Chris Heaton-Harris MP

21 Nov 2012 15:57:10

Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Charles Walker and Jesse Norman amongst the stars of the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards

By Matthew Barrett
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Spectator-Logo-resize-395x400Below are the winners of the different categories of the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which were held this afternoon.

  • Newcomer of the Year – Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
  • Backbencher of the Year – Alistair Darling MP (Lab)
  • Campaigner of the Year – Andy Burnham MP (Lab)
  • Inquisitor of the Year – Margaret Hodge MP (Lab)
  • Speech of the Year – Charles Walker MP (Con) & Kevan Jones MP (Lab)
  • Resignation of the Year – Lord Hill of Oareford (Con)
  • Apology of the Year – Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem)
  • Resurrection of the Year – Sir George Young MP (Con)
  • Minister to Watch – Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
  • Double Act of the Year – Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem) & John Hayes MP (Con)
  • Peer of the Year – Rt Revd Justin Welby
  • Minister of the Year – Theresa May MP (Con)
  • Parliamentarian of the Year – Jesse Norman MP (Con)
  • Politician of the Year – Boris Johnson (Con)

Three names especially strike me: Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.

Jesse Norman deserves relentless praise for his defence of our constitution against the offensive, mandate-lacking desire of some in the Coalition to see the House of Lords destroyed. But Mr Norman is far from being a mere skilled rebel. He is a serious economic and philosophical thinker, and a remarkable talent on the backbenches. His award is richly deserved.

Continue reading "Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Charles Walker and Jesse Norman amongst the stars of the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards" »

6 Jul 2012 15:05:03

Backbench Tories irked by Lib Dem threats over Lords reform

By Matthew Barrett
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Since the interview with a recently-departed senior Nick Clegg aide, Richard Reeves, in this morning's newspapers, which intimated there would be consequences for the Government's boundary review if backbench Tories vote against stopping debate on Lords reform, a number of Tory MPs have appeared in the media to express their thoughts - from frustration to amusement - at the Lib Dems' threats.

Dan Byles - Parliamentary Candidate for North Warwickshire & Bedworth1Firstly, Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) on BBC Five Live, expressed his disappointment that the vote next week will be whipped:

"The idea that a fundamental and irreversible constitutional change should be pushed through with the usual whipping and guillotining that happens on more routine bills is just unthinkable. Coalition policy was to seek a consensus on House of Lords reform and I think it’s pretty clear to anyone watching this debate that they failed to achieve a consensus."

Bone Peter JulySecondly, Peter Bone (Wellingborough), appearing on the Daily Politics show, was asked how he felt being threatened by the Lib Dems. He replied:

"Quaking in my boots. ... They just can’t be trusted. I mean, the deal was they got this wretched AV vote in return for the boundary review. They all voted for that bill, I actually voted against the bill, and now because they didn’t get what they wanted in the AV they’re now saying ‘well it’s all about House of Lords reform.’ ... House of Lords reforms were bringing forward proposals, seeking agreement, but nothing about legislation. The Prime Minister said it was a third term priority. A consensus is a consensus, and we’re still seeking it. We haven’t quite made it yet."

Continue reading "Backbench Tories irked by Lib Dem threats over Lords reform" »

28 May 2012 06:23:29

What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has usually featured groups with general ideological goals. Groups representing the traditional right or Thatcherite wing of the Party cannot be said to focus on a single area of political life. Nor can newer groups like the Free Enterprise Group, or the 2020 Conservatives. However, Fresh Start, the subject of this profile, is focused on one big area of politics: Europe.

Origins of Fresh Start

Fresh Start was formed before the summer recess in 2011, and formally launched in September last year, at an event to which all Conservative MPs were invited. Anthony Browne, in his ConservativeHome column, reported on the launch of Fresh Start at the time:

"By one count there were 104 Conservative MPs; another put it at 120 – twice the total number of Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons. Either way, it was standing room only in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House last night, as much of the parliamentary Conservative party (and the odd hanger-on like me) met to discuss Britain’s way forward with the European Union."


