Bernard Jenkin

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" »

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:-




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:


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

PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.

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


27 Jan 2012 13:01:44

Tory backbenchers Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin warn of the dangers of an "undemocratic" EU

By Joseph Willits 
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Bill_cash_mpIn a backbench debate on the European Council yesterday, veteran Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash warned that a proposed fiscal union would be both undemocratic as a whole, and damage the national interests of the UK. The Liberal Democrats, he said were currently an "obstruction to our vital national interests", and it was crucial for the House to be united on the future of Europe: 

"A house divided against itself will fall, and the situation will be worse still if it is built on sand. There are now two Europes, both built on sand, and the situation is not only precarious but dangerous."

Whilst a lack of growth in the Eurozone was "contaminating the UK economy", the situation across much of Europe was more worrying, Cash said:

"Elsewhere in Europe it is creating civil disorder, with youth unemployment of up to 45% in Greece and Spain, and 30% in Italy'"

In its present form, the European Union is "completely undemocratic" said Cash, and that "existing treaties should be sent to a convention so that all the member states could have the opportunity to face one another and decide what kind of Europe they want". Cash's most chilling prediction, was that a trend of a lack of democracy which exists within the current setup of the EU had the potential to mobilise the far right:

Continue reading "Tory backbenchers Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin warn of the dangers of an "undemocratic" EU " »

8 Nov 2011 17:33:57

Eurosceptic Tory MPs grill Cameron following G20 statement

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday afternoon, David Cameron made a statement to the House on his recent G20 meetings. Given that the Prime Minister described the main topic of debate as "instability in the eurozone", one could have predicted Eurosceptic members would turn up in force - as indeed they did. Douglas Carswell, Bill Cash, and Peter Bone were amongst the MPs asking questions. 

Bill Cash posed the first challenging question of the session:

CASH WILLIAM"Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): Given that the single market, including the City of London, is governed by qualified majority voting, how does the Prime Minister propose to achieve a majority to protect our interests in the context of the fiscal union that he advocates?

The Prime Minister: First, we need to disconnect the issues that my hon. Friend raises. The issue of the single market and the threat to the City of London and Britain’s financial services is a real threat. We have to work extremely hard to build alliances in the single market and in the European Council to stop directives that would damage our interests. I think it is extremely important that we do that work. Financial services matter hugely to this country, and this is one of the areas that I want to ensure we can better safeguard in future."

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24 Oct 2011 13:24:39

Ahead of this evening's debate, Tory MPs rehearse the arguments for and against a referendum

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sittingThis evening's backbench debate and vote on the possibility of a referendum on the European Union has dominated today's political news. 

Conservative MPs, from both sides of the referendum argument, have been appearing in the media, and their words provide an insight into the possible themes of this evening's debate. 

Arguing against a referendum as described in tonight's debate motion:

  • Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe): "I believe that relationship has to change, and I believe Europe has to change. But we simply don’t know enough yet about what powers we could repatriate to this country, how the crisis in the eurozone would play. So it would be impossible to have a referendum, debate, and campaign until we understood those things."
  • GyimahSam Gyimah (East Surrey): "I think the big thing is, on an issue like this, how do you think about rebelling – I’m a relatively new MP, I got elected in 2010 – and what I look at is, is it a manifesto commitment, is it in the Coalition agreement, and where do your constituents stand. ... it’s very easy to rebel, saying that you’re speaking on behalf of your constituents, when maybe you’ve got 50 or so letters, and you’ve got to be careful you’re not speaking for the vocal minority, as opposed to the silent majority."
  • Richard Harrington (Watford): "I think it is really absurd that people should be spending their time now, when the Government hasn’t even entered into the negotiations that it intends to do, where there has been no movement towards the pulling back of powers and getting benefits out of Europe, whilst reducing the things that people quite legitimately don’t like. .. The reason I’m opposing this motion is nothing to do with what any whips have said, or what David Cameron has said. It’s because I firmly believe it’s a ludicrous motion and it needs voting down."

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6 Sep 2011 07:28:35

An absence of backbench grovelling to "liberal, practical Conservative" Cameron over Libya

By Paul Goodman
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Grovelling? Yes, let's face it: it happens.  But not yesterday when the Prime Minister was questioned after his statement on Libya.  Read Patrick Mercer on Islamism, Andrew Tyrie on torture, Peter Lilley on getting Libya to pay, Baron on intervention, Chisti on Syria.  Plenty of pertinent questions

Also follow David Cameron being polite to Mark Pritchard, telling Rory Stewart that he shouldn't have gone to Libya recently, and being thrown for a moment by a very sharp question from Andrew Bridgen.  Here are the exchanges in full from Hansard.

"Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): As someone who had reservations about the principle of intervention, may I congratulate the Prime Minister on a successful outcome in Libya? It was largely achieved by two aspects: first, it was legal; and secondly, it had the support of the Libyan people. Further to the previous question, however, will my right hon. Friend now use it as an illustration to persuade permanent members of the Security Council, such as Russia and China, that a well conducted intervention can be successfully used to restrain autocrats in countries such as Syria?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he says. Everyone should have misgivings about such operations, and one should never have the naive belief that they are easy or that everything is going to go to plan. That very rarely happens, and we should always be hard-headed and careful about such things. We should also respect the fact that this is not done—this is not completed yet.

