38 Degrees Logo38 Degrees Logo 38 Degrees Logo

Land Registry petition hand-in this morning

July 2nd, 2014 by

This morning, 38 Degrees members and campaigners to stop the privatisatation of the Land Registry – from high street solicitors to the PCS Union – got together to hand in our 100,000 signature petition.

We gathered outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills at 11am with placards, a big ‘Keep the Land Registry Public’ banner, and lots of energy!

Land Registry petition hand-in

Representatives from Michael Fallon’s office – the minister this petition is addressed to – and the Department for Business came out to collect the petition.

Unfortunately neither Michael Fallon MP or Vince Cable MP, the two ministers working on plans to privatise the Land Registry, could make it. We were told they both had ‘important ministerial business’ to do.

It was leaked last weekend that the government will scrap their plans for privatisation – but ministers haven’t confirmed it yet.

Land Registry petition hand-in

So this petition hand-in was 38 Degrees members taking one last chance to hammer the message home – that we want to keep the Land Registry public.

If you haven’t yet, you can still sign the petition here.

Land Registry petition hand-in

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

Recall committee: it’s happening!

July 2nd, 2014 by

Last week over 30,000 members of 38 Degrees fed in to make sure our draft genuine recall law was as good as possible. And now the committee of 21 MPs from seven political parties has been announced. The committee is meeting next week to scrutinise the law line by line. It aims to be a purposeful discussion – it won’t have the pomp and circumstance of a normal House of Commons committee. And it will be live tweeted – allowing *normal people* to feed in and ask questions.

Once the committee are confident with it, 38 Degrees members will then decide if they’re happy. We will then present it to the leaders of all political parties in the House with a recommendation that they use this as the basis for legislation promised.

The committee has been assembled by Zac Goldsmith, and will be chaired by Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis MP. It includes the former Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, former Health Minister Paul Burstow MP and Labour MP Katy Clark.

Full list of MPs involved:
David Davis (Conservative)
Zac Goldsmith (Conservative)
Douglas Carswell (Conservative)
Anne Marie Morris (Conservative)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Caroline Nokes (Conservative)
Andrew Mitchell (Conservative)
Robert Buckland (Conservative)
Nick de Bois (Conservative)
Tracey Crouch (Conservative)
Frank Field (Labour)
Yasmin Qureshi (Labour)
Katy Clark (Labour)
Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour)
Kate Hoey (Labour)
Julian Huppert (Lib Dem)
Paul Burstow (Lib Dem)
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru)
Caroline Lucas (Green)
Mark Durkan (SDLP
Angus MacNeil (SNP)

Here’s what some of the MPs involved had to say:

Zac Goldsmith MP said: “Recall is supposed to be about empowering voters to hold their MPs to account, and the Government’s proposals fall scandalously short. They don’t empower voters in any meaningful sense at all, and at the very first scandal, they will realise they have been duped. This cross-party Committee demonstrates that even if Party leaders have no appetite for reform, parliament does, and I very much hope the Bill we produce will make its way into law.”

David Davis MP said: “Genuine recall is critical to build the reputation and credibility of parliament. And so it is appropriate that we create a recall law that is produced with the public and MPs working alongside each other.  Once the committee is confident that they are happy with the Bill we will present it to the leaders of all political parties in the House with a recommendation that they use this as the basis for legislation promised in this year’s Queen’s speech.”

Katy Clark MP said “The Recall Bill which the Government has proposed does not go anywhere near far enough. The idea of recall is that voters have the power to recall MPs in certain circumstances where there has been a substantial loss of confidence in an individual due to conduct.  Under these proposals the power to dismiss MPs will remain in the hands of the judiciary and the House of Commons. We need a proper recall law which will deliver power to voters. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work alongside like-minded colleagues so that we can secure a genuine recall law where the public can recall MPs”

Julian Huppert MP said “I want to see legislation which empowers the public to recall their MPs; they elected them and they should have the power to recall them for serious misdemeanors.

Giving the initial decision to a committee of MPs falls short of what is needed here. We set out to repair the relationship between politicians and the public and the Recall Bill can go some way to achieving that – but it must be fit for purpose.”

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Recall: Member consultation Results

July 1st, 2014 by

Over 30,000 members of 38 Degrees fed in their views on the member-funded recall bill. The members answered questions on nine different components of the bill. There overwhelming support for most of the components and broad agreement with some of the most technical aspects of the bill.

