Harriett Baldwin MP

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" »

28 Jul 2012 09:03:51

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

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

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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
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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:

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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.

28 May 2012 06:23:29

What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has usually featured groups with general ideological goals. Groups representing the traditional right or Thatcherite wing of the Party cannot be said to focus on a single area of political life. Nor can newer groups like the Free Enterprise Group, or the 2020 Conservatives. However, Fresh Start, the subject of this profile, is focused on one big area of politics: Europe.

Origins of Fresh Start

Fresh Start was formed before the summer recess in 2011, and formally launched in September last year, at an event to which all Conservative MPs were invited. Anthony Browne, in his ConservativeHome column, reported on the launch of Fresh Start at the time:

"By one count there were 104 Conservative MPs; another put it at 120 – twice the total number of Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons. Either way, it was standing room only in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House last night, as much of the parliamentary Conservative party (and the odd hanger-on like me) met to discuss Britain’s way forward with the European Union."


The founders are Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris, and George Eustice, all 2010 intake members:

  • Leadsom, the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, had a career in the City prior to entering politics, having been Financial Institutions Director at Barclays Bank, Managing Director of a London hedge fund and then, Head of Corporate Governance for Invesco Perpetual. Leadsom runs Fresh Start and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform (see below) from her office, and has regular co-ordinating messages with Heaton-Harris and Eustice.
  • Heaton-Harris, from Daventry, which neighbours Leadsom's constituency, was a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands region from 1999 until 2009. He was an advocate of reform and helped found the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR). Heaton-Harris also helped publicise the case of Marta Andreasen, now a UKIP MEP, who, as the European Commission's Chief Accountant, complained about fraud and waste in the European institutions in 2002. 
  • Eustice is the Member of Parliament for Camborne and Redruth, and was a UKIP candidate for the South West of England region at the 1999 European Parliament elections. He has also been Campaign Director for the cross-party campaign against the €uro in 2000, Head of Press for Michael Howard during the 2005 election, and Press Secretary for David Cameron from when Cameron launched his leadership campaign until he was well established as leader, at the end of 2008. Eustice also played a key role in the Conservative effort to win a "no" vote in the AV referendum.

Continue reading "What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship" »

21 Dec 2011 11:20:13

History, Europe, family and needs of business feature in Christmas adjournment debate

By Joseph Willits 
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In yesterday's Adjournment debate before the start of the Christmas recess, a mix of topics were raised by MPs.

SkidmoreChris Skidmore MP (Kingswood), who also wrote on ConservativeHome yesterday about making history a compulsory subject for under-16s, spoke of the study of history reaching a record low. Skidmore said that "in 77 local authorities fewer than one in five pupils is passing history GCSE". Despite these figures already being low enough as it is, there was a need to break them down, he said, "because in places such as Knowsley under 8% of pupils are passing history GCSE". 

Skidmore continued:

"Often it is the Daily Mail or academics who discuss what type of history should be studied in schools, whose history should be studied, how history should be studied in the curriculum, whether we should have a narrative form of history or a more interpretive form of history that looks at sources, and whether history should be seen as a framework of facts."

Whilst this debate was important, he warned of history "becoming a subject of two nations" and Britain's isolation in Europe, if people were not united in the view "that history is a crucial subject that binds us as one nation".

Continue reading "History, Europe, family and needs of business feature in Christmas adjournment debate " »

20 Dec 2011 15:29:41

Phillip Hammond says women serve in submarines on the same terms as men

By Joseph Willits 
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Hammond_philipPhillip Hammond, the Defence Secretary has said in the Commons yesterday that "all submariner roles will be open to women" in response to questions from Tory MPs Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) and Harriet Baldwin (West Worcestershire). Hammond was asked by the MPs what the role of women would be on submarines, including on Vanguard and Astute class, after his 8th December announcement earlier this month that the Royal Navy submarine service would begin recruiting women.

Hammond said that as a result of this wider recruitment, there would be an increased talent pool for the Royal Navy, and that both males and females will endure the same training and be assessed using the same criteria. The Defence Secretary said he was "confident that there will be sufficient interest from female personnel to serve on board Royal Navy submarines."

Dinenage asked "when it is most likely that women will first be put into training and service on submarines?" Hammond replied:

"Female officers will serve on Vanguard class submarines from late 2013, followed by ratings in 2015, and that women will be able to serve on Astute class submarines as both officers and ratings from about 2016."

