Write to your MP NOW!!

Please write to your MP NOW!! and ask him or her to vote against the British Waterways amendment to the Public Bodies Bill (amendment 99A). The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on 12th July. Please ask your family and friends to write to their MPs as well.

You can find out who your MP is from
http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ or http://www.writetothem.com/
You will need to enter a postcode. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t currently registered to vote. 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.

Don Foster is the MP for the Bath area and Duncan Hames is the MP for Chippenham which includes the canal from Dundas to Hilperton. All MPs can be contacted by smail mail at the House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 0AA.

It’s always better to use your own words but here is an example letter:

Dear

I live on a boat without a home mooring as I am entitled to to do by virtue of the 1995 British Waterways Act.

I am writing to ask you to vote against the British Waterways (BW) amendment to the Public Bodies Bill (amendment 99A) when the Bill is be debated in the House of Commons on 12th July. Amendment 99A means that BW will have the power to make “subordinate legislation” and so it will have greater powers to make law than now.

Currently BW has the power to promote Private Acts of Parliament and Byelaws. Amendment 99A will give BW the power to make Statutory Instruments as well. The procedures for passing Statutory Instruments require very little Parliamentary or public scrutiny.

I am concerned that amendment 99A means that BW will pass legislation that will mean an increased risk of homelessness for me and other boat dwellers, especially those without moorings for their boats (“continuous cruisers”), due to BW’s stated policy of seeking to “curtail new entrants to the continuous cruiser market” and of attempting to force out existing continuous cruisers by imposing increasingly strict movement requirements which are substantially in excess of what the current law requires.

If BW uses its enhanced law making powers to require me to travel much longer distances, I will be at risk of homelessness because I will not be able to comply with this at the same time as maintaining my employment and my children’s education. BW will then be able to use its existing enforcement powers to seize my boat and ban me by injunction from its 2,000 miles of canals and rivers for ever. BW already has powers to to seize boats and bring injunctions when boat movements do not comply with the existing law (the 1995 British Waterways Act).

I would like to draw your attention to the report by the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee which has already expressed concern about BW’s amendment 99A: “Especially in the absence of a convincing explanation, it is not appropriate for an existing power to make subordinate legislation to be transferable to another, unidentified, body”.

Byelaws have to be consulted on and interested parties can petition against a Private Bill and give evidence direct to the Parliamentary Select Committee which considers the Bill. I have evidence that BW is seeking to increase its enforcement powers as part of the Public Bodies Bill; see minute 11/003 of the BW Board meeting of 27th January 2011.

I do not consider that the amendments to the Public Bodies Bill agreed before 11th May 2011 relating to the use of Statutory Instruments will provide sufficient protection for me and other boat dwellers. The consequences of giving BW these extra powers and removing the statutory protection for boat dwellers arising from the Human Rights Act, the 2010 Equality Act and the Freedom of Information Act that currently stem from BW’s status as a public body, will be the actual or threatened homelessness, removal from school and denial of access to employment, healthcare, postal mail and voting of up to 10,000 adult and child boat dwellers. The estimated 6,000 to 10,000 boat dwellers who do not have moorings for their boats will be at risk, in spite of the intention of Parliament to protect these boat dwellers when it passed the 1995 British Waterways Act.

Your vote against amendment 99A will help to protect me from being made homeless by British Waterways.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

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