MIL-OSI UK: Petitions Committee Report: Online abuse law not fit for purpose, says Petitions Committee

Source: British Parliament News

22 January 2019
The Petitions Committee today publishes its report “Online abuse and the experience of disabled people”, revealing the extreme level of abuse that disabled people receive online.

The disabled people who took part in the inquiry were enthusiastic users of social media, but many were driven from online platforms while their “abusers went unchecked.” The inquiry was triggered by a petition started by Katie Price, who has a disabled child, which attracted 221,914 signatures before it closed early due to the 2017 General Election.  It talked about online abuse directed at people from all backgrounds, but also highlighted shocking abuse directed at her disabled son, Harvey. The petition called on the Government to “make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders.” The Petitions Committee agrees with Katie Price’s petition that the law on online abuse is not fit for purpose. The report recommendations were made after listening to disabled people during the inquiry and in consultation events, where it was heard that online abuse can destroy people’s careers, social lives and cause lasting damage to their health. It also took oral evidence from Google, Facebook and Twitter, representatives from the police and disability campaigners.
 
Key areas covered by the report include:
The Government must accept that self-regulation of social media has failed.
The Government and social media companies must directly consult with disabled people on digital strategy and hate crime law.
Social media companies need to accept their responsibility for allowing toxic environments to exist unchallenged.
The Government needs to recognise that the way disabled people are often marginalised offline plays a significant part in the abuse they receive online. It must challenge stereotypes and prejudices about disabled people, particularly among children and young people, and require proportionate representation of disabled people in its advertising.
Disability hate crime is not fully recognised and perpetrators are not appropriately punished. The law on hate crime must give disabled people the same protections as those who suffer hate crime due to race or religion.
The criminal justice system is too quick to categorise disabled people as “vulnerable”. Hostility towards disabled people is often based on a perception that they are an easy target who can’t contribute to society.
It must be possible to see if someone has been convicted of a hate crime on the grounds of disability before employing them to work closely with disabled people. If the Government acts on our other recommendations, this should be possible through a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
The Government must review the experience of disabled people when reporting crimes and giving evidence. Too many disabled people have not been treated seriously because frontline officers and staff do not understand disability.
The Government needs to review the law on exploitation within friendships or relationships, often called “mate crime”. Social media companies need to review their processes and provide advice and support for those who identify as needing additional protection. It found this so-called “mate crime” can lead to financial, physical and sexual exploitation.

Committee Chair, Helen Jones MP, said: “Our inquiry into online abuse and the experience of disabled people has shown that social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about disabled people. The law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences.“There is no excuse for the continued failure to make online platforms as safe for disabled people as non-disabled people. Self-regulation has failed disabled people and the law must change to ensure more lives are not destroyed.” Another worrying finding was when organisations were made aware of serious problems with abuse of disabled people, they were unwilling to act. As part of the inquiry, a high proportion of  abusive content against disabled people, including Harvey Price, was related to football. The report stated: “It is deeply disappointing that the footballing organisations with whom we raised concerns about abusive behaviour expressed no interest in addressing the problem. Their lack of response is shameful.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Legal experts questioned on non-disclosure agreements

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
The Women and Equalities Committee holds the third evidence session as part of its inquiry into the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in discrimination cases.

Purpose of the session
The Committee will question legal experts with direct experience of dealing with employee discrimination complaints, and with knowledge of how NDAs are used in such cases.
Areas likely to be covered include:
how NDAs are used when settling discrimination cases and why they are so widely used in this way
accessibility of good legal advice on individual NDAs
the role of lawyers in preventing misuse of NDAs
whether the use of NDAs should be banned or restricted to prevent misuse
what safeguards and systems could be implemented to prevent misuse.
Witnesses
Wednesday 23 January 2019, Committee room 8, Palace of Westminster.
At 9.50am
Kiran Daurka, Discrimination Law Association, and Partner, Leigh Day
Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC, Director, International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
Jane Mann, Partner and Head of Employment Group, Fox Williams LLP
Julie Morris, Employment Solicitor and Head of Personal Legal Services, Slater and Gordon
Further information
Image: PC

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MIL-OSI UK: “We can make Progress,” Prime Minister sets out Brexit next steps

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
Following the Government’s defeat in the ‘meaningful vote’ last week, Prime Minister Theresa May set out the Government’s next steps for the Brexit process.

In her statement, the Prime Minister spoke of conversations since the loss of the ‘meaningful vote’ with the Leaders of other parties and back-benchers across the House of Commons. She criticised Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to participate and called on all MPs to work together to deliver Brexit.
The Prime Minister remained clear that she would not support a second referendum, and that she did not believe there was a majority in the House for one. She also refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit, stating that she remained committed to delivering a deal in advance of Article 50’s expiration on March 29th 2019.
Concluding her statement, Mrs May said she had identified three key changes to which could secure Parliamentary support for a deal. She said firstly that her Government would be more “flexible, open and inclusive” in engaging Parliament in their negotiations with the EU. Secondly they would embed protections on worker rights and environment, and finally that they would work to ensure that the Norther Irish border issue is resolved in a way that both the EU and UK can support.
The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn responded on behalf of his party. He said;

“There is a clear majority in this house to support a deal in principle and to respect the referendum result. But it requires the Prime Minister to face reality and accept her deal has been comprehensively defeated”.

Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.
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MIL-OSI UK: Government update on security situation in Northern Ireland

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
Following recent events in Derry/Londonderry, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, is to update the House on the security situation.

On Saturday 19 January 2019, a car bomb attack was carried out in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, is to update the House of Commons on the security situation in Northern Ireland.The statement is expected to commence following the statement from the Prime Minister on the next steps for the EU withdrawal.
Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.
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MIL-OSI UK: Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill: Commons stages

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
MPs are to debate the remaining stages of the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill on Monday 21 January 2019.

Remaining stages
Later today, MPs are to debate the remaining stages of the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill in the House of Commons. Proceedings on the Bill are expected to commence at around 5.30pm, following the statement from the Northern Ireland Secretary on the security situation in Northern Ireland.
Previous stages
Second reading
Stephen Barclay, The Minister for Health and Social Care, moved that the Bill receive a second reading, saying,

“It is clearly in the interests of the British public to ensure reciprocal healthcare arrangements continue when we leave the EU”.

Justin Madders, Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care, responded for the Opposition. He expressed some concerns about specific clauses, but said these would be raised at the committee stage, and broadly welcomed the Bill’s introduction.

“The Opposition welcome any efforts to safeguard healthcare for the estimated 190,000 UK expats living in the EU and the 50 million or so nationals who travel abroad to EEA countries each year.”

The timing of the Bill was also criticized by several MPs, but ultimately it passed on the nod. The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill was then committed to a Public Bill Committee.
Public Bill Committee
The Bill was debated in Committee stage on 27 and 29 of November 2018.
Background
What is the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill?
At present, the UK is part of a complex EU healthcare system that allows UK citizens to access healthcare while living, working, or visiting the EU, and reciprocates this benefit for EU citizens in the UK. The current system includes healthcare for pensioners, students and migrant workers, as well as funding UK residents to receive treatment unavailable in the UK in other EU countries.
After Brexit, regardless of the deal reached, the government will need to renegotiate reciprocal healthcare arrangements with the EU, or with individual states. This Bill aims to enable the government to respond to a wide range of options, by giving the Secretary of State new powers.
Broadly speaking these would allow the Secretary of State;
To fund and arrange healthcare outside the UK,
To give effect to healthcare agreements between the UK and other countries, territories or international organisations, such as the European Union (EU),
To make provision in relation to data processing, which is necessary to underpin these arrangements and agreements.
The UK currently has reciprocal healthcare arrangements with several non-EU nations, including Australia and New Zealand, though these are considerably more limited in scope than the current EU deal. This Bill would also enable renegotiation, or strengthening, of existing reciprocal agreements and the negotiation of new ones, outside the EU.
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MIL-OSI UK: Work of the National Security Adviser examined

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
The oral evidence session on the Work of the National Security Adviser due to take place on 21 January has been re-scheduled. The session will now take place on Monday 28 January at 4.15pm in Committee Room 4A.

Witness
The Committee will take evidence from Sir Mark Sedwill, National Security Adviser, at 4.15pm in Committee room 8 on Monday 28 January.
Purpose of the session
Likely topics for discussion include:
changing threats to UK national security
the outcomes of the National Security Capability Review and Modernising Defence Programme
countering hostile state activity.
Further information
Image: Home Office

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MIL-OSI UK: Interparliamentary Forum on Brexit

Source: British Parliament News

21 January 2019
On 17 January 2019 we, as Chairs, Conveners and representatives of Committees scrutinising Brexit-related issues in the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, House of Commons and House of Lords, met at the House of Lords for the sixth meeting of the Interparliamentary Forum on Brexit. Officials from the Northern Ireland Assembly were in attendance as observers, and the meeting was chaired by the Senior Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord McFall of Alcluith.

