EDM 603 taking off

By Diliff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Diliff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
This was a very good week for EDM 603 which calls upon the Home Office to find the funding to keep the National Wildlife Crime Unit going (in my opinion it actually needs an increase in funding!).  21 new MPs signed up to the EDM and it is difficult to imagine that that is not partly because of the stance taken by this blog and the action taken by you, its readers.  Thank you!

And thank you to the following 21 MPs: Labour (13); Andrew Miller, Frank Dobson, Pamela Nash, David Blunkett, Bill Esterson, Sarah Champion, Kate Hoey, Glenda Jackson, Jim Hood, Andy McDonald, Jim Cunningham, Graham Allen, Graham Morris; Conservative (3); Mike Weatherley, Gary Streeter, Bob Blackman; Lib Dem (3); Mark Williams, Ian Swales, Robert Smith; DUP; David Simpson; SNP; Pete Wishart.

This is now the 4th most-supported EDM of this Parliamentary session – an impressive show of MP support reflecting public concern.  It should be possible to get it into 3rd place with a bit more effort.

When I say impressive show of support that only applies to the Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, DUP, Alliance, Green, Plaid Cymru, Independent and SDLP parties.  As you see below there is an embarrassing lack of concern on this matter by Conservative MPs:

SDLP (3/3)

Plaid (3/3)

Green (1/1)

Respect (1/1)

Alliance (1/1)

SNP (5/6)

DUP (6/8)

Independent (1/2)

Lib Dem (29/57)

Labour  (78/255)

Conservative (7/304)

Many Conservative MPs are replying to their constituents with a standard reply which has two main elements. The first element says that EDMs don’t make much difference as they are non-binding and that’s why they don’t bother to sign them. If I had a Conservative MP who replied to me like this I would write back saying that I think it’s a bit rich that he/she is not taking this perfectly easy way to tell me, their constituent, what areas of public policy interest them and that they support.  However, I would like an answer specifically on the National Wildlife Crime Unit so could they write back to me and/or put a statement on their website.  I would be writing to them whenever other EDMs that interest me come up and asking them to reply in detail on their views.  I recognise this is a lot more work than signing EDMs but that’s your choice mate/missus.

The second part of the standard Conservative reply is as follows:

‘As you may be aware, with the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners and the creation of a National Crime Agency, there are significant changes taking place in the broader policing landscape. The role played by the NWCU will evolve in accordance with these. Consequently, I understand from Ministers that decisions regarding Government funding for the NWCU beyond 2012-2013 will be taken later this year. It may be that it is better to let the new police and crime commissioners decide how best to allocate resources at a local level rather than providing specific central funding.’

This is, at one and the same time, true and nonsense. The NWCU is a central resource providing help to all police forces and therefore its role and activities will not be replicated in each police authority (and if they were then it would be very expensive and inefficient).  One might as well say that police forces can make their own decisions so we don’t need the Home Office – maybe we’ll see Theresa May resigning next week?

I don’t totally blame individual MPs for sending out this nonsense.  No MP is going to be interested in all subjects, and not all MPs will have the requisite knowledge of all subjects, and so we should expect them to send out standard letters provided by their party on particular subjects.  But the central Conservative office shows that it doesn’t have a clue on this subject and so, if I had a Conservative MP, I would write back to them saying that their reply is inaccurate and wrong and asking them to have another go at responding to your concern – or maybe they would like to put their name to EDM 603 as a mark of repentance?

I was tickled to see Labour’s Kate Hoey sign this EDM, given that she is Chair of the Countryside Alliance.  I doubt whether we will see the CA’s ex-CEO, now Conservative MP for Camarthen West and Pembrokeshire South signing EDM 603 as he hasn’t signed a single EDM yet.

By Southbanksteve from London, UK (My name is Will or Policeman as (arresting) model) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Southbanksteve from London, UK (My name is Will or Policeman as (arresting) model) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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35 Replies to “EDM 603 taking off”

  1. What do I do if I have not received a reply, or even an acknowledgement from my MP Mark Pawsey?

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    1. Matthew - welcome and thank you. If you are on Twitter then tweet @MarkPawsey asking for an explanation. That way lots of others will see your tweet too. And here is the link to MPs' email addresses http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

      He works for you.

