Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP)
I thought it was worthwhile putting a post on my blog that looks at the votes relating to this particular bill (during some of which votes I have rebelled and during others of which I have not).
Firstly there is a statutory instrument:
This is The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 No. 859
under this SI phone companies are required to hold certain information about phone calls and ISPs are supposed to keep track of who has what IP address. Obviously this has been in place since 2009 and prior to that date other rules existed as to recording certain information relating to calls and internet access.
Obviously there are advantages to law enforcement in being able to get information about particular accounts and phone calls. This was, in fact, used as part of the Aston Election Petition back in 2005 so although I don't know precisely what information was retained prior to 2009 it is clear that some information was.
All of this information is retained under the European Communities Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC. A legal case from Ireland to the European Court of Justice had the above directive declared invalid on 8th April 2014. That does not necessarily mean that the SI 2009/859 is invalid, but it creates a significant doubt that needs to be resolved.
The key thing done by DRIP is to enable the government to pass another statutory instrument to reinforce 2009/859. The proposed additional SI is on my website here:
I have, however, a number of concerns.
Firstly, I was unhappy that what was emergency legislation was drafted to last 2 1/2 years. I have sponsored an amendment tabled by Tom Watson to reduce this period to 6 months. I, therefore, voted against the timetabling motion (programme motion) because of the rushed timescale of consideration.
Secondly, I am concerned that the bill enables the government to do further things which I would not agree with. The government may not do that. Indeed to do it they would need a motion through the house of commons. However, there are real difficulties with a bill that is getting so little consideration by the nation.
Hence although in principle I agree that something should be done (which is why I voted for the bill at second reading) this is not the right something. I voted for the amendment to the sunset clause and when that failed I voted against the bill on the third reading. I am likely to vote for the statutory instrument, however.
I have been asked what actions I have taken recently in respect of the dispute in the middle east.
I wrote to the Secretary of State on 2nd July concerned about the disproportionate response of the Israeli Government to the murders of three Israeli youths.
I issued a public statement at the demonstration in the City Centre on Friday 15th July.
"Collective punishment was one of the more reviled
acts of the Nazis in the second world war. If we wish to bring greater peace in
the world then we need to avoid escalating disputes between groups of people.
The use of techniques which are akin to collective punishment are not a step in
the direction of peace and should be condemned as against international
humanitarian law (Rule 103)."
I spoke at a meeting on Saturday 16th July. I explained at that meeting that the murder of innocents was not on the pathway to peace as it increased anger.
I have also signed a number of Early Day Motions relevant to the issues in recent weeks.
That this House regards Israel's latest attack on the Gaza Strip, Operation Protective Edge, as a disproportionate escalation of violence against Palestinians; notes that since the end of Operation Cast Lead on 19 January 2009 Israel has killed 490 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; calls for an immediate end to Israeli military strikes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and military incursions into Palestinian population centres in the West Bank, both of which constitute collective punishment and are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; calls for an immediate end to retaliatory rocket attacks from Gaza; and urges Israel as the occupying power to de-escalate the conflict.
That this House notes that once again Palestine's Gaza region has come under attack by the Israeli Defence Force; further notes that in this wholly unequal cycle of violence 490 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and three Israelis; further notes that in this current attack Defence 4 Children International Palestine report that eight children have been killed and Palestinian writer and health worker, Mona Elfarra, reports the, not unusual, targeting of health centres including the European Hospital East of Khan Younis where many were both suffering and sheltering; and calls on the Government to do everything within its power to bring about an end to the collective punishment of Palestinans and the occupation that is a virtual death sentence for them.
That this House notes with concern that, despite being a clear and egregious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel recently announced that it will return to a policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians suspected and convicted of involvement in terrorism and other violence; deplores and denounces the decision of the Netanyahu-led government in Israel for resuming this questionable practice which human rights group B'Tselem has stated harms only innocents and not the accused; further notes that in 2005 an Israeli military report concluded that the policy of punitive home demolitions did not act as an effective deterrent against terrorism; affirms Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that the destruction of private property is permitted only where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations; believes that the demolition of homes of innocent family members of people accused of crimes constitutes collective punishment; further believes that Israeli government statements on this matter exposes the absence of the rule of law under Israel's occupation and that revenge, demonisation and absolute disregard for the lives and rights of the Palestinians under its control now defines Israeli activities in the occupied Palestinian Territories; urges the Government to condemn Israel's actions as cruel, inhumane and a degrading punishment; calls for urgent action to be taken to oppose these policies; and further calls on the Government to pressure the State of Israel and ensure accountability for any violations that occur as a result of its renewal of demolitions.
That this House calls for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, aged 19, Gilad Shaar, aged 16 and Naftali Frenkel, aged 16, who were abducted whilst hitchhiking in the West Bank on 12 June 2014; supports the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs' strong condemnation of the kidnapping; notes the probable involvement of the Hamas organisation in this despicable terrorist act; and calls on the Government to continue to do all it can to help secure the release of the teenagers.
Back in the 2012 session i signed EDM 502
That this House supports recognition by the UN of Palestine as a state alongside the state of Israel.
I signed another EDM 254 on 22nd July http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/284
That this House notes the widespread cross-party questioning of Israel's wholly disproportionate and brutal attack on the Palestinian people of Gaza as expressed in the Chamber on 21 July 2014; further notes that thousands of people marched in protest in London at this attack on 19 July 2014; further notes that an even greater number will attend another demonstration on 26 July 2014; further notes the Gaza weekend death toll of more than 150 Palestinians with a disproportionate number of women and children; further notes the repetitive Israeli media spin about targeting militants; acknowledges the strength of character of Palestinians and their medical workers including Dr Mads Gilbert who describes the situation vividly, 'the rivers of blood will keep running the coming night' and who calls upon leaders to spend 'just one night' in Gaza which would 'change history'; and calls on the Government to do everything in its power to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
I also signed the PSC Letter presented on 25th July
The disappearance of children from Care and the CSA inquiry
I did an interview on BBC world at one yesterday
about the general discussion about the abuse of children in the care system. There are many stories about Elm Guest House
. However, I have been concentrating on more recent issues. There remain survivors of what has happened in the past. These people have been ignored for many years, but more recently they have been listened to. To me it is very important not only to deal with what happened in the past, but also to look at what is happening today.
A point that has not been looked properly at is the disappearance of children from Care. We had the recent reports from Ireland about the deaths of children being concealed. I believe that this also happened at Haut de la Garenne. To me it seems quite straightforward that if we are sufficiently concerned about money that we should count the money and audit it, we should also count the children and audit what happens to them.
Even today children are disappearing from care for various reasons. Some are trafficked. I find it odd that the government won't modify the SSDA903 return codes in order both to count the numbers of children and the reasons they leave care (normally today reported as - for other reasons), but also to then audit that.
I don't think the problems today are as severe as they were in the 1980s. There are estimates that 1 in 7 of children in care in the 70s and 80s were abused whilst in care. Books such as Forgotten Children
look at this in more detail. It does remain, however, that a recent study revealed a continuing high level of abuse in care
We also have child sexual exploitation which includes mainly children in care.
The care system is scrutinised through the family courts which remain substantially themselves unaccountable. The government propose putting an erstwhile president of the Family Division who have in part presided over this debacle in charge of the enquiry. In essence she is being asked to mark her and her judicial colleagues' own homework. I personally don't think that is a good idea.
What is worst is that many of the children placed in care need not have been in care. Those in Rochdale who were put in care because of the satanic abuse scandal were then abused purely as a result of state action.
Obviously we need a child protection system. However, really it should be one that does a better job than this.