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Showing posts from 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: To give the monarch the choice of a number of titles for his or her spouse To have all called the same. 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.

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."

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 governme

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.

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 st

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 ) c

Sun Opinion Piece on Child Protection system

It is unusual for The Sun to come out critical of the system. This Article by Jane Moore is not officially from "the sun", but it is exceptional to get this reported. It properly identifies the flaws in government policy in keeping what is happening in the courts secret. " IT can no longer be ignored by those who purport to be in charge of this country that something is deeply rotten at the core of Britain’s social services."

Peak Oil - the IMF and the IEA

I have just started reading the World Energy Outlook 2012. It will take some effort to properly review this, but it is an interesting document. Followers of my comments will have noted that oil demand by the OECD peaked somewhere between 2005 and 2008. It depends whether you look quarterly or monthly or even daily (and those figures would be hard to get in a reliable sense). However, in terms of millions of barrells of oil per day old demand is about 10% less than it was. The first interesting thing about the WEO is that with the "new policies" scenario that is their key scenario in fact oil consumption continues to go down from 2020 to 2035 (in the OECD). On a 5 yearly basis the USA's consumption is shown as peaking in 2010. (page 564) OECD Europe oddly enough has its highest figures marginally in 1990, but that is only because 2000 is missed out. I think again the peak for Europe (OECD) would be somewhere in 2005-8. The other interesting element is looking at t

Comments by An Adoptee

This is a post by someone who was adopted. The person concerned was adopted at age 7 months which is only just into the start of the period at which people could get RAD and hence is a good case to be considered as part of what the government wish to achieve. The underlying problem in terms of government policy is the failure to properly and scientifically approach the analysis of the policy. It is absolutely no good at all simply picking on a few examples where things have worked out well and using those as justification for the policy. What is needed is an analysis of the effects of each step in the decisionmaking process. For example there is a step of a court order placing one or more children for adoption. What needs to be studied is what the consequences are of this. It is wrong to simply consider the children that do end up adopted, you also need to consider those that don't. The Education select committee (actually its predecessor) visited Denmark and considered

Speech today

Rico Sorda has kindly extracted my speech of today onto his web log here I shall highlight the key element: Parliament has to stand on the side of the powerless. Whitehall mandarins, judges, BBC managers, council bureaucrats and professionals all have their own interests and a desire to hide mistakes. Parliament needs to balance the scales on the side of the weak—those without wealth who are crying out and not being heard. The saga of the Ariel and Prospero statue warrants a read as well.

Birmingham Poppy

As a result of the efforts of the Deputy Lord Mayor there is now a special Birmingham Poppy (which I used to attach my more traditional poppy for the remembrance service today)

Discussion on Radio Jersey

This web page has the BBC interviewing various people (including myself) about Jersey. One of the commentators said that those on the side of the establishment were given twice as long as the anti-corruption campaigners. I haven't checked this.

Anti Corruption meeting now on youtube (only audio really)

Warning: Most of this is in Italian.

When was the last action of the state to cover up things? Ans 2011.

There will, of course, be a move to claim that all the current stories revealing historic coverups are historic and have no relevance today. However, this would be misleading. I know of recent cases of children being maltreated in care that I have reported to the authorities and received an inadequate response. It is also obvious that the action of banning Leah McGrath Goodman was part of a coverup. This happened in 2011.

IMF does peak oil report

This is a report about the possible economic consequences of peak oil from the IMF. The report is impressive because of the way in which it looks at a number of the key issues. It comes to similar conclusions to those which I have highlighted. Historically the DTI refused to do a risk analysis on peak oil because it was "too risky." I need to allocate some serious time to reading the IMF report.

Indian press release about care proceedings

Humanitarian Crisis for Indian children and their families in confiscatory child care proceedings abroad The original document is here . A case for intervention under human rights laws for the repatriation of Indian children facing foreign confiscatory care proceedings to their relatives in India, instead of being consigned to foreign state institutions or foster care, or being given away in forced adoption abroad. Summary Petition to the National Human Rights Commission to:  recommend that the Government of India institutes a formal and transparent mechanism for the return to India of Indian children caught in confiscatory child care proceedings abroad  commission a legal and statistical study on the functioning of confiscatory child protection or child welfare laws abroad  spread awareness of the humanitarian concerns raised in this petition 12 October 2012 To, National Human Rights Commission Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg New Delhi – 110 001 Re: Petition to the Na

Russia today on adoption in the UK

This links to a radio programme (in English) about forced adoption. Note the story recently in polish express. I am not commenting on Friday's events as yet beyond what I said in The House. I had been assured by people that the government would allow the bill to pass, but this did not happen.

