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05/7 a (2) [Mar. 5th, 2005|12:29 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

From: Home Office
7th Floor
50 Queen Anne's Gate

3 March 2005

Dear ...

Thank you for your letter addressed to the Prime Minister dated 24 January 2005 about the US/UK bilateral extradition treaty. The Home Office has the lead in extradition matters and your letter has been passed to me to reply.

The new Treaty was signed on 31 March 2003 by the Home Secretary and the US Attorney General. The text of the treaty was published as a Command Paper on 22 May 2003, in accordance with the normal proceedures. The Command Papeer is available, with an Explanatory Memorandum, on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website, at www.foc.gov.uk. The full text of the Treaty can also be found on the FCO website.

The purpose of the new Treaty is to simplify and modernise the UK's extradition arrangements with the United States. These arrangements were previously based on a Treaty initially negotiated in 1972 that will be terminated by the new Treaty.

The Treaty offers the UK a number of benefits. For example, it replaces the system of defining an extradition offence by a list of specific crimes with a 'sentence threshold' system. The sentence threshold means that extradition can be requested for any offence that extracts a maximum penalty of at least 12 months' detention in either territory. This is important as certain crimes exist today, such as computer-related crime, which were unknown when the initial treaty was drawn up in 1972 and, as such, do not appear on the list of extraditable offences.

The Treaty was given effect in the UK by the Extradition Act 2003 ('the 2003 Act'), which came into force on 1 January 2004. A copy of the Act can be found at www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/20030041.htm.

With regards to your concerns about jurisdiction, I would draw your attention to sections 137 and 138 of the 2003 Act which covers this area from a UK perspective. You will understand that we cannot comment on US procedures.

Your letter goes on to mention the removal of the statute of limitations condition for extradition. A Statute of Limitations is a matter for law of the country concerned. I can confirm that a statute of limitations is not a bar to extradition as far as the UK is concerned, as long as the offence for which a person is requested meets the sentence threshold criteria laid down in the 2003 Act. The question of passage of time since alleged offences can be considered by a Judge under section 82 of the 2003 Act.

Finally, your letter mentions the detention of 'individuals without charge for unspecified periods of time' at Guantanamo Bay and prisons in the UK. In the UK, a small number of individuals are detained under Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, but this is not an internment power, as your letter seems to suggest, but rather an immigration power which allows for the extended detantion of suspected international terrorists who we are not currently able to remove from the UK, pending their ultimate deportation. The detainees are free to leave the country voluntarily at any time. As you will know, this is an area of the law that is being revised under the Prevention of Terrorism Bill that is currently before the UK Parliament.

I hope that you will find this information useful.

Yours sincerely,

Rob McMorran
Extradition Policy Section.

Original letter here.
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05/12 a [Mar. 5th, 2005|07:57 am]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

From: The Office of HRH The Prince of Wales
Clarence House

28 February 2005

Dear ...

Thank you very much for your letter to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

His Royal Highness has asked me to respond on his behalf and, in doing so, I thought it might be helpful for you to have a copy of The Prince of Wales's most recent speech to his Education Summer School, last June. Forgive me for not tackling each point that you make, but I thought you might be interested in seeing a copy of this speech. It does touch in a number of relevant areas, which I hope you will find of interest.

In the meantime, thank you very much for writing in the way that you did.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Leishman.

Speaking Notes for HRH The Prince of Wales,
The Prince of Wales Education Summer School 2004

I am so pleased to have this albeit brief opportunity to meet as many of you as possible. As you know it is the third year.

Those who attended the earlier schools, first of all Dartington in Devon and then last year at Dunston Hall in Norfolk, seem to have found the experience professionally rewarding ...

We have had a lot of comments from teachers: 'The most striking thing, I think, has been my rekindled confidence in the rightness of teaching quality Literature texts, attempting to lift the students to that level, rather than 'dumbing down' to more accessible texts.'

Another one wrote: 'Inspired by Seamus Heaney's huge reserve of poetry that he just knew by heart, I now regularly set homeworks that involve learning poems. The 7s really took to it and we have had lessons where we didn't need books because we knew the poems and my 10s are currently learning Keat's Belle Dame ... and committed Othello's 'It is the cause ...' speech to memory.'

Bernice McCabe, the Director, to whom I am inordinately grateful for doing this for the third year running, and her Steering Group should take credit for the success of the last two events and for what I am sure will be a successful School this year.

Now, you may be wondering, or in fact you probably are, why on earth have I involved myself in this initiative? Standing here I wonder whether I should say anything at all! But the answer is very simple.

From the outset, the main point of my Education Summer School has been that it exists to facilitate, to encourage and to inspire. It is not, I repeat not, about indoctrination. It is about making time for hard-pressed teachers ( and I know what a difficult and challenging job they have because over the years I've heard various gatherings of teachers) to discuss fundamental questions about the nature of education and the contribution that their subjects can make to the intellectual and emotional development of young people in our schools. So it is about reminding people of some of the timeless principles underpinning teaching.

It is also, crucially, about reminding people of what has been lost throughout the twentieth century, and how we can recover a proper balance. I often think that the kind of fashionable changes we have witnessed in the field of education during the last fifty years have been mirrored in other areas of life - in particular with regard to agriculture and the environment, architecture and certain aspects of healthcare.

In all cases there has been a dramatic move from what I can only describe as an 'organic' approach - in other words, something which has its roots in what has gone before and is, to all intents and purposes, a living organism reflecting the fundamental nature of our humanity - to a 'genetically modified' approach which cuts us off from our cultural and historical heritage and relies on ceaseless, 'clinical' experimentation. It is strange isn't it, I think, that the twentieth - and now it seems the twenty-first century - mindset seems to want to genetically engineer everything; to cut all roots: to homogenize, synthesize and globalize, when I think what we urgently need to do once again is harmonize.

There is not enough time to go into a great deal of detail here, but I believe there is a good analogy (as far as what happened within the Educational establishment is concerned) with what has occurred in the agricultural sector. In this case we have witnessed the comprehensive destruction of so much of our precious countryside.

And during the twentieth century we have seen the uprooting of hundreds of miles of hedges, we have lost over half our ancient woodland, ninety per cent of our chalk downland, and our traditional hay meadows have been reduced to just two per cent of their original area. All this destruction - which, ironically, everyone is now concerned to try and restore (along with more natural, safer methods of producing our food) - came about as farmers responded to clear economic signals and the advice and encouragement of the experts and academics. The farmers got the blame for what happened but, in truth, they were merely responding to official encouragement and incentive.

In the field of education I would contend that we have witnessed a similar destruction of our cultural, linguistic and historical habitat since the Second World War, again encouraged by the fashionable ideas of experts and educationalists, which has meant that many people have becme culturally disinherited.

I know from my visits to schools that much wonderful work is achieved, often in the most difficult and demoralising circumstances. I know, too, from my conversations with teachers (not least the Dartington and Norfolk summer schools), that many in the profession feel that a difficult job is becoming, year by year, yet more difficult.

It must be hard to keep order, although I daresay many of you here must be very good at it, when your pupils apparently have little fear of the sanctions you can impose, when some of their parents collude to undermine your authority, when we live in a society where the very notion of 'authority' is rountinely criticized. It must be hard to teach with energy and commitment when the burden of bureaucracy means that you have to spend hours in the evening and at weekends to keep on top of the paperwork; when the curriculum is in a state of constant flux; public examinations are forever being re-structured; one initiative follows with painful rapidity on the heels of the last.

And we live, of course, in a materialistic world which does not (how shall I put it?) always fully appreciate the intrinsic importance of education - the balance between the heart and the mind; between, in other words, the 'efficient', useful, 'relevant' things and those now seem as 'inefficient'; the ideas and inherited wisdom that make us truly human at the end of the day.

We hear it all the time - 'Young people must be prepared for the world of work.' Schools and universities must, as politicians like to remind us, 'deliver' the 'skilled workforce' the UK needs if it is to remain competitive in the 'knowledge economy'. But, if we have reached the point where we justify education on utilitarian grounds alone, we might as well give up. Education matters because it is through education that children discover their common humanity. The sooner we re-discover this essential truth, the better - the better for our children and, if I may say so, for you, their teachers.

