4 Dec 2012 06:28:54
By Paul Goodman
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For statutory regulation
Sir Edward Garnier
Against statutory regulation
This is, as the headline says, a snapshot. It doesn't deal with speeches that didn't touch on the regulation debate; nor does it count interventions, and by its nature it compresses a good deal. For example, Mr Collins, like some other speakers, was against statutory regulation by OFCOM. And Sir Edward rejected the very term "statutory regulation", preferring "statutory underpinning".
8.30am Update: Ms Coffey has pointed out the thrust of Mr Collins's speech was against statutory regulation, and I have made the necessary change. Quentin Letts describes her in his sketch today as a "very great lady".
24 Aug 2012 08:29:24
By Tim Montgomerie
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A search of Twitter reveals very little comment from Tory MPs on the naked photographs of Prince Harry that have been circulating across the internet for the last 48 hours and which now appear on the front page of The Sun. The screenshot below comes from the Sky News website. The text below the censored Sun front page reveals that Sky is continuing to respect the wishes of the Royal family that the photographs not be published;
Louise Mensch went on to the Today programme this morning to defend The Sun's decision to publish. She argued that was a clear public interest in what The Sun has done. The Royal family is funded by taxpayers, she said, and there were "security and judgment" issues in Prince Harry inviting "stangers" to his Las Vegas hotel room. It could have been a "honey trap" situation, she said. The outgoing Tory MP for Corby also told Radio 4 listeners that she was "chilled" by the request from the Press Complaints Commission for newspapers not to publish. She hoped that the press would stand up for its freedoms in the post-Leveson era. After her interview she Tweeted: "Must have full press freedom, without regulation, notwithstanding whatever Lord Justice #Leveson might recommend."
Damian Collins MP, a member of the Culture, Media and Select Committee, Tweeted a few minutes ago: "Harry is a senior royal so there's clear public interest in the Vegas pics. If this had been another public figure there would be no debate.".
24 May 2012 11:31:18
By Tim Montgomerie
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A number of Tory MPs led by Damian Collins have come together to propose a new industrial strategy for Britain. Mr Collins explains how the approach recommended by him and his colleagues is different from the industrial strategy of the 1970s and also a mythical laissez-faire policy:
"The industrial strategy of the 1970s saw Governments give direct financial aid to failing industries in order to protect jobs. Here people were in effect being paid to build cars that customers didn’t want to buy. That approach was unsustainable and it was in time new ownership, leadership, design, innovation and the commitment of the workforce that ultimately saved businesses like Jaguar and Land Rover from the state run motor industry. 21st century industrial strategy is not just about identifying where direct financial assistance can help accelerate the development of a business or economic region, as we are seeing in the Government’s strategy for enterprise zones and the regional growth fund. This has also been important in the development of new economic clusters, like Tech City, where Government support has acted as a catalyst for private enterprises to bring in much greater levels of investment. In addition to this we have to ensure that our tax and regulatory environment helps UK firms that are competing in a global economy to thrive. This is why, for example, the tax credits announced in the last budget for the production of high end television series, animation and video games were so important. Despite the UK having some of the best practitioners in the world, we were losing business to other countries that could undercut us on price significantly because they offered tax incentives to investors."
The group identifies 17 sectors of special importance:
- Business Services
- Creative Industries
- Digital Economy
- Green Technology
- High Speed Rail
- Life Sciences
- Smart Data
- Space (Philip Lee MP's essay on this topic is a fascinating read)
Continue reading "Group of Tory MPs recommend thirty policies to deliver growth in Britain's key industrial sectors" »
20 Apr 2012 06:33:09
By Matthew Barrett
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The 301 group is perhaps the most active and important group of backbench Tory MPs. Tim Montgomerie reported last week that three MPs - Charlie Elphicke, George Hollingbery and Priti Patel - want to organise a candidate to be elected to the 1922 Committee's executive who will give the '22 a focus on policy and campaigning. The Spectator's James Forsyth blogged that "The vote for their candidate, and his opponent, will give us the best idea yet of where the backbenches are at the moment politically. Indeed, I expect that the machinery of the 301 group, the most pro-Cameron of all the backbench groups, will be thrown behind the Elphicke-Hollingbery-Patel slate."
