John Hemming MP

John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat) for Birmingham Yardley.

First elected to the House of Commons in 2005. He is a member of the Musicians' Union and PPL. He is directory of JHC. Technically aware. Uses email a lot and as such needs use an external mail server (that is external to the House of Commons systems). As a trained scientist, John was one of the candidates to be Britain's first astronaut. John's technical skills lie particularly in the areas of mathematics and programming. He is an accomplished cryptographer, having devised a number of security and payment protocols. A leading internet technical expert, John programs in eight different programming languages, and also speaks six human ones. He founded his first business (JHC plc) in 1983 at the age of 23. That business is now a multimillion pound company, leading provider of settlement systems to stockbrokers in the UK. He launched the world's first internet banking, travel, legal and investment services in 1995 and heads MarketNet which he launched as the first e-commerce operation outside the USA in 1994. He is also the chairman of Birmingham's leading record company - MMI (Music Mercia International) - which he launched in 1997. John also founded The Purchasing Agency in 2000.

Digital Economy Bill

Has not yet been spoken to.


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Identity cards

This is one of ten issues that John Hemming has decided to concentrate on.

It may sound superficially odd, but there is a provision in Section 12 of the ID Card/Database bill which means that people could be fined up to £1,000 if they shave without telling the government.

Early Day Motions

Signed Early Day Motion 263 Identity Cards 06 June 2005

That this House believes that a convincing case for the introduction of compulsory biometric identity cards and a national database has not been made, that the risks involved far outweigh any discernible benefit, that the introduction of identity cards will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state, diminish personal privacy and threaten civil liberties, that the present proposals do not provide properly costed, proportionate or effective solutions to the problems they are claimed to solve; and calls upon the Government to shelve plans for their introduction.

Signed Early Day Motion 2699 Freedom of Information 10 December 2006

That this House welcomes the finding of the Constitutional Affairs Committee (HC991) that the Freedom of Information Act has `already brought about the release of significant new information and....this information is being used in a constructive and positive way' and the committee's conclusion that it sees `no need to change' the Act's charging arrangements; views with concern reports that the Government is considering changing these arrangements to permit an application fee to be charged for all requests or to allow authorities to refuse, on cost grounds, a significant proportion of requests which they currently must answer; and considers that such changes could undermine the Act's benefits of increased openness, accountability and trust in the work of public authorities.

Signed Early Day Motion 1697 Use of the DNA database 27 Febuary 2006

That this House expresses its concern about the retention of DNA data taken from children aged 10 to 18 years who have never been charged or cautioned with any offence; notes large regional differences in retention policy between various police forces; and believes that this imbalance is being further exacerbated by the Government's unwillingness to issue clear guidelines to chief constables about the removal of innocent children from the National Police DNA Database.

Signed Early Day Motion 210 Data Intrusion 21 November 2006

That this House notes with concern the increasing incidence of data intrusion or data rape, as it is increasingly becoming known, the process whereby personal and hitherto confidential data is transferred to central databases established by the Government which can then be made available to third parties, such as police and security services, without consent being required; notes that the operation of the new national medical database will require medical records, which until now have remained in the confidential custody of general practitioner practices, to be uploaded to the Spine, a computer which will collect details from doctors and hospitals; supports the British Medical Association in its demand that patients should be asked for their explicit permission before their files are transferred; further notes with concern the reports of plans to establish and expand national databases in relation to the identity card scheme, DNA and the national census; and calls on the Government to establish a legislative framework which will safeguard access to personal data which has as its foundation not only the requirement for explicit consent but the right to know which agencies have a right to, and have requested access to, personal information.
Also see NHS, Identity cards and DNA database.

Signed Early Day Motion 179 Software in Schools 21 November 2006

That this House congratulates the Open University and other schools, colleges and universities for utilising free and open source software to deliver cost-effective educational benefit not just for their own institutions but also the wider community; and expresses concern that Becta and the Department for Education and Skills, through the use of outdated purchasing frameworks, are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source software and the value and experience small and medium ICT companies could bring to the schools market.

Electronic Voting

John Hemming was the leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Birmingham council at the time of the 2004 elections and is there for very aware of the issues surrounding postal vote fraud, he helped organise the campaign that highlighted the corruption with postal voting in the area. He is critical of postal voting and the checks and balances on the system. When asked about electronic voting by the Radio 4 Today programme 2 May 2007:

"I am very much a high techy person, I would not touch it with a barge pole."

Writing on his blog Dutch Ban Voting Computers 2 June 2008:

the Dutch Government have concluded that having computer voting undermines the secret ballot.
I wish our government would recognise this before they go down that route. Bits of paper may be archaic, but they provide a transparency of audit trail that is important for democracy.


Term Extension

House of Commons debate Point of Order Sound Recordings (Copyright Term Extension) 5 December 2007

Pete Wishart, supported by Mr. Ian Cawsey MP, Mr. Mark Field MP, Sandra Gidley MP, John Robertson MP, Rosemary McKenna MP, Adam Price MP, Mr. Greg Knight MP, John Hemming MP, Stewart Hosie MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP and Janet Anderson MP, presented a Bill to extend beyond 50 years the copyright term of sound recordings; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 7 March, and to be printed [Bill 33].

