Jackie Doyle-Price MP

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" »

14 Sep 2012 14:09:34

The 24 Conservative MPs who are still on the backbenches and have never rebelled

By Matthew Barrett
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After last week's reshuffle of the Secretaries and Ministers of State, and this week's reshuffle of Parliamentary Private Secretaries, it's possible to investigate the state of a dying breed: the backbenchers who've always been loyal. The list below features the Conservative MPs who meet the following criteria:

  • Are not currently on the government payroll (including as PPSs)
  • Were not on the government payroll before the reshuffle (including as PPSs)
  • Have not rebelled against the Government
I've excluded Nigel Evans, who is a Deputy Speaker, and I've noted their constituencies and years first elected. It's also perhaps worth noting Arbuthnot, Dorrell and Yeo are Select Committee chairmen. 
  1. James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire, 1987)
  2. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk, 2001)
  3. Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury, 1983)
  4. Steve Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire, 2010)
  5. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley since 1997, MP since 1992)
  6. Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase, 2010)
  7. Neil Carmichael (Stroud, 2010)
  8. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham, 2010)
  9. Oliver Colvile (Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, 2010)
  10. Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood. 1979)
  11. Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock, 2010)
  12. Charlie Elphicke (Dover, 2010)
  13. Graham Evans (Weaver Vale, 2010)
  14. Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet, 1983)
  15. Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest, 2010)
  16. Rebecca Harris (Castle Point, 2010)
  17. Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne, 2010)
  18. Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke, 2010)
  19. Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock, 2010)
  20. David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale, 2010)
  21. Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham, 2010)
  22. Chris Skidmore (Kingswood, 2010)
  23. Mark Spencer (Sherwood, 2010)
  24. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk, 1983)

Continue reading "The 24 Conservative MPs who are still on the backbenches and have never rebelled" »

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." »

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" »

20 Apr 2012 06:33:09

Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee

By Matthew Barrett
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The 301 group is perhaps the most active and important group of backbench Tory MPs. Tim Montgomerie reported last week that three MPs - Charlie Elphicke, George Hollingbery and Priti Patel - want to organise a candidate to be elected to the 1922 Committee's executive who will give the '22 a focus on policy and campaigning. The Spectator's James Forsyth blogged that "The vote for their candidate, and his opponent, will give us the best idea yet of where the backbenches are at the moment politically. Indeed, I expect that the machinery of the 301 group, the most pro-Cameron of all the backbench groups, will be thrown behind the Elphicke-Hollingbery-Patel slate."

To organise or endorse candidates for the '22 is certainly the most power a backbench group has yet wielded in this Parliament. In this profile, I'll be looking at the origins, members, aims and plans of the group to get a sense of what the group wants to campaign for.

Origins of the group

HopkinsLeeThe 301 was first organised by Kris Hopkins (Keighley), a former soldier and leader of Bradford Council, and Jessica Lee (Erewash), a former barrister, and now Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The group began with small meetings of a handful of MPs who were "concerned that the narrative in Parliament was not representative of the conversation" that MPs had had with the electorate while campaigning during the 2010 general election, and also dissatisfied with the fact that the mechanisms of debate amongst backbenchers, and between the back and front benches, were not conducive to trying to correct that narrative. Each of those attending brought a friend, and so on, until after three meetings the group reached 60 members.

Continue reading "Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee" »

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" »

30 Jan 2012 16:31:46

The People's Pledge EU referendum campaign may not succeed, but it certainly deserves to do so

By Matthew Barrett
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PeoplesPledgeEarlier today, on Comment, Daniel Hannan MEP wrote: 

"Today, the People’s Pledge announces the most ambitious campaign ever to secure an In/Out referendum. It aims to show MPs in all parties that there is a premium in doing the right thing: that supporting a referendum carries an electoral reward. It is backed by supporters of every party and none, and by prospective ‘Yes’ as well as ‘No’ voters. I am confident that it will succeed: the momentum is now wholly one way."

In a LabourList post this morning, Director of Communications for the People’s Pledge, Ian McKenzie, gave details of the "most ambitious campaign ever" for a referendum. McKenzie explained that the People's Pledge would hold an in/out referendum in a single constituency early this year, followed by ten later this year, and 100 next year.

