Andrew Turner MP

19 Mar 2013 00:00:02

Fourteen Tory MPs defy Cameron on press regulation

By Paul Goodman
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Fourteen Conservative MPs voted against David Cameron's proposals on press regulation earlier this evening - or, rather, against the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which set out proposals for exemplary damages in relation to newspapers and websites that refuse to be regulated by the new regulator. The Hansard list isn't up yet, but I'm told that they were -

  • Richard Bacon
  • Christopher Chope
  • Tracey Crouch
  • Philip Davies
  • Nick de Bois
  • Andrew Percy
  • Mark Reckless
  • John Redwood
  • Andrew Turner
  • Martin Vickers
  • Charles Walker
  • Sarah Wollaston

- and that the tellers were Richard Drax and Jacob Rees Mogg.  I'm also told that there was only vote (on which there were rebellions, at any rate).  We will see more when the whole of yesterday's Hansard is published.  But we don't need to view it to laud this tiny band as heroes of free speech.

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

Continue reading "70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act" »

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.

I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.

  1. Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  2. Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  3. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
  4. Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)
  5. Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  6. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)
  7. Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)
  8. Andrew Bingham (High Peak)
  9. Brian Binley (Northampton South)
  10. Bob Blackman (Harrow East)
  11. Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  12. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
  13. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)
  14. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
  15. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)
  16. Steve Brine (Winchester)
  17. Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  18. Robert Buckland (South Swindon)
  19. Conor Burns (Bournemouth West)*
  20. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
  21. David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
  22. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
  23. Douglas Carswell (Clacton)
  24. William Cash (Stone)
  25. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  26. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  27. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  28. Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
  29. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon)
  30. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  31. David Davies (Monmouth)
  32. Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire)
  33. Philip Davies (Shipley)
  34. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  35. Nick de Bois (Enfield North)
  36. Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  37. Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  38. Charlie Elphicke (Dover)
  39. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North)
  40. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)
  41. George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)
  42. Richard Fuller (Bedford)
  43. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
  44. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
  45. John Glen (Salisbury)
  46. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
  47. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby)
  48. Robert Halfon (Harlow)
  49. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)
  50. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
  51. Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
  52. George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
  53. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
  54. Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  55. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
  56. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough)
  57. Gareth Johnson (Dartford)
  58. David Jones (Clwyd West)
  59. Marcus Jones (Nuneaton)
  60. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  61. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)
  62. Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire)
  63. Philip Lee (Bracknell)
  64. Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford)
  65. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  66. Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
  67. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  68. Peter Lilley (Hitchen and Harpenden)
  69. Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  70. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  71. Anne Main (St Albans)
  72. Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  73. Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  74. Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
  75. Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  76. Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  77. Esther McVey (Wirral West)
  78. Steve Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  79. Nicky Morgan (Loughborough)
  80. David Nuttall (Bury North)
  81. Matthew Offord (Hendon)
  82. Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
  83. Priti Patel (Witham)
  84. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)
  85. Mark Pawsey (Rugby)
  86. Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)
  87. Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)
  88. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  89. John Redwood (Wokingham)
  90. Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
  91. Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  92. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire)
  93. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)
  94. Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
  95. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  96. David Rutley (Macclesfield)
  97. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
  98. Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  99. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
  100. Henry Smith (Crawley)
  101. John Stevenson (Carlisle)
  102. Bob Stewart (Beckenham)
  103. Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  104. Mel Stride (Central Devon)
  105. Robert Syms (Poole)
  106. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
  107. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)
  108. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
  109. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West)
  110. Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
  111. Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  112. Robert Walter (North Dorset)
  113. James Wharton (Stockton South)
  114. Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley)
  115. John Whittingdale (Maldon)
  116. Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  117. Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire)
  118. Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam)
* Conor Burns has stated that he will not be voting against gay marriage but may abstain.

15 May 2012 15:45:08

Tomorrow's 1922 Committee Elections - nominations in full

By Paul Goodman
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8.45pm Update by Matthew Barrett: I have now learned which candidates are being backed by the traditional organisations on the right of the Conservative Party, such as the No Turning Back group. I have highlighted these in purple.

***

The following have been returned unopposed:-

Chairman:
GRAHAM BRADY

Vice-Chairman:
CHARLES WALKER
JOHN WHITTINGDALE

Treasurer:
BRIAN BINLEY

Posts for which elections will take place (I have marked those previously identified by Tim as members of the 301 slate in blue):

1) Secretary - the following nominations have been received for TWO posts:

KAREN BRADLEY
CHRIS CHOPE
NICK DE BOIS
CHARLIE ELPHICKE

2) Executive members - the following nominations have been received for TWELVE posts.

