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The Right to Silence

Volume 554: debated on Tuesday 4 December 2012

The Petition of Mr Martin Burke of Elizabeth Regina Love in Manchester,

Declares that if a constituent visits their Member of Parliament at the House of Commons by appointment, and that in the meantime the Department of Work and pensions arranges a meeting at a Jobcentre which the constituent is required to but does not attend, and the constituent does not give a full explanation, then their benefits will be stopped (at least 2 instances).

Further declares that benefits are stopped with no regard to the means to buy food.

Further declares that Civil Servants are fully aware of the health consequences and that it threatens people’s lives and are acting to cause harm.

Further declares that as they understand the consequences it is done with the intent to cause harm, injury that may kill.

Further declares that those listed in Early Day Motion 454 Fatalities in Afghanistan (No. 11) and countless others in previous conflicts including the Second World War and the First World War gave their lives so that people would not be treated this way. Declares that this officer is asking that it be stopped.

Further declares that the following are participant members of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP): Phil Allen, Mike Baker, Sarah Britton, Jim Crook, Stuart Erskine, John Finn, Ros Flatters, Lynn Gandy, Heather Hayes, Richard Heaton, Steve Hopwood, Mark Inman, Mary Lengden, Leigh Lewis, Phil Lowthian, Wendy Mayer, John Milligan, Paul Mooney, Sarah Morgan, Sarah Ryan, Adam Sharples, Sue Owen, Darra Singh, Gurbux Singh, Mike Smith, Nicola [Surname not given], Dorothy Stafford, Wendy Stockton, Jackie Wall, and at least 3 others names not given.

Further declares that questioning by Civil Servants in job centres is conducted under conditions of deliberate stress; the use of shouting, with members of the public unknown to the interviewee sat just behind; numerous interviews at irregular intervals over a long period of time; prolongation of the duration of meetings (“as long as it takes”).

Further declares that other small stresses are designed to have a cumulative effect: staff entering personal space; uncomfortable chairs; unable to sit under the desk fully; sitting with the back to a busy room looking either at the interviewer directly or the wall; conversation interruptions; the use of two interviewers and different interviewers; forced to sit close next to and face to face opposite strangers in the waiting areas; deliberately keeping people waiting; disclosure of personal information in public; the giving of wrong and misleading information; unreasonableness (“I ask the questions”); telephone calls to ‘Decision Makers’; deliberate delay in replying to correspondence.

Further declares that these are under the general threat of loss of benefit when there is little money for food, nor money for heating in winter, and that these actions are designed to condition a person into signing one-sided contracts.

Further declares that the life-threatening health consequences of stress are known.

Further declares that the interviewees do not consent to this treatment.

Further declares that civil servants who do this are skilled and experienced, trained and managed, enthusiastic, enjoy what they do and work as a team.

Notes that the restriction of access to and the denial of food was a tactic used in the Malayan counterinsurgency.

Further notes that for adults to use starvation as a weapon against children is a criminal offence.

Declares that the Petitioner is fortunate that he can read and write.

The Petitioner notes that the House of Commons asks that requests made in a Petition to the House be addressed to the ‘Government’, however a distinction has to be drawn between elected Members of the House of Commons and civil servants.

The Petitioner asks the House of Commons to make a law so that when a constituent has any business with their elected Member of Parliament they are given explicitly the right to silence without punishment when questioned by civil servants;

Further asks that the mistreatment voters are being subjected to by civil servants described above, and more, be stopped;

Further asks that members of the House of Commons ensure that the people, who include their constituents, are always fed properly.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons consider the matter of the Right to Silence and that were the questions put the House consent to what is asked in this Mr. Burke’s 19th petition first posted to the House on 18 October 2012, and formalised on 29 November 2012.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir Gerald Kaufman.]

[P001145]