The founders are Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris, and George Eustice, all 2010 intake members:

  • Leadsom, the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, had a career in the City prior to entering politics, having been Financial Institutions Director at Barclays Bank, Managing Director of a London hedge fund and then, Head of Corporate Governance for Invesco Perpetual. Leadsom runs Fresh Start and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform (see below) from her office, and has regular co-ordinating messages with Heaton-Harris and Eustice.
  • Heaton-Harris, from Daventry, which neighbours Leadsom's constituency, was a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands region from 1999 until 2009. He was an advocate of reform and helped found the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR). Heaton-Harris also helped publicise the case of Marta Andreasen, now a UKIP MEP, who, as the European Commission's Chief Accountant, complained about fraud and waste in the European institutions in 2002. 
  • Eustice is the Member of Parliament for Camborne and Redruth, and was a UKIP candidate for the South West of England region at the 1999 European Parliament elections. He has also been Campaign Director for the cross-party campaign against the €uro in 2000, Head of Press for Michael Howard during the 2005 election, and Press Secretary for David Cameron from when Cameron launched his leadership campaign until he was well established as leader, at the end of 2008. Eustice also played a key role in the Conservative effort to win a "no" vote in the AV referendum.

Continue reading "What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship" »

22 Mar 2012 15:00:13

An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne

By Matthew Barrett
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Traditionally, after a Budget speech, high-profile MPs speak in the debate that follows, to give their verdict on the Budget. Compiled below are some of the most significant contributions. 

TYRIE ANDREWFirstly, Andrew Tyrie, the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, raised his concerns about the Government's proposed scheme for banks to lend to small businesses:

"Yesterday’s announcement on the loan guarantee scheme responded to many constituents’ complaints that they simply cannot get the money they need to run or start up small businesses. We all have constituents in that position, and the scheme will offer some welcome relief. How much relief? I think it will offer only a little, and there is a risk of the banks pocketing most of the money. The Treasury Committee, the Public Accounts Committee— I do not know whether its Chair is in her place—and the National Audit Office all need to play a role in ensuring that the banks do not run off with the money, and that value for money is secured."

Tyrie nevertheless commended the scheme:

"I still think the scheme may turn out to be valuable, for several reasons. First, by announcing it the Chancellor has raised the salience of an important issue and put pressure on the banks not to dismiss requests for loans without examining them properly. Furthermore, it seems to me that the Treasury’s own pessimistic briefing yesterday that the money will go only to existing borrowers is almost certainly mistaken. There is very likely to be some more lending, because banks will benefit from the stronger financial position of firms to which they have lent. Those loans, in turn, will be less risky for the banks, so they should have some more headroom for new lending without altering their risk profile."

Continue reading "An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne" »

5 Feb 2012 09:49:36

Full text of 'cut the subsidies for windfarms' letter from 101 Tory MPs to Cameron, led by Chris Heaton-Harris MP

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen shot 2012-02-05 at 09.43.09

Today's Sunday Telegraph reports that one hundred Tory MPs have signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging a review of windfarms policy. I understand that the actual number is 101 Tories, 2 Labour, 2 Lib Dems and one DUP.

Posted below is the full text of the letter that was put together by Chris Heaton-Harris MP and people interested in this subject should read Ruth Lea's latest column. She sets out three things necessary to produce a "sane" green policy. It is likely that many ministers - notably George Osborne - are sympathetic to the letter. The problem is the small matter of Coalition government.


"The Rt. Hon David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

30th January 2012

As Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, we have grown more and more concerned about the Government’s policy of support for on-shore wind energy production.
In these financially straightened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies on-shore wind turbines.
In the on-going review of renewable energy subsidies, we ask the Government to dramatically cut the subsidy for on-shore wind and spread the savings made between other types of reliable renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures.
We also are worried that the new National Planning Policy Framework, in its current form, diminishes the chances of local people defeating unwanted on-shore wind farm proposals through the planning system. Thus we attach some subtle amendments to the existing wording that we believe will help rebalance the system.
Finally, recent planning appeals have approved wind farm developments with the inspectors citing renewable energy targets as being more important than planning considerations. Taken to its logical conclusion, this means that it is impossible to defeat applications through the planning system. We would urge you to ensure that planning inspectors know that the views of local people and long established planning requirements should always be taken into account.
Yours sincerely,


