Thursday, October 29, 2009

Government still breaching ECHR ruling

More than 90,000 innocent people have been added to the National DNA Database since the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the practice was illegal, according to Liberal Democrat research.

The figures, contained in Parliamentary answers, show that:

· 433,752 DNA profiles have been added to the database since the ECHR ruling on 5 December last year – 1,480 per day;

· 5.5m profiles on the database relating to 4.8m people (13.3% are replicates);

· if we apply the Government’s 2008 estimate that 20.8% of people on the database are innocent to the current total, there are now more than 1m innocent people whose DNA is currently held, including 90,220 since the ruling;

· only 611 profiles have been removed from the database over that period.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Jenny Willott said:

“It is appalling that the Government has allowed over a million innocent people to be added to the DNA database.

“Despite the European ruling that the practice is a breach of human rights, for every innocent DNA profile removed from the database, around 150 new ones are added.

“The Government’s attempt to store innocent people’s DNA for up to 12 years has been categorically slated by experts, forcing it into an embarrassing climb-down in Parliament.

“The Home Office needs to put an end to this scandal by removing all innocent people from the database once and for all.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TA too important for political football – Harvey

Commenting on Gordon Brown’s U-turn over funding for the Territorial Army, Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary, Nick Harvey, said:

“The state of the TA is much too important to be used as a political football in this way.

“It was a shocking error of judgement for the Government to have contemplated this cut in the first place.

“It is a sad fact that Gordon Brown’s moral compass has only managed to kick in in the face of opposition across the board.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not all Muslims are the same

There is a prompt demonstration of Nick Griffin's poor grasp on religious knowledge coming up this Saturday. The hard-line intolerant factions within Islam in Britain are a minority, as the British Muslims for Secular Democracy hope to show in London.

(What can we expect from a man who seems to believe - Question Time, last Thursday - that Christianity in Britain goes back to the Ice Age.)

Tory banking proposals are short term stop gap – Cable

 Commenting on the Tories’ call for High Street banks to ban the payment of bonuses of more than £2,000 in cash, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said: 

“The Tories have been deeply ambivalent on the much more fundamental question of what we do about the future of the banking system. 

“They have not given full backing to Mervyn King’s proposals on splitting up the banks and these bonus proposals are short term, stop gap solutions designed to stem public anger but which fail to get to the heart of the problem. 

“The bonus pool in the banking system derives from the fact that the banks are making profits on the back of taxpayer guarantee. Until a properly regulated structure can be established, banks should be paying the taxpayer a premium for this guarantee.” 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welsh conferences

The Welsh Liberal Democrats' autumn conference begins this weekend at Glyndwr University, Wrexham.

Next year's spring conference will take place between the evening of Friday, 5th February and the afternoon of Sunday, 7th Febuary in the Grand Theatre, Swansea.

Not all parties are the same

Liberal Democrat Voice has started a web page, which is being updated on the fly, devoted to the response of each Liberal Democrat MP to the Legg letters. So far, the total is less than that which just one Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, is adjudged to have been overpaid.

Speaking on Channel 4 news Nick Clegg called for a ban on MPs using public money in the property market. In an interview with Jon Snow, he said: “I have been saying for months, well before the expenses scandal even hit the front pages of the Daily Telegraph that one of the only ways to really fix this is to get MPs out of the property game altogether make sure they cannot use a penny of taxpayers money to buy or sell properties.”

“The most serious abuses in the system are those MPs that turn themselves from servants of their constituents into sort of spivvy property speculators where they are flipping from one property to the next for very, very large personal profits sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds of profit and also the systematic evasion of capital gains tax.”

Update 2009-10-20: Ken Clarke was the victim of an arithmetical error in Sir Thomas Legg's office, and his true indebtedness is just over £1000 rather than £4000. It's still substantially larger than any amount a LibDem MP is accused of overclaiming.

Monday, October 12, 2009

BNP must face tougher questioning – Huhne

Commenting on reports that the BBC had subjected members of the BNP to ‘soft’ questioning, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said:

“The BBC must make sure that it is as quizzical and demanding of the BNP as its presenters are with everyone in politics.

“Now the BNP have got a foothold in elected office, the standard of questions into their position has to increase.

“There must be no soft rides.”

Neath Labour MP Peter Hain would prefer BBC not to give BNP any exposure at all. The Independent reports that his complaint to the corporation about Nick Griffin's imminent appearance on "Question Time" has prompted "a bitter split" with colleagues.

Wrong time to sell assets- Cable

Likening the Government's plan to sell off £16bn worth of assets in an attempt to shore up public finances to a "car boot sale", Vince Cable added: “It may well be that the sale of some assets is a sensible thing to do, but this is not the time to do it, because markets are very depressed. All our previous experience of government is that they sell off at the wrong time.”

Local Authorities are also angered that they will be expected to supply the bulk of asset sales (£11bn of the total), the government clawing back the money by reducing support grant. It is not clear at this time how the plans will affect Wales.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Britain can’t afford a new generation of dirty coal

Commenting on the admission by E.ON’s UK boss that a new coal power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent would be unlikely to install clean coal technology in time to meet the Government’s 2014 deadline, Simon Hughes said:

“Kingsnorth II is now a dead duck. This disclosure should put it out of the running for Government funding. If Kingsnorth doesn’t withdraw itself from the CCS pilot shortlist, it should be removed.

“We need to have a carbon capture demonstration plant up and running by 2014 in order to roll out the technology across the sector by 2020. The Government has already repeatedly dithered over this project, the last thing we need is yet more delay.

“The UK has a great chance to lead the world in the development of carbon capture technology. Kingsnorth must not be allowed to get in the way.”

(In its environment statement - section 3 of this document - E.ON states merely that "Deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) [...] will be considered as an option for GHG emission reduction at the Kingsnorth site by E.ON UK at a later date."

In the mean time, the French have beaten us - and probably the rest of the world - in fitting carbon capture and storage facilities to an operational power station. The Guardian had the story in April. - FHL)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

So, farewell then, Port Talbot & Neath Guardians

Today's issue of the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian is the last. We may have criticised local media on occasions, but we feel this is a sad day for local democracy. An outlet for local news and opinions has been lost.

For large areas of the county borough, there is now no newspaper with even nominal links to the area. The South Wales Guardian continues to serve the north-western towns and villages, it appears, but favours Carmarthenshire. The Evening Post is Swansea-orientated and printed in England. The Western Mail is edited in Cardiff.