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Showing posts from February, 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.

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

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.

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" and "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.

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. The programme repeats on numerous occasions the statements of

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 e

Gary Moore

I know its a bit late, but he really deserves the celebration of his life and in particular this track.

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.

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.

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?

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 diff

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.