Archive for 31 January 2011

My immigration and suffrage policy ideas

Many people in Britain are dissatisfied with the immigration system in this county. Everyone knows the reasons asylum seekers dock in the UK as opposed to France or Italy is because we offer them generous benefits. I have an alternative.

We end the border controls into the UK and put a protection ring around the EU. As this may be open to abuse, no one would be allowed to live, work, or study in the UK without registering a local registrar, such as a town hall, if I hadn’t already abolished them!

Another approach would be that you would have to present your European health insurance card to receive health-care. As everyone needs it, it would make it difficult for illegal immigrants to settle here, and we wouldn’t have to take the extreme position of introducing biometric ID cards like the last government wanted. To stop them taking someone else’s card, they would asked at the hospital questions like: “how old were you on your birthday two years ago?”, and/or looking at the records, “when was the last time you received health-care and what was it for?” – Not foolproof, but a start.

Other than people fleeing persecution seeking refugee status, anyone who is not already an EU Citizen should be not allowed to come to into the EU to live, work or study, without first passing an EU Citizenship test. When they pass this they still won’t have a visa, as they will have to pass a citizenship test for each country they want to live. So if they want to live, work or study in the UK they will have to pass the UK Citizenship test – if they want to do the same in France as well they will have to pass their Citizenship test. Then and only then they will be allowed to apply for a visa – and they will only get one if they have a genuine job, course or relatives to go to. It is so easy to learn about countries these days and look for jobs on the Internet, so there will be no barrier.
With regards to those claiming refugee status I would introduce an “European Integration Assessment”. This means that the country a person fleeing persecution, floods, etc, would not necessarily be allowed to settle in the country they first set foot in, as they do now. Instead they would be assessed using a standard test provided by the European Commission to see which county would allow them to most integrate into, so that one day they could take the Citizenship tests and apply for a visa.

So for example, if someone from a French speaking part of Africa was fleeing persecution, and entered the UK to claim refugee status then it would be insane for them to settle here where no one would be able to understand them, and they wouldn’t be able to understand everyone else. I know in Brussels there are lots of people who don’t share a common language, but other than perhaps Birmingham and London we in the UK have difficulty with that.

Turning to the issue of suffrage, and the question every Lib Dem used to answer yes to “should people be allowed to vote at 16”? At least, they may have until they got into power and upset all the 16 year olds.
My position is simply this. If someone enters a marriage or civil partnership at 16 they have shown they are willing to take responsibility. Therefore I think that if these people who are married or in a civil partnership pass the Citizenship tests I mentioned above they should be allowed to vote.

My reasons for both these policies are this. It is wrong to believe that young people can’t understand the issues enough to be able to vote. When I was 12 I was citing the Children’s Act to my teachers, watching Have I Got News for You, and watching the various other political programmes – not much has changed really! Admittedly, I was living in a Tory/Liberal area and there was a Tory Government, so like most youngsters I wanted to vote against the government! However, I think its wrong to discriminate on age, and prejudge young people’s abilities. If they can prove they understand the way the UK works enough to pass a UK and EU Citizenship tests then they should be allowed to vote.

With regards to my immigration policy, the situation is that I would like to be able to move to any part of the EU at a drop of a hat, and not have any barriers.

I would rename the European Health Insurance Card the ‘European Social Insurance Card’, which like now would have the country of which someone is an EU National or where they have settler status. On the back of the card, like current driving licences saying what rights they have, such as whether they can work, vote or study.

This would mean that for someone from the UK to move to Belgium, they would not need to take out health insurance as they would be funded by the NHS.

I don’t think people from Poland should be able to come here and claim our benefits. The law should change so whatever country someone is an EU National of, it is that country that pays their benefits. So if I went to live in Belgium, the British Government would still pay me Disability Living Allowance, and if a different EU National came here, such as someone who is Polish, and they were to become unemployed, then it would be Poland who would pay their benefits.

Protecting public security without taking away their liberty

I have been a victim of crime on a number of occasions recently. Someone stole my credit card details of the Internet, and someone stole my Internet enbled tablet computer from the train, and the latter is protected by a PIN number.

I would like the banks to do this:
Banks should issue universal card readers similar to those currently used in Internet banking now. But they should enable the following:

When you buy from an e-commerce site, you should no longer have to type in your credit/debit card details.

