Tag Archives: jack straw

Jack Straw to be part of Freedom of Information review

Nicholas Winterton, Cyril Smith (1928-2010) and Jack Straw, Members of Parliament for the textile towns Macclesfield, Rochdale and Blackburn respectively, stand outside 10 Downing Street in London on 10th June 1980.

Over the weekend the Cabinet Office announced a review of the Freedom of Information Act. Now it is always sensible to check any act that promotes civil liberties against actual practice. But alarm bells started ringing when the members of the review panel were revealed.

Chief among them is Jack Straw, who brought in the Act in 2000 as Home Secretary. But he is now saying that “inquiries about ministerial communications and the formulation of government policy should not be allowed any more”. I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that the secrecy surrounding the development of government policies, especially the role of lobbyists, was precisely why we needed freedom of information. He has also said that citizens should be charged for FoI requests. Interestingly ‘a Labour source’ has distanced the party from his appointment, saying that Straw is acting in a personal capacity, and not representing the party, and that “If the government were genuinely interested in improving the workings of the act, it should have chosen a more balanced panel.”

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It may not be popular, but it needs saying: Most politicians are decent people who work ridiculous hours serving the public

So, wherever you look today, you see Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, both secretly filmed saying things that most voters will find difficult to comprehend. That includes those of us who are active in politics. By far the most bizarre thing was Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s assertion that he didn’t get a salary.  What on earth does he think the £3000 on his bank statement every month with House of Commons next to it is?

It is perfectly possible that when the investigations to which Straw and Rifkind have submitted themselves are complete, they will find that no rules were actually broken. Both men have been pretty bullish this morning. Straw says he’s mortified he fell into the trap, Rifkind says he has every right to get paid for passing on his expertise. Many people will feel instinctively uncomfortable about politicians who once held the main offices of state or still chair influential parliamentary committees claiming they could offer things like access to ambassadors, or suggest they might work for a daily rate of £5000.

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Opinion: a British Bill of Rights should include judicial review of legislation

British people’s attitude to fundamental rights is deteriorating alarmingly. Liberal Democrats in government have a key opportunity to reverse the trend.

When the incoming Labour Government issued ‘Bringing Rights Home’, in the wake of the UK having the worst human rights record in terms of adverse judgments except Turkey, we all applauded.

But the weasel words of the Human Rights act, which explicitly ruled out judicial review of legislation (as happens in Canada under the Charter, and has happeed in the USA since Marbury -v- Madison) has created a climate where the majority of the British people now think that fundamental …

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Votes for (some) prisoners to get a vote in Parliament

The BBC’s Nick Robinson reports:

David Davis and Jack Straw have got their way. The Commons will get the chance to vote – probably in the middle of February – for a motion to defy the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting…

The prime minister welcomes the plan for the Commons to hold a debate on whether prisoners should be given the vote as demanded by the European Court of Human Rights and believes that it “could be helpful”, I’m told. David Cameron is said to want as few prisoners as possible to be given the vote and is still

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Fixed-term Parliaments: better by standing orders?

Last week Malcolm Jack, the Clerk of the House of Commons, got a little flurry of media coverage for his evidence before a Parliamentary committee considering the proposed legislation for fixed-term Parliaments. “Parts of the government’s plans to bring in fixed-term parliaments are vulnerable to legal challenge” was how the BBC reported it.

It is understandable why that got the headlines, but lurking in the detail are important questions about how Parliament operates and whether its administration is competent. Jack’s evidence, and concerns about the legislation, really fall into three parts.

First, as might be expected from an official whose …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Guardian verdict on voting reform: “Mr Clegg spoke for progress; Mr Straw for reaction.”

The Guardian has not always been kind to the Coalition since its formation; still less to the Lib Dems. But its stinging rebuke to Labour’s “opposition for opposition’s sake” — with its attempt last night cynically to torpedo the Lib/Con government’s electoral reform measures — might perhaps give the new party leader pause for thought.

In the topsy-turvy world of Coalition politics, two parties which do not support the alternative vote last night voted to endorse a referendum on it; while the party which pledged to introduce it in its manifesto decided to jettison that promise.

It was an irony …

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LibLink: James Graham – Labour’s accusations of gerrymandering are self-defeating

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website earlier this week, Lib Dem blogger James Graham dismissed Jack Straw’s overblown accusations that the Coalition is ‘gerrymandering’, and urged the voting reform bill to receive the more serious scrutiny it deserves. Here’s an excerpt:

Every time a Labour politician uses the word “gerrymandering” a puppy dies. … Gerrymandering is the act of deliberately fixing a boundary in order to give a political party an unfair advantage. Yet the proposed changes will not to lead to any more political interference in the boundary review process. …

One of the main effects of the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 50 Comments

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