Dominic Raab MP

26 Apr 2011 18:28:59

Labour MPs defeat Dominic Raab's attempt to ban certain workers from striking without majority workforce support

By Jonathan Isaby

Dominic Raab Commons As previewed in The Times (£) this morning, Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, has just tried to introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill which would "prohibit strike action in the emergency and transport services sectors unless a majority of employees in the unionised workforce have voted in favour of such action".

Dominic Raab framed his proposal against the backdrop of sacrifices in the past made by made by the chartists, social reformers, the early union movement and campaigners against child labour in the poorhouse, against the virtual slave labour under the Poor Laws, and for greater democratic representation.

He obvserved:

"I wonder what those heroic campaigners would have made of some recent strikes over travel perks, annual bonuses and the right to retire at 50. Despite a massive expansion of health and safety regulation and employment law, Britain is still episodically held hostage by a vocal minority led by militant union bosses."

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11 Feb 2011 07:23:27

Highlights from the Conservative contributions to the debate on votes for prisoners

By Jonathan Isaby

Prisoners votes In advance of yesterday's debate on votes for prisoners, the man moving the motion, David Davis, made his case on ConHome here.

So below are some of the highlights from the contributions of other Conservatives during the debate.

NB A full breakdown of how all MPs voted is here.

South West Devon MP Gary Streeter said the motion invited people to address  the "fundamental issue" of "whether or not we can pass our own laws":

"There comes a time when it is necessary to take a stand. I argue that right now, on this issue, it is right for this House, today, to assert its authority. The judgment of the ECHR in the Hirst case flies in the face of the original wording and purpose of the European convention on human rights, in which it was clearly intended that each signatory should have latitude in making decisions on the electoral franchise in that country.

"We decided in this country centuries ago that convicted criminals should not have the right to vote, and I support that decision. After all, the punitive element of incarceration is the denial for the time being of certain rights and privileges that our citizens enjoy. We decided long ago that in addition to surrendering their liberty, convicted criminals while in prison would also give up their right to vote. That was the case in 1953 when the treaty on human rights was signed, and it remains the case."

Attorney General Dominic Grieve set out the Government's position early in the debate:

"Ministers will abstain. The Government believe that the proper course of action will be to reflect on what has been said and think about what proposals to bring back to the House in the light of the debate. The Government are here to listen to the views of the House, which are central and critical to this debate, as was acknowledged in the Hirst case."

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1 Feb 2011 11:27:24

Tory backbenchers will reportedly get a free vote when votes for prisoners are first debated next week

By Jonathan Isaby

Prisoners votes Next week sees the first parliamentary debate on whether to give the vote to prisoners - not in government time, but initiated by Tory MPs David Davis and Dominic Raab, along with Jack Straw, in time allocated by the backbench business committee.

The motion before the Commons - to be debated next Thursday - reads:

"That this House notes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v the United Kingdom in which it held that there had been no substantive debate by members of the legislature on the continued justification for maintaining a general restriction on the right of prisoners to vote; acknowledges the treaty obligations of the UK; is of the opinion that legislative decisions of this nature should be a matter for democratically elected lawmakers; and supports the current situation in which no sentenced prisoner is able to vote except those imprisoned for contempt, default or on remand."

The Government has indicated that it is very reluctantly intending to implement the ECHR ruling granting votes for prisoners sentenced to four years or less (although there has been speculation that it could be restricted further).

However, minsters are yet to formally set the wheels in motion and in the mean time it is an issue which has been causing massive dissent throughout the Conservative parliamentary party, even among usually loyal backbenchers.

Paul Waugh from PoliticsHome reports this morning that backbenchers will be granted licence to show their opposition to the proposal:

Tory backbenchers are set to be allowed a free vote on a Commons motion opposing prisoner voting rights, PoliticsHome.come has learned. Faced with possibly his biggest ever rebellion by Conservative MPs, David Cameron is looking closely at allowing the Government payroll vote to abstain on the motion.

The Liberal Democrats have long believed in giving the vote to prisoners, so can be expected to oppose the motion as above, but I can't imagine that they'll be joined by many others.

