MPs to consider BW Transfer Order on 26th June

The House of Commons First Delegated Legislation Committee will consider the Draft British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012 on Tuesday 26th June. Please write to your MP now asking him or her to vote against the Order when it is returned to the floor of the House of Commons for a vote a few days after the Committee has considered it. An example letter is below.

The Committee will consider the draft order and write a report. However, its remit excludes consideration of the merits of the transfer. It merely confirms that the House has considered it. It is up to the Government to make time in the House for the vote. Whether the vote on the floor of the House is one where MPs are “whipped” to vote along party lines is up to each party. There is no time limit for the vote because it is an affirmative Statutory Instrument which means that both Houses of Parliament must expressly approve it.

Statutory Instruments are a form of legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation. The BW transfer order is being made under the Public Bodies Act 2011 which gives Parliament the power to transfer BW to a charity.

How to find out who your MP is and how to contact MPs

All MPs can be contacted by post at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. You can find out who your own MP is from

http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ or http://www.writetothem.com/

You will need to give a postcode to email an MP. You don’t have to be registered to vote to contact an MP. If you have a postal address, contact the MP for that postcode area. Otherwise just contact the MP for the place you are currently moored, using the address and postcode of a nearby Post Office or pub, and say you live on a boat with no fixed address.

The MPs on the K&A are Don Foster, Bath; Duncan Hames, Dundas to Sells Green; Claire Perry, Foxhangers to Froxfield; Richard Benyon, Hungerford to Tyle Mill; Alok Sharma, Reading West.

Here is an example letter:

Dear ____________ MP

Subject heading, especially if emailing: Forthcoming Commons Vote on Draft British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012

I am writing to you to express my concerns about the Draft Statutory Instrument, the British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012. Please ensure that this order does not become law. I am concerned that the transfer of British Waterways to charity status will result in boat dwellers like me and my family being made homeless by the Canal and River Trust. My family and I live on the waterways lawfully by virtue of s.17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. The transfer order should not be passed until the Government introduces specific statutory protection for boat dwellers from harassment and unlawful eviction, applicable to those both with and without permanent moorings, equal to that enjoyed by the tenants of houses.

I already have evidence (in the Trustees ‘ document TT06 available here http://www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/board-papers.html) that the Canal and River Trust will continue British Waterways policy of harassment and unlawful eviction of boat dwellers without permanent moorings. Please vote against the transfer when the matter is put to a vote in the House a few days after consideration by the First Delegated Legislation Committee on 26th June 2012.

The issue of British Waterways was not discussed at all in the Commons Committee stage of the Public Bodies Act. Therefore the extremely serious issues raised and submitted to the Committee by many boat dwellers regarding the risk of homelessness and the violation of our Article 8 rights resulting from the transfer were not considered before the Act became law. Please rectify that omission by considering these issues now. The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee expressed concern in 2011 about the appropriateness of transferring the existing powers of British Waterways to make subordinate legislation; powers of forcible entry, search or seizure; powers to compel the giving of evidence and powers whose exercise will necessarily affect the liberty of an individual, to a private sector body that does not otherwise exercise any public functions.

Boat dwellers have no legal recognition or protection for their homes. The transfer of British Waterways to the Canal and River Trust will remove the minimal protection for our homes that derives from the Parliamentary scrutiny of British Waterways. The assurances given by British Waterways of greater public accountability exclude itinerant boat dwellers. The Charity Commission has a policy of non-intervention in such matters which will leave us in an even more vulnerable position. Please stop this from happening by voting against the Transfer Order.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Harassed Boater

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