Here are some of the comments from 38 Degrees members:

“MPs have shown time and time again that their version of self-regulation is ineffective. The proposed committee of MPs here would be just as ineffective. The 38 Degrees draft bill is necessary if we are to have a truly democratic recall system.”

“I believe most MPs are sincere in their desire to serve their electorate and will not be troubled by this ‘law’. Hopefully, this law will drive out those who are not.”

“MPs get too comfortable knowing they hold majority. The threat of recall could cause MPs to focus back on their constituencies!”

The original consultation can be accessed here.

The results for each individual question can be seen in the pie charts below:

The 38 Degrees draft law puts voters in charge of deciding whether to recall an MP rather than a committee of MPs (which is what the government’s proposing). Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 94%
  • No: 5%
  • Don’t know: 1%

The 38 Degrees draft law says that if voters lose confidence in MPs, we should be able to recall him/ her in any circumstances. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 82%
  • No – it should only be when an MP breaks the law: 11%
  • No, it should only be if an MP is guilty of financial misconduct: 3%
  • I don’t know: 4%
<p> </p>
The 38 Degrees draft recall law says that if an MP is going through legal proceedings, the recall process should be paused until they have been found innocent or guilty. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 93%
  • No: 6%
  • Don’t know: 1%

The 38 Degrees draft law says that 20% of constituents are in favour of recalling their MP, a referendum of the whole constituency should be triggered. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 64%
  • No, it should be a higher percentage: 28%
  • No, it should be a lower percentage: 5%
  • I don’t know: 3%
<p> </p>
The 38 Degrees draft law says that central government should pay for the recall process. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 95%
  • No: 1%
  • Don’t know: 4%

The 38 Degrees draft law says that constituents should be able to sign the first stage of the recall process (which would trigger the actual recall petition) online and in person. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 97%
  • No: 1%
  • Don’t know: 2%
<p> </p>
The 38 Degrees draft law says that constituents should only be able to sign the second stage of the recall process (the actual recall petition) in person. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 72%
  • No: 18%
  • Don’t know: 10%

The 38 Degrees draft law sets limits on how much money can be spent on the campaigns during the recall process. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 94%
  • No: 1%
  • Don’t know: 5%
<p> </p>
The 38 Degrees draft law doesn’t have any limits for how many times an MP can be subject to a recall process per parliament. Does this sound right?

  • Yes: 83%
  • No: 13%
  • Don’t know: 4%

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Save the Land Registry petition hand-in

July 1st, 2014 by

At the weekend,the Mail on Sunday reported that the Government will scrap its plans to sell off the Land Registry. Sounds like good news – but we haven’t won yet.

The Government hasn’t confirmed the story. They say we need to wait until the official consultation is published, before they’ll confirm whether privatisation is off the cards. A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills made this statement when asked:

“We have carried out a public consultation on the introduction of a Land Registry service delivery company, which looked at a range of options – including the status quo. We will publish the Government response shortly.”



Over 100,000 38 Degrees members have signed the petition to save the Land Registry. The Mail are saying it’s the sheer number of people against the government’s plans – from ordinary people, to trade unions and civil servants – that’s pushing them to back down.



People power is getting to them. So let’s step it up. It seems like they’re finalising the consultation report right now. Together, let’s put the views of thousands of 38 Degrees members in the thick of it – while ministers and department researchers dot the i’s and cross the t’s.



38 Degrees members are handing in the petition to the Department for Business on Wednesday morning. If you’re free could you come along on Wednesday to hand in the petition? We’re meeting at 11am outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London. Click here for more details.

It’s been a brilliant few weeks for 38 Degrees members standing up for our public services.  Last week 38 Degrees members helped stop the privatisation of child protection services. And now this.



We’ve got a real chance of pushing the government to scrap plans to privatise the Land Registry for good. Let’s pick up the pressure now, and prove once again that when we work together, we can stand up to threats to our public services and win.




Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , ,

Bees: Swarm on Downing Street

July 1st, 2014 by

This morning hundreds of 38 Degrees members joined a host of campaign organisations to swarm on Downing Street to protect our bees.

David Cameron was meeting his cabinet to decide whether to allow banned bee killing pesticides to be used on fields across the UK. Unbelievably, a mega pesticide company called Syngenta has just made an emergency appeal after their product was banned across Europe last year due to the risk it poses to our bees.

Yesterday we handed in our huge people-powered petition to No.10 Downing St so that it landed on David Cameron’s desk before the big meeting.

