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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: And they're off - UK election rant
Jolly Jape
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quote:
originally posted by pottage
..could the same improvements have been achieved without such vast expense?

Well, since every other developed country pays more per capita than we do, (Cost per capita in Japan is similar) for similar clinical outcomes, we can, I think, conclude that if there is a way to do what you suggest, no-one has found it yet.

I'm sure there has been an element of "let's fix the health service by throwing money at it" over the past thirteen years, but when most of the problems were caused by chronic underfunding, that does not seem that unreasonable an approach.

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Sleepwalker
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Today's Daily Telegraph backs me up - my original statement that Cameron isn't interested in human rights

Rubbish. The concern was with the European Human Rights Act, not with human rights. As the article also says:

The Tories have proposed a Bill of Rights that would still protect fundamental liberties but would be harder to use inappropriately.

That sounds like a good idea to me.

While 'tearing up' the European Human Rights Act might have gone on the back burner, as part of the coalition agreement, that does not mean to say it has gone.

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Pottage
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
quote:
originally posted by pottage
..could the same improvements have been achieved without such vast expense?

Well, since every other developed country pays more per capita than we do, (Cost per capita in Japan is similar) for similar clinical outcomes, we can, I think, conclude that if there is a way to do what you suggest, no-one has found it yet.

I'm sure there has been an element of "let's fix the health service by throwing money at it" over the past thirteen years, but when most of the problems were caused by chronic underfunding, that does not seem that unreasonable an approach.

I've acknowledged that there has been historic underfunding to the NHS; because that's plainly true. And I haven't said that the UK spends a disproportionately large amount of its money on healthcare; because it's quite clear that it doesn't.

What I have asked is whether tackling the historic underfunding by simply throwing truckloads of money at the NHS was the wisest thing to have done, and to what extent the structural problems of the NHS were improved by making all of its consultants extremely wealthy and hiring in an extra 58,000 managers and administrators.

I'm keen on the NHS being as good as it can be for the money we've got available to spend on it because I rely on it and so does everyone I care about.

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Sleepwalker
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally quoted by Alwyn:
On the contrary, there have undoubtedly been real and sustained improvements in public services,

There have? Where?

Education still seems to be about the same as when I was at school.....Seriously, where have these "undoubted" "real and sustained improvements" been made?

In the employment of teaching assistants and giving teachers preparation time in primary schools and guaranteed free periods in secondary schools under the 'rarely cover' scheme.

This has meant that teachers can get on with teaching and learning activities instead of spending hours photocopying, putting up wall displays and so on.

It also means that most class sizes are effectively halved because there are two adults in every class so that pupils with special needs get close attention and the other teacher is freed up to help the others ion the class.

You aren't a teacher then!

Classroom assistants are not in every class. In my three PGCE placements so far, no teacher outside of reception year has had a fulltime classroom assistant, never mind a teaching assistant, and none of my class teachers has had any help at all (Year 4, Year 6 and Year 1).

Preparation time in schools - PPA time - is a mixed blessing. It does provide teachers with time to do their marking, which otherwise would have been done at home, but it has knock-on effects, especially in poorer schools, where there has to be cover bought in or where teaching assistants have to be employed specifically for the purpose of covering classes during PPA time.

Teachers are totally free to do their own displays if they want to - and many enjoy doing them. The displays issue was a recommendation of some unions. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the government.

Class sizes are still routinely between 25 and 30 in the state primary sector (above 30 in some schools). All that has happened is that when rolls began to fall due to a decrease in the birth rate, local authorities merged schools, thus retaining the same class sizes as previously.

Aside from the adoption of the National Curriculum, the only significant changes to the education system have been the increase in state control and dictat, and there are some schools who have had so much money thrown at them by the previous government they do not know how to spend it (I recently visited one such school as part of the application process).

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[M]y original statement that Cameron isn't interested in human rights was not about IVF or gays in Lithuania.

...

'A Conservative pledge to rip up the Human Rights Act has been kicked into the long grass after Kenneth Clarke, the new Justice Secretary, signalled it was not a priority. '

As Sleepwalker said, there is a difference between the Human Rights Act and human rights. If there wasn't, it would mean that we didn't have human rights in this country until 1999. I don't think I'm just being a sentimental Little Englander when I say that such a notion is complete poppycock.
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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Today's Daily Telegraph backs me up - my original statement that Cameron isn't interested in human rights

Rubbish. The concern was with the European Human Rights Act, not with human rights. As the article also says:

The Tories have proposed a Bill of Rights that would still protect fundamental liberties but would be harder to use inappropriately.

That sounds like a good idea to me.

While 'tearing up' the European Human Rights Act might have gone on the back burner, as part of the coalition agreement, that does not mean to say it has gone.

Well, what happened was that HMG signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights in the 1950s under the tyrannical rule of the politically correct bolshevist appeaser Sir Winston Churchill. What used to happen was that UK citizens who felt that their rights under the convention were being ignored were able to appeal to Strasbourg if given permission by a UK judge. In an uncharacteristic fit of decency the party of ID Cards, Illegal Wars and locking up children in asylum cases decided that it would be a good idea to enshrine this major treaty commitment, entered into by, as I say, Sir Winston Churchill into UK law. This was opposed by the Tories on the grounds that it was foreign and, besides, people who appeal to human rights acts are nasty people whose human rights can be ignored. Happily the Tories failed to get a majority at the last election and were forced to coalesce with the liberals and the Blessed Kenneth Clarke (pbuh) and are now in favour of human rights. Hurrah!

