By Paul Goodman
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The four in question, as above, were Peter Luff, Tim Loughton, Cheryl Gillan and Nick Herbert.
My report on their views of how British government now works - and to what degree it requires overhauling - can be read on the Conservative Intelligence website.
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.
By Paul Goodman
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Here is the list of those who went into the No lobby to oppose the Dorries/Field amendment. It included such senior Conservatives as George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Cheryl Gillan, William Hague, Eric Pickles, David Willetts, Sir George Young.
Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob
Alexander, rh Danny
Alexander, rh Mr Douglas
By Jonathan Isaby
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Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan's private opposition to the proposed High Speed Rail scheme is well known. It would dissect her Chesham and Amersham constituency in Buckinghamshire and her local Conservative association has already stopped paying into CCHQ coffers in protest.
A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Times (£) quoted her as saying that if necessary she would sacrifice her ministerial career to oppose HS2 in public:
“If the proposals go through as they are, I cannot vote for them. If that happens, the prime minister must decide whether he wants me to continue as a minister or not... This project goes right through my backyard and I have never made any secret of my opposition to it. If the project goes ahead, I would resign the whip unless the prime minister tells me he would allow me to vote against it."
This prompted Labour MP Susan Elan Jones to ask at Welsh Questions yesterday for an assessment on "the potential effects of High Speed 2 on the economy of Wales".
"The Government are currently consulting on a new national high-speed rail network. That is part of a wider programme of modernisation of the rail network, including electrification of the Great Western main line to Cardiff."
But this prompted Elan Jones to ask a very direct question of the Secretary of State:
"I have heard of trains cancelled because of snow on the line and leaves on the line, but never before because of the Secretary of State on the line. The high-speed rail link, HS2, would bring great benefits to Wales, but our Buckinghamshire-based Secretary of State opposes it. If our Secretary of State will not stand up for Wales, why does she not resign?"
Gillan batted away the question thus:
"I thank the hon. Lady for her close interest in my career. The Government are having an open consultation on HS2, and now that she has expressed such a great interest in the subject, we will expect her representations."
By coincidence, David Cameron was at her said as she spoke, as it immediately preceded Prime Minister's Questions.
Yesterday the House of Commons staged Welsh questions.
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Shailesh Vara and Wellingborough both asked about the treatment of Welsh and English residents in the other country's hospitals:
"The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wayne David): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues and the Welsh Assembly Government on such matters. The discussions include the new cross-border protocol for health care services of Wales, which, I am pleased to say, has been agreed between the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Government.
Mr. Vara: I am grateful to the Minister for those comments. He will be aware of the recent Welsh Affairs Committee report on cross-border health policy, to which he referred in his preliminary comments. He will also be aware that there should be clinical excellence for all those who wish to have medical treatment, as close as possible to their homes. Does he acknowledge that that would mean Welsh patients ending up having medical treatment in English hospitals? Will he do all that he can to urge the Welsh Health Minister to abandon her so-called in-country policy, which is causing so much distress to neurosurgery patients in Wales?
Mr. David: The hon. Gentleman is correct in referring to the Welsh Affairs Committee interim report on the provision of cross-border health services in Wales. We have considered that important report, and the Department of Health will respond to all its points in due course. It is important to recognise, however, that devolution is about addressing particular needs. The Welsh Assembly Government have clearly defined and articulated their policy, and we are seeing consistent and radical improvements in the health care of the people of Wales. Obviously, given the unique situation with regard to the Welsh-English border, a close working relationship is needed. I am absolutely confident that the protocol that is now in place and is being implemented will ensure effective co-operation and cross-border flow to the benefit of English and Welsh patients.
The Welsh Conservatives Conference took place at the weekend. A number of announcements were made, including a promise from David Cameron to submit to questions and answers every year at the Welsh Assembly, if he becomes Prime Minister.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said that under a Tory government Welsh Office ministers would attend three question and answer sessions annually in Cardiff Bay. This would be additional to the statutory obligation to attend Assembly plenary sessions after the Queen's Speech.
Mrs Gillan added that more meetings of the House of Commons' Welsh Grand Committee should be held in Wales, and commented:
"To deliver the best for Wales there needs to be an open and continuing dialogue, not an annual arrangement."
One of her colleagues, Shadow Welsh Minister David Jones, announced that a Conservative government would set up a new committee of Welsh and English MPs (the latter being from constituencies close to or on the border) to monitor the impact of devolution in Wales and England. The committee would report to the Secretary of State for Wales.
Nick Bourne, Conservative leader in the Welsh Assembly, called for businesses with a rateable value of £10,000 or less to be taken out of business rates altogether, and tapered relief for businesses worth up to £15,000. Shadow Assembly Local Government Minister Darren Millar said that every pensioner household in Wales should receive a 30 per cent reduction in their council tax bills.
It was Welsh questions yesterday.
Congleton's Ann Winterton asked about manufacturing:
"Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the state of the manufacturing sector in Wales. 
The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy): The manufacturing industry is, of course, very important to Wales. According to the latest available figures, the sector employs about 13.5 per cent. of the Welsh work force.
