John Whittingdale 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" »

4 Dec 2012 06:28:54

Leveson debate snapshot: Four Conservative MPs for statutory regulation, eight against

By Paul Goodman
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For statutory regulation

Robert Buckland

George Eustice

Sir Edward Garnier

Zac Goldsmith

Against statutory regulation

Angie Bray

Therese Coffey

Damian Collins

Richard Drax

Kris Hopkins

Peter Lilley

Jacob Rees-Mogg

John Whittingdale

This is, as the headline says, a snapshot.  It doesn't deal with speeches that didn't touch on the regulation debate; nor does it count interventions, and by its nature it compresses a good deal.  For example, Mr Collins, like some other speakers, was against statutory regulation by OFCOM.  And Sir Edward rejected the very term "statutory regulation", preferring "statutory underpinning".

8.30am Update: Ms Coffey has pointed out the thrust of Mr Collins's speech was against statutory regulation, and I have made the necessary change.  Quentin Letts describes her in his sketch today as a "very great lady".

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.

13 Jun 2012 17:03:50

Hunt puts in strong performance, as Government wins vote of confidence. (And the DUP votes with the Government.)

By Matthew Barrett
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8.30pm Update: I have been through the ayes and noes, and have found the following Tory abstainers:

  • Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  • John Baron (Basildon and Billericay)
  • Bill Cash (Stone)
  • Rehman Chisti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  • Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  • James Clappison (Hertsmere)
  • Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) - a DfID Minister
  • Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) - a deputy Speaker
  • William Hague (Richmond) - Foreign Secretary
  • Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North)
  • Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke)
  • Louise Mensch (Corby)
  • Patrick Mercer (Newark)
  • Simon Reevell (Deswbury)
  • David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  • Henry Smith (Crawley)
  • Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)
  • Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  • Sarah Wollaston (Totnes)

It's worth noting that there may have been circumstances which prevented the MPs from voting with the Government that were out of their control. In William Hague and Alan Duncan's cases, for example, they will probably be overseas on Government business. In Louise Mensch's case, the Queen was visiting her Corby constituency today as part of her Jubilee tour. 

The following DUP MPs also voted with the Government: 

  • Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) - the DUP's Westminster leader
  • Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley)
  • Ian Paisley, Jr (North Antrim)
  • Jim Shannon (Strangford)

***

Hunt Commons June 2012

Labour's Commons motion on whether Jeremy Hunt should be investigated for breaching the Ministerial Code in his handling of the BSkyB bid has been rejected - the Government won the vote of confidence in Hunt by 290 to 252.

Continue reading "Hunt puts in strong performance, as Government wins vote of confidence. (And the DUP votes with the Government.) " »

15 May 2012 15:45:08

Tomorrow's 1922 Committee Elections - nominations in full

By Paul Goodman
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8.45pm Update by Matthew Barrett: I have now learned which candidates are being backed by the traditional organisations on the right of the Conservative Party, such as the No Turning Back group. I have highlighted these in purple.

***

The following have been returned unopposed:-

Chairman:
GRAHAM BRADY

Vice-Chairman:
CHARLES WALKER
JOHN WHITTINGDALE

Treasurer:
BRIAN BINLEY

Posts for which elections will take place (I have marked those previously identified by Tim as members of the 301 slate in blue):

1) Secretary - the following nominations have been received for TWO posts:

KAREN BRADLEY
CHRIS CHOPE
NICK DE BOIS
CHARLIE ELPHICKE

2) Executive members - the following nominations have been received for TWELVE posts.

STEVE BAKER
JOHN BARON
GUTO BEBB
PETER BONE
JULIAN BRAZIER
ANDREW BRIDGEN
GEORGE EUSTICE
GRAHAM EVANS
ROBERT HALFON
GEORGE HOLLINGBERY
ADAM HOLLOWAY
STEWART JACKSON
BERNARD JENKIN
CHRIS KELLY
SIMON KIRBY
ELEANOR LAING
JULIAN LEWIS
KARL McCARTNEY
PENNY MORDAUNT
DAVID MORRIS
SHERYLL MURRAY
DAVID NUTTALL
PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.
ANDREW TURNER
MARTIN VICKERS
HEATHER WHEELER

Finally and separately, the following nominations have been received for Conservative members of the Backbench Business Committee - four posts:

DAVID AMESS
BOB BLACKMAN
PETER BONE
JANE ELLISON
PHILIP HOLLOBONE
MARCUS JONES

8 May 2012 13:03:56

The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 18.02.09Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham have released a new pamplet - "The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions", which documents the 239  backbench rebellions so far in this Parliament, in which 544 votes have been held. 

The pamplet takes us from the first rebellion, on the government’s control of time in the Commons, to the last, on Sunday Trading during the Olympics. This Parliament has seen more rebellions by government MPs than in any other session in the post-war era. As "The Bumper Book" says, "It comfortably beats the previous record of 128, held by Conservative MPs in the 1971-72 session. Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than all but three entire post-war parliaments."

In fact, there were more rebellions in the last two years than there were between 1945 and 1966 - a period which saw six Prime Ministers and six parliaments. On a different measure, the "relative rate of rebellion", this session's 239 rebellions constitute a rebellion by Coalition MPs in 44% of divisions, which is a record in post-war parliaments. The 44% figure can be broken down further: Conservative MPs have rebelled in 28% of votes, while Lib Dems have rebelled in 24% of votes.

It is also notable how much of a contrast there is between the 2010-12 session and most first sessions in a parliament. As the pamplet says: "The rebellion rate for coalition MPs collectively is way above all other first sessions in the post-war era (the previous record was 28%, for Labour MPs in the 2005-6 session, as the party entered its third, and most troublesome, parliament under Tony Blair)".