Polish case

The link here is to a case in the polish language paper Polish Express. It relates to a mother in Haringey. Part of the google translation says this: JW: Why the speculation? Magda: I'm in this for half a year, I see and hear. For example, at a meeting of barbecue in one of many of my translators, you were present with the same care and told her that "Polish children a good product adoption." Interpreter repeated it to me. Saying basically that Polish children are good for adoption.

Jimmy Savile and Children lost by the care system

What is clear about the allegations relating to Jimmy Savile was that many involved children in the care of the state (aka "in care") - either in the UK or in Jersey. There are allegations that children have disappeared from the care system - not necessarily related to Jimmy Savile. What I have always found odd was that the government were interested in auditing what happened to the money, but uninterested in auditing what happened to the children. The SSDA903 return tracks what is recorded as having happened to children. Many children are recorded on that data base as having left care "for other reasons". From my number crunchers perspective that really worries me. Basically we have lost track of a number of children in the care system. Where have they gone?

More Protests in Slovakia

This is a link to a story about further protests in Slovakia. It is now clear that this issue involves at least 89 children in at least 40 families. That, however, is only in the Slovak republic. We are working with some other governments, but they have not taken a public view on this. There are also other countries whose citizens are pressing for their governments to support them. This is a report on an English Language Slovak website.

Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne

In all the debating about Jimmy Savile and what he may have done in the past, there are aspects of the link to the current day that are being ignored. Of course there needs to be an investigation into what the BBC tolerated on BBC premises. There is also the need for a proper review of what happened at Haut de la Garenne and the allegations of abuse cruises off Jersey. However, it should be noted that (only last year) the UKBA banned a journalist (Leah McGrath Goodman) from the UK and Jersey who wished to investigate and report on what happened at Haut de la Garenne. She still does not have a visa to allow her into Jersey. The first thing to do, therefore, is to allow Leah McGrath Goodman into the country. I am surprised that the journalistic profession has been so unconcerned about the banning of a journalist from the UK.

Labour and Tuition Fees

This image: Looks at the NPV of the tuition payments for graduates in each percentile of income. The assumption is that the government pays the universities a fee of £7,500 for each year of study. Labour's proposal is for the government to pay no more than £6,000 per year to universities through this scheme. This will, however, not affect the lower income percentiles and only probably the top four percentiles.

Slovak Minister talks to William Hague about taken children

This is one of a number of stories relating to the Slovak Government talking to the UK Government about the children. It seems that they are talking about 89 cases. That could be 89 children or 89 cases (a case can involve more than 1 child). I am talking to people from a number of other governments, not just the Slovak Republic. There are also the cases which affect English people which, of course, should be treated exactly the same way. This and This are two more stores in Slovak. This is the same story in Italian.

Martin Lewis on Student Finance

This post by Martin Lewis highlights the fact that the student finance system is not like a proper debt. Comparing it to a mortgage. If you don't pay the mortgage then someone comes round an repossesse your house. You need to pay the mortgage whatever your income is. For student finance you don't need to pay if you don't earn over £21,000 and bailiffs don't come around and repossess your brain if you don't pay. Instead the government says after 30 years that you don't even have to pay the contribution. It is not a debt. It is actually a contingent liability. I have not concentrated on the question of what money the government pays the universities (aka Tuition Fees) I have concentrated on what graduates pay the government (the graduate contribution, but also aka Tuition Fees). According to the IFS for 29% of Students (those with lower earnings) the payments by graduates are less than under the old system. This is the "fairer alternative"

Protest in Bratislava

This is a picture of the protest in Bratislava outside the British Embassy today. I have edited the photo to keep Surrey County Council happy as they have complained about my blog. I have asked them what is wrong with my blog and they have not yet told me. It remains, however, that permission to appeal was granted today. It is important to remember that the law must be the same for all citizens. Hence if Slovak citizens win appeals in the English courts then so should English people. I was pleased that the family who went to court today are committed to fighting for everyone whatever race, religion or nationality. We met on the House of Commons Terrace.

