Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Week Ahead - from the House of Commons' 'Weekly Information Bulletin (although it summarises business for both chambers and committees of both Houses.) 'The Week Ahead' is usually around p6 of the online pdf.
The Weekly Leader - the week's business, provided by the office of the Leader of the House of Representatives.
The current TV schedule for C-SPAN is available here
BBC Parliamen't schedule is available here
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Lord Elton - To ask the Chairman of Committees whether consideration will be given to acquiring a number of respectable cats to reduce the rodent population of the Palace of Westminster.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The possible use of cats, respectable or otherwise, to control the rodent population in the Palace of Westminster has been considered and ejected on a number of practical grounds. For example, the cats would ingest mouse poison when eating poisoned mice; there would be nothing to keep them in the areas where they are most needed, or to stop them walking on desks in offices and on tables in restaurants and bars; they can carry fleas and other parasites; and many people are allergic to cat hair. However, the Administration is taking a wide range of other control measures such as significantly increasing the number of bait boxes and traps, sealing mouse access points and intensifying the cleaning regime to minimise the presence of crumbs in the bars and food outlets. The age, construction and location of the Palace of Westminster are such that it will never be possible to eradicate mice entirely, but all appropriate measures are being taken to minimise the numbers.
I am aware from internal emails that mice have been spotted around the House of Lords end of the Palace - but haven't seen them myself! The Speaker's wife (who lives in the Speaker's House which is in the Palace) revealed a few weeks ago in a tweet - "Eeek we have a mouse again! Just seen it run under the dishwasher. The mouse-catcher man doesn't work on Sundays though... what to do?"
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Fox vigorously attacked his new assignment, using the resources of the Crown to bribe the members of the House. He offered them places in the government, commissions in the military, or chairs in the universities. If such favors for themselves or their families failed, he offered money. John Almon wrote, 'The royal household has been increased beyond all former example. The lords and grooms of the bedchamber were doubled. Pensions were thrown about indiscriminately. Five and twenty thousand pounds were issued in one day, in bank notes of one hundred pounds each. The only stipulation was, Give us your vote. A corruption of such notoriety and extent had never been seen before.' According to Walpole, 'A shop was publicly opened at the Pay Office, whither the members flocked, and received the wages of their venality in bank-bills, even to so low a sum as two hundred pounds for their votes on the treaty'"
Monday, 22 February 2010
Many books deserve a fulsome recommendation. A very few fall into that rare category of "books every citizen should read". One small book out this year more than exceeds the criteria for inclusion in this limited list [the criteria should be (1) the writer has something VERY important to say AND (2) it is written in plain, readable language]
- sources of English Law (chap 3)
- principles of the English legal system (Chap 9)
- Judicial Review (Chap 6)
- Human Rights Law - including key provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (Chap 7)
- principles of International Law (Chap 10)
- Sovereignty of Parliament (Chap 12)
But this is not just a book for law students. Students of politics and history will also find it useful - as indeed (as I've already said a few times) ANY CITIZEN.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Friday, 19 February 2010
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
There is an excellent website which looks at Common's rebellions called revolts.co.uk.
Monday, 15 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
The role set out for the Leader in the Companion is simply to draw the House's attention to the guidance in the Companion and to any transgressions of the guidance. In relation to the Procedure Committee, I know that on the Benches behind me, and in other parts of the House, there is a strong desire for change-not throughout the House, but on the Benches behind me. I suggest that if any Members wish to take matters to the Procedure Committee, they can so do.
Friday, 12 February 2010
The concluding words are worth reflecting upon, and striving for - that
government of the people,
by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Firstly, how far should the demands of National Security be allowed to compromise fundamental constitutional principles – such as the Rule of Law; accountability to Parliament and individuals’ rights? This is a very important – perhaps the most important – constitutional issue. By chance I’ve been listening to the audiobook of “Packing the Court” and have reached the point where the conflict between President Lincoln and the Supreme Court over this issue is discussed. To complement that I glanced again through former Chief Justice Rehnquist’s book “All the Laws but One”. (I also came across a very useful article by Lord Bingham - Personal Freedom and the Dilemma of Democracies') I recommend all of these if you are reflecting on the issue.
The deleted paragraph in the draft judgement in the Binyam Mohammed case contains the following criticisms of MI5
• It failed to respect human rights
• It deliberately misled Parliament
• It had a ‘culture of suppression’
National Security – and its oversight by Parliament and Congress is an interesting topic itself. Many of the works of Christopher Andrew deal with the subject. By coincidence yesterday also saw the passing of former Representative Charlie Wilson – and both the film and book about him “Charlie Wilson’s War” are useful primers on Congress and National Security.
The second issue concerns the rule established in the famous “Ship Money” case of the Seventeenth Century involving John Hampden [a case that Washminster will be discussing shortly] that there should be no secret communication between lawyers and the Court in legal proceedings (unless the Court has given specific directions).
The Guardian reports today that the Government’s QC, Jonathan Sumption, sent his comments on the draft judgement to Lord Neuberger, copying in only one of the parties to the case (Binyam Mohamed) - and not the representatives of the Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, Liberty, Justice, Index on Censorship, who were also parties. Lord Neuberger assumed (as is standard practice) that all parties had seen Sumption's comments and had not felt the need to sumbit comments on Sumption's - and took this into account when he amended the draft.
Hansard contains the statement (and supplementary questions) made in the House of Commons on the case by Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
Your comments on these matters would be appreciated. You can make a comment directly - or send to me here.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
CRS Documents on PAYGO rules include
Budget Enforcement Procedures: Senate Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Rule
Pay-As-You-Go Procedures for Budget Enforcement (2007)
A Standard Note from the House of Commons Library (which can be accessed here) gives the background to the rule.
Monday, 8 February 2010
On Saturday, Sir John Dankworth passed away. He had been ill for some time - but we are very sad to lose him. Over the last year my wife and I have been attending the Sunday morning "Jazz Matters" at the Stables in Wavendon. John, whose baby the Sunday sessions were, really brightened those mornings up. He had a wonderful sense of humour - and was such a gracious gentleman. He was a giant of British jazz, a genius (as Jamie Cullum testified on Sunday) and a superb sax & clarinet player - but he was also a really nice guy who didn't have the arrogance that some 'celebrities' have. He had a real passion for educating people about jazz and music generally. I learned so much from his comments - as well as the sessions themselves - in "Jazz Matters"
My condolences to his wife of 51 years, Dame Cleo Laine and their talented children Alec Dankworth and Jacqui Dankworth.
Sir John was a prolific composer as well as a great performer. Thankfully through video and CDs we can continue to enjoy his work.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
New Orleans is the obvious choice for someone who - along with watching American Football - has as his main leisure interest - listening to Jazz. New Orleans was the birthplace of this music (though other cities made valuable contributions to the development of Jazz). I have the excellent set of documentaries on Jazz history made by Ken Burns, and I'll watch a few episodes today. New Orleans jazz as a specific style is explained here.
An appropriate piece of video to watch today has New Orleans born Jazz genius Louis Armstrong singing and playing "When the Saints go marching in"
Politically the City is represented by Steve Scalise (LA 01); Joseph Cao (LA 02) Senator Mary Landrieu and Senator David Vitter.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Friday, 5 February 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
The report (which is one inch deep in the printed version, is available as a pdf file here.
***note - details amended since first posted*****