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Letter to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell

Dear Sir Gus

I am writing to you as Cabinet Secretary regarding my concern about constitutional implications surrounding the Health and Social Care Bill. I am well aware that it is acceptable for a Secretary of State, once a Bill has received its Second Reading in the House of Commons, to take certain steps in relation to Bills that are before Parliament. I have consulted the Clerks in Parliament and it appears there is no written down convention that guides the Government as to what is or is not acceptable. Obviously they cannot implement the legislation in full prior to it being on the Statute Book. read more…..

Announcement: Lord Owen: the issue of Hubris Syndrome

In 2002 Lord Owen gave a lecture to the Annual Meeting of the Association of British Neurologists and the British Neuropsychiatry Association on “The effect of serious illness on Heads of State or Government”.  This was later published as an Occasional paper in the QJM (Q J Med 2003; 96:325-336) entitled “Diseased, demented, depressed: serious illness in Heads of State.  In February 2005, as Chancellor of Liverpool University, Lord Owen delivered the Lord Henry Cohen History of Medicine Lecture on “The effect of Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s illness on his decision-making during the Suez Crisis”. read more…..

UK and the EU: why Britain may vote for Brexit

“We need to wake up. We are all of us being fooled in the EU, not just the UK: by Cameron over this short term fix and by Juncker and the Five Presidents. It is time to call both Cameron and Juncker’s bluff and in doing so restore some confidence to financial markets that Europe and the UK are getting their act together. If either Cameron or Juncker fail to put their negotiations together and we are asked to vote in 2016 then the chance of BREXIT will markedly increase.”

From a speech by Lord Owen delivered on 14 January 2016 to the 12th Berlin Conference, hosted by the German-British Forum and the British Chamber of Commerce. Read the full text here: BerlinSpeechFinal

 

Trident and options for the UK’s nuclear deterrent

In a letter to The Times, Lord Owen suggests alternatives that could enable the SNP to support Scotland-based nuclear-capable submarines. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

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Syria and the revival of the Nato-Russia Council

Lord Owen writes to The Times welcoming Nato’s decision to take up his idea of reviving the Russia-Nato Council “for better political co-operation with Moscow”. (Click on the letter to enlarge it.)

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Comments to the House of Lords on the European Union Referendum Bill.

“To delay the referendum is not acceptable. To do anything in this House, either through ping-pong or otherwise, that would delay the undoubted constitutional right of the Prime Minister to choose the timing of his announcement – and therefore, following his announcement, the timing of the referendum – would be absurd.

“…. the giving of a referendum is a right for Members of Parliament and nobody else, because it curtails their democratic rights. It is a very serious curtailment of their rights, so much so that, although we call it an advisory referendum, we all know that they accept an obligation to take into law decisions which, as citizens, they may personally have voted against.

“That is why, in my view, referendums are to be used rather more sparingly than seems to be developing. It is a very considerable infringement on the rights of a representative, elected, democratic Member of Parliament – and, frankly, those rights do not retain in this House.”

Lord Owen’s full speech, delivered 23 November 2015, is available here: EuropeanUnionReferendumBill

The UN needs to recognise four semi-autonomous regions of Syria

Writing to The Times, Lord Owen proposes several concrete steps in dealing with Isis that should be taken after the Paris attacks. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

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Lord Owen comments on the the NHS Foundation Trust deficit story

“At what stage will the stand alone Foundation Hospital advocates – who have dominated health policy  for 13 years – admit they were wrong? We have to return to comprehensive care provided across each geographical area, as spelt out in the NHS Bill.

“This Bill, now before the House of Commons in the name of Caroline Lucas is supported by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, other Labour MPs, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and John Pugh, Liberal Democrat MP. That progressive alliance in Parliament must now be supported by all the Royal Colleges and anyone committed to evidence based medicine. The evidence is now before us all: Foundation Hospitals have been a disaster. The Health and Social Care Act must be changed and the NHS Bill is the way to do it.”

Lord David Owen on restructuring the EU and saving Syria

“The Eurozone is fundamentally flawed. It needs substantive changes. That means going towards a more federal, integrated Europe.

“… We have a real problem in that we could face a collapse in Damascus. So-called Islamic State…(are) already in the suburbs and could become the owners of Damascus. That would be an absolute tragedy.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMmMFHtQ3nc