Louise comprehensively answers a selection of your questions from last week.
Tom Ainsworth: I notice in your article you go along with the popular belief that Bank of England independence was a good move. I'm not so sure: isn't it an unconservative step to take the power away from elected politicos whom we can boot out if they screw up, and give it to the quangocrats? Did it really work so badly before?
I think the definition of a quango is a useless, pseudo-government body stuffed with bureaucrats occupying non-jobs. The Governor of the Bank of England doesn’t fit that description. I can quite see your point, which is accountability; but the markets will hold the Bank to account in a more efficient way than the electorate will hold a politician. The temptation to bribe the electorate with interest rate cuts is too great. Conservatives trust voters, but we trust the market, too.
Edmund: Thank you for sparing time to answer our questions. I was wondering what's your position on free vote issues i.e. gay rights, foxhunting, abortion, death penalty, divorce and Sunday trading?
I had a couple of comments along the same lines. The first thing to say is that in our country, these matters are indeed free votes. And that’s a good thing. Taking them out of party policy avoids the bitter divisions caused in the United States. We have people here with different faiths and none, and different values. I don’t think these votes should be compelled by party whips.
On the specific issues:
1. Gay rights – I support civil unions as conferring valuable civil rights, but I would advocate extending civil unions to those not in a romantic relationship, such as, for example, elderly relatives living together who wanted to buy a house. I believe marriage should have a specific and uniquely privileged place in British society.
2. Abortion. I am pro-life. But I recognise the public must give consent to any change in the law. Recent surveys have indicated that a majority of women support a reduction in the current limit to pre-viability outside the womb. David Cameron has said he would support a decrease in the time limit, and I believe this would be a good starting point with a broad consensus that people of differing views on the issue can coalesce around.