Issues for a new Parliament

When the new Parliament begins, there will be major policies being advanced by Government.  However, there is always the danger that the battle between the parties will define much of the debate.  Issues that are important to particular sections or individuals in society, or solutions to some of the country’s problems, may be squeezed out in the process. 

One advantage of the House of Lords is that it has mechanisms that allow members to raise issues outside the context of the normal party debate and, indeed, to engage in a degree of agenda setting.  The mechanisms include Questions for Short Debate (QSDs), balloted debates, and Private Members’ Bills, as well as questions and correspondence with ministers.  A particular advantage of a Private Member’s Bill in the Lords, unlike in the Commons, is that any member who introduces one at the beginning of a session will find that time is found to debate it. 

Given that, I thought I would invite readers’ comments as to the issues that they believe are presently neglected – may never even have been considered before in Parliament – and which deserve an airing in an authoritative public forum.  If you could introduce a change in the law, what would it be?  Is there an issue that needs raising?  If anyone presents a compelling case, with supporting evidence, I am not averse to pursuing it.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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45 Responses to Issues for a new Parliament

  1. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,
    First, I want to say — that while I am sure that all on the web are so invited in your invitation and that it would not be an easy thing to achieve — I am honored to be invited to solicit your Lordship to sponsor a PMB in this now familiar venue.
    Second, there was a custom during colonial times and during the Confederate and Pre-Confederate era for various American groups to engage (usually at much more than I could possibly pay) Peers or MPs to act as a kind of spokesman to Parliament on a nexus of issues. I wonder if this is now repugnant tot the UK constitution. There is a US law against private citizens condusting diplomacy for which I have given myself many chances to be prosecuted but which is seldom invoked. It has been construed narrowly as mostly keeping mercenaries from signing treaties and tycoons from promising US trade concessions to governments.

    Thirdly, in that spirit, precedented as I describe could your Lordship imagine representing an issue with American implications suggested by an American as a PMB?

    Excuse my not submitting an issue with this query. I do not promise that I would submit one but I do have a definite object in mind and would begin a project of clarifying it and preparing it without being sure it would in fact be ready for your perusal in time.

    Thank you for reading this. I hope you find it convenient to give it a thoughtful response.

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: Thanks for the comments. Overseas governments can and do hire political consultancies to help raise their profile or engender a positive image in the UK and it is possible those consultancies utilise parliamentarians for advice. However, paying for such advice has to be declared and drawing on MPs and peers in this way has declined significantly in recent years. Furthermore, MPs and peers are banned from indulging in paid advocacy. If you are paid by a body for advice you may not then speak or act on behalf of that body in Parliament.

      Suggestions for PMBs can come from a variety of sources. The important point is not so much who makes the suggestion but rather the quality of the proposal put forward.

      • franksummers3ba says:

        Lord Norton,

        Thank you for your response. Any response you would have given would have in some way shaped the comment I am now writing. I think your response is thorough, concise and apt. Given the parameters disclosed I suggest the following.

        1. That the House of Lords take legal cognizance and that such organs as the library act accordingly regarding certain facts of the political situation of the United States of America and its laws:
        First, that the current polling data shows that the majority of Americans are substantialy discontent with the way things currently operate most of the time in their government.
        Second, that the US Constitution provides “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments” and that while such a convention has never been called and would require ratification it would be far more powerful than any other organ of our legal history.
        Third, that while their Lordships, Parliament and Her Britannic Majesty’s Government would reserve all rights and powers to hold any view or opinion of such proceedings and would act in thier own interestr as is proper they would eschew surprise or protestations thereof. They would in fact consider themselves alerted to this possibility regardless of how sudden or unfamiliar the action might be and whether it occured in the next ten days or the next twelve years.

        Thank you for considering this proposed PMB your Lordship. I am already in your debt.

  2. Carl.H says:

    I certainly can`t think of anything new I feel needs legislation at present however there are many laws that need sorting out. For instance the law and policing of prostitution and brothels is a mess. It needs putting right, the way things are at present creates a situation where the girls and boys are becoming more and more at risk.

    “A” works at home perfectly legally (regards prostitution legislation), for reasons of law he has to work alone. His address is advertised and anyone visiting knows he is alone. He does not pay tax and is claiming benefit

    “B” works in an illegal brothel, the business pays taxes and is visited regularly by the authorities including Police who although they know it illegal turn a blind eye. The premises have CCTV and a maid who can call for help for the two girls who work daily.

