The national broadcaster is frequently criticised for abandoning impartiality to act as a government mouthpiece. Ofcom considers accusations substantial enough to require investigation of the Corporation’s practices.
The Tories have quietly pushed through a bill that seriously weakens the rights of people deemed lacking mental capacity.
The government has succeeded in quietly pushing through a bill that seriously weakens the rights of 300,000 people with learning difficulties, brain injuries and autism.
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill – which passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, without key amendments that would have added vital safeguards – has received little media attention or public scrutiny, but disability organisations like mine are worried it could undermine key freedoms that, instead, urgently needed to be strengthened.
The Tories first announced last summer that they would seek to pass a reform to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. While disabled people and their organisations are in agreement that reform is needed, the bill presented was immediately flagged as a dangerous threat to the rights of people deemed to be lacking mental capacity.
Last year Inclusion London started a petition asking people to support our call to protect the freedoms of people receiving care and support. The petition has nearly 200,000 signatures. But despite criticism from disabled people, advocates, lawyers, professionals, and academics, the bill continued its rapid passage through Parliament without pause.
The Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, wrote to us in an attempt to mitigate some of our concerns and invited us to meet with her in early February. Neither the letter nor the meeting convinced us that the bill will adequately protect disabled people’s human rights, and our key concerns remain.
There are serious conflicts of interest as to who has the power to make important decisions about a person’s deprivation of liberty inherent in the bill, and this could mean that people are forced to live in care homes or be physically or medically restrained if it’s an easier or cheaper option for a local council or service provider.
There are also issues with access to advocacy and the right to information. Not everyone will have the right to an independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) – there’s an assumption friends or relatives can act as an advocate. This should never be the default option, everyone should be entitled to an IMCA. Not all relatives will act in an individual’s best interests nor can they be expected to understand a complex system.
Finally, there has been a very short period of time for members of the public to voice their thoughts or concerns with the bill. The government failed to put the bill into easy read format, to make it more accessible to people with learning difficulties, until just two weeks ago. Easy read is a format designed for the people most likely to be affected by the bill.
Repeated requests for accessible information about the bill have been ignored over the last 6 months. One can only conclude that people with learning difficulties have been disregarded as valid stakeholders in this process. This is an unacceptable situation and one that would be politically and culturally unacceptable if applied to other communities.
We believe it’s unacceptable that the government ignored all requests to pause, engage and listen to our key concerns. Two hours for MPs to debate the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill is just the latest example of poor law-making that will weaken the human rights of disabled people in some of the most vulnerable situations.
Ellen Morrison works for Inclusion London, which supports deaf and disabled people’s organisations across the capital.
Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson
The Investigatory Powers Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and will soon become law.
For the first time, security services will be able to hack into computers, networks, mobile devices, servers and more under the proposed plans. The practice is known as equipment interference and is set out in part 5, chapter 2, of the IP Bill.
Bulk data sets
As well as communications data being stored, intelligence agencies will also be able to obtain and use “bulk personal datasets”. These mass data sets mostly include a “majority of individuals” that aren’t suspected in any wrongdoing but have been swept-up in the data collection.
These (detailed under part 7 of the IP Bill and in a code of practice (download PDF), as well as warrants for their creation and retention must be obtained.
“Typically these datasets are very large, and of a size which means they cannot be processed manually,” the draft code of practice describes the data sets as. These types of databases can be created from a variety of sources.
Continue reading here.
IP Bill – Draft BPD code of practice.pdf. (www.gov.uk)
One person, on average, every week is prosecuted under the Hunting Act, and almost two-thirds are found guilty
A total of 110 individuals were charged for offences under the Hunting Act in 2013, an increase on the previous high of 92 in 2009, according to figures released by Justice Minister Damian Green in response to a written parliamentary question from Jim Fitzpatrick.
Today’s Ministry of Justice figures show there has been a steady increase in the number of people being prosecuted for hunting with dogs since 2010, when 49 people faced charges.
2011 saw 72 prosecutions, while in 2012, 84 individuals faced charges.
There have been a total of 527 people convicted under the Hunting Act between the legislation coming into force in February 2005, and the end of 2013. 56 people were convicted for offences under the Act in 2013.
Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports comments: “The figures for 2013 show just how successful and effective the Hunting Act 2004 is, whilst clearly debunking any argument that the law doesn’t work. The Hunting Act remains the most successful piece of wild animal legislation.
“The League will continue to work with the Police and others to catch and bring individuals flouting the law and causing cruelty to animals to justice.”
Hunt officials continue to be prosecuted under the legislation. Three members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds are due to face a total of four charges of hunting a wild mammal with a dog, contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act in Yeovil Magistrates Court on 29th July. The case is based on evidence supplied by the League and further investigations carried out by Avon & Somerset Police in relation to two separate incidences. source: http://www.league.org.uk/news-and-opinion/press-releases/2014/july/hunting-prosecutions-at-all-time-high
League Against Cruel Sports
The League Against Cruel Sports is a charity registered in England and Wales (1095234) that brings together people who care about animals. Like the majority of the public, we believe that cruelty to animals in the name of sport has no place in modern society.
Hunt Saboteurs Association
There are local hunt saboteur groups all over the UK, all of which are active at least once a week against the hunts and shoots in their area. Groups need volunteers to work either as activists in the field, saving the hunted animals’ lives directly, or to do the vital background work of fundraising, leafleting, etc. without which no group can function.
Don’t Believe The Hype!
I share everyone’s concerns over the gains made by fascists and ignorant voters, however the few seats won must be seen in context. Their success comes from praying on fears already whipped up by irresponsible right wing tabloids. They’ve engaged this vocal section of the public and gained a lot of publicity in the process because newspapers love controversy.
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
I have faith that this will be seen as a wake-up call and we the moral majority shall prevail. We must work harder though to engage our non-voting friends to understand the damage done by wasting their hard-won democratic vote.
Votes are still being counted, but these live stats show the complete picture.
Plus we have the best songs ;)
Image source: Don’t Believe The Hypeby by tsutar at deviantart