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Justice Ryder's speech (and other things)

This is a link to Justice Ryder's recent speech. It is worth reading (if you are interested in these issues). Along with James Munby he is one of the few family court judges who have some idea of the problems inbuilt into the system.

The difficulty is getting a wider recognition that change is needed. Not only that but a recognition that a different type of change is needed one which brings greater accountability into the decisionmaking rather than one that uses more computers.

Family Law Week also carry details of Lord Justice Hughes' endorsing the House of Lords position on fact finding (which was that facts need to be found).

Post Office Closures

Those who wish to see a bigger picture can look at Flickr for it.

The process of reducing the Sub Post Office network from about 18,000 to 4,500 outlets is continuing with silly decisions to close down profitable outlets continuing to be made.

This is the local councillors from Acocks Green and Springfield Wards (Springfield is in Hall Green Constituency) campaigning to keep Shaftmoor Lane Sub Post Office open.

SSAP 24

With the market taking a turn for the worse SSAP 24 will start causing difficulties again. Too many of the aspects of our financial system are self-reinforcing. That results in a gearing effect on changes.

Local Government by-election results

Results: Thursday 26th June 2008.

Blackpool UA, Park
Con 977 (55.2; +28.1)
Lab 448 (25.3; -8.1)
BNP 218 (12.3; -4.8)
LD Sue Close 97 (5.5; -8.5)
UKIP 30 (1.7; -6.7)
Majority 529
Turnout not known
Con gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Burbage PC, Lash Hill
LD Maureen Lynch 612 Richard Flemming 610 (71.2)
Con 248/239 (28.8)
Majorities 364/362
Turnout 29.4%
LD hold x 2

Hexham TC, Leazes
Con 620 (67.7)
LD Lindsay Travis 296 (32.3)
Majority 324
Turnout 33.4%
Con hold

Welwyn Hatfield DC, Hatfield Central
Lab 425 (33.2; -8.3)
LD Hazel Laming 329 (25.7; +10.5)
Con 319 (24.9; -18.4)
BNP 138 (10.8; +10.8)
Ind 69 (5.4; +5.4)
Majority 96
Turnout 28.5%
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2008

Hatfield TC, Central
Lab 422 (33.1)
LD Hazel Laming 378 (29.7)
Con 347 (27.2)
Ind 127 (10.0)
Majority 44
Turnout 28.5%
Lab gain from Con

17th July 2008

Northallerton TC, North West
LD Jane Harvey elected unopposed
LD gain from Con

Northallerton TC, North East
Ind elected unopposed
Ind hold

June oil analysis

One of the key things in the IEA's June oil report is an upward revision of demand in 2006 and 2007 by about 0.170 mb/d.

This means that in each of those years it is now thought that the world burnt an additional rougly 62,050,000 barrells of oil compared to what was thought to be the case in the previous month.

It is hard to measure these things which is why there are continual revisions to the data.

One would expect some of the demand reduction from price (cf Stagecoach announcing more travellers) to feed through into these figures and it has not done so yet.

The current IEA prediction, therefore, is for supply to be less than demand. (ie a stock draw down), but the IEA predictions of demand for 2008 have gone down by 230,000 b/d since last month.

The Queen (on the application of Wheeler) v the PM and For Sec and Speaker Intervening

I was interested in the above judgment which was a judicial review of the failure to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (see link for detailed judgment).

If you are interested in these things it is worth reading the judgment. However, it can be summarised as:The decision not to have a referendum was made by parliament and cannot be touched by the courts. (which was my original expectation and why I was surprised that permission for JR was given)
The Lisbon Treaty and Constitutional Treaty are different things.
Even if it has been the constitutional treaty the courts cannot prevent the government changing its mind (manifestos are not judiciable).
Anything that requires parliamentary proceedings cannot be touched by the courts.
I cannot see how he has any hope on appeal. I cannot see him even getting permission to appeal.

Jersey Care Leavers Association Meeting

I attended the meeting in the House of Commons about the Friends of the Jersey Care Leavers. This was established by the English Care Leavers Association.

I have been working with Stuart Syvret to establish the rule of law properly on Jersey. We have discussed a number of ways of doing this either involving the UK or the Council of Europe.

The point about Jersey is that there is concentrated evil that has been covered up. In England there has been evil covered up, but it is not as concentrated as it was in Jersey. However, English children have been placed in Jersey "Care" Homes.

The tradition of establish cover ups is established well in England as far as the "caring professions" go with the well established tradition of retaliatory allegations. In Jersey people have been sectioned for complaining. In England people's legal right to instruct a solicitor and manage their own affairs is often removed and the task given to an agent of the state.

The Philcox Case

The following is part of a quotation from Carol Sarler's Daily Mail Story.
When a story unfolds that is as obscene as the deaths of Amy and Owen Philcox by the hands of their father Brian, most of us try to work our way through the unthinkable steps of it: how carefully he planned the murders and how cruelly he hinted at what was to come.

What I would ask, however, is why this seems relatively common in England, but not so common elsewhere. Is it that we don't hear of stories from other countries (be they in the English speaking world or not) or is there a difference.

I have concentrated on Public Family Law issues, but from time to time see Private Family Law issues. What I see in those is that the most important objective is to obtain a situation in which the parents (and ex partners) work together to look after their children. The details of this don't matter, but the cases that have turned out well are those where there is not a continuing war between ex-partners with …

Results: Thursday 19th June 2008

Braintree DC, Braintree East
Con 668 (50.7; +17.4)
Lab 406 (30.8; -4.6)
Green 125 (9.5; +9.5)
LD Paul William Lemon 119 (9.0; -6.0)
[UKIP (0.0, -16.2)]
Majority 262
Turnout 27.4%
Con hold
Percentage change is from May 2007

Braintree DC, Hatfield Peverel
Con 782 (78.1; +0.1)
Lab 138 (13.8; -8.2)
Green 81 (8.1; +8.1)
Majority 644
Turnout 30.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is from May 2007

North Tyneside MBC, Monkseaton North
Con 1617 (69.6; +1.9)
Lab 413 (17.8; -1.6)
LD Eleanor Jellett 198 (8.5; -4.4)
Green 94 (4.0; +4.0)
Mjority 1204
Turnout 34.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is from May 2008

Richmond TC, West
Con 294/275 (52.9)
LD Paula Quirie 262 (47.1)
Majorities 32/13
Turnout 23.3%
Con gain from LD x 2

Wellingborough BC, Wollaston
Con 816 (81.1; +10.6)
Ind 97 (9.6; +9.6)
LD Jane Brown 93 (9.2; +9.2)
[Lab (0.0; -29.5)]
Majority 719
Turnout 33%
Con hold
Percentage change is from May 2007

Wyre BC, Great Eccleston
Con 778 (67.8; -32.2)
Ind 309 (26.9; +26.9)
LD Chandos Elletson 60 (5.2; +5.2)
Majority 469
Turnout 39.9%
Con hold
Percentage…

Another mom on the run

This is not a case I know about. (see link)

A woman fled her Wearside home with her five daughters because she found out they were to be taken into care.

If, however, our care system was supportive and didn't just hammer families you would not have moms (and dads) going on the run so often.

In the 2nd reading debate people talked about how the system worked in other countries where the care system cooperates with families rather than hitting them with a judicial hammer. There is some cooperation in this country. However, far too frequently the system is simply at war with the communities it is supposed to serve.

Those new clauses

Family proceedings: evidence

John Hemming
Nicholas Winterton
Dai Davies
Martin Horwood

To move the following clause:

(1) The Children Act 1989 (c. 41) is amended as follows.(2) After section 9 insert-"9A Proceedings on orders with respect to children

(1) No order may be made in any family proceedings that shall prevent the
provision of evidence to—
(a) the police,
(b) any regulatory body that the Secretary of State shall by regulation
define.
(2) In the course of such proceedings it shall be lawful for any person—
(a) to provide evidence to the bodies specified in subsection (1),
(b) to assist any person in the provision of such evidence.

(3) In relation to any family proceedings held in private it shall be lawful for any
person to provide any information relating to such proceedings to—
(a) a Member of Parliament,
(b) a Member of the Welsh Assembly,
(c) a Member of the European Parliament,
(d) such other persons as the Secretary of State shall by regulation define.”

