The CPRE’s Environmental Land Management recommendations

This morning I spoke at the parliamentary launch of CPRE‘s Countryside Next Door report, I said:

The Green Party welcomes moves to improve the stewardship of green belt land and protect access to the countryside for all. These green spaces are vital for the health and wellbeing of those who live in urban areas. Recreation and access to land, which we know are so crucial to human health and well-being, need to be considered alongside what crops we grow on that land. We need to re-localise our food supply, restore the ring of market gardens and orchards that not that long ago surrounded our cities and towns. Instead of vast tracts of monoculture the Green Party wants to see the growing of fruit and vegetables, ideally in a mixed system and managed in ways that are excellent for biodiversity and nature. Continue reading “The CPRE’s Environmental Land Management recommendations”

Second Reading of Schools Bill – Home Education

This bill, if enacted, will see the destruction of the privacy rights of a minority group. The question is why? Given the intrusive nature of the proposals I would, at least, have expected some form of independently reviewed study showing that there is some kind of systemic problem with the freedoms of families who home educate which the Government has been unable to address by other means. Where is that study?

It is a very serious step to compel law abiding families who are educating their children at home, to be subject to statutory enquiries about their children, completely in the absence of any presenting problem. This approach to families crosses a line in the involvement of the state in family life. The state is going to be able to single out a discrete group of law-abiding families from their peer group and then subject them to special monitoring. Continue reading “Second Reading of Schools Bill – Home Education”

Let it all fall

The Government have created a legislative deadlock. This was not the fault of this House; it was the fault of the Government, and if this legislation is not passed in the next few days, it falls completely. I have no problem with that—I would like to see it all fall—but the fact is that that probably is not a position this house House can take. However, we can obtain very significant concessions from the Government. They will not want to lose all these Bills, and this is an opportunity for us to throw out the worst bits of the legislation that we have all argued about over the past few months. Continue reading “Let it all fall”

Police Bill Ping Pong

People do not approve of crackdowns on protest because there are times when they themselves want to protest. They want to protest about a crossing that is in the wrong place on their own road or to complain about cars idling outside their children’s school. People protest. It is all very well to call them “protesters” but actually they are just people.

Obstructing the highway should not land anyone in prison for a year. You can still be put into prison for a year even if the roads have already been closed by a traffic authority. When roads in Sheffield, sometimes quite minor ones, were closed for trees to be cut down, local people who were furious about that and were doing their best to stop it protested on those closed roads. Under the Bill, they could have faced up to 51 weeks in prison for protesting on their own road to try to protect their own trees. Peaceful protesters should never face jail. The original government amendment was bad and the compromise is also bad.

Continue reading “Police Bill Ping Pong”

Elections Bill Committee Stage Day 1

At the moment political parties face higher fines for data protection breaches than they do for breaking election law. The risk is that fines for breaking election law just become part of the cost of doing business for political parties, especially those with the deepest pockets and richest donors. The Electoral Commission must be independent of both the Government and Parliament. Continue reading “Elections Bill Committee Stage Day 1”