It is worth, perhaps, just reflecting on another area of difficulty and this has already been covered partly in 'Any Questions'; because there is a belief that, according to some schools of thought, obtaining a degree is the only way to succeed in the world, whereas we would probably all benefit from a greater emphasis on practical, vocational skills provision. And after twenty-eight years of working with my Prince's Trust I have come to appreciate that many pupils who have an aptitude for vocational skills often experience low self-esteem because they can feel they are unable to engage with academic studies as well as others, and are therefore sometimes stigmatized as preparing for 'second-rate' training and, eventually, jobs. Yet, how often does one hear about the dearth of skilled craftsmen in this country and the need to train more people? Everybody, in my view, has a talent of one sort or another, which is the premise on which I've tried to base the work of the Prince's Trust, but so often it needs the skills of parents and teachers to find them; to grow and foster them.

I need hardly say that I am not here to tell you how to do your job as teachers but, in my view, education is about opening people's minds; it is about exploration, discovery; about undertaking journeys. It is not, to my mind, about closing things down or narrowing the paths upon which children will tread. English and History, the two subjects at the heart of my particular Summer School, are therefore essential to those processes. We owe it, I think, to the next generation to give bodies of knowledge to children, even though they may not necessarily appreciate or understand the need for such depth and breadth at an early stage.

So how can we encourage young people without turning them off learning? That is, as I have said, where your skills and professionalism come into play. Can it really be so wrong to say that children need to be able to walk before they can run? In educational terms, I believe that they need to be taught the basic building blocks of literacy and numeracy, then elementary knowledge within their different subjects. This surely gives them power and control because it equips them to approach the world in a way that can help them to make sense of it.

Do you really, honestly, subscribe to the oft-reported view of 'experts' in education, who have argued that more time should be spent teaching skills and less time imparting knowledge? Would it not be madness to risk a long-term devaluation of knowledge? Surely that would have a disastrous impact on everybody, but most of all on children who have not enjoyed particular privileges? They, it appears to me, have everything to lose from such an approach ...

Is it not right that knowledge taught well by expert and enthusiastic teachers cannot be beaten? And yet I am aware that it has been said - and continues to be said in some quarters - that the main task of a teacher is to be a 'learning manager' or to equip people with 'learnacy' skills. Perhaps some agree - but I personally find it very hard to be inspired by such a concept which introduces yet another potentially expensive and disastrous experient with people's lives.

In education, as in life, it seems to me that there are truths which hold across millenia. There are great things to be learned about today's society and our world from those who lived, experienced and learnt about life and the world centuries ago. This does not mean that nothing of the twentieth or twenty-first centuries is worth knowing, studying or learning from. But I simply don't believe that all the answers and worthwhile experience are to be found from within our most recent history or literature.

Some people choose to categorize this position as being hidebound by tradition. You will perhaps be surprised to hear that I don't agree! History should take all human knowledge for its province. If you want to know where you are going, it helps to know where you are and how you got there. History, when it is properly defined and taught, enables us to see ourselves and our culture in relation to our past and, in that sense, confers a sense of identity based on evidence, not an exercise in imagination. The trouble about education - speaking from hindsight - is that, when young, you sometimes can't see the point in much of what is being taught.

In my view, it is only when you are older that you begin to appreciate the true value of things that seemed irrelevant, or boring, at the time. But this is not an argument for letting pupils decide what should be taught on the basis of how entertaining or 'relevant' it is.

And in terms of teaching History, how can anyone properly understand the present if they have not been taught about the past? How can anything worthwhile grow in this world we inherit if it has no proper roots? The same kind of universal truth surely applies also to the teaching of English as well. If children are to contribute as adults to the knowledge economy, they must be taught to spell and punctuate.

But the challenge - your challenge, if I may say so - is deeper. It is to help them to use language with freshness and precision so that they can escape from the generalising clichés of everyday life. It is to introduce them to as many masterpieces from our great literary heritage as time allows. For the paradox of great literature is that the reader is both transported out of his own existence and becomes more fully himself. This is what I mean by the phrase 'common humanity'. To read Chaucer or Shakespeare or Wordsworth is, as Eliot put it, to arrive where we started and 'to know the place for the first time'.

So, at any rate, it seems to me. But it is your views, not mine, that matter in all this. I want these Summer Schools to ask fundamental questions that seem to have been deliberately excluded for so long; questions about the ultimate meaning of life in the context of an inherited sense of continuity from those who have gone before and whose accumulated experience can still sustain us.

Do you agree, for instance, that in part, at least, your job becomes harder because the wisdom (or, in the terminoligy of the National Curriculum, 'the knowledge, understanding and skills') you teach is deemed, in a world obsessed with what is judged to be 'relevant', at best an indulgence, at worst an inexcusable waste of time that would be better spent teaching the young how to 'Improve their own Learning and Performance', or to become self aware, or whatever the latest modish fad might be?

Do you agree that your job is to teach? Do you see yourselves as 'teachers' or as 'facilitators' and 'mentors', or even as a 'learning coach'? 'To stand at the font of the classroom and to speak with passion and authority about things the class would not otherwise encounter, to push back the boundaries of understanding, to communicate the enthusiasm you feel for your subject ...' Oh no, this is to be, dreaded word, a 'didactic' teacher, an old-fashioned pedant who wants only to pour facts into the bored minds of his unwilling audience.

And while on this subject Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems to me we must not forget, in this technologically-driven age, that technology can surely never be a replacement for inspirational teachers. The ability to inspire pupils through experience and emotion, and from the heart, cannot possibly be adequately replicated by a computer programme. This is not to say of course that technology does not have a significant and valuable part to play, but on its own, and especially in relation to basic skills teaching, it cannot be a replacement for the value delivered by inspiring and committed teaching staff.

Funnily enough, I was thinking as I was going round talking to you all, unless some people encourage and understand the importance of writing, and writing letters, we will end up in a world where only text messages and emails are all we leave behind.

'It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil', John Maynard Keynes once wrote. In my limited experience, I have to say that I have encountered the odd, somewhat obstructive vested interest, but, ultimately, he is right. Ideas matter. If there is orthodoxy in education, a body of received opinion that is peddled in teacher training institutions and in-service courses and official publications, and if that orthodoxy tends to denigrate both the importance of knowledge and the role of the teacher as an authority in that knowledge, we have, I believe, a very real problem.

It is, as I said earlier, for you to say. Is, for instance, the traditional curriculum the curriculum of the dead, specifically dead, white and usually middle class males? Is Shakespeare better than soaps such as EastEnders or Coronation Street? Is it not right that knowledge taught well by expert and enthusiastic teachers cannot be beaten? Is judgementalism always wrong? Is learning how to learn more important than actually learning? Is competition always damaging? Should even the youngest children 'take ownership of their own learning behaviour'? Why should consideration for others - in other words, simple good manners, respect for the wisdom and knowledge of elders - be a thing of the past? And so on and so forth. The next few days will give, I hope, some opportunity to ponder these and similar questions.

Perhaps I can, in conclusion you'll be relieved to hear, offer just one answer. Is Shakespeare better than a television soap? You will not be surprised, with respect for what television drama can do, to hear that the answer is yes. If Hamlet were to be a TV character, his great meditation on the nature of eternity would run, I imagine, something like this -

'Well, frankly, the problem as I see it at this moment in time is whether I should just lie down under all this hassle and let them walk all over me, or whether I should just say OK, I get the message, and do myself in. I mean, let's face it, I'm in a no-win situation, and quite honestly I've had it up to here with the whole stupid mess and I've got a good mind to take the quick way out. At the end of the day, that's the bottom line. The only problem is, what happens if I find that when I've bumped myself off there's some kind of a, you know, all that mystical stuff about when you die, you might find that you are still - you know what I mean?'

Ladies and Gentlemen, I said last year that we have to be ambitious in what we show young people if we want them to be ambitious in turn: ambitious to understand, to read, to speak, to create, to feed and articulate their individual wants and needs. I want to leave that thought about ambition with you at the opening of this year's Summer Schol. The consequence of limiting or even extinguishing ambition is that we end up with an entire generation of culturally disinherited young people. With it, we give new generations a vision of greatness of which others have been capable and to which they can aspire in their turn.

