Improving legislation

Lord Lucas

The principal justification for the House of Lords’ existence is the careful and experienced scrutiny of legislation. Making lots of small improvements – not the sculptors of legislation, but the ones who do the polishing.

The one that I am proudest of is helping add “an apology, an offer of treatment or other redress, shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty” to the Compensation Bill 2006. Today I am on the verge of brushing away another fleck – by making Academies subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

I can live with 4:1 after that.

7 comments for “Improving legislation

  1. Chris K
    29/06/2010 at 9:46 am

    I remember, before 2006, hearing that “after a car accident you must never apologise because you are admitting fault” and being disgusted.

    If your amendment has gone any way to remedying that then it is quite an achievement indeed.

    It’s disappointing that, it seems to me, to some extent, it was a Conservative government who allowed ambulance chasers to really get going – contingency fee lawyers? Or was there some other watershed moment?

  2. Gareth Howell
    29/06/2010 at 9:47 am

    “not the sculptors of legislation, but the ones who do the polishing.”

    Very charming way of putting it milord; charming and best.

  3. Croft
    29/06/2010 at 10:33 am

    It’s not immediately obvious to me what great gain there is to the FoI change? Much of the academy data will be protected by privacy as it concerns students. What are we left with beyond the minutia of administration that any business conducts?

  4. 29/06/2010 at 12:46 pm

    It has been submitted that Legislative Houses’ sculpting and polishing of legislation be preceded, and the-while be informed, by a very much larger Non-Legislative “British NL House of Knowledge and Life-Experience”.
    Such would not only increase and ensure the quality, relevance and comprehensiveness of the ‘raw blocks of stone’ submitted to the sculpting Legislative Houses from all-levels, but would both maximise evaluation of public-input (of pebbles, gravel, clay, plasticine, fragments of glass or metal even) and help the L Houses to better design and execute their respective legislative ‘sculptural’ tasks with reduced wastage of time, resources and money, and increased quality of Bills and of their eventual resilient-implementation as affordably-enforceable Acts.
    Lord Lucas’s major support for distinguishing between the statement “I am sorry” and the unfounded interpretation of those three words as meaning “I am guilty/culpable/liable”, should be extended to every area where such aggressive mis-interpretation does or could take place; and there is a surfeit of such places.
    Education, Enablement, Schooling, Training, Drilling, Indoctrination, and Individual Human Development (as distinct from Aggregate Human Development which were more properly called Aggregate Peoples’ Development ; but it’s too late now) need a much deeper and widely-pegged-down radical reform than merely making sex-education a Statutory subject alongside Maths and English.

    Consider, please, the following starting-point recommendation, applicable especially to schools, colleges, and universities:

    A. Generic subjects:
    1. Friendly Method III Needs & Hows recognition and Participatively Cooperative win-win-win Problem-Solving;
    Six Thinking Hats (Modes).
    2. Individual human development (and generic human movement)
    Citizenship and Environment Care (NB please ‘Social skills’ should be included under ‘Environment Care’*

    [*using a 7-fold Holistic-Living Model: (without Lifesupports-care there will be no Society and vice versa; so Society (and any social-skill therein) is subordinate to Environment). The seven holistic-living ‘domains’ would be:
    I Physiological
    2 Emotional
    3 Mind-functions
    4 Environments a) Bio- b) Built- c) Human-
    5 Spiritual-
    6 ‘Immediate-sanctuary’-
    7 workplace jobskills- ].

    B. Statutory subjects:
    3. Mathematics; English-language; Scientific thinking; History (including histories such as of Philosophy);
    (basic Holistic human fitness would already be covered in Individual human development);
    Geography (at some local level under the greater generic Environment Care).

    C. Mandatory Subjects:
    Ecolonomic-economics (to replace pure-economics, i.e. Economics brought onto a longest-possible-term sustainable ampersand sustainworthy formulation by the inclusion of Ecology factors).
    Domestic skills (Woodwork; Cookery; First Aid);

    D. Subjects of Free Choice:
    All non-generic, statutory and basic-level subjects e.g. Athletics, skate-boarding and ‘Sports’; Movies-buffing, Flower-arranging; Judo.

    This is a vital and very serious Matter; so I hope the above is sufficient to give the ‘drift’ of it, so far.

  5. Gareth Howell
    29/06/2010 at 5:28 pm

    “an apology, an offer of treatment or other redress, shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty””

    But if the victim of the negligence is required to apologize as per my recent experience of the NHS, does that amount to an admission that there was none?

    I wonder whether JDSM can manage to put that in a few words?!

    • 30/06/2010 at 11:00 am

      Strapped to the boards here too;
      but quickly, amongst other malfeasance and mind-functional-failing, the grossly and malfeasantly neglected matter of enthymemes is spikily clear, here.

      I reckon it’s high-time to nail-to-the-table this hugely-overlooked and manipulated factor in formal-argumentation, moral reasoning, and in life-experience and constructive submission writing too, and of course in recipient-end interpreting and passing judgement thereupon.

      Aside: [( An enthymeme, folks, is a ‘missing premise’; missing evidence; missing reasoning ; including I believe a missing conclusion )].

      Wow! eh ?
      “Something’s missing in that argument, in that reasoning, in that call for the victim to apologise for not moving his arm out of the way when the nurse was about to stick him with the wrong injection (?)”

      Can’t be more immediately descriptive than that, Gareth.

      Go for your life!
      Circle the enthymeme places with a red CD marker or somesuch ?

  6. 02/07/2010 at 7:33 am

    My lords, who among your community or profession, has never stumbled across a seemingly-deliberately planted Big-Obstacle ?
    So big that it needs not just legislating about but entering into what must have been an unseen Gap in the Constitution ?