Continue reading "Full text of 'cut the subsidies for windfarms' letter from 101 Tory MPs to Cameron, led by Chris Heaton-Harris MP" »

22 Dec 2011 15:01:05

Chris Heaton-Harris MP uses 60 adjectives to condemn building of wind farm

By Matthew Barrett
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During Tuesday's Adjournment debate before the start of the Christmas recess, a number of Members spoke on energy and climate change. The most remarkable contribution to the debate came from Chris Heaton-Harris, the Member for Daventry. He used 60 - yes, sixty - adjectives to describe the decision to approve the building of a wind farm in his constituency:

Heaton-Harris Chris2"That brings me to some unbelievably bad news I received yesterday about my constituency. There was—how can I put it?—a disgraceful, vulgar, disrespectful, terrible, shameful, contemptible, detestable, dishonourable, disreputable, ignoble, mean, offensive, scandalous, shabby, shady, shocking, shoddy, unworthy, deplorable, awful, calamitous, dire, disastrous, distressing, dreadful, faulty, grim, horrifying, lamentable, lousy, mournful, pitiable, regrettable, reprehensible, rotten, sad, sickening, tragic, woeful, wretched, abhorrent, abominable, crass, despicable, inferior, odious, unworthy, atrocious, heinous, loathsome, revolting, scandalous, squalid, tawdry, cowardly, opprobrious, insulting, malevolent, scurrilous and basically stinkingly poor decision of the Planning Inspectorate to approve the Kelmarsh wind farm, which will devastate huge swathes of beautiful rural Northamptonshire. It used an old-fashioned east midlands regional plan, which I thought we had abolished in the Localism Act 2011, did not take into account any emerging policy in this area, not least the national planning policy framework, and used the targets, which the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion [Caroline Lucas, Green] is so passionately attached to, of getting 20% of our energy from renewables by 2020. It is unbelievable that one planning inspector can overrule all elements of democracy, local and national, including parish and district council opinion, MPs, Lords and Members of the European Parliament, and say, “Well, actually, because of these particularly poor policies we have, forget democracy. This is what you are having.” That is what upsets people about the onshore wind industry. The sooner that can change, the better."

The full debate can be read in Hansard here.

5 Dec 2011 17:41:54

Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty

Friday 8.45am John Redwood MP blogs:

"Orderly but rapid break up would be the least cost option. It would liberate the countries allowed out, and permit them to adjust their competitiveness by a devaluation which would be swift and easier to sell than large wage cuts. There is  no foundation to the proposition that the EU would lose 10-50% of its output if they changed currencies. To my knowledge 87 countries have left currency unions since 1945. In most cases they have prospered more after exit. The successful break up of the 16 member rouble bloc could be the model."

8.30pm Philip Hollobone told Sky News:

Hollobone_phillip"...we need to have a disorderly breakup so that the whole of Europe and the rest of the world economy can get back to significant economic growth in the future. This idea that we can prop up the eurozone in the next ten years with constant austerity is just not going to work."

6.45pm The leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan MEP said: 

CALLANAN MARTIN"If there is any treaty change which creates European fiscal union then clearly that will radically effect the UK and that should be put to a referendum. That is what democracy demands, because we would be creating a fundamental change to the EU and our relationship with it. However, that could take years to complete. It might be a way to solve the next crisis - but not this one. That is why the focus should be on measures to address the issues at the heart of this crisis."

He said these would include "The casual one-size-fits-all approach that had undermined the euro from its foundations", "The massive economic imbalance between its prosperous and economically-disciplined members and those which were debt-ridden and financially dysfunctional", "The over-regulation which hampered wealth-creation and innovation and encouraged a dependency culture in struggling states."

5.30pm Paul Waugh reports that Edward Leigh said the following in a Westminster Hall debate this afternoon:

LEIGH edward MP"We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years in the days preceding a summit that 'they will stand up for the British national interest' and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, 'I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests'."

Update: Paul Waugh tweets

"No.10 hits back at Edward Leigh's Chamberlain remarks. PM's spokeswoman: "It was offensive and ridiculous.""

5.15pm Nadine Dorries blogged

DORRIES-Nadine"I have no doubt that the PM will return with some form of a guarantee for Britain as the last thing Merkel wants is a referendum in Britain. If Britain succumbs, other countries may follow suit and the effect such an event would have on the markets would be damaging for Germany. After all, it’s all about Germany. A fiscal union of 17 EU members forming one new country and in effect a new trading block will have huge implications for Britain and British business. It's time we gave the British people their say via a referendum. The next two days will test the Prime Ministers courage and skills. If he misses this opportunity to grasp the nettle and give the British People their say, they may eventually make him pay with the one vote they will have."

4.15pm Nick Boles appeared on the Daily Politics show this afternoon, and argued:

Jenkin Campbell Boles"Today is the moment of maximum economic danger for Britain. Our retail sales are falling, manufacturing output is collapsing, Brazil has stalled, China has stalled. The entire global economy is sitting on the edge of an abyss and the urgent priority for the British people is to protect our economy and their jobs by getting this Eurozone crisis fixed. We need to repatriate powers but we need to come to that after we've saved our economy, not before. ... What I want David Cameron to do is to protect our economy, protect our jobs - mainly, because that's the thing that's under most threat from the Eurozone - protect the City of London, but he needs to help them get a solution to the Eurozone crisis so that the entire European economy doesn't fall apart. ... We are going to work out an entirely new kind of outer-tier relationship, and that is a big exercise, it's a very important exercise, and it offers big opportunities for Britain, but it's probably going to take two or three years - it's not the work of a weekend when the global economy is on the precipice."

3.30pm Sir Peter Tapsell told Radio 4:

Tapsel Peter"The fact is the French and German leaders have been meeting for weeks and weeks. I have very little doubt that they will not be able to solve the eurocrisis on Friday but it is very much in the British national interests that it should be solved. As we argued at the time of the Maastricht Treaty to think that you can have a single a interest rate for a whole variety of countries at different stages in their development. And that remains true today and although we opted out of the euro right from the beginning and very sensibly so, but we are affected by the euro and I feel really sceptical that they can solve to eurocrisis, I don’t expect it to survive. ... The reason why Europe is in crisis has to be traced back to the Maastricht Treaty. They then introduced a whole series of measures which weakened the European economy by comparison with those of the Far East and America and so on."

Continue reading "Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty" »

12 Nov 2011 08:43:21

The humour of Chris Heaton-Harris MP

By Tim Montgomerie
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CHH RefChris Heaton-Harris MP was this week's political pin up. A qualified football referee (wearing, I think, an Italian shirt in the picture on the right) he helped find a compromise solution to the stand-off between the FA and FIFA about whether the England football team could wear poppies during the game against Spain, later today:

"I was reading the FIFA regulations and it was fairly obvious you could not have a poppy on the shirt - but that you could on an armband. I contacted someone close to FIFA and ended up speaking to Jerome Valcke on the phone and then the FA. There was a lot of stuff going on in the background with the Prime Minister and Prince William both writing to FIFA but I did have a small part to play."

Thank you Chris but what do we think of his humour? He was tweeting his favourite jokes last night...

  • The EU Health Commissioner has caused controversy at EuroDisney. He insisted the kitchens were closed after finding a giant mouse in them.
  • After his claims that he could "remember when rock was young" geologists estimated Elton John to be over 4 billion years old.
  • Apple are working on a secret electronic viewing device for the Navy. It's called the iEye Captain.
  • My friend David lost his ID the other day. Now we have to call him Dav.

And my favourite one...

  • Earlier this week an asteroid narrowly missed the Earth by 201,000 miles. Scientists have named it "Emile Heskey".

I remember when Chris gave an after dinner speech at a Conservative Future dinner in Bath some years ago. The humour then was a little more, well, blue!