Original letter here
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05/3 a [Feb. 20th, 2005|09:35 am]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

Department for Education and Skills
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street

15 February 2005

Dear ...

Thank you for your letter dated 23 January addressed to Ruth Kelly regarding Oral Answers to Questions session Thursday, 20 January 2005. I am sure you will appreciate that due to the volume of correspondence the Secretary of State (SoS) receives she is unable to replyed to reply.

I should explain that the amendment which was blocked in the House of Lords on 18 January was an amendment to the Education Bill, currently going through Parliament, which would have had the effect of abolishing independent appeal panels for the hearing of appeals by parents (and pupils where they are at least 18 years of age) against permanent exclusion from school. The amendment, if successful, would have meant that parents no longer had a right of appeal to an independent appeal panel in such cases.

The Government is determined that schools should be orderly and safe places for pupils and staff. Ruth Kelly, in her speech on 1 February to secondary teachers made it clear that she was in favour of zero tolerance of disruption in the classroom. We back head teachers when pupils' behaviour warrants exclusion. This includes serious and persistent disruption and violence towards staff or other pupils.

However, the Government is committed to retaining the right for parents of permanently excluded pupils to appeal to an independent appeal panel. The decision to permanently exclude a pupil is a very serious one and we believe that it is right that parents should have a right of appeal. This has been in legislation since 1987, and is in the interests of natural justice and it complies with the Human Rights Act 1998. Independent appeal panels are an established safeguard for pupils, parents and schools. Abolition would lead to legal action by parents against schools and more court cases. This would be costly in time and money to everyone involved. Most head teachers' and teachers' unions are in favour of retaining appeal panels, and a survey last year found that 60 percent of parents wanted to keep them.

In January 2003 the Government reformed the composition of independent appeal panels so that they are now weighted in favour of people with knowledge of the state education system, namely head teachers and governors. So the panel, while being independent and impartial, is not divorced from the everyday realities of school life. The panels overturn a small minority of permanent exclusions: in 2002/03 only 209 out of 9,290 (2.25 percent) permanent exclusions were determined in favour of the pupil.

I hope that I have assured you that we are working hard with heads, teachers, pupils, parents and others to find real and lasting solutions to disruptive and antisocial behaviour in our schools.

Yours sincerely,

Francess Pennington.
On behalf of the Head of the Public Communications Unit.

Original letter here
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05/12 [Feb. 13th, 2005|12:59 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
Clarence House
St James's

Monday, 14 February 2005


It is a sad fact of our modern lives that statements made, whether privately or publicly, are often taken out of context by others wishing to make a political (or Politically Correct) point, or to gain some perceived advantage through misquotation and misrepresentation. This sad state of affairs has become almost a given for people in public life when commenting on statements made by your Highness who have little real background knowledge of a situation, or who are unwilling to accept that such comments may, given their full context, be warranted. It is also the case with statements made within the political, educational and business sectors; whether such misquotations or purposefully misinterpreted achieve a similar level of publicity or not.

In October and November of last year, your private memorandum on educational and personal abilities was subjected to such a form of misinterpretation by persons who, given their status and position in government, the media and society, should have known better. With your permission, and prior to our private debate on such standards in modern society, I wish to raise a few points on this subject, and hope that your Highness might enhance our forthcoming debate, without going into details which may compromise the continuing judicial process, from personal experience or knowledge.

Our society has moved from the ideal of an Intellectual Culture through educational and political changes into an era of post-intellectualism. The rise of technology and the belief that this technology will eradicate many of the - progressively increasing - problems of society has become almost a watchword for further advances which, to my way of thinking, merely increase cultural, educational and political differences and further exacerbate problems the technology was designed to remove. As each new phase of this technology enters the marketplace, ostensibly to correct problems - real or perceived - arising from previous versions, it creates a myriad more problems which can only be alleviated in the short term through so-called 'stopgap' advances. A massive influx of material provides those with access to media sources in particular with far more information than they are capable of comprehending or, as suggested by social scientists, sift through to gain deeper knowledge and understanding. This wealth of information merely scratches at the surface of events and advances providing a shallow overview from a knowledge base few have the ability to access or understand. Our society is quickly becoming one with no depth of knowledge, but many self-styled experts who have not been capable or willing to expand their basic comprehension from an overview into an in-depth understanding.