The referendums will be independently administered by Electoral Reform Services Ltd and conducted by full postal ballot. The People's Pledge will next week chose the first referendum seat from one of the following shortlisted constituencies:

  • Belfast East (Alliance) (Naomi Long)
  • Bolton West (Labour) (Julie Hilling)
  • Carshalton and Wallington (Liberal Democrat) (Tom Brake)
  • Corby (Conservative) (Louise Mensch)
  • Easington (Labour) (Grahame Morris)
  • Eastleigh (Liberal Democrat) (Chris Huhne)
  • Gower (Labour) (Martin Caton)
  • Halifax (Labour) (Linda Riordan)
  • Ipswich (Conservative) (Ben Gummer)
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme (Labour) (Paul Farrelly)
  • Thurrock (Conservative) (Jackie Doyle-Price)
  • Torridge and West Devon (Conservative) (Geoffrey Cox)
  • Western Isles (SNP) (Angus MacNeil)

Continue reading "The People's Pledge EU referendum campaign may not succeed, but it certainly deserves to do so" »

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" »

10 Mar 2011 18:04:05

Tory backbenchers welcome the measures contained in the Welfare Reform Bill

By Jonathan Isaby

Last month the Government published its ambitious Welfare Reform Bill and I wrote about it at the time here.

Yesterday the Bill had its Second Reading debate in the Commons and here is a flavour of the warm welcome it got from the Tory backbenches.

Several MPs took the opportunity to expand on the problems of the status quo.

Chris Skidmore (Kingswood)
"I welcome the Bill, which marks a point at which we can send out this message: we cannot continue to spend on welfare as we have previously. Instead, we need to understand that there is no such thing as Government money, free to be given out; there is only hard-earned taxpayers' money, which in these difficult times needs to be spent with caution and care. Over the past 13 years, we saw no evidence of that caution, as the total annual expenditure on benefits mushroomed to £152 billion. Every year, £5.2 billion was lost in overpayments, of which £1.5 billion was lost to fraud. Some £3.5 billion was spent annually on administration costs and paperwork alone. As we have heard from the Minister, other benefits rose, with the cost of housing benefit having increased from £11 billion to £20 billion since 1997. That is simply unsustainable and we must act."

George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
"There are more than 30 different benefits out there that can be claimed. There are 14 manuals in the Department for Work and Pensions, with 8,690 pages of instructions for officials. There is a separate set of four volumes for local government, with 1,200 pages covering housing and council tax benefits alone. That is an astonishingly byzantine system. One of my constituents, Nigel Oakland, wrote to me: "Nobody at the Jobcentre Plus can explain if it is beneficial if I continue to sign on. The last advice I was given is that I should Google the question." In such a situation, where even the experts at Jobcentre Plus cannot answer the questions that arise, we are clearly in difficulty.

"It is confusing for clients. There is a 30-page form for housing and council tax benefit, including three pages of declarations. Employment and support allowance requires a 52-page form; jobseeker's allowance, 12 online sections, each of five to 10 pages long; and disability living allowance, a 60-page form. Is it any wonder that people become confused and fill in the forms incorrectly and make mistakes? The system is extraordinarily expensive to administer. The DWP spent £2 billion last year administering working-age benefits, and local authorities a further £l billion administering housing benefit and council tax benefit. Even the tiny citizens advice bureau in Bishop's Waltham, a town of 5,000 people in a rural and relatively affluent part of Hampshire, processed 2,176 queries about benefits in 2009-10, advising people how to claim them."

Julian Sturdy (York Outer)
"Over the past 10 years the welfare budget has grown disproportionately, by more than £56 billion. Despite that huge increase, almost 1.5 million people have been on out-of-work benefit for nine of those 10 years. Despite years of economic growth, job creation and increases in the welfare budget, a whole group of people have never worked at all. It is therefore time to review this broken system. After all, the simple truth is that Britain's welfare arteries are clogged up. Too little support is reaching those truly in need and too much is being lost in bureaucratic incompetence-even more worryingly, it is being lost on people who should not be in receipt of such support at all. In essence, the whole culture of our welfare system is wrong; the cost of maintaining it is out of control and the decision-making processes within it are woefully inefficient. The Bill is therefore right to focus on incentivising pathways back to work by ensuring that employment always pays more than benefits. That is fundamental to the Bill and, as a simple Yorkshire man, I feel that it is basic common sense."