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Inger
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Today's Daily Telegraph backs me up - my original statement that Cameron isn't interested in human rights

Rubbish. The concern was with the European Human Rights Act, not with human rights. As the article also says:

The Tories have proposed a Bill of Rights that would still protect fundamental liberties but would be harder to use inappropriately.

That sounds like a good idea to me.

While 'tearing up' the European Human Rights Act might have gone on the back burner, as part of the coalition agreement, that does not mean to say it has gone.

Well, what happened was that HMG signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights in the 1950s under the tyrannical rule of the politically correct bolshevist appeaser Sir Winston Churchill. What used to happen was that UK citizens who felt that their rights under the convention were being ignored were able to appeal to Strasbourg if given permission by a UK judge. In an uncharacteristic fit of decency the party of ID Cards, Illegal Wars and locking up children in asylum cases decided that it would be a good idea to enshrine this major treaty commitment, entered into by, as I say, Sir Winston Churchill into UK law. This was opposed by the Tories on the grounds that it was foreign and, besides, people who appeal to human rights acts are nasty people whose human rights can be ignored. Happily the Tories failed to get a majority at the last election and were forced to coalesce with the liberals and the Blessed Kenneth Clarke (pbuh) and are now in favour of human rights. Hurrah!
[Overused]

One could add that (to the best of my knowledge) the convention was drafted by English lawyers.

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Tom Day
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
You aren't a teacher then!
[/QB]

I am, and I generally think that over the past 10 years or so that I have been involved in teaching and education that it has got better. Results in GCSE's and A levels have consistently gone up. Resources in the subject I teach (ICT) have consistently got better and more modern. As a teacher I have got more PPA time and can now spend more time planning and assessing students to improve their progress than before (this might be union based but the labour government helped bring in the teachers workload agreement)

Pay is generally good, I started on an excellent salary and still feel I get good pay.

People might have disagreements with the old New Labour government but personally, as a teacher, although they did bring in lots of initiatives - some good, some silly - over all I feel they did a good job.

Tom

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Tom Day
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:

Preparation time in schools - PPA time - is a mixed blessing. It does provide teachers with time to do their marking, which otherwise would have been done at home, but it has knock-on effects, especially in poorer schools, where there has to be cover bought in or where teaching assistants have to be employed specifically for the purpose of covering classes during PPA time.

Sorry for the double post, but I forgot that I really wanted to address this point. PPA time is not about marking. It is about preparation, planning and assessment time. A difference. Since we have been given PPA time, I do feel that it is now more beneficial to the students. I still spend the same time working at home (this is not the conversation to get into about teacher hours) but I also have guaranteed time at school where I can plan and assess for individual students to ensure that they are achieving their best. It enables me to give better feedback and marking for students so that they can improve. It also allows me to spend time thinking about that one class who has 4/5 difficult students in and how I am going to make sure that all those students learn, not just 90% of them.

Yes, I am in a secondary school where it is probably easier to manage. But it is important. Education is a fundamental right and issue for everyone, and yes, it is not perfect, but then the education system, the NHS, the welfare system, transport will never be perfect. But, I do think it has improved as people before me have said,

Tom

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
Well, what happened was that HMG signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights in the 1950s under the tyrannical rule of the politically correct bolshevist appeaser Sir Winston Churchill.

But this doesn't take account of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights that has developed since then.In Britain, the objection is often to this, rather than the ECHR per se.
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Sober Preacher's Kid

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Well, British judges will happily reflect on ECHR rulings through the lens of the Supreme Court of Canada, which speaks the same legal language British judges do. Our Charter of Rights & Freedoms is a sibling to the ECHR, the similarities are not coincidental.

So its not like they don't get the benefit of a decent Commonwealth-coloured nightlight to keep the boogeyman away.

In Canada if you don't cite an ECHR ruling when arguing a Charter case, you're not trying hard enough.

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Alwyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
But this doesn't take account of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights that has developed since then.In Britain, the objection is often to this, rather than the ECHR per se.

Would you be willing to say a bit more about what you object to about the European Court of Human Rights case law, or how it is applied in the UK? Maybe you could provide an example (real or hypothetical)?

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Anglican't:
Would you be willing to say a bit more about what you object to about the European Court of Human Rights case law, or how it is applied in the UK? Maybe you could provide an example (real or hypothetical)?

I'm afraid that I'm not sufficiently well-versed in ECHR case law to give a full answer to this point, but there have certainly been decisions by the ECHR with which I disagree and I think are generally unpopular (such as giving prisoners the right to vote).

Dominic Grieve's plan for a British Bill of Rights was, as I understand it, intended to halt this. At the moment, the ECHR will look to the Convention and its own jurisprudence when making a decision. If the Conservatives' plan had been fulfilled, the ECHR would do this and then go on to consider its decision in light of the Bill of Rights.

The idea was that this would prevent the application of the more unpalatable ECHR decisions in the UK. I don't know whether this would actually work.