This morning, as MPs turned up at the cabinet meeting they were greeted by hundreds of people chanting at them to do the right thing, and protect our bees. We wanted to make sure that the ministers were in no doubt that not only scientists, but the public too were demanding that they stop the bee killer pesticides.

We all arrived at 8am, bright and early in the morning, ready to catch the ministers as they walked into the meeting.  Alongside 38 Degrees a huge range of campaign organisations came along, Buglife, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association all joined the campaign.  We even had Barry Gardiner MP (The Shadow Environment minister) join us and chant along.

Armed with spotter cards we kept our eyes peeled for the ministers as they walked into the cabinet meeting.  Each one was greeted with chants to save our bees and stop the Syngenta pesticides from being used on our fields.

“David Cameron, just say no – Tell Syngenta where to go!”

“What do we want? Bees! When do we want them? Forever!”

“All we are saying, is give bees a chance!”

We managed to spot lots of the politicians walking in through the front entrance of Downing Street.  David Cameron, Vince Cable, Grant Shapps, William Hague and many more.  Unfortunately we think Owen Paterson (the environment minister) snuck in through a back door.  As David Cameron walked up and waved, the crowd literally swarmed on Downing Street chanting “save our bees!” and chased him into the meeting with a rousing chorus of chants.

Watch this space to see what happens next.

David Cameron and his cabinet should be in no doubt as to what the world expects of them.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

HMRC: finally, a response!

June 30th, 2014 by

HMRC have – finally – got back to us about our 250,000 strong petition asking them not to share our tax data with private companies. Their response is below.

It’s great that the HMRC spokesperson agrees about the dangers of sharing data with private companies. But their statement is a little vague, and doesn’t seem to actually rule this out.

For example, they mention using our tax details for “research” but they don’t specify say whether it would be academic or research by businesses. This matters – most 38 Degrees members would feel uncomfortable with their details being used for market research, for the benefit of businesses. But they might feel more comfortable about anonymised data being used to inform academic research on taxation.

When the proposals were announced, Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at Cambridge University voiced his concerns. He said the information could be useful to credit rating agencies, advertisers, and retailers wanting to practice price discrimination. HMRC already ran a pilot programme that has released data to private credit ratings agencies like Experian.

HMRC also say “the Government has announced that it will go ahead with the next steps for making aggregated and anonymised tax data available for wider public benefit” But this is a bit unclear too – what counts as being in the public benefit?

They also say “No decision has been made about whether we would seek to recover the costs of processing and providing data.” Could this be a bit of a loophole which would enable them to sell the data? What do you think?

“HMRC would release data only to parties who were capable of meeting stringent data security and privacy requirements” Lots of organisations would qualify as meeting data security requirements – like 38 Degrees. HMRC need to be more specific about the safeguards they’ll put in place, and about who these “parties” receiving data will be.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this is what HMRC say about the decision making process. It shows we have the power to stop changes if we want to.

“None of the changes being considered can be pursued without Parliamentary approval.” This means our MPs have the power to stop these plans in their tracks.

Javier, an expert on privacy from Open Rights Group has taken a look at it and said ”HMRC need to explain how exactly they propose that taxpayers’ data will be used by businesses. It is not clear that all data sharing will have a public benefit. Sharing such unique data to credit agencies and other big institutions could entrench the asymmetry of information against citizens.”

What do you think of their response? A month or so ago 38 Degrees members voted to keep the pressure up. Now 38 Degrees members are inviting their MPs to a meeting in Westminster to hear experts talk about the data sell-off, and HMRC have offered us a meeting. Comment below on HMRC’s response, and suggest what else we could do to stop the sell-off.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

Recall bill: Your thoughts

June 27th, 2014 by

Hot off the press: 38 Degrees’s draft recall bill is back from the lawyers. It’s the bill that would make it possible for voters to sack MPs who have behaved badly. That thousands of 38 Degrees members chipped in to make possible.

But before we go any further, we need to decide together if we’re happy with our draft law. We need to make sure that it truly represents thousands of 38 Degrees members.

There are rumours that the government’s planning to start pushing through their bill in the next few weeks. So it’s really important that we get our people-powered bill ready. Click here to fill in a quick poll on our draft law.

Commons

The big difference between their draft bill and ours is that theirs puts a committee of MPs in charge – while ours put voters in the driving seat. Our draft bill has a lot of detail. Several MPs and other organisations, like Unlock Democracy and Taxpayers Alliance, have also been involved. This is to make sure that the government can’t ignore it by saying it wouldn’t work in practice.