Continue reading "Phillip Hammond says women serve in submarines on the same terms as men" »

21 Jun 2011 17:15:09

Iain Duncan Smith sets out and defends the Government's pensions legislation

By Matthew Barrett
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DUNCAN SMITH AT CSJYesterday saw the Second Reading in the Commons of the Pensions Bill - the legislation currently in the news which accelerates the existing timetable for increasing the State Pension age to 66. This will mean the pension age will be increased from 60 to 65 for women by 2018, before being raised to 66 for both men and women in 2020.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, said the core aim of the Bill is to "to secure this country’s retirement system, putting it on a stable and sustainable footing for the future."

The news headlines surrounding the Bill relate to the fact that women born in March 1953 will begin to receive their pension at 62, but women born in April 1953 will have to wait until 65. Mr Duncan Smith was asked about this early on in his remarks: 

"Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Given that the vast majority of the 600,000 people who will be excluded from getting a pension under the raised threshold are women, is the Secretary of State at all worried that the Bill is beginning to look as if it discriminates against women?

Mr Duncan Smith: I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s concern. We are not blind to the issue, but we have decided to strike a balance between making the scheme work from the beginning and avoiding driving people on very low incomes into sacrificing too much and therefore not seeing the rewards. It is important to make the point that in the Green Paper, as the hon. Gentleman will have noticed, we talk about the single tier pension, from which there will be very significant benefits to women. We hope that in due course that will achieve a balance.

I do not dismiss the hon. Gentleman’s considerations. We keep the issue constantly under review and will watch carefully to see what happens. It is important that we get auto-enrolment off the ground in a stable manner. I hope hon. Members on both sides of the House recognise that these are balanced decisions—sometimes nuanced decisions—that we have to take, but we will make sure that we review them."

Mr Duncan Smith was also asked about this specific group of women several times, by Members on all sides, including Conservatives Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) and James Gray (North Wiltshire), as well as Labour's socially conservative welfare reformer, Frank Field. Mr Duncan Smith stood his ground and defended the Government's policy:

Continue reading "Iain Duncan Smith sets out and defends the Government's pensions legislation" »

6 Apr 2011 08:38:05

Whatever happened to justice for England? (Resumed)

by Paul Goodman

Nick Clegg's Commons grilling yesterday over social mobility has grabbed the media's fancy this morning.  His stalling on the Government's commission on the West Lothian question has got less attention -

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): As well as being responsible for having probably destroyed the electoral hopes of the Liberal party, the Deputy Prime Minister is formally responsible for the West Lothian question. He will know that a private Member’s Bill is in Committee, under which every piece of legislation would be labelled according to which parts of the United Kingdom it affected. That would start a process of denying Members from Scotland the right to vote on all legislation in this House. Does he support that Bill?

The Deputy Prime Minister: This is a very difficult issue—[ Interruption. ] It is an issue that has bedevilled Governments for a long time. We do not support the Bill, but we support the establishment of a commission to look into the West Lothian question, and we will establish one in due course.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con): Further to the question from the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), can the Deputy Prime Minister give us a little more clarity on his timetable for establishing the West Lothian commission?

The Deputy Prime Minister: There is a need to ensure that we do not overlap the important work of the commission on the West Lothian question with the equally important work that we are doing on the reform of the other place. Once we have established the progress on that draft Bill, which we will publish before the end of next month, we will be in a clearer position to determine the timetable for proceeding on the West Lothian question."

The Government claims to be pressing ahead with its possible review of a British Bill of Human Rights.  It can also find plenty of time for Clegg's various social mobility and University access schemes.  It's failure to find a little to probe the West Lothian question is a scandal.  Harriet Baldwin is doing a good job on this issue, and should keep going.

10 Mar 2011 06:56:30

Harriett Baldwin demands to know when the Government intends tackling the West Lothian Question

By Jonathan Isaby

Harriett Baldwin The fact that Scotttish and Welsh MPs can still vote on matters pertaining to English health, education etc, whilst the devolved bodies in Edinburgh and Cardiff have exclusive responsibility for those matters in their jurisdictions riles a considerable number of Tory MPs, especially the 2010 intake.

And at Scotland Office questions yesterday, West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin sought an answer from the Government as to what progress there had been on the establishment of a commission to examine the so-called West Lothian Question.

Scotland Office Minister David Mundell replied:

"The Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister on various issues, including those concerning the constitution. The Government remain committed to establishing a commission this year to consider the West Lothian question."