(4) In relation to any family pr…

Children and Young People Bill Speech

The 2nd reading debate on the CYP Bill was yesterday. I wrote a speech that time prevented me from giving which follows. There was only 6 minutes when I was called so I spoke for 3 minutes because there was one other person who needed to be called.

This is, however, what I would have said had I had the time:

Honorable Members will be aware that I have concerns about the processes involved in Public Family Law within the UK.

These concerns are shared by a number of other Hon Members who have encountered surprising cases in their constituencies.

This Bill allows the opportunity to make some improvements to the processes of Public Family Law that are urgently needed today.

It is important to recognise that the culture established by the judicial process develops the administrative culture throughout an area of society. We have a strong tradition of accountability in civil law. This leads to a clear system of law which governs most activity in civil society.

However, in family law the leve…

In re B (Children) (FC)

The link is to Bailii for this case.

The case was one where the Guardian ad Litem asked for the standard of proof to be a "real possibility" of a "risk of significant harm" for the S31 A threshold rather than "balance of probabilities".

Had the Guardian at Litem won then it would have confirmed that parties to a Family Court case need to prove their innocence rather than the state prove (even on a balance of probabilities) their guilt.

It is important to note that the local authority supported the Guardian (as did the mother). It is a fact that frequently decisions are taken by local authorities on the basis of "real possibility". That is one reason whey they get so many decisions wrong.

Getting this right, however, will take some doing. It requires firstly for the threshold to be actually tested in the lower courts. We got a refusal of permission for the court of appeal judgment transcript this week which confirms that many parents are advised …

Results: Thursday 12th June 2008

Carlisle City DC, Upperby
Lab 595/515 (35.2; -12.1)
LD James Osler 428 (25.3; -0.6)
Con 346/275 (20.5; +5.5)
BNP 321/278 (19.0; +7.3)
Majorities 167/87
Turnout 36.1%
Lab hold x 2
Percentage change is since May 2007.

East Sussex CC, Bexhill King Offa
Con 2825 (62.3; +23.1)
LD John Kemp 1191 (26.3; -4.3)
Lab 518 (11.4; -18.8)
Majority 1634
Turnout 25%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2005.

Flintshire UA, Hope
LD Tim Newhouse 480 (63.6; +63.6)
Ind 275 (36.4; -14.8)
[Ind (0.0; -48.8)]
Majority 205
Turnout 38.6%
LD gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2004.

Gloucestershire CC, Brockworth
LD Mike Collins 1040 (52.9; +41.0)
Con 751 (38.2; +11.1)
Lab 175 (8.9; -15.9)
[Green (0.0; -5.5)]
[Resident (0.0; -30.6)]
Majority 289
Turnout 31.4%
LD gain from Resident
Percentage change is since May 2005.

Harlow DC, Harlow Common
Con 959 (46.6; +3.1)
Lab 628 (30.5; -14.5)
LD James Rideout 419 (20.3; +8.7)
Ind 53 (2.6; +2.6)
Majority 331
Turnout 37.2%
Con gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Illogan PC, Illogan
Liberal …

David Davis' 42 day Haltemprice and Howden by-election

David Davis' decision is not unique.

There is a long track record of people resigning their own seats to fight by-elections. There used to be such a tradition when people were appointed as cabinet ministers.

In 1912 George Lansbury was Labour MP for Bow and Bromley and a strong supporter of votes for women. When the Labour Party gave lukewarm support, Lansbury resigned to seek re-election with a clear mandate on the single issue. The Conservatives fought the seat hard and won. However in that case there was a Liberal government. The Liberals deliberately decided not to stand but did not endorse Lansbury either. Lansbury was beaten by a Mr Blair. Although Lansbury lost in 1918 he won the seat again at every election from 1922 until his death in 1940.

In 1938 The Duchess of Atholl, who had resigned the Conserative whip earlier in the Parliament, resigned Kinross and Western Perthshire to fight a by-election in opposition to appeasement but lost the seat to the new Conservative candidat…

Irish Jokes

On the terrace last night people were working on a number of Irish jokes. These, of course, relating to Northern Ireland such as:

Ulster says: Yes
Ulster says: How much?
No surrender - well for £1.2 billion that's a different issue

A little bit of extra scrutiny is likely to be given to the minutae of the arrangements for the financing of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

It remains, however, that this was a saddening decision. The concessions given on 42days make it essentially unworkable and in principle undermine the separation of powers by bringing parliament in on individual cases. In any event the proposal if implemented would do more harm than good. It remains that post charge questioning is the key issue. Whether Brown's motivation was to try to do something Blair couldn't do (I suppose he didn't offer £1.2 Billion) or whether it is because it is superficially popular and allows him to posture on terrorism is unclear.

What was very good, however, was Diane Abbot…

Tyranny under the cover of paternalism

The Times have succintly reported the judgment of the court of appeal in that a trial is not necessary for a mother to have her child put up for adoption. It ends up as tyranny disguised as paternalism.

The mother concerned did an IQ test last week. For a short time the results will remain "under wraps".

Council of Europe Machinery moves a further step forward

There are a number of processes that are pressing towards change in Public Family Law in the UK.

Firstly, we have amendments to the Children and Young People Bill. The second reading of this Bill is on Monday and some new clauses with All Party support will be tabled.

Secondly, we have a number of cases in various courts, Court of Appeal, House of Lords and European Court.

Thirdly, there is the Council of Europe investigation. This has just moved on another step and has passed the hurdle in the Bureau. It is on the agenda for the meeting of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee on 24th June. This can take the step of appointing a rapporteur to lead the investigation and a proper investigation starts.

There is also a growing campaign for change involving social work academics, politicians, lawyers and of course service users (aka Service victims).

Why do the government like the "C" word - closure

The link is to the details of the government's announcement of the National Challenge programme. This includes the following:
As well as Academies, where a school is completely unable to raise their exam results, the Government will encourage local authorities to close the school and replace it with a National Challenge Trust, providing that they forge new improvement partnerships led by a successful school and a business or university partner. The aim would be to give the school and the community a fresh beginning and a break with previous underachievement.

What I cannot work out is why the government always like to issue a threat of closure. It hasn't been seen to work reliably in the past. Obviously there will always be some times when schools close. However, it should not appear as an explicit threat relating to 638 schools.

If you take two local schools Sheldon Heath and Yardleys which appear on this list, both have been improving. Sheldon Heath has taken the number of …

Lots of angry people

Over the weekend we had the demonstration by Fathers 4 Justice. Today I attended a meeting of Tax Credit Casualties.

What we have is the state intervening with families to cause chaos. With TCC there are cases where someone has to pay all their tax credit back simply because their annual return got lost in the post.

Fathers 4 Justice are a form of offshoot of Families Need Fathers. Both of these arise from the capricious nature of the Family Justice system in the UK where the outcomes are frequently not rational.

F4J are not very clear on what they want. That in part arises from the secrecy of the system which prevents people from learning about the multifarious miscarriages of justice.

What we need to do is to open up hte system to scrutiny to enable proper accountability. That applies also to Tax Credits.

Oil Supply and Demand May Analysis

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Supply 79.6154 83.1243 84.6315 84.5983 84.5944
Demand 79.6118 82.3301 83.6498 84.6225 85.3543

Difference 0.0036 0.7942 0.9817 -0.0242 -0.7599

Quarters 1/7 2/7 3/7 4/7 1/8 2/8 3/8 4/8
Supply 84.20 84.37 84.33 85.49 85.86 86.17 87.18 87.17
Demand 85.36 84.48 85.08 86.66 86.34 85.73 86.45 87.80
OPEC Demand 85.79 86.98 85.75 86.60 88.45 (their estimates)
Difference -1.16 -0.11 -0.75 -1.17 -0.48 0.44 0.73 -0.63