    I can expand but feel as the Policing blah blah Bill was passed by the House it is not new. However the new law is unfair and does not straighten anything out, more girls are choosing to work alone and are at far greater risk.

    The Police, I feel do want these establishments driven underground and do go out of their way in most cases to help should any trouble occur.

    Prostitution will not go away as some would like, it can be driven underground putting far more girls and boys at risk. It needs legalising, not a blind eye turned to businesses that are prepared to pay tax and be above board. There is a miriad of things that can be done once the industry is legal such as health certification and ensuring girls and boys can legitimately work in the UK.

    Old hat I know but it desperately needs sorting out for the sake of a lot of people.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: You raise a very important point, certainly one which the parties generally prefer to avoid. It is a difficult issue, but one on which I have considerable sympathy with what you write. I will do a separate post on it.

  3. Carl.H says:

    Should read

    “The Police, I feel do NOT want these establishments driven underground”

  4. Troika21 says:

    I’d say the role of science and evidence in making technology and medical policy.
    Policy in general actually, but these areas are where it crops up most.

    I skimmed the report that was produced by the Commons select committee investigating homeopathy. Reading something like that does make me hold the anti-politics rhetoric, it was very well produced and did reaffirm my near-dead belief that not all politicians are bastards.

    I’d like more of that. I want my politics to be based on facts.

    ****

    I have seen evidence abused by this government, recently alot of reports have had the phrase ‘more research is needed’ all over them, which just means “it dosn’t quite say what we want it to just yet, give us a sec”.

    ‘Policy-based evidence-making’ – Wish I’d thought of that phrase, it says it all really.

    • ladytizzy says:

      Agreed. I would add that data used, both raw and cleaned, along with reasons for preferred methodology should be made available to all.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Troika21: I agree completely. It is a point I have made in the House. Policy should as far as possible be evidence based. I am amazed at how much legislation is brought forward without any sound evidence base. There is too much policy-making on the hoof. On one occasion, the Government claimed change was needed because of how the public perceived the matter. I asked what evidence they had for that and answer came there none. As I pointed, we were being asked to legislate on the basis of ‘a perception of a perception’. On another occasion, I pointed out that the Government was bringing forward legislation on the ‘something must be done’ principle. The minister responded by saying ‘The public demand action’, which I thought rather made my point. I pointed out there was no evidence that this particular Bill was what the public wanted.

      Any suggestions for how we can ensure that policy is rigorously evidence-based will be welcome. Can we enshrine a means by which every measure brought forward is based on the available evidence?

      • ladytizzy says:

        “…a perception of a perception”

        This is a mainstay of the British Crime Survey, totally meaningless except to astrologers.

        To answer your question in the final para, a good first step would be to allow scientists to publish their findings without the fear of being sued. You know what is fair academic comment.

  5. Carl.H says:

    Water Charges

    Since moving a year ago my water charges have doubled this due to water meter being on this property.

    The system we have at present is two tiered and extremely unfair to some on both sides of the divide.

    I have 4 women/girls living with me, showering etc each day. A family of similar proportion using similar amounts living in a house without a meter pay half what I do.

    A pensioner living alone in a similar rateable value home yet using far less water, unmetered, will pay the same as the family above.

    These facts make a nonesense of charges for the amount of water and sewage. Families who are metered and use normal amounts are subsidising others still on rateable value in a similar position.

    Families on benefit living in private rented accomodation are often forced to move quite frequently meaning they will be forced onto meterage due to the rule that as a property becomes empty it is fitted with a meter. Even though this family maybe on benefits there is no help/benefit for water charges. The poor end up subsidising the rich.

    The system needs to not be tiered, if water meters are needed, which I feel they are, legislation needs bringing about to ensure every home has meters asap. Charges will then be fairly applied across the board.

    No other household utility is charged for in this manner and this particular one is the most vital. In the very near future water useage will become a serious issue which is another reason for metering, making people aware of useage.

    At present the amount I am charged per gallon could be twice or more as much as another person. The Government has spoken about the need for fair broadband across the country subsidising it in places yet with water charges it is prepared to see some pay far in excess of others.