1.45pm update:

James Landale from the BBC is now reporting news that might make the issue give the Governmnt a headache even sooner:

The government has been warned it must give prisoners in Scotland and Wales the right to vote in May's elections or risk compensation claims for allegedly breaking human rights laws. Ministers had thought a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would force them to give prisoners the vote only in Westminster or European parliamentary elections. But giving evidence to MPs lawyers said the ruling applied to all elections that create a legislature, such as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

More here. Meanwhile the Telegraph suggests that the nationwide AV referendum may come under this ruling too...

21 Jan 2011 07:00:00

Damian Green announces reduction in pre-charge detention limit for terror suspect from 28 to 14 days

By Jonathan Isaby

Damian Green Commons 2 Answering an Urgent Question from Ed Balls - in his last outing as shadow home secretary - Home Office Minister Damian Green yesterday confirmed that the Government is next week reducing the maximum period for pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects from 28 days to 14 days.

Here's how he made the announcement to the Commons:

"On 13 July last year, the Home Secretary announced that she was renewing the current order for 28-day pre-charge detention for six months, while the powers were considered as part of a wider review of counter-terrorism powers. As the Home Secretary will be giving a full statement to the House on Wednesday on the outcome of that review, it would be wrong of me to pre-empt her statement by giving details of the review today.

"This Government are clear that the power to detain terrorist suspects for up to 28 days’ detention before they were charged or released was meant to be an exceptional power—that was always Parliament’s intention. But under the last Government, it became the norm, with the renewal of 28 days repeatedly brought before the House, despite the power rarely being used. Since July 2007, no one has been held for longer than 14 days, despite the many terrorists arrested since then. That is a testament to the efforts of our prosecutors, our police and our intelligence agencies.

"As I said, the Home Secretary will, next Wednesday, announce to the House the findings from the wider review of counter-terrorism and security powers. She will set out the detailed considerations of the Government in determining whether the current regime of 28 days should be renewed and, if not, what should be put in its place. In the interim, I can announce that the Government will not be seeking to extend the order allowing the maximum 28-day limit and, accordingly, the current order will lapse on 25 January and the maximum limit of pre-charge detention will, from that time, revert to 14 days. We are clear that 14 days should be the norm and that the law should reflect that. However, we will place draft emergency legislation in the House Library to extend the maximum period to 28 days to prepare for the very exceptional circumstances when a longer period may be required. If Parliament approved, the maximum period of pre-charge detention could be extended by that method.

"In the Government’s announcement on the wider review, the Home Secretary will set out what contingency measures should be introduced in order to ensure that our ability to bring terrorists to justice is as effective as possible. This country continues to face a real and serious threat from terrorism. That threat is unlikely to diminish any time soon. The Government are clear that we need appropriate powers to deal with that threat but that those powers must not interfere with the hard-won civil liberties of the British people. There is a difficult balance to be struck between protecting our security and defending our civil liberties. The outcome of our counter-terrorism powers review will strike that balance, and it is this Government’s sincere hope that it will form the basis of a lasting political consensus across the House on this fundamentally important issue."

The statement was widey welcomed by Conservative MPs with Dominc Raab, for example, saying:

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12 Jan 2011 08:38:27

Tory MPs call for Cameron to show "backbone" and resist voting rights for prisoners

Tim Montgomerie

In Westminster Hall yesterday, ahead of the binding Commons vote, Philip Hollobone instigated a debate on voting rights for prisoners. Mark Harper MP for the Coalition is proposing that prisoners with sentences of four year or less should get the vote. Labour will seek to amend that proposal, limiting voting rights to one year sentences or less. Unless the Coalition compromises it is likely to be defeated.

Jail Vote Philip Hollobone called for David Cameron to show backbone in resisting votes for prisoners

"Here is a question for hon. Members. Who said: 

"Frankly, when people commit a crime and go to prison, they should lose their rights, including the right to vote"?

He also said:

"It makes me physically ill even to contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison."

The answer is my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and I could not agree more with him. The vast majority of people in this country would also back him in those sentiments. One difference between the Prime Minister and myself, however, is that he is actually in a position to do something about this issue. We need some backbone-we need a hardened spine-if we are to take on the European Court of Human Rights and resist its judgment."

Dr Thérèse Coffey noted that rapists will be given the vote under the Coalition's four year limit

"On the point about limits, does my hon. Friend agree that the crimes of rape, for which a three-and-a-half year sentence was awarded in November, in a case in Warwick, and armed robbery with a knife, which has also been given a sentence of less than four years, are serious crimes, and that it is shocking that the Government even contemplate that such things should be covered?"

