Having reshaped his Cabinet substantially last summer - sacking two Cabinet Ministers in the process - David Cameron is unlikely to do so again during this one. This is because to do so would both risk destabilising his already fractious Parliamentary Party, and offend his instinct to keep changes to his front bench to a minimum. From the Prime Minister's point of view, it makes sense to delay a substantial Cabinet clearout until next summer, when a team can be put in place to fight the election in 2015.
Leaving the next big shuffle until later in the Parliament will also minimise any backlash from sacked Ministers, since they will rally round Cameron during the election run-up (that's the theory, at any rate). The claim that Sir George Young will stay in post for the time being would dovetail with such an approach. The Prime Minister's most likely reshuffle course, therefore, will be to restrict change to the lower ranks of the Government - but to promote to just below Cabinet level men and women who, in his view, are capable of making it to the top table next year.
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.
By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Communities and Local Government
By Matthew Barrett
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Labour's Luciana Berger also retained her position as the most fanciable female MP, although Tory women are rated as the most attractive with 6 listed in the top 10, while Labour have 4 and the Lib Dems have none. Despite Goldsmith's first place, Labour men did best overall with 5 entries, but the Tories were just behind with 4 places.
Nick Clegg is the only Liberal Democrat to feature in this year’s list, and the only party leader to qualify - both David Cameron and Ed Miliband missed out, although the senior Miliband brother makes 6th place.
Here is the full list (with last year’s rankings in brackets) for Sky's Most Fanciable MP 2012:
By Joseph Willits
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Yesterday, Jessica Lee MP (Erewash) secured a Westminster Hall debate on the issue of adoption. Adoption levels in the UK, she said "should cause alarm bells to ring" after only 60 children out of 3,660 in care were placed in homes. Lee said it was crucial to "seize the opportunity", and described the "momentum in the House and the country to tackle the challenges affecting the adoption process".
Lee drew on both the experiences of Michael Gove (who discussed how adoption "transformed his life" in the Daily Mail), and Cameron's commitment to making the "process of adoption and fostering simpler". Richard Graham (Gloucester) praised the Government for "showing real leadership on the issue of tackling these problems".
In response to Lee's question at PMQs on 2nd November, Cameron said the adoption process had "become too bureaucratic and difficult, and the result is that it is putting people off. I am absolutely determined that we crack this".
Thursday's debate on global poverty saw maiden speeches from two more members of the 2010 Conservative intake.
Esther McVey, who won Wirral West at th election at her second attempt, said that she was moved to speak in this debate after receiving letters from the 20 members of a class at Hayfield primary school in her constituency:
"Class P has signed up to the 1GOAL campaign to help global poverty through education. The campaign is trying to use the profile of the 2010 World cup in South Africa, bringing together footballers and fans of all ages with charities and local and world leaders, to make education a reality for 72 million primary school children worldwide by 2015. I asked Class P to explain what poverty meant to them. They said it was about not being able to go to school to learn and make friends, about being sick but not having a doctor and about living in fear. Most of all, poverty is about living with no hope and dying with no one caring. According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die that way each day, and 10.6 million children die before the age of five—that is the same total as all the children of France, Germany, Greece and Italy added together. So today I bring the message of the next generation to the attention of the current generation—beat poverty through education.
"Yes, and I believe in the goodness of human beings and the thread of humanity that touches the core of every one of us. It is here in this Chamber, on all sides of the House, and it is in class P at Hayfield school.
"All of us come here with the desire to help others and, ultimately, to enable them to help themselves, but different times—and we are living in different times—require different solutions. We are living in a financial downturn and at a time of financial restraint. We have inherited a record deficit, so we have to do things differently. We have to have a different strategy but, that said, we must work together and use and acknowledge the successes of past Parliaments.
"So I welcome the new coalition Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of gross national income as aid by 2013, helping the poorest in the world. I hope that that is welcomed by all Members of the House, and I am sure that it will be—just as it will be welcomed by the children at Hayfield school."
Later in the same debate, Stevenage's new MP, Stephen McPartland, called on the Government to "target our resources both at home and abroad to focus on activities that deliver results and will make a real impact on the lives of millions of people":
"I will take two examples of where significant progress can be made quickly. The first is the millennium development goal to reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under the age of five. There is concern that this, like many of the other goals, will not be achieved by 2015, but if we take targeted action we can make real progress. At the moment, around the world, one child dies every 15 seconds from pneumonia, which is the leading killer of children under the age of five. The majority of those deaths are preventable because there are effective vaccines that can protect against the majority of strains of the disease and effective treatments such as antibiotics.
"Increasing evidence shows that pneumonia is linked to global poverty, and 98% of these deaths occur in the developing world, mostly in marginalised communities. Yet pneumonia is a disease that can be managed relatively simply if the resources are available. I am proud of the leading role that GlaxoSmithKline, a major employer in my constituency, has taken to try to save the lives of millions of children in the world’s poorest countries. GSK is one of the first manufacturers to sign an advanced market commitment, which, by guaranteeing an affordable long-term price, will support the sustained use of vaccines. GSK has worked closely with GAVI and IVAC—the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, and the International Vaccine Access Centre—the leading NGOs in trying to sort the problem out, and whose work I commend.
"Turning closer to home, we know that here in the UK, it is possible to help a child out of poverty and improve their chances in life if they receive a good education. However, we are not doing enough; we are not lifting enough people out of poverty. In my constituency, like in so many others across the UK, there are children who have tried so hard in school. There is a cadre of dedicated and professional staff who have helped them along the way and invested so much of themselves in helping those children try to improve their life chances, but the system does not seem to work. Those children are being forced through an education system that pushes them out the other end with little chance of getting a job, as they do not have the skills that local employers want.
"We need to encourage employers to work with local schools and colleges, to get fully involved in education, to highlight the skills that are missing and even perhaps to take preventive action, possibly by designing some of the more vocational courses. Perhaps the prize at the end of the course should be a job or an apprenticeship with the employer. We need to be innovative and flexible, so that courses can reflect the skills gap locally and more local people can get local jobs. Only by focusing on results here and abroad will we be able to help people lift themselves out of poverty."