Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services: Working Together for Safer Communities

Dec 12, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business, Assembly Issues, Uncategorised | 1 comment

Plenary 12th December 2017

17:39:21
Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Spoken Contribution – 17:39:21 Watch this contribution on Senedd TV

Thanks to the Wales Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for their annual review. I think it would be fair to say that many of us in UKIP don’t quite share the same enthusiasm for so-called human rights as people in other parties.

Lee Waters AM

Lee Waters AM

Party: Welsh Labour

Beautifully put.

Joyce Watson AM

Joyce Watson AM

Title: Commissioner

Party: Welsh Labour

Beautifully put.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Yes. We are specifically concerned that the increasing focus on the rights of minorities will ultimately impact negatively on the rights of the majority population. Now, we have to make a distinction here between—[Interruption.] No, I’m not taking any interventions—

Joyce Watson AM

Joyce Watson AM

Title: Commissioner

Party: Welsh Labour

Will you take an intervention?

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

I have no time.

Joyce Watson AM

Joyce Watson AM

Title: Commissioner

Party: Welsh Labour

You’ve got plenty of time.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Thank you for the offer, Joyce, but there is no time. Now, we have to make a distinction here between the very genuine and meaningful rights that we enjoy here in the United Kingdom that have evolved over 1,000 years and more, and the very narrowly focused minority rights stuff that we get told, today, signifies human rights. We have a functioning democracy here in the UK. We have basic freedoms, and these things have existed in effect for a long time—regardless of whether or not they are specifically written down. Obviously, we don’t have a written constitution, but we have a bill of rights, among other things. You can trace these rights back to the Magna Carta in 1215, but they go back even before that to Alfred the Great, who was, to some extent, the English lawgiver. These rights are nothing to do with the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights, or with any other international organisation. They are rights that evolved here in the United Kingdom, and we won’t lose these rights with Brexit. They also don’t have anything to do with Amnesty International or Liberty or any other group that is fixated on minority rights. What we have to understand, in terms of minority rights, is that minorities are members of society. Therefore they—

Simon Thomas AM

Simon Thomas AM

Party: Plaid Cymru

You’ve got plenty of time.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Yes, well done, Simon. Therefore, they should enjoy some rights. But we can’t go on as a society endlessly acceding to the demands of minorities. At some point, we have to recognise that granting more rights to a particular minority group will negatively impact on the rights of the majority of people in our society as a whole. We have a perfect example of this with the recent controversies over transgender rights. A Conservative Government at Westminster is proposing some fairly wide-ranging increases to the rights of transgender people. This could mean that anyone who wishes to identify as being of a gender different to their physical gender may be able to do so, simply by defining themselves as such. So, we could have men entering women’s public toilets because these men claim to define themselves as women. We could have male criminals demanding to be sent to women’s prisons because they define themselves as women. We could end up with the Girl Guide movement having to accept men who define themselves as women as guide leaders, because if the Girl Guide movement refuses to do this, they may end up facing prosecution because they have somehow breached somebody’s so-called human rights. We are going to have a lot of fun with this over the next few years if we continue to proceed as a society with this kind of minority-obsessed nonsense. What we need to do is have a grown-up conversation about the issue of minority rights and accept that there have to be limits to them. There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes. And if we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement, then what we will face as a society, within a very short space of time, is total implosion. Now, having made this general observation, that is not to say that there is no good work taking place in the field of human rights in Wales. There is some good work going on. But some of the concern that this report expresses is certainly, in my view, misplaced. For instance, there is the issue of prisoners getting the vote. To quote the report, ‘Prisoners in Wales, as in the rest of Britain, remain subject to a blanket ban on voting in elections, which the European Court of Human Rights has found to be in violation of their convention rights.’ End of quote. My response to that would be that prisoners are in prison because they have committed offences—that is, apart from the relatively small number who have been wrongfully convicted. They have therefore acted against the interests of society as a whole. In doing so, they have forfeited some fairly major rights, such as the right to their own liberty. Therefore, they are locked up. The right to liberty is a greater right than the right to vote. Therefore, if they forfeit the right to their own liberty, what lunatic dreamed up the notion that they should have the right to vote? We are about to leave the European Union precisely because of nonsense like this. This proposal to give prisoners the vote has no popular consent. If this is what the European Court of Human Rights comes up with, then the sooner we leave it and all the other related institutions, then the better. Thank you.