Matthew Offord pointed out that many other nations have not complied with the European Courts on this issue

"It may interest hon. Members to know that 13 other countries that are signatories to the European convention on human rights also have blanket bans. Why is this country being singled out for the treatment it is getting from the European Court, when blanket bans continue in other countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova and Slovakia, among others? Our constituents will be outraged that the UK is being singled out for special treatment."

Stewart Jackson argued that the Government's four year limit was "arbitrary"

"Is not it true that the recent case of Greens and M.T. v. the United Kingdom specifically allows the Government to proceed with a range of policy options, which, like the consultation in 2009, could be put out for public discussion? Instead the Government have gone for an arbitrary four-year limit, without any further debate or discussion in the House or with the public."

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16 Aug 2010 07:00:00

Dominic Raab MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...

Dominic Raab Commons Dominic Raab was elected MP for Esher and Walton with a majority of 18,593.

1. What is your earliest political memory? Watching the Berlin wall come down on TV, followed by the collapse of the Iron Curtain. I remember Reagan’s moral clarity (‘Tear this wall down’) two years earlier. My father was Czech – he came over in 1938 - so it also felt personal to me. It showed what courage and patience can achieve.

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I believe in freedom."

3. Who is your political hero and why? I don’t really do heroes. But, I like stubborn optimists like Reagan, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Aung Suu Kyi.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? Over the summer of 2008.

5. What is your reading material of choice? It varies. This summer, I’m reading David Willett’s The Pinch and a history of Alfred The Great (after I found out he introduced the word ‘freedom’ into the English language).

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Jeff Randall.

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? The Foreign Office. Britain is at a crossroads.

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? David Trimble, for taking the tough decisions that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? Pass.

10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? Republican.

11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? Sport, I train at a local boxing club. And relaxing with my wife and family.

12. What is your favourite book? War and Peace by Tolstoy.

13. What is your favourite film? Carlito’s Way.

14. What is your favourite music? Stevie Wonder or Alicia Keys.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? Curry. There’s a great Nepalese restaurant in Esher.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination? South of Brazil, to see my wife’s family – they have a quiet place on the beach.

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? Help the government deliver our deficit reduction plan, local democracy agenda and Freedom Bill.

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I defended Tony Blair from subpoena, by Slobodan Milosevic, when he was on trial in The Hague.

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. The Diggers, agrarian communists, were based there during the civil war.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. Knocking on one door at bath time, to be quizzed by some young parents on school discipline, as their two soaking children made a run for it.

> Previously: Thérèse Coffey MP

16 Jul 2010 07:55:15

Dominic Raab and David Davis want to know whether the Government will sign up to the European Investigation Order

By Jonathan Isaby

Within the next fortnight the Government has to decide whether to opt in to the European Investigation Order.

The Telegraph covered the issue here last week, citing the concerns of civil liberties groups that signing up to the EIO would mean the authorities in other EU states being able to give orders to the British police.

According to the Telegraph:

"Under the terms of the order, any prosecutor or police officer in all 27 members of the EU could be given the power to issue demands for evidence, regardless of the cost involved. Judges in this country would be powerless to block the requests, even if they related to offences that are considered trivial in this country. Overstretched police resources could then be expended on demands to launch lengthy surveillance operations, take DNA samples or secure documents such as bank statements or phone records."

Yesterday two prominent civil libertarians on the Conservative backbenches raised the matter at Business Questions, with the leader of the House, Sir George Young, unable to explain the Government's intentions at this juncture. 

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton): The European investigation order would allow police and prosecutors throughout Europe to order British police to collect and hand over evidence. Fair Trials International and Justice are concerned that the measure would put great pressure on our hard-pressed police forces. Britain has until 28 July to decide whether to opt in or, like Denmark, to opt out. Will the Leader of the House indicate when the Government’s decision will be made, and will the House have an opportunity to debate the measure in advance?

Sir George Young: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He says that the Government must decide by 28 July what action to take. I will certainly ascertain from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Home Office, whichever Department is the appropriate one, what action they propose to take in response to my hon. Friend’s question.

