Dan Byles MP

28 Mar 2013 13:26:36

Mixed reaction from Conservative MPs to Cameron's micro-shuffle

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.03.04

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.03.17
Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.03.31

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.04.56
Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.04.22
Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 13.03.48

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

  • Further to Tim Montgomerie's report earlier this morning, Conservative MPs and others are asking whether the main driver of the move was the Liberal Democrats' desire to get Hayes out of DECC - though they will find Michael Fallon no pushover: the very opposite - or David Cameron's wish to get him into Downing Street.
  • If the latter is the case, a further question arises - namely, does the Prime Minister now feel that his position with part of his own party is so troubled as to justify a small reshuffle?  If so, is the move a sign of strength or weakness?
  • As one of the founding members of Cornerstone, the gregarious Hayes is not in a bad position to make overtures to the centre-right of the party.  But he isn't on easy terms with all of it, let alone other parts of the Parliamentary Party.
  • And as the tweets above indicate, there is irritation among some MPs with an interest in energy policy at Hayes being moved out of DECC.  After all, he was moved to that department in order to "deliver our people a win on wind farms" - as Cameron is reported to have told him.

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

Continue reading "70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act" »

4 Sep 2012 16:03:59

Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

Since details of the reshuffle have emerged, Tory MPs, especially on the right of the party, have been reacting positively to David Cameron's appointments.

LAWSON NIGEL TODAYLord Lawson was pleased with the reshuffle:

"I am on the whole very pleased with what has been done. There's another purpose why you need reshuffles. There is always a need to curb public spending and ministers become attached to their departmental budgets and therefore the Treasury needs to have new ministers who will look at their departmental budgets with fresh eyes and find ways of further savings and that is particularly necessary at the present time."

He had specific praise for Owen Paterson's promotion:

"I am very pleased to see in this reshuffle the promotion of Owen Paterson. Owen Paterson is little known to the British public because he has been Northern Ireland Secretary, so he is well known there, but really little known elsewhere. He is in fact one of the most able and promising young men or women around the Cabinet and therefore his promotion to Environment is extremely welcome….he is a man of reason and sense."

Bridgen AndrewAndrew Bridgen said the reshuffle was more wide-ranging than many Tories had expected:

"I think the reaction from the backbenches is that this reshuffle is quite a lot more extensive than we actually predicted. So it is far more radical. But at the end of the day, these reshuffles are of great interest for those of us in the Westminster bubble and the media out there, but I think the people, your viewers, are really interested in policy, not necessarily personality, and it’s about reinvigorating the Government and pushing those policies forward to deliver economic growth that’s going to get the country out of recession."

Continue reading "Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle" »

28 Jul 2012 09:03:51

All Tory MPs pour praise on opening ceremony (well nearly all)

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

Aidan Burley MP has got himself into trouble (again). This time for some sour tweets about the Olympics' Opening Ceremony:

Screen Shot 2012-07-28 at 08.48.44

There's a report in The Telegraph. Number 10 quickly distanced himself from Mr Burley's Tweets.  "We do not agree with him," said a Downing Street source. Fellow Tory MP Gavin Barwell tweeted his own rebuttal. There's nothing left-wing about embracing diversity, said the member for Croydon Central.

Robert Halfon MP was positive throughout the evening (writing a blog entitled "Olymptastic") but he did object to Shami Chakrabati's casting as Olympic flag carrier "given her senior role in LSE: the Uni that sucked up to Gadaffi". I agree with Rob, why not an Afghan war vetaran instead?

Most Tory MPs were completely uncritical, however. Here's a selection:

  • Stuart Andrew: As you can see Mr Romney, we are ready! Well done all!
  • Harriett Baldwin: Loved it all, but being a Worcestershire dog owner my best bits were Elgar and the corgis
  • Steve Baker: Wonderful to see two great British engineers celebrated tonight: Brunel and Berners-Lee
  • Dan Byles: Has Danny Boyle just secured his knighthood, with this incredible ceremony?
  • Damian Collins: Absolutely stunning start to the London 2012 Olympics. Danny Boyle's opening ceremony really was the best of British.
  • Alun Cairns: Fantastic opening ceremony and S&P confirm Britain's AAA rating. Looking good even without winning a medal so far
  • Charlie Elphicke: An amazing #london2012 opening ceremony. Brilliant @DannyBoyleFilm celebration of our nation. Tonight we are #OneBritain
  • Margot James: Jerusalem, Chelsea Pensioners, forging, James Bond and the Queen, nurses, great music, quirky history of our Isles loved
  • David Jones: Over a billion people watching this. Watching our country. Very proud.
  • Louise Mensch: Beyond awesome. We rule. #GodSaveTheQueen
  • Nicky Morgan: Oh wow! The Olympics are here. Only city to host for a third time.
  • Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: Well that was fantastic. The world was watching London and London delivered. Well done to all who made it happen.
  • Rob Wilson: Oh Danny Boyle, English eyes are smiling! Sing it everyone.

