Sunday, 25 July 2010

Week's Round Up - From Schools to Hospital

This week started with the second reading of the Academies Bill, the new government's first educational reform. The aim is to free local teachers, parents and community groups from state bureaucracy, allowing them to apply for academy status for their local school. With that status comes a range of freedoms - to tailor the curriculum to the needs of children (not Whitehall), to set pay and terms for teachers to attract the best talent, and to draw in local charities and businesses as sponsors. The strategy is to drive innovation - to improve teaching standards, and widen the choice of good local schools for parents. Three schools in Elmbridge have registered their interest in becoming academies. You can read my speech in the debate, in support of these pioneering reforms, here.

Later in the week, the government announced changes to UK war crimes legislation, to prevent NGOs or individuals from obtaining arrest warrants against foreign officials or politicians on spurious charges or flimsy evidence that would never stand up in court. The plans are controversial, but necessary - I wrote an article on Con Home, supporting the government's decision here.

Next, we had the announcement on compensation for the victims of Equitable Life. The last government's treatment of the victims of this long saga was shabby. The new government has acted swiftly, bringing forward the time-frame for compensation. Still, the level of compensation announced is well below what the victims had hoped for. The main reason is the poor state of the public finances - the victims should have been compensated years ago, when the money was available. You can read the debate in Parliament - and my contribution - here.

Meanwhile, I have been continuing to call for a proper debate, in the House of Commons, before Britain 'opts in' to the European Investigation Order. I blogged on this a week ago, here, and The Spectator led on the story this week.

In addition, in response to a letter from a disappointed constituent, I wrote to the FCO, requesting a review of their work experience schemes - open exclusively to ethnic minority, female, disabled or low income candidates. I am all for encouraging applications from a wide range of backgrounds - but I oppose positive discrimination in recruitment as a matter of principle. This political correctness at the FCO is a hangover from the last government. I welcome the response of the new FCO Ministers - immediately putting the current schemes under review. The Mail on Sunday reported the story here.

At the end of the week, I was nominated to serve on the Joint Committee on Human Rights - the cross Commons and Lords committee, which scrutinises government legislation and policy. And ... finally ... I spent the weekend in hospital, having key-hole surgery on my hip. For those who have noticed me hobbling, I had damaged the cartilage. The op went well, but I will be on crutches for at least a month!


Richard Tebboth said...

Equitable Life.
"The last government's treatment of the victims of this long saga was shabby." - D Raab
From what is reported the present government's proposed treatment seems little better.

UK war crimes legislation
Would it not would be preferable to provide Magistrates with strict guidelines on what constitutes serious as opposed to spurious charges and impose costs on applicants?

Richard Tebboth said...

Further in-Equitable actions on pensions?

The new government is proposing to link the state pension to CPI rather than RPI.
There is much comment in the press and on the web about the adverse impact this will have.

Topic for a further blog Dom?

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