My Anti-corruption Bill

After the success in the Lords of my Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill I’m very happy with the warm cross party support for my new Anti-corruption Bill (thank you Mr Starmer). When adopted it will reverse the damage done by over a decade of corporate lobbying and political donations to the Conservative Party.  

I’ve taken a very modern approach to effective government by adopting similar powers to the Retained EU Laws Bill. The civil service will be asked to compile a register of all laws that have been initiated or influenced by companies lobbying, who gave money to the Conservative Party over the last 14 years. I realise this may well involve thousands of bits of legislation and also the complicated regulatory detail of secondary legislation, which is why it’s important to start the process the day after the election. 

Given the additional burden on the police and civil service of trawling through ex-Ministers’ WhatsApp messages and the guest lists of numerous Conservative Party fundraising events, the list of contaminated legislation may continue growing for several years. That is a lot of corrupt practices for us to examine and make judgements on, which is why the pledge to pass this legislation within the first 100 days is so important – even while the list of laws to be deleted or replaced is still being finalised.

Ministers will need to have the power to assess, reject, amend, or replace all the relevant legislation and regulations passed during the last 13 years. This process can start with the oil and gas industry who donated £3.5m to the Conservative Party last year and funded the election campaigns of various MPs, such as ex chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. The North Sea licences will all be subject to reassessment as part of the anti-corruption review. The Minister will also be able to enact a tight set of  environmental controls, including a zero carbon requirement for any North Sea extraction. This can all be fast tracked via secondary legislation and without the theatre of parliamentary scrutiny. 

One of the major rewrites of legislation will inevitably be planning rules, as property developers account for around a third of donations to the Conservative party since 2010.  I anticipate that all major housing developments will be required to be net generators of energy through the use of solar panels, heat pumps and  appropriate energy standards. This will help people’s bills and help the planet within a few months of the election, as no separate legislation will be required as this can all be achieved by Ministerial decree, once the anti-corruption bill has passed.

It is anticipated that several other key areas of government can be tackled without clogging up Parliament with a long queue of reforming legislation. For example, the negative influence on the UK’s real economy of the banking and financial sector is well documented and, given they are a major source of donations, Ministers will have scope to rewrite the rules that govern the City of London, especially the lucrative hedge fund industry. 

Unlike the current government I wouldn’t risk the rush of a sunset clause losing laws by default because some email got caught in the junk file. No, you can trust the next government to delete, or replace, only those laws they definitely don’t like. 

There are bound to be complaints about the by-passing of parliamentary democracy whenever Ministers are given such dictatorial powers and I admit that I previously voiced similar reservations. However, I think that those MPs who are not Ministers will welcome having several months off each year to spend more time with their money. 

Our parliamentary traditions and laws are built upon layers of precedent and the Retained EU Law Bill is a foundation on which the far ranging powers in this anti-corruption legislation can be built. The current government are awful and corrupt. I’m sure the next one will only do good things. Fingers crossed. 

PS: Happy April 1st 😉

Public Duty Costs Allowance

Liz Truss spent only 45 days in office but is set to be offered the same package all former residents of No 10 have been entitled to, an allowance worth up to £115,000 per year. Eligible costs include office costs, salaries for staff, or travel to events where they are appearing in their capacity as an ex-prime minister. It is ludicrous and inappropriate, if the Conservative Party is going to change its Prime Minister every seven weeks, to give them that sort of allowance. What about having a limit on the amount of time that they have served as Prime Minister; for example, two and a half years? Continue reading “Public Duty Costs Allowance”

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.

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

The Subsidy Control Bill Committee Stage Day One: Net Zero

The Government keep bringing us these thin Bills that ought to include things such as the ecological crisis and climate change, but do not. The subsidy principle should ensure that all our environmental and climate targets are met. Ecologically damaging, polluting industries should be weaned off public money completely and, ultimately, binned. My Amendment 8 would ensure that subsidies contribute towards limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees centigrade of warming. My Amendment 33 would prohibit subsidies for fossil fuels and extend the definition of fossil fuel subsidies to include any government policy that makes fossil fuels cheaper than their true cost. Continue reading “The Subsidy Control Bill Committee Stage Day One: Net Zero”

Lord’s debate Freedom of Speech

This debate comes after a few years of increasing suppression of civil liberties and human rights here in the UK. Freedom of speech is about engaging with all sorts of ideas, biases and creeds to make up the public discourse. As a Green, I am well aware of how important it is to talk and try to convince people about the environmental crisis—especially those in power who can actually do something about it, however little. I might regard this Government as political enemies, and as arrogant and repressive, but I think it is worth engaging and very much hope they feel it is worth engaging with Greens.

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Pregnant prisoners shouldn’t be treated this way

The government is failing to increase the number of Mother and Baby Units, despite a planned increase of 500 places in women’s prisons. In answer to my written question I discovered that they keep no records of how many women and trans men are pregnant in Britain’s jails, nor do they have any idea of how many pregnant prisoners in individual facilities.

Continue reading “Pregnant prisoners shouldn’t be treated this way”

My amendment 109 addressing governance gaps in environmental law

Several requirements for the Secretary of State to report information to the European Commission in relation to environmental law have been lost because of the UK’s departure from the EU and the subsequent adoption of new statutory instruments. This poses a serious threat to the effective application of environmental law in the UK and the Government’s ability to achieve their stated aim and manifesto promise of leaving the environment in a better state than that in which it was found. The reporting of information relating to environmental law is absolutely vital to ensure transparency and accountability in environmental policy-making and ensure that government and stakeholders can identify and address environmental impacts. Continuity over time in the information being recorded and reported can also help to reveal trends and increase transparency.

My Amendment 109 would introduce a new clause into the Bill that is intended to address some extensive governance gaps in environmental law that have arisen because of the UK’s departure from the EU. Continue reading “My amendment 109 addressing governance gaps in environmental law”