20 Jul 2012 09:31:17

"Outrageous". "Unforgivable". "Unpatriotic". Tory MPs take to Twitter to condemn anti-British Olympics strikes

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

Lots of Tory MPs reacted angrily yesterday to the decision of the PCS union to disrupt border control on the eve of the Olympics. Here's a selection of what they Tweeted:

Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.04.26
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.04.44
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.05.06
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.05.35
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.05.46
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.06.22
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.06.00
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.06.45
Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 09.07.01

My hope is that the anger that we felt yesterday and today is not forgotten. We need to embrace the strike threshold laws that have long been advocated by the CBI, Policy Exchange and Boris Johnson - and supported by Tory members. Rob Halfon MP is right. We need to make a distinction between the many excellent union members and some of their very well-paid leaders who are intent on political warfare rather than representing those members. We have to take action, however, against the unions who enjoy heavy subsidy from the taxpayer and use those subsidies to organise in the way that the PCS organises - to disrupt the Olympics and embarrass Britain at a moment when the world and global investors are watching us.

6 Jul 2012 15:05:03

Backbench Tories irked by Lib Dem threats over Lords reform

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

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" »

6 Jul 2012 13:17:19

41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

C-home Fairness for motorists

Robert Halfon, the Member of Parliament for Harlow, and one of the most successful campaigning MPs in Parliament, has organised a motion, backed by 60 MPs from all parties, and including 41 Tories, calling for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate allegations of price-fixing by British oil companies. The full motion is worded as follows:

"That this House urges the OFT to investigate oil firms active in the UK; calls on the Government to consider the emergency actions being taken in other G20 nations to cut fuel prices, for example President Obama strengthening Federal supervision of the U.S. oil market, and increasing penalties for “market manipulation”, and Germany and Austria setting up a new oil regulator, with orders to help stabilise the price of petrol in the country; finally urges the Office of Fair Trading to note that the Federal Cartel Office in Germany is now investigating oil firms active in the UK, after allegations of price-fixing."

Continue reading "41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices" »

30 May 2012 13:10:28

Tory MPs refute media myth that Parliament being in recess means they are "on holiday"

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

On yesterday's Today programme, Justin Webb, introducing a section on the Lords, said "MPs are still on holiday but the House of Lords is sitting..."

Although he was later happy to acknowledge MPs are not, in fact, "on holiday", Webb set off a series of tweets from Tory MPs miffed at the fact they were being portrayed as taking too much time off. David Jones (Clwyd West) got the ball rolling

Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) continued:

Continue reading "Tory MPs refute media myth that Parliament being in recess means they are "on holiday"" »

17 Apr 2012 07:59:19

What is the 40 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the MPs trying to keep hold of the most marginal Tory seats

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

I recently profiled the 2020 and Free Enterprise groups of Tory MPs. Those two groups are formed by ideology: MPs are attracted to the groups because, in the case of the Free Enterprise Group, members wish to open up markets and make Britain business-friendly enough to compete with other world class economies. The 2020's members want to renew and refresh Project Cameron, while considering how the country should look after a majority Conservative government.

The 40 is rather different as it is a group of MPs brought together solely by necessity - the members are those MPs who were elected in 2010 with the narrowest majorities in the Party.

Origins of the group and key members


The group was founded early last year by Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood), Graham Evans (Weaver Vale), and David Mowat (Warrington South). There is no rigid structure to the group as such, given its non-ideological purpose, but when it meets, the convener is usually David Mowat. Other key "executive" members of the group include Evans and Ollerenshaw, as well as Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye), James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) and Ben Gummer (Ipswich).

Continue reading "What is the 40 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the MPs trying to keep hold of the most marginal Tory seats" »

31 Jan 2012 18:15:43

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

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter

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." »

11 Oct 2011 19:56:57

Tory MPs Daniel Byles, Andrea Leadsom and Chris White hand in 108,000 signatures against HS2

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter.

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 19.55.14

Dan Byles MP comments:

"The next few months will be critical to the HS2 debate. The Transport Select Committee will shortly publish their report on the economic case for and against HS2, and soon afterwards the Secretary of Sate for Transport will make an assessment of the recent public consultation and will publish his recommendations. That's why the Backbench Business Committee debate on HS2 on Thursday in the main chamber is so important. We need to make the case to MPs who don't believe HS2 affects them, from Kent to Cornwall to East Anglian, that HS2 will be paid for by every household in the country. The momentum behind the No to HS2 campaign is building, and today, together with my colleagues Andrea Leadsom MP and Chris White MP, I helped a small group of campaigners hand a petition bearing some 108,000 names in to 10 Downing Street. I believe the arguments against spending £32 billion on HS2 are compelling. I just hope the decision makers are prepared to listen to them."