There then followed this further exchange on the matter, which frankly failed to shed a great deal of light on the Government's intended timetable:

Harriett Baldwin: The Deputy Prime Minister told us that the commission would be established by the end of 2010, then the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mark Harper), told us that it would be established in the new year. Does the Minister know on what date in 2011 the commission will be established?

David Mundell: I am not able to give my hon. Friend an exact date, but as she will know, it is a commitment of the coalition Government to proceed with the commission, and I am sure announcements will be made shortly.

This is an issue which Harriett Baldwin has been pursuing for a while. Click here to read out account of the debate on her private member's bill seeking to right the wrongs inflicted on England by Labour's devolution settlement.

12 Feb 2011 07:07:32

Whatever happened to justice for England?

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2011-02-11 at 19.44.55 The second reading of Harriett Baldwin's Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill took place in the Commons yesterday.  Beneath its unstirring title lurks an emotive subject - namely, how to right the wrongs inflicted on England by Labour's devolution settlement.

Baldwin's solution is what she called "a lower-strength version of English votes for English laws".  However, I don't want so much to explore her bill - or Malcolm Rifkind's detailed account of his long-standing proposals, or Jacob Rees-Mogg's probing speech against the bill, or others in favour of it - as probe the Government's view.

The Conservative manifesto said -

"A Conservative government will introduce new rules so that legislation referring specifically to England, or to England and Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent of MPs representing constituencies of those countries."

The Coalition Agreement picked up this ball, and kicked it into the long grass, as follows -

"We will establish a commission to consider the West Lothian question."

Baldwin quoted this commitment, and then added, tactfully but pointedly -

"On 26 October last year, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister in this Chamber when the commission would be established, and I was told that it would be established by the end of 2010. However, it became apparent on the final sitting day of 2010 that the commission had not been established, and I again put the question to my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb), the Minister on duty, who said that

“the Government will make an announcement on the commission in the new year. I am happy to confirm that we do indeed mean 2011. That is very much part of our programme for next year.”—[Official Report, 21 December 2010; Vol. 520, c. 1338.]

If nothing else, given the fragile life chances of private Members’ Bills, I am pleased to use today’s debate to encourage the Government to advance their own business."

A few moments later, Chris Chope intervened on Baldwin, and asked, just as pointedly (but less tactfully) -

"Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on introducing this Bill. She describes the issue as complex. Does she understand why it is so complex that the Government have not even been able to set up a commission to look into it? Surely, that should not be beyond the capability of the Deputy Prime Minister. Has she been able to find out why that has not been done?

Harriett Baldwin: My hon. Friend asks a somewhat cheeky question. I am sympathetic to the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper)—a constituency neighbour of mine—has had a rather busy last couple of weeks. I am giving him a little slack because of that, but I agree that it is important to keep pressing for the establishment of the commission."

Later, Mark Harper replied to the debate on behalf of the Government and - having been intervened on by Chope - went on to say later:

"Although the coalition parties came up with very different solutions to the West Lothian question, both parties consider it important to attempt to answer it, and neither party believes that it is possible to answer it by ceasing to ask it. We consider it a serious question that will be best tackled when we can tackle it in a calm and reasonable manner rather than waiting for a crisis.

I can confirm that we will set up the commission this year, as, indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire established through her perceptive questioning. We had hoped to make announcements to the House at an earlier stage, but I look forward to making them in the not-too-distant future, and the commission will then be able to consider the ideas that have been advanced today. Hon. Members have effectively made bids to participate, either as members of the commission or in giving evidence to it. I hope that it will arrive at solutions that we can subsequently debate."

This brought Chope to his feet -

"Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): I had not intended to speak in the debate, but I must say that I am disappointed that the Minister was not more forthcoming about the commitment in the coalition agreement to establishing a commission. As he and other Members have observed, this issue is extremely complicated, so why are we now delaying even the appointment of the people who will consider it? We have already delayed for far too long. The original commitment was that the commission would be established before the end of 2010, but the Minister now expects us to accept as a big deal the information that he will make an announcement before the end of this year...