In 1996 Donald N Wood, in his work Post-Intellectualism and the Decline of Democracy, commented on the situation [author's italics]:

'The assumption of equality under the law - egalitarianism - is essentially an intellectual concept; all persons should be considered equal and should be treated the same. But individualism and competition are also intellectual concepts; all persons should be allowed to compete freely and rise as far as their talents and abilities will carry them. Some individuals are better equipped to succeed than others (that is, they have more intelligence, perseverance, talent, strength, or resources) and should be allowed to reach their full potential.'

In 1939 Robert Lynd, in his work Knowledge for What? wrote:

'They refused to admit that individuals varied in their capabilities and that many of them inevitably lost out in the 'individual scramble for wealth'.'

Donald N Wood comments further [author's italics]:

'Universal education is an intellectual idea, but when implemented, it has resulted in both distended-intellectual vocational curriculum and a counter-intellectual 'feel-good' emphasis on self-realisation; the intellectual goal of liberal arts has been abandoned. Egalitarianism is an intellectual ideal, but it has been achieved by mandating a post-intellectual politically correct mediocrity; intellectual competition has been thwarted.'

Our modern society, our advanced and advancing culture, produces young people who are destined for a highly specialised role in adult life; who often have no basic conception of the arts, of study, reading and writing, of leisure activities outside of the video games - television - Internet community. It is producing young people lacking in communication skills; lacking in the ability to advance through intellectual - or even intelligent - perseverance; lacking the foundation knowledge our forefathers deemed so integral to achieving not only a place in society, but also a personal worth and, through diligence, self-esteem.

Many of these changes to our culture may be laid at the doors of various educational and societal changes forced through both by advancing technology and the need for specialisation, and the aberration of Political Correctness which, although perhaps acceptable and justified on paper, has no real place in modern society. Political Correctness which merely advances the positions of a minority over other members of society better qualified - educationally and intellectually - to achieve furtherance, and brings a level of dumbing down (defined by Steve Allen in his 1989 publication Dumbth: And 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter) through a loss of critical thinking.

Steve Allen wrote [author's italics]:

'It is necessary to think about such issues, intelligently speculate about them, reason about them, communicate articulately about them.'

Our ability to think and speculate, to apply the principles of critical thinking, to assimilate and assess information to form knowledge or understanding of various issues are steadfastly played down, if not suppressed completely, through the changes in an educational and political system designed to promote growth through specialisation rather than individual ability or capability. An advance in our culture which is not only detrimental to society but also, on an individual level, leads to a mass of partially educated people impregnated with the belief that they are better than their capabilities would normally allow.

This lowering of the intellectual - educational - capability of the individual, in the understanding that advancement requires a greater breadth of knowledge and personal ability leads, inevitably, to a belief that anyone, regardless of their standard of education, knowledge or experience, is capable of assuming a higher position within society, within business, within politics even, than is the case. Each individual then sees a failure to achieve advancement as the fault of someone else - invariably in a higher position - to appreciate their worth and, through this impregnated belief in possibly non-existent ability, as a personal attack or a racial, religious or other non-Politically Correct motivated assault. The lack of critical thinking capability brings about a lack of personal criticism; a failure or unwillingness to accept the limitations of personal ability.

As a form of individual protection against those individuals who are perceived as being obstacles to personal advancement, the adage 'assault is the best form of defence' often comes to the fore prior to any attempt to understand why a specific position has been taken, or an application for advancement refused. In the mass media a policy of selective quotation, partial reporting of facts within a short time frame or sound bite, furthers this failure for others to appreciate the underlying intention of a statement or explanation and creates a bias which is, often, a basis for further misinterpretations. I believe this is what has occurred in the case of your Highness's private memorandum in the specific case of Ms. Elaine Day.

