Saturday 4 February 2012

Geek Post

Two elements of sheer geekery caused much welfare delight on Twitter last night.

Now we need a caveat : Neither probably mean anything at all. 

However, the first rule of our campaign has been : If you know what they're up to, you can write about it and frankly, what they're up to is often so dodgy, the stories just write themselves.

So, first, if you haven't read the article by Jeff King, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Laws, University College London, it's a cracker. It's long and very academic, but the crucial part is this :

"What recourse does the House of Lords have?

It is for the Commons tojudge the scope of the privilege in any given dispute, but the Lords
need not accept its judgment without protest. They have two recourses. First, they can
assert by way of resolution that they make no admission regarding the reasons offered by
the Commons, and do not consent to such reasons constituting a precedent. (See 125 Lords
Journals 425; 138 Lords Journals 337; 140 Lords Journals 345). Presumably, they may go
further and positively assert their disagreement while acquiescing nonetheless, just as they
may do with a legal decision they disagree with but grudgingly accept. The second recourse
is that, contrary to the tenor of the Clerk of Parliament’s report on the Lords’ options in such
a case, the Lords do in fact have the right to reject a bill in its entirety. The rule is stated
succinctly in Halsbury’s: ‘The House of Lords may reject a bill in its entirety without
infringing the financial privileges of the Commons. Its power to reject even a bill of aids and
supplies has been acknowledged in former times by the House of Commons.’ (Halsbury’s
Laws of England, Vol.78 (2010) 5thEdn, s.826; also noted inErskine May, 23rd
edn., p.927).
Both these recourses would be strong measures, but can be reasonably viewed as
appropriate responses to the Commons’ attempt to overextend its privilege."

So, basically, the Lords can stamp their feet a bit and delay the bill for a month, or they can throw it out entirely and it will be a year before the Government can pass it. More later on how where when and why - cleverer people than I are looking at the options, what it all means and what is actually likely to happen.

The second piece of sheer geekery came from the reasons given by the Government for rejecting the Lords amendments.

Quick flick through, Financial privilege, financial privilege, financial privilege, nothing to see here.... Oh wait?? What 's that? 19A agreed to? Except not agreed to at all! Reversed to read just as it did originally, but agreed to??? No financial privilege?? 

In fact, the time limit and the "youth condition" amendment (NI credits for disabled children, clause 52) were both agreed to. I had heard that youth condition might be accepted, but that makes it all the more surprising to see time limiting ESA in there too. Now geeks way geekier than me started bombarding me with clauses and caveats - "It won't change anything because..... "ahhh well they've only agreed because..... So again, more later when we've (well they've really) unravelled the deep, impenetrable mysteries of welfare, but I thought other geeks might like to join in the puzzling. 

It seems to me, that they've accepted a "not less than" addition to time limiting under 19A - this would mean a year would be the least amount of time you could claim cESA, but possibly it could be more. Again, we'll just have to see what the experts say. 

So. Much more later, when we know more, but it seems a glimmer or two just rose from the ashes. Or maybe not. 

** For anyone who is reading my blog for the first time today, ignore today's post entirely. It is pretty much undecipherable unless you've been following clauses and amendments and points of order for the last 18 months. It may, even then be total gobbledegook and there are only about 12 people who will care about it all anyway, lol


  1. a few more than 12 I feel ;-)

  2. The constitutional law thing is significant because Govt was always going to disagree with Lords amendments & win vote in Commons.

    Govnt chose financial privilege argument to end debate sooner (except with Lord F's youth ESA which was quicker to do it the other way) & to send meta message to Lords it's not worth pressing for vote on amendments to other bills because ultimately they'll be defeated which makes it about much much more than the Welfare Reform Bill.

    It's about other big Bills going through & about Govnt not losing face/backing down.

    In other words, it's about the Health Bill.

    It's also about how long the Welfare Reform Bill has already taken to drag its sorry ass through parliament.

    There's a log-jam in the Lords and Govnt can't afford to delay Queens speech because it would look "weak" and "unable to manage its affairs."

    When the other side is trying its hardest to convince you that there's no point & you can't win, it is banking on your blinking first.

    Lords needs not to blink first.

    For Govnt, it's always a gamble to interrupt & cut the other person off mid-speech. It puts the other person's back up, especially where ritual & convention really matter as in the House of Lords.