...I would not expect my hon. Friend the Minister to comment on what I am about to say. Indeed, the reason I am able to speak after him is that he will not be able to comment on it. I think that the Deputy Prime Minister, who is in charge of my hon. Friend’s Department and is the person who can give the yea or nay to whether the commission is to be set up and when, has not got his heart in it. I hope that my hon. Friend will tell the Deputy Prime Minister that in the extra time that he will have next week, now that he has cancelled his trip to South America, he should give serious consideration to getting on with working out who will be on the commission and what will be its scope and remit. Surely the commission should be set up now, so that it can get to work before all the other stuff that is coming along is before the House. The last written answer on the issue says:

“Careful consideration is ongoing as to the timing, composition, scope and remit of the Commission to consider the… question.”

Some of us were not born yesterday. It is obvious that this is a stalling exercise by the Government. There was an unholy compromise in the coalition agreement but the Deputy Prime Minister is not even delivering on that compromise. He may realise that it could have implications for his party. There is no point, if the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have different views on the matter, trying to paper over the cracks. Why do we not get on and appoint the commission? Perhaps the coalition cannot even agree who could be on it, or what its scope and remit would be.

The written answer goes on to say that the commission

“will need to take account of our proposals to reform the House of Lords”.

Well, what has happened to those? We were told that a draft Bill would be published before Christmas. We have not seen that yet. We might be waiting another year or so before those proposals emerge.

The written answer goes on to say that the commission will need to take account of

“the changes being made to the way this House does business”.

There will be further changes to the way the House does business when the Backbench Business Committee is able to look at both Government legislation and Back-Bench business, and we are told that that will not start until the third year of this Parliament—another recipe for delay.

The written answer says that the commission will have to consider

“amendments to the devolution regimes”.

We know that a referendum will be held shortly in Wales, but why do we need to wait for the outcome of that before we set up the body that will look into these complex issues? There is then a reference to the fact that there is

“the Scotland Bill presently before the House”.

The written answer concludes; it is similar to what my hon. Friend the Minister has said today:

“We will make an announcement later this year.”—[Official Report, 31 January 2011; Vol. 522, c. 549W.]

It does not even say that the commission will be set up later this year...

...I remain suspicious about the motives of the Deputy Prime Minister. I think that he is stalling seriously on the issue. If the Bill goes into Committee it will give all hon. Members the opportunity to keep the pressure on the Government to meet what was a pretty meaningless commitment in the coalition agreement anyway. At least it would be something.

Mr Harper: I know that my hon. Friend is not perhaps the most enthusiastic supporter of the coalition Government but I think that he sees mischief where there is none. The clear message from the thoughtful speeches of all Members today is that the issue is complicated. If the Government are to deal with it calmly and sensibly and in a manner that does not put the Union at risk, we must proceed thoughtfully and properly. However, I have given a clear commitment that we need to deal with the matter and answer the question. Therefore, I urge him to be a bit more generous in spirit.

Mr Chope: I am generous by nature but I would be even more generous if my hon. Friend had explained why it has turned out to be impossible for the Government to appoint the commission before Christmas, as they originally intended.

Chope wound up as follows -

"That is what leads me to conclude—I think any rational observer would conclude this—that the Government have not got their heart in this. They are hopelessly split between the Liberal Democrat agenda and the Conservative party agenda, which was clearly set out in our manifesto. We compromised on that in the coalition agreement, and we have given the tools whereby that compromise might be taken forward, namely the setting up of the commission, to the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. I do not think he has got his heart in trying to achieve any progress on this matter, however. I sympathise enormously with the Minister, but I hope that by getting the Bill into Committee we will be able to maintain the pressure. That is why I support the Bill."

I've quoted Chope at length because, whatever one thinks of his view of the issues, his take on the process is surely right - or at least, it's hard to think of any other reason for delay.  There are good and bad aspects of the Coalition: as I've written many times, the good, in my view, outweigh the bad, and the Coalition should be supported.

But this issue throws up a serious problem, at two levels.  The first, unashamedly, is a party political one.  The Party won more votes in England than Labour even in 2005.  It won an absolute majority of seats in England in 2010, gaining 36 more seats than the other parties combined - an outcome I tested here, though admittedly in the context of Labour gaining a majority because of its strength elsewhere.

Before 1997, the right response to this outcome would have been: hard luck - there's more or less a level playing field for all parts of the Union.  Post-1997 and Labour's devolution settlement, such an answer won't do.  MPs from Scotland can now vote on England's business, but not vice-versa.  Proposals for further Scottish and Welsh devolution look to tilt the imbalance further.  And Northern Ireland has its Assembly. 