Ann Winterton: The manufacturing industry in the UK has taken a very hard hit in the recession, and that is perhaps even more true of Wales. Is the Secretary of State aware of the concerns of many in the manufacturing work force in Wales who work for foreign companies that there may be plans to offshore employment? Examples of such companies include Toyota in north Wales and Corus in south Wales; Corus has a plant in the Netherlands. What discussion has he had with other Ministers, and with the Welsh Assembly, to ensure that that does not happen?
Mr. Murphy: The hon. Lady makes a valid point. I have of course had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary, and with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Wales. I have also discussed the issue of Corus with the chief executive of Corus. The point that the hon. Lady makes about foreign-owned companies in Wales is well taken, but I have no reason to believe that that will be a disadvantage to us in Wales in the months to come. In my constituency, for example, thousands of people work for car component manufacturers that are American-owned, and so far, so good. Obviously, they are feeling the pinch, like all manufacturing companies, and particularly those in the automotive industry, but I very much take her point on board."
Shadow Deputy Secretary of State for Wales David Jones had a follow-up question:
"The Secretary of State will know that Toyota announced today that it is putting its factory on Deeside on short-time working and its staff on reduced pay. He has already mentioned the importance of the automotive industry to the Welsh economy. Given that importance, does he know precisely when the automotive assistance programme, which was announced with so much fanfare in January, will be implemented? Is it another case not of real help now, but of jam tomorrow?
Mr. Murphy: No; the hon. Gentleman is aware that some of the schemes are to operate at different times. For example, in April at least six schemes are due to go live, including help for the automotive industry. There are other schemes that have already started. I cited to the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) the excellent ProAct scheme that works in Wales. The schemes are staggered in time scale, but they are about real help for people. The hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Jones) is right that the delivery of such schemes must be a main priority of Government, whether here in London or in Cardiff. Help is available, and it is up to the industry to apply for that help."
Cheryl Gillan, who is Shadow Welsh Secretary and MP for Chesham and Amersham, introduced the second reading of the Autism Bill on Friday. Mrs Gillan had come top of the Private Members' ballot, and received over a hundred requests for causes to promote.
The Autism Bill aims to improve information on the number of people with autism (who number some 500,000), ensure effective transition to adult from child services, and access to support and services for people with autism. Local authorities would be held legally accountable if they fall short. The Bill has cross-party support, although ministers voted against the Second Reading.
It had been suggested that Mrs Gillan withdraw the Bill, as the Government were committed to taking action. But she commented:
"I am delighted by what the Government have put on the table—I make no bones about that. It is a tribute to the negotiating skills of the National Autistic Society. However, if the Government are to deliver their commitment, they have nothing to fear from examining the Bill clause by clause. The subject has been deserted for a long time and it is about time that the voices of those affected and their families were heard loud and clear. If the promises are as good as the paper on which they are written, there is nothing to fear from having a Committee stage, during which we can examine the Bill in detail.
There is no malign intention in pressing the Bill. After it was suggested to me that the Government’s commitments were good enough for the Bill to be withdrawn, I looked up precedents. A Labour Member withdrew a Bill recently after it had gone into Committee and another Member withdrew a measure on a much smaller matter, so there is little precedent for such behaviour. I believe that I would let people down by not trying to get the detailed discussion that having the No. 1 private Member’s Bill affords."
It was time for Welsh questions in the Commons yesterday.
Monmouth MP David Davies was concerned about onerous rules on the use of Welsh:
"Does the Minister agree that enacting legislation that will require all companies, or at least private companies, to use the Welsh language in all forms of business could prove very detrimental not just to the rural economy but to the rest of the economy in Wales, at a time when, tragically, we are seeing hundreds of jobs lost?
Mr. David: The hon. Gentleman should choose his words carefully. I am sure that the last thing any Member would want to do is be seen to be against the Welsh language. It has developed over the past few years, and we want to ensure that it continues to develop with the consent of all the people of Wales.
As the hon. Gentleman will know, the draft Welsh language legislative competence order is due to be published next week. I hope that, as a result, there will be full discussion among all the people of Wales about what is the best way forward."
Mr Davies might appreciate people knowing that he is himself a Welsh speaker.
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP (and Opposition MP) Stephen Crabb is eager to see a new power station in Wales:
"Does the Minister agree that one significant boost to the rural economy of west Wales at this time would come from the construction of the new gas-fired power station at Pembroke, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Carmarthen, West and South Pembrokeshire (Nick Ainger)? The project has taken four years to reach this point. It has passed its environmental consents, and merely awaits a decision from the Minister’s colleague the Energy Minister. Will he speak to the Energy Minister and unlock this important project? The United Kingdom needs the generating capacity, and my constituents need the jobs.
Mr. David: The hon. Gentleman is entirely right: this is an important project. We are mindful of that; discussions have taken place with my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen, West and South Pembrokeshire (Nick Ainger), who represents the constituency where the new installation will be based, and I am sure that, across all Departments, we are absolutely committed to ensuring matters are expedited as quickly as possible, but also in a proper manner."
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan asked about job losses: