A small victory but Labour abstain over immigration vote

The Data Protection Bill, which has started in the House of Lords, will give you the right to access information held about your finances, medical history etc. It’s a positive step forward in lots of ways. For example, it will enable us to correct mistakes and challenge any false information which has become part of the official record.

However, my main focus has been to remove the Henry VIII powers, that allow Ministers to amend and revise protections without having any further Parliamentary scrutiny, or amendment process. The Lords successfully removed the Government’s powers to “omit” protections, and to change parts of the Bill using Henry VIII powers. However, Ministers will still be able to amend protections. While this still isn’t ideal, it feels good to know that I’ve played a small part in securing the concessions.

Of course, the government have included a few predictable downsides, such as excluding immigrants from many of the protections that the rest of us will soon enjoy. Sadly, the Labour front bench didn’t join with the rest of the Opposition to vote against these exclusions, but I will continue to work with Liberty and the Open Rights Group to kick up a fuss about it. In many ways people subject to our increasing draconian immigration process need these protections the most, with the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration reporting Home Office mistakes in 1 in 10 cases. This secrecy exemption will apply to GPs, schools and landlords.

It’s valuable work, improving the Bill, and it’s giving the Government a taste of how tough the Lords can be.



Your privacy and the latest executive power grab

The Data Protection Bill will be discussed in the Lords this afternoon and it contains a lot of sensible reforms on how we protect private information. However, it also contains a lot of Henry 8th powers giving Ministers the right to by-pass Parliamentary scrutiny if they want to change the law in the future. This is an obvious threat to democracy. Giving such Putin powers to this government is a bad idea, and it remains a bad idea if a Corbyn government takes charge in a few years’ time as they give the executive the ability to change the rules. Continue reading “Your privacy and the latest executive power grab”

Ditch the label, end hate crime

Bullying and nastiness seems to be reaching an all time high at the moment. Despite various equality laws that have made big steps forward over recent decades, abhorrent, vile views are now spreading like wildfire on the internet and spilling out into the real world. The Home Office released statistics this week which showed hate crime has increased by nearly a third in the last year, with the biggest rises being against people who are transgender and people with disabilities. The work of Ditch the Label is extremely important in the struggle to create a more equal world that is free of bullying and prejudice. Continue reading “Ditch the label, end hate crime”

£3.1m cost of policing Lancashire frackers

The Lancashire Police have asked the Home Office for an extra £3.1m to recover some of their additional expenses in policing the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road. That is the equivalent of £8 a Lancashire household and enough to pay for 25 police officer jobs. In 2014, Sussex police got £905,000 for their operation to protect a fracking site. Continue reading “£3.1m cost of policing Lancashire frackers”

Fewer Lords is no guarantee of improved efficiency

A recent report by the Electoral Reform Society says that 115 peers claim £1.3m despite not speaking in Lords for nine months. I’m happy to say that I’m not one of them. I spoke nearly a hundred times last year and as the only Green in the room (i.e. the Lords), I’m in a unique position to raise issues that are often ignored. From civil liberties to the use of pesticides, I can influence what issues are discussed. Continue reading “Fewer Lords is no guarantee of improved efficiency”

My day at a fracking protest

I’ve just come back from a few hours in Lancashire, at the Preston New Road protest against fracking by Cuadrilla. The people who are protesting are a mix of locals, initially reluctantly drawn into the fracas but now pivotal organisers, and experienced campaigners who can supply the outside contacts and good advice.

Continue reading “My day at a fracking protest”

No fracking Mondays


The fight for local democracy and basic ecological common sense continues its frontline on an A-Road in Preston, Lancashire. It is where locals and protectors from across the country have been standing up against the fracking firm, Cuadrilla, and the Government’s dash for dirty gas. Throughout August and September, Green Party members are joining the protests en masse each Monday at Preston New Road. These “Green Mondays” have seen hundreds of Greens taking direct action while promoting the ecological alternatives to fracking. Continue reading “No fracking Mondays”