9 Sep 2011 07:37:57

Liam Fox's Commons Baha Mousa statement in full

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter

Here is the Defence Secretary's statement, and below are questions from Conservative MPs with his answers.  It's worth noting that Fox went out of his way to disagree with former serviceman Kris Hopkins - who features in Gazette this morning - that the incident was a dark day for the army as a whole, rather than for the individuals responsible.  Ministers usually strive to avoid disagreeing with colleagues on the floor of the Commons, and Fox is an extremely skilful performer in the Chamber.  That he felt he had to make the distinction reflects its importance to him (and I think he was right).

Continue reading "Liam Fox's Commons Baha Mousa statement in full" »

1 Feb 2011 17:53:23

Tory MPs debate the merits of the Health and Social Care Bill

By Jonathan Isaby

Last month Andrew Lansley wrote exclusively for ConHome here about the Government's Health and Social Care Bill.

The Bill had its Second Reading in the Commons yesterday, during which new Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams gave her maiden speech and David Miliband gave his first full speech as a backbencher since losing the Labour leadership.

But here a snapshot of the contributions from the Conservative backbenches.

Dorrell-Stephen-new Health Select Committee chairman Stephen Dorrell considered the challenge of increasing demands upon the NHS:

"During the lifetime of this Parliament the national health service faces a genuinely unprecedented challenge, first articulated not by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in the present Government, but by the chief executive of the health service before the general election in May 2009, when he drew attention to the fact that demand for health care should be expected to continue to rise at roughly 4% per annum, as it has done throughout the recent history of the national health service. However, because of the budget deficit situation, we will not see the health budget continue to rise to absorb that rise in demand, in the way it has done over the past decade.

"Therefore, during the lifetime of this Parliament, we will have to see, in the national health service, a 4% efficiency gain four years running-something that not merely our health care system, but no other health care system in the world, has ever delivered. The Select Committee has referred to that as the Nicholson challenge, reflecting the fact that it was first articulated by the chief executive and endorsed by the previous Government. Again, this is a case of a shared agenda across the House of Commons.

"Given the Budget deficit, the only way we can continue to meet the demand for high-quality health care, which we all want to see, is by delivering an unprecedented efficiency gain in the NHS for four years running. That is why I support the Bill. I support it because to my mind it is inconceivable that we can deliver such an efficiency gain without delivering more effectively than we have done yet on the ideas, which have been endorsed over the past 20 years, about greater clinical engagement in NHS commissioning, which I have been talking about. Commissioning cannot be successful if it is something that is done to doctors by managers; it must engage the whole clinical community. We must address the democratic deficit, because we cannot bring change on the scale that we need to deliver the efficiency gain without engaging local communities."

Continue reading "Tory MPs debate the merits of the Health and Social Care Bill " »

24 Nov 2010 16:34:08

Tory MPs raise concerns about High Speed Rail 2

By Jonathan Isaby

Steve Baker The new MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker, secured a one-and-a-half hour adjournment debate in Westminster Hall yesterday on a topic which is of particular interest to his constituents, namely the High Speed 2 Rail link which looks set to run through Buckinghamshire, and set out his opposition to the scheme thus:

"The Chilterns AONB is a rare, precious landscape benefiting not just those who live there but the millions who visit every year from across the country, particularly, due to its proximity, from London. I have lived adjacent to the AONB for almost three years and can confirm that it is one of Britain's most beautiful and ecologically rich landscapes. The preferred route of HS 2 crosses the AONB at its widest point, in contradiction to the policy followed for HS 1. In Kent, the route of HS 1 was amended to avoid the North Downs AONB. By contrast, HS 2 appears to have been deliberately routed through the least spoilt, widest part of the Chilterns... Some 59 different protected species have been recorded within 1 km of the route of HS 2. The recommended route involves tunnelling directly through an aquifer, risking reducing the water table and exacerbating low flow in the Chess and Misbourne. It also risks possible contamination of the ground water. The environmental impact of the recommended route of HS 2 would be enormous. I am therefore calling for an official environmental impact assessment of the preferred route well in advance of the planned consultation, so that interested parties can fully digest its findings."

"There is no benefit to Buckinghamshire from accepting high-speed rail. The project would have to be bullied through against the well-grounded wishes of those affected, causing not just the environmental damage described but also infringing the property rights of large numbers of people. Doing so would thoroughly undermine the Government's commitment to increasing people's power over their own lives. From Buckinghamshire's perspective, the answer to whether HS 2 should run across the county is, of course, a resounding no. Buckinghamshire people are bound to object to a programme that would merely blight our beautiful county and trespass on local people's businesses and the quiet enjoyment of their homes. I find myself asking, "Should any area of the country be forced to accept high-speed rail?"