25 May 2011 07:28:32

Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts

By Jonathan Isaby
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We have already highlighted the result of the vote of yesterday's debate on the future use of the European Financial Stability Mechanism to bail out eurozone countries, which saw a rebellion by thirty Conservative MPs.

As I explained yesterday afternoon, Mark Reckless MP proposed a motion that would have required the Government to place the EFSM on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and effectively mandated British ministers to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement relieving the UK of liability had been agreed. Reckless wrote about it for ConHome on Monday.

However, Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris - at the behest of Tory whips, according to a variety of sources - tabled an amendment signed by a large number of fellow backbenchers which watered down the original motion, instead merely urging the Government to raise the issue and expressing support for "any measures which would lead to an agreement for a Eurozone-only arrangement".

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, a signatory to the Reckless motion, was incandescent.

Continue reading "Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts" »

24 May 2011 14:05:44

Moderate Tory Eurosceptics seek to water down today's hardline Eurosceptic motion on bailouts

By Jonathan Isaby
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Yesterday Mark Reckless MP wrote on ConHome about the motion he is putting before Parliament in backbench time this afternoon which would:

"require the Government to place the European Financial Stability Mechanism on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement which relieves the UK of liability under the EFSM has by then been agreed."

That has been backed by his fellow Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith, John Redwood, Douglas Carswell, Bernard Jenkin, Henry Smith, William Cash, Peter Bone, Steve Baker, David Nuttall, Gordon Henderson, Philip Hollobone, Philip Davies, John Whittingdale, Edward Leigh, Christopher Chope, James Clappison, Richard Shepherd and Andrew Turner.

However, there is considerable frustration among those ultra-Eurosceptics because a rival amendment has been tabled by Chris Heaton-Harris in what many are describing as a "whips' operation", which waters the motion down to state that the House instead merely:

"urges the Government to raise the issue of the EFSM at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council; and supports any measures which would lead to an agreement for a Eurozone-only arrangement."

Heaton-Harris's amendment has the support of Robert Syms, Charlie Elphicke, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Graham Evans, George Eustice, Richard Bacon, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Andrew Bridgen, Kris Hopkins, Caroline Nokes, Simon Kirby, Peter Aldous, Karen Bradley, Bob Blackman, Jason McCartney, Neil Parish, George Hollingbery, Stephen Metcalfe, Andrea Leadsom, John Glen, Penny Mordaunt, Harriett Baldwin, James Wharton, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Lefroy, Fiona Bruce, Amber Rudd, Christopher Pincher, Dan Byles, Paul Maynard, Mark Garnier, Roger Gale, Guto Bebb, Mark Pawsey, Alun Cairns, Caroline Dinenage, Simon Hart, Jackie Doyle-Price, Nigel Mills, Lee Scott, Chris White, Richard Ottaway, Claire Perry, Sir Paul Beresford, Gavin Williamson, Matthew Hancock, Michael Ellis, Stuart Andrew, Julian Sturdy, Graham Brady, Sam Gyimah and Priti Patel.

The debate has just got going and will be covered on ConHomein due course.

1 Mar 2011 18:27:43

Conservative MPs give their takes on the Big Society in the first parliamentary debate on the matter

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday saw MPs debating the merits of the Big Society on a backbench motion moved by Dover's Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, which stated its support for the Big Society, "seeking stronger communities where power is decentralised and social action is encouraged."

"The big society has been "much discussed in the media", yet this was, Elphicke asserted, "practically the first proper occasion on which it has been discussed on the Floor of this Chamber."

His motion had been co-signed by a number of Conservative MPs, as well as Labour's Jon Cruddas and Tristram Hunt and Lib Dem Bob Russell.

Here are some excerpts from a variety of the 24 speeches delivered by backbench Tory MPs - who, interestingly enough, were all members of the 2010 intake.

Charlie Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke Commons What I want to talk about is the sense of annoyance that everyone has when an individual feels put off from simply sweeping the snow from the pavement outside their house for fear that they will be sued, or when they are scared to jump into a pond and rescue a drowning child.