This was a timely meeting, given events of recent days, including the heavy defeat of the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons on 15 January, and the Prime Minister’s announcement that she would seek cross-party talks on next steps.
Following the fifth meeting of the Forum, in Cardiff on 25 October 2018, we wrote to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon David Lidington MP, to draw his attention, in the context of the Government’s review of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) structures and Memorandum of Understanding, to key recommendations made by our various committees, and our shared belief that the current system of inter-governmental relations is not fit for purpose and is in urgent need of substantial reform.
Today we received a reply from Mr Lidington, and also met Chloe Smith MP, Minister for the Constitution within the Cabinet Office, who reported on the progress of the Government’s review of the JMC structures. In response to questions, she indicated that it was for the four parliaments to bring forward proposals for a future structure for interparliamentary dialogue and scrutiny of intergovernmental relations post-Brexit, and that if they did so, the Government would be supportive. Members of the Forum also expressed concern over key issues, including the handling of areas of shared competence, the ambiguity of the Sewel Convention, and the mechanisms for intra-UK dispute resolution.
Given the current political uncertainty, we underline the continuing value of the Forum as an informal mechanism to enable parliamentarians from around the UK to come together and share thoughts and perspectives. But we reiterate that at some point, consideration of more formal interparliamentary structures will be needed.
The Forum will meet again in Edinburgh in April 2019.
Attendees
Lord McFall of Alcluith, Senior Deputy Speaker, House of Lords
Lord Blencathra, Chair, Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, House of Lords
Lord Boswell of Aynho, Chair, European Union Committee, House of Lords
Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Chair, Constitution Committee, House of Lords
Lord Trefgarne, Chair, Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, House of Lords
Geraint Davies MP, Welsh Affairs Committee, House of Commons
Vicky Ford MP, European Statutory Instruments Committee, House of Commons
Patrick Grady MP, European Statutory Instruments Committee, House of Commons
John Grogan MP, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, House of Commons
Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, House of Commons
Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener, Finance and Constitution Committee, Scottish Parliament
Adam Tomkins MSP, Deputy Convener, Finance and Constitution Committee, Scottish Parliament
Graham Simpson MSP, Convener, Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, Scottish Parliament
Stuart McMillan MSP, Deputy Convener, Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, Scottish Parliament
Mick Antoniw AM, Chair, Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, National Assembly for Wales
David Rees AM, Chair, External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, National Assembly for Wales
Further information
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MIL-OSI UK: Committee questions lawyers on what’s next for Brexit deal

Source: British Parliament News

18 January 2019
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee opens its inquiry into the implications of the withdrawal agreement and the backstop for Northern Ireland with a session with internationally regarded lawyers.

Witnesses
Wednesday 23 January 2019, Committee Room 18, Palace of Westminster
At 9.30am
Isabelle Van Damme, Van Bael and Bellis
Martin Howe QC, Chairman of Lawyers for Britain
Sir Stephen Laws, First Parliamentary Counsel 2006-2012
Background
The protocol on Northern Ireland, known as the backstop, contained in the negotiated EU withdrawal agreement has emerged as a sticking point. The House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement this week, and the Prime Minister must now look for a way to break the deadlock in Parliament.
Purpose of the session
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will hear from three lawyers about legal options for securing a unilateral exit from the backstop, the implications of renegotiating the Agreement and how a no-deal Brexit could affect Northern Ireland.
The Committee will question the lawyers, who approach the withdrawal agreement from different perspectives, on potential futures for the backstop, how Northern Ireland’s voice can be heard in any renegotiations, and the implications for Northern Ireland of other options such as extending Article 50 or trading on WTO terms.
Further information
Image: PA

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MIL-OSI UK: Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay MP questioned on Brexit

Source: British Parliament News

18 January 2019
The Lords EU Committee discusses Brexit with Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP.

Witness
Wednesday 23 January in Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster
At 4.00pm
Rt Hon. Stephen Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Topics
The Committee will question the Secretary of State on Brexit, with topics including:
Possible changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that was rejected by the Commons on 15 January;
Government ‘no deal’ preparations;
UK engagement with the EU and other 27 Member States;
Government thinking on future UK-EU relations
Further information
Image: Parliamentary copyright

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MIL-OSI UK: Lords examines Trade Bill

Source: British Parliament News

18 January 2019
The Trade Bill begins its committee stage, the first chance for line-by-line scrutiny, in the Lords on Monday 21 January.

Members are expected to discuss the prevention of customs arrangements at borders, international trade agreements and territories forming part of a customs union with the UK
Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) has proposed an amendment that the committee’s report is not received until the government has presented to both Houses proposals for a process for making international trade agreements once the UK is in a position to do so independently of the EU, including roles for Parliament and the devolved legislatures and administrations in relation to both a negotiating mandate and a final agreement.
If agreed to this amendment would mean that the bill would complete its committee stage in the Lords but not progress to report stage until the government’s proposals are received.
Lords second reading: Tuesday 11 September
Baroness Meyer (Conservative), made her maiden speech.
Members discussed a range of subjects covered by the bill including border arrangements in Northern Ireland, continued participation in the European medicines regulatory network and Free Trade Agreements.
Trade Bill summary
This bill aims to: 
Ensure the UK can implement any procurement obligations arising from the UK becoming a member of the Agreement of Government Procurement (GPA) in its own right.
Assist with the implementation of UK trade agreement with assisting partner countries.
Establish a new body, the Trade Remedies Authority.
Allow HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect information confirming the number of exporters of goods and services in the UK.
Establish a date sharing gateway between HMRC and other public and private bodies.
Further information
Image: iStockphoto

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