    • ladytizzy says:

      I have 4 women/girls living with me, showering etc each day.

      All suddenly becomes clear…

      “Since 1 April 2000, household customers have been able to choose to have a water meter installed free of installation charge under the Water Industry Act 1999.”
      http://www.ofwat.gov.uk

      I’ll give a pass to the gvt on this since this is the fairest way.

  6. ladytizzy says:

    Allow anyone to install a speed camera and issue fines that they can pocket. Each collected fine would be subject to 10% income tax, regardless of personal tax status, helping to reduce the deficit. I see this as a natural development following on from The Big Society – a brilliant wheeze which may be better understood if it was called The Whingers Charter. Let’s put today’s society to the test: will more people moan about the profusion of speed cameras or will they install one themselves? Pit neighbour against neighbour and witness what happens.

    Of course, we already know what will happen. Neighbours are more than happy to shaft each other (aka assert their rights) by using various statutory regulations, such as alleged/perceived noise nuisance.

    My main beef is with the current system of stat regs that begins with the assumption that the complainant is the victim, and ends with zero sanctions for baseless complaints; there is no presumption of innocence for the accused.

    Nothing has been done to address the recent phenomenon of the serial complainant. I suspect little is known about these green inkers who complain about everything, at no cost to themselves.

    Compare this with the success story of the Small Claims Court, an already good idea offline but made even more effective with a simple online system. On the one occasion I’ve had to chase an amount owing I submitted the details online, along with an agreement to pay certain fees regardless of the results but which could automatically be added to the sum owed if I ‘won’ my case.

    Why not set up something similar for neighbourly complaints – if you win, it costs you nothing, but if you lose then you must repay at least part of the costs back to society.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I have considerable sympathy with your point about the serial complainant. I’ll give thought to your concluding proposal, but what about those who complaint outside the context of the legal system?

      • ladytizzy says:

        Thank you, though I’m not too sure what you mean by “…a complaint outside the context of the legal system”.

        Today, criticism is a byword for complaint with no distinction between constructive and destructive criticism. That is why I can’t wait to witness the whingers (those who indulge their insatiable appetite to destructively criticise everything and everyone at no cost to themselves) quietened with David Cameron’s ‘put up or shut up’ Big Society.

  7. ladytizzy says:

    Bring back the Sunday trading regulations. The experiment is over and the results are more nails driven in to the coffins of families and local traders by the big boys.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I rather lean the other way. I think Sunday trading has proved successful; it can be useful not only commercially but also socially, not least for elderly people living on their own. Sundays used to be a lonely day for many of them. Those who want to keep Sunday special can do so without needing the assistance of the state.

      • ladytizzy says:

        Fair do’s, we don’t see eye to eye on this. I should add that Sunday was used by me to represent a day of rather than the Sabbath.

      • Lord Norton says:

        ladytizzy: Ah, that’s different. That for me is a separate issue. I believe all workers should be entitled to a least one day a week to rest.

      • ladytizzy says:

        Interesting. Of course, I am self-employed and therefore not a worker, though I am an employee when it suits gvt regs.

        The wider point, in my usual clumsy way (I must stop listening to Lord Mandelson), is that big businesses have forced a tranche of local traders to accept either a temporary or permanent loss of customers, often followed by permanent closure, or to open 12 hours per day, every day.

        The Tescoisation process has infiltrated the heart of market towns, though there have been some significant campaigns that have stemmed the flow. I’ll return to this, if and when the occasion arises.

    • Carl.H says:

      Time off….

      My daughter works at a call centre, on day shifts but gets no extra for Bank Holidays or even Christmas Day working let alone weekend work. No time in leiu either.

      I might add that the company bosses do all right though since we bailed them out…RBS.

      • ladytizzy says:

        Carl, some of your points I can readily explain, along with my perspective as a typical owner of a microbusiness (not based on turnover but those with less than 10 employees).

        Holiday entitlement is now 28 paid days pa (or 5.6 weeks for pro rata calculations). This compares with the pre 1998 entitlement of 20 days, unpaid, including public and bank holidays (PBH), or put another way, 12 days personal entitlement plus another eight PBH.

        The move from 20 to 28 paid holidays, between Oct 2007 and April 2008, was to ensure all employees were given a minimum of 20 days personal entitlement, notwithstanding the numerous exemptions. Now it gets a tad more complicated!