I read an article setting out Mr Grieve's thinking. I'll supply a link if I find it.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally quoted by Alwyn:
On the contrary, there have undoubtedly been real and sustained improvements in public services,

There have? Where?

Education still seems to be about the same as when I was at school.....Seriously, where have these "undoubted" "real and sustained improvements" been made?

In the employment of teaching assistants and giving teachers preparation time in primary schools and guaranteed free periods in secondary schools under the 'rarely cover' scheme.

This has meant that teachers can get on with teaching and learning activities instead of spending hours photocopying, putting up wall displays and so on.

It also means that most class sizes are effectively halved because there are two adults in every class so that pupils with special needs get close attention and the other teacher is freed up to help the others ion the class.

You aren't a teacher then!
Thirty years in secondary, 24 of them in middle management followed by five years of voluntary work for my professional association.
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Boogie

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Teaching Assistants are a wonderful asset.

But the rise in TA numbers has grown with the rise in paperwork - so the children have gained very little in terms of adult time, sadly.

...

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Moth

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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Anglican't:
Would you be willing to say a bit more about what you object to about the European Court of Human Rights case law, or how it is applied in the UK? Maybe you could provide an example (real or hypothetical)?

I'm afraid that I'm not sufficiently well-versed in ECHR case law to give a full answer to this point, but there have certainly been decisions by the ECHR with which I disagree and I think are generally unpopular (such as giving prisoners the right to vote).


You can only think of one example off the top of your head? So why the great clamour for change? Even your one example lacks weight - surely it seems disproportionate to take away someone's vote if they happen to be in jail for a week for an unpaid fine when an election is on? If you admit that, then we are arguing about a question of which prisoners should get the vote. No-one is proposing that all prisoners should, only that the penalty of disenfranchisement should be proportionate to the offence.

Any protection of human rights is bound to throw up unpopular decisions. Popular people rarely need their rights protecting. It's always the marginalised who need their human rights enforced. I'm sure there are still people out there who think it's unbelievable that blacks have the same rights as whites, and that women have the vote. The majority once thought that was an unwarrantable change to the British way of life.

If you think the English courts are likely to develop along very different lines to the ECtHR, I think you're mistaken. Which rights would you like to abrogate? The right to life? The right not to be tortured? The right to respect for your own property? Freedom of religion? Freedom of speech?

There are numerous cases where the Human Rights Act is pleaded but fails. One such example is
Rv Denbigh High School ex parte Begum. . When I talk to Daily Mail reading friends, they have never heard of this case. Perhaps we should all actually look at the case law rather than listening to prejudiced reports of it?

[ 15. May 2010, 13:18: Message edited by: Moth ]

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Teaching Assistants are a wonderful asset.

But the rise in TA numbers has grown with the rise in paperwork - so the children have gained very little in terms of adult time, sadly.

...

They did for a while until more paperwork got dumped on teachers.
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alienfromzog

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quote:
Originally posted by Pottage:
The exact extent of the NHS's funding bonanza is hard to pin down exactly despite the vast quantity of statistics available (and previously there has been a lot of underinvestment of course). But candidly if you threw an increase in funding of (say) inflation+80% at absolutely any business or organisation it would perform better. The questions are:

could the same improvements have been achieved without such vast expense?

could more improvements have been expected for that sort of cost?

and given that such largesse isn't going to be sustainable will the improvements that have been made be lost when the river of taxpayers' gold runs dry?

Well argued.

The big change in Consultant pay follows on from the new Consultants' contract. I think it's probably accurate to say that this hasn't been as successful as hoped;

quote:
From The National Audit Office Report 2007
We conclude that the contract is not yet delivering the full value for money to the NHS and patients that was expected from it although the Department believe that it is too early to judge this. The contract has helped to align consultants’ pay levels with their contribution to the NHS. Some consultants are actually working the same if not fewer hours for more money. Whilst this may be in line with the Department’s objective to reward consultants more appropriately for their NHS work, our survey showed that consultants’ morale has been reduced in the process of implementing the contract. There is little evidence that ways of working have been changed as a result of the new contract and, although most consultants now have job plans, few trusts have used job planning as a lever for improving participation or productivity.

I think that's disappointing. It does seem wrong that the one of the wealthiest groups within the NHS has had the biggest pay increase. However in terms of total public spending, it's not a large amount because there are so few consultants in relative terms. From the same report the cost of the consultants' contract was ~£715 million in 2005-6 (around 1% of NHS funding).

AFZ

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Alwyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
... there have certainly been decisions by the ECHR with which I disagree and I think are generally unpopular (such as giving prisoners the right to vote).

Thank you, that's a good example. If you'd like more examples, I'd recommend the book 'The Assault on Liberty' by Dominic Raab.

You're right: some human rights decisions were unpopular with many people. Whether or not people were well-informed about those decisions is a different question.