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      1. Thanks Mark,

        I see you have tweeted him already, I'll email again if he still does not reply!

        Matt

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  2. Mark, our thanks to you for highlighting this issue and advising upon the next step. I have sent a second letter to Heather Wheeler my MP and will inform you of any response I receive.

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  3. If Simon Hart doesn't sign any EDMs then what conclusions are or are not to be drawn from the fact he hasn't signed this one?

    Moreover if the Conservatives do have alternative proposals for fighting wildlife crime maybe the best debate should be between such proposals and the existing arrangements.

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    1. Giles - and that is one reason why 'not signing' EDMs is such a cop out by MPs (largely Tories) who take this option. It is impossible to know what your MP stands for if they never do anything - what sort of democratic vacuum is that? I very much doubt that Simon Hart would be keen to sign EDM 603 but if he never signs anything I just can't tell can I? Whereas I can get a feeling for my own MPs feelings on the subject by the fact that he has signed EDM 603 and wrote back to me in very positive terms about it. I know who I'd feel inclined to vote for next time around.

      Yes, if the Conservatives opposed funding the NWCU and had an alternative way forward that would be interesting. If they have, then they haven't said what it is. Utterly pathetic!

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      1. I guess that signing an EDM is a good way to communicate with people that continually monitor EDMs but I'm not sure many do. I take an interest in politics but I certainly am unaware of if or what EDMs my MP has signed. Simon Hart is not my MP but maybe he invests his time in better ways of communicating with his constituents - maybe on the other hand he doesn't.

        Has the coalition actually made a decision not to fund the NWCU? If they haven't then it would be pretty odd to have come up with an alternative. If and when they do it would I agree be very wrong for them not to propose alternative means of detecting and enforcing wildlife crime.

        What I would say is that I think probably the idea behind the National Crime Agency is indeed to co ordinate crime fighting at a national level and this might well be the correct approach for some but not all wildlife crime. Such as organised smuggling of endangered species &c I'm not really sure whether it might be better for at least some of the functions of the NWCU to become a function of the NCA or kept as a function of a separate unit - the NWCU.

        I'd be interested to know what your view is not that? There might well be a lot of commnality between some aspects wildlife crime and drug smuggling for example.

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      2. I completely agree with your point that "it is impossible to know what you MP stands for". Up until the last general elections my MP was Joan Walley (SOT North, Labour), she is on the Environmental Audit Committee, and she is very knowledgeable about environmental issues, and generally sympathetic towards the issues which I raised with her. I felt she was replying to me "from the heart", in other words she actually meant what she said. Whereas my current MP (Karen Bradley - Conservative) has never passed an opinion on any issue about which I have contacted her (and I have contacted her about 10 times in the last two years). The typical routine is that I write to her about something, two or three weeks later I get a postcard telling me that she will reply in time, and then, a few weeks later again, I get the standard letter that has come from Conservative central office (I assume), which usually doesn't really answer the letter I originally wrote . I know someone who writes to her about poverty and development issues and the same sequence applies to those issues too. I find it a little ironic that my MP wont sign EDMs because she claims they are a waste of money, when her replies cost twice as much as Joan Walley's did, because with Joan, one letter was sufficient, therefore the price of only one delivery - while with Karen Bradley two deliveries are required.

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  4. Well done Mark,had a letter from Robert Walters,not saying much but saying hopes I find what he says reassuring and thanking me for writing.
    At least it put the thought in his mind but while I hate this class thing there is little doubt that the Tory MPs and Judges and Magistrates have very little thoughts of giving any sentences particularly harsh ones for wildlife crime.

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  5. Mark,

    I've e-mailed, tweeted and written (snail-mail) to my MP (Rachel Reeves; @rachelreevesmp) on this issue and raptor persecution (the latter twice). She has not responded at all by any method as of this morning. So much for democracy; she won't be getting my vote in 2015 unless she makes a concerted and genuine effort to win it. Unfortunately, Leeds West is a safe Labour seat so there is less pressure to respond to constituent's views...wish I lived in a marginal!

