UK Liberty

Eight Lords a-blogging

Posted in politicians on liberty, state-citizen relationship by ukliberty on March 18, 2008

Lords of the Blog is a collaborative blog written by Members of the House of Lords for the purposes of public engagement.

The aim of the blog is to help educate, raise awareness and engage with the public on a range of issues relating to the role and business of the House of Lords.

The blog is authored by a group of Members from across the House. Each Member has their own profile and personal section of the blog. A ‘homepage’ provides an at-a-glance digest of the latest post from each Member.

Each Member will make a regular and short written entry providing an insight into the business of the House of Lords, and their own particular activity in and around the Lords Chamber.

And there are some interesting posts already, particularly a couple on voting system reform from Lord Tyler:

Since the whole purpose of the exercise is to try and make Parliament more accessible to the people we serve, this is clearly already a potential success.  As one of the other ways in which we must improve the relationship between citizens and their representatives is to look again at the voting system, I would like to encourage the many respondents who have asked about our debate last week to look at the Hansard report and the Government analysis of voting systems on which it was based.


Some of us spent a lengthy afternoon last Thursday debating the best way to get more people – and especially young people – interested in the way Parliament deals with their concerns, hopes and fears. We were examining the distorting effect of the current voting system, which tends to make people feel that they can’t affect the outcome of an election and it is a waste of time going to the poll. I notice that several of my fellow bloggers were there. We didn’t all agree, but at least we showed how anxious we are to give the citizens of this country a more effective say in the way in which it is run. Hopefully, MPs will be equally keen to improve the system. I wouldn’t bet on it, however, since some might lose their seats if the system was made fairer.


Schools becoming Orwellian societies

Posted in politicians on liberty, surveillance society by ukliberty on March 18, 2008

The Telegraph:

Schools are becoming “Orwellian” societies where CCTV cameras in classrooms monitor pupil behaviour and staff performance, teachers will warn today.

Schools are believed to have first installed classroom CCTV four years ago, with an academy in Middlesbrough using cameras to monitor pupil behaviour and protect expensive equipment.

Mary Bousted, the union’s general secretary, said many teachers were alarmed by the technology which meant many would “never take risks” for fear of being penalised.

“If you are always on your guard, you end up, quite frankly, teaching by numbers,” she said.

The ‘chilling effect’ in action.


Gagging coroners

Posted in accountability, freedom of speech, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on March 18, 2008

The Government doesn’t want you to know when it’s at fault.

The Daily Telegraph:

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, has gone to the High Court in an attempt to prevent coroners criticising the Ministry of Defence at military inquests.

This brought a furious reaction from families of troops killed on the front line.

Mr Browne wants coroners to stop accusing the MoD of “serious failings” when recording verdicts on military deaths.

Lawyers for the Defence Secretary claimed the phrase was tantamount to blaming the Government for the deaths of servicemen and could be seen as deciding liability – which potentially could help families if they sued for compensation.

But relatives said the Government was trying to “tie the hands of coroners”.

David Masters, the Wiltshire coroner, said coroners would not be “deflected from conducting full, frank and fearless inquiries into deaths they are entrusted to investigate – those of people serving their country when they are killed abroad”.

He added: “If something needs to be said, I’ll say it.”

Families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan said they had a right to know what happened to victims and why they had died. Judgment will be given later.

See also Clause 64 of the Counter-Terrorism Bill.



ARCHrights on the infants on DNA database proposal

Posted in DNA database by ukliberty on March 18, 2008