Friday, June 22, 2007

Voting over ...

If you haven't voted yet - it's too late!

Voting has now closed (unless you're an MP). Result due on Sunday.

I am still hoping for Peter Hain to win, but of course the result is rather unpredictable and I note that Gordon Brown has been making rather free of late with his current job (though he may have better things in mind for him), what with offering the post to Paddy Ashdown. More on this later.

On a spearate note Gordon seems to be engaging in an interesting version of Fantasy (Shadow) Cabinet..... Of course in a few days' time he'll be doin' it for real

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Links from Hansard

Here are some really good bits. Links taken from This is a really good website that allows you to very simply email your MP, find out who you MP is and also Hansard on this site is laid out better than on Parliament's website.

Here is the debate including Chris Bryant's excellent speech moving his amendment on 'therapeutic benefit'.

Here is the entire debate - though it's quite brief - on exclusions (including sexual orientation etc) with excellent speeches by Chris Bryant and the Minister, Rosie Winterton.

Here is Rosie Winterton's informative speech in third reading summing up the whole bill, followed by some other contributions.

The voting lists can be seen on The Public Whip:

Vote on exclusions - govt majority of 86
Vote on imparied judgment - govt majority of 83 (Lynne Jones and Jeremy Corbyn voted with the opposition)
Third Reading - govt majority of 70

For access to all debates in Commons and Lords (well you may mish to be selective in your reading.....) you can access these by clicking on the bill's Parliament website. The Hansard record for the ping pong - if there is any may prove interesting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mental Health Bill (Tuesday)

Final day of the Commons stages.

As urged by the Mental Health Coalition, who have in fact proved surprisingly effective in gaining concessions on key areas from the Government during the Bill's passage, the Governemtn accepted a compromise proposed by Chris Bryant on treatability, eerlly similar to the way forward I suggested to the Government in my own correspondence.....

In the end the Bill passed its Third Reading with a majority of 70, which in the circumstances aint too bad, certainly shows there has been no significant rebellion by Labour MP's.

The debates from yesterday's debate can be seen here (on - you need to scroll down to 'Orders of the Day' and then click on 'next debate' and probably scroll past the full text of the amendments which are ....... long.

Report on the Bill from the BBC.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mental Health Bill (Monday)

Two remaining days in the Commons for the Mental Health Bill and I am going to try and watch as much of today's proceedings as I can.

The Government have made significant concessions as indicated in an earlier post and in several cases these are about making explicit (on the face of the Bill as parliamentarians are wont to say....) what was already the case and helping to dispel some of the myths as well as legitimate fears people may have that the powers of the Bill were too far reaching.

More compromises may be in order to stave off a lenthy ping pong session, but some of the things the opposition is asking for are contrary to the policy of the democratically elected government and on those issues - provided there is a Commons majority behind them - the Lords should not persist in their opposition.

The latest press release from the Mental Health Alliance does give recognition to the Government for the changes the Government has introduced and seems more conciliatory in tone.


The Government introduced new clauses on independent advocacy, as well as indicating support for specialist advocacy services for Black and Minority Ethnic service users, age appropriate services for people under 18, improvements to safeguards in relation to consent and improvements (campaigned for by UNISON and the newly formed Mental Health Coalition) to the proposed Community Treatment Orders to ensure that they are not misused so as to place restrictions on people's lifestyles.

The Government also responded to lobbying by the Mental Health Coalition on the Nearest Relative issue (the Bill already allows you to seek a change in the NR where the current NR is unsuitable, with a patient being able to identify any other person so long as they are suitable) the Government has clearly stated that the NR is not the Next of Kin, and recognised you can choose who your Next of Kin is, agreeing to strengthen guidance in this area in the Code of Practice.

The Government won all of its votes today with majorities varying between 59 and 66.

Tomorrow is the final day of debate in the Commons.

The Department of Health website has latest documents including helpful correspondence with and reports from the Joint Committe on Human Rights (otherwise known as the Liberal Democrats at prayer).

In particular you can see the Government's response to some of the Joint Committee's rather incoherent (though no doubt well meaning) arguments on some aspects of the Bill, for instance on the need for 'exclusions'. I must say I find Rosie Winterton's argument to be particularly robust and succinct when speaking on the proposal to exclude sexual orientation, religious and cultural beleifs from the definition of mental disorder:

[...] They are not recognised mental disorders. It would be legally redundant to exclude them from the definition of mental disorder for the purposes of the Act. Indeed to do so might appear to suggest, quite wrongly, that they were mental disorders for other purposes - which would be particularly inappropriate in the case of sexual orientation. Moreover, to include any exclusions which are of no legal effect risks them being misunderstood or misinterpreted to have a substantive effect, which they would not in fact, have.

Which I think is a good paraphrase of the case I made out against such exclusions in my submissions to the Government over the Bill - nice to see they listened......

Sunday, June 17, 2007

French results - socialists do better than expected

Today is the last day of the French legislative election.

As the Presidential election was in 2 rounds, so also is the of the Assemblee Nationale, the final round being today.

Results are predicted to give Sarkosy a very substantial majority and there are fears that the Parti Socialiste will have one of its worst historic results.

More later as the results come in.

Some analysis ahead of the results here:

Sydney Morning Herald, BBC, The Australian, Washington Times

And if you can read French an excellent analysis (with historical comparisons) in Le Monde and as well as this article.

More comment when there are some early indications of the result. Already, however, it is clear that the result will not be good for the French socialists, who will have a real job to do to reinvent themselves after the election.

Results start to come in BBC, Guardian

It now seems the Parti Socialiste is doing quite well, having gained a number of seats in the Parliament, which allows it to be a substantial opposition to the Government.

There is though a general consensus that there needs to be a process of 'rebuilding' in the Parti Socialiste, though exactly what form that takes remains to be seen, with at least a risk of a period of bitter infighting between the followers of a handful of political heavyweights.

Final results are now in

See the BBC site for the full details of the composition of the Assemblee Nationale with 07 compared to 02.

It's a little difficult to work out what's going on as the French system means there are lots of small groupings along side thw two big parties.

It seems the socialists have gained around 40 seats. The communists have lost a number of seats and therefore lose their status as a 'party group' in the Assembly.

The right wing UMP lost approx 40 seats.

Lesson - the importance of expectation management (especially difficult in a two round election). As a consequence the party that lost the election feels like it has won it as the first round predicted a wipeout for the Left and the party that actually won it feels like it's lost it...... Well that's politics for you.