David Nuttall MP

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.

24 Jan 2013 08:29:38

What is the Bruges Group?

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 21.54.21My series profiling the groups of Tory MPs continues with a look at a pioneering Eurosceptic group which helped backbenchers cause significant headaches for Prime Minister John Major during the early 1990s. The Bruges Group is a well-established forum for advocating looser ties with Brussels, and it has gone from a relatively small collection of Tories to one of the groups that best represents mainstream Conservative thinking on its particular policy area.

Origins of the group

The Bruges Group was founded in February 1989 to promote and uphold the ideas Margaret Thatcher expressed in her famous Bruges Speech in late 1988. Mrs Thatcher argued that the tide of opinion on the continent was towards centralising the structure of the European institutions - and this would be unsuitable for Britain's national identity and democracy. In the most famous passage of the speech, Mrs Thatcher said:

"I want to see us work more closely on the things we can do better together than alone. Europe is stronger when we do so, whether it be in trade, in defence or in our relations with the rest of the world. But working more closely together does not require power to be centralised in Brussels or decisions to be taken by an appointed bureaucracy. ... We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels."

The group was set up by Patrick Robertson and Lord Harris of High Cross, ie Ralph Harris, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs from 1957 to 1988. Lord Harris' work promoting free-market economics at the IEA was instrumental in the creation of Thatcherism.

Continue reading "What is the Bruges Group?" »

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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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" »

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.

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" »

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?" »

19 May 2012 12:30:13

The People's Pledge announce three Greater Manchester constituencies will hold an EU referendum

By Matthew Barrett
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PeoplesPledge2Earlier this week, I reported on the 13 groups of constituencies in the running to be the next location for the People's Pledge European referendum campaign.

The first referendum was held in the marginally Conservative Thurrock constituency (89.9% agreed with a referendum). Yesterday, the People's Pledge announced that the next referendum will be held in a trio of Lib Dem constituencies: Manchester Withington, Cheadle and Hazel Grove. The neighbouring seats, in the Greater Manchester area, are represented by John Leech MP, Mark Hunter MP and Andrew Stunnell MP respectively.

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 07.22.19While the seats are all Lib Dem, the referendum campaign will be launched by Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, and David Nuttall, the Conservative MP for Bury North (right) at the campaign’s local headquarters in Cheadle on Monday. Like Thurrock, the campaign will be a full by-election style affair, with a local shop front headquarters, door-to-door canvassing, posters and leaflet, street stalls, and public meetings and events. Polls will close at 5pm on Thursday 19 July, and the vote will be independently administered by full postal ballot.

Ian McKenzie, the Director of the People’s Pledge (who appeared on the Daily Politics show yesterday), said:

“The people of Thurrock set the pace last month by voting in huge numbers for a referendum. Voters in Manchester Withington, Cheadle and Hazel Grove now have the chance to quicken that pace towards a national referendum for the rest of us. All three main parties are trying to ignore this issue; they need to start listening to their voters.”

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:-




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:


2) Executive members - the following nominations have been received for TWELVE posts.

PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.

Finally and separately, the following nominations have been received for Conservative members of the Backbench Business Committee - four posts:


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" »

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
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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" »

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" »