The more people who fill in the poll, the more likely MPs will listen to us, as we’ll be representing the wishes of the people they need to listen to, their voters.

The sooner we’ve approved our draft bill – the better position we’ll be in to stop the government pushing through their sorry excuse for a recall law. To read an explanation of the law, some Q & A’s, and the draft bill in full please click here.

This is a really ambitious and innovative tactic to try and secure real recall. The big stumbling block which critics against real recall have used was that it won’t work in practice.

So 38 Degrees members have been chipping in to fund our plan. A top lawyer has written the 38 Degrees draft recall bill which members are now considering. Next, a committee of MPs will scrutinise the bill and we’ll hope to get enough supporters of real recall to make the government realise they need to back it!

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Recall Draft Bill

June 27th, 2014 by

To read the Bill in full click here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/recall-draft-law

Glossary of terms used:

What is a returning officer?

A returning officer is an employee of the Council with the responsibility of overseeing elections in their area.

What is a notice of intent?

That’s the name the lawyer has given to the first stage of the recall process which requires 5% of the constituency to sign their names in favour of a recall petition. This is basically a petition – but it has a different name so it isn’t confused with the recall petition notice which is the next stage of the process.

What is a recall petition notice?

If the notice of intent is successful, the returning officer will then publish a recall petition notice – which is basically the same as the first stage of the process, but more constituents need to sign up!

What is the process?

The 38 Degrees draft law says that an MP can have a recall petition started against them if:

A successful notice of intent to recall an MP has been submitted to a returning officer.
A notice of intent is successful if it has been signed by 5% of voters in the constituency within the previous 28 days. Signatures can be gathered electronically or in person.

If the notice of intent has signatures from 5% of voters in the constituency, the returning officer will issue a recall petition.
There will be four places in the constituency where voters can sign the petition. Within two weeks, the petition will be published for voters to sign. They’ll then have 8 weeks to sign the petition.

A successful recall petition needs to receive signatures from 20% of voters in the constituency.

If the recall petition is successful, there will be a recall referendum in the constituency.
The referendum has to happen no less than 21 days, and no more than 27 days, after the issue of notice has been given. A referendum cannot happen within 6 months of a general election.

If the majority of voters in the constituency vote for their MP to be recalled at the referendum, a by-election will be called.
Where people will be able to vote for who they want has their MP.

More information on the draft law as it stands

How is the notice of intent different to the recall petition?

They’re both basically petitions, but the notice of intent only needs to be signed by 5% of voters in the constituency while the recall petition needs to be signed by 20%.

Why are there 5% and 20% thresholds?

The thresholds have to be low enough to make sure that recall can happen, but high enough to ensure that they cannot be abused. The thresholds are similar to those in recall legislation around the world.

What happens if an MP is subject is charged with breaking the law?

When an MP has been charged with an offence that means they have to go to court, the recall process is paused. Once a ruling has been made it can start again. This is to ensure that the MP gets a fair trial.

Why is there not a ‘trigger’ (or qualifying criteria) for the recall process?

It is impossible to define ‘serious wrong doing’. It has been tried, but there has never been a consensus on what constitutes serious wrongdoing. Some people, including the government, think that there should be triggers which initiate recall – for example, if an MP goes to prison. But there are examples of MPs going to prison for taking a stand that has been welcomed by constituents (eg Terry Fields MP was jailed in 1991 for refusing to pay the Poll Tax). The process puts in enough checks and balances to ensure that recall can only be initiated where demand is very high.

Why are there timeframes involved?

The timeframes have been designed to make sure the recall process moves forward at a reasonable pace, while also allowing enough time for the returning officer to organise the logistics. Where possible this draft law has aligned the timeframes with existing laws e.g. with the law for by-elections.

Why are there so many steps?

Because there aren’t any particular circumstances set out for what starts the recall process in the 38 Degrees draft law. This is to that voters can decide – but is also means that recalling an MP won’t be easy – which will give them job security and make them more likely to pass it.

How do we ensure that the law isn’t abused by political opponents of an MP or time wasters?

This process aims to put in sufficient checks and balances to prevent the tool being used by individual time wasters. That is why at every stage there are time limits and thresholds to demonstrate a genuine demand for the process.

Who can sign the notice of intent and recall petition?