Ted Jeory and Christopher Bookers' articles today

This comment piece by Ted Jeory compares the cover up in Hillsborough to the day to day cover ups in the family courts. This article by Christopher Booker looks at how a foreign country is concerned about what happens in the English and Welsh Family Courts. We should really be able to sort these things out on the basis of complaints raised by victims of the system in the UK. However, if it really takes getting a coalition of countries together to demand change in the UK then so be it.

Leah McGrath Goodman's Interview on Russia Today

Uploaded 11/9/12.

Hillsborough and Cover ups

Sadly the cover-up over Hillsborough is not unique. We have many signs of cover ups that have not yet been dealt with. I shall list some of them. 1. A US journalist has been banned from the UK because she wanted to investigate and report on Haut de la Garenne (see an EDM I tabled yesterday). Link now here see comments. 2. Babies were made to breathe carbon monoxide at a concentration that is lethal (over time) for adults and the investigation called it an "inert gas".  3. The general cover ups in the family courts where malpractise by psychologists is ignored and the HPC often refuses to investigate. This has resulted in a foreign country asking for help to deal with a case affecting one of their citizens. None of this is acceptable. We need to get much better as a country at looking properly at issues and not just trusting the assurances of people in suits that everything is ok and we shouldn't worry. some more on Leah goodman's case: Her TV

Macfarlane LJ speech on the adoption debate

This is a speech by Andrew Macfarlane in which there are elements with which I agree. (not all of it). These are two other speeches from the same event. Naomi Angell (someone who doesn't know the stats because she talks about a big increase in the numbers of adoptions from care.) and Martin Narey (I haven't watched his video as I expect the usual nonsense that he speaks).

Adoption of non uk citizens from care - Slovak Republic

The Slovak Republic has recently expressed concern that children in England who are children of Slovak Citizens have been adopted "without relevant reasons". This page on the Slovak Justice Ministry website gives the official position. This page on the TV station JOJ gives details of some of their reports about this. These are other stories in the Slovak media: Google gives a translation as: ==========================================

Its Energy Prices Stupid!

The normal phrase is "its the economy stupid". However, unless a country is an energy exporter in a large way in fact "its energy prices stupid". I have obtained figures from the Library to calculate the marginal rate at which an increase in the price of energy reduces economic activity. I did speak about this in the house earlier this year. However, I haven't yet found the time to do the analysis. It remains, however, that as energy prices (and particularly oil prices as that is the marginal source of energy) go up then economic activity is held back. We make the mistake thinking of growth rather than activity. Obviously some forms of economic activity use less energy than other forms. In a world with a constrained energy supply those forms of economic activity need to be encouraged. You will see on the right of my blog a couple of charts. It is possible to see the effect on oil prices in the USA of Shale Gas (it has knocked about USD 20 off a barrel

Samsung, Apple and International Law

This Story about Samsung shares dropping following a patent case highlights some interesting questions. I haven't studied the details of the cases around the world, but superficially it appears that the US Courts have found for Apple and non-US courts have found for Samsung. If this is true then in itself it raises questions about the differential effect of the rule of law in different countries. I do study this for the purposes of family law as should become clear in a few days. However, it is not something we can ignore as if it stands up to detailed scrutiny - which of course it might not - it raises concerns about the enforcement of court orders from one country in another. The activity of Argentina in the energy sector is a good example of a clearly wrong decision of one country and its legal system and how that should be responded to by other countries. I tend to take a more robust approach on this than many. There are also questions about the BBC report as to whether

The RSPCA and "home for life"

The Advertising Standards Authority have today published their adjudication about the RSPCA's "home for life" adverts. The ASA take the view that people do not need to be told that a proportion of the animals taken by the RSPCA under "home for life" are euthanased by the RSPCA even if they are rehomeable. The background to this is that a constituent of mine had some dogs taken by the RSPCA - because they thought she had too many dogs.  She later found that the RSPCA had put them down.   Her concern was that had she known this she could have rehomed the dogs herself and it was not clear on the form that she completed that they were likely to put the dogs down without referring to her. The "home for life" scheme advert can be seen here . We have obtained the paperwork from the RSPCA about "home for life" and it also does not make it clear that the RSPCA do euthanise some of the dogs that they take in even if they are rehomeable. My c