    Commons and Lord Freud showing "contempt" for conventions & expertise of Lords is a big deal.

    My 2p!

    1. As ever Fiona, your 2p hits the nail right on the head.

      Literally bang on in every way. As this is a geek post, I'll share something here - it's only the comments.

      This has always been about time. They know it and I know it and the Lords know it.

      Th Gov desperately NEED the #wrb to pass before April. If not, for all sorts of geeky reasons it's a disaster. They effectively have to wait another year before they can pass the #wrb.

      This puts UC in danger and IDS simply won't have that. It puts the budget in danger and Osborne simply won't have that. It puts PIP in danger and they can't find the savings they need to do it all. They can't time limit ESA in time to save the rest of the money to do UC. the implications go on and on.

      THAT'S why they've sailed so close to the wind constitutionally all the way through. Remember when they tried to rush it through the Lords? Moving us to Grand Committee because they've overbooked themselves time wise? Sending out all those letters warning people their ESA would be time limited retrospectively even though policy not law? Rushing the DLA consultation? No details for PIP in time? Everything in secondary legislation?

      ALL of it is about time. They want the bill to pass, sure, but crucially they want it to pass by April. We don't.

      So we have to keep the bill in play for what? 56 more days? 60 ish? A few more? Seems worth a punt to me, but they'll do everything they possibly can to get it through.

    2. actually the geek in me feels she must clarify they WON'T actually have to wait a year if they miss April, they will bring it back after Easter and use the Parliament Act to pass it, but it's all very controversial, wastes political capital, gets them in a bind, looks dodgy, looks (and is ) arrogant and generally only helps us in almost every way to get people scrutinising the bill.

    3. Kings' article is essentially making points about the use of the commons privilege and contneds that it is being used outside of its original intent and scope. Whilst the privilege was intended to secure passage of legislation which was very directly about financial arrangements, in recent years the commons has over-used it by implication, suggesting any piece of legislation has a financial impact therefore we can argue the financial imperative. By threatening this on the WRB, the government is in fact admitting that this bill is not about appropriate social provisions but simply about cold hard cash, and how much more imprtant that is than the life and liberty of its people.

      This bill could potentially become much more than a battle about disabililty rights. If the commons forces the bill, it is essentially castrating the Lords and rendering the existence of the Lords meaningless. Whilst continuing to fight the DWP et. al. We should not be afraid to push this aspect with friends in the Lords.

  3. As a non geek who is getting geekier we can resist and marshal the arguments and support the Lords to stamp their noble feeties

  4. ps a cynic might observe that Govnt is hoist on own petard re scheduling fiasco by trying to ram-raid through lots of restructuring legislation early & without pre-legislative scrutiny on the basis that "we have no choice after mess Labour left" AND get worst over before pre-election tax bribes. Instead of pre-leg scrutiny, you get the Lords. Whom you then contradict & reject. Can't have it all ways!

  5. Linkages to Health Bill - Govt refuse to publish risk register - financial priv as well?
    Early day motion 2659 That this House expects the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill reforms in advance of Report Stage in the House of Lords in order to ensure that it informs that debate.

    Encourage MPs to sign


  6. Been given 18 months in wrag then a review, been told to expect form to fill in in15 months, condition will not change in that time?

  7. Don't think they know what they are doing at dwp?

  8. Behind all this are two agendas, one, to turn this country into a happy hunting ground for Unum the insurance company/gang of crooks (delete where applicable) and two, to destroy the middle class taking us back to where society was several centuries ago, split into masses of very poor folk and the British Establishment, two nations, as Disraeli put it. As awareness of both agendas grow then expect to see society split in two over this, the police, the army, everyone. We could well be looking at the start of this process now as open hostility threatens to develop between the two Houses of Parliament.

  9. A light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. I'm sorry to say that the time limit for contribution based ESA in the WRAG is still exactly 365 days. The wording has changed a bit -

    “(2A)The period for which a person is entitled to a contributory allowance by virtue of the third condition set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (youth) shall not exceed a prescribed number of days which must be at least 730.

    has become

    “(2A)The period for which a person is entitled to a contributory allowance by virtue of the third condition set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (youth) shall not exceed 365 days.