STEVE BAKER
JOHN BARON
GUTO BEBB
PETER BONE
JULIAN BRAZIER
ANDREW BRIDGEN
GEORGE EUSTICE
GRAHAM EVANS
ROBERT HALFON
GEORGE HOLLINGBERY
ADAM HOLLOWAY
STEWART JACKSON
BERNARD JENKIN
CHRIS KELLY
SIMON KIRBY
ELEANOR LAING
JULIAN LEWIS
KARL McCARTNEY
PENNY MORDAUNT
DAVID MORRIS
SHERYLL MURRAY
DAVID NUTTALL
PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.
ANDREW TURNER
MARTIN VICKERS
HEATHER WHEELER

Finally and separately, the following nominations have been received for Conservative members of the Backbench Business Committee - four posts:

DAVID AMESS
BOB BLACKMAN
PETER BONE
JANE ELLISON
PHILIP HOLLOBONE
MARCUS JONES

8 May 2012 13:03:56

The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 18.02.09Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham have released a new pamplet - "The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions", which documents the 239  backbench rebellions so far in this Parliament, in which 544 votes have been held. 

The pamplet takes us from the first rebellion, on the government’s control of time in the Commons, to the last, on Sunday Trading during the Olympics. This Parliament has seen more rebellions by government MPs than in any other session in the post-war era. As "The Bumper Book" says, "It comfortably beats the previous record of 128, held by Conservative MPs in the 1971-72 session. Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than all but three entire post-war parliaments."

In fact, there were more rebellions in the last two years than there were between 1945 and 1966 - a period which saw six Prime Ministers and six parliaments. On a different measure, the "relative rate of rebellion", this session's 239 rebellions constitute a rebellion by Coalition MPs in 44% of divisions, which is a record in post-war parliaments. The 44% figure can be broken down further: Conservative MPs have rebelled in 28% of votes, while Lib Dems have rebelled in 24% of votes.

It is also notable how much of a contrast there is between the 2010-12 session and most first sessions in a parliament. As the pamplet says: "The rebellion rate for coalition MPs collectively is way above all other first sessions in the post-war era (the previous record was 28%, for Labour MPs in the 2005-6 session, as the party entered its third, and most troublesome, parliament under Tony Blair)".

Continue reading "The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

26 Apr 2012 16:52:24

What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame

By Matthew Barrett
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In my series profiling groups of Tory MPs, most groups I've looked at have been mostly or wholly composed of 2010 intake MPs. The next group is bit different, as it was founded more than 25 years ago. The No Turning Back group has a proud history of celebrating and promoting Thatcherism. How is the group doing now? In this profile, I'll be examining what No Turning Back, the backbench group for Thatcherites in Parliament, is doing now. 

Origins of the group

Thatcher1No Turning Back was founded in 1985 to defend Mrs Thatcher's free-market policies. The 25 founding members included, amongst others, now-Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon, now-Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, and the late, great Eric Forth.

The name of the group comes from Mrs Thatcher's famous conference speech given in October 1980:

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends."

Key members

There are about 100 members of the group, which is chaired by John Redwood, including "quite a lot" from the 2010 intake. Members include such big beasts as John Redwood, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Lord Forsyth, and Liam Fox. Current Conservative officeholders who are members of the group include the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron's PPS, Desmond Swayne; Nick Clegg's Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mark Harper; the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers; a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly; three government whips, Angela Watkinson, Mark Francois and Greg Hands; the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, Greg Knight; and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, who was Mrs Thatcher's Political Secretary in the late 1980s.

Continue reading "What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame" »

30 Jul 2011 10:54:05

Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty

By Matthew Barrett
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The blogger Guido Fawkes has launched a campaign to bring back the death penalty, in light of the government's proposed "e-petition" scheme. "E-petitions" mean members of the public can post petitions on a dedicated government website, and petitions attracting 100,000 electronic signatories will be "eligible for debate in the House of Commons".

The petition says:

"We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

The findings of the review and the necessary substantive legislation to be presented to House of Commons for debate no later than 12 months after this petition passes the acceptance threshold."

