Wednesday 9 April 2014

Sir Roger Gale MP's April Galemail

From my MP, Sir Roger Gale. Against same sex marriage. Against the European Charter of Human Rights. Against shooting badgers. Against hunting with dogs. Good morning!

I do find it odd it is sent out by his wife Suzy who then strongly states not to reply to her on her address but to reply to Roger on his parliament address. Why don't they send it out on Roger's email in the first place?


Gale`s View – 9th April 2014. 

I cannot pretend to have endorsed every dot and comma of the Coalition Government`s policy. I remain opposed, for example, to the concept of same-sex `marriage` and had the Conservatives not failed to win the last general election we would most certainly have by now culled some 60 or more Parliamentary seats that, in this day and age of modern communications, are still funded by the taxpayer but surplus to requirements.  Without the Liberal Democrat albatross around our necks we would also have fulfilled our electoral promise to have scrapped our adherence to the European Charter of Human Rights in favour of a British Bill of Rights that recognises our sovereign desire to preserve our own identity and does not, for example, subscribe to the liberal view that it is in some way the “right” of convicted prisoners, otherwise deprived of their liberties in recognition of their crimes, to vote in elections. At the end of the day democratic politics is about numbers in the voting lobby and those numbers do not always stack up. 

Nevertheless, in more general and less geo-politically trivial terms, I believe that the Coalition, while not in the partisan interests of my own party or that of the Liberal Democrats, has certainly served the national interest and, in particularly, the repair of the broken economy bequeathed to us by thirteen years of Blair-Brownite misrule, rather well. I doubt whether we would be where we are today had it not been for the willingness of two otherwise frequently opposed parties to bury differences and work together to put the country`s finances back on the road to recovery.

All that said,  policy insofar as it relates to animal welfare issues, a cause that has been politically close to my heart for all of my years in parliament, has been what, in tolerably polite terms, can best be described as “a badger`s muddle”.  

Nobody sensible could fail to recognise that bovine TB is a terrible disease that affects cattle and wildlife with equally awful consequences for animal health.  That something has to be done to seek to eradicate TB in the interests of farming and also for the benefit of many species of wild animals that carry and transmit it is beyond question but it is not enough to do “something”.  We have to do the right thing.   Scientists have been arguing for at least twenty five years about what that right thing is, with little agreement, but it has become painfully obvious that trying to cull the badger population by shooting it is not the answer.   “Blue Badger” and Conservative Animal Welfare have worked together to see the current programme of destruction that does not discriminate between healthy and sick animals  consigned to the dustbin and will now continue to work together to press for a co-ordinated programme of management and vaccination that stands at least a chance of working. 

Nodding in the direction of “Vote OK” and the countryside alliance the Government also flirted with the idea of trying to introduce by the back door (a statutory instrument that is debated in committee but not seriously considered on the floor of the House) an amendment to the Hunting Act that would have allowed farmers to increase the number of dogs allowed to be used to flush out “vermin” – a pack of hounds by another name.  Happily, a combination of those who still bear the scars of hours of debate about the Hunting Act before it was finally passed into law and a 2010 intake of young Members of Parliament who are not wedded to the idea of controlling wild animals by chasing them with dogs and then watching with apparent pleasure as those animals are torn apart, has at least for the moment seen off that proposal. The Government has had to bow to the fact that there is no parliamentary stomach or majority to re-visit the legislation.

 Curious, though, how a House of Commons that has, under successive Governments (and  the Conservatives both  care about animals and have legislated accordingly) brought about significant improvements in the laws governing wildlife, domestic and farm animals, remains unwilling to address the thorny issue of the manner in which Kosher and Halal meat is slaughtered.  There is a squeamishness, on both sides of the House, about  debating with what are clearly significant minorities (and those minorities do not by any means include all Jews and Muslims) in order to bring an end to an inhumanity that under any other guise but that of faith would simply not be permitted. Just because a practice has been followed for a millennium does not mean that it is right or that it ought to be allowed, in a civilised society, to continue. 
The priority of this Government has to be the economy, from which all else that matters flows, and Animal Welfare is not at the top of the political agenda.  It does, though, concern people  and I hope that we shall see a better  stall set out very clearly in the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos for a General Election that is now only just over a year away.

Sir Roger Gale MP
01843 848588 (a.m.)
07623 978479 (24hr pager)
07774 841557 (Suzy - mobile)

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Thanet Council response re pre-consultation discussions re Walpole Bay De-designation

On March 28th, I asked Thanet Council for information regarding discussions that were undertaken by the council prior to the public consultation regarding the de-designation of Walpole Bay for bathing. These pre-discussions were part of their submission to DEFRA.

I requested:

"'During December 2013 and January 2014 the Council held discussions with two local hotels, a local traders' representative and a Residents Association representative. The business representatives felt that dedesignation was preferable to a sign advising against bathing' 
Please can you provide the details of these meetings and who they were."
The council has today replied stating it has applied exemptions under sections 40 and 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Section 40  relates to personal information.
Section 41 relates to information that was provided in confidence.

I'm unsure how pre-discussions with groups that are then relayed to DEFRA as backing for the de-designation of a public beach could be undertaken by a local authority in private so that the information is 100% exempted from release.  Section 40 personal information could be redacted. Section 41, I'm unsure how the council can legitimately undertake consultations that are confidential in this manner. I've issued a request for an Internal Review. 

Date: 8 April 2014 16:36
Subject: Thanet District Council - Your Information Request Response
To: ""

Ref No: 62796 / 2649740
Subject:Bathing Waters At Walpole Bay
Dear Ms Oldfield,
Thank you for your communication received on 28/03/2014 where you requested information about meetings held with local traders in relation to the consultation regarding the bathing water dedesignation of Walpole Bay.
This information is exempt from release under section(s) 40 & 41 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The reason for this is that the release of the names of the Traders would make the person on persons attending the meetings easily identifiable which therefore contravenes the Data Protection Act and Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act applies.
Also, the attendees at these meetings had a legitimate expectation that it was held in confidence and that the council would not publish their details therefore Section 41of the Freedom of Information Act also applies.
These are absolute exemptions and there is therefore no requirement to consider the public interest.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: Information Request Assessor, Thanet District Council, P O Box 9 Cecil Street, Margate Kent CT9 1XZ, or send an email to
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Yours sincerely,
This email and any files transmitted with it may contain privileged or confidential information. It is intended solely for the person to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy or delete the content of this message immediately and notify the sender by reply email. Opinions, conclusions and other information in this message that does not relate to the official business of Thanet District Council shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by the council.