Dec. 17th, 2015 03:51 pm
webofevil: (all hail)
The government are announcing some tweaks to the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill, notable mainly for repealing (before it had even had a chance to be introduced) a measure designed by the coalition that would have found senior bankers responsible for wrongdoing on their watch even if the regulators had no proof they personally had broken the rules. This might have concentrated minds a bit in the financial sector but, given the modern City’s overreliance on rate-fixing and moneylaundering, it was never going to survive for long under a purely Tory government.

That contentious business is behind us now, though, and we’ve moved on to some mere tidying-up at the end. It’s all pretty dry stuff.

Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, the amendments in this group are being made to correct an error made in the National Savings Regulations 2015. Those regulations revoked a number of statutory instruments with effect from 6 April 2015. By mistake, these included the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Consequential Amendments and Repeals) Order 2001, which I will refer to as the 2001 order. The 2001 order, which was revoked, was used to make most of the consequential amendments and repeals that were required to give effect to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. It amended a range of primary and secondary legislation, including the Companies Acts, the Bank of England Act 1998, the Building Societies Act 1986, the Pensions Acts and other legislation related to financial services. In some cases, the amendments made by the 2001 order have been superseded by subsequent legislative developments, but in many cases they are still necessary, and the repeal of the instrument making them has left the law in a state of considerable uncertainty.

Wait, what? The department, like every other, had been tasked with binning as much previous footling legislation as possible. In its eagerness to do so, it overlooked the fact that one of the orders it was wiping out actually made some important changes to central legislation, which therefore—technically—immediately snapped back to its original state, where it has remained since April. Myriad legalistic horrors rear up at that point, with people and organisations suddenly and unexpectedly falling foul of regulations that until a moment before had said something quite different.

How do you fix such a spectacular snafu? By making it never have happened:

Lord Bridges of Headley: The only way in which this regrettable uncertainty can be cured is for the revocation of the 2001 order to be cancelled out. That is what the amendments do. Amendment 27 provides that this revocation shall be taken as never having had effect. This amendment would have retrospective effect. We do not believe anyone would be adversely affected by the amendment. On the contrary, the law will be assumed to be as it was in force before the accidental revocation of the 2001 order. This amendment will restore the law to what it is presumed to be.

Just like that, the Treasury are reaching back into the past and erasing their error from history. At no point will this law ever not have applied. At the last minute they have set our dimension back on its correct path as we go about our daily lives, oblivious to the carnage that has been averted and not aware how grateful we should be to our intrepid timecops.

Above all I’m sure that, like mine, your confidence in our political institutions has been reinforced no end by the fact that a set of regulations, which was scrutinised by both Houses, essentially deleted a chunk of existing and implemented primary legislation and not a soul noticed for months.
webofevil: (all hail)

The United Kingdom’s role in addressing global challenges posed by terrorism, conflict, climate change and mass migration

Lord Selsdon (Con): My question to us all today is: what can this Government do to follow this up and which countries have historic relationships with their own area? I wanted to look up Scythia in the Library but we could not find out where it was; it was rather difficult. I looked out the histories of all the territories and frontiers. One of my favourite subjects is of course the coastal areas of the world and the sea, which is so productive. I have argued bitterly that we, the British, have the greatest control over the seas because of the 200-mile exclusion zone and, if we got together with the French, we would have 75%.

With which other countries can we help at this point in time to bring about a recovery in those countries that do not have enough to eat, do not have enough food and do not have pure water? We have all the skills within us here. The French have an interesting phrase, which I learnt when working with them in Africa and other territories: it is called grenouiller. I wondered what it was and was told that if you are confronted with an obstacle and you are a grenouille, you have the opportunity to sauter—to jump over it—or to go under it. I assumed that this was the origin of the phrase “frogging about”. But no: grenouiller means that you stir the pot when you are cooking a stew to see what comes to the top.

In a way, we have stirred the pot today. We know that it is not necessarily a defence of the realm issue, but it is an issue where we should be able to encourage those countries that were productive in the past, and were part of colonial empires, to be able to reproduce their food, their livestock and other things. It is not a big problem but I hope that the Minister will tell us all what this Government are going to do to take the lead in bringing about a recovery. Because of our geographic position and others, I believe that we have a greater responsibility than any other nation.
webofevil: (all hail)

Debate on the Report of the European Union Committee on The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine

Full speech here ) Ukraine is a country that I love and respect. If any of your Lordships would like a bit of fun, I would willingly take you down to look at the old missile factory, although it is not producing missiles anymore. The people there are still nice. [Hansard]

Etc. )
webofevil: (all hail)
Baroness Sherlock (Lab): When this Government brought in the Pensions Act 2011, they introduced an earnings trigger for auto-enrolment… and every year since then we have seen more and more people excluded.

She produces these figures:

2011-12: 600,000 people excluded, 75% of them women.

2012-13: 100,000 people excluded, 82% of them women.

2013-14: 420,000 people excluded, 72% of them women.

2014-15: 170,000 people excluded, 69% of them women.