Why were people ill-informed about human rights decisions? Parts of the media spread myths. Also, human brings like to deflect blame for their mistakes - and Labour ministers were all too human. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) found that:

"... public misunderstandings [of the Human Rights Act] will continue so long as very senior Ministers make unfounded assertions about the Act and use it as a scapegoat for administrative failings in their departments"

What about the case of Naomi Bryant - a death blamed on the Human Rights Act. The JCHR found:-

"The Committee says government has followed the media in saying that the Human Rights Act had been responsible for the tragic death of Naomi Bryant because it had required her killer to be released. Careful Committee inquiry established that there was no evidence that Naomi Bryant had been killed as a result of officials misinterpreting the Human Rights Act. Despite this clear finding, both the Government and the media have continued to repeat the unfounded assertion that the Human Rights Act caused the death of an innocent woman. Other popular myths have been allowed to flourish, such as the Human Rights Act being responsible for the provision of a takeaway meal to a prisoner making a rooftop protest, or the provision of pornography to a serial killer in prison."

So are human rights decisions unpopular because they're bad or because people are misled? Let's look at your example, (the prisoners' voting ban case) - Hirst v UK. The following part of the Court's reasoning is worth a look (from para. 82):

"The provision imposes a blanket restriction on all convicted prisoners in prison. It applies automatically to such prisoners, irrespective of the length of their sentence and irrespective of the nature or gravity of their offence and their individual circumstances. Such a general, automatic and indiscriminate restriction on a vitally important Convention right must be seen as falling outside any acceptable margin of appreciation"

Does it make a difference to know that the Court in Hirst v UK didn't hold that all prisoners must have the right to vote (they only decided that an automatic, blanket ban is not allowed)?

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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Alwyn
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"human brings like to deflect blame for their mistakes..."

Sorry - that should read "human beings..."

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
So the British evangelical right are going to learn in short order what the American evangelical right have yet to notice. That their job is to deliver the maximum number of votes for the minimum number of concessions.

What evangelical right? Rumour hath it that Ms May is an Anglo-Catholic, of FiF persuasion.
An account of the Tory Evangelical right can be found here. I can't see them being ecstatic with the replacement of Mr Grayling with Ms May, or indeed dibs for the libs to duck out of the vote on giving married couples tax breaks but that's just me.

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Angloid
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I can't speak for Ken, but I imagine the point he was making was not that evangelicals are an insignificant force within the Tory party (that article suggests they are punching above their weight of numbers), but that Tories/conservatives are an insignificant proportion of evangelicals in Britain, unlike, we are led to believe, their counterparts in the US.

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Cod
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Teaching Assistants are a wonderful asset.

But the rise in TA numbers has grown with the rise in paperwork - so the children have gained very little in terms of adult time, sadly.

...

Mrs. Cod, who trained as a teacher in South Africa, was horrified at the sheer amount of paperwork she had to do when she taught in British schools in 97-01, particularly for inspections. She remembers producing reports that she knew no-one would ever read. Has it changed for the better, and do teachers themselves regard it as a problem?

(I am told that the South African government tried to replicate the British system there, but gave up when they realised that the schools were simply ignoring them)

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Sleepwalker
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Thirty years in secondary, 24 of them in middle management followed by five years of voluntary work for my professional association.

Secondary and middle management to boot. That explains it! [Biased] Things are different in primary.

[ 16. May 2010, 09:26: Message edited by: Sleepwalker ]

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Sleepwalker
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quote:
Originally posted by Cod:
Mrs. Cod, who trained as a teacher in South Africa, was horrified at the sheer amount of paperwork she had to do when she taught in British schools in 97-01, particularly for inspections. She remembers producing reports that she knew no-one would ever read. Has it changed for the better, and do teachers themselves regard it as a problem?

Yes, they do. A pretty big problem, actually. There was more to come had the previous administration remained in power. Hopefully, things will change with the new government.
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Doublethink.
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Could we break down for a moment, what *is* the paperwork and which bits you would like to drop ?

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Alwyn
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FWIW, Anglican't, although I'm not a Conservative supporter, I like their proposal on ID cards and was impressed by David Davis' principled resignation from the Commons to highlight the issue of civil liberties.

Also, I am sure that there are examples of human rights decisions which were unpopular without being misunderstood. However, as Moth argued, human rights protect unpopular people, and people accused of doing unpopular things. Human rights are meant to ensure that the State is fair to everyone, not just people that any particular government likes.

quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
Dominic Grieve's plan for a British Bill of Rights was, as I understand it, intended to halt this.

Mr Grieve could improve the situation by telling ministers and public officials that, if anyone uses the Human Rights Act as a scapegoat for mistakes or unpopular decisions, a press officer will correct them. That would hopefully prevent ministers in trouble saying 'the Human Rights Act made me do it.'

I don't yet see how a British Bill of Rights would prevent unpopular decisions by the European Court of Human Rights.

quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
At the moment, the ECHR will look to the Convention and its own jurisprudence when making a decision.

We agree on this.

quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
If the Conservatives' plan had been fulfilled, the ECHR would do this and then go on to consider its decision in light of the Bill of Rights

Here we see it differently (unless I have misunderstood you). The European Court of Human Rights acts on the instructions given to it in the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols, which are part of international law. A British Bill of Rights would be part of UK law and would not be part of the instructions that the Court obeys. The UK cannot unilaterally change how the Court works; to change a treaty, you need a protocol. Even if member states of the Council of Europe agreed such a protocol, what would it say that would prevent unpopular decisions being made - what specific instruction to judges should be given?

quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
I read an article setting out Mr Grieve's thinking. I'll supply a link if I find it.