How have we got to the situation where individuals do not feel that they can take responsibility, and that rules and procedures stop them doing so? It is important to encourage people to take more action and more responsibility for their own lives and for their communities. People in communities are frustrated, such as the head teacher who cannot decide which children are in his school and feels that he is being told what to do by diktat, and the hospital worker who wants to take responsibility for his area, but who has to follow detailed rules and procedures.

Communities as a whole-big communities such as mine in Dover-want a greater sense of being able to chart their own destiny and future direction, but feel hampered by central Government saying, "No, these are the rules. This is how it is going to be. It is all going to be top-down and what you say doesn't count for much." It is that sense of annoyance and frustration, which stalks the land up and down the country, that the big society aims to counteract.

Continue reading "Conservative MPs give their takes on the Big Society in the first parliamentary debate on the matter " »

1 Jun 2010 14:23:47

Peter Aldous backs offshore renewables while Chris Heaton-Harris attacks onshore wind farms in maiden speeches on energy policy

I have already noted three pro-nuclear power maiden speeches from Thursday's debate on the Queen's Speech.

Two further newly-elected Conservative MPs making their Commons debuts spoke favourably about nuclear power in speeches discussing energy policy: Peter Aldous, who gained Waveney from Labour and Chris Heaton-Harris, the former MEP who steps into Tim Boswell's shoes in Daventry.

Peter Aldous Commons Peter Aldous was keen to see offshore renewables embraced:

"We need a new and radical energy policy. If we do not have it, the lights will go out. We need to be in control of our own destiny. We need energy security. We owe it to future generations to take a major step towards a low-carbon economy. We need a mixture of energy sources—green energy sources. To me, nuclear has a vital role to play; so, too, does clean coal, and micro-energy is also of great importance, but it is offshore renewables on which I want to focus. We have to get 15% of our energy supply from renewables by 2020. We have a lot of work to do, being at just over 5% now. There are great opportunities for green jobs; I see that it is estimated that there will be 1.2 million by 2015. If we do not do the work, we will fall a long way short.

"Lowestoft has a great opportunity, and great advantages in setting about giving us those green jobs and taking us forward. It has a great location, close to where the offshore turbines will be—the East Anglia Array and the Greater Gabbard. We have a skills base, built up over many years, in fishing, in shipbuilding, and in the North Sea oil and gas industry. Those skills are transferrable, and we can make best use of them in the renewables sector."

Chris Heaton-Harris Commons Chris Heaton-Harris, meanwhile, spoke out against onshore wind farms in his constituency:

"Yelvertoft, Crick, Preston Capes, Hanging Houghton, Maidwell, Draughton, Lilbourne, Watford, Winwick and West Haddon are all stunning villages in my constituency, but they are also linked by the fact that every one of them has, or has had, proposed planning applications for wind farms with turbines of up to 126.5 metres tall, which is almost the height of the London Eye. The total number of turbines suggested for this small swathe of my constituency is 53.

"This debate is about energy, and I must mention the folly that is onshore wind energy. Not only does it dramatically change the nature of the landscape for ever—and as we have very little beautiful English countryside left, so we should try to treasure the bit we have—but it does little to help us in our battle to reduce carbon emissions. Leaving aside the damage these turbines do visually, I believe that science is not on the side of this sort of wind power. We still need to have the ability to produce 100% of our energy requirements by other means for those times when the wind is not blowing, and when the wind does stop, there is plenty of research suggesting that firing up gas and coal power stations quickly to take the slack created by the wind stopping burns those fuels so inefficiently that much of the good that has just been done is undone. I also hope Ministers will give better planning guidance to local councils that have to deal with these matters. That guidance should perhaps borrow an idea from our European friends: a 2 km exclusion zone, meaning that no turbine can be constructed within 2 km of any dwelling.

"I am a great believer in renewable, sustainable and locally produced solutions to our energy problems of the future. Plenty of miscanthus grass is grown as a true biofuel across my constituency. I also believe we have to face up to the fact that nuclear energy must play a part in the medium and long term."

Jonathan Isaby