Total: 1,290,000 people excluded from auto-enrolment in four years, the majority of them women.

The Minister chides her for being so negative.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con): I appreciate that the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, would want to go on a historical journey rather than review the current good news in the present order, but 20,000 more people being brought within auto-enrolment, 70% of whom are women, is of course good news*.

He doesn’t use the term "Rejoice!", but it's left hanging in the air.

* 1.55%, if you were wondering.
webofevil: (all hail)
Lord Cameron of Dillington: This long-lasting sore on the face of responsible access to the countryside has got to be firmly gripped, and soon.

webofevil: (all hail)
For some, New Labour's muckspreader approach to the word “community” left it limp, ragged and meaningless, a casualty of wanton language abuse. For the old guard, though, it still provides an extremely useful placeholder for any more useful or original thoughts:

Baroness Andrews: In my opinion, it should begin with the nature of the community and the sort of community* infrastructure that sustains the community once it is in place… one is looking at huge opportunities for the planning community to show what it can do. Secondly, it is about delivery and engagement with those very communities that are going to move in, not least with the development community itself, and setting very high standards for the development community in the way that it approaches the making of communities and its engagement with potential communities. [Hansard]

*This one was put out of its misery by Hansard, but she definitely said it.
webofevil: (all hail)
Baroness Howells of St Davids: Some may not have heard of her, but a woman called Mary Seacole, despite many prejudices, went out to nurse the soldiers of the British service. I have met men who have spoken and written about her role in saving the lives of British soldiers. She may have been considered an unqualified nurse but, being of African descent, she used her bush medicine—they told me—and kept many men alive. Some are now probably on the brink of not being alive. [Hansard]
Mary Seacole, of course, was a nurse in the Crimean war, a noted highlight of the 1850s. The last known survivor of that war did actually die surprisingly late, in 2004, but then she was a giant tortoise that had been used as a ship's mascot.
webofevil: (all hail)
With the situation in Iraq fluid and dangerous, the House of Lords holds an emergency debate on recent developments.

"When I went to see some of the people on Chilcot’s team—I thought they might like to look at the papers I had written [on Iraq in the 1970s]—they said no, it was not of very much interest."

Iraq edition )
webofevil: (all hail)

They're in a debate about World War I commemorations. They have a speakers list, with a rough time limit for each speech of eight minutes. Lord West is in the middle of his contribution (where he also said this), talking about post-traumatic stress in soldiers shot for desertion, when he notices the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, sitting on the benches opposite, waving imperiously at him with her stick. (Hansard has made her say "My Lords" because there is no official procedure line for "waves imperiously at speaker with stick".)

Baroness Trumpington (Con): My Lords—

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): I am sorry, did the noble Baroness want to speak?

Baroness Trumpington: Yes, I want to say something. Hurry up and say what you are going to say.

Lord West of Spithead: I shall give way.

Baroness Trumpington: I have a question for the Minister. My father served as a regular soldier in the 9th Bengal Lancers. As such, he fought, and won an MC, in Mesopotamia. What is Mesopotamia these days? [Murmuring. One or two Peers sitting near her helpfully whisper "Iraq" but she doesn't hear them.] Is it involved in future commemoration events? Will the commemorative events go further to include India, which sent a great many people?
The Minister can't answer any questions until the end of the debate, some three hours later. He shrugs and waves wildly at Lord West to continue. Lord West gallantly tries to find some way of tying what Baroness Trumpington has just said to his own speech:

Lord West of Spithead: Yes; Mesopotamia, Iraq—it is all still in a mess, isn’t it? The best ever intelligence on Mesopotamia was the Naval Intelligence Division notes, which were actually jolly useful and I wish that we had read them better before we decided to go into that bloody place. [Hansard]
If you were in a particularly cynical mood you might argue that Iraq is indeed commemorating the fighting of a hundred years ago by enthusiastically re-enacting it, but that very likely wasn't the noble Baroness's point.
webofevil: (all hail)
Lord Freud, reading directly from his brief (which is a relief for all of us), produces a phrase that is exquisitely ambiguous:

Lord Freud: ... we will ensure that pension credit awards are accurate and that, in future, limited resources are spent on those who require the most support.
webofevil: (all hail)
Lord Hoyle winds up his contribution to a classic Thursday afternoon low-impact debate in the Lords (“That this House takes note of the role of government in generating economic prosperity and employment”) with an improvised flourish that could almost be accused of being tautologous:
Lord Hoyle: If [the Government set up a business investment bank], not only will we benefit, but all of us in the country and the country as a whole will benefit as well.
Are these three ways of saying the same thing? Or are there subtle gradations of meaning between them? [livejournal.com profile] psychonomy is firmly convinced that the first “we” refers to members of the Lords listening to Lord Hoyle's speech, several of whom could well make a fortune out of any such investment bank.

