I hope all my constituents have had an enjoyable holiday period and are getting back to normal life.
I was glad to see that some justice had finally been achieved in the Stephen Lawrence case and I do admire the long fight that Mr and Mrs Lawrence have put up to see perpetrators brought to book after so many years.
The House of Commons is back next week and I am working through the Christmas post, taking up many cases for local residents and doing some reading for my Committees. The Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform is proving very interesting and time-consuming, as we look at the Government’s proposals to see if they make sense for the future. It looks as though there will need to be some changes if the proposals are to be practicable. I am also spending time working on the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe which is supporting Britain’s Chairmanship as we try to improve the efficiency of the European Court of Human Rights and find ways of making it concentrate on serious human rights abuses, rather than lesser matters. The Court has 162,000 cases outstanding and many of them are not in jurisdiction, or do not cover serious matters of human rights abuse. In general, human rights cases should be dealt with in the countries in which they occur and only reach the top European Court if there is a major issue of law involving a significant human rights abuse. Britain has considerable support for these changes and I hope that we will see progress at the end of January when British Ministers are to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.