Saturday, February 03, 2007

Just get on with it.....

The task of creating a modern upper chamber in our legislature is one that has spanned several lifetimes and should have been resolved a long time ago.

For some media coverage see the BBC and an interesting Observer article.

The problem as ever is that people aren't agreed on what should replace it.

Personnally I favour a wholly elected chamber - it's much simpler, easy to understand and has democratic legitimacy. The whole issue of so called "cash for peerages" (they've managed to drag out the investigation for 11 whole months, with previous investigations covering "Who wants to be a millionaire?" ~ the police investigation costed more than the amount the contestant had allegedly sought to defraud, but wasn't even handed over - don't they have any serious criminals in London they need to be looking for?) means we should just seize this opportunity for a wholly elected chamber.

So they just need to get on with it.

Of course, the House of Commons needs to retain its supremacy. We don't want either Italian or US style gridlock. The House of Commons is elected at the time of the general election on the basis of a manifesto. They need to be clearly held to account on the basis of the manisfesto they stood on, which you can't do if you if you have (for example) to negotiate all your policies with a combined Tory/Lib Dem opposition entrenched in the "other place". Or vice versa.

As regards powers I do not, for reasons given above, favour extending the Lords powers in any way over ordinary legislation. After a General Election has taken place the upper house should not systematically block the will of the House of Commons, but should allow for more in depth debate and scrutiny and the chance to ask the Government to think again while being able to use the more substantive blocking powers (for instance) with the approval of delegated legislation such as regulations etc.

Some areas should be subject to approval from both Houses - changes to the Human Rights Act, changes to the term of a Parliament, the revision of a reformed "Parliament Act". I would also like to see us go down the Canadian path of the 'notwithstanding' clause, where the assent of both Houses is needed to override the provisions of the Human Rights Act (as well as any Bill of Rights we may end up with).

But the main business of the day should flow from the majority in the House of Commons, which sustains a Government elected by a General Election.

But above all they should just get on and do it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gay opposition to the regs

Report here on the BBC of a hotel owner complaining that the regulations will outlaw his business which is gay and bi only.

Odd. Well there was a 3 month consultation period about a year ago and plenty of opportunity since then to make his voice heard.

Now (a week or so before the finalised regulations are published) is not the time to start protesting what has been the major political effort of the LGBT community.

People on all sides are catastrophising about the regulations. I imagine it is quite easy to make clear that a place is particularly aimed at gay and bisexual men so that no straight man would stay there (unless he really wanted to - and that's the point - the regs are there so that our lives don't become totally segregated).

Faithworks article

An excellent and concise article on why biblically minded christians ought to welcome the Sexual Orientation Regulations. (I am indebted for the link to the ever comprehensive Thinking Anglicans site).

Malcom Duncan and Faithworks are startiung to prove themselves to be quietly impressive as an alternative vision of what Christianity could mean to the wider society. What a refreshing change!

Exchanges in Parliament

An insteresting and sustained exchange in the House of Lords here concerning the effect of the Sexual Orientation Regulations and adoption agencies (31st January)

Also a written answer here (31st January)

Finally an interesting procedural exchange here in the House of Commons referring to alleged failings in the Northern Ireland regulations under a point of order to the Speaker (30th January)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bishop launches a blistering attack on the Government

Link here.

The Bishop of Durham enters the political fray as he rubbishes the entire political policy of the United Kingdom's democratically elected Government as he spits in rage over the failure of the Government to carve out a special interest exemption for the Roman Catholic Church, saying

“This completely fails to take into account the views and beliefs of all those involved. The idea that new Labour — which has got every second thing wrong and is back-tracking on extended drinking hours, is in a mess over this cash-for-peerages business, cannot keep all its prisons under control — the idea that new Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years; I am sorry, this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government.”

I have one word for the Bishop - and it's from a book he ought to listen to "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers" (it's from the Bible....), Jeus may have said something abou rendering unto Caesar....

Of course, bishops are free to attack our elected Government if they wish. If doing so in the partisan way as is happening now they should have the decency to join an opposition party and be honest and open about it and then we can clear the whole lot of them out of the House of Lords and be governed by people elected to be there.

Monday, January 29, 2007

No exemptions - No 10 statement

Press release from No 10 here outlining there will be a transitional arrangement for 21 months for faith based adoption agencies.

BBC report here

365gay report here

Well done to all who have campaigned so hard for this change!