Public Order Bill committee stage day 1

This is clearly rubbish legislation. For example, there is a lack of a definition of “serious disruption”, what about arresting the Government for serious disruption to the NHS over the last 12 years? I would support that. The criminal courts in this country are crumbling and cannot cope with the number of cases that they have at the moment. Yet here the Government will insist on more cases which will clog up the courts even more. This is so right-wing; it is not an appropriate Bill for a democracy. Continue reading “Public Order Bill committee stage day 1”

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”

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”

Judicial Review and Courts Bill Second Reading

A couple of months back, I said that every single Bill the Government brought to this House was worse than the last, but this is an exception. It is not as bad as I expected, so well done to the Government for bringing such a puny Bill that we can probably throw most of it out. The Bill continues the Government’s piecemeal approach to constitutional change: a little bit is tweaked here and a little bit there, but no overview is taken and so nothing coherent comes out.

We need an opportunity to look at how government and power should operate in a modern democratic state. The proper way forward is obvious: we need a constitutional convention made up of experts and members of the public to determine how and why government should work. Instead of that, we have these scrappy little bits of legislative change.

The procedural stuff in the Bill is an attempt by the Government to save money in the justice system and to unclog the backlog in the courts, which have been atrociously underfunded. These measures might help but are no replacement for proper investment in the justice process.  Continue reading “Judicial Review and Courts Bill Second Reading”

Greens celebrate House of Lords defeat of draconian government ideas

The House of Lords inflicted a staggering 14 defeats on the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn.

The Lords seized their chance to reject most of the 18 pages of late government amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This forces Ministers to either drop these proposals or bring them back in completely separate legislation at a later date. The Lords only have this power on very rare occasions because the government introduced the amendments late and by-passed scrutiny in the commons.

Continue reading “Greens celebrate House of Lords defeat of draconian government ideas”

Is your British citizenship in the public interest?

We now have a two tier system of British citizenship and if the Nationality and Borders Bill is published then millions are under threat of having their rights removed “without notice” by a Minister acting “in the public interest”. You can then appeal against deportation retrospectively, i.e. once you are out the country.

A lot of people will be surprised to learn that the Government already can—and do—remove people’s right to British citizenship. That is not new, but it means there is a two-tier system of British citizenship. The change is that the Government will now be able to remove people’s citizenship without any notice or warning whatever. The term “otherwise in the public interest” is so broad a discretion as to be almost meaningless. The Secretary of State can basically choose not to give notice on a whim. Of course, because citizenship will have been revoked without any notice, any judicial review or other legal challenge will only be able to be brought retrospectively.

In summary, the Bill is a continuation of the trend by this Government to remove individuals’ rights, undermine legal safeguards and view the legal profession as the enemy within.

Police Bill Report Stage Days 2&3

The last week before the Festive break had two days of Report Stage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Lords have tabled hundreds of amendments to the original bill and Jenny spoke to amendments on the confiscation of mobile devices, child abuse sentences, road death sentences, mandatory minimum sentences, IPP sentences and Friday releases. The Report Stage of this bill will continue in the New Year. Continue reading “Police Bill Report Stage Days 2&3”

Final days of Police Bill Committee Stage

If you make protests impossible to perform legally, criminalise non-violent direct action, abolish or restrict the ability of citizens to challenge the Government in court through judicial reviews, turn people against lawyers, gerrymander the election boundaries and dish out cash in the way that looks best for Conservative MPs, that is deep, dark politics. Many of us here are not particularly political and perhaps do not see the dangers inherent in what the Government are doing. It all seems like a calculated ploy to turn all the cards in favour of an unaccountable Government that cannot be challenged in the courts, at the ballot box or on the streets. 

Continue reading “Final days of Police Bill Committee Stage”

‘Due Regard’ is a get out clause

My Amendment 75 to the Environment Bill would flesh out the environmental principles so that they reflect a much broader set of principles, written in simple, understandable language. For example, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle would actually be explained and defined. It would also add things such as using the “best available scientific knowledge”, the principles of public participation and the principle of “sustainability” to take into account the health of present generations and the needs of future generations.

Taken together, these amendments would create an accessible blueprint for our country and for the planet. They would set out the clear environmental principles on which our future would be founded, and require—not simply invite—the Government to implement those principles in all areas of policy. This is the type of legislation that a Green Government would implement, these are the principles that we would apply and these are the ways in which we would make ourselves accountable to Parliament, to the courts, and to future generations. Continue reading “‘Due Regard’ is a get out clause”

Law Enforcement Agencies: Duty of Candour

The Report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (HC 11), published on 15 June, recommended that there should be “a statutory duty of candour, to be owed by all law enforcement agencies to those whom they serve, subject to protection of national security and relevant data protection legislation”. The independent panel highlighted obstruction and a lack of co-operation by the Metropolitan Police that “placed its concern for its own reputation above the public interest.” Who do the Government believe should be held accountable for that misconduct? Continue reading “Law Enforcement Agencies: Duty of Candour”