Month: March 2016

One thing usually leads to another

Especially if you ask a question on Twitter.

It’s Sunday, my day of reading. It always starts out with a quick check in on Twitter followed by the Sunday Herald. We have a bit of a tradition in our house where I read some of the articles to the other half while he makes breakfast and if he can bare it, after we’ve had breakfast too. We both still miss the great Ian Bell very very much.

In today’s Sunday Herald  was an article “Robin Hood” land reform revolution. Land reform campaigners highlighting a long forgotten 1919 Land Settlement (Scotland) Act as a possible way of giving the state powers to purchase land against the owners will and rent it to ordinary folk.

An interesting read with (to me) an admirable purpose. And that was that, I put the paper down and popped back to Twitter just in time to spot @PeatWorrier raising questions about the legislation and, as I tend to, I asked him a question in response. Andrew has a wonderful habit of not answering a straight question, but tends to respond with something additional. He could have said “yes” or “no” instead I got:

“We can’t evade the thorny A1P1 property rights issues.”

What did we do before Google?

A quick search led me to The Council of Europe handbook on The Right To Property: A guide to the implementation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Dry reading you might think, maybe I’m odd, but I found it fascinating.

Then I wondered, where are we at with the Tory plan of scrapping the human rights act, it all seems to have gotten very quiet around this subject.

The most recent article I could find is from February 25th this year, so it’s not gone away.

“Scrapping the Human Rights Act will help protect human rights, the Attorney General has argued.”

And back to Google I went. What I found was a series of handbooks covering 14 areas.

“Written by experts in the field, each handbook deals with one aspect of the European Convention on Human Rights or its protocols. The handbooks are intended as a very practical guide to how particular articles of the European Convention on Human Rights have been applied and interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They were written with legal practitioners, and particularly judges, in mind, but are accessible also to other interested readers.”

If you are interested in reading them they are over here

I think that will be the only question I ask on Twitter for today.

 

SNP Abstention on IPBill

And my knee jerk moment.

Having been out all afternoon, I got back to the interwebs to an avalanche of Tweets about the SNP doing that thing we most abhor. They were getting ready to ABSTAIN and ABSTAIN they did.

Calming myself down a notch or ten I went and read Joanna Cherry’s (QC MP) speech in full, twice.

It’s long but worth it. It’s over here . Scroll down till you find her and keep scrolling, she took a number of interventions.

What I picked up from her speech, which might be seen in print easier than by listening to it, was that there appears to be a wish on the SNP’s behalf to overhaul the legislation massively and by that I mean the current legislation and more obviously they want quite a number of amendments to the draft bill. Looking backwards and forward simultaneously if you will.

I’m no political pundit or lawyer, but it seems to me that by abstaining they are giving the chance for the bill to move to the Public Committee stage and showing full willing in shaping that legislation. The optimist in me thinks, oh, we might end up with something better than we have now. The realist in me says the amendments won’t make it through and the SNP will simply vote against at the next stage (which she explicitly stated).

This I think is important given that at Public Committee stage these things happen:

Evidence-taking powers

Public Bill Committees have the power to receive written evidence from outside organisations and members of the public, and to take oral evidence from interested parties, in the same way as Select Committees do, as part of their consideration of the Bill.

Written evidence

Anyone can submit written evidence to a Public Bill Committee. The written evidence that the Committee decides to publish will be available on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting, and will also be printed in hard copy at the end of the Committee’s deliberations.

Oral evidence

Public Bill Committees normally take oral evidence at the start of proceedings, starting with evidence from the relevant Minister or Ministers and Departmental officials.

Further witnesses may also be called, in a programme which will be agreed by the Committee at its first meeting. These are likely to include related agencies, interested non-governmental organisations and lobby groups and even individuals with an interest.

I may be naive I may be wrong (it’s known to happen), but isn’t opening up this debate to the public in public a good idea? I think it is. By the way, if you want to have a say, pop over here and you can find out how.

Before you go, have a read of some extracts from Joanna’s speech and see if you read the same things into it as I did.

Joanna Cherry

Joanna Cherry 2

Joanne Cherry 3

Did you?

Two more thoughts. Then I’ll stop I promise.

  1. The letter in the Guardian from 200 top lawyers stated:

If the law is not fit for purpose, unnecessary and expensive litigation will follow, and further reform will be required. We urge members of the Commons and the Lords to ensure that the future investigatory powers legislation meets these international standards. Such a law could lead the world.

Full piece here

2. @CostainMcCade  Tweeted at me to say

“Without Tory rebels Bill cannot be defeated – wasn’t going to happen at this stage.”

The question now is, can we get over the idea of the SNP abstaining if it is to try and improve on the legislation that’s both behind and in front of them?

My own answer is yes.