By Tim Montgomerie
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Here is a selection of the arguments that Tory MPs made during yesterday's debate on limiting the increase in benefits to 1% for each of the next three years.
The Government's overall policies help those on low incomes: "The Opposition have argued that this uprating of 1% will impact on working people and not just those on benefits. Given that the previous Government made 90% of workers eligible as welfare recipients, that is inevitable. Unfortunately, Labour Members make the mistake of taking these measures in isolation. If we take the Government’s measures as a whole, including tax allowances, energy tariff changes and cutting petrol duty, low-income working households will be better off." - Aidan Burley MP
And the biggest burden of deficit reduction is being met by the better off: "I want to remind the Opposition of what they have done. They have opposed £83 billion-worth of savings this Parliament. That is equivalent to adding another £5,000 of debt for every working family in the country. We hear much about taxing the rich, yet, in this Parliament, the richest will pay more in tax than in any single year of the previous Government—more tax on capital gains, more stamp duty—they will be less able to avoid and evade tax and they will pay more when they take out their pension policies." - Iain Duncan Smith MP
Stop taxing people only to return that money via the benefit systems: "Is not the philosophical underpinning of this debate our wish to create a hand-back society, not a hand-out society? Is not cutting taxes on lower earners the best way to help those on low earnings, rather than recycling their hard-earned money through the benefits system?" - Robert Halfon MP
Fairness between those in work and those out-of-work:
By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.
I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.
By Matthew Barrett
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Expanding upon his earlier remarks, Jesse Norman appeared on The World At One, and described the reform proposals as "a constitutional monstrosity", saying the Bill "should never have reached the House of Commons":
"Unfortunately the Conservative manifesto didn’t contain anything like the commitment that everyone’s pretending it did and it’s a small dishonesty to pretend that it did. What the Conservative manifesto said is that the party made a commitment to ‘seek to build a consensus’ for a mainly elected second chamber. Now it has sought to build a consensus until it is blue in the face and all of that tells us that there’s no possible consensus around the bill. Now, there might have been a consensus around a more intelligently crafted set of reforms but this bill is a total nonsense."
"This bill, which is being drawn up to satisfy the Deputy Prime Minister, is clearly a nonsense. I think that most people would be pretty outraged at the idea that some grubby little deal between the Conservatives and the Liberals that says we will give you permanent controlling vote position in the House of Lords in return for you to agreeing to vote for boundary changes that will give us 20 extra seats. That is not the basis of which to proceed with major constitutional reform."
"Absolutely not. I think this is an extraordinary piece of legislation in many ways. This is legislation brought forward by a government which actually gives Parliament more power over the executive. We will actually end up with a proper, fully-fledged bicameral system, which will ensure that Parliament can hold government more to account, in many ways ensure that we get better legislation, and possibly from a Conservative point of view desirable with less legislation."
Two of Lancashire's newly-elected Conservative MPs made their debuts in the Commons yesterday by emphasising the importance of manufacturing.
"I am proud to represent a seat where a higher proportion of the work force are employed in manufacturing than in any other constituency in England, and I am delighted that manufacturing is back on the national agenda. I was also delighted to read in the coalition agreement that rebalancing the economy is a key Government aim and that the Government are committed to boosting the provision of workplace apprenticeships.
"More than 8,000 people in my constituency are employed in manufacturing, producing everything from Silentnight beds in Barnoldswick to the biscuits that are sold in Harrods, which are produced in Nelson. It was a real pleasure for me, as a candidate, to visit so many of those firms over the past four years. It was a particular pleasure to take my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), now Chancellor of the Exchequer, to visit Rolls-Royce and Weston EU—two great British companies, working in the vitally important aerospace sector, that also have fantastic apprenticeship schemes. They are real companies providing real jobs that generate significant value added for the United Kingdom."
"We also need a fair deal for British manufacturers, so that we can continue to be a world leader in sectors such as aerospace. British industry has been hampered by too much tax and regulation for too long. We know that tough times lie ahead because of the legacy left to us by the previous Government, and that will make building a high-skilled economy even harder. However, I look forward to working with the Government to address the challenges that we face, while never shying away from speaking out on behalf of the hard-working people of Pendle."
"It is apt that I am making my maiden speech during a debate about building a high-skilled economy because I believe that Rossendale and Darwen can be in the vanguard of rebalancing our economy to that of a highly skilled industrial economy. Rossendale and Darwen were at the centre of the first industrial revolution. Rossendale was the centre of the world’s slipper trade, while Darwen was the birthplace of wallpaper, and both were major centres for the textile industry. Such was Darwen’s importance to the cotton trade that it was visited by Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 so that he could witness the effect of the Indian Congress party’s boycott of Lancashire cotton mills.
"This white-hot flame of innovation that led to the invention of wallpaper and the introduction of the first power looms still burns in the breast of every young person in my constituency, and we must do all that we can to foster their full potential. I applaud the Government’s commitment to investing in workplace apprenticeships to ensure that our young people, especially in Rossendale and Darwen, have the correct menu of skills to continue our strong tradition of local manufacturing."
"The rebalancing of our economy is a key aim of the Government, as is set out in the coalition agreement. With a fairer and more balanced economy in which we are not so dependent on the financial services industry, and in which economic opportunities are more evenly shared among our regions and industries, I optimistically predict that Rossendale and Darwen will prosper and become a regional manufacturing superpower."