To organise or endorse candidates for the '22 is certainly the most power a backbench group has yet wielded in this Parliament. In this profile, I'll be looking at the origins, members, aims and plans of the group to get a sense of what the group wants to campaign for.
Origins of the group
The 301 was first organised by Kris Hopkins (Keighley), a former soldier and leader of Bradford Council, and Jessica Lee (Erewash), a former barrister, and now Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The group began with small meetings of a handful of MPs who were "concerned that the narrative in Parliament was not representative of the conversation" that MPs had had with the electorate while campaigning during the 2010 general election, and also dissatisfied with the fact that the mechanisms of debate amongst backbenchers, and between the back and front benches, were not conducive to trying to correct that narrative. Each of those attending brought a friend, and so on, until after three meetings the group reached 60 members.
Continue reading "Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee" »
3 Apr 2012 08:02:14
By Matthew Barrett
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Of the Parliamentary groupings founded by MPs after the 2010 general election, the 2020 group is perhaps the least understood. Channel 4's Michael Crick and the FT (£) covered its launch during conference last year. Those two reports implied the 2020 group was a centre-left grouping pre-occupied with "countering the rise of the right". The 2020 is not about bashing the right. It's about upholding the ideas and optimism of the Cameron leadership era, and ensuring they can help inspire a majority Conservative government. In this profile, I will take a closer look at the 2020, its aims, role, and plans for the future.
Origins of the Group:
The 2020 was founded in Autumn 2011 by Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Climate Change, Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-upon-Avon), and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk), with Claire Perry (Devizes) joining soon after. It was launched at conference last year.
Members of the group (see below) are drawn from across the ideological spectrum (one member told me the 2020 tries to "reject the stale orthodoxies and dogmas of the old left versus right split in the Tory Party"), but members are united in wanting to develop conservatism and what the Party might look like in 2020. Founder George Freeman said: "The 2020 was set up as a forum to help the new Conservative generation define a modern progressive Conservatism for our times. What is the DNA that unites this diverse new generation? What are the long term social, economic, and technological changes that will shape our world? By tackling these and related questions we hope to help Conservatives define and dominate the radical centre ground of British politics."
Fellow founder Greg Barker explained another aspect of 2020's mission: "There's a strong strain of optimism that ran through the early Cameron message, and that message of change, hope and optimism, sometimes because of austerity, gets overshadowed, and we see ourselves as the guardians of that message".
Continue reading "What is the 2020 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to renew the Cameron project" »
11 Jan 2012 08:54:09
By Joseph Willits
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After Justine Greening's announcement giving the go-ahead for a high speed rail network, High Speed 2 (HS2), 37 Conservative MPs were able to question the Transport Secretary within 60 minutes.
The exchanges demonstrated the opposition of those MPs whose constituencies are directly affected by high speed rail. However their reservations were outweighed by praise for the scheme from MPs namely in the North and the Midlands - and some in the South East who claimed that their seats have benefitted from HS1.
Fervent critic of high speed rail, Andrea Leadson MP (South Northamptonshire), questioned the project's costs in yesterday's debate. Leadsom praised the Transport Secretary's patience in listening to her concerns many times, but spoke of "communities blighted by this high-speed rail line". She continued:
"How sure is she that the actual costs in their entirety will be kept to the amounts we have been talking about, and how realistic is it for Britain to afford this project at this very difficult time economically?".
The country "cannot afford not to do this" replied Greening, who cited High Speed 1 as an example of being both on time, and on budget. Once Crossrail had been completed, the cost to the taxpayer would begin, Greening said.
Another MP whose constituency will be touched by high-speed rail, Steve Baker MP (Wycombe), welcomed that "additional protections for the Chilterns will reduce costs", but asked whether Greening would "consider tunnelling the entire width of the Chilterns?". At £1.2 billion, although considered, was "unaffordable", replied Greening.
Drawing examples from both France and Spain, St Albans MP Anne Main raised concerns "that the north might not get the projected benefit and that instead it might be London that grows". Both Lyon and Seville were "caused expense" rather than growth as Paris and Madrid benefitted, she said.
