Constitutional Affairs

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  • Courts: Salisbury

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she expects (a) construction to start on the new courthouses in Salisbury and (b) the new courts to come into service.

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will assess the merits of providing judges with an accommodation allowance per night to be spent either on lodgings or...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what (a) estimate she has made of the cost and (b) assessment she has made of the merits of providing judges with hotel...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will discontinue judges' lodgings where they are occupied by judges for less than 50 nights in the year; and if she will...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what changes to the (a) arrangements for and (b) availability of judges' lodgings have been made since 1997; and if she will...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which five judges' lodgings had (a) the lowest occupancy in judge nights and (b) the highest cost per judge night in the last...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which judges' lodgings are held (a) freehold, (b) leasehold and (c) by other arrangements; what other such arrangements...

  • Judges: Housing

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what discussions she has held with the judiciary on the (a) cost and (b) future of judges' lodgings; and if she will make a...

Annotations

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 14 Mar 2007 10:32 am (Report this annotation)

I found out recently that the UK has no law forbidding politicians lying. This is unlike any other part of society (if a corporation lies they are accountable, as are you and I), and leads to the complete unaccountability seen in the wake of the Iraq war. Intelligence was exaggerated and selected with an agenda (cf. the "Downing Street Memo"), but there is no way in which Blair and co can actually be tried for [u]lying[/u]...
Anyone else think this is a bit messed up? Kind of a heavy topic for a Wednesday morning, but it really got to me!

Mark Bestford
Posted on 14 Mar 2007 12:28 pm (Report this annotation)

While you are correct that there is no law stopping politicians lying to the House or the public there is still a law regarding lying to the police. It is for this reason that Tony Blair et al will find themselves in hot water. Lord Levy I feel has been strung up by Tony Blair as a scapegoat for the cash for honours affair. The crime being investigated is not that of selling peerages, it is perjury and obstruction of justice. It will be interesting to see if the evidence given to the police matches what is said in public. While it is not illegal for Blair and Levy to say in public that nothing wrong was done, it is clear that to say the same thing to the police is in fact a criminal offence and that will be their downfall. It has now been made public that Lord Levy (as Labours chief fundraiser) had a clear conflict of interest and a very real role in choosing who was nominated for peerages, something that was denied in public and to the police, and yet now shown to have been the truth.

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 14 Mar 2007 1:14 pm (Report this annotation)

This example certainly raises some interesting questions. I personally think it should be a crime to knowingly deceive the public. Take the example of Thatcher in the run up to the election. She promised she would cut income tax and it was pointed out to her by Callaghan that she would only be able to do so if she doubled VAT. Thatcher stated that she would not double VAT. After she won the election Thatcher raised VAT from 8% to 15%. Technically, she didn't double it and so she didn't lie to the public. Neverthless, she manipulated the truth in order to win the election campaign (admittedly this example is only part of the reason why she won, but still significant).

The problem is that if the only consequences a politician faces (for deceiving the public) is being voted out, then they can only be held accountable every FOUR years! That is not the case with any other individual, private or public (i.e. corporations etc). All that will happen after this 4 year period is that another carbon-copy politician will take their place. In the UK, Blair can now do whatever he likes, because he KNOWS that he is going to retire soon anyway... And that he will only be replaced by Gordon Brown or David Cameron... The MD of a major corporation cannot act this way if he plans to retire soon - just think of Enron a few years ago. Lying and cheating in all other public spheres is unacceptable - the democratic system needs to contain a better self-policing element.

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 15 Mar 2007 10:40 am (Report this annotation)

I found a really interesting website along this theme the other day:

http://mo-truth.blogspot.com/

They have created a law called the 'Misrepresentation of the People act' and they are trying to find an MP who'll back them as they try to get it passed through parliament. They write about their progress each day and put up the video footage of their interviews with various MPs - yesterday it was Peter Bottomley. What does everyone think of the 'Misrepresentation of the People act'?

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 15 Mar 2007 12:36 pm (Report this annotation)

Just read the blog and today they have amended the act because 'recklessness to the truth by one of our elected representatives should constitute an offence'. Consequently 'I wasn't aware of that at the time' would not be a defence

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 19 Mar 2007 12:56 pm (Report this annotation)

I have posted a few things on the website (http://mo-truth.blogspot.com/2007/01/beginners-guide-to-mini...) under the name 'catullus' trying to get a discussion going there. Not had any luck yet... If anyone's interested and in the mood for political debate look it up. :)

Anne Marie Richards
Posted on 19 Mar 2007 1:32 pm (Report this annotation)

I've just tried the link I posted and it doesn't work, sorry! If you go to:

http://mo-truth.blogspot.com/

and click of the 'Beginners Guide' at the top right hand corner of the screen, then scroll down and my comment is at the bottom