    EDM603 may not be a priority for Leeds West's constituents but that should not mean that I don't get a response. It is discourteous and as she represents my views as well as others, surely I deserve an acknowledgement?

    Rachel cannot even hide behind the banner of stating that EDM's are not worth the effort. She, along with Ed Milliband and other senior Labour MPs sponsored or co-sponsored EDM882 (see http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/882).

    If there are any other Leeds West constituents that read this/ read Mark's blog, perhaps they too could tweet or e-mail her about this issue? Perhaps, if one or two more contact her, she'll take a bit more notice.

    Thanks

    Richard

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    1. Richard - well you are doing your bit, at least. Well done! Rachel Reeves has only signed one EDM and she is a Shadow Minister so is unlikely to sign EDMs at all. But no reply is a bit off.

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      1. She may be a Shadow Minister, but that is not a reason not to sign if she is prepared to co-sponsor an EDM. And it is certainly not a reason not to respond. Her background is in economics, and there is a clear economic argument to preserve our natural heritage which I pointed out to her in my letter (i.e. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity - see http://www.teebweb.org/). Within Yorkshire, there is the RSPB's peregrine falcon watch point at Malham, several nature reserves (RSPB and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust), all of which generate tourism pounds. This is not to mention the wider monies spent in visiting Yorkshire for its natural scenic beauty and other activities dependent on well managed ecosystems (see http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/YorksHumb%20full_tcm9-133044.pdf though published in 2002).

        It is a shame she has not responded.

        PS: I resent the original post as I got an error message so you may have received more than one!

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        1. Richard/Mark - has HM opposition formally come down on the side of saving the NCWU? I read a quote from Mary Creagh in the Indie intimating that they had. If Rachel Reeves hasn't a particular interest or knowledge on wildlife crime I'm surprised there isn't a 'standard letter provided by her party' on this subject that she can at least send out.

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  6. Mark

    I've e-mailed, tweeted and written two letters (snail-mail) to my MP (Rachel Reeves MP; @rachelreevesmp) on this issue and raptor persecution in general. I've had no response from any method. Silence. It is not as if she can respond stating that EDMs are a waste of parliamentary time as she is a co-sponsor of EDM882 (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/882) so she clearly recognises they have a value.

    As such, unless she makes a concerted and genuine effort to respond, even if to say that she doesn't support EDM603, then she won't get my vote. But if she wants my vote, she should sign it! Unfortunately, Leeds West is a very safe Labour seat (and likely to be safer in 2015) so there is probably not much incentive to win my vote.

    However, if there are other readers of this blog (and there must be one other person living in Leeds West who does?), perhaps they could contact Rachel if they already haven't? May be if she receives a number of requests, she'd respond?

    And as for other EDMs, the following may also be of interest:

    http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/933: Marine Conservation Zones
    http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/825: Polar bears and CITES Appendix 1

    Many thanks

    Richard

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  7. Your comment that MP's can't be expected to be interested in everything is interesting in itself - my very urban (Bristol West) MP, Steven Williams, took the trouble to write a two page letter about the forest sales issue despite the fact that there was not even a whiff of publicly owned forest in his constituency. I don't think it's Stephen's area of interest, which is perhaps appropriately for an urban MP more oriented to things like health but he realised constituents did care and responded as a result.

    In response to the 'EDM's don't make much difference so why sign them ?' , I suppose a cynic might respond, nor do conservative backbenchers so why vote for them ?

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  8. I'm not 100% sure my MP (michael ellis) undertsood what the NWCU did, I got a very similar "no" response as outlined by you Mark. One thing I did note was for the first time since he was elected (in fact even during his campaign) I had after supplying my address got leaflets highlighting what he has done, what he hope to do etc, also on our local shop community news board, which is normally telling us what is happening with our park and community centre etc and what the Lib/Dem councillors are up to etc I noted posters and a notice telling us when our Mp's surgery is etc. Funny that.
    At least I signed the e-petition even though I think they are a waste of time :/

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  9. My MP Neil Carmichael (Con) has now written to me - quite a good letter attaching the conclusions and recommendations of the report prepared last year by the Environmental Audit Committee on which he sits.

    Point 11. reads "We recommend that the Government reinforces the success of the National Wildlife Crime Unit by implementing long-term funding arrangements to allow it to plan for being even more effective in the future, including enhanced long-term funding to enable it effectively to monitor wildlife crime on the internet. (Paragraph 69)"

    Point 16 says "The NWCU's specialist skills are a cost-effective asset that should be protected and developed (Paragraph 78)"

    They also hope that the report highlights this important area for elected police commissioners and their electorates. They also ask that the Government "immediately introduces an Order under Section 43 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 proscribing the possession of carbofuran and other similar substances in England and Wales (Paragraph 366)". Furthermore they request that "the Government evaluates the effect of the introduction of the offence of vicarious liability in relation to raptor persecution in Scotland and considers introducing a similar offence in England and Wales in that light"

    All the above, to my mind is excellent, and my man Neil Carmichael, deserves some credit for taking an interest and helping to produce this but, despite my asking him, to add his name to this EDM or let me know why if he is not prepared to sign, he does not even mention EDM 603 in his letter which is frustrating!

    I'm going to pass on Roderick Leslie's comment about Conservative backbenchers to him which may touch a chord as he is in a very marginal seat!

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    1. Tony - sounds like Mr Carmichael is trying to win your support rather than taking it for granted, or not caring!

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  10. I have had a very polite but full of the guff about crime commissioners etc from my MP Andrew Jones ( Con). I am about to reply as to why I find the position described in his letter inadequate.

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  11. This may be obvious but perhaps worth saying that there is nothing to prevent anyone booking a slot in their local MP's surgery and discussing these points face to face with them. It makes it much more difficult to get away with the old flannel written by the central office.

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    1. That's a very good point and maybe a better way to find out what they are like than scanning lists of EDMs

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  12. Cheers Mark - and great work for promoting this. I emailed my MP (Jonathan Reybnolds, Labour) last Monday and have received no response, aside from an automated message acknowledging my contact. Just checked the signature list and he's not on there, and doesn't appear to have signed any previously. Will send him a tweet as a nudge though.

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  13. Mark, having received a very unsatisfactory initial reply from my MP Mark Menzies to my original e-mail which you published, I immediately sent off the enclosed reply. I am not too surprised that Mr Menzies has not replied to my second e-mail. In my view the majority of MP's, including Mark Menzies, have one interest in common, themselves.

    To Mark Menzies, MP
    House of Commons,
    London,
    SW1A OAA

    10th January 2013

    Funding for UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and EDM.

    Dear Mark,

    I am most grateful to you for taking the time and trouble you have taken in reply to my e-mail sent to you regarding both the NWCU and EDM. I was disappointed with much of the content of your letter as you appear to have misunderstood the reasons why this country so badly needs a National Wildlife Crime Unit.

    My correspondence to you had nothing to do with domestic cats or the cruelty they and other domestic animals experience. A National Wildlife Crime Unit is needed to coordinate an effective national fight against the illegal trade in wild animals and to prevent the persecution of protected wild animals including birds throughout our countryside. Without a national body responsible for coordinating these efforts, so called protected fauna and flora within the natural environment will continue to suffer as a result.

    Like the majority of Westminster MP’s you may be unaware last year, following a campaign of sustained persecution, the hen harrier was excluded from moorland in northern England used to shoot red grouse. You may also be unaware only a single breeding pair of hen harriers was recorded in the whole of England in 2012. A situation which I hope you will agree with me represents a national disgrace?

    I do not agree with your suggestion to allow the new police and crime commissioners to decide how best to allocate recourses rather than providing specific central funding to undertake this work. The new crime commissioners do not have the experienced man power recourses enabling this work to be undertake effectively or efficiently, whereas the National Wildlife Crime does.

    Nor do I not agree with you when you say Early Day Motions (EDMS) are largely an ineffective way of holding the Government to account. Speaking from some personal experience this was not my experience at all.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

    Yours sincerely,

    Terry Pickford

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  14. Just caught-up shifting half the snow in Peak District

    1,500 feet - all white?

    We're all in it together - with no money left !

    Wildlife Crime?

    New Labour left that to the RSPCA didn't it?

