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November 21, 2008


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Paul Flynn

Thank you, Kay Tie.

Didn't lots of people say in the last census that their religion was Jedi? I have forgotten what the point was.

The operation's value will be destroyed if many respondents are as suspicious as you. Ethnic origin will be a question but not for any evil intent.

The only reform planned is to keep booze out of the hands of very young people. they usual source are supermarkets.

Kay Tie

"Is holding a decennial census in years ***0 or ***1 a condition of membership of the UN?"

Wouldn't that be hilarious?

"Mr. Mugabe, we will do nothing about your continued genocide, but if you don't hold a census in a year ending in a 0 or a 1 we will expel you from the United Nations!"

Kay Tie

"Pre 1971 it was even extremely rare for someone to die from heroin use."

Excellent point. The laws on drugs are actually causing most of the harm by creating a lucrative illicit trade where the quality cannot be controlled. There are many puritans on the right who don't like alcohol, but at least a bottle of Rioja from Tescos isn't contaminated with wood alcohol (and wasn't smuggled in to the UK in someone's body cavity).

There are plenty of laws to deal with drunken (mis)behaviour. It is time we focused on enforcing those, rather than telling sober people with little money that they are no longer to be able to afford a cheap bottle of wine with their dinner.

I live in a city centre and am often awoken by yelling from drunken people coming back from the bars. The solution is not to shut the bars and restaurants, is not to ban alcohol, is not to tax it out of their reach, but is to make sure that the police arrest them for disorderly behaviour, put them in a cell overnight, get them in front of a magistrate, get them fined and back home. After a few arrests and a few fines (which can escalate if needs be), and a few clampdowns on bars blatantly serving drunk people, we will see the problem fade away.

I would like to continue to drink an Irish coffee in a cafe on a Sunday afternoon (not so many years ago this was illegal) or buy a bottle of wine for my dinner at the corner shop before 4pm. I remember well how bloody irritating it was that going shopping had to be planned around licensing laws - let's not go back to that, please.

Kay Tie

I am very much not a fan of the census. The law contains draconian penalties for non-compliance and the questions being pondered for the next one are very intrusive (on sexuality, political views, newspapers read, and so on). The results will be used for all kinds of horrible social engineering (I've even read of proposals for using the census data to set council tax bands according to the socioeconomic class of the occupiers, which makes the comparison with biblical tax particularly apt).

We need to remember that the Nazi Party found the Weimar Republic's 1925 census very useful in identifying all the Jews. Let us hope that a future government in the UK doesn't want to eradicate the Jedi followers..

I will lie on the next census on all non-verifiable questions. I suggest everyone else does the same.

Paul Flynn

Thanks John and Rich. Agree entirely.

My usual start to speeches on drugs in the Commons is 'Hon and Rt Hon fellow drug-users...'

We downplay the harm of the drugs that we all use and exaggerate the harm of so called 'controlled' drugs


Alcohol sales have certainly reached a ridiculous point. The corner shop sells two bottles of wine for a tenner, or six cans of Stella for a fiver. Both of those purchases would make you very drunk and well over any recommended guidelines. In my local Sainsburys cheap wine is sold next to the milk and at the end of every aisle.

At the same time, 3 million cannabis smokers are being demonized because of a possible link with schizophrenia in a few hundred vulnerable people (where the latest research shows that link may not even be there).


Paul you know as well as I do how misguided and hypocritical our drug policy is. While 8324 people died directly from alcohol last year and over 100,000 from cigarettes noone died from cannabis and a handful from the use of ecstasy. Pre 1971 it was even extremely rare for someone to die from heroin use.
The Government often uses the "protecting our citizens from harm" as a justification for criminalising the many thousands that use illegal drugs that are patently less harmful than alcohol and tobacco even though such prohibition increases those dangers many times.
Our hypocrisy over this issue is plain to see. I welcome this intiative over alcohol. What we need is the immediate removal of advertising for alcohol except at point of sale warnings on the containers just as we have done with tobacco and an increase in price particuarly in supermarkets.
Lets go one step furthur and provide a safer alternative intoxicant to alcohol and tobacco for our adults by regulating and controlling the use of cannabis.
Looking at the panthenon of intoxicants available to adults choosing alcohol and tobacco as the socially acceptable ones has been a huge mistake both in terms of lives lost and damage to society.
In the Daily Heil of all papers

we had the headline "Cannabis 'could stop dementia in its tracks'". The capacity to develop medicines from cannabis is enormous if we could get past the misinformation and reefer reporting that seems to have swept over the UK in the last few years.To make it legal for the estimated 3 million adult users in the UK would be a huge step forward. It would certainly remove many of the predatory dealers that target our kids making it less likley they would get access until over 18.

Paul Flynn

Alwyn, that was not a reason given by the chief statistician when I asked about this on Thursday. She talked about the 'richness' of the information collected in a full census.

Alwyn ap Huw

Re the Census:

Is holding a decennial census in years ***0 or ***1 a condition of membership of the UN?

Not the best reason for continuing with the expense, I agree. Just that somebody once told me that it was so and I would be interested in having conformation or denial of the tale!

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