Public Order Bill arrives in Lords

The Government really do not need the sort of repressive powers in the Bill that are worthy of Russia, China or Iran. We should vote against this legislation—again—to protect the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to protest, which is what we expect in a free society. Of course protest is inherently disruptive; that is its nature. But do the Lords know what is more disruptive? The fossil fuel companies and extractive industries that are destroying our planet, and the billionaires who are amassing huge claims over the world’s resources while everyone else worries about how to pay our energy bills this winter. BP has made £7 billion profit in three months, yet we will pay the extra cost of coastal defences and higher food prices for the next three decades or more. Shell makes £9.5 billion profit in a quarter. They have billions in the bank; we will have a country that swings from drought and wildfires to floods of sewage. Every dollar or pound that the oil and gas companies make equals the world becoming a worse place for generations. That is what real disruption means, and we have a Government encouraging it with tax breaks and licences for big business. Continue reading “Public Order Bill arrives in Lords”

Police and crime commissioners and panels

The Minister replied: I made it clear that there is a transparency and accountability issue. I am grateful to my friend Katy Bourne, the Sussex police and crime commissioner. She tells me that PCCs are more visible and approachable than the police authorities that they replaced. Many hold monthly accountability meetings with their chief constable, often online, which the public can attend and contribute to.  Read the whole debate here

Jenny spoke in another debate later the same day also on PCCs:

In November 2011, the then Home Secretary Theresa May made the Policing Protocol Order, which stated: “The establishment of PCCs has allowed the Home Office to withdraw from day-to-day policing matters, giving the police greater freedom to fight crime as they see fit, and allowing local communities to hold the police to account.”

The idea was that the public should have a direct say over policing in their area. I do not think that has happened. Although the old police authorities may not have been the ideal system, they were certainly more accessible by the average person. I was a councillor for four very long years and in my experience, people found it very easy to speak to me directly. They would stop me in the street, in the shops or in my front garden, and they were able to give me straight feedback on anything they were concerned about. When one has one person in a role of this kind, it is much harder to speak to them and to communicate. Police authorities probably worked much better and were probably more accountable.

I was on a police authority here in London for 12 years, from its start to its finish and it worked extremely well. We respected the successive police commissioners, but we also challenged them; we made them answer to us for their decisions. I think it worked extremely well.

At the moment PCCs can hire and fire police chief constables, who continue to manage things day to day. They also set the police budget and the police precept. They write the area’s policing plan and commission a range of crime-related services such as victim support. That is a very big job, and the PCCs I have spoken to need quite a lot of office help to make those things happen. Clearly, there have been many hiccups. One big problem that I have seen several times is that the chief constable resents the police and crime commissioner, and any breakdown in that relationship makes it incredibly difficult for the PCC to do their job properly.

In March this year the Home Office produced a report on a consultation it had done on giving PCCs greater powers of competence. The consultation had a staggering 84 responses—I am sure that all the groups that responded were very important—and the majority felt that PCCs should have more power. More scrutiny and accountability was also discussed. The police and crime commissioner review has considered options to strengthen the accountability and transparency of PCCs to ensure that the public can effectively hold them to account for the exercise of their functions. Given that the public find it difficult to hold them to account now, I guess that will be welcome.

The end of the report states:“We require primary legislation to provide PCCs with these wider powers. We will seek to implement the measures through the next appropriate legislative vehicle.”

So, we will get the chance to debate this and suggest improvements. I rather think, given the nature of the debate today, that there might be a lot of amendments in the making.

Read this debate here

Energy Prices Bill

I understand that something must be done, but this is not it. I want the Minister to explain two issues: will people be able to pay their energy bills, and will this cause more investment in dirty oil and gas? This Bill has so little detail, the Government are proposing to fill in about 90% of the details at a later date, and they expect us to just wave it through. We cannot know the impact of this Bill on ordinary people, but we know the Government have been determined to protect the profits of oil and gas companies. The Government are expecting us to take this Bill on trust and I do not trust the Government. Continue reading “Energy Prices Bill”

Impacts of corruption debate and report launched by Baroness Jenny Jones

A debate on the impacts of corruption is being held in the House of Lords today at 3pm, in the Grand Committee. Baroness Jenny Jones will use it to launch her new report on corruption in the UK.

Her speech and the report aim to highlight three aspects of corruption:

·       It impacts upon government policy, regulations and priorities and not just individual contracts or licences

·       It’s often about corporate interests, as well as personal greed;

·      There is rarely a visible trail of evidence as it facilitated by a tight network of interpersonal relationships;

Continue reading “Impacts of corruption debate and report launched by Baroness Jenny Jones”

Drax subsidy should be spent on insulation and solar panels say Green Party Baroness

Green Party Baroness, Jenny Jones, has called for the billions of
pounds currently being used to subsidise Drax Power Station to be used
for insulating homes and putting up solar panels. A BBC investigation
(Panorama 3/10/2022) has exposed the truth behind National Power’s
claims that it uses sawdust and  waste wood to fuel its giant,
electricity producing incinerator. Whole trees are being felled and
transported from as far away as Canada to burn in the UK. Much of this
is Drax logging precious ancient forest in British Columbia as well as
South East USA.

Continue reading “Drax subsidy should be spent on insulation and solar panels say Green Party Baroness”

Emergency Motion: government’s attack on nature

Please sign (if you’re a Green Party member) my emergency motion to this weekends national conference. Thius motion supports the RSPB campaign against the government’s attack on nature. Let’s stop the Investment Zones and Freeports from wrecking what biodiversity we have left. Follow this link https://spaces.greenparty.org.uk/content/perma?id=110945 and click ‘like’

Continue reading “Emergency Motion: government’s attack on nature”