I'd be interested to read that article if you can find a link.

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Alwyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
I read an article setting out Mr Grieve's thinking. I'll supply a link if I find it.

I found this thought-provoking speech by Mr Grieve - does it help?

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Sleepwalker
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quote:
Originally posted by Think²:
Could we break down for a moment, what *is* the paperwork and which bits you would like to drop ?

I can only speak for the primary sector as that is the sector I work in. Things may be different for secondaries, I don't know.

Anyway, one of the big bugbears among primary teachers has been the huge increase in paperwork relating to assessment. The previous government was extremely proscriptive in this respect and demanded evidence of progress at every stage of the education process. Without this evidence, Ofsted could effectively put a school into special measures and teachers could be deemed as failing. So, therefore, teachers had to comply.

Take a Year 2 class (6-7 year olds) of 30 children (the norm in class size for state primaries is between 26 and 30 children). For each lesson a teacher has to write out an objective on the board and this has to be written in the children's books also. The class is taken, the work done. The teacher has to mark all the children's work, which is how it should be. However, they also then have to assess it against the objective in accordance with whichever assessment scheme the school has adopted. The most popular one appears to be AfL (Assessment for Learning) and this has various guises.

For the sake of discussion, the Year 2 class uses the traffic light system (red for understanding, yellow for not sure, green for doing ok). The children may have assessed themselves at the end of the lesson. The teacher then has to assess that and mark accordingly (on top of the usual form of marking). The teacher then has to complete a form - for every lesson, for every child - to provide the written record of that child's progress in that lesson on that day.

There will be another assessment of every child, separate to the one above, at the end of every unit in every subject. This usually but not always takes the form of a test. Which then has to be marked and assessed accordingly.

There are then termly assessments of every child's overall progress.

There are then yearly assessments, full reports written (to pass up to the next class) and reports written to parents, mostly using the previous government's standardised language.

You do the maths.

Things could have gotten worse with the introduction of APP, which came with its own 100 page instruction manual. APP is for core subjects only (English, Maths, Science and ICT). It consists of a series of tables on which there are a series of statements printed. After every lesson in the core subjects, the teacher would have to highlight the statement which best reflected the child's attainment in that subject. They would have to go through this process for every child after every core subject lesson. This system was due to replace SATs.

At the end of the day, no matter how much paperwork the previous government demanded that the teachers complete, assessment is subjective and is based upon the teacher's knowledge of the child, abilities as a teacher and knowledge of the subject taught. That hasn't changed. And no amount of 'evidence' would change it. So what was wrong with marking books, keeping a running record and assessing at the end of the school year?

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
I found this thought-provoking speech by Mr Grieve - does it help?

This is better than the article that I was looking for (which was a Spectator article abour Mr Grieve, rather than something by him). The point in the Spectator article, which Mr Grieve refers to, is the idea of a 'margin of appreciation' that he hopes a British Bill of Rights will create.

In the speech, Mr Grieve sets out a number of criticisms about the ECHR and its jurisprudence. That criticism has come from a number of authoritative sources, including Lord Hoffman, as he says.

Having set out those problems, Mr Grieve then rules out withdrawal from the ECHR on the basis that:

Such a withdrawal would send a very damaging signal about how the UK viewed the place and promotion of human rights and liberties and would be an encouragement to every tin pot dictator such as Robert Mugabe, who violates them.

I don't see why that should be the case, and that's where we diverge. To me, something doesn't necessarily embody the best of human rights just because it has 'human rights' in its title (if that was the case, North Korea would be the most open democracy on earth). I think we should have the self-confidence to say 'our centuries old common law protects human rights and we trust our courts to defend them'.

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Doublethink.
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So the forms themselves are not that complex, maybe take 1 minute per child per lesson - but you take maybe 8 lessons a day of 30 kids (240 forms) and then that is 240 minutes = 4hrs. Or you are doing less lessons, or the forms take less long, and you might get it down to 2 hrs.

Thing is the idea makes sense - it is the volume that is the problem. If you did the same thing per subject per week per child, would it be more viable ?

Part of the problem is the constant demand for information - we have the same issue in the health service and similar volume issue. Something that appears to make sense and be quick, becomes very onerous when it is scaled up. But at the same time, politicians, the public and the media - want evidence of whether approach a or trust a or initiative a is making a difference.

Likewise, if you want to guarantee x waiting time - some one has to report information on how long folk are waiting to know if is working, or you just get battling anecdotes. One of the advantages of the NHS IT system if/when it finally happens is it will reduce some of the load of reording without losing the information.

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Moth

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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
I found this thought-provoking speech by Mr Grieve - does it help?

In the speech, Mr Grieve sets out a number of criticisms about the ECHR and its jurisprudence. That criticism has come from a number of authoritative sources, including Lord Hoffman, as he says.

Having set out those problems, Mr Grieve then rules out withdrawal from the ECHR on the basis that:

Such a withdrawal would send a very damaging signal about how the UK viewed the place and promotion of human rights and liberties and would be an encouragement to every tin pot dictator such as Robert Mugabe, who violates them.

