Have you seen her face?

Today in the Chamber we had the Presentation of Private Members’ Bills by the twenty backbenchers who were fortunate enough to top the Private Members’ Bills ballot. The full list can be found here (if you scroll down past Northern Ireland Qs and PMQs).

The one of most interest to me is Rob Flello’s Sustainable Livestock Bill, which has been promoted by Friends of the Earth as part of its Fix the Food Chain campaign; that’ll be debated on 12th November, followed by the Public Bodies (Sustainable Food) Bill, which will introduce a Code on the procurement of sustainable food by public bodies. That’s another Friends of the Earth campaign too, and both from Stoke on Trent MPs.

Other Bills on the list include a Daylight Saving Bill (but only calling for further consideration, not actually changing the clocks), a crackdown on ticket touts by Sharon Hodgson MP, and “a Bill to make provision about the arrangements for measuring the standard weight of coins”, which is being sponsored by the Tory MP, Mark Lancaster. I can only assume the latter is a “hand-out” Bill, i.e. something the Government wants to get through the House and gives to a compliant backbencher.  Most MPs, given the chance to make their mark on the statute books would go for something rather more juicy, which in years to come would reverentially be referred to as “the Lancaster Bill”. Unless it’s more interesting than it sounds?

The most controversial of the Bills listed is Philip Hollobone’s Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill. My understanding is that he wants the wearing of veils to banned in public places. By which he means burkhas and such like, not bridal veils. Is a church a public place? Will they have to make exceptions?

Seems like rather an unecessarily inflammatory move. Not to mention not quite in tune with the new Government’s general antipathy towards regulation in all shapes and forms. I might seek to put down an amendment calling for a ban on men wearing sleeveless vests on the London Underground during the rush hour. (Combination of  strap dangling  and me being of a certain height is not a pleasant one! I’m sure I find it just as offensive as Mr Hollobone finds the wearing of a burkha!)

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  • thebristolblogger  On June 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    It’ll be interesting to hear what they mean by “Sustainable Food” in the Sustainable Food Bill.

    They’ve recently produced a food policy in Bristol, which talks about sustainable food in terms of local, seasonal Fairtrade, organic and anti-GM.

    Which is all very nice but, economically, completely unsustainable as well as being irrationally anti-science and technology. It’ll be interesting to see whether Parliament is a little more switched on to the realities of food supply chains, economics and science than their local authority cousins.

  • The Rev'd Dougie Burnett  On June 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I’d agree that the Face Coverings bill does seem to be a tad inflammatory. I seem to recall that Jack Straw, a few years ago, found himself in the midst of come controversy after making a few comments in that direction. I think that churches are generally defined as public places, most certainly they have to be so for weddings (i.e. you are not allowed to lock the doors during the service, thus giving anyone the opportunity to give objections of legal grounds). However I don’t think that burkhas appear to often in churches, but you never know!

  • kerrymccarthy  On June 30, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I din’t mean burkhas in church, I meant traditional brides with white net veils! Also, don’t you get veils on hats at funerals? Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, but I just wonder how he’s going to define face coverings in a way that ends up meaning ‘Muslim face coverings’ (which is, after all, what he’s getting at) without spelling that out!

    Here’s a bit more info on the Sustainable Food Bill http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/procurement_25032010.html

  • thebristolblogger  On July 1, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for the link but it’s a press release that’s so vague and generalised that’s it’s meaningless.

    Is “buying British food” really the answer? Shall we cancel all trade with Africa tomorrow then?

    The link that sounds like it might have some useful further info’ is dead:


    All-in-all wot a load of rubbish.

    Do our politicians and liberal NGOs actually have a serious food policy to take us forward over the next 25 years beyond vague their organic ‘n Fairtrade waffle?

    If so, where is it please?

  • The Squeeze  On July 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I had a drink with a hedge fund manager a few years ago, and he reckoned the biggest ‘risk’ facing the UK is food security.

    Although I’d venture that’s got more to do with the way in which experts in risk think about risk than there being an actual problem.

    My personal view is, if we’re going to spend money building big structures out at seas (for wind farming) is there not a way we could use these structures to farm fish and other seafood at the same time?

  • kerrymccarthy  On July 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    There is a very active All-Party Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, which I’m a member of… but that’s obviously focused on food security for the developing world. See here for their last report. http://agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org/inquiry

    And, The Squeeze, I think we should be ‘farming’ fish and seafood less, not more. Have you seen the End of the Line?

  • thebristolblogger  On July 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    The term ‘food security’ has crept into the language over the last decade or so hasn’t it?

    What the hell does it mean to us? In the UK there’s little real risk to our food supply unless the whole of Western civilization collapses.

    Admittedly that is a risk but it’s a risk that’s been about for an awful long time.

    ‘Food security’ is just another ploy by the green brigade to sell their organo-self-sufficiency schtick.

    I can, however, see that food supply is an issue in the developing world.

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