Leaving aside the specific case of Ms. Day, I would appreciate your Highness's views on these changes to society in general, and your Highness's considered opinion on an appropriate way forward to combat, or eradicate, the progressive loss society is experiencing as a result of this cultural shift into a post-intellectual era.

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant,

Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.

Reply here
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05/8 a [Feb. 7th, 2005|07:29 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

From: Home Office
7th Floor
50 Queen Anne's Gate

2 February 2005

Dear ...

Thank you for your letter dated 31 January 2005 about the Home Secretary's control orders proposal.

The Home Office thanks you for your comments, which have been noted. We will be publishing our full proposals in due course.

Yours sincerely,

J Fanshaw
Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group.

Original letter here.
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05/7 a (1) [Feb. 4th, 2005|08:11 am]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

From: Direct Communications Unit
10 Downing Street

1 February 2005

Dear ...

The Prime Minister has asked me to thank you for your recent letter.

Mr Blair would like to reply personally, but as you will appreciate he receives many thousands of letters each week and this is not possible.

The matter you raise is the responsibility of the Home Office, therefore he has asked that your letter be forwarded to that Department so that they are also aware of your views.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Connolly.


Original letter here.
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05/11 [Jan. 31st, 2005|10:16 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Eisenhower Executive Building

Tuesday, 1 February 2005

Dear Mr Cheney,

In an interview with MSNBC aired on Thursday, 27 January 2005, you stated:

'If, in fact, the Israelis become convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear power, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.'

Given that the Iranians appear to be co-operating with the appropriate international authorities on nuclear issues, and that the United States - as stated by Dr Rice on Sunday, 30 January 2005 - plans to build bases on each side of Iran and continue what many might regard as spying activities in such a way as might be considered intimidation, do you not feel that the real danger is not so much the possibility of Iranian action, but the probability of Israeli assault? Would this not make, in this instance, Israel the far more dangerous obstacle towards peace in the Middle East at the moment?

Yours sincerely,

Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.
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05/10 [Jan. 29th, 2005|09:32 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

Senator F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.
120 Bishops Way
Ste. 154
WI 53005

Monday, 31 January 2005

Dear Senator Sensenbrenner,

In the light of the changing threat to national and international stability through terrorist activities, you are recorded as proposing a House of Representatives Bill to set federal standards for the issue of birth certificates, personal identification and driving licences.

Without wishing to delve into the quagmire of problems likely to be faced by yourself and the government over such centralisation, I would like to raise a question which I find unanswered through the limited details I have read over this proposed bill.

The issuing of a driver's licence for foreign nationals is only to be authorised once proof has been supplied that the person has the right of abode or lawful presence within the United States. These licences are then to be set to expire at the same time as a visa issued to allow that presence expires. Through this means you intend tightening up security against possible terrorists and prevent their movement should they remain in the country after expiration of the visa.

As driving licences are not required in order to move about the country - a train or bus ticket would suffice - do you also intend making it a requirement that identification be provided prior to the purchase of a ticket which allows free movement within the United States, or will there be some other form of check on the movement of all residents - foreign nationals or citizens - to ensure that an abuse doesn't occur?

It is clear, of course, that merely having the driver's licence expire on the same date as a visa expires is not going to prevent a potential terrorist from achieving his or her aim, nor is it likely to prevent them from moving around the country virtually without hindrance.

Yours sincerely,

Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.


House Judiciary Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has made good on his promise to introduce a bill containing immigration and security measures that were stripped last month from the legislation implementing the 9/11 intelligence reform bill.

HR 418, the REAL ID Act of 2005, will set federal standards for the issuance of birth certificates and other forms of identification, particularly driver's licenses. It will require all states to verify an applicant's lawful presence in this country before issuing a driver's license and will establish a uniform rule that driver's licenses for foreign visitors expire when their visa expires. The goal of the legislation is to disrupt terrorist travel.

The bill also tightens the asylum system against abuse. It provides that all terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility are also grounds for deportation. It will also close the 3-mile hole in the fence at the United States-Mexico border near San Diego.
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05/9 [Jan. 29th, 2005|05:23 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

Senator John F Kerry
One Bowdoin Square
10th Floor
MA 02114

Monday, 31 January 2005.