"It is a sad but well-known fact that the current system discourages those in low-paid jobs from increasing their hours, as rates of tax and benefit reductions often leave them worse off. This ridiculous situation helps only to dampen aspiration while increasing dependency in the benefits system as a whole. In addition, hard-working, taxpaying families, who are feeling the squeeze in these difficult economic times, should not subsidise the small but still significant number of people in our society who see the welfare system as a career choice. That must stop. By annually capping benefits, withdrawing support from those who refuse to work and increasing the financial incentives for those who do work, the Bill includes specific measures that will make work pay."


Continue reading "Tory backbenchers welcome the measures contained in the Welfare Reform Bill" »

1 Jul 2010 11:21:38

In their maiden speeches, Jackie Doyle-Price and Stuart Andrew explain how growing up on council estates informed their political outllook

I said in advance of the general election that the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs would see Thatcher’s socially-mobile children of the 1980s finally arriving in Parliament.

Two fine examples of this breed made their maiden speeches on Monday.

Doyle-Price Jackie Jackie Doyle-Price, who gained Thurrock from Labour, said that tackling the long-term culture of welfare dependency was “probably the single most important ingredient in really sorting out and fixing our broken economy”:

“The need for welfare reform was the main issue that brought me into politics as a teenager. In those days, I was living on a council estate in Sheffield. It seemed to me a real injustice that hard-working families—people working every hour to put food on the table—had no better standard of living than many households where no one was in work. The frequent lament at the working men’s club was, “Why do we bother?”

“Over time, that injustice seems to have become more and more entrenched. The way that tax and benefits interact today means that work simply does not pay for far too many households. The result is that we have a society where too many individuals do not have the self-respect or discipline that comes from work and individual responsibility, the rest of society is burdened by an ever-higher tax bill and we as a country are dependent on migrant labour to fill those jobs that simply do not pay for our workers to do. We cannot go on like this.”

“I hope that the Budget really marks the beginning of our quest truly to reform the dependency culture that exists in Britain today and to give everyone the opportunity and incentive to work. In so doing, we will not only reduce welfare bills, but increase tax receipts to the Exchequer, so that the entire nation will become better off and future Budgets will be a lot less painful than this one.”

Andrew Stuart Meanwhile, Stuart Andrew – the new MP for Pudsey – also talked about his own experience growing up on a council estate:

“I shall say a little about my background. I grew up on a council estate in a family that had very little money. I was the eldest, and even I had hand-me-downs. What helped my family and others was the ability to start a new business. I remember my father starting a small roofing company. It was not much, but it was something. It got him off the dole and it employed another person. That is the sort of wealth creation that we need in this country so that we can help the small businesses to create the wealth to improve the prospects for our future, and also to help the millions of people who have been abandoned by the Opposition on benefits. I think particularly of the young people who are out of work. Through the creation of wealth and jobs we can turn the country round and improve the prospect of helping those people.”

He went on to welcome measure sin the Budget to tackle the Government’s debt and to encourage regional growth:

“Yes, this is a difficult Budget, but these are difficult times and I am glad we have a responsible Budget, one which is sensible and is now clearly endorsed by members of the G20. The scale of our debt is truly terrifying and threatens to restrict what we will be able to do in future years. If we do not deal with the debt now, we will be wasting more than £70 billion a year on interest alone, which will threaten our household interest rates and business growth.

“I welcome the initiatives of the Chancellor for encouraging regional growth. Tax breaks for new businesses outside London and the south-east are particularly welcomed by someone who is a Yorkshire MP. I want to see our private sector grow so that we are not so dependent on the public sector. Capital investment, too, has been mentioned. I was pleased to hear about the Leeds and Liverpool railway line. I know that there are other things that we want for our city in Leeds, for which I will be pressing the Chancellor. All these will encourage enterprise.”

Jonathan Isaby