    To clarify the Dimensionality, Order, Scope of this Obstacle (which always also hides within itself at least one downright barrier to right-and-noble progress) we need to look no further than an holistic health research work titled “The New Health Revolution” in which a 20thcentury researcher uncovered an earlier lone researcher who had said that: There is no such set-of-diseases as the 400 so-called Degenerative Diseases; they are all merely synptoms of an underlying big and insidious Disease and of that Disease only.
    Both researchers had been listing those degenerative-symptoms (still officially called ‘diseases’ by the BMA and indeed by the UN World Health Organisation itself) the most well-recognised of which are heart-disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, emphysema, and the fatigue-syndrome.
    Each researcher had independently found that all of these ‘diseases’ were caused by one underlying ‘mother’-disease, Lipotoxemia [ poisoning ( presumably of the Lipids)].

    We have a very similar underlying Evil-Issue pervading every one of the eleven (11) civilisations alive on Earth today; and it underlies all the misunderstandings, fogs, problems, stand-offs, relationship-breakdowns, conflicts, fruitless-arbitrations, peace-struggles, and wars that we the human-race dwell with and within.

    It underlies and corrupts both meaning and sense in the governance terms we use: rights, liberties, democracy, justice, equality, egalitarianism, fair-play, necessities, earnings, rewards, productivity, security, values, wishes, dreams, entitlements, lifesupports … the list is endless, and without the replacing of this one underlying Evil-Enthymeme by a common-effort using calmly deliberative and rationally-measured fact-gathering and thinking, we shall never be able to constitute and sustain a civilisational foundation, for lasting Common Health and Wellbeing for and by every-one, and we shall continue to slide insidiously deeper and deeper into different forms of Slavery, until Extinction finally overtakes us as well as the many lifeforms that have been failing to support.

    My lords, the Obscenely-Enormous missing Premise within all of our current argumentations, moral-reasonings, and life-experience-reportings, the one and only culprit Evil-Enthymeme is –
    A List of Needs and of How each of these needs might best be met.

    We need to look no further.
    That is the complex task that each individual and each nation and the United Nations must face up to.

    The very first big-obstacle to Listing Our Needs is going to come from Economics itself, where already embedded, doubly-entrenched, within is the definitive ruling “wants are equivalent to needs” (when ‘needs’ is used ‘wants’ is the proper synonym).

    Most of us in our more deeply sober moments distinguish the two, ‘needs’ are essentials, more vital than mere ‘wants and wishes’; but most of us find making a truly comprehensive and prioritised List of all our needs to be a very forbidding, even ‘impossible’ task.

    There is a regional housing-association tenants-participation training programme which I used to attend, until during one such all-day meeting the Issue of Immigrants and Ethnicity came up, along with the inevitable “they must assimilate to our British ways”, “They can’t go bringing foreign ways in here”.
    The circus went round and round for half-an-hour, and not even the leader/teacher/moderator/facilitator/chairperson/expert out front was helping, except more as a ‘ringmaster’ to keep all us ‘animals’ trotting around in nice circles and figures-of-eight.

    At last I stood and suggested that we start again, by beginning to list our most common needs: what black people as well as white people must have in order to live and be well and to be productive.

    There was a silence.

    A leaderful regular-participant then asked “What do you mean ?” and there were murmurs of support for that, and another silence began;
    so I said “Well, let’s start with water”; another silence;
    “for instance every human-being needs drinking water”; still silence;
    “right here then, in this very room. two or three early-comers have glasses of water on the table beside them, the rest of us do not”.
    One of the staff-in-attendance quickly spoke up (but authoratively rather than in fear-for-her job) “The water tap is out in the kitchen; everybody goes and helps themselves”. (Chorus: “Yes, yes; everybody helps themselves”).
    I said “That’s just a tiny instance; in the big common matter of what we each and all Need, we need a published-list; we need to reach agreements about what goes on the list and in what priority…”
    The priorly-well-established lady rose to her feet and, panning the whole horseshoe of participants with leaderful looks and gestures said “Humph ! We all know what our needs are. “We don’t need to go listing them. “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill; “We already know what our needs are”.
    And that was that.
    The Director out front moved the meeting on.
    Ever since that wasted effort I have withdrawn from every such ‘participative democracy’ gathering. [To the politician as well as the partisan, ‘participation’ means ‘come join in and donate to what we’ve already set up’].

    A particular point at issue here is that we can’t have ‘Rights’ before we’ve listed the Needs and the Hows thereto. I take a ‘right’ to be a ‘permission’ to use the appointed ‘How’ to meet a registered (Listed) need.

    It’s no good having a ‘right to drink clean water’ if there is no legislation saying how much water you truly need, and how you must go about getting that water, and at what geographic or infrastructural place.

    That such Lists do exist, in headquarters places such as the United Nations, the Cooperative Foodstores Chain, the local Hospital, and individual-shopper’s daily-diary list of groceries and so on, is obvious;
    but what does not appear so obviously is that Governancially we should have centrally published Lists of all human needs, starting with an overall Common Needs List.

    It should also be evident that such a Listing facility could be a surer and ultimately less costly basis for conducting Democracy upon, including the selection of advocates to represent and to legislate those, our needs.

    In other words, we should elect a ‘list-of-my-needs’ from the published big Lists of Needs, and then seek out which candidate(s) on the Voting Paper are committed to meeting our ‘list-of-my-needs’ (or as near as dammit-is-to-swearing thereof).

    All values and definitions, I would contend, such as ‘liberties’, ‘rights’, ‘entitlements’, ‘ownerships’, ‘affluence’, ‘privation’ depend for their existence and relevance upon this one Big Listing, which alone can fill the big-underlying-Hole that is giving rise to so many evil-little enthymemes in our daily-domestic management and in our longterm Parliamentary legislation-stamping alike.

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