End of Term

Baroness Murphy

Yesterday evening I attended the Chamber for the Report Stage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill . On one matter I had read about and discussed an issue with crossbench colleagues, and was pretty sure I was going to vote for an opposition amendment about suspended sentences. Everyone wants suspended sentences and community sentences to become more effective alternatives to prison but there is disagreement about how best to do this. But I listened carefully to the Minister Lord Bach’s speech which included some Home Office Research statistics and decided on balance that the Government’s approach was a reasonable one. They had tried one approach in the 2003 Act and it now seemed to need amending. The opposition won the amendment though so my change of heart didn’t do the Government much good.     Last day in the House today before spring recess, which in my case, and I guess many others involved in the Health and Social Care Bill, will not mean total rest as during the break we still have to table all the amendments we want to get discussed in the committee stages which begin on first day back on 21st. Amendments must be tabled by April 17th.  I went up to the Public Bill Office for the fourth time this week (it’s on the first floor, I’m getting some exercise here) to discuss some more items with the Clerks, who are both knowledgeable and very helpful in assisting us getting our sometimes wrongly worded stuff into the right form. They’d never say it was ‘wrong’ of course; they’d ‘assist with suggestions for improvement’ and thank goodness they do; you really need the skills of a lawyer to get them into shape.  It always strikes me as a rather amateur way of running a parliament that backbench peers like me get no help whatever from parliament itself for doing their job of scrutiny but have to rely on external organisations or political parties.    A very busy day as this morning I attended a Board meeting of Monitor, the Foundation Trust Regulator,  with the Board of an aspiring Foundation NHS Trust providing mental health services. As ever I was struck by the enthusiasm and commitment to becoming a quasi-autonomous organisation freed up in good part from the bureaucracy of the NHS centralised management. And after that I dashed over to Imperial College in Kensington to speak at a conference of Palliative Care Clinicians, another impressive band of people totally dedicated to improving all aspects of the care of the dying. It’s good to see this medical specialty is finally becoming recognised as an indispensable part of  all good medicine.   

4 comments for “End of Term

  1. John Smith
    04/04/2008 at 11:46 am

    I’m interested in the role of the Clerks in aiding the Lords with their speeches and information, they seem to contribute quite a lot to your ‘homework’. Could you give more details on their role?

  2. ladytizzy
    04/04/2008 at 7:25 pm

    Baroness Murphy, on a minor point of your blog that I keep forgetting to bring up, would you agree that terms such as ‘palliative care’ and primary care’ have little meaning to the majority of the public?

    I remain suspicious of those who use technical terminology if it does not immediately convey the facts to all. It smacks of the criticism laid at the PC brigade or, worse, elitist protectionism. I am not a fan of dumbing down, more an advocate of the immediacy of basic information that everyone can understand.

    No personal criticism is intended whatsoever, truly!


  3. Fox Hunting
    07/04/2008 at 10:30 am

    But what safeguards will [can?] there be for very ill people who will feel pressured to ‘do the right thing’ by families burdened by their care, and who might even on the odd day feel ‘that there was no point going on’ ?

    This is a difficult topic, and one which I remember being discussed some while ago on the ‘Moral Maze’ when it was last being debated.

    I don’t like using the ‘slippery slope’ argument, as one could argue against almost anything on that basis. But we would cross a rubicon with this legislation, and once that Pandora’s box is opened we may not be able easily to reverse it.

    I guess the legislation would only be available for those with a ‘terminal condition’. Well, last time I looked, life is a ‘terminal condition’, and even those with cancer can live a good life for very significant stretches before reaching the ‘point of no return’.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for this cause, and have no desire to see people having to live out their days in pain, but I think much more detail of what is being planned is required here – as the cure might be worse than the disease if we are not very careful.

  4. van
    13/04/2008 at 3:15 pm

    on home office research;
    there are now loud voices that are refusing to accept some research as it is biased, extreme and distorted,
    I recently chatted to the home office researcher on prostitution and her line was that ‘i’ve got the patronage and youlot won’t get a look in,’ quite agressive really,
    and as to her policy points, they were mostly wrong, immotive and highly moraly biased. not very good at all and another case of the home office driving bad policy after bad policy (the drugs area is a faliure,prisons a mess and the rest…

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