Guest Post from Sarah Thompson

John Hemming has discussed music performers and digital copyright in the past, and today Sarah Thompson advances the conversation by considering the seminal court cases in the debate over copyright issues in the digital age. You can read more from Sarah at the online resource where she frequently writes, which covers industry topics like how music production careers have evolved in the last two decades . The Problems Protecting Music Production and Copyright in the Digital Age Recent changes in technology have made it easier than ever to share and copy content, particularly music. The United State Copyright Act governs all of these transactions, but not comprehensively. Most provisions of the act were framed in a time when digital innovations could never have been imagined. Lawyers and lawmakers have struggled to stretch existing provisions to fit new and growing capabilities, with mixed results. Today’s music copyright landscape is mired in pitfalls, and defined by an ever-

Callaghan's speech from 1976

I noticed in The Telegraph a report of James Callaghan's speech in 1976 when he basically said that Labour's current plan of an increase in the deficit to increase demand would not work. I have found the original speech here . We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession, and increase employ­ment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and that in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of infla­tion into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Higher inflation followed by higher unemployment. We have just escaped from the highest rate of inflation this country has known; we have not yet escaped from the consequences: high unemployment. That is the history of the last 20 years. Each time we did this the twin evils of unemployment and inflation have hit hardest those least able to stand the

Rohingya and Assange

The saga about Julian Assange may be entertaining for the media and it is clear that the UK should not take the step of raiding a foreign embassy (even in the roundabout way of declaring it not to be an embassy first). However, the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) should have a much higher media profile. I raised the latter issue with the Foreign Secretary some weeks ago, but I suppose in terms of the relative media profiles twas ever thus.

Shale Gas and Peak Oil

Shale Gas will not have a direct effect on Peak Oil because Peak Oil relates to Oil. It will, however, have an effect on peak hydrocarbons (and there is also some condensate). The difficulty is assessing what effect it has. Key issues are for example that depletion rates for shale gas (possibly 48% in Haynesville) are higher than historic conventional natural gas. (20%) This presentation looks at some of the issues:

Wrong Children taken into care - Aalihya Jordon-Fellows.

Today the Birmingham Safeguarding Board released a serious case review into the death of Aahliya Jordon-Fellows. Quoting from the website: " The review found that the death could and should have been prevented by a more robust application of safeguarding procedures by all agencies involved." My view for some time has been that the wrong children were taken into care. The case of Khyra Ishaq was an obvious one in which no-one was seeing the child. On the other hand stroppy home educating parents - whose children are seen by others and hence are known to be OK - tend to find themselves the target of child protection proceedings. The case of Aahliya Jordon-Fellows is in one sense a straighforward one where someone known to be a risk to children (her Uncle) was given her care and found guilty of her manslaughter. What I am trying to do with the Family Justice Bill amongst other things is get greater academic consideration of child protection proceedings so that the reall

A story of international baby stealing

This story is where social workers from Norfolk ignored the law and went to France to get a baby. The phrase "habitual residence" determines which country is responsible for child protection. I am not aware of any country that makes as many absurd decisions as England. Most other countries make decisions that are about what is best for the child rather than what is best for the local authority targets. If the parents are "habitually resident" in another country when the baby is born then the authorities here do not have any legal power to take the child. That did not stop them in the linked case, but at least the High Court got the law right even if the lower court did not. Congratulations are due to Brendan Fleming Solicitors for fighting the case properly.

C, a baby [2012] EWHC 2190 (Fam)

This judgment looks at the use of a voluntary agreement to put a child into care. At the time of "agreeing" to this the mother had been medicated with Morphine. She was also told it was temporary when it has given rise to a forced adoption. In the end, however, it has still given rise to a forced adoption. Parents are often bullied into accepting S20 agreements with the threat of court proceedings. This judgment doesn't really help.

Sir Nicholas Wall on secret courts

This is where the president of the family division puts his view on the secret court system. As usual he is focussed on the question of media access. This ignores the fact that there are a number of constraints on accountability that include the constraints on the media being involved. There is the question of professional standards. As it currently stands the Health Professions Council remain of the view that they should not investigate psychologists who are reported by parties to family court cases without the permission of the judge. That is an unacceptable constraint. Secondly, there is no academic access to the material as of right. That means that each case operates in its own isolated sphere of reality. Specialists cannot audit the evidence given. Thirdly, when cases some to the court of appeal there is no publication of the original judgment. Fourthly, the cases are oppressive for individuals who cannot bring in others beyond a mackenzie friend (and often an MF is re