Anyone who is registered to vote!

How does the returning officer ensure that the the recall petition is valid?

There’s a lot of detail on this in the draft law. The returning officer will be able to see whether all of the signatures on the petition are voters registered in the constituency.

Why can’t the recall process take place 6 months before a general election?

It doesn’t make sense to initiate recall 6 months before an election because if a recall referendum is successful, the subsequent by-election would take place very close to the General Election.

Can a recalled MP fight the seat in the following by-election?

Yes

Who will be liable for the costs associated with the recall process?

This will be paid for by central government.

To read the Bill in full click here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/recall-draft-law

To fill in the survey with your thoughts about the draft bill click here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/recall-poll

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: ,

Victory: Barclays won’t invest in destroying the Great Barrier Reef!

June 26th, 2014 by

*High fives* and *applause* – Barclays won’t be investing in the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef!

Remember Abbot Point, the huge coal port that mega company Adani want to build at the heart of the pristine reef? Last night, Barclays confirmed they have:

“… no plans to participate in financing the Abbot Point development or its associated mine/rail infrastructure”.

This is great news, particularly because they haven’t just said they won’t fund the port. They’ve also said they won’t sink money into the mines or the railway lines that take the coal to the coast. Barclays are one of the biggest international investors in Australian coal, so this is pretty huge.

Thousands of us worked alongside organisations around the world to make this happen. Organisations around the world are working to take bank after bank out of the funding pipeline for the Abbot Point coal port. From Campact in Germany to GetUp in Australia, and Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, 350.org and SumOfUs internationally, hundreds of thousands of people are working together to persuade banks like Barclays not to invest. So far, we’ve knocked over HSBC, RBS, Deutsche Bank and now Barclays.

Last week we turned up the heat on Barclays. 38 Degrees members sent over 10,000 tweets to Barclays’ media team, asking for a statement. We got one – but 140 characters or less is hardly a binding commitment. So together we sent an amazing 18,361 emails to Barclays asking them to formally rule out investing in Abbot Point or any of the railways or mines linking to it.

And we got it! Of course, “no plans to participate” doesn’t mean they couldn’t make plans tomorrow. So just to be sure, let’s remind them that thousands of people are watching them closely for the slightest hint of a u-turn.

So 38 Degrees members are tweeting Barclays today to thank them, and to lock down their commitment. Click here if you’d like to join them.

Adani are still on the hunt for investors, but taking Barclays out of the mix is a huge step forward. And it’s people power wot won it. Here’s to the Great Barrier Reef (and to saving Nemo!).

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

David Cameron: Save our bees

June 26th, 2014 by

Our bees are in danger again! On Tuesday, David Cameron and his cabinet are going to decide whether to allow banned bee killing pesticides to be used on fields across the UK. Unbelievably, a mega pesticide company called Syngenta has just made an emergency appeal after their product was banned across Europe last year due to the risk it poses to our bees.

We’ve not got long to act. But if enough of us make a huge fuss right now, we could persuade David Cameron to throw out Syngenta’s request and uphold the ban.

Can you sign a petition to David Cameron right now demanding that he protects our bees?

The powerful pesticides that Europe banned last year are called neonicotinoids – and they pose a huge risk to bees.  Even though there is a Europe-wide ban on these pesticides, David Cameron could override it – but only in emergency circumstances.

Bees pollinate apples, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and many many more of our fruit and veg.  Without bees, we wouldn’t last very long!

Now Syngenta are trying to wriggle out of the ban, even though yesterday, scientists from across the world said there’s ‘conclusive’ evidence that Syngenta’s products are killing our bees.  And just last week, Barack Obama called for a wholesale review of the pesticides.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of bee-friendly charity Buglife said: “If the government approves Syngenta’s kneejerk and cynical application then the public are bound to question whether ministers are too close to the agrochemical companies and too distant from the ecology that feeds us.”

Please can you demand that David Cameron puts our bees before Syngenta’s profits?

Our bees don’t have a voice, but previously hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members have fought for them. We’ve marched on Parliament Square, we’ve signed petitions, we’ve sent thousands of emails and we’ve challenged the environment minister Owen Paterson in person. And we’ve worked alongside campaigners from across Europe to get these killer pesticides banned.

Now, before Tuesday, we need to pull out all the stops – again – to stop Syngenta sneaking through the back door and breaking the European ban.

Click here to sign the petition and put David Cameron under pressure to uphold the law

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,