Continue reading "Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty" »

12 Jul 2011 08:32:49

29 32 Tory MPs rebel against Britain's £9.3 billion EXTRA contribution to IMF bailouts

By Tim Montgomerie
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Last night at least 32 Tory MPs (listed below) voted with Labour against an 88% hike in Britain's contribution to the IMF. The hike is to partly fund the IMF's ability to fund bailouts. I write "at least" because I've only quickly scanned the voting list. Please email tim@conservativehome.com if I've missed anyone off the list.

  1. Steve Baker
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Douglas Carswell
  5. Bill Cash
  6. Chris Chope
  7. James Clappison
  8. Philip Davies
  9. David Davis
  10. Zac Goldsmith
  11. James Gray (added at 9.30am)
  12. Gordon Henderson (added at 9.30am)
  13. Chris Kelly
  14. Edward Leigh
  15. Julian Lewis
  16. Anne Main
  17. Karl McCartney
  18. Nigel Mills (added at 11.30am)
  19. David Nuttall
  20. Matthew Offord
  21. Andrew Percy
  22. Mark Reckless
  23. John Redwood
  24. Simon Reevell
  25. Richard Shepherd
  26. Henry Smith
  27. Graham Stuart
  28. Peter Tapsell
  29. Andrew Turner
  30. Martin Vickers
  31. Charles Walker
  32. John Whittingdale

The Government won the vote to increase Britain's contribution from £10.7 billion to £20.15 billion by 274 votes to 246. This is the first time that the Labour frontbench has voted with Tory Eurosceptics. Labour was voting against an increase in the IMF subscription that was largely agreed during Gordon brown's time in office.

Redwood-on-NewsnightS On his blog John Redwood suggests that the 29 rebels are only one sign of Tory discontent. Given that there are more than 300 Tory MPs he calculates that AT LEAST 80 Conservatives were unavailable, abstained or voted against the government. He writes:

"Some of us want the UK government to use the influence it says it has at the IMF to halt the futile bail outs of Eurozone members. The debt markets show the markets do not believe that Greece can repay all its debts in full and on time. Yesterday was a day when market worries spread beyond Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Italy. Those in  charge of the Euro scheme need to get a grip. It is doing a great deal of financial and economic damage, and they no longer seem to be in control of their project. The IMF should decline to bail out rich countries that have shackled themselves to a currency scheme that was badly put together and needs a thorough re think."

Carswell Douglas Central Lobby 10.30am Douglas Carswell has just blogged this:

"The decision to raise our IMF subscriptions by 88 percent was first mooted when Gordon Brown was in charge – but was okayed by the current government last October.  While Canada, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium all managed to keep the increase in their subs low, whoever negotiated the deal on our behalf seems to have preferred to have UK taxpayers assume greater debt liabilities so that they could sit on a bigger chair at the various international summits they attend on our behalf. Alongside fiscal policy and monetary policy, our approach towards the bailouts and the IMF shows that there has been remarkably little change in economic policy at the Treasury since Gordon Brown was in charge." 

More from Douglas Carswell.

5 Jul 2011 08:30:46

Conservative MPs rebelling more against Cameron than Major

By Tim Montgomerie
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Over on the NottsPolitics blog Professor Philip Cowley underlines the rebelliousness of backbench Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs since the formation of the Coalition. This graph confirms that this is the most rebellious intake since the second world war:

Screen shot 2011-07-05 at 08.20.20

Cowley notes:

  • "Backbench dissent amongst government MPs is running at a historically high level – with a rebellion in almost one in every two votes in the Commons...
  • This is especially striking once you remember that this is a first session (normally relatively quiet) and even more so once you realise that this is a first session after a change of government (normally extremely quiet)...
  • The rate [of rebellion] for Conservative MPs alone is higher than in any first session since the war, including that of John Major in 1992, when he faced all the Maastricht rebellions...
  • The rates of rebellion are themselves very high: Philip Hollobone in particular is rebelling at a rate of roughly one rebellion in every four votes.  This is much higher than, say, Jeremy Corbyn under Blair or Brown..."

Jonathan Isaby has produced his own list of top rebels. Professor Cowley has done the same:

Screen shot 2011-07-05 at 08.20.37

Read Cowley's full blog.

25 May 2011 10:57:05

Tory MPs queue up to call on Clegg to dilute or ditch plans for Lords reform

By Jonathan Isaby
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Nick Clegg Commons 2010 Questions to the Deputy Prime Minister in the Commons yesterday saw a long line of Conservative MPs seeking to ask Nick Clegg about his plans to reform the House of Lords.