The distance seller (e.g. e-commerce provider) should give you an ‘access code’ and tell you the price of the order. You slot your preferred card into the reader, enter the distance seller’s code, the amount and your PIN. This then gives you an ‘authorisation code’ which you give the distance seller and it allows the transaction.

Banks should allow any credit or debit card to be used as an identity card for the purpose of paying for and authorising contracts. The banks already require people provide their passport and address verification before opening an account.

There is still a need for the State though in terms of guaranteeing free movement and free healthcare in the EU. I think people of any age should be able to apply (if they want) for a driving license (which could be renamed the ‘European Travel Card’), it could have symbols on the back like present which show whether some is licensed to drive, cycle, or have free or discounted concessionary travel on buses and trains.

A further need for the banks to get involved as verifying people’s identify at a distance is that now people are often automatically logged into all their emails on tablet devices for example and all it requires is a PIN that is not secure.

Your device or email provider should have to provide you with an access code. You slot any of your credit/debit in to the card slot, enter the access code and your PIN and it gives you an authorization code which you enter to gain access.

This could be used to access online communities, customer review sites, and the bank would provide the site with people’s real names, so people have to use their true identities when posting.

Websites should have to be subject to the Video Recordings Act and rating. Those with adult content and therefore 18 should require a credit card to access. Those rated 12 or 15 should require a Solo card from the child. Those rated, 12A, PG or U should require both a parents’ credit card and child’s Solo card. This is necessary to protect children from accessing content or meeting individuals that are dubious or condone shock and awe

Whichever system is implemented, I think the public should be able to have access to any data about them, through stronger data protection laws. They should be able to protect their privacy by removing from public view any data about them, and provide access to it to any organisation that could help them maximise it to their advantage or help them overcome difficulties, such as bullying and more serious crimes.

First step to independence?

GERAINT Rhys says (Have Your Say, January 13) that a Yes vote on March 3 will mean Wales will no longer have to ask ‘permission on every Welsh decision’ and that voting yes should not be seen as a stepping stone to independence.

The Assembly currently does not have to ask Westminster each time it wants to make a law; it has secondary law-making powers. What a Yes vote in March will mean is that the Assembly will have primary legislative powers on ‘all matters’ in the 20 areas within its remit, instead of just some of them.

Whether this is a stepping stone to independence, it depends on your definition. One is a sovereign nation. Wales is a nation – it has its own recognised international football and rugby team, for example. What about sovereign? With a Yes vote the Assembly will be able to ask the Queen to give Assent to its laws (called Assembly Acts), and the Queen is the sovereign Head of State. Assembly and UK Acts will require only authority from the Queen to be ratified. All it may take is one decision in the Supreme Court to reverse the centuries long decision that the UK Parliament has sole sovereignty.

There is nothing to stop the Supreme Court ruling that an Assembly Act has the same authority as a UK Act. So independence cannot be ruled out as a possibility after a Yes vote, but would be near impossible if there was a No vote.

Ditching scrutiny

The Assembly powers campaign is too important to allow the claims of True Wales to gift their more organised and competent Yes campaigning opponents the win.

Your report on the launch of the True Wales No campaign (Jan, 20) says that they turned down the £70,000 campaign fund. In fact the truth is that, like my colleague Mark Beech’s No campaign, which was the first to register, they registered later than 28 days after the start of the campaign so were not eligible.

I ask the voters of Wales to ignore all the anti-Assembly nonsense from True Wales, read for themselves on the Electoral Commission’s website the question that is going to be on the ballot paper and decide this: Do you want the politicians in the Bay to have more autonomy to initiate and pass new laws than even the MPs at Westminster or the MEPs in the European Parliament have? Or do you think it is important that politicians are not given a free-rein to do want they desire, and that there should be proper scrutiny and due process to ensure the integrity of the country? The current process of Measures and LCOs is ineffective and the Assembly “Acts” that would be introduced after a Yes vote would be cleaner and make it simpler.

But we need to consider whether streamlining the law-making process in Wales is so important, that we have to ditch the scrutiny and consideration that other national legislatures across the world are subject to when passing primary legislation.

What are the constitutional implications of the Assembly Powers Referendum?

What will people be voting for on March 3? The question suggests it is just more competencies – A switch from Schedule 5 to Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 in technical speak. This increase in powers may have been tactically placed to make more palatable the more seismic switch, from Part 3 of the Act being in force to Part 4 instead.