Greening responded by reiterating the backing for the project, and that the cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield all believe "this project is vital." Rehman Chishti MP (Gillingham) reminded the House that "real concern was expressed prior to the introduction of High Speed 1 in Kent". This has now led to "real economic regeneration and growth in the south-east and Kent", he continued. Another Kent MP, Damian Collins (Folkestone & Hythe) echoed Chishti's sentiment with the hope that Kent will further benefit from connections north.
MPs from the North and the Midlands were most vocal in their support for the project. Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew spoke of the need to "rebalance the economy" nationwide, and allow the North "to become more attractive for business to invest in". The "solution", he said, was HS2. Martin Vickers MP (Cleethorpes), who has many constituents working at the Tata Steel plant in Scunthorpe, welcomed the announcement of HS2 as a boost to industry. He asked for "categorical assurance that everything possible will be done to ensure that the procurement procedures favour British-based companies". His sentiment was echoed by Nigel Mills MP (Amber Valley) who concluded that the decision would "be even more popular in Derbyshire if the trains are built at Bombardier".
Some MPs in the Midlands did seem to be slightly cautious about the region's positioning, leading to a lesser service and coverage by HS2. Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy spoke of businesses in north Staffordshire requiring stops between Birmingham and Manchester (of which Stafford would be one). This "stop is essential to the development of the regional economy", Lefroy said, and asked Greening to "confirm that it is still under serious consideration". Rugby MP Mark Pawsey's concern was slightly different in that the town's good service to London could be jeopardised by high speed rail. He hoped that even with high speed rail, "the legacy line will retain the speed and frequency of their existing rail links".
You can watch the debate on the BBC's Democracy Live.
24 Oct 2011 13:24:39
By Matthew Barrett
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This 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."
- Sam 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."
Continue reading "Ahead of this evening's debate, Tory MPs rehearse the arguments for and against a referendum" »
1 Mar 2011 18:27:43
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.
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 " »
21 Aug 2010 06:23:46
Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...
Damian Collins was elected MP for Folkestone and Hythe with a majority of 10,122.
1. What is your earliest political memory?
When I was nine, going to the polling station with my mother when she voted in the 1983 general election.
2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I want to be free."
3. Who is your political hero and why? There are many politicians I admire, including, like most Conservatives, Margaret Thatcher. However, I have always thought Thomas More to be a heroic figure. He tried to use all his intelligence and political skill to reconcile himself and his master, but when there was no way out, put his conscience before his life.
4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? I got involved in politics for the first time during the 1992 election campaign and then at University. But I really decided to stand for parliament after the 2001 general election. I felt that rather than stand back and watch, I had to get involved.
5. What is your reading material of choice? For light relief I am currently reading Steve Turner's excellent book Hard Day's Write about the writing of each of the Lennon/McCartney Beatles songs. I have a reading interest in American politics and am enjoying a copy of Arthur Schlesinger's Thousand Days which was given to me by a friend after the election. Like most of my colleagues, I've enjoyed the entries in the new Times Guide to the House of Commons, and look at ConservativeHome every day. And finally, I am a regular reader to my children of that model of the Big Society - Peppa Pig.
6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio?
It's hard to look beyond Andrew Neil and Eddie Mair.
7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? I have been calling for Dungeness in my constituency to be included on the list of preferred sites for a new nuclear power station, so if I was running the Department of Energy, I know what I would do.
8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? I recently read Thurston Clarke's excellent book The Last Campaign about Robert Kennedy's short and tragic Presidential campaign in 1968. You have to admire his sheer guts, as a politician, and a man.
9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? The lift repair man.
10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? Republican.
11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? Playing with my children; Cooking with Jamie Oliver; Watching Manchester United.
12. What is your favourite book? The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
13. What is your favourite film? The Godfather.
14. What is your favourite music? Oasis, Amy Winehouse, The Kinks and Frank Sinatra.
15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? Barbecue at home in Elham with family and friends.
16. What is your favourite holiday destination? We are holidaying at home in Kent this year, taking in Port Lympne zoo, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, and the beaches at Greatstone, Dymchurch and Folkestone. Sarah and I both love Italy, particularly Venice and Sardinia, where we spent our honeymoon.
17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament?
Securing support for a new power station at Dungeness.
18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I was a team captain in Jeremy Paxman's first series asking the questions on University Challenge.
