Friday, June 05, 2009

This week

This is the week the government has fallen apart, and of course there has been much talk in the Palace of Westminster about whether Gordon Brown is about to be toppled. The one factor that could have restrained Labour Members was the risk of a sudden election when if the opinion polls are to be credited, half of them would lose their seats. But the process has a momentum of its own, and at a guess I don't expect this Parliament to last the full stretch.

At the same time, events continue as if this was a normal session. Monday I spoke at the launch of Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, a packed event at which entertainment by Travellers was interspersed with the speeches, an improvement on the more formal proceedings that marked last year's event.

Tuesday I attended a lunchtime presentation by Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News, and his colleagues from BBC World Service radio, BBC Monitoring, BBC World television and the BBC's international facing online news services. I'm a huge fan of their operations and particularly BBC Monitoring, an essential source for everyone who needs to keep up with foreign affairs. Then joined in Sue Miller's Question about the retention of photos taken of peaceful demonstrators who aren't charged with any offence. There are specific guidelines the police observe on the taking of photos, but none on how long or under what circumstances they are held.

Wednesday morning, EU Subcommittee F, scrutiny of European justice and home affairs legislation, and after questions, I chaired a meeting with Members of the Pan African Parliament. This institution has prestige, but insufficient resources to do as much as it would like. It could play a useful role for instance in dispute resolution between African member states.

Thursday I was geared up to ask a supplementary on the use of shari'a law in England and Wales, but the time ran out before I could get in. There is nothing to stop people using the shari'a courts as a form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution, but if the parties then disagree about implementation, the matter has to be settled in accordance with the law of England.

Since the last ping-pong total JW and I have had four games 1-1 each time so its now 115-112 to him.

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