Fiona Bruce MP

19 Jan 2013 08:55:20

Fiona Bruce MP highlights new evidence that girls are more likely to be aborted than boys

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 08.45.24The Tory MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, has put down an Early Day Motion in response to news that parents from certain overseas countries - including India and China - are more likely to abort their unborn babies if those babies are girls than boys. Mrs Bruce wants the Department of Health to accurately monitor trends in abortion to establish whether such pre-birth discrimination is occuring:

"That this House, in acknowledging that there is a wide range of different but sincerely held views on the issue of abortion law, nevertheless unites in registering its profound shock at recent confirmation by the Department of Health that there are discrepancies in the balance between the number of boys and girls born to groups of women from some overseas countries to an extent that `falls outside the range considered possible without intervention'; is appalled that there now appears to be evidence of significant numbers of baby girls being aborted illegally in the UK simply because of their gender; reminds the police and Crown Prosecution Service that abortion on the grounds of gender is illegal; and, in demanding immediate and effective enforcement of the law in this area, calls on the Department of Health to put in place procedures to record in future the gender of babies aborted under the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967 so that statistical evidence of crime cannot be hidden."

Mrs Bruce is a pro-life Tory MP and her concerns about this anti-girl prejudice are therefore understandable. Less easy to understand are objections from pro-abortion campaigners. Anne Scanlan from the LIFE charity recently told LifeNews:

"Cases of sex-selective abortion, and the public uneasiness about the practice, highlight a huge tension in the “pro-choice” position. Pro-choicers who claim to be concerned about this issue have to explain why. The core of the pro-choice argument is that all women have the right to end a pregnancy for whatever reason at any point. On what grounds, then, does someone who describes themself as pro-choice criticise abortion on grounds of the baby’s sex? Similarly, pro-choicers who have no objection to sex-selective abortion are sanctioning and endorsing a deeply discriminatory and intolerant practice.”

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.

24 Oct 2012 18:40:54

New 1922 Committee and Select Committee members elected

By Matthew Barrett
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After today's 1922 Committee elections, Robert Buckland has been elected Joint-Secretary (replacing Karen Bradley, an Assistant Whip) and Simon Hart and Karl McCartney have also been elected to the Executive, replacing George Hollingbery (now PPS to Theresa May) and Simon Kirby (now PPS to Hugh Robertson).

A few results of the Select Committee elections have trickled through, and this post will be updated with a full list of newly elected committee members in due course.

7pm Update: 

The following MPs have been elected to Select Committee vacancies:

Business, Innovation and Skills Committee

Caroline Dinenage and Robin Walker

Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Continue reading "New 1922 Committee and Select Committee members elected" »

22 Oct 2012 15:31:06

Conservative Select Committee appointments announced

By Matthew Barrett
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SelectCommittesGuido Fawkes has a list of new Conservative members of Select Committees, from Graham Brady's office. Mr Brady explains: "For the following committees I have received the same number of nominations as there are vacancies, the following are therefore elected". The appointments are:

Communities and Local Government

John Stevenson (Carlisle), replacing George Hollingbery (Meon Valley), who became PPS to Theresa May at the reshuffle.


Chris Skidmore (Kingswood), replacing Damian Hinds (East Hampshire), who became PPS to Mark Francois, the Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.


Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole), replacing Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich), who was made the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health Services.

Continue reading "Conservative Select Committee appointments announced" »

11 Jul 2012 09:43:57

80 Tory backbenchers voted for Lords reform last night. 110 did not.

By Matthew Barrett
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We know that 91 Tories voted against the Lords Reform Bill last night. That's the big, headline grabbing figure - the biggest rebellion in this Parliament. 

Continue reading "80 Tory backbenchers voted for Lords reform last night. 110 did not." »

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" »

1 May 2012 18:30:23

Only three Tory MPs rebel against move to relax Sunday trading laws for the Olympics

By Matthew Barrett
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In the Commons yesterday, a debate was held on whether to suspend Sunday trading restrictions for the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The Bill passed through the House, with only extremely minor rebellion from the Tory benches. This was surprising because there was some consternation felt by some sections of the backbenches about the proposals, with the suspicion that the period was simply softening the public up for a full scrapping of Sunday trading laws. 