    However, I wonder what the other part of the amendment has changed, since it left in the part that says "by virtue of the third condition set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (youth)" and I wonder what that specification will do.

    1. I don't understand that bit as 19A goes on to say "Line 4, leave out “a prescribed number of days which must be at least 730” and

      insert “365 days”

    2. Line 4: (2A) The period for which a person is entitled to a contributory allowance by virtue of the third condition set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (youth) shall not exceed (leave out "a prescribed number of days which must be at least 730" and insert) 365 days.

      Does that make any more sense? It ends up just reading "shall not exceed 365 days".

    3. Oh dear, so whatever happens as far as the CB based ESA goes we're still buggered then. :(

  11. its all about the money, not the caring aspect. i hope the lords stand firm and reject the whole wrb, but then i am biased lol.
    and i like geeks

  12. A friend of a friend (female late 50s) went for her DLA assessment recently - was asked how her sex life was (how active / how often) and was asked whether she would be capable of using a 'Rampant Rabbit!'
    Don't know if this was a male or female assessor or whether it was DWP or ATOS.
    True story.

    1. if this is true then things really are going back to the 19th C, the problem is to publicise this would inevitably embarrass the client..

    2. Funny you mentioned this terry as i have heard of this many times before but in the cases i know of it's been for people on IB has your suppose to be ill and if you have sex then the DWP say your fit for work as you have good coordination and function

    3. That is sexual harassment - ie totally illegal. She should report it and so should anyone it happens to.

      They *cannot* ask you about your sex life. Even your doctor can't if it's not relevant.

  13. I wonder if the uber Christian Duncan Smith knows about this line of questioning...

  14. Someone sent me this - Hmmmm

    1. (´• ̮•) If Geeks we are then Geeks we be

  15. I LOVE how u makes things understandable for the masses Sue. TY, cos I could never get my brain around the jargon of these documents without you. xx HUGS xx

  16. I looked at the changes of days thing as well last night n came to teh same conclusion as latent existance. they are not just swapping the amount of days from 730 to 365 within the sentence. They are removing the whole sentence in brackets/quotations with the 730 days. So the whole sentence is replaced with just 365 days.

  17. WTF does sex and sexual aides have to do with capability to work??? Some could argue that they need sexual aides because they are not strong enough/too frail to have 'normal' sex! Will the government, I wonder, care to add that to the bill!!!

    1. It is odd also if you have pet like cat or dog you'll be classed as fit for work
      When the DWP come round your house they have a good look round just to make sure everything is as it should be
      They also have a good look at all of your aids like a walking stick and frames for usage vacuum cleaners for weight cleanlinesses of your home bedding and laundry

      And then go away and report back to you their findings and if they don't like what they see you'll be fit for work

    2. More like if you have a pulse, your fit for work.

      I feel sorry for the victims of this cost cutting excercise the goverment are doing, those poor people who commited suicide over losing their benefits..

      At least we disabled will remember each and every person affected by the cuts when they come into the public eye, at least we care!

    3. your right when it's all done and dusted we here care for each other in our own way and may that long continue

      It may not sound like much to some but it's a darn sight better then nothing

      Hopefully in years to come a leveson enquiry will come about and i god willing will be able to go before it and show to the world my abused body brought about by all the letters and severe mental stress the DWP have put upon me over the past 31 years

      What an historic day that would be for the world to see

  18. Terry,

    As far as I know, DLA/PIP medical assessments are still in trial stage where participants are invited to attend.

    There have been rumours of a financial inducement to do this trial which in itself is of debatable validity as it may not comply with DWP rules.

    If the medical is still under the old DLA system then DWP may be conducting medicals via its preferred contractor 'A t o s', either doctor or nurse, but I suspect either would be very chary about departing so far from their brief and asking questions which could constitute what amounts to an assault given the delicacy of the topic.

    I would think if your friend was on the pip trial then the private prisons firm (G4S)would not be happy if their medics were taking liberties with volunteer trial participants on such a delicate topic.

  19. Sarah (which is my online pseudonym for privacy)6 February 2012 at 12:59

    Sue, can I draw your attention to my comments on that blog and the reply by Jeff King. It seems that financial privilege may not apply to the amendments (17 etc.) which relate solely to contributory benefits. I have contacted the office of Stephen Timms about this matter and will attempt to pursue it.