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).
By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the most encouraging things about today's Conservative Party is the liveliness of the Class of 2010. Starting tomorrow Matthew Barrett will be looking at the work of different backbench groups but here's a summary of some of the more interesting projects and thoughts launched by some of our newest MPs in recent days. I've arranged the list alphabetically...
First I direct you to a piece in yesterday's Observer by George Freeman. George is at the heart of a Tory interest in developing a new industrial strategy - not a return to a 1960s/70s policy of picking winners (or picking losers as invariably happened) but, in his slightly jargonistic words, the need to "focus on the technologies and sectors of the British innovation and knowledge economy which can best compete in the new markets of the developing world". He suggested five themes for his strategy including a focus on building deep relationships with emerging markets; development of innovation cities, corridors and neighbourhoods; and the identification and exploitation of technologies where we have a competitive advantage. Read more.
In yesterday's Sunday Times (£) Sam Gyimah called for new ways of graduates helping their universities to educate more young people, especially from less privileged backgrounds. Noting that barely 1% of UK alumni make gifts to their institutions compared to 10% in the USA he recommends mechanisms whereby graduates can keep paying into the student financing system even after they've repaid their own loans.
By Joseph Willits
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40 Tory volunteers, including MPs Tobias Ellwood, Nicky Morgan, Eric Ollerenshaw, Andrew Stephenson (pictured), Anne Main and MEP Syed Kamall, have all travelled to Bangladesh to welcome in Project Maja in the country.
Project Maja was set up by Party co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi (who also joined the volunteers), in Bosnia in 2009.
The project has now been extended to Bangladesh, working in the capital Dhaka, and the north-eastern city of Sylhet. The volunteers, and the project more generally, will be focusing on working with several UK charities and businesses in Bangladesh, including Islamic Relief, the London Tigers, BRAC and Save the Children. Sport, community and health projects were the focus of the visit, and of Project Maja.
By Matthew Barrett
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The company Key Business Insight's "Commons Performance Cockpit" ranks MPs by their total cost - that is, staffing costs, travel expenses, office costs, salary, and so on. The majority of the 50 "most efficient" MPs, in terms of total cost, are Conservatives.
The top 50 "most efficient" MPs between 1st April, 2010 and 31st March, 2011 are listed below:
*Took his seat on 3rd March, 2011
**Took her seat on 13th January, 2011
***Resigned his seat on 8th February, 2011
In Monday's debate looking ahead to the Strategic Defence Review, two newly-elected Lancashire MPs delivered their maiden speeches.
"We make things in Fylde. It is the home of nuclear fuel, employing 2,000 people, and in a future debate I wish to expand on that point. It is home also to the military aircraft division of BAE Systems, employing more than 8,000 people directly. Indeed, it is not only the home of the Typhoon Eurofighter; Nimrod final fit-outs and all the developmental work on unmanned aerial vehicles takes place there. The Americans take the credit for many things, but one thing for which they cannot take credit is that technology. The United Kingdom is the world leader in that technology, and it is developed in my constituency.
"On the defence review, I should like to make an appeal to the Minister. I know that budgets are tight and many Members from all parts with interests in defence procurement are making pitches, but we need Typhoon tranche 3b for a number of reasons. We live in an unpredictable world, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) said, we cannot tell what the future holds, other than that it will be unpredictable. At times Government Front Benchers talk about export potential, and British Aerospace is working very hard in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Japan to win exports. However, the aircraft's cost model is built on the premise of a future RAF order, and Ministers must be aware that if a future order is not forthcoming the cost dynamics will change, and BAE might not be competitive with the United States and France in export markets."
Unusually, he concluded by paying tribute to the Unite trade union:
"I may be the only Conservative Member to do so, but there we have an example of the trade union working with BAE management and the Government to deliver what is important: a quality product, products coming off the production line and everyone pulling in the same direction. I really hope that Unite continues to work with the current Government and with BAE to deliver that."
"Across the north-west, 3,400 volunteers-men and women-are in the TA, on top of the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Marines Reserve. Since 2003, 1,700 of those volunteers have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. I wish to pay tribute here to the chairman of my association, Dr Robin Jackson, who is commander of 207 Field Hospital (Volunteers), soon to go out to Afghanistan. I am sure that all hon. Members' prayers, as well as mine, go with those people on their second tour of duty in that country. I was so pleased when, in response to questions from more eloquent Members than me, the Secretary of State spoke about the importance of our reserves, what they contribute, and the mobility that they give to this country and to the Army's capability. They are a fantastic operation."
He also pleaded for our troops to be properly equipped:
"As I am sure most Members understand, all our constituents are questioning our engagements abroad at the moment. Certainly in my constituency-where people are, as they say, not backward in coming forward-the jury is still out on what is going on in Afghanistan. However, I will tell Members what they will not put up with and what they expect from this new Parliament: whatever future engagements the Government have for our soldiers, whether regular or volunteer, never again should they be sent out there without the best equipment that this country can provide."