Halfon RobertMinisters were very clear in assuring the House that the proposals are temporary:

"Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Will my hon. Friend reassure a significant number of Harlow residents who have written to me that the Bill is just a temporary Bill for the Olympics, and that there are no plans to extend Sunday trading per se?

Mr Prisk: I am happy to give that assurance. I do not want to test the patience of the Deputy Speaker. The motion is about the proceedings of the House, but I want to make it crystal clear that the Bill will come off the statute book immediately after 9 September."

The first vote, which was merely a procedural vote concerning the passage of the BIll, was agreed to with 281 ayes, and 112 noes. The only two Tory noes on that vote were Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone, who voted with the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party and many Labour MPs. 

Andrew Selous MPIn the second period of debate, which was more substantive and longer, several Tory MPs sought assurances about elements of the Bill:

"Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): I am extremely grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. He is being extremely generous very early on in his remarks. Will he give me some reassurance? What protection will be in place for, say, volunteer sports coaches or church workers with commitments on Sundays, if their volunteer commitments are threatened by having to work extra hours?

Vince Cable: Of course, they could opt out of the commitments, as is already provided for under existing legislation, which means that they will receive all the protections subject to unfair dismissal legislation."

Continue reading "Only three Tory MPs rebel against move to relax Sunday trading laws for the Olympics" »

29 Jun 2011 06:55:24

Fifteen Tory MPs back rebel amendment to recognise marriage in the tax system

MPs began debating the report stage of the Finance Bill yesterday, and voting did not finish until nearly 2am this morning.

The most notable point is that there was a rebellion in favour of a new clause to provide for the transfer of personal income tax allowances between spouses.

The new clause was tabled by Congleton MP Fiona Bruce but then moved by Gainsborough's Edward Leigh.

When it was put to the vote, it was defeated by 473 votes to 23, with the following fifteen Tories among the 23 (the others being DUP MPs and three Labour MPs):

  1. Peter Bone
  2. Fiona Bruce
  3. Douglas Carswell
  4. Chris Chope
  5. Philip Davies
  6. Nadine Dorries
  7. Gordon Henderson
  8. Philip Hollobone
  9. Edward Leigh
  10. Karl McCartney
  11. David Nuttall
  12. Matthew Offord
  13. Mark Reckless
  14. Andrew Turner
  15. Martin Vickers.

Continue reading "Fifteen Tory MPs back rebel amendment to recognise marriage in the tax system" »

19 Jan 2011 07:27:33

Rehman Chisti and Fiona Bruce raise the persecution of Christians abroad

by Paul Goodman

I'm fascinated by dogs that don't bark in the Chamber - in other words, subjects that aren't raised or points which aren't made: indications that there are matters MPs want to avoid, or truths that they don't want to face up to (a characteristic that they share with the rest of us).

No less compelling is the profile of points which are made.  The Commons can be a barometer of national opinion, however unsteadily.  An issue which at one time doesn't show up at all can come forward quite prominently, as circumstances or fashion change.

Here's an example yesterday from Church Commissioners' questions, which will attract less attention from the sketchwriters today than Nick Clegg doing his regular stint a bit earlier.

"Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): What representations the Church Commissioners have made in support of Christians in Pakistan.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): It is a sad and terrible fact that Christian minorities who have lived peacefully in Muslim countries for generations are finding themselves subject to increasingly violent persecution. Churches have recently been attacked in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria, and the assassination in Pakistan of Salmaan Taseer for defending a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death was particularly horrible. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Bishop of Lahore and, indeed, the Christian community as a whole in Pakistan are working hard to foster inter-faith collaboration in Pakistan during this time of difficulty.

Rehman Chishti: Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the former assassinated Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, for the work that he did on this particular issue? Will my hon. Friend ensure that representations are made to the Government of Pakistan to ensure that the excellent work of Governor Taseer can continue?

Tony Baldry: Salmaan Taseer was an incredibly brave man and his death is a tragedy for Pakistan. We would all do well to remember the words of Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, who said in terms that

    "you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship".

What I suspect every Member of this House hopes for is that there shall be freedom of religion throughout the world, and I am sure that, as a Chamber, we will continue to campaign for that wherever we have the opportunity."

A one-off?  No, here we are a moment later - 

Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to help support Christians in Sudan. [33920]

Tony Baldry: The Church of England supports the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The dioceses of Bradford and Salisbury have diocesan links to Sudan and have done great work in the region to support the Christian community, as has Christian Aid.

Fiona Bruce: I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. It looks as though there will be a new state of Southern Sudan, but it will face enormous challenges. Meanwhile, Christian minorities in the north of Sudan will face continued persecution, as organisations such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide have highlighted during many years of work across Sudan. Will the Church of England do what it can to support and protect Christians and other minorities in the north of Sudan, while also helping, where appropriate, in Southern Sudan?

Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend is absolutely right about this. Minority groups in northern Sudan have faced persecution, which is one of the many problems facing people in the region. Most southern Sudanese live on less than $1 a day, the country has almost no infrastructure-there are just 38 miles of tarmacked road in an area the size of France-and people are traumatised by years of rape and killings. I am sure that the Church of England and non-governmental organisations such as Christian Aid and Christian Solidarity Worldwide will give the people of Southern Sudan all possible support. Indeed, it behoves all of us to do what we can to support what may soon be the newest member of the United Nations as it sets out on the challenging road of nationhood.

My sense is that there's an emerging awareness of the plight of Christians abroad, which until very recently has largely been confined to the Churches.

The terms of traffic between Christians and Muslims aren't all one way - read Peter Oborne's report from Nigeria.  But religious freedom for Christians in Muslim-majority countries is clearly a growing concern.

At one time, Church Commissioner questions were restricted to enquiries about the sale of ecclestiastical property or the status of women priests.

No longer.

18 Jan 2011 16:24:14

Rory Stewart: "We know that communities know and care more, and that they can and ought to do more than distant officials in Penrith, Carlisle, London or Brussels"

By Tim Montgomerie

Highlights from yesterday's Commons debate on the Localism Bill.

Rory Stewart summarised why localism works: "This is a strange time and place because all hon. Members believe in that decentralisation, whether we call it localism, hyper-localism or double hyper-localism, but we are obstructed by our anxieties about power, knowledge and legitimacy. Let us remember the basic instinct and work together. We should support the Bill because we know that communities know and care more, and that they can and ought to do more than distant officials in Penrith, Carlisle, London or Brussels."

Stewart Jackson on new powers for local governments to act more freely: "The big society is about empowering local people to make decisions at local level. It should be seen not as lots of disparate, discrete initiatives at local level, but within the context of the Bill's provisions. I see the general power of competence, for example, as a key unlocking a huge amount of progressive development by local authorities. The New Local Government Network specifically praised the general power of competence and said: "This represents both a significant philosophical shift towards local democracy and a practical transfer of power to the local level." That is something that Labour never did in its 13 years of power, although it promised to do so in its 1997 manifesto. The other important issue-unfortunately, one cannot look in detail at the 406 pages of the Bill and its 201 clauses and 24 schedules in five minutes-is whether it is permissive, as opposed to prescriptive, as an approach to local government? On any objective test it is an extremely permissive piece of legislation. The general power of competence will give local authorities autonomy by unlocking accelerated development zones, tax increment financing, asset-backed vehicles and real estate investment trusts."