I don't see why that should be the case, and that's where we diverge. To me, something doesn't necessarily embody the best of human rights just because it has 'human rights' in its title (if that was the case, North Korea would be the most open democracy on earth). I think we should have the self-confidence to say 'our centuries old common law protects human rights and we trust our courts to defend them'.

I think the legal difficulty with that is the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty. Under our constitution, Parliament can enact any law it likes, and the courts cannot challenge it. The HRA changed that, because it allowed the courts to declare the law incompatible with the ECHR.

In other words, the common law, by itself, cannot protect the sorts of rights protected by the convention. In fact, we can see that it didn't. It did not protect the rights of gay people to live together and form families, for example. It did not prevent the slave trade - Parliament had to do that.

As an academic lawyer, I find the HRA very exciting. It has allowed a very principled move forward in the common law, whereby we can judge the effect of any law (intended or unintended) through the prism of human rights, and adjust it accordingly. Yes, at the beginning you will get some really stupid claims and a few stupid decisions. Most of these will be gradually reversed and refined over time - that's how the common law has always worked. In fifty years' time, we'll be utterly amazed that we ever managed any other way.

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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
At the end of the day, no matter how much paperwork the previous government demanded that the teachers complete, assessment is subjective and is based upon the teacher's knowledge of the child, abilities as a teacher and knowledge of the subject taught. That hasn't changed. And no amount of 'evidence' would change it. So what was wrong with marking books, keeping a running record and assessing at the end of the school year?

I guess the problem is that you can't automatically aggregate the data from marking books (basically). The APP sounds very similar to many standardised psychometrics, which once you know how to do them are very quick. But doesn't solve the volume problem (you usually find the massive manual is full of case studies and people talking about how clever they were when they invented it or comparision tables - rather than actual instructions on how to administer it).

If your "marking book" was an excel file, onto which you had added a colour code - John Smith mark 7 code red etc, and it autogenerated the output of the forms - so either you just had to print it out or it went to the headmaster's database and he printed it out every so often, the time factor would be much reduced. (And so would the impact on the world's tree population.)

[ 16. May 2010, 11:35: Message edited by: Think² ]

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Anglican't
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If you accept that courts will make 'stupid decisions' then you must accept that Parliament will make 'stupid decisions' too, surely? So, in the case of slavery, Parliament didn't legislate against it when there was a large degree of public acceptance of it (and neither did the Courts do much about it, as far I'm aware). As attitudes change, so did Parliament's approach to the issue.
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Callan
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I thought that the common law did have an effect on the abolition of slavery inasmuch as Lord Mansfield's judgement that it was illegal in England and Wales did it quite a lot of damage. According to wikipedia something like 14,000 - 15,000 slaves were freed at the stroke of a pen.

The British Government, under Sir Winston Churchill, signed the European Convention on Human Rights because it wanted to send a signal of 'never again' after the horrors of the Second World War. I do wish people who object to it because, under the HRA the courts occasionally find for people in prison, gypsies and immigrants would remember that from time to time.

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
I thought that the common law did have an effect on the abolition of slavery inasmuch as Lord Mansfield's judgement that it was illegal in England and Wales did it quite a lot of damage. According to wikipedia something like 14,000 - 15,000 slaves were freed at the stroke of a pen.

I didn't know that. Interesting.
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alienfromzog

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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
The British Government, under Sir Winston Churchill, signed the European Convention on Human Rights because it wanted to send a signal of 'never again' after the horrors of the Second World War. I do wish people who object to it because, under the HRA the courts occasionally find for people in prison, gypsies and immigrants would remember that from time to time.

Totally and completely agree. We have forgotten the lesson of history.

AFZ

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Anglican't
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quote:
Originally posted by alienfromzog:
Totally and completely agree. We have forgotten the lesson of history.

Have we? Although Sir Winston Churchill agreed to the ECHR and the Court, it doesn't follow that, had he been around today, he would have agreed with the way things have turned out.

Also, not only were the horrors of the Second World War not perpetrated in the UK, but also I don't see them being repeated in Europe generally, given the general social, economic and political change that has occurred across the continent over the past 60 years.

Even if there was that chance, there is a difference, surely, between a court making general decisions and proper democratic government on the one hand, and an interfering court, micro-managing people's lives on the other.

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Moth

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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
I thought that the common law did have an effect on the abolition of slavery inasmuch as Lord Mansfield's judgement that it was illegal in England and Wales did it quite a lot of damage. According to wikipedia something like 14,000 - 15,000 slaves were freed at the stroke of a pen.

That's why I said 'slave trade' not slavery. However, the common law was inconsistent on the matter of slavery. The brief history in Wikipedia seems to be basically correct. It certainly didn't have the effect of outlawing either slavery or the slave trade until Parliament intervened.

quote:
The British Government, under Sir Winston Churchill, signed the European Convention on Human Rights because it wanted to send a signal of 'never again' after the horrors of the Second World War. I do wish people who object to it because, under the HRA the courts occasionally find for people in prison, gypsies and immigrants would remember that from time to time.
I couldn't agree more. One of the things I find most upsetting in arguments like this is the failure to grasp that if human rights are to be any use at all, they must be for everyone. And yes, that includes gypsies, immigrants, paedophiles, and even BNP members. Everyone! We can all point to people who were thought unworthy of them in the past - I'm a woman, so that example springs readily to mind. How will we feel about some of the marginalised in the future? Will we be proud of ourselves? Why not be the first civilisation to protect the human rights of everybody - wouldn't that be something of which to be proud?