In a sparsely-attended House, Baldwin's bill passed by 19 votes to 17.  One Labour MP, Kate Hoey, supported the bill, which was otherwise backed by Conservatives only.  One Tory MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, opposed the bill.

5 Sep 2010 06:16:23

Harriett Baldwin 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...

Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin was elected MP for West Worcestershire with a majority of 6,854.

1. What is your earliest political memory? We were evacuated from our home in Nicosia, Cyprus to the Royal Air Force Base at Dekalia because there was a Turkish invasion scare.

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I believe individuals and families can be trusted to make responsible decisions if government creates the right framework.”

3. Who is your political hero and why? It's got to be Winston Churchill as he kept Britain free from tyranny.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? After Labour's second General Election victory when Gordon Brown decided to depart from Conservative spending plans and grow public spending faster than the economy.  I was managing pension funds and had seen him destroy a pension system that used to be the envy of the world.

5. What is your reading material of choice? I read French and Russian literature at University, so now I am playing catch up with biographies and history books..

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? I think Evan Davis on the Today programme is very incisive as he understands economics.

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? I stood for election [successfully] to the Work and Pensions Select Committee as I think we have an urgent need to reform benefits to create better incentives for people to work and save.

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? I thought Robert Rubin was a fine US Democratic Treasury Secretary who realised that bringing the deficit under control helped create the conditions for strong private sector growth and national prosperity.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? John Prescott.

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? Walking the dog, swimming or the gym.

12. What is your favourite book? War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

13. What is your favourite film? The Godfather: Parts I and II

14. What is your favourite music? Mozart opera.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? Christmas dinner with the whole family, preferably at my brother's as he is a professionally trained chef.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination? Anywhere with the family.

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? The conditions for an economic recovery.

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I have read War and Peace in the original.

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. The view from the Malvern Hills has been voted England's best view.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. My surprise when I learned that my Constituency Chairman was led away from a Nick Clegg rally in Malvern by special branch.

> Previously: Nadhim Zahawi MP

30 Jun 2010 10:32:37

Banning the burka and introducing daylight saving time are among the measures proposed in Tory MPs' Private Member's Bills

Thirteen Conservative MPs - including nine of the new intake - were successful in the Private Member's Bill ballot earlier in the month.

Today sees them formally presenting their Bills for the first time (there won't be any debate at this stage), which are summarised as follows on the parliamentary website:

"Bill to require the Secretary of State and local authorities to publish strategies in connection with promoting social enterprise; to enable communities to participate in the formulation and implementation of those strategies; to require that public sector contracts include provisions relating to social outcomes and social value."

DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL - Rebecca Harris MP (Castle Point)
"Bill to require the Secretary of State to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year; to require the Secretary of State to take certain action in the light of that analysis."

"Bill to amend the law relating to the distribution of the estates of deceased persons."

"Bill to prohibit the publication of certain information regarding persons who have been arrested until they have been charged with an offence; to set out the circumstances where such information can be published without committing an offence."

LEGISLATION (TERRITORIAL EXTENT) BILL - Harriett Baldwin MP (Worcestershire West)
"Bill to require the Secretary of State, when preparing draft legislation for publication, to do so in such a way that the effect of that legislation on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is separately and clearly identified; to require the Secretary of State to issue a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the draft legislation are in accordance with certain principles relating to territorial extent."

PLANNING (OPENCAST MINING SEPARATION ZONES) BILL - Andrew Bridgen MP (Leicestershire North West)
"Bill to require planning authorities to impose a minimum distance between opencast mining developments and residential properties."

COINAGE (MEASUREMENT) BILL - Mark Lancaster MP (Milton Keynes North)
"Bill to make provision about the arrangements for measuring the standard weight of coins."

"Bill to confer further powers on the Football Licensing Authority and to amend its name."

WRECK REMOVAL CONVENTION BILL - Thérèse Coffey MP (Suffolk Coastal)
"Bill to implement the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks 2007."

FACE COVERINGS (REGULATION) BILL - Philip Hollobone MP (Kettering)
"Bill to regulate the wearing of certain face coverings."

"Bill to enable local planning authorities to require planning permission prior to the demolition or change of use of premises or land used or formerly used to provide a local service."

"Bill to amend section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to include serious harm to a child or vulnerable adult; to make consequential amendments to the Act."