        1. No matter how many hours or days worked the 28 paid holidays is a statutory maximum, rather than the 5.6 weeks. I’ll leave you to work out what the entitlement is of an employee who chooses to work four shifts of 12 hours.

        2. An employer can ‘buy back’ upto four days, with the agreement of the employee.

        3. Importantly, the 28 days includes all PBH, and the employer retains the right to determine how much, and when, holiday is taken.

        4. The employee has no right to extra pay, or time off in lieu, if they work a PBH.

        There are other bits which come in to play if an employee leaves or wishes to carry over entitlement from one year to the next, as standard examples.

        Do check if this tallies with what is in your daughter’s contract of employment.

  8. ladytizzy says:

    An outright ban on soliciting money by whatever means. Telephone cold calling is the most annoying and can account for 50% of my incoming calls on some days.

    The most outrageous soliciting comes from so-called charities. Causes, usually picked to tug at the heart, range from childhood cancer, fire, police and ambulance services and various military causes. Over the years not one single ‘charity’ has sent their literature to me despite specific requests (though it does get them off my phone). They are all bogus and nothing has been done to stop these crooks.

    They are also adept at deception, stating that “We don’t want a donation but…” shortly followed by a massively inflated price in return for an ad, usually on a wall calendar, that no-one will ever see. It could be argued that there is little to distinguish this transaction from a standard cold caller but I would point out that the customer is buying under false pretences. The old-fashioned amongst us call this fraud.

    For a ban to be effective the telecoms supplier must be willing and able to share information between themselves leading to a positive identification of the cold caller and act within 24 hours upon receipt of a complaint.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: This is a real problem. I would welcome suggestions as to how this could be remedied. Is it possible to legislate to prevent such cold calling?

      • Croft says:

        I would have though a blanket ban on cold calling by charities or businesses would be pretty easy. The nightmare comes if you allow some types of calls but not others or some types of biz/charity not others where the complexity would be difficult and more expensive to administer.

        Having put in some planning consents in the last few years I seem to get a never ending stream of cold calls from double glazing and building consultants by phone and post (often the same ones repeatedly) to add the the annoyance of people trying to change my phone provider, my uni asking me to donate to their new building and various groups that seem convinced that only I can save the lesser spotted cuddly toad 😦

  9. ladytizzy says:

    If the framework for a fully proactive telecoms service is achieved for the above, then it would be easy to tack on an effective TPS (Telephone Preference Service).

    Year in, year out a steady stream of calls come in from electricity and telecoms companies, usually via call centres, who begin by demanding to know who are my existing providers before revealing who they are and what they’re trying to flog. According to BT, the code of behaviour requires cold callers to immediately identify themselves, both personally and who they represent. This code is routinely ignored but BT won’t help in identifying or punishing rogue callers, making their protocol as toothless as the Press Complaints Committee.

    A few years ago, I reported one call centre to BT because they were out of control, aggressively cold calling several times a day, every day on behalf of an unnamed energy company. BT were not interested stating they needed the name of the company rather than the call centre.

    Strategically, I accepted the offer of a personal visit from the energy company, whose rep duly arrived with nice, shiny – and detailed – business cards. But before I could pass their particulars on to BT, the parent company hit the news – it was Enron

  10. ladytizzy says:

    Thanks for the therapy.

    • Lord Norton says:

      lasytizzy: Given your comments about Sunday trading, should you not be resting?

      • ladytizzy says:

        I wish it were so. However, LACORS have long imposed an extra bit, not in original of the relevant Act by which I am licensed, meaning I would have to pay someone to give me time off.

  11. Senex says:

    LN: LotB has talked about Private Members Bills in the past and its unclear to me just when they first started appearing in Parliament. There is a very real problem in the Commons. Going to the polls allows a party to form a government that has the confidence of the HoC and allows the head of state to approve a Prime Minister.

    However, from the voter’s viewpoint they return an MP to Parliament not only on national issues but on local ones too. So the ability of MPs to realise remedy on local issues is important the belief that Parliament for ordinary people.

    The new Parliament will see hundreds of new MP arrive for the first time and raising Private Members Bills will be important to them in returning the favour that got them elected as a matter of honour. The reality is that such honour is repaid all too cheaply as an ineffective gesture.

