Archive of previous
home page items
April 2005 - 1992.005
GOD KNOW ME?
We have just put on
the website FB’s fascinating 1992
interview with Richard Harries, the Bishop
of Oxford. Here is the opening-
Bishop, can I begin this interview by asking
you - yes or no - does God know you?
Yes, God does know me.
You answer yes to that question. Now I have
to ask you to expand on that answer, and
help readers to understand what it means
to you to answer affirmatively the question
Does God know me?
11 Mar 2005 - 2005.014
letter from FB appeared on The Times Letters
page on 11 Mar 2005:
Stirring up religious hatred
for Race Equality Fiona McTaggart (letter,
March 5) says that the same arguments as those
offered against the new crime of stirring
up religious hatred have been offered in debates
since the 1960s against provisions on incitement
to racial hatred.
I disagree. The arguments are not the same. A person cannot choose his
or her race, but is free to choose a religion.
The Minister says the new law 'will not prevent criticism of religious
beliefs'. I disagree with this also. If I criticise a person’s
religious beliefs by saying they are barbaric, cruel, superstitious,
intolerant and antisocial I can plausibly be accused of stirring up
hatred against that person.
more articles on Human Rights written by
FB's other letters (more than 100) published
by the Times
1 Feb 2005
On 1 February
2005 Francis Bennion sent the following letter
to The Times-
I am surprised Michael Gove did not include the name of Peter Brookes
in his list of those who lost over the Iraq elections. His debased
cartoon today hits a new low in his long series of anti-democratic,
unpatriotic depictions. Do they really convey the political views of The
Brookes cartoon shows a large gravestone with
the inscription "Victims of the Coalition".
Around it, other graves are depicted. A voice
from one of them says: "I've got this
lovely warm feeling of democracy inside me!".
Voices from the other graves echo this. (Click
here to see the cartoon in The Times)
17 Jan 2005
old friend Lord Forsooth defends Prince
denies deal with Ministers on ban
Alliance has denied it has done a deal with
the Government that would allow hunting
to continue after February 18 while a legal
challenge is made to the ban.
Brian Dooks, Yorkshire
In any case,
according to former Parliamentary counsel
Francis Bennion, author of Statutory Interpretation,
the Hunting Act must come into force on
February 18 – three months after the
date on which it was passed. "The courts
have no power to issue an injunction delaying
this," he said.
The legal process will begin in the High Court on January 25-26 when
the Countryside Alliance will challenge the legality of the Government's
decision to use the controversial Parliament Act to force through its
If that fails the Alliance is expected to apply for an immediate injunction
to delay implementation of the Hunting Act pending an appeal. At the
same time a Human Rights Act challenge will also be launched.
However, Mr Bennion, widely regarded as Britain's leading writer on all
aspects of statute law, says there is not time before February 18 for
the court to reach a decision on the Alliance's claim that the act
was invalidly passed.
He said: "It is inconceivable that the court would grant the proposed
injunction before it has decided whether the Act is valid. Anyway, what
an injunction does is stop somebody from doing something.
"Nobody needs to do anything to bring the Act into force on February 18.
It will happen automatically. The only thing that could stop it is the passing
of another Act of Parliament."
Post, 28 December 2004.
here to see the whole of FB's letter (published
by the Daily Telegraph on Friday, 24 Dec
2004) upon which the above article was
on the Internet
For an example
of bad manners recently inflicted on FB, and
a general discussion, see Blog FBBB115.
letter from FB, about the Civil
Contingencies Act 2004, appeared
in the Daily Telegraph, 3 December 2004:
Sir - Miss
Blears is unfair to Philip Johnston. She
says his article contains a number of misconceptions,
but does not specify what these are. I can
that he alleged that the Civil Contingencies
Act 2004 granted the Government "dramatic
new powers", but he did not say this.
What he said was that the Government "took
sweeping powers". This is accurate.
He did not
say these powers were new, because, of course,
they are not new. Miss Blears is mistaken
in saying they have been available to governments
only since the Emergency Powers Act was
passed in 1920. In fact, they have been
available since 1914, when Parliament passed
the Defence of the Realm Act (guyed by cartoonists
as Dora, a fierce old lady with a threatening
One might find
fault with Johnston for saying the Act is "objectionable" because
its powers might be misused by a future
government "with scantier respect for
democratic procedures than we have been
used to". But this does not make the
Act objectionable, because it cannot be
avoided. We have to trust future governments
not to abuse these essential powers.
The media are
now more vigilant than ever before, and
so are human rights bodies. We have little
to worry us on that score.
Parliamentary Counsel, 1973-75, Author,
Statutory Interpretation, Budleigh Salterton,
29/11/2004 - 2004.134
editorial comment appeared in the New Law
Journal for 26 November 2004 (page 1746)-
campaigners have launched a legal challenge
to the use of the Parliament Act 1949 to force
through a hunting ban . . . However, constitutional
law expert Francis Bennion said:
validity of the Parliament Act 1949 is purely
a question of statutory interpretation of
the Parliament Act 1911. Section 2(1) of
the latter says that any measure passed
in accordance with its procedure ‘shall
become an Act of Parliament’. This
means an Act of Parliament in the full sense.
So that is what the 1949 Act is. It is valid,
and so is the Hunting Act 2004.”’
For a full statement
of FB’s views on the validity of the
Hunting Act 2004 see FB's article 'Is
the New Hunting Act Valid?' published
in Justice of the Peace on 27 November
22/11/2004 - 2004.033
Less of Lessing
Doris Lessing is a white authoress of note. She had the privilege of
being brought up in one of the best parts of the British Empire, Southern
Rhodesia, in the good old days before it became Zimbabwe and was raped
by the robber Mugabe. Now she has the impudence to tell Exeter schoolgirls
that the great British Empire was on the same level as Hitler's Germany
and Mussolini's Italy. The following letter from Francis Bennion was
published in the Spectator on 6 November 2004-
an Englishman living near Exeter. I was interested
to learn from Jane Gardam’s review of
Doris Lessing’s Time Bites (Books,
23 October 2004) that the latter had told
girls of Exeter School that when she was young ‘there
was the Soviet Union, Hitler’s Germany,
Mussolini of Italy, the British empire’ and
now rejoiced that ‘they are all gone’.
I am 81. For me there was (or were) also these things. I spent five years
of my youth fighting Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini of Italy in
company with many brave young men and women from various parts of the
British Empire. I captained a Wellington bomber of 221 Squadron when
the other four in the crew were all Australians.
They would have been surprised to be lumped with the enemy in a sour
condemnation like this.
reply was published in the Spectator on
20 November 2004
If Francis Bennion (Letters, 6 November) had
troubled to read what I had written instead
of what someone else said I had written, he
would have seen there was no rejoicing, sour
or otherwise, when I listed some of the great
powers that loomed over my youth — Hitler’s
Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, the Soviet
Union (our ally in the war, as it happened),
the British empire — and said they had
all vanished. All of those seemed set to last.
I could have added the other European empires:
Franco. Salazar racism enstructured in certain
nations, like South Africa. My point, which
I had thought it unnecessary to labour, was
that certain contemporary great powers will
probably disappear too, no matter how impregnable
they seem now.
Francis Bennion cites his war service. I, being female, was merely having
babies, but my family has more than done its bit. My father lost a limb
and his health in the trenches. My mother nursed the wounded from 1914
to 1918. My brother. Harry Tayler, was sunk in the Repulse by
the Japanese (yes, there was that empire too, I nearly forgot), my son
John Wisdom fought for good ole Smithie who was defend white supremacy
in former Southern Rhodesia. I knew many of the ‘brave young men
and women’ fighting Hitler, as of course anyone of our age was
bound to have done.
Francis Bennion says he is 81 years old, an Englishman living near Exeter.
Well, I am 85, an Englishwoman (with Scottish and Irish tinctures) living
Doris Lessing London NW6
Bennion's reply is-
obvious from her response that Doris Lessing is celebrating
the passing of the British Empire and also
lumping it together (as of equal guilt) with
Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s
Italy (now she adds the wartime Japanese Emperor
this lumping together I was objecting to,
and for that reason citing my Wellington bomber
crew consisting of four Australians. It was
because Doris Lessing apparently conveyed
her unpleasant views to an audience of Exeter
schoolgirls that I mentioned that I live in
Exeter and therefore have an interest. Where
she lives is irrelevant.
3/11/2004 - 2004.024
will I feel a surge of pride at seeing my
humble missive perched in the top left hand
corner alongside some majestic editorial.
As one who
has been published over a hundred times
on your letters page, I feel sad at a change
which robs the Times of its civilised spaciousness.
published in The Times on the day
following the last broadsheet edition of
the newspaper, 1 November 2004
ditch your partner
TIMES PHILIP HOWARD
C. W. W. from
Eastbourne wants to know how to break the
news to his girlfriend that he is moving
on – by email or text message?
Budleigh Salterton, Devon: “In a case
like this, computers are cowardly and cruel.
Try cooling off gradually, rather then the
icy plunge. Cancel a date now and then on
inadequate grounds. In time the penny will
in The Times (Modern Times), 23
October, page 53
that Gordon Brown insists on a National
Health Service which is free at the point
of need – even for patients who can
well afford to pay (Other views, 5 October).
Why then does the Chancellor of the Exchequer
insist on means-testing for pensioners?
in The Times Public Agenda, 12 October 2004,
strictly with particular rights, Magna Carta
did not make statements of general principle
about liberty which are characteristic of
the founding documents of other nations
(the American Declaration of Independence
for example) and which are then left to
the interpretations of judges or other bodies.”
Ronald Butt, A
History of Parliament: the Middle Ages (Constable
1989), p. 62
my longstanding opposition to Bill of Rights
formulations as opposed to specific provisions
spelling out rights (and duties) with detail
and precision. See my earlier letters on
this subject, T018
(1978) and T024
(1980), which were published in the Times.
To see my other
letters to the Times (more than
100 to date) visit the "Press Letters" section
of my website.