Gowers Review 17 May 2006 Westminster Hall debates

I think that I must declare a registrable interest as a member of the Musicians' Union and PPL, although in the environment in which I trade I do not have a financial interest in the subject of the debate, because our interest in the music copyright—not the dots, but the sound recording—is time limited to five or 10 years. The interest to the musicians is the key matter. Does my hon. Friend's interesting suggestion take account of technological changes and the fact that much distribution now happens via download?


John Hemming told PC Pro Government "can't be trusted with CD burners" 28th November 2007

"Normally what happens is that we close the door after the horse has bolted, but in this case we're leaving the door open for more horses to bolt."
"It is quite simple, if they do not have the facility to copy everyone's confidential data onto a CD then they won't do it. In practice, over time, you need to secure the hardware side of things. You can't just have any old PC sitting there with a CD recorder."

Written question Revenue and Customs: Data Protection 6 December 2007

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure all CD burners are removed from HM Revenue and Customs computer departments until security procedures have been reviewed.

Data Protection

Constitutional Affairs - Data Protection 28 November 2005 Written answers

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will increase individuals' rights under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Internet Censorship

Signed an Early Day Motion Freedom of Expression and the UN Internet Governance Forum 30 October 2006

That this House notes with concern that internet repression is hampering freedom of expression across the world especially in Iran, Vietnam, the Maldives and China; urges companies in China, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, to reveal which words they have banned from blogs or have filtered out of web searches; requests that they make public all their agreements with the Chinese authorities and publicly call for the release of cyber-dissidents jailed for expressing peaceful opinions online; welcomes Amnesty International's campaign to ensure that the internet remains a tool for political freedom, not repression; and urges the UK Government to make strong representations at the UN Internet Governance Forum in Athens in November to ensure that the internet remains a tool for the free flow of information and respect for human rights and that freedom of expression is a key component to any future agreement on internet governance.


John Hemming's Blog: Doctors say don't give the government your medical records 30 June 2007

In essence that is what the linked article says about the "spine". There is a serious problem allowing this government access to any information. It then get passed to all sorts of bureaucratic busybodies who use it to harrass people. If you admit to your doctor, for example, that you drink too much (as I do) expect the system to put pressure on you to stop drinking. "its all in your best interests dear". There is a serious problem in that people won't tell their doctor things because the doctor will tell the government's computer system. It is all a problem about confidentiality.

