Saturday, March 20, 2010

That was the week

The week began with a visit to the dentist, who managed to glue a tooth that had fallen out, back into the root. She wasn't optimistic about its probable remaining lifespan.

In the afternoon, my question about asylum support cuts, see I don't know whether to be reassured or not by Alan West's non-committal answer, that the question of whether the amounts paid were essential to meet essential living needs was something that could be looked at.

Tuesday morning, my old friend Ayman Ahwal called in to see me at Flodden Road. He spends a good deal of time these days in Acheh, where he sees Tengku Hasan di Tiro, Dr Zaini etc, alumni of the Acheh Sumatra National Liberation Front. In the end they go a substantial degree of autonomy and it seems to be working smoothly.

At lunchtime, attended a meeting on the work of the The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) , a new body created as part of the Government’s Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. Its a 'Non Departmental Public Body', sponsored by the Home Office, working in partnership with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to help ensure that there is ‘no known reason’ why individuals who work or apply to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults shouldn’t do so.

In the afternoon, a meeting with Mr Bengi Yildis MP for Batman in the Kurdish region of Turkey. The Kurds recently held a very successful international peace conference, a suggestion I made when I was in Ankara last year to launch the Turkish translation of the Blue Book of 1916, on the Armenian Genocide. Its an excellent principle, that people who are claiming the right of self-determination should compare notes with those who have been through the process and reached solutions that were acceptable.

Wednesday morning, a meeting of EU Subcommittee, including a session taking evidence from Meg Hillier MP, on the justice and home affairs elements of the EU's Stockholm Programme. Our report on EU policy on protecting Europe from large-scale cyber attacks was published this week, and as far as I could see got very little coverage.

At question time I chipped in on Janet Whitaker's question on security of tenure on Gypsy sites. The European Court of Human Rights found against the Government on his issue 1n 2004 but they still haven't dealt with it in spite of three reminders from the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Human Rights, and an undertaking to that Committee to make the necessary change in legislation last autumn. Now they are very apologetic, but say there isn't enough time. I gave the Minister, Bill McKenzie, a draft of an Order, and he told us in a discussion afterwards that he would see what he could do. (See

In the afternoon, a useful meeting with Mike Smith, the new convener of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on TB, who gave me some useful material on the current position, in the UK and across the world. As it happened, there was a question on the Order Paper the following day, in which I made a contribution (

At 16.30 on Thursday, a meeting in Mr Speaker's apartment of the judges for the Abbott Award, given to a journalist who has played a conspicuous role in promoting democracy and human rights in a country where journalists are under fire. I'm sure the candidate we selected will be very warmly approved when the name is announced.

Friday, to Dulwich Hospital for an intravenous infusion of Aclasta, a bisphosphanate, used in cases of osteoporosis. My bone density is just on the wrong side of the line, and this stuff, which lasts for a year, should do the trick. The leaflet on the drug says that special care must be taken with patients who had had part of their intestine removed, but the nurse said that didn't matter. On the other hand she was at pains to tell me about the general side-effects, which affect more than 30% of patients, including fever and chills, pain in the muscles or joints, and headaches. I told her I don't do side-effects.

Victoria came over to help me with the paperwork, and the ofice isn't quite as chaotic as usual.

No comments: