Christopher Chope MP

19 Sep 2013 06:10:30

Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy

By Paul Goodman
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Today's Conservative Parliamentary Party awayday takes place at a mystery location in Oxfordshire - indeed and to be more specific, in David Cameron's constituency, I am told.  Downing Street is presenting it as a chance for the Prime Minister to "listen to the views and concerns of Conservative MPs".  Predictably, Cameron will address the gathering.  Almost as predictably, so will Lynton Crosby.  Break-out sessions on policy will be led by George Osborne, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.

Continue reading "Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy" »

21 Jun 2013 11:11:19

Bone and Hollobone - the Bialystock and Bloom of the Conservative backbenches

By Paul Goodman
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Readers of a certain age will remember the scheme at the heart of the plot of Mel Brooks's The Producers - namely, to make a fortune by finding the worst play in the world and taking it to Broadway.

The two men at the heart of this criminal venture are Max Bialystock, a seedy producer, and Leo Bloom, a presenceless accountant.  It is late at night, and the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of play manuscripts.

Bloom: Max, let's call it a night. It's two in the morning.  I don't know what I'm reading anymore.

Bialystock: Read, read.  We've got to find the worst play ever written.

(Bialystock turns his attention to a new script. He cracks it open and begins reading.)

Bialystock: Hmm. "Gregor awoke one morning to find he had been transformed into a giant cockroach..."

Cut to today's Palace of Westminster where, as part of a quartet with Christopher Chope and David Nuttall, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone have conjured up an entire Alternative Queen's Speech - a venture first embarked upon by this website.

Bone and Hollobone are anything but seedy and presenceless, let alone the kind of men who get involved in criminal ventures.  Indeed, they are two independent and principled MPs.  None the less, I thought of that Mel Brooks scene when I read about their ploy this morning.

For just as Bialystock and Bloom had an aim - to make a loss - so do Bone and Hollobone: namely, to wind up the left, and fly it like a kite (not to mention advancing ideas in which they believe).  Imagine: the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of bills...

Hollobone: Good Lord, it's morning. Let's face it, we'll never find it.

Bone (wearily): "A Bill to privatise the BBC."

Hollobone: Too predictable.

Bone: "A Bill to abolish the Department of Climate Change."

Hollobone: Too reasonable.

Bone: "A Bill to Ban the Burka".

Hollobone (pause): Not provocative enough.

Bone (suddenly): We'll never find it, eh? We'll never find it, eh? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

(Bone is standing. At his feet lies a bill. He dances around it, his arms folded across his chest.)

Hollobone: Peter, what is it? What are you doing? What's happening?

(Bone bends down, picks up the bill and shakes it in Hollobone's face.)

Bone: This is freedom of want forever. This is a house in the country. This is a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. This is wine, Mrs Bone and song.

Hollobone: You've found the right bill!

(Hollobone snatches the bill from Bone's hands reads aloud the title.)

Hollobone (triumphantly): "A Bill to rename the August Bank Holiday Margaret Thatcher Day..."

A final point in closing.  Benedict Brogan's usually infallible morning newsletter is sadly off-beam today on the subject of the Bone/Hollobone measures.  He suggests that the real aim of the duo, plus of course Chope and Nuttall, is to wind up not the left, but David Cameron.

I can't imagine what on earth put this idea into his head.

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.

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.

9 Nov 2012 05:32:00

Why has the Government refused to allocate proper time for scrap metal theft legislation?

By Matthew Barrett
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5.30pm Update:

The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill actually passed through the House. Philip Davies and Christopher Chope did not talk out the Bill - which they are certainly adept at doing - as expected, and it passed through to Third Reading. The Government supported the Bill - although it was a private member's bill, rather than a government bill - and tough action for illegal scrap metal dealers is on its way.

***

There's going to be a strange spectacle today in the House: a Tory private member's bill supported by many Tories (and many other MPs) looks likely to be talked out of Parliament by two Tories, despite the Government supporting it.

The legislation before the House is the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, introduced by Richard Ottaway. This is an issue where plenty of support for action exists, and which has the power to get traction outside Westminister. Nevertheless, Philip Davies and Christopher Chope have tabled tens of amendments, ensuring the Bill will not get passed today.

There are some legitimate concerns about whether the content of the Bill is strictly limited to eradicating illegal scrap metal dealing. One can read the many, many amendments, and find Davies and Chope have attempted to remove from the text, for example, a clause which would mean "No person aged under 21 shall sell or attempt to sell scrap metal."

But why has such a widely-supported policy of getting tough on illegal traders been left to a private member's bill, where proper, helpful amendments cannot really be made? Why is the Government willing to take another series of negative attacks from Labour, especially during Remembrance weekend?

BROKENSHIRE JAMESJames Brokenshire, a Minister at the Home Office, implied that the Government supported tougher measures. He told ITV News last night:

"I well understand the impact that these appalling crimes have when you have a monument to remember those who’ve given service to our country. We’re certainly examining the options – the Prime Minister has indicated that as part of our review of theft more generally, the sentencing guidelines council looking at that, whether there is justification for further enhanced measures where attacks take place against these types of monuments because I well recognise the concerns, the anger that is generated when these take place. It’s also looking at whether we can get further regulation of the licensed premise, to actually put that into place – there’s a Private Member’s Bill that’s being debated in Parliament tomorrow."

Continue reading "Why has the Government refused to allocate proper time for scrap metal theft legislation?" »

2 Jul 2012 20:18:25

34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging

By Matthew Barrett
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Lansley2On Friday, 50 MPs, including 34 Conservatives, wrote a letter to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, expressing their "serious concerns" with the Department of Health’s proposal to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

The letter stated that:

"There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will have any public health benefit; no country in the world has yet to introduce it. However, such a measure could have extremely negative consequences elsewhere. The proposal will be a smuggler’s charter. ... this policy threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector, and over 65,000 valued jobs in the associated supply chain. ... Given the continued difficult economic climate, businesses should not be subjected to further red tape and regulation"

The signatories of the letter also expressed concern about the freedom aspect of blocking any branding of tobacco products:

"...we believe products must be afforded certain basic commercial freedoms. The forcible removal of branding would infringe fundamental legal rights, severely damage principles around intellectual property and set a dangerous precedent for the future of commercial free speech. Indeed, if the Department of Health were to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products, would it also do the same for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and all other products deemed unhealthy for us?"

Continue reading "34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging" »

13 Jun 2012 16:01:08

Another Coalition attempt to sideline the Backbench Business Committee?

By Matthew Barrett
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In March, I reported on the Coalition's attempt to emasculate the Backbench Business Committee (BBBC) by allowing minor parties - like the Greens - to attend its meetings. That attempt to change the BBBC's workings was especially insensitive, because a report by a different Committee into how well the BBBC had worked so far was about to be published, yet the Government went ahead and ignored those changes, and imposed its own. 

The BBBC - which allows backbenchers proper time to debate issues that matter to them (and the public) like Europe, petrol prices, or prisoners' votes - has been one of the best things the Coalition has done to make Parliament look like the honourable and relevant institution it should be. 

However, some Tory MPs are wary of the Government's plan to introduce a "House Business Committee" which would, it is alleged, replace or render useless the existing BBBC. The Coalition Agreement (pdf) says:

"We will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of backbench business. A House Business Committee, to consider government business, will be established by the third year of the Parliament."

Continue reading "Another Coalition attempt to sideline the Backbench Business Committee?" »

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" »

27 Mar 2012 15:18:15

Seven Conservative MPs cited as having abstained on child benefit vote

By Paul Goodman
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If Labour's failure to vote against the 50p rate cut they've criticised was yesterday evening's Commons farce, a small number of Conservative MPs helped to provide the serious fare.

Graham Brady, Douglas Carswell, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Edward Leigh, David Nuttall and John Stanley - voted in favour of the budget, but have also been listed as having abstained on a specific later vote on child benefit.

The proposed removal of the payment from 40p rate taxpayers was watered down in the budget, but not enough for some backbenchers, evidently.

Chope has been forceful on the matter recently, holding a debate in Westminster Hall.  Sir John Stanley accounced this week that he is leaving will leave the Commons at the next election.

Cautionary note: counting absentions is a tricky business, since the absence of an MP from the division lists can mean that he's abroad, or has been slipped, or has simply missed the vote.

Hat-tip: Sky's Sophie Ridge

31 Jan 2012 18:15:43

Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money.

By Paul Goodman
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Last year, the Prime Minister flew to Brussels amidst rumour of a leadership challenge if he didn't achieve at least a token repatriation of power.

Today, he faced the Commons not only with no such repatriation realised but with his veto - so rapturously greeted at the time by Conservative MPs - arguably valueless, since it's now clear that he won't challenge the principle of the EU institutions being used to enforce the F.U agreement.

Yet there was no mass revolt from his backbenches, and no revival to date of the leadership challenge rumours.  What explains this change in the Tory atmosphere?  I hope to explore the question in detail soon, but will for the moment rest with an answer I've cited before.

Continue reading "Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money." »

21 Jan 2012 15:35:13

Conservative backbenchers halt effort to move clocks forward

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday, a Private Member's Bill by Rebecca Harris, the Member for Castle Point, which sought to move British clocks forward by an hour all year round, was brought before the House. 

The Government was supportive of the Bill, and there was a strong turnout with wide cross-party support for the proposal. However, a small group of Members, mostly Conservative, managed to talk the Bill out of Parliament. As a result of the Bill not being passed yesterday, the Government has decided not to allow further Parliamentary time for its consideration, and the Bill is now dead. 

Chope Christopher PSThe main objection to passing the bIll is summarised by Christopher Chope (Christchurch)'s contribution to the debate. He argued:

"[T]he Bill’s Achilles heel is that it has been redrafted in such a way that it would enable the United Kingdom Government to change the time zone in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. We know that the Scottish Parliament, and MPs representing Scottish constituencies, do not support a change that would make winter mornings in Scotland even colder and darker than they are already. ... my concern is that if this Parliament changes the time zone for the United Kingdom against the wishes of the people of Scotland, it will give extra ammunition to those people in Scotland who are campaigning for independence. We would be playing into their hands if we forced the Bill through."

Rees-Mogg timezoneOver the last few days, North East Somerset MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has called for Somerset to have its own timezone. This was part of the run-up to yesterday's debate. Mr Rees-Mogg attempted to amend the proposed Bill to make considerations for Somerset, in order to delay its passage. Although his amendment was not selected for consideration, Mr Rees-Mogg did play an active role in opposing the Bill. Mr Rees-Mogg's contributions were very varied and lengthy, but I have chosen a few of his more remarkable comments:

  • "It is worth pointing out that the coming power of the next century, China, has only the one time zone, and as we know from Noel Coward, China’s very big."
  • In reply to Tom Harris MP: "I have the greatest respect for the hon. Gentleman and, had I thought that he would welcome it, I would have supported his candidacy for the Labour leadership in Scotland. I kept very quiet about that, however, because I thought that I might do him more harm than good."
  • "At one point, I felt that much of the Bill was aimed at lie-abeds—those who do not get up very early in the morning, but snooze on, remaining fast asleep in a relaxed and happy way."
  • "On that occasion I meant the majority party in the Scottish Parliament, but I see the hon. Gentleman’s point, so perhaps we should have two representatives from Scotland, which means we must also have two from Somerset, because Somerset would feel let down if the numbers were not maintained with the rest of the Union."
  • "The relevant Secretary of State and President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), is known to be one of the wisest men in Parliament. Lenin’s brain after his untimely death was kept for scientific research to see how such a great brain could operate and why it was different from other brains, and I am sure that this will happen in the sad event of the death of the President of the Board of Trade—may that day long be put off."
  • "I wonder further whether my hon. Friend thinks that if we did have a big fight with Brussels over this, it would increase the happiness of the nation."
  • "I just wondered whether my hon. Friend had noticed the time on the clock, because had the Bill already come into force, the debate would by now have ended."

Continue reading "Conservative backbenchers halt effort to move clocks forward" »

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.