That leaves “all of us in the country” and “the country as a whole” to contend with. Perhaps they are indeed separate categories: “the country as a whole” could cover the geographical extent of the UK and any things that it contains, such as infrastructure and geological features, while “all of us in the country” could, as [livejournal.com profile] psychonomy firmly contends, take in not only the population but any visitors from abroad (in line, it turns out, with the existing definition of “licence fee payers”), although this doesn't seem to take into account people from that population who are currently elsewhere.

It's unclear which category animals fall into. Does the degree of consciousness dictate whether a beloved pet is merely part of “the country as a whole” or can be counted among “all of us in the country”? With one ostensibly innocuous sentence, the noble Lord has plunged us into a philosophical rabbit-hole.

In the event, though, after much discussion, we think we have nailed down what Lord Hoyle was driving at:

webofevil: (all hail)
Lord Selsdon tackles questions of identity and immigration:
Lord Selsdon: I have tried to search and work out what the level of immigration is. The best way to do it is to ask the immigrants themselves. This morning I was woken up as usual by 11 Romanian builders. I complained to them that there was a chap at the end of the road who was one of those who sells you the gold ring that he drops on the ground. You pick it up and it has got “19” on it and he says, “Can you give me some money?” and you say, “Are you an illegal immigrant?”. They have got to know me now. [Hansard]
webofevil: (all hail)
Full marks to Lord Taylor of Holbeach. In a question about allegations by the Metropolitan Black Police Association that the Met is still drenched in racism 20 years after the Stephen Lawrence case, Lord Waddington chips in with what, even for him, is—despite the years that I've worked here, and I know this sort of thing shouldn’t surprise me any more—a jaw-dropping contribution. Lord Taylor has to frame his answer carefully and on the hoof, and all credit to him for that.

Lord Waddington: My Lords, does this not come close to the pot calling the kettle black? What could be more institutionally racist than insisting on having a black police association?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: For my part, I am reassured that any drivers that ensure that the police more fully reflect the communities that they serve must be a good thing, so I cannot join with my noble friend in this regard. A lot of progress has been made in increasing the number of police officers from BME backgrounds but there are still too few, and there are still too few in the higher ranks of the police force. I hope that one of the considerations of the direct entry scheme will be to ensure that some of the higher levels of the policing profession are from British minority ethnic backgrounds. [Hansard]
webofevil: (all hail)
A useful formulation that could be applied in parliamentary chambers more often than we might like to think:
The Minister (Baroness Stowell of Beeston): I have been given an answer to [Lord Mackay's] question, which I could read out, but I know I would
not understand what it is I am reading [Hansard]
webofevil: (all hail)
Is this a thing? I had no idea. *downloads Land of Hope and Glory*
Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior: This country is well known for its ability to sedate wildlife.

webofevil: (all hail)
Stonewall provided a handy guide to the phrases they expected to crop up most frequently in last week's equal marriage Second Reading in the Lords (see right, click for enlargement), and sure enough Norman Tebbit managed to hit about half of them in his first couple of minutes, but there's a reason why no-one creates any bingo cards for Lord James of Blackheath's helpful contributions. No Foundation X this time, but the prolonged section where he takes a detour through Sussex had a member of staff who had just arrived in the Chamber concerned that she was somehow attending the wrong debate.

Lord James of Blackheath (Con): My Lords, I got a phone call last week from a former colleague of mine, whom I had not heard from or seen for some time, asking if I would come to his same-sex wedding. I said, “Yes, when is it?”. He said, “As soon as you lot have passed the Bill”. I said, “We might not pass it”. He said, “Well, you’ll vote for it won’t you?”. I said, “No, I won’t”. He said, “Well, you can’t come to the wedding then”. I said, “You’ve just exercised extreme prejudice against me. Why are you doing that? You’re pleading that you want this in order not to have prejudice, and now you’re prejudiced against me because I’m saying that I’m going to vote against it”. Then he said, “It’s not you we want, anyway, it’s your wife—she’ll really make the party rock. Can she come instead?”. I said, “Yes, of course she can. You had better write and ask her. She’ll agree”. They did and she is going. There's more )
webofevil: (all hail)
One of those times where it's very hard to tell whether or not someone's being sarcastic.
Democratic Republic of Congo


Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Foreign Secretary achieved all the objectives of his recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Angelina Jolie. [Hansard]
webofevil: (all hail)
Adolf Hitler


Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to mark the 80th anniversary of the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany on 30 January. [HL4387]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government have no such plans. [Hansard]
webofevil: (all hail)
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, when I went to see the latest Bond film, "Skyfall", there were two Members of your Lordships' House in the audience. I think we both found that the least credible part of the film, which was a high hurdle, of course, was the active executive role taken by the chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. [Hansard]


Jan. 11th, 2013 04:45 pm
webofevil: (Default)
Lord Selsdon addresses the decline of the honey bee ) When I first met the bees on my grandfather's farm, I had a small teddy bear called Marmaduke, and I thought that by using that teddy bear I might possibly get a larger allowance of honey. That stuck in my mind when I was in Jamaica, and I was officially asked to help to reinstitute Jamaica's logwood honey business. And so on )

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