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Showing posts from March, 2013

Yesterdays speech about adoption apologies

This is a link to yesterday's speech. The text is here. John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I refer the House to my declaration of interest as the chairman of the Justice for Families campaign. I remain concerned about cases in all the secret courts in the UK. The more secret the court, the more the system acts against the rule of law. Narrow freedoms of speech are at least as important as broad access to publicity—reporting wrongdoing to regulators and asking for advice are important narrow freedoms. Without academic scrutiny, nonsense can be spouted and experts can lie for money with impunity. Care proceedings are an area of difficulty. I remain of the view that around 1,000 children a year are wrongly forcibly adopted in the UK. Gradually, I am getting more Government support in this area—sadly, still not from the UK Government. Last week I spoke at the Polish embassy, at a conference about care proceedings. Concerns have now also been raised by Nigeria, the Czech Repub…

Statute and Press Regulation

There has been some confusion about the issue of statute and press regulation. To me it is important not to have in statute the details of any press regulation. However, if you look at Section 12 of the 1998 Human Rights Act you will find: (4)The court must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression and, where the proceedings relate to material which the respondent claims, or which appears to the court, to be journalistic, literary or artistic material (or to conduct connected with such material), to—
(a)the extent to which—
(i)the material has, or is about to, become available to the public; or
(ii)it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published;
(b)any relevant privacy code.
This, which was introduced at the request of the newspapers, makes clear reference to press regulation in (b)any relevant privacy code.. None of the statute that has been produced as part of the process of establishing a royal charter …

Press Regulation

There is some confusion about the Royal Charter rules as agreed yesterday. My primary concern is to stop politicians controlling the media. The underlying problem with a Royal Charter is that normally this would be subject to modification by the government. The changes in the House of Lords to the Enterprise Bill mean that any industrial royal charter can only be modified in accordance with its terms. Hence the Royal Charter is no longer the creature of government nor it it a creature of parliament. It will be difficult to make any contentious changes because it has essentially been frozen, but that has the advantage that it keeps the politicians away from controlling what happens. There are then the questions as to the pressures on the newspapers to join such a scheme. The final draft of the clause about exemplary damages (21a) to my reading of it merely made it less likely that scheme members would face exemplary damages. It does not to my reading increase the likelihood of…

The Hacked Off Campaign don't answer questions

Every so often I get a lobbying email from the Hacked Off campaign. At the end of those emails they offer to respond to questions. I have on a number of occasions. sent them questions or comments in response, but they don't respond - even though they claim that they will. I have also spoken to Evan Harris who has said they will respond, but nothing ever happens. This particular campaign are using a valid grievance (the hacking of phones) as a mechanism to bring in a substantial restraint on the investigation and reporting of issues involving powerful people and the establishment. The least they could do is to answer questions. Notes: Letter to Chris Jeffries 3rd December 2012 - no response, Email to John Dickinson-Lilley 18th January 2013 - no response, Email to John Dickinson-Lilley 17th March 2013 (no response, but to be fair this is only today). Also an email to the Media Standards Trust Gordon Ramsay 11th February 2013 - no response. (The Media Standards Trust used to…

Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade 2013

The party conference being last weekend (in Brighton) I was able to attend the Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade today. Last year the Lib Dem conference was at Gateshead. That made it impossible for me to attend the St Patrick's day festival (particularly as I was up until 2am playing piano at the Glee Club). I have stopped taking around a camera as I think the camera in my mobile phone is good enough for most purposes. I have uploaded a number of stills to my account at flickr. The set is here. I also took a few short videos, but have not uploaded those as yet. I will try to collect links to other sets of photos from the parade as I have done in previous years. Early today I visited the Ackers Trust in support of their fundraising and to highlight the success they have had with Sport England. Adam Yosef's set on Flickr is here
@traceythorne has some here, but I cannot link to a set.
Youreviewuk has a set here

FJC debate on multiple removals

This is a link a debate by the family justice council about cases where mothers have 10+ children removed from them in sequence. Often the response to a removal is the bereavement response of getting pregnant which means that the strategy is very damaging.

Saving Energy in Acocks Green

Guest Article written by Alison Crane It’s important for everyone’s health and wellbeing that their home is warm enough and that fuel bills aren’t too high. With this in mind, and to reduce carbon emissions, Birmingham City Council has introduced a scheme for all residents of the city to benefit from grant aided and subsidised insulation and heating improvements. Birmingham Energy Savers can arrange the installation of new boilers, improved heating controls, wall insulation for solid walls or cavity walls, and loft insulation, at no cost for people on certain benefits, and with subsidies and no upfront cost for everyone else. Whether you are a homeowner, tenant or landlord, we can help you. This pilot scheme is for a limited time only and subject to availability. In Acocks Green, Energywise, a local co-operative of energy professionals is working with organisations, local businesses and neighbourhood groups to promote Birmingham Energy Savers, answer questions, give talks, and reg…

Secret Courts and other rebellions

Monday was the day on which I voted most against the government so far in this parliament. Public Whip provide a list of rebellions (which has not been updated yet). It is inaccurate in that not all votes are whipped votes - in particular house business is generally not whipped. The list is here. On 29th January was a 10 minute rule bill. This was not whipped. I voted for the concept of protection of freedom of speech for those people who don't agree with marriage being redefined to include a relationship between two people of the same sex. On 28th January I voted to allow a regent to be appointed to be the head of the church of England. That was a whipped vote. On 18th December I voted against the second reading of the Justice and Security Bill. On 11th July there were a number of house sittings votes which were not whipped. On 12th March I voted for the retention of full house elections for the Back Bench Business committee. This was a sort of whipped vote. (P…

MP writes free widget for Android Phones

I recently obtained a new mobile phone. I have used an Android Phone for a number of years. What irritates me, however, is that they are not that efficient as phones. I, therefore, looked at writing something to make the process of dealing with phone calls more efficient and have written what is called a widget to sit on the home screen telling me who I have been talking to (or missed calls from) on the home screen. It also has a nicer contacts search using the keyboard by tapping the title line. I have made this widget available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. I have put it on Googles Playstore here. It is easiest to find by searching for "john hemming". My daughter has agreed to help me with anyone who has any problems with it. Her email address is the one registered. I have only tested it on my own phone. If people are interested my casework system that I have used since 2004 is also written in Java. Hence I found the learning curve of writing a…