Dear Senator Kerry,

In the run-up to the Presidential Elections during 2004, one of your rallying points to the public of the United States (and elsewhere) was that you had a plan whereby the military forces sent by the United States to invade and occupy Iraq could be withdrawn.

Despite your final loss in the elections, and because of the obvious lack of a concrete plan by President Bush and the Republican party, this plan may well be of the utmost importance not just to the American public today, but also to the standing of the United States in the eyes of other nations and their peoples'.

I do not doubt that you have read the scathing review of the United States as seen by other countries around the world, and the results of a poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation, as published in Newsweek International recently. Despite your return to the folds of the Senate, the publication of this plan you offered is still opportune and timely.

I would be grateful if either you or your office could advise me of what plans you have to make the withdrawal of the armed forces of the United States from Iraq possible and what time-scale you envisage both for publicising this plan and for the eventual withdrawal.

Yours sincerely,

Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.
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05/8 [Jan. 29th, 2005|12:44 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society

Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
50 Queen Anne's Gate

Monday, 31 January 2005

Dear Mr Clarke,

On Wednesday, 26 January 2005 you made a statement to the House of Commons on the future of the powers of Part 4 to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 in light of the quashing, by the House of Lords Judiciary Committee, of the Human Rights 1998 (Designated Derogation) Order 2001.

You pointed out that seventeen foreign nationals living in the United Kingdom had been certified and it was pointed out by Mr Douglas Hogg that twelve foreign nationals had been or are detained at Belmarsh under these powers and that their cases came up for review at regular intervals both by the Security Services and the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

You also pointed out that the evidence raised against these seventeen people had been partially adduced through intercepts which are not admissible in a court of law as evidence, and that these seventeen people, with their legal representatives, were not given access to the information used to justify their internment at any stage during the three years of their incarceration.

Quite aside from the points raised by many over the legality of holding foreign nationals or British citizens under this Act there are many areas which raise cause for concern over its continued use. The main ones being, as I am sure you appreciate, the fact that none of these detainees had - or have - the opportunity to defend themselves against any charges which might have been raised and were being held without any charges being possible, for the reasons you highlighted.

It must also be pointed out that, during the three years of their detention, none of the police or security services were capable of bringing a case against these suspects which would have held water in a court of law.

Is it not time, therefore, to completely revamp the entire Act with a view to the Human Rights of all persons who might fall under this legislation? As it stands, even with the removal of the sections named by the House of Lords Judicial Committee, the threat of incarceration without the prospect of a fair trial and without the prospect of an opportunity to defend themselves remains. After three years of detention without any possibility of a charge being raised towards a conviction of these people, their cases should have been reviewed with a view to releasing them. During the three years of incarceration in Belmarsh, they would have had no access to terrorist organisations and no opportunity to plan, or carry out a terrorist action against the United Kingdom. During the three years of incarceration, seeing that nothing could be substantiated against these seventeen foreign nationals, it must also have become clear to all involved in the individual cases, that a likely link to terrorist organisations or to groups or individuals planning terrorist actions against the United Kingdom existed.

Perhaps a better way forward for the future would be to carefully check the backgrounds of foreign nationals prior to their entry to the United Kingdom and to limit their rights to remain in the country to a specific period of time. A time-limited visa would allow their deportation at the end of this specified time, or an earlier revocation of the visa should their presence in the United Kingdom be deemed contrary to the - rewritten - Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act or the safety of the country and its institutions or people.

Further, in your reply to various Members, you avoided completely the question of how many British citizens these Orders apply to, and how many are being investigated for possible terrorist connections. I would be grateful if you, or your office, might confirm that more than adequate considerations are being made into the possibility that British citizens may have connections to external terrorist organisations or be planing terrorist atrocities similar to, for example, the bombing of the FBI building in Oklahoma. One needs only to look back over the activities of the various IRA organisations, the INLA and similar within Northern Ireland and on the British mainland in the Seventies to appreciate how important such considerations remain.

Yours sincerely,

Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.

Text of the Debate published in Hansard

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