Continue reading "Tory MPs raise concerns about High Speed Rail 2" »

12 Aug 2010 06:40:34

Dan Byles MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...

Dan Byles Commons Dan Byles was elected MP for North Warwickshire with a majority of 54.

1. What is your earliest political memory? The Falklands War. I don't remember taking in much detail at the time, but I remember seeing it on the news and seeing Margaret Thatcher and knowing that she was our leader. I had the good fortune to meet Margaret Thatcher for the first time earlier this year and managed to have a few words with her. Most people before me had queued up to take it in turns to tell her how inspirational she was and how honoured they were to meet her. Rather than repeat the same sentiment once again, I simply told her that I was brought up as a school child in the 1980s, and that for years I didn't think it was possible to have a Prime Minister who wasn't Margaret Thatcher. She roared with laughter.

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I believe in freedom with responsibility. I believe in low tax free market economics tempered by sensible and thrifty government. I believe in justice and the rule of law. I believe in walking softly and carrying a big stick. I believe in trusting families and communities. I believe in choice, aspiration and opportunity for all. I believe in simplicity and common sense in government. I believe in democracy. And I believe that Britain is and has been a force for good in the world. I am proud of my country and proud to be a Conservative."

3. Who is your political hero and why? Boris Johnson, because he is unspun, and says what he thinks. With Boris, what you see is what you get. That is how politics should be, but sadly the way the media coverage of politics has evolved in recent years allows so few top politicians to actually be themselves like he can.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? I felt I had no choice after becoming very disillusioned with politics and politicians when I served as a Staff Officer in the Ministry of Defence during the Iraq invason. I initially supported the invasion, because the Prime Minister at the time stood before the nation and effectively said "If you knew what I know, you would understand why we must do this". I took him at his word. When it became clear Tony Blair knew no more than the rest of us, but was willing to commit British troops to war regardless, I lost faith and decided that I should leave the Army to stand for election..

5. What is your reading material of choice? I love to read books, but I have so little time. I love to relax with the Sunday papers but I rarely have the opportunity. In practice, most of my reading is now done online and is mostly news and politics (sadly!). I try to read ConservativeHome and politicalbetting.com every day. I also try to read the daily Dilbert strip every day to remind myself of how absurd life can be.

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM. He is always so calm and friendly sounding, and yet often cuts through the nonsense with a really incisive question that looks like a gentle underarm but is actually a vicious googly.

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? There is so much to do that this is actually quite a difficult question. Defence is obviously a department where I feel I could make a serious contribution, but having been an Army officer for nine years that probably rules me out on the grounds that I would know too much! Energy also interests me, because I am genuinely concerned about UK energy security. But at the end of the day, who wouldn't want to be Chancellor of the Exchequer (mmm... does having studied economics at university rule me out of that one too?)?

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? Mo Mowlam.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? A group of more than two others. They are very small lifts.

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? Currently struggling to remember what relaxing feels like, but when I can I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, and spending some rare quiet time with my wife.

12. What is your favourite book? Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Anything by Terry Pratchett.

13. What is your favourite film? Withnail and I.

14. What is your favourite music? I listen to a wide variety of music, but my heart is pretty much stuck in the 80s and early 90s. Songs from my time at school and university.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? To have the time to cook something nice myself, and to have a small group of our closest friends around to enjoy it at our house with some good wine late into the evening.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination?  I love tropical beaches with good scuba diving and good food. I love South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore). The food is fantastic and the people are so friendly.

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? I want to learn to be an effective backbench MP, while not getting assimilated by the Westminster machine. I can see how easy it must be to be become institutionalised by the place.

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I share two entries in the Guinness Book of World Records with my mother [for rowing across the Atlantic in 101 days in a 23-foot wooden rowing boat and for walking and skiing 350 miles from Resolute, Nunavut to the Magnetic North Pole in 20 days and 5 hours].

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. The annual Atherstone Ball Game dates back some 900 years and on average hospitalises about two people every year.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. I owe my selection as PPC three years ago to a cat called Tia. The selection panel were looking through applicants' CVs to choose the initial shortlist. They put them into four piles on the floor as they discussed them: Yes; No; Maybe; and my CV was in a pile all of its own as the 'wildcard'. I didn't meet the criteria they were looking for - someone experienced who had fought a seat before and could hit the ground running. But my CV was interesting enough that they felt they wanted to meet me. Tia the cat strolled over to my CV and sat on it. They shooed her away and moved me to another part of the floor. Tia followed and sat on my CV again. When this happened a third time, it was decided that Tia had voted for me and so they threw me into the shortlist. I went on to be selected and to win the seat for the Conservatives for the first time since 1987.

> Previously: Nigel Adams MP