    There are many ways to scupper a PMB and procrastination is but one of them. The game played allows the owner a first reading on a Friday but when the speaker asks for a second reading a single word ‘object’ voiced in the chamber postpones it to a future Friday. These postponements continue until the bill runs out of time.

    The power of the whips needs to be made democratic. There should be a vocal yes or no in the chamber allowing a second reading. The ‘yeahs’ have it would send a message to the electorate that democracy is working for them. However, there are many other ways to sink such bills and the whole process is in need of a serious review by a committee perhaps in or from both houses.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Senex: Sometimes the best means of raising an issue of concern to constituents is through a question or debate. Private Members’ Bills are generally used to address wider issues. PMBs can be useful but it is also important to remember that they are means through which the House in a strict sense can act irresponsibly: that is, unlike the Government, which can be held to account at the next election for its programme of public policy, MPs cannot be held to account for particular decisions made through enacting a PMB. In practice, PMBs are used more for agenda setting than for achieving passage of the measure at that stage. However, where there is a strong will on the part of the House to support a PMB, there are various changes that could be introduced to enable a Bill to be considered and to overcome existing blocking devices: for example, by allowing the House, subject to a certain number of MPs voting (as with closure motions), to vote to continue debate beyond 2.30 p.m. on a Friday until a decision is reached.

  12. Chris K says:

    Expect the special interest groups to start commenting shortly. It’s not every day a legislator makes such an offer. Not for free anyway!

    The elephant in the room remains our relationship with the EU. Most people I speak to, including those who have become Nick Clegg fans, are very unhappy with the EU project. Those over 56, the last people to be asked their opinion officially on the matter, are especially angry with the way things have turned out.

    Not only is it the producer of most of our new laws, but it encourages our Parliament to pass laws in the fews areas it still has sovereignty over, just to give it something to do. I imagine that problem is even worse in Scotland and Wales, who are focussing on the big issues like low voltage dog collars. Soon also to become an EU competence, I suspect…

    • Lord Norton says:

      Chris K: I suspect the interest groups will be more to the fore once I post on specific issues. Interestingly, there are survey data to show that some of the most Eurosceptic electors vote Liberal Democrat.

      • Croft says:

        Perhaps so but as our voting system is zero sum as long as that issue isn’t the single diving point it has little electoral purchase however widespread the view held. Most people vote on the economy or traditional ties. In practice this simply aids parties in trying to strike simplistic dividing lines are they get your ‘whole’ vote and not some apportionment of your vote relative to those issues which you and the party agree on. Indeed it is something parties ruthlessly exploit in wining votes on issue x (and their polling data telling them so) yet claiming an electoral mandate for policy y (even though their polling says the reverse) because of the absolute nature of your vote. As single issue parties can’t succeed for a number of reasons the main parties are pretty unopposed with this setup and those like yourself who object to referendums lack one of the potential ways to ameliorate the above problem.

  13. ladytizzy says:

    Since the EU has come up, can I also suggest that someone, somewhere sort out the voting rights for expats.

    Currently, if the idiots take over the asylum and I move to Portugal (why not?), I can vote for my erstwhile constituency in Blighty for another 15 years (why?).

    Is there any chance of the somewhat novel idea of no taxation without representation being imported from the colonies?

    Unless I

  14. ladytizzy says:

    Oops, apologies for the hanging chad from above.

  15. FinnishCowl says:

    I personally cannot think of any specific legislation I would want to see debated (in fact, it is more often that I would like to see bad legislation prevented); however, I did have a thought.

    It seems all the main parties are calling for citizens (I am assuming through petitions) to be able demand debates on issues if they have enough popular support. I would imagine the details of this are rather vague, and I somewhat doubt that this will be fully addressed anytime soon (a change of government or hung parliament would probably lead to more immediate problems). However, would it be possible for the House of Lords to perhaps take over this issue (provided the proposals were constitutional, etc). “Bring your bills to us, and we will introduce them.” While it might not have statutory backing, if the Lords were to actively execute this project, it might be more effective and better run. I would imagine it would be easier to do this considering peers don’t have to worry about losing votes over unpopular legislation.