Also, I think that we should be very cautious about trying to draw up a new doctrine, because it seems to me that as soon as a new doctrine is established, a case comes up that flies completely in its face, but I do hope that other members of the Security Council will see that there has been success in removing a dictator, and in giving that country a chance of peaceful and democratic progress, which will be good for the world.

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15 Feb 2011 07:17:39

Sceptical questions about political strategy for Liam Fox as he makes quarterly Afghanistan statement to the Commons

by Paul Goodman

So much happens in the Commons that isn't picked up by the media.  If you want the core of the Government's view of the present position in Afghanistan, here it is - as presented to the House yesterday by Liam Fox, in the latest of the regular and very welcome quarter reports.

"In central Helmand, as General Petraeus has said, we have not yet seen success or victory, but we are seeing progress. It is fragile and not irreversible, but it is progress. The increase in Afghan and ISAF forces has enabled us to take the fight to the insurgency and, understandably, this has led to an overall increase in the number of violent incidents. But over the past three months, although the number is still higher than in previous years, we are seeing a trend of falling security incidents. For example, in the Marjah district of Helmand province, security incidents have fallen from a high of around 25 a day at the height of summer to just three or four a day at present. There is a seasonal pattern, as many insurgents, especially those fighting for financial rather than ideological reasons, return to their homes for the winter. This year, however, with the unusually mild weather and with winter arriving late, and the increased activity by ISAF and the Afghan national security forces, the fall in the number of incidents is more likely than in previous years to be an indicator of progress. However, I have to say to the House that casualty numbers are once again likely to rise in spring this year as insurgent activity increases.

This year will be just as difficult as 2010, but there will be distinct differences. The increased number of ANSF and ISAF forces allows us to arrest the momentum of the insurgency in more areas. Afghan forces will also begin to take the lead for security as the first districts and provinces begin the process of transition. There are now over 152,000 Afghan national army and 117,000 Afghan national police. This is on schedule to meet the October 2011 growth target to deliver 305,600 Afghan national security forces. But as the quantity increases, quality must not be neglected. One example is improving literacy to ensure that orders can be communicated in writing as well as orally, so that there is less scope for misinterpretation. Currently, around 85% of ANSF recruits are illiterate on entry. Literacy training is now mandatory for all recruits. The training is to be conducted by Afghan teachers, creating employment and boosting the economy, and significant progress is being made."

I wrote recently about the difficulty of trying to create a strong central state in Afghanistan, and asked whether an effective Afghan army would be in place by 2015.  Adam Holloway, who I cited in my article, returned to these points, as did others.  It's well worth noting the tone of the questions -

Mr Adam Holloway (Gravesham) (Con): There are many Afghans outside the ruling clique who believe not only that the exit strategy will not work in the long term, but that it is fatally flawed and in fact cannot work. General Petraeus's strategy has been described as "Fight, then talk". Does the Secretary of State think that we ought to be fighting and talking, and that this should include talking to all modes of the insurgency?

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement, and particularly for his last few words on involving the international players around Afghanistan in a final settlement. Can he say more about who will lead the political settlement around which we hope stability will be maintained as British and American troops withdraw later in this decade? May I point out that cautious optimism represents painfully slow progress 10 years after this war started, and that a lasting settlement is possible only if there is a political settlement that involves talking to our enemies?

Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con): I also recently visited Afghanistan and can testify to the excellent job that our armed forces are doing in carrying out their duties. I do not believe that the same can be said of President Karzai or Members of the Afghan Parliament, and this is not just a capacity or knowledge issue: there is also too little focus on human rights and the quality of life of the Afghan people. Does the Secretary of State agree that we must address the political deficit, to ensure that in the long term the blood and treasure that this country is spending for the benefit of both our countries will not be in vain?

Not a single questioner expressed confidence in the political (as opposed to the military) strategy.

14 Oct 2010 11:56:37

A small Conservative rebellion took place on Tuesday over the date of the AV referendum

by Paul Goodman

It's worth keeping an eye on the progress of the NAME bill - the measure that paves the way for a referendum on AV and a reduction in the number of Commons seats.

On Tuesday evening, Bernard Jenkin argued that the May 5 poll date should be moved - because some parts of the country are voting on that day while others aren't.

He said -

"The real reason for avoiding the combination of polls with referendums is fairness. Whatever the merits of combining referendums with elections throughout the referendum constituency, all voters should at least be treated the same. It is obvious from the date on the table at the moment that voters are being treated differently in different parts of the country."

He also attacked the Electoral Commission's volte-face on the matter -

"The quality of the commission's consultation and research has been lacking, which probably reflects the fact that most of its people have changed since 1992. However, the fundamental point about the paper is that it does not address substantively any of the arguments advanced in 2002 in favour of separate polls."

Edward Leigh, Julian Lewis, Eleanor Laing and Nick Boles also spoke from the backbenches during the debate, and the following Conservative MPs voted against the Government:

  1. Peter Bone
  2. Chris Chope
  3. Philip Davies
  4. Philip Hollobone
  5. Bernard Jenkin
  6. Dr Julian Lewis
  7. Mark Reckless
  8. John Redwood
  9. Richard Shepherd

Earlier this year, this vote, long-expected, was mooted to mark substantial number of Conservative MPs voting against the Government.