I think it's fair to conclude that the scepticism about meddling with the composition of the second chamber exhibited yesterday from the Tory backbenches is representative of widespread opposition within the parliamentary party.

Here's a selection of the exchanges:

Mel Stride: Given the country’s firm rejection of AV in the recent referendum and the fact that the Government’s proposals include the possibility of some form of proportional representation for election of Members of this Parliament, will my right hon. Friend at least consider giving the people of this country a referendum on this important constitutional change?

The Deputy Prime Minister: The first point of which to remind my hon. Friend is that this was a manifesto commitment of all three parties. It is something that we as a country have been discussing for around 100 years or so, and we have introduced changed electoral systems to a number of Assemblies and Parliaments in the UK without referendums in the past.

Continue reading "Tory MPs queue up to call on Clegg to dilute or ditch plans for Lords reform" »

15 Feb 2011 12:35:33

Government climbs down over Isle of Wight in victory for Andrew Turner

by Paul Goodman

Andrew Turner The MP for the island is a happy man this afternoon.  The Government's conceded that the Isle of Wight will join the Western Isles and Orkney & Shetland in being exempted from the standardisation of constituency sizes.  This is the right move for the island as well as for Turner: no part of the island has crossed the Solent, so to speak, to join another constituency since the 1832 Reform Act.  Once the other exceptions were made, the Isle of Wight should have followed.  Jonathan backed the MP earlier on this site.

Turner fought a sturdy battle in the Commons, but ran out of time in which to make his case.  It was those hurried proceedings that helped to persuade the Lords that he was right.  The MP reports that after the Government’s defeat in the Lords, the same amendment was due to be debated and voted on in the Commons over the next few days, however hectic last minute negotiations brought about an acceptance from the Government that the Isle of Wight should be added to the list of exceptions – and should in future have two MPs."

Turner's issued a statement as follows -

“This is a stunning victory for the Island.  When we first launched the ‘One Wight’ Campaign everybody discussed whether we should fight for two Island MPs – but we came to a collective decision that we should put forward the message that the Island’s unique circumstances should be recognised – and if that meant continuing with a single MP it was preferable to any part of the Island being hived off and joined with the mainland.  We thought that approach would be more likely to succeed than if we were seen to be campaigning for advantageous treatment.

“I was initially disappointed that the House of Commons did not get to vote on my amendment, particularly as I already knew I had pledges of support from many MPs of all parties.  However Lord Fowler did an amazing job in the House of Lords where the timetable rules are different – he was always confident that the Lords would never support such a daft proposal – but I must admit I was very pleased by how big the majority against it was.  The Island was the only area to win special treatment – despite spirited campaigns by other areas to be added to the list of exceptions.

“The Government have listened to our arguments and now seeing the strength of feeling on this issue both on the Island, in the House of Commons and the House of Lords they have accepted them.  The Government understand that we wish to be separate and even if that meant the Island being under-represented it would be preferable to having one and a half MPs.  They have sensibly decided now that the Island should have two MPs – and will therefore in future be over-represented when compared to the rest of the country. 

“I don’t think we would have got this outstanding result if we had simply campaigned for two MPs as some people suggested.  It was the fact that the Island was prepared to be under-represented that added to the strength of our argument.  I would like to thank everyone who helped to bring this about, including Richard Priest of the Riverside Centre who was a very effective non-political spokesman for the campaign.  It certainly shows the wisdom of setting party politics aside and working with people of all political persuasions and of none, in order to achieve the right result.”

22 Jan 2011 13:40:27

Seven Tory ex-Cabinet ministers back successful amendment in the Lords to retain the Isle of Wight as a single constituency

By Jonathan Isaby

Isle of Wight When the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill was going through the House of Commons, Isle of Wight Tory MP Andrew Turner passionately made the case for his island not to be linked to the mainland after the forthcoming boundary redistribution.

With the reduction in seats from 650 to 600 and a deviation of only 5% to be allowed for any electorate (except for the far-flung Scottish seats of Orkney & Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar), the Bill as currently constituted would mean about two thirds of the Isle of Wight's 110,000 electors being in one constituency, with the rest of the island being attached to a seat in mainland Hampshire.

The cross-party One Wight campaign - for which I expressed my support here - has been calling for the island to be allowed keep a single MP, effectively consenting to being slightly under-represented in Parliament.