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden): Will the Leader of the House reconsider his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab)? The European investigation order allows foreign authorities to give instructions to the British police and allows foreign police forces to operate within the United Kingdom. That is a matter for decision by the House of Commons, not simply for notification by a Department of state.

Sir George Young: I understand my right hon. Friend’s concern. I think I said in response to my hon. Friend that I would contact the relevant Department and see what action the Government propose to take or recommend to the House before 28 July, which I understand is the operative date.

15 Jul 2010 12:08:06

MPs vote to extend 28-day detention for terrorist suspects for another six months

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday saw a debate in Parliament over whether to approve the order to extend 28-day detention for terrorist suspects for another six months.

Theresa May Big BenWhilst she has previously indicated that personally she favours a reduction to 14 days, Home Secretary Theresa May proposed the motion, saying that she did not wish at this stage to pre-empt the result of the current counter-terrorism review:

"I want to make it absolutely clear to the House that I consider the 28-day limit to be a temporary measure, and I want it brought to an end once I have completed my review. Since the power to detain for 28 days was passed by Parliament and came into force in July 2006, 11 people have been held for more than 14 days, eight were charged with terrorist-related offences, and four were found guilty. Of those, six people have been held for between 27 and 28 days, three were charged with terrorist-related offences, and two were found guilty. No suspect has been held for more than 14 days since July 2007. When one considers that in the 12 months ending in December 2009 28 terrorism-related trials were completed, with 93% convictions, including six life sentences, it is clear to me that the power to detain for up to 28 days is not needed routinely for the police to investigate, interrogate and charge terrorist suspects.

"The possibility remains that in some extreme circumstances it might be necessary to detain some suspects beyond 14 days, but those circumstances remain rare and extreme, and we need to be sure that the powers are never abused. That is why we need to take time to consider pre-charge detention as part of the review of counter-terrorism powers. Therefore, in moving today’s motion, I am asking hon. Members not to support 28 days indefinitely, nor to support 28 days for 12 months, as was envisaged in the Terrorism Act 2006, but to support a renewal for six months while the counter-terrorism review considers how we can reduce the limit."

"The review of counter-terrorism powers will, as I said yesterday, be informed by the principles of the coalition Government. Those principles—shared principles—are based on a respect for our ancient civil liberties and individual freedom. There is nothing we take more seriously than our duty to protect the public, but in doing so we will not, as the previous Government did, forget to defend our way of life."

In making the case against retaining 28-day detention, former shadow home secretary David Davis discussed the details of what happened surrounding the Heathrow plot, aka Operation Overt:

Continue reading "MPs vote to extend 28-day detention for terrorist suspects for another six months" »

8 Jun 2010 16:54:58

Dominic Raab and Bob Blackman celebrate the new Government's belief in civil liberties in their maiden speeches

Dominic Raab Commons Dominic Raab, the new MP for Esher and Walton (and author of the excellent The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights) set out his stall as the civil libertarian-in-chief among the new intake in his maiden speech yesterday:

"There is much to cheer in the coalition Government’s programme, and in particular the commitment to defend our freedoms by scrapping identity cards and by enacting a freedom Bill to restore our proud tradition of liberty in this country—eroded after 13 years of legislative hyperactivity and government by press release.

"In particular, the coalition programme pledges to defend trial by jury—that ancient bulwark of British justice, dating back to Magna Carta. Steeped in our history, it was a jury that acquitted William Cobbett when he was prosecuted for campaigning for social and political reforms in the 1830s. But that is also relevant today, and not just to whistleblowers and political activists. Take the vindictive prosecution of Janet Devers, the east end market trader prosecuted for selling vegetables in pounds and ounces. She was convicted in the magistrates court of a string of petty offences, but the additional prosecution in the Crown court collapsed on day one when faced with the prospect of trying to convince a jury. Juries are the reality check on bad law and abuse of state power."

Bob Blackman Commons Meanwhile, Bob Blackman - who beat former Labour minister Tony McNulty in Harrow East - also took up the theme of civil liberties:

"This Government will do one thing of vital importance for all those people: restore civil liberties in this country. The threat of identity cards, the threat of being detained for 28 days without charge, and the huge amounts of data on individual people who are innocent of any crime kept on police DNA databases—the police state that has started to grow in this country—will be swept away. I believe that that is something for which people who are relatively new to this country will feel immensely grateful."

Jonathan Isaby