Communications Data Bill


2007-11-23 - John Hemming's Web Log - Remove the HMRC CD Burners
Summary: I have been appointed by Vince Cable to head up the Lib Dem investigation into Government Data (in)Security. My first call is a simple one. Remove the CD Burners from the HMRC computer room until they have sorted out security. There is no sense allowing any more horses to depart through the same stable door.
2007-06-30 - John Hemming's Web Log - Doctors say don't give the government your medical records
Summary: In essence that is what the linked article says about the "spine". There is a serious problem allowing this government access to any information. It then get passed to all sorts of bureaucratic busybodies who use it to harrass people. If you admit to your doctor, for example, that you drink too much (as I do) expect the system to put pressure on you to stop drinking. "its all in your best interests dear". There is a serious problem in that people won't tell their doctor things because the doctor will tell the government's computer system. It is all a problem about confidentiality.
2007-02-26 - Kable - National open source centre launched
Summary: MPs have launched a think tank that will explore opportunities for open source software in the UK Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming launched the National Open Centre (NOC) at Westminister. He said the centre will host conferences, seminars and publish research papers on open source and open standards policy and innovation.
2006-03-23 - John Hemming's Web Log - Stealth Tax on Private Emails ?!?
Author: John Hemming
Summary: ... If you, therefore, play a game of Freecell on a company computer it could be argued that you are borrowing the computer for that purpose and hence should pay a little extra tax. I am not sure this is that workable a proposal. ...
2006-01-14 - John Hemming's Web Log - One effect of the Internet: My daughter sings in Romanian
Author: John Hemming
Summary: My daughter (15) has a tendency to download songs from the net. Recently she has been singing along with a Romanian song. She plays a couple of Romanian songs. It is an interesting sound. It sounds just on the edge of the Romance Languages (Vulgar Latin - French, Italian, Castillian, Catalonian etc) a sort of slavonic pronunciation of such a melange.) ...
2005-11-08 - John Hemming's Web Log - Graham Stuart and PCD
Author: John Hemming
Summary: This is a picture of Graham Stuart MP for Beverley and Holderness. As with me he uses email a lot and as such needs to use an external mail server (that is external to the House of Commons systems). He, however, cannot get a good enough phone signal in his office so he has to either wander around the garden or sit on this bench at the entrance to the cloakroom to download his emails. The EDM (860) about this now has 27 signatures.
2005-11-02 - John Hemming's Web Log - EDM 860 - Internet Access from House of Commons
Author: John Hemming
Summary: I placed EDM 860 on the order paper to raise the issue that MPs cannot get email from outside the Parliamentary Estate if they are attached to the Parliamentary Network. That is because the Parliamentary Communications Department blocks port 110. Quite a few more technically able MPs who handle their own email, rather than having it forwarded to a member of staff, use more advanced systems than are available via the House of Commons. Having circulated an email to all MPs I find one MP who uses a G3 connection like myself (but a different service provider) finds he has to wander around to get a signal to get his email. Quite a few MPs find that the rules developed by the Parliamentary Communications Department prevent them doing their job properly. I work hard to make it relatively easy for constituents to contact me. The facilities established at substantial cost to assist this tend to prevent it. I believe that if enough MPs sign the EDM then some cables will be replugged to make it possible to use the system to a fuller extent.
2005-11-02 - John Hemming's Web Log - EDM 860 - Internet Access from House of Commons
Author: John Hemming
Summary: I try to make sure that my political office is about as efficient as possible. The objective is that everything that comes in on a day goes out the same day. The complications of trying to deal with the City Council Computer Systems and the Parliamentary Communications Department and get everything to work do cause some stress. ... This is why I don't encourage people to email me Such emails may be taken away into cyberspace by the PCD computer systems never to be seen again.
2005-09-08 - John Hemming's Web Log - Treasury Assumptions
Author: John Hemming
Summary: I have now managed to hack into the Treasury Model programs and get the two key programs to work. ... The program is written in Fortran which is a relatively rare language these days. I last programmed in it in 1978.
2005-08-25 - John Hemming's Web Log - Parliamentary Email Disappears
Author: John Hemming
Summary: I have just found that there is a spam filter on the domain. This squirrels away emails it thinks are spam. Of course not all of them are spam. Furthermore it doesn't tell the sender that it has trapped spam. What this means is that the account is actually quite a dangerous one to use. There is absolutely no certainty that email gets to people. Sadly, therefore, I cannot encourage people to use I don't have the time to check the spam filter all the time (particularly as I have my own one which works in a proper manner.)
2005-07-24 - John Hemming's Web Log - Research Website
Author: John Hemming
Summary: I am thinking of establishing a research website to complement this blog. I could do this via my London office webservers. Alternatively it might be worth using some of the various services on the web (all of which are relatively sensibly priced). This would enable the various people I am working with to also maintain sections of the site. We could have elements dealing with all the different campaigning issues. Does anyone have any recommendations for people who offer web services where different users can access different parts of the site?
2005-07-02 - John Hemming's Web Log - So far so good
Author: John Hemming
Summary: ... The Parliamentary Network as with many corporate networks is paranoid about security to the extent that they prevent access to standard ports. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is one of the part of TCP/IP which underpins the Internet. There are a large number of different "ports" all of which have specific functions. For example mail out is on port 25, web (http) is on 80, secure web (https) is on 443, telnet is on 23, ftp is on 21 (and 20). POP (the Post Office Protocol) is on port 110. This is the port that everyone uses to download their email. (Outlook express etc) The Parliamentary Communications Department don't allow that port to be used. Knowing this and knowing that hell would freeze over before they saw sense I bought a mobile internet "power user" account. This works all over the place on a mixure of G3 and GRPS. The default account allows 50Mb of data per month. June, however, was 100Mb. I wonder what the bill will be. ... My plan is to identify about 10 issues that I keep chipping away at these include: ... ID Database, pointing out the technical problems and difficulties - not everyone's iris will scan. ...
2005-06-29 - John Hemming's Web Log - Stealth Tax on Shaving
Author: John Hemming
Summary: It may sound superficially odd, but there is a provision in Section 12 of the ID Card/Database bill which means that people could be fined up to £1,000 if they shave without telling the government. ...
2005-06-28 - John Hemming's Web Log - ID Database and Government
Author: John Hemming
Summary: ...The point about Iris scanning is that it is something that the police could use to determine identity up to a point, but it does not require the establishment of an ID Database. Information could be stored on the police national computer. At the same time the government's record on the National Insurance Database where they admit freely to having no information about the proportion of fraudulent entries and also deny having any information about how many fraudulent entries have been found, is not good. Why we should trust them to maintain a database which is used to prove who we are is unclear.
2005-06-09 - John Hemming's Web Log - Where's the abstain button
Author: John Hemming
Summary: ... So if the police can record biometric data on the PNC why do we need a separate ID database? ...
2000-03-21 - The Register - Birmingham IT entrepreneur to launch bid for Rover
Author: Linda Harrison
Summary: A prospective buyer for stricken car firm Rover has stepped forward from the IT industry. The carmaker's knight in shining armour is Birmingham millionaire John Hemming. Hemming owns several businesses in the Midlands, including Web portal marketnet, which is expected to float on AIM. The entrepreneur, who is also a Liberal Democrat member of Birmingham city council ...