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  15. Wildlife Crime Unit

    During the RBCT some 15,000 cages were interfered with smashed trashed stolen, etc at a small cost of 450,000 pounds sterling. These figures are not in the ISGs report – but were established via a written Parliamentary Question to Bradshaw from Paterson.

    I sent an FOI question to ACPO – they told me to go direct to the individual County Police forces – which I did.

    Result – ONLY ONE person had been arrested in FIVE years – but we don’t know if he / she was prosecuted

    Wildlife Crime? Conservationists? New Labour’s corruption! Don’t you love them all?

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  16. Mark - thanks for the update. I got my reply from Alistair Burt which was courteous but basically the second standard line about police and crime commissioners (nothing about EDM 603 - I hadn't actually asked him to sign it and I see from the records that he doesn't sign EDMs anyway). I do plan to follow up and what you say above and others in the comments will be very helpful.

    Isn't the other problem with "decisions regarding Government funding for the NWCU beyond 2012-2013 will be taken later this year" is that funding is due to run out on 31 March 2013 - so the NCWU will presumably have ceased to exist by the time Ministers get round to making the decision on it's future!* Not much chance of "the role played by the NWCU evolving in accordance with changes in the broader policing landscape", or indeed anything else, if it can't pay it's staff or run it's office. Assuming all the NCWU's small band of dedicated staff haven't already had to leave for more secure jobs.

    Finally for those following up with their MPs it may be worth referring to the written evidence given by the ACPO lead on wildlife crime and the (presumably still) head of NCWU to the Env Audit Committee last May:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmenvaud/c140-ii/c14001.htm

    * Or at best had it's budget halved, as Defra has stumped up but the Home Office hasn't?

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  17. Regarding the Conservative Party line as forwarded by many of their MPs, I am concerned that the party knows exactly what it is doing and the letter is a smokescreen that exploits the public's lack of knowledge to give false reassurance. Most MPs probably aren't aware of this but won't be sufficiently interested to look behind the spin and question the party line. G

    Given the miniscule funding for the NWCU, it is not plausible for it to be split locally - there will be virtually no resources left to allocate. Furthermore, wildlife crime does not respect constabulary borders.

    If there was a sincere intention to maintain the work of the NWCU but through a more-devolved structure, then we would already have seen meaningful plans on this from the Government, given we're only a few months from the funding running out. Plus we would have seen more money allocated to make up for the losses of economies of scale and the need to duplicate and coordinate much more across different constabularies.

    I do hope I'm proved wrong, but I suspect that the Government is reluctant to maintain the NWCU because it interferes with the activities of some powerful interests with historic links to the party, such as raptor poisoning on certain shooting estates and the involvement of some farmers and hunt associates with badger persecution. That combined with a general lack of regard within the Conservative party for animal welfare as a significant moral value that should have some weight in the policy process.

    Thankfully there are some conscientious Conservative supporters and MPs, and they urgently need to stimulate an informed debate with their party.

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  18. “….. because it interferes with the activities of some powerful interests with historic links to the party, such as raptor poisoning on certain shooting estates and the involvement of some farmers and hunt associates with badger persecution. That combined with a general lack of regard within the Conservative party for animal welfare as a significant moral value that should have some weight in the policy process.”

    What utter small-minded nonsense – why make wildlife crime something special – put it into the bigger budget and just make it work – you could even get more out of it.

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    1. Trimbush - wildlife crime is a bit different; I know everyone always says their area is 'a bit different' but...

      Your average bobby on the beat (or in a police car) is unlikely to be on a grouse moor at 6am when a lethal shot is fired or a clutch of eggs destroyed. And even if he (or she) were then they probably won't know what a hen harrier looks like or what form of legal protection it has.

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    2. "What utter small-minded nonsense". Well, I suppose judging from earlier posts we're unlikely to see any effort at coherent explanation, just a series of random cryptic assertions reminiscent of conspiracy theorists.

      Shame that anonymous contributors often try to shout other down rather than accept that others may have sincerely-held different beliefs and engage in constructive debate.

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      1. Hi Dan

        AS I've said before (in earlier posts) - nothing mysterious about me - I'm Peter Brady - Please keep up!

        Cheers

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