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Cod
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The problem with human rights jurisprudence as it currently stands is that it seems to throw up results that seem instinctively odd. For example, just recently a girl brought a knife to her school and threatened some other children with it. It turns out according to some senior lawyers that the New Zealand Bill of Rights prevented the school from searching the children's bags to ensure that no weapons were contained in them.

I am assuming that the relevant human right is from unreasonable search and seizure. What is 'reasonable' in any given circumstance is hard enough for a lawyer, and downright impossible for a layperson, and thus a chilling effect that prevents a schoool from adopting what might well be a common-sense solution is created.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Thirty years in secondary, 24 of them in middle management followed by five years of voluntary work for my professional association.

Secondary and middle management to boot. That explains it! [Biased] Things are different in primary.
You sound as if you think I am out of touch.

Re 'middle management' that can mean:

a) a head of department = 'subject leader' in primary. In secondary, a HOD is likely to get 1 hour 40 minutes extra non-teaching time than his/her staff. In that time s/he has to sit in on lessons to coach staff, do appraisals, target setting, write schemes of work etc.

b) a head of year/house with the same amount of extra time in which to deal with unruly pupils contact parents, suspend pupils, readmit them and do academic monitoring.

Sure, primary is different - someone is likely to head up more than one subject but

a) behaviour is likely to be easier to deal with because you teach the dame class for most of the time. (As Head of RE, I taught about 400 different children in the course of a week - hard to keep perfect discipline when you don't know all those names)

b) you may have to keep abreast of more subjects but you are likely to work with the same key stage for several years whereas secondary teachers work over three key stages.

Re- the number of teaching assistants on hand - this will depend what sort of school you are in. My last school had a special needs unit attached but the pupils were put into mainstream as far as possible. This meant that there were at least 5 statemented pupils in each class so that would always entail a TA.

Re- paperwork (and arguing against my view that things improved under Labour) my memory is that the Tories bought in the National Curriculum and testing in 1988 but didn't police their reforms very carefully so we did what we thought right and subverted what we thought wrong.

When Labour got in, they micromanaged every single detail so the worst excesses of Tory policy got implemented.

Under the old system, you got plenty of notice of an OFSTED visit so you could cobble together the necessary paperwork.

Now, with such short notice,you have to endlessly churn out paperwork just in case. OFSTED will only look at it if you are likely to go into special measures but you can't take the risk of that not being the case. Which is why my professional association's election manifesto was to abolish OFSTED.

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Nightlamp
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
I thought that the common law did have an effect on the abolition of slavery inasmuch as Lord Mansfield's judgement that it was illegal in England and Wales did it quite a lot of damage. According to wikipedia something like 14,000 - 15,000 slaves were freed at the stroke of a pen.

I thought his judgement was narrow than this it was about forbiddng the removal of slaves from the England. His judgement though created a vital precedent which eventually changed the law of England.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Moth:


As an academic lawyer, I find the HRA very exciting. It has allowed a very principled move forward in the common law, whereby we can judge the effect of any law (intended or unintended) through the prism of human rights, and adjust it accordingly. Yes, at the beginning you will get some really stupid claims and a few stupid decisions. Most of these will be gradually reversed and refined over time - that's how the common law has always worked. In fifty years' time, we'll be utterly amazed that we ever managed any other way.

Hands up here that I did my law degree to finish in 1999, so I haven't followed the cases under the HRA. I wrote a very interesting essay in my finals about its potential effects! However, one of the issues my then consititutional law tutor had with it then (it may not be an issue now, nobody really knew!) was that the European Court of Human Rights draws judges from all the countries which sign up the convention.
Some of those countries haven't even been democracies for long, have no common law tradition and don't have much jurisprudence to go on, yet we are handing the judges the possibility of sweeping away "centuries of common law tradition with the stroke of a pen."
Is this just "rah rah British law is best" talking, or are some of the strangely anomalous cases sometimes touted in the tabloids evidence of this type of ill thought through jurisprudence?

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Alwyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
I think we should have the self-confidence to say 'our centuries old common law protects human rights and we trust our courts to defend them'.

I see what you mean. Yes, we have a tradition of protecting liberty through the common law (and statutes). Yes, liberty can be protected without UK involvement in the European Court (and Convention) of Human Rights. While agreeing with those points, I'll aim to make a case for the UK taking part in the European Court of Human Rights.

If people's human rights are abused in other countries, that affects us. Morally, it affects us because, as John Donne wrote:

Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


On a practical level, it affects us because people tend to leave countries where they are persecuted and the UK is one of the places where they seek sanctuary. If we take part in a system that helps to prevent abuses of human rights elsewhere, that benefits us.

However, as you wrote, the Holocaust didn't happen here. Why not just require the 'bad' countries to take part in the European Court of Human Rights? Leprechaun wrote that some European states are relatively new democracies - why not just require them to take part in the Court? Why not - because that approach was tried by the League of Nations' international system for minority protection after the First World War. The fact that only (perceived) 'bad' countries were required to take part built resentment and resistance, which was one reason (admittedly, among other reasons) why the system failed.