SECURED LENDING REFORM BILL - George Eustice MP (Camborne and Redruth)
"Bill to make provision regarding the rights of secured debtors; to reform the rights of certain creditors to enforce their security; to make other provision regarding secured lending."

I have invited them all to write for ConHome explaining why the have chosen to introduce their particular Bill, so I hope to be able to publish some pieces from them in the not too distant future.

Jonathan Isaby

14 Jun 2010 06:45:12

Claire Perry uses her maiden speech to highlight rural poverty as George Hollingbery and Hariett Baldwin raise the plight of pensioners in poverty

Claire Perry In the House of Commons on Thursday, Claire Perry, who has stepped into Michael Ancram’s shoes in Devizes, explained the damage done to rural Britain under the Labour Government:

“I live in a small Wiltshire village, so I have seen at first hand the damage to rural Britain that was caused by the last Government—possibly the most urban-minded Government that Britain has ever seen. Our farmers have struggled with mountains of red tape, unchecked animal disease and an indifferent Government who were not interested in buying British food or dealing with the dishonest food labelling regime. We have had multiple grandiose regional spatial strategies in Wiltshire, but we still lack affordable housing, transport links and the broadband infrastructure that is so important for building a living and working countryside. A shocking legacy of the previous Government is the NHS quangocracy, which means that my constituency has the worst ambulance response times in the region and no minor injuries unit.

“However, the lacklustre state of the rural economy and embedded rural poverty trouble me most. Employment in my constituency—that great driver-out of poverty—is still weak, and unemployment has more than doubled in the past five years. As the former Government’s rural adviser said, there are huge traditional barriers to gaining employment in rural areas: poor public transport, less training and less guidance provision—a bit of new Labour gobbledegook that means that we do not get as many jobcentres per head of the population in rural Britain.

“There is genuine poverty in rural Britain, and it is often well hidden behind a chocolate-box façade. Examples of that hidden poverty include the pensioner who is too proud to claim benefits; the family travelling 40 or 50 miles on poorly maintained roads with high petrol prices to get to work; the unskilled labourer laid off when the nearest job is 40 miles away, and the single mother who came to my surgery who is sleeping on her parents’ sofa because she cannot get on the housing list. We need to tackle those issues, and I know that my constituents do not feel that the previous Government listened to them. This Government will not overlook them.”

PPC George Hollingbery George Hollingbery, MP for the new seat of Meon Valley in Hampshire, raised the plight of pensioners who may seem asset-rich but are income-poor:

“Among my constituents there are a great many people who, to their enormous surprise, find themselves in challenging economic circumstances. Most of them are in their 70s. They often own an asset, in their own homes. They have saved and accumulated pensions, but rarely are any of them more than modest in scope. Over the past several years, through a combination of low returns on savings, the lack of eligibility for state help, rising energy bills and, particularly, the cost of ever-increasing council tax, many of them are finding it very difficult to get by. Yes, they could sell their homes, but most of them already live in small dwellings and cannot practically downsize without moving away from their friends and family. Yes, they could use equity release schemes and enjoy a modestly increased income from capital, but many of them now struggle to find such products or, in fact, are scared of using them.

“These people may seem asset-rich, but they are certainly income-poor. The asset that they strived so long and hard to obtain is now an impediment to getting any kind of help. We now face a future where many of those whom we would all regard as model citizens and who have paid much of the tax that allows the Government to function regard doing the right thing as a poor piece of advice to give to their children and wider families. That, surely, is something that we should be very concerned about."

Harriett Baldwin And Harriett Baldwin, who replaced Sir Michael Spicer in Worcestershire West, also wanted to talk about pensioner poverty:

“Before coming into Parliament, I was a pension fund manager. One of the many scandalous legacies of the outgoing Government is the way in which they destroyed our private pension system, which used to be the envy of the world. However, the unfunded liability of the public pension system has increased enormously. We are all living longer, so the current situation is completely unsustainable. A pensioner in my constituency on modest savings who has lived responsibly and within her means all her life has to face an annual increase in her council tax, which is often due to the need for the local council and local police to make an ever greater provision for their future pension entitlements.

“That results in real poverty for pensioners who have a small amount of savings and are thus unable to claim pension credit. These days, very few people in the private sector are saving enough for their greater longevity either. We are storing up terrible pensioner poverty for the future in this country. The Government have made a welcome start on tackling the fiscal deficit, but I hope that they and this Parliament can also begin to address the long-term pensions savings deficit in this country.”

Jonathan Isaby