Friday, July 08, 2011

Also this week

Monday, William Wallace's 70th birthday party, in the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey, with excellent choral singing by Voces. I hadn't realised how much time and energy William gives to music, and to the Abbey, and I can't think how he does it with his many Parliamentary duties, and frequent stints on the Government front bench.

Wednesday morning, a session of Subcommittee F with the technical adviser who is with us for the new inquiry on the European Union's strategy for dealing with illegal drugs. Europe is divided into hardline states which believe that extra policing and tougher penalties can enable them to win the 'war on drugs', and the 'liberal' countries of which Portugal is the best example, that advocate decriminalisation and treatment. We shall be going to Portugal in the autumn, not only to inquire about their policies, but also because the EU's main data centre on drugs is in Lisbon.

Thursday, a meeting of the newly formed Ahmadiyya Muslim All-Party Parliamentary Group, on the spread ofreligious hatred, addressed by Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt. The concentration was mainly on Pakistan, with reference also to Indonesia, Bangladesh, and even the UK.

It was generally agreed that the main engine of Salafist hatred of every other faith, including Shi'a Muslims, was the enormous funding of madrassas - 14,000 in Pakistan alone- peddling the idea that an Islamic Caliphate run on the lines of the four 'rightly guided Caliphs' who succeeded the Prophet in the 7th century, was destined to take over the world, and that in the meanwhile it was the realm of Islam against the realm of the infidel, in a perpetual state of war, interrupted only by short-term truces for the convenience of Salafist Islam. With these doctrines being taught worldwide, is it any surprise that hatred and violence are endemic in Pakistan and elsewhere? Governments, politicians, human rights defenders and supporters of other faiths, including even mainstream Muslims, are intimidated into silence and acquiescence. We haven't woken up to the universal nature of this threat, because our mindset is tuned to the false notion that hatred is engendered by local grievances as in Palestine, Kashmir or Chechnya, just to cite three examples.

And finally, on Thursday, I moved

"That this House regrets that the UK Borders Act 2007 (Commencement No. 7 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2011 (SI 2011/1293) changes the law that applies to appeals that have already been lodged".

I don't expect anyone who reads this to be fascinated by what may seem to be an esoteric matter, but there are principles of legal certainty and the presumption against retrospection unless specifically authorised in primary legislation that are violated by this Order, see

Needless to say, I wasn't able to convince the Home Office Minister, Baroness Browning, but I hope the shot across their bows will make them consider Orders more carefully in future to make sure they don't breach fundamental legal principles. This Order probably only affects tens rather than hundreds of people, though Lady Browning wasn't able to give even a rough estimate of the number; but if it was only one person, it would be wrong. We shall see what happens when the matter comes before the courts, as I am told it certainly will.

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