family law that relate to the care of children have been taken substantially outside the law of marriage.  Additionally in the last parliament the common law duty of a husband to care for his wife was abolished - without a peep from anyone at the time.

Hence Marriage today is mainly legally about divorce law.

Generally family law in the English and Welsh jurisdiction has evolved through the courts with an element of intervention from parliament.  However, because it is not the sort of things that fits into a government/opposition form of debate it has not been effectively considered by parliament.

Hence we now encounter a situation where from a legal perspective Marriage is something where any legal duties that are enforceable are enforced through divorce law.  Furthermore it is a legal entity that concentrates on the adults rather than the children.

Within this context there is no reason why it would require both partners to not be of the same sex.  There is a separate and more important question as to whether our family law should concentrate more on the interests of the children than the adults.  I take the view that this would be sensible.  However, that is not where we are at at the moment.



 
Sunday, December 23, 2012
  Transparency and Truth
I am not sure that there is a category of people that is always truthful.

 It is clear from Hillsborough and the Andrew Mitchell sagas that police don't always tell the truth. Politicians are not always honest, nor are business people, nor are doctors, nor indeed are judges and other lawyers.

That is why transparency is so important because it has two effects:
a) It allows independent people to work out what the truth is.
b) It discourages people from lying because they know that people can discover that they have done so. 

That is why I am concerned about the decision to stop people from listening to independent court recordings. This is a movement away from transparency and accountability.
 
Thursday, December 20, 2012
  Sir Albert Bore and the Temple of Doom
Sir Albert Bore has referred to the "jaws of doom". This he has done when central government are cutting the spending power of the city council by 1.11% in cash terms. Nationally the figures are 1.7% (across England).

At the same time the council has decided to put up the wages of all council staff paid under £7.20 to £7.20. This is called the "living wage". Many people who earn less than this get tax credits. Hence it is substantially a swap between central government costs and local government costs. They have also included the 16-21 year olds. Hence some of them have had increases of 75% or 85%.

It is a nice policy in the sense that it is being nice to people. However, because they propose also to ensure that contractors do the same they wish to find £10m per annum for the same policy.

At the same time they want to raise more council tax by charging people on JSA 24% of the council tax.

The council could find £10m pa by sacking over 300 additional staff.

This is why the council's pleadings are misleading. They build up a large forecast deficit by putting in things that they would like to do.

Most people would be happy for low paid people to be paid more. However, it is not a zero sum issue. Something has to happen.

For example we could close libraries to save money to pay council staff more. We could charge people on JSA council tax to pay council staff more. We could put up council tax in order to pay council staff more. We could sack 300 people and put up the pay for other council staff.

I am not sure myself that these proposals would find favour. All of the council's headline figures need checking in the same way.

It is the fact that the country as a whole needs to cut public spending to bring it back to about 2/5 of the national cake. This is a greater proportion than under the Blair governments and is not a small state.

If Labour wish to argue that a cut of 1.11% is too much they need to explain what cut is acceptable rather than simply wailing in the Temple of Doom.

 
Thursday, December 13, 2012
  The Procedure Select Committee and Education Accountability
This is a meeting of the procedure select committee looking at the issue of the reasons as to why the Education department doesn't answer questions properly.
 
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
  Why politicians should not write the rules for press regulation
This story in The Telegraph where a SpAd threatens the newspaper with Leveson over an Expenses story is such a good example of why politicians should not be writing the press regulation rules that you couldn't make up a better one.
 
Friday, December 07, 2012
  Daily Mail story on Slovak UKIP case
This provides more information about the case.
 
Sunday, December 02, 2012
  Leveson and Liberty
I was surprised that Liberty seemed to be backing a role for government (through Ofcom) in monitoring the activity of the press regulator. However, This story in the Mail on Sunday appears to contradict this.

Why should those whose function is to investigate wrongdoing by the powerful be held to higher standards than anyone else in society?

Judges have a different view on communication and information than others. They tend to believe that it is better to be tightly controlled. Hence it is not surprising that he came up with an idea to stop journalists squirreling away information in the hope that at some stage it might be useful. The point about that is that at the start they don't know for certain that it is useful. Hence if you apply a public interest test to that process at that stage then you basically stop the collection of information. Even Ed Milliband could see that this was wrong.

The timing of the Welsh Government's attempt to censor Pobl y Cwm (see here) could not have been more opportune.

Here is a government using an Ofcom regulatory process in an attempt to stop the republication of a program for exactly the same sort of reasons that Leveson would wish to stop things being published. The difference is that Ofcom is responsible to the UK government and not the Welsh Government.

Leveson has a lot of good proposals in it, such as limits on newspapers employing ex police officers are columnists (for a while). However, as a whole it is an attack on free speech and the accountability of the powerful.

A number of journalists broke the law and the police failed to investigate and prosecute. It is the issues of the failure of the rule of law that need to be looked at not questions as to how tightly we can bind up the media with the consequence of protecting the powerful.

A press subject to the Leveson report as a whole cannot be described as "free".

 

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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