Mr Jackson also highlighted the economic advantages of decentralisation: "An econometric study in Germany found that Government efficiency increased in direct proportion to decentralisation and could drive it up by up to 10%. That would release in this country the equivalent of £70 billion. The Spanish institute of fiscal studies found that fiscal decentralisation could boost growth in the economy by 0.5%. The Bill speaks to that concern. If Opposition Members ask me whether we are going far enough in fiscal autonomy and decentralisation, the answer is no, but the Bill is a bigger and better start than what went on before."

Continue reading "Rory Stewart: "We know that communities know and care more, and that they can and ought to do more than distant officials in Penrith, Carlisle, London or Brussels"" »

15 Sep 2010 11:23:26

Dr Dan Poulter and Fiona Bruce make maiden speeches this week

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-09-15 at 10.44.00 There have been two maiden speeches this week to date by Conservative MPs.

Dr Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) was first off the mark on Monday, speaking during the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill.  After paying tribute to Sir Michael Lord, his predecessor, he covered three main issues: the lack of broadband in rural parts of his constituency, transport infrastructure, and - principally - the National Health Service.

On the NHS, he said -

"Members may be aware that before my election to the House I was a front-line NHS hospital doctor. That experience has stood me in good stead in representing my constituents, particularly the health care concerns that they face. In the NHS we have a key battle before us to ensure that we keep front-line services at Ipswich district general hospital. Under the regionalisation agenda of the previous Government, we saw the loss of vital cardiac and cancer care services at the hospital. It is important that we fight to restore Ipswich hospital to its former glory and make sure that once again we provide the vital services that the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich need."

He also referred to the loss of Hartismere community hospital under the previous government -

In a predominantly rural constituency, Hartismere is a vital community hospital that unfortunately was closed during the last three and a half years of the previous Government. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and his team when he was shadow Secretary of State for working with me to help reopen the hospital, which provides essential services to the older people, families and pregnant women who live in our rural communities.

Screen shot 2010-09-15 at 11.10.32 Fiona Bruce (Congleton) spoke yesterday on the Equitable Life Payment Bill.  Again, she praised the work of her predecessor, Ann Winterton, praising in particular her work as Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (of which Bruce is now a Vice-Chairman).  She said: "I believe that no insignificant person has ever been born.

She said that Congleton was in origin a northern mill town, and that -

"I grew up largely in a terraced house in another northern mill town, Burnley, where my grandmother started weaving in the cotton mill as a girl, my father wore clogs at school and much of the life rawly depicted in William Woodruff's book, "The Road to Nab End", was for them a reality. But education, aspiration and determination, and the support of a loving family and strong local community, all of which I witnessed and benefited from as a child, and which inform my engagement in politics today, were key to my family's circumstances changing for the better. For all that, I am grateful."

After a verbal tour of her constituency, she described the problems facing its towns, but painted an optimistic picture of how local people are "rising to these challenges" -

"Employers, such as Convert2Green, Ideal and Siemens are saying, "If we cannot find the skills, we will train them." East Cheshire chamber of commerce is organising advice on topics as diverse as export licences and shop doctors. Local traders' groups such as STAR-Sandbach Traders and Retailers-and Alsager chamber of trade are developing new ways to promote business and local produce, like farmers markets. The Congleton Partnership and Middlewich Vision are determinedly championing vibrant community life. Enthusiastic residents are giving time in Clean Teams, Milton Gardens, Rotary and Holmes Chapel Village Volunteers. Farmers like the Riddells are investing in technology while also diversifying into hospitality. Cheshire East council members and officers are open to talks with innovative community groups, such as Plus Dane and Crossroads Care, about how best to care for our elderly, whilst recognising that supporting families who care is, where possible, the best solution of all."

After naming and praising a number of her constituents, she said: "People are asking, "What is the Big Society?" I say, "Come to Congleton! It is already here!"

A footnote: in relation to the bill, she called for "proper compensation" for those who lost out in the Equitable Life near-collapse.  Over 30 Conservative MPs also called for compensation to be as generous as possible; most were critical of the Chadwick Report; many referred to pledges that they'd made to their constituents on the matter.

All in all, another indicator of the difficulty that the Treasury will have in holding the line on public spending.