19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. Folkestone was the main port for men to go to and from the Western Front during the First World War. It is believed that nine million men passed through the town during the war.
20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. On the last two days of the campaign we had the glamorous assistance of two observers from the Ukrainian Embassy, who also gallantly helped with the knocking up in Lydd in the final hours.
> Previously: Jason McCartney MP
31 May 2010 12:14:55
Among the maiden speeches delivered by new Conservative MPs last Thursday were several which included particularly impassioned defences of nuclear power.
Damian Collins, who is filling the boots of Michael Howard as MP for Folkestone and Hythe, explained his particular constituency interest in nuclear energy, given that it contains the Dungeness power station:
"My constituents heard a very evident mixed message from the last Government: Dungeness was originally included on the Government’s list of possible sites for new build nuclear power stations and was then removed last autumn, and there has followed a consultation process in which my constituents have taken an active and lively interest.
"There is a great deal of support for nuclear power in my constituency. I am sure that hon. Members who have nuclear sites in their constituencies know that there is a good deal of support for them, because they generate a huge number of jobs and important support for the local economy. In my constituency, the area of Dungeness and the Romney marshes remains a relatively deprived part not only of my constituency, but of Kent and the south-east of England. Nuclear power could play an important part in my community.
"It appears from the consultation process launched by the last Government that one of the main reasons why Dungeness was taken off the Government’s list of potential sites was the objections of Natural England. It is one of the Government’s statutory consultees, and in some ways it is only doing its job, but its assessment, based on the habitats regulations, was that the loss of the vegetated shingle in the area around Dungeness power station could not be mitigated, as the landscape was unique. All of us in my constituency would agree that it is a unique landscape, but we are also mindful that the potential development land for the new power station is only 1 per cent. of the entire protected site of special scientific interest around Dungeness, Rye and Romney Marsh; we are talking about a relatively small area of development.
"When, in 1959, the Minister of Power gave consent for the first power station to be built, he reached the conclusion that the mitigation necessary, and the damage to the area, was so small that it could not be said that the building of a power station compromised the integrity of the whole site. I know that my constituents will hope that the new Government can look again at the case for nuclear power in Dungeness and will draw a similar conclusion—that it may be possible to work to mitigate the impact of the building of a new power station without compromising the integrity of the entire site, which is greatly valued not only by my constituents but by people across the country. We see the great value that nuclear power has for our community, and we would like to encourage and support it."
Meanwhile, Stephen Mosley, who gained City of Chester from Labour at the election, also added his pro-nuclear power voice to the debate, highlighting that Urenco’s uranium enrichment plant is based at Capenhurst in his constituency:
"Nuclear power is clean. It is a low-carbon source of electricity generation. We have secure long-term supplies of fuel. Modern reactors are incredibly safe, and it is a future technology in which Britain can still lead the world. Operators and owners of nuclear power stations have been jumping at the opportunities offered by the previous Government’s draft nuclear policy statement, and there are now 10 sites judged as potentially suitable on, or near to, existing stations. Those sites obviously have to be subject to the normal planning process for major projects, but the Government need to bring forward a national planning statement for ratification by Parliament as soon as possible."
Thérèse Coffey follows in John Gummer's footsteps as MP for Suffolk Coastal and also has a relevant constituency interest in nuclear power:
"My diverse constituency also contains our beloved nuclear power station at Sizewell. I hope that we shall have many more reactors there — certainly at least two — before the end of the decade. Several offshore wind farms are also being constructed, with more planned. Suffolk Coastal is ready to take the lead in the low-carbon economy, and I hope that our coast will be able to take on the new alias of the “Green Coast”. So I welcome measures in the Gracious Speech on the low-carbon economy and the green investment bank."
However, while she paid a generous tribute to her predecessor, she opined that she would "not be John Gummer mark 2", saying that she was "very different from John".
She also had cause ot thank another John, the incumbent in the Speaker's Chair, beginning her Commons debut thus:
"Thank you for allowing me to make my maiden speech in this debate on the Gracious Speech, Mr Speaker. It is a particular pleasure to see you in your place, as I recall receiving public speaking training from you 20 years ago, so I hope that this speech shows that I have absorbed some of the wisdom that you imparted."