Monday 30 November 2009
Sunday 29 November 2009
121. SO No 14 (1) provides that “Save as provided in this order, government business shall
have precedence at every sitting”. The specific savings in SO No 14 are for:
• 20 Opposition days each session, allotted on days determined by the Government: and
• 13 Private Members’ Bill Fridays each session, fixed by the House at the outset of each session on the basis of a Motion moved by a Minister.
122. Time in the Chamber is also set aside by other Standing Orders for:
• oral questions for an hour on Mondays to Thursdays and Urgent Questions
• emergency debates
• end of day 30 minute adjournment backbench debates every sitting day
• three Estimates days each year, for debates under the auspices of the Liaison Committee
government business has precedence and other sittings”.
through the usual channels with the Official Opposition Whips. The Leader of the House then announces future business to the House each week on Thursday as a rolling two-week programme, with the second week avowedly less firmly determined than the first. Business in Westminster Hall is often announced more than two weeks in advance. The announcement of future business is akin to a Ministerial statement but preserves the facade
of being an Urgent Question from the Shadow Leader.
Saturday 28 November 2009
Friday 27 November 2009
Thursday 26 November 2009
The traditional 'first Thanksgiving' was held by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621. One place in England particularly associated with the Pilgrim Fathers is Scrooby in Nottinghamshire. It was here that a separatist church was founded whose members were to be the nucleus of the religious group on the Mayflower. It's a lovely village to visit, not far from Doncaster.
View Larger Map
There are a number of websites about the history of the 'pilgrims' in Scrooby and in the surrounding areas. My favourites are -
The Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association - which links to a number of interesting pages and
The Scrooby Village website - which has a number of history articles accessed via the left hand side of the page.
Wednesday 25 November 2009
Tuesday 24 November 2009
The main recommendations include
- Election of Select Committee Chairs by the House in a secret ballot
- Election of members of Select Committees by each party in secret ballots, the allocation of seats to each party representing the proportion of seats held in the Commons by the parties.
- smaller Select Committees to improve effectiveness
- rapid selection of select committee membership after a General Election
- establishment of a House Business Committee - with a Backbench Business Committee to organise the use of non-ministerial business time
- revival of work towards establishing an e-petitions system
- establishment of a system for "agenda initiative" by the public
- establishment of a monthly slot for debate of backbench motions
"opening up the process of legislation and giving the public a real opportunity to influence the content of draft laws should be a priority in the New Parliament"
Peter Riddell (Times Assistant Editor & Chair of the Hansard Society) commented on the report in the Times.
The full report is available here.
Monday 23 November 2009
and Research Papers cover a number of subjects in depth, including current bills, from the House of Commons Library
Sunday 22 November 2009
Citizens of the European Union can access the health services of other Member States. The photo shows my "European Health Insurance Card" (I was going to black out my details - but the photo was fuzzy) - It is the size of a credit card.
The NHS website describes the card -
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.
Everyone who is resident in the UK should have one and carry it with them when travelling abroad. Remember to check your EHIC is still valid before you travel. Applying for the card is free and it's valid for up to five years.
Presenting the EHIC entitles you to treatment that may become necessary during your trip, but doesn't allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care. However, maternity care, renal dialysis and managing the symptoms of pre-existing or chronic conditions that arise while abroad are all covered by the EHIC.
Your EHIC will allow you access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the country you are visiting. However, many countries expect the patient to pay towards their treatment, and even with an EHIC, you might be expected to do the same. You may be able to seek reimbursement for this cost when you are back in the UK if you are not able to do so in the other country.
The EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property.
Brits can apply for their card here
Friday 20 November 2009
- EU National Economies: Lessons from the past 20 years and models for the future
- The Future of the EU Single Market
- Domestic Security: A new frontier for European Integration
- Can Europe Hope to be a world leader?
There were some first class presentations - and lots of food for thought. For me four main themes stood out
- The need to establish a European VISION for its own future. Europe needs to move beyond 'navel-gazing' and set out the unique and positive role it wishes to play in the emerging multipolar world. To sum up a number of contributions - we now have the institutions in place - it's time to think about the use of European power in the world - and to project a self confident idea of European values and power. One speaker said that we must work with the USA not as a follower, but as a player in our own right.
- The need to harness the WILL to "punch at or above our own weight". Europe is an economic superpower - with a large population; great wealth; and a huge single market - yet politically it remains in the Second Division.
- DELIVERY must become a reality, instead of too much empty rhetoric - and unfulfilled promises.
- There needs to be more ENGAGEMENT with European citizens. That will only happen if a vision can be articulated; the will to take a place in the first rank of the international community is evident - and there is delivery upon the promise.
Your observations would be appreciated. Is the European Union capable of achieving the above? Should it be aiming higher? What should our relationship with the United States be based upon?
Either comment on this post on 'blogger' or email me privately here
Thursday 19 November 2009
Wednesday 18 November 2009
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their Final Report on the Review of the Executive Royal Prerogative Powers does not propose placing all executive prerogative powers identified in the report under parliamentary authority. [HL6204]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government believe that to place all the executive prerogative powers under specific parliamentary authority without detailed consideration of individual powers would considerably increase uncertainty, delay and the risk of legal challenges, to no significant advantage. Ministers are already accountable to Parliament for the exercise of all executive prerogative powers. The Government consider that there is nevertheless a case to be made for reform of some individual powers in order to increase the level of parliamentary scrutiny and control. For example, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill would place management of most of the Civil Service on to a statutory footing and would increase the level of parliamentary scrutiny of treaty-making. The Government will also propose a parliamentary resolution dealing with the commitment of Armed Forces to armed conflict overseas.