Monthly USA Gulf OAPEC OPEC World NGL OPEC
2007 Dec 8,669 23,886 25,067 36,612 85,765 Dec 4.40 32.3300
2008 Jan 8,624 24,013 25,113 36,649 85,674 Jan 4.93 32.0900
2008 Feb 8,625 24,242 25,341 36,881 85,921 Feb 4.93 32.2300
2008 Ave 8,625 24,124 25,223 36,761 85,793 Mar 4.93 32.4500

April Opec (not NGL) 31.70

All of the figures are in Millions of Barrels a Day and come from a range of industry sources. The first problem in gettin…

Results: Thursday 5th June 2008

Allerdale BC, All Saints
Con 587 (45.0; -1.8)
Lab 536 (41.1; -12.2)
BNP 99 (7.6; +7.6)
Green 58 (4.4; +4.4)
Ind 25 (1.9; +1.9)
Majority 51
Turnout 35%
Con hold
Percentage change from May 2007.

Forest Heath DC, Red Lodge
LD Pat McCloud 321 (55.9; +55.9)
Con 230 (40.1; -59.9)
UKIP 23 (4.0; +4.0)
Majority 91
Turnout 38%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change from May 2007.

Gwynedd UA, Bowydd and Rhiw
Llais Gwynedd 341 (48.4; +48.4)
PC 247 (35.0; +35.0)
Green 117 (16.6; +16.6)
[Lab (0.0; -100.0)]
Majority 94
Turnout not known
Llais Gwynedd gain from Lab
Percentage change from May 2004.

Newark and Sherwood DC, Edwinstone
Ind 715 (60.9; +6.8)
Lab 459 (39.1; +8.9)
[Con (0.0; -15.7)]
Majority 256
Turnout 28.9%
Ind hold
Percentage change from May 2007.

Newhaven TC, Meeching
LD Maurice Langham 610 (55.1)
Con 497 (44.9)
Majority 113
Turnout 28.6%
LD hold.

Newport City UA, Bettws
Lab 1128/890/789 (52.0; -0.7)
LD Sue Baker 586/Ann Tripp 451/David Gapper Hampson 408 (27.0; +19.7)
Con 331/260 (15.3; +7.1)
PC 75/49 (3.5; -3.6)
Ind 50/40 (2.3…

P C and S - a commentary

The link is to a commentary about the European Court Case PC&S.

It includes the following:
It is striking that the Strasbourg Court con­cluded that the child's rights under the pro­cedural guarantees in Art 8 were infringed, although S was legally represented throughout. It is unclear what message it was trying to send by this finding. Was it that S's legal repre­sentatives, for the proper protection of her in­terests, should not have agreed to proceed without representation for the parents? If so, the lesson is for CAFCASS, the body which provides guardians for children in such cases. (CAFCASS guardians must be considered as a "public authority" for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 and are therefore re­quired to act in conformity with the Conven­tion.)

The English Question needs an answer

Whereas the existance of devolution in London means that a simple "English parliament" is not the best way forwards and having MPs with different voting rights does not resolve the issue, there is no question that the Barnett Formula combined with devolution has created some anomalies as pointed out by Frank Field who said:

The fiscal discriminations cover, for example:

"* frail citizens in Scotland not facing residential care home fees as
they do in England;

"* Scottish citizens being treated with the Lucentis drug for macular
degeneration of the eye while English citizens simply lose their sight
awaiting action from NICE;

"* Scottish students going to University not paying top-up fees of
£3,000.00 per year as do English students going to University; and,
most English citizens paying prescription charges while none face such
charges in Wales.

"These advantages would be entirely acceptable if they were funded by
Scottish and Welsh taxpayers. Yet the Scottish P…

Copayment issues

The government are on a hiding to nothing trying to defend the indefensible about co-payment. Already people buy some drugs directly rather than on prescription because they are cheaper. Making it impossible for people to continue having NHS treatment if they pay for any private treatment undermines the social contract and is probably unlawful.

There is a real difficulty with the system in that drugs can be very expensive. This issue, therefore, is likely one that becomes bigger over time.

Dutch Ban Voting Computers

The link is to a story whereby the Dutch Government have concluded that having computer voting undermines the secret ballot.

I wish our government would recognise this before they go down that route. Bits of paper may be archaic, but they provide a transparency of audit trail that is important for democracy.