And there was good news for islanders from the House of Lords this week.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Fowler, who has been an Isle of Wight resident for over 25 years, tabled an amendment during the Bill's passage through the House of Lords on Wednesday, saying:

Picture 19 "The consequence of what is being proposed in the Bill is that a new constituency would be formed that would be partly on the mainland and partly on the Isle of Wight, in spite of the fact the two parts would be eight to 10 miles apart, over a stretch of sea and with expensive ferries being the only means of communication. It is claimed that there must be this kind of new constituency because it is essential that all constituencies should have electorates of around 76,000, when the Isle of Wight has 110,000. No exceptions are possible, except the two in the Bill both concerning island constituencies and where the electorates are not abnormally high but abnormally low.

"My amendment would allow there to be one or two constituencies on the Isle of Wight. Most importantly, it follows the amendment put down in the other place by Andrew Turner, the excellent Member of Parliament for the island who was elected on a manifesto that promised opposition to a cross-Solent constituency. You might think that his amendment would have been carefully considered in the other place, but you would be absolutely wrong. Due to the timetabling arrangements in the other place, which perhaps underlines a little the debate that has gone before, he was allowed no time at all in Committee, four minutes on Report and no opportunity to bring the proposition to a vote.

Continue reading "Seven Tory ex-Cabinet ministers back successful amendment in the Lords to retain the Isle of Wight as a single constituency" »

2 Nov 2010 17:30:22

Andrew Turner makes the case for the Isle of Wight remaining a single constituency

By Jonathan Isaby

Andrew Turner Last night during the latest proceedings on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner pleaded for his constituency to remain intact and not be linked with part of the mainland. As it stands, the Bill will mean two thirds of the island being one seat and the other third being linked to a mainland constituency if the quotas on seat size are to be fulfilled. An all-party campaign, One Wight, has also been making the case for the retention of a single island seat

Mr Turner told the Commons:

"The needs and interests of the people of the Isle of Wight are different from those of people living on the mainland. However, it is not only on behalf of the islanders that I oppose the change; my proposal makes better sense for the mainland as well. The island needs local representation, whether by one or two Members of Parliament. What will not do is the creation of one whole constituency with an electorate of 76,000, with the remaining 34,000 forming part of another constituency extending across the sea to the mainland.

"On 15 July, the Deputy Prime Minister told the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform that we must "come to terms with the need for extensive political reform in order to re-establish public trust in what we do here".

"I agree with the Deputy Prime Minister's words, but it is hard to reconcile them with his actions. His aim is the establishment of 600 constituencies of more or less equal size. He says that he wants greater public trust and transparency, yet he has arbitrarily decided that exceptions will be made for some Scottish islands and not others. That is it: no discussion, no consultation, no justification. I am not criticising the Deputy Prime Minister for what he said, but he has not satisfactorily explained why Isle of Wight residents are not entitled to the consideration that is given to Scottish islanders. Like the Scottish islands, we on the Isle of Wight are physically separate from the mainland, but our uniqueness is totally ignored."

 

"What we have is a limited and sometimes eye-wateringly expensive ferry service. It is necessary to live on an island to understand how limiting that can be. Some islanders rarely or never travel to the mainland, and there are times when it is impossible to reach it because of weather or sea conditions. Ferries themselves provide evidence that the interests of electors on opposite sides of the Solent are very different. The Lymington River Association is vehemently opposed to the new ferries on the Yarmouth-Lymington route, while islanders who do travel to the mainland need the improved services that the companies are trying to offer.

"As well as the two Scottish island constituencies, there are other arbitrary exceptions to the principle of fair votes. However, it is not all about fairness or unfairness. It is about allowing people to be consulted and to have the representation that they want, even if that means keeping a larger constituency. That is why the decision should be made by the independent Boundary Commission, rather than according to the diktat of the Deputy Prime Minister.

"My constituency is the largest in the United Kingdom, with 110,000 voters. I am happy to continue to be judged by those people when it comes to whether I represent them effectively. The Deputy Prime Minister paid me the compliment of saying that I was well known as an "outstanding constituency MP". If that is the case, why is he determined to fix something that is not broken, particularly when his reforms are unwanted by the people who are affected by them?"

A division on amendment tabled by Charles Kennedy that would have given protection to the Isle of Wight and Angelesy, and stopped any part of Cornwall, Argyll & Bute and the area covered by Highland Council being shared with other areas, was defeated by 315 votes to 257.