    I also think it might make the average citizen greater appreciate the current organization of the House and its members.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Finnish Cowl: A very good point. It is one that some of us have been thinking about. One proposal I have raised is whether we should make provision for e-petitioning the Lords. We are certainly very keen to encourage greater enagement with the public and to ensure a greater input into our deliberations. It is something touched upon in the Constitution Committee’s report on ‘Parliament and the Legislative Process’ and the Information Committee in its report ‘Are the Lords Listening?’

  16. ladytizzy says:

    The rules on election purdah need updating, clarifying or dropping. For example, television and radio content is regulated but newspapers and internet sites publish freely. Except Lords of the Blog.

    • Croft says:

      Some good ideas: Reform of prostitution & Sunday trading. I agree on the political neutrality rules as well. I have no problem with and indeed think it essential that the BBC is neutral and the major broadcasters within the election period. But really the whole thing descends into a farce when 1001 minor stations effectively shut down almost all content that could conceivable be construed as political for fear of breaking the rules. Within the election period a sensible relaxation for smaller stations and outside of the election period I really do think, like the press, stations should be left (or right!) to judge their own content.

      • Croft says:

        Having re-read my comment I’ve given rather a misleading impression. I’m for the removal of the present restrictions on Sunday trading not in favour of restoring old restrictions.

  17. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,

    British Petroleum has failed to deal with the disaster in their wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico. So has everyone else but this is likely to be the biggest ecological disaster in North America in decadces if all goes as badly as possible. Therefore if Your Lordship used a PMB to alert the House and Parliament to urge BP and any other parties with British ties to act with alacrity to adress this issue that would be welcome.
    If your Lordship wants a context from a regular commenter living nearby then look at this post which predates this recent disaster.

    http://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/ideal-wetlands-policy-on-the-louisiana-coast/

    I think this may be a cataclysm long remembered. Of course there have been others. The spill is now visible from space and is thousands of square miles.

  18. Senex says:

    Frank: I believe the Coast Guard are going to try and burn off some of the thicker stuff today. NASA’s natural hazards page has a link to this and others:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/

    One disaster you may not be unaware of is this one in Uzbekistan near Darvaz:

    http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2008/03/25/darvaz-the-door-to-hell/

    I suppose it’s a question of finding a wet towel big enough to put the fire out?

    • Frank W. Summers III says:

      Senex,

      i appreciate the links. The Coast guarg is burning the the thicker stuff now in rings the largest in American history. The thickness is created by piling the oil to three milimeters with physical pushing and confinement. When burnt it leaves a floating tar residue easily removed.

      I did say biggest in North America which excludes Ukraine and Iceland. The problems are already vast but they are still increasing and there is no sign of them bringing this under control soon. Shipping lanes, one of the world’s largest riverine ports, Western Hemisphere vital small areas of habitat for migration that cannot be replaced, a large and important seafood industry, very pricey beachfront property, the rest of the oil industry in the Gulf and numerous other assets are in the scope of the worst case scenario. Really it is difficult to state the worst that could happen. Likely to be few human deaths (less than twenty now) but it is one of those events that can help bring about really huge series of bad events which must create many deaths by necessity. So 9-11 could not be matched nor Katrina in the short-run. However in a worst case the long-term results would be far more threatening than is apparent now.

  19. Frank W. Summers III says:

    I USE SEVERAL COMPUTERS AND HAD A GLITCH ABOVE THIS MAY END UP DUPLICATING SOMETHING:

    Senex,

    i appreciate the links. The Coast guarg is burning the the thicker stuff now in rings the largest in American history. The thickness is created by piling the oil to three milimeters with physical pushing and confinement. When burnt it leaves a floating tar residue easily removed.

    I did say biggest in North America which excludes Ukraine and Iceland. The problems are already vast but they are still increasing and there is no sign of them bringing this under control soon. Shipping lanes, one of the world’s largest riverine ports, Western Hemisphere vital small areas of habitat for migration that cannot be replaced, a large and important seafood industry, very pricey beachfront property, the rest of the oil industry in the Gulf and numerous other assets are in the scope of the worst case scenario. Really it is difficult to state the worst that could happen. Likely to be few human deaths (less than twenty now) but it is one of those events that can help bring about really huge series of bad events which must create many deaths by necessity. So 9-11 could not be matched nor Katrina in the short-run. However in a worst case the long-term results would be far more threatening than is apparent now.

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