By taking part in the European Court of Human Rights, we show that we are willing to 'take the plank out of our government's eye' before removing specks in the eyes of governments in other countries. Taking part helps us to remember European history; it provides an independent voice to help protect our liberty; it encourages our Government to take responsibility and 'practice what we preach'.

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Cod
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:

Even if there was that chance, there is a difference, surely, between a court making general decisions and proper democratic government on the one hand, and an interfering court, micro-managing people's lives on the other.

What might be relevant here is the difference between administrative law under common law, and administrative law elsewhere (lawyers will perhaps be more familiar with the term 'judicial review': for the rest, I mean the body of law concerning the government's power to make decisions). Under common law, the Courts only have the power to ask whether the decision-maker had the power to make that decision. It is a simple yes/no, and the political merits of the decision traditionally aren't the preserve of the Court, which has no expertise to examine them.

It seems to me that the enactment of human rights legislation drives a wedge through all this, because government officials must take human rights into account when making decisions. It allows the Court to look at the merits of the decision under this guise. Given that Britain, unlike France, has no tradition of administrative courts, and given that judges from overseas might not appreciate the local context of any particular decision, it is clear that this new approach is likely to cause difficulties.

I think there is a further problem with human rights legislation that goes back to my example of searching pupils' school bags for knives, as mentioned above. At common law, searching a school bag is prohibited: it can constitute the tort of trespass to goods, or (if, say, something is confiscated) detinue or conversion. But at common law, these rights can be waived. If a school required parents to consent to bag-searching on enrollment, no tort would be committed if a bag was in fact searched within the terms of the consent. No lawyer worth his salt would advise an litigious parent to sue a school: such a case would be hopeless.

However, legislation enshrining, for example, rights of privacy and unreasonable search change this hugely. The school's policy can be challenged, for example, as could the consent. While I am sure academics can pinpoint what is and isn't a reasonable search retrospectively, at the coal face, the school cannot absolutely protect itself against the prospect of liability. Litigation becomes an ever-present possibility. This in turn causes a chilling effect which results in knives being brought to school in unopened bags etc.

I imagine it would have an effect on damages awarded too: pre-human rights, any breach would probably be technical and result in an award of damages so small that a case would not have been worth bringing. Now, I suspect it would be greater, as a human right, rather than just a minor property right, would be at stake.

In short, human rights jurisprudence will always be problematic when it cannot separate situations where defending a human right is clearly important, from those where it clearly isn't.

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dyfrig
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican't:
I think we should have the self-confidence to say 'our centuries old common law protects human rights and we trust our courts to defend them'.

Here's a link to the list of human rights the 1998 encapsulates.

Could the Common Law be said to protect all of them without legislation? If they are worth, protecting, why not have them in one place, especially as the argument seems to be more about judicial process rather than principles?

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"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt

Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepwalker:

The Tories have proposed a Bill of Rights that would still protect fundamental liberties but would be harder to use inappropriately.

That sounds like a good idea to me.

Why does it sound like a good idea? What in your view is wrong with the wording of the existing Act? (Which is after all, as others have said, codification of English legal principles that are older than the EU)

What real harm has been done by any UK courts using the HRA? I mean real harm, not anecdotal wibble about people claiming that their "human rights" have been violated in order to get away with something, but actual serious injustice that would not have happened had we not ahd this law?

The last forty or fifty posts have only come up with the rather sensible ruling about prisoners voting. If that's the worst this law does, we should thank God for it. Courts make worse decisions than that every day.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
What real harm has been done by any UK courts using the HRA? I mean real harm, not anecdotal wibble about people claiming that their "human rights" have been violated in order to get away with something, but actual serious injustice that would not have happened had we not ahd this law?

Ask Naomi Bryant. Except you can't, because she's dead. Killed by a dangerous convicted criminal who was freed because of human rights concerns.

This quote says it all:
quote:
But Mr Bridges said the failures in the Rice case had been exacerbated by two instances where parole and probation staff had allowed human rights considerations to undermine the importance of public protection.
And just in case you think I mined the gutter right-wing press for that quote, it's from the Guardian.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30100 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Alwyn
Shipmate
# 4380

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
This quote says it all:
But Mr Bridges said the failures in the Rice case had been exacerbated by two instances where parole and probation staff had allowed human rights considerations to undermine the importance of public protection.

... and there was me suggesting that, when mistakes happen, public officials sometimes try to deflect blame by saying (in essence) 'It's not our fault, the Human Rights Act made us do it.' Amazing.

Someone will come along soon to explain that, according to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the mistakes weren't actually due to the HRA. No, wait, somebody already did.

[ 17. May 2010, 15:01: Message edited by: Alwyn ]

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

Posts: 849 | From: UK | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
Someone will come along soon to explain that, according to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the mistakes weren't actually due to the HRA. No, wait, somebody already did.

You quote the JCHR in that post as explicitly saying that her death was not due to "officials misinterpreting the Human Rights Act". Note that that leaves it wide open as to whether they correctly interpreted it, resulting in the perp's release.

Why would they put that bit about misinterpreting in if it was nothing to do with the act at all? If it had nothing to do with it, wouldn't they simply say it was "not due to the HRA"?

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30100 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged



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