We are all aware of some of the companies that hold information about us - our banks or doctors or even supermarket with their loyalty cards. Much of this information is held to our advantage, however when this information is cross referenced, sold on or becomes outdated or inaccurate, individuals end up with junk mail, incorrect decisions being made about them or worse. The Data Protection Act governs the way that information is handled, as well as giving you access to that information and the right to have any errors corrected.

The Data Protection Commission was setup to administer the Act and they are very helpful if you have any questions. The rights you have under the Act are:

  1. The right to access data held about you.
  2. The right to prevent processing where it is causing you substantial distress under some cases
  3. The absolute right to prevent processing for direct marketing.
  4. The right to prevent automatic decisions being undertaken based solely on the data held about you, under certain cases.
  5. The right to claim compensation from a Data Controller for damage and distress under certain cases.
  6. The right to rectification, erasure and destruction of incorrect data or expression of opinions.
  7. The right to ask the Commissioner whether the Act has been contravened

 Thanks to our good friends & partners. 


 

"Fatally flawed" is how the person in charge of London's transport system has described the government plans to part-privatise the Underground.

John Prescott seems intent on pushing through the so-called PPP (Public-Private Partnership) deal before handing over control of the Underground to the Greater London Assembly who are generally opposed to the plan.

Balfour Beatty are one of the companies who are up for a slice of the tube - yes the same Balfour Beatty who have shown such expertise as the rail maintenance firm that was working at Hatfield at the time of the crash (the rail broke into 300 pieces) and yes, the same Balfour Beatty who built a tunnel for the Heathrow Express rail link - which then collapsed and was described as "one of the worst civil engineering disasters for 25 years"! They are just 1 of the companies up for grabbing bits of the tube. All of those companies that may be given parts of the tube would have performance targets that are 5% below what are being achieved now!

Combined with the chance of Railtrack also being involved in the underground system, it is no surprise people are concerned and unions forced to hold strikes to push home the point that PPP is not a safe option.

On Wednesday 2nd May a union representing London Underground workers will be holding a strike. The London press, in particular those owned by Associated Newspapers, have been savagely attacking the union and their decision to strike. Unfortunately having control of the Daily Mail, Evening Standard and the free newsrag Metro means that the opinions of Associated Newspapers get to a wider audience than the union. Maybe its time we found out on what grounds the strike is being held.
 


Just what are MEPs interested in?



Here in the UK we are generally aware of our MPs need to list their interests, what companies chuck them freebies, who they work for, etc. so that we can keep a check that our elected officials are working for us rather than various business interests. In Europe our MEPS have a similar system of checks... or do they? Here is some info from the "Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament":

Rule 9 - Code of Conduct.
Annex 1 - states the terms for setting out Financial Arrangements.
Article 1 - states that a MEP must complete it before taking part in the Parliament.
Article 2 - states what an MEP must declare regarding income in the register, and what the discipline is if they don’t comply.
Article 3 - states that this register must be available to the public.
Article 4 - refers to Assets (rather than income above). Assets must be declared as per the rules in their own country regarding assets. There is no EU standard.

The wording and definitions of the Rules are rather vague and certainly open to interpretation.

For example Article 3 says that the register must be available to the public - which it is, if you are willing to travel! And to contend with the guardian of the room!

Write to civis@europarl.eu.int for an up-to-date list of MEPs along with their contact details. Hopefully, you should receive a nice 157 page book containing details of all MEPs with their e-mails addresses, phone and fax numbers, snailmail details, what committees they are on, etc.)

The book is well worth getting, so e-mail/snailmail your MEP or Europarl if you want one. It's free!

The Declarations are submitted in the individual MEP's native language and handwriting. As a result there may be entries that are illegible or slightly erroneous. Notwithstanding, the MEP's Declarations were copied with as much care and accuracy as possible.

This copy of the MEP's declaration was complied in late November 2000 and any changes or amendments to the Declarations that have occurred since that date are not reflected. See the Legal disclaimer on the site.

Until such time as the Parliament puts the Declaration of Members Financial Interests on a website in an authoritive form, it is necessary to travel to Brussels or Strasbourg in order to see the original Declaration of Members' Interests.

 
Meacher suggests banning second homes.

The British environment minister Michael Meacher has suggested reserving housing in some rural areas for local people, to stop outsiders pricing them out of the market. He told a meeting at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth that privileged people should not be allowed to inflate rural housing markets by buying second homes there. He stressed that he was merely floating personal ideas, and admitted that he was one of the privileged people who owned a second home...
 
Michael Meacher Meacher pledges council tax changes: Local authorities could be given the power to charge full council tax on second homes by the summer.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher denied the government had decided to delay the measure until after a general election. He said ministers would be seeking time to introduce legislation in the current session of parliament and before a general election. It is widely predicted that prime minister Tony Blair has pencilled in 3 May as the date of the general election. Mr Meacher denied claims by members of the committee that the government was dragging its heels on the issue. "Regarding the issue of council tax on second homes, no it has not been put off until after an election. "The intention is to move as quickly as we can. It does require primary legislation and if we can get legislation through in this parliament we will do that. "We are not dragging our heels," he said.

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