Tuesday 17 November 2009
"If open debate is seen as bickering and haggling; if bargaining and compromise are seen as selling out on principle...it is easy to see why the public is upset with the workings of the political system." But "What seems to escape many people is that democratic processes are practically by definition not procedurally efficient. The 'haggling and bickering' so frequently decried by the people could be very easily termed informed discussion..."
The Muppets portrayed the events of the Continental Congress in a sketch performed a few years ago. The truth they highlight is that democratic politics has ALWAYS been messy.
Monday 16 November 2009
For the record - According to Martin Luther King - "The Emancipation Proclamation had four enduring results. First, it gave force to the executive power to change conditions in the national interest on a broad and far-reaching scale. Second, it dealt a devastating blow to the system of slaveholding and an economy built upon it, which had been muscular enough to engage in warfare on the Federal government. Third, it enabled the Negro to play a significant role in his own liberation with the ability to organize and to struggle, with less of the bestial retaliation his slave status had permitted to his masters. Fourth, it resurrected and restated the principle of equality upon which the founding of the nation rested."
The Final Proclamation (also issued as an Executive Order" says -
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
Sunday 15 November 2009
Saturday 14 November 2009
- Emerging Congressional Staff Leaders Program
- Stennis Program for Congressional Interns
- Stennis Congressional Staff Fellows Program
For non-congressional staff there is also
John Stennis served in the US Senate for more than 41 years. He chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee (1969-81) and was president pro tempore during the 100th Congress. He was a Democrat from Mississippi. He was responsible for writing the first ethics code for the Senate - and was the first ever Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee (1965-75). He was the first Democrat Senator to criticise Joe Mccarthy on the Senate floor.Senator Stennis retired in 1989 - and died in 1995. He lost a leg to cancer during the 1980s and was almost killed when shot during a mugging in Washington DC.
The Center's website can be accessed directly from here.
Friday 13 November 2009
The report can be accessed here.
1 that the Minister responsible for the bill should be required to make an oral statement to the House of Lords outlining the case for fast-tracking. This should take place when the bill is introduced to the House in order to allow a debate, as early as possible on the justification for fast-tracking the bill, which does not detract from the Second Reading debate. The details contained in the oral statement should also be set out in a written memorandum included in the Explanatory Notes. The parliamentary time allocated for the statement should not in any way impinge upon the time available for consideration of the bill.
(a) Why is fast-tracking necessary?
(b) What is the justification for fast-tracking each element of the bill?
(c) What efforts have been made to ensure the amount of time made available for parliamentary scrutiny has been maximised?
(d) To what extent have interested parties and outside groups been given an opportunity to influence the policy proposal?
(e) Does the bill include a sunset clause (as well as any appropriate renewal procedure)? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?
(g) Has an assessment been made as to whether existing legislation is sufficient to deal with any or all of the issues in question?
(h) Have relevant parliamentary committees been given the opportunity to scrutinise the legislation?
Thursday 12 November 2009
William O Douglas, the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court, said of him -
“Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court."
Melvin Urofsky, had has previously written extensively on Brandeis has recently published "Louis D Brandeis: A Life". He was interviwed about the subject of his book on C-SPAN's "Q&A"
Wednesday 11 November 2009
Tuesday 10 November 2009
Monday 9 November 2009
For more information on Bletchley Park press here.
Sunday 8 November 2009
Saturday 7 November 2009
C-SPAN - for a live broadcast of House proceedings
CQ and The Hill have promised a regular feed ot tweets. The House of Representatives (Office of the Clerk) has a feature "Currently on the House Floor" and you can
Read the Bill - H.R.3962
Read the Republican Bill
See the Special Rule Governing the Debate.
The House is due to meet at 09.00 EST (14.00 UK).
Friday 6 November 2009
Thursday 5 November 2009
One individual who has often played a key role is the Private Secretary to the Monarch. Vernon Bogdanor devotes a whole chapter of his 1995 book "The Monarchy and the Constitution" to this office holder. He claims that "the office...has become crucial to the working of constitutional monarchy in Britain." It is a chapter worth reading!
The official description of the post on the UK Monarchy's website can be accessed here. The photograph accompanying this post is that of Lord Knollys - Private Secretary to Edward VII and George V.
Wednesday 4 November 2009
Tuesday 3 November 2009
Monday 2 November 2009
As G.M. Trevelyan noted: “That great audience swayed, like a cornfield beneath the wind, under the gusts of cheering and laughter that shook them as he spoke... And the magic that swayed them was not some hard appeal to the lower part of their nature, but drew its compelling virtue from the simplest invocation of moral principles in words which survive the speaker as part of the wealth of our mother tongue. No class ever had nobler teaching than the working men of this island during the years while Bright was their champion.”
Bright’s belief in political freedom and reform inspired both Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Chamberlain
Bright's first allegiance was to his conscience. He would have no truck with the modern whips system and the surrender of parliamentary business to the executive, nor the fixing of timetables to prevent debate....
... We need the spirit of John Bright to walk the corridors of Westminster again.