Friday, 9 April 2010

What A Tangled Web

A European Parliament press release issued on Wednesday 7th April starts with the sentence “The Constitutional Affairs Committee gave its support on Wednesday to a modification of the Lisbon Treaty that would allow 18 new Members of the European Parliament to take their seats during the ongoing legislature.” The essence of the release is revealed in the next paragraph where it state “The number of MEPs needs to be increased because the June European Parliament elections were held under the rules of the Nice Treaty, which sets the number of MEPs at 736, while the new Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1st December 2009, allows 751 seats.”
Those of you that are good at mathematics will have noticed 18 MEPs in addition to the existing 736 MEPs will result in 754 MEPs not 751. The reason for this apparent discrepancy is because Germany is to lose 3 of its MEPs. However, there are strict rules governing the curtailment of a mandate so Germany will retain its 99 MEPs until the end of this parliament meaning that there will be 754 MEPs after all. This is the nub of the problem, the Lisbon treaty does not allow for a parliament to have 754 MEPs which means the treaty will have to be amended. It the amendment is approved by parliament it will then have to be ratified by the 27 Member states.
As pointed out by Daniel Hannan in his blog, the Conservative party has committed itself to a referendum on treaty changes thus, it would seem, that we have the prospect of a referendum far sooner than one might have anticipated. Inspecting the online Conservative manifesto one finds that it says “A Conservative Government would change the law so that never again would a government be able to agree to a Treaty that hands over areas of power from Britain to the EU without a referendum.” Since we are one of the countries that will see an increase in the number of its MEPs, we are to have one more, I hardly think that this comes under the heading of handing over power from Britain to the EU. I suspect that, delightful as the prospect might be, we will not be granted a referendum on this particular matter.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Who is Responsible for my Daughter?

I decided some time ago to opt out of the NHS Summary Care Record scheme and a letter from our local Primary Care trust explaining all about the scheme was the trigger for me to do something about it. I rang the telephone number in the letter and requested an opt-out form. Three weeks later I rang again to be told that they would note my request and send a form but was I aware that I could collect a form from my GP? Thus, a week later, I left work early specifically to get to my GPs before they closed at 18.30. On arrival I asked for two forms as, at that time, my fourteen-year old daughter was inclined to opt out as well. They only had one form but suggested that I could download one from the internet but they did not know where on the internet.
Fortunately, a blog that I occasionally read called Big Brother Watch wrote about opting out and provided the very link that I required. I duly printed two copies and set about filling them in. Then I noticed that he form clearly states that it should be completed "by the individual (data subject) making the request." Leaving aside the awful phrase data subject and whether it adds any value to the sentence, I was confused about whether I could fill this in for my daughter. So, I rang the NHS Care Records Service Information Line on 0845 603 8510 and enquired as to how I should proceed. The gentleman on the other end told me that I could complete the form for my daughter but my GP had the right to ignore my request if he or she thought it in the best interests of the child.
So who is responsible for my daughter?