You may be willing to agree with Rt Hon Dr Kim Howells that this is just a technicality, and to most people in Wales all it will mean is that more decisions affecting their lives will be made in Wales.

But constitutionally it will have a big impact. The Assembly will go from only being able to pass secondary legislation to being able to enact primary legislation. This is more power than the European Parliament has, which can only pass secondary legislation. The Assembly will also be able to pass primary legislation without going through a second chamber. If Westminster wants to pass primary legislation it has to first get the approval of the House of Lords. If the European Union wanted to create primary legislation it would have to have unanimous approval of all Member States in the Council of Ministers and it would have to be ratified by each national parliament.

Why are the Welsh politicians asking us to give these significant powers to the Assembly, when it will result in it having more legislative autonomy than either the House of Commons or the European Parliament?

Of course we all want more decisions affecting Wales to be made in Wales, but do we really want the Assembly Government to have more freedom to introduce new legislation than even the Prime Minister, the President of the European Commission, or the President of the United States has?

Is the UK’s minimum alcohol pricing against EU law?

The government announced today that they are going to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, and as usual I wondered whether this is legal under EU law.

The landmark case in the European Court of Justice, referred to as Cassis de Dijon is the pre-eminant here. The case, as eloquently put on Wikipedia in this qoute:

“concerned the sale by an importer of the liquor – Creme de cassis, a blackcurrant flavoured liqueur, produced in France. The German government had a law restricting the minimum amount of alcohol which should exist in certain products being sold as a liqueur, being a minimum of 25%. Therefore the importer was told that the product could not be sold as they wished to sell it. The importer argued that this represented a quantitative restriction on trade, which would be in breach of Article 28 of the Treaty of Rome.”

Article 28 in this context is now (Article 34). Basically this means that a government is not allowed to introduce a policy which indirectly has the same effect as placing a direct restriction on another EU state’s products. It’s companion is (Article 30) which says that governments are not allowed to introduces charges which have the effect of inhibiting cross-border trade. I remember these as CEE-MEE, as in part of a similar sounding name to an early video conferencing software!

This could have some impact on the government’s policy for the following reason. Carlsberg, a Danish brand (£1.52 per can at Tesco) is cheaper than Carling, an English brand (£2.33 per can at Tesco). If the government’s minimum pricing plans were to mean that Carlsberg was now as expensive as Carling this might be seen by the Court of Justice, in considering Cassis de Dijon, to be a measure having equivalent effect under Article 41. While this may not be the case, this applies equally to a budget UK larger as compared to a budget brand elsewhere in the EU (in either case, with a 4.2% strength at 440ml)

In applying (Article 34) the court would have to consider its own “rule of reason”. This would be whether it would consider that a factor such as public health to outweigh the factors relating tocross-broad trade. My view is that in considering Cassis de Dijon, the court would conclude that introducing pricing which acts to reduce the competitive ability of an undertaking crossing frontiers then this, falling within Article 41, would be considered a measure having equivalent effect and therefore illegal.

Google Lies

I don’t understand why Google is always lying about me. It says:

  • Jonathan Bishop is the band director at Freedom Middle School in Canton, GA – No I’m not
  • Jonathan Bishop is married No I’m not and never have been
  • Jonathan Bishop is a fifth generation co-owner and Farm Manager, responsible for production, harvesting, and warehousing of all crops on the farm – No I’m not – I may have once run a company making bee products, but I’ve never run a farm
  • Jonathan Bishop is an Internet Marketing Specialist at Magicomm, LLC in Amesbury, MA. – No I’m not! – I’m a director at Glamorgan Blended Learning Ltd, and Chartered IT Professional Fellow of the BCS
  • Jonathan Bishop, is creating the enchanting ‘Merlin’s Cave’ in association with 3 Shires Garden Centre – No I’m not and never have – gardening may be an interest of mine, but I’ve not done this
  • Jonathan Bishop is a resident of Essex Massachusetts – No I’m not – I may be on the reading list of the Autism Theory and Technology course there, but have never set foot in the US state
  • Jonathan Bishop is a wonderful composer, singer, and song writer – No I’m not – I used to be engaged to a song writer, but have never done it myself
  • Jonathan Bishop is a senior at Rosemount High School – No I’m not – I’ve never been to this school. I went to the private school, Wychbury House Residential School

It’s wrong that Google is allowed to get away with spreading these lies about me.

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