“A complicated gentleman allow me to present,
Of all the arts and faculties the terse embodiment,
He’s a great arithmetician who can demonstrate with ease
That two and two are three or five or anything you please“
W S Gilbert, Utopia Limited, 1893
… and readers may not be surprised to learn that the subject of the above description, Sir Bayley Barre, was a QC and MP. On which note…
Human rights and the election
The Conservative manifesto:
“We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”
It should be noted that the 2015 Conservative manifesto included a commitment to repeal the Act in its entirety and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.
The Labour manifesto:
“Human rights and international humanitarian law are fundamental pillars of a secure global system. These principles are under threat … [we will] appoint human-rights advisers to work across the Foreign Office and government to prioritise a co-ordinated approach to human rights.”
Labour also issued a complementary Race and Faith manifesto. Interestingly, it includes a commitment to
“Improve coroners services to ensure they meet the needs of faith communities. For example with ‘out of hours’ services and where possible minimally invasive autopsies to ensure quick burials when required by faith communities.”
London Bridge attacker and “early release”
Whilst clearly beyond the remit of L&RUK, in the context of the political capital which is being made of the fatal stabbings on London Bridge on 29 November, the post by The Secret Barrister provides a highly detailed and well-referenced account of the legislation, court judgments and policy (i.e. political) decisions in the application of the many versions of Extended Sentences to the present case. The article is a classic demonstration of the complexities and uncertainties in the reporting and use of legal issues – and serves as a cautionary warning on believing the glib political statements of “dog-whistle” politics, the veracity of which is often highly questionable.
Among this week’s searches of the blog, the question “have wedding certificates changed yet?” suggests the need for an update, given the paucity of information elsewhere. The quick answer is “No”. For a more detailed explanation, in our 7 November post Civil partnerships, marriage registration, stillbirths – update we noted that the expected timing of this and other provisions under the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 was less certain. In relation to the certification of marriage, Section 1(6) of the Act, The response to the Commons of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Victoria Atkins, that “the timescale will be announced in due course” alluded to the many unknowns before this is addressed.
The new Parliament will be summoned to meet on Tuesday 17 December, when the business will be the election of the Speaker and the swearing-in of members. Should this Prime Minister return, the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, with “reduced ceremonial” – as was the case following the early general election in 2017 – will follow on Thursday 19 December. If there is a change of Government following the Election, it is anticipated that the Queen’s Speech would be in January on a more usual timetable; but this would be a matter for the incoming administration.
Nuns, retirement homes and laïcité
In last week’s round-up, we reported a story from The Guardian about a nun who had been offered a place in a retirement home in Vesoul, her home town, only on the condition that she ceased to wear her habit. The parish finally found her accommodation in a private retirement home.
Evidently, however, we and The Guardian weren’t entirely up to date. Agence France Presse reported on 19 November that the issue had been resolved, more or less. The Maire of Vesoul, Alain Chrétien, issued a press release in which he said that neither the rules of the retirement home nor the principles of laïcité stood in the way of her living there, and that “L’obligation de neutralité” did not apply to residents, who must enjoy freedom of conscience. He pledged “personally’ to find her a place if she so desired.
- Andrew Barclay, LSE Religion and Global Society: The Chief Rabbi’s extraordinary intervention and the collapse of Labour’s Jewish support: “The Chief Rabbi’s intervention in the 2019 General Election is unprecedented. Nevertheless, it simply reflects the shifting public opinion of Anglo-Jewry, who perceive Labour and its leader as a threat to Britain’s Jews.”
- Madeleine Davies, Church Times: Row breaks out over PCC vote to retain resolution relating to women bishops: on the use of the casting vote at PCC meetings.
- Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley: Vexmas: “As Stir-Up Sunday falls in the Octave of Black Friday…”
- Effie Fokas, Strasbourg Observers: Stuck in the middle with Papageorgiou: Missed or new opportunities? on the recent claim of Greek parents and students that Greek mandatory religious education and its exemption process violate their A2P1 rights.
- Daniel Greenberg: The Sceptic Blog: Who’s Afraid of the Holocaust? – or – What Are The Jews Frightened Of?: a very distinguished former Parliamentary Counsel on the fragility of the rule of law.
- Aaron Walawalkar, RightsInfo: Three Ways Jewish Experience Inspired Human Rights: summary of Professor Francesca Klug’s lecture at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in Westminster on 10 September.
- UCL Constitution Unit: Ten things you need to know about a hung parliament.