Continue reading "The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record" »

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" »

26 Apr 2012 16:52:24

What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame

By Matthew Barrett
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In my series profiling groups of Tory MPs, most groups I've looked at have been mostly or wholly composed of 2010 intake MPs. The next group is bit different, as it was founded more than 25 years ago. The No Turning Back group has a proud history of celebrating and promoting Thatcherism. How is the group doing now? In this profile, I'll be examining what No Turning Back, the backbench group for Thatcherites in Parliament, is doing now. 

Origins of the group

Thatcher1No Turning Back was founded in 1985 to defend Mrs Thatcher's free-market policies. The 25 founding members included, amongst others, now-Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon, now-Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, and the late, great Eric Forth.

The name of the group comes from Mrs Thatcher's famous conference speech given in October 1980:

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends."

Key members

There are about 100 members of the group, which is chaired by John Redwood, including "quite a lot" from the 2010 intake. Members include such big beasts as John Redwood, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Lord Forsyth, and Liam Fox. Current Conservative officeholders who are members of the group include the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron's PPS, Desmond Swayne; Nick Clegg's Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mark Harper; the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers; a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly; three government whips, Angela Watkinson, Mark Francois and Greg Hands; the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, Greg Knight; and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, who was Mrs Thatcher's Political Secretary in the late 1980s.

Continue reading "What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame" »

12 Jul 2011 08:32:49

29 32 Tory MPs rebel against Britain's £9.3 billion EXTRA contribution to IMF bailouts

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter. 

Last night at least 32 Tory MPs (listed below) voted with Labour against an 88% hike in Britain's contribution to the IMF. The hike is to partly fund the IMF's ability to fund bailouts. I write "at least" because I've only quickly scanned the voting list. Please email tim@conservativehome.com if I've missed anyone off the list.

  1. Steve Baker
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Douglas Carswell
  5. Bill Cash
  6. Chris Chope
  7. James Clappison
  8. Philip Davies
  9. David Davis
  10. Zac Goldsmith
  11. James Gray (added at 9.30am)
  12. Gordon Henderson (added at 9.30am)
  13. Chris Kelly
  14. Edward Leigh
  15. Julian Lewis
  16. Anne Main
  17. Karl McCartney
  18. Nigel Mills (added at 11.30am)
  19. David Nuttall
  20. Matthew Offord
  21. Andrew Percy
  22. Mark Reckless
  23. John Redwood
  24. Simon Reevell
  25. Richard Shepherd
  26. Henry Smith
  27. Graham Stuart
  28. Peter Tapsell
  29. Andrew Turner
  30. Martin Vickers
  31. Charles Walker
  32. John Whittingdale

The Government won the vote to increase Britain's contribution from £10.7 billion to £20.15 billion by 274 votes to 246. This is the first time that the Labour frontbench has voted with Tory Eurosceptics. Labour was voting against an increase in the IMF subscription that was largely agreed during Gordon brown's time in office.

Redwood-on-NewsnightS On his blog John Redwood suggests that the 29 rebels are only one sign of Tory discontent. Given that there are more than 300 Tory MPs he calculates that AT LEAST 80 Conservatives were unavailable, abstained or voted against the government. He writes:

"Some of us want the UK government to use the influence it says it has at the IMF to halt the futile bail outs of Eurozone members. The debt markets show the markets do not believe that Greece can repay all its debts in full and on time. Yesterday was a day when market worries spread beyond Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Italy. Those in  charge of the Euro scheme need to get a grip. It is doing a great deal of financial and economic damage, and they no longer seem to be in control of their project. The IMF should decline to bail out rich countries that have shackled themselves to a currency scheme that was badly put together and needs a thorough re think."

Carswell Douglas Central Lobby 10.30am Douglas Carswell has just blogged this:

"The decision to raise our IMF subscriptions by 88 percent was first mooted when Gordon Brown was in charge – but was okayed by the current government last October.  While Canada, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium all managed to keep the increase in their subs low, whoever negotiated the deal on our behalf seems to have preferred to have UK taxpayers assume greater debt liabilities so that they could sit on a bigger chair at the various international summits they attend on our behalf. Alongside fiscal policy and monetary policy, our approach towards the bailouts and the IMF shows that there has been remarkably little change in economic policy at the Treasury since Gordon Brown was in charge." 

More from Douglas Carswell.

7 Jul 2011 15:02:17

Tory MPs debate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sittingRedoubtable Labour Member Chris Bryant managed to secure an emergency debate in the Commons yesterday, following Prime Minister's Questions and a statement by the Prime Minister on the situation in Afghanistan, to discuss the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. 

Although the debate was abused by some Members (Labour's Clive Efford, for example: "Only if ordinary people make a stand will we stop these rich people—rich people who have invaded the lives of ordinary people in the street—making themselves even richer and even more powerful."), Conservative members took a range of considered and serious positions in reaction to news of the scandal. 

Three Conservative Members called for a "pause" in the current News Corporation takeover of BSkyB (as, it appears, has now taken place):

  • Nicholas Soames pointed to "serious criminality" at News International: "Given that there is clear evidence of serious criminality on the part of some people at News International, would not due process also now include, in any event and without necessarily referring this to the Competition Commission, calling a pause pending further evidence?"
  • Anna Soubry called for the issue to be referred to Ofcom: "Such is my concern—I have been persuaded by much of what I have heard today—that I think there must now be a pause in the consideration of the matter that has been referred to and will be determined by Ofcom. I urge the Secretary of State to consider whethbryer we should pause things, given what has happened."
  • Zac Goldsmith said anything other than a pause would be "appalling" to the public: "That deal needs to be put on hold by the Government until the dust has settled and we know where we stand. Anything less than that will be viewed as appalling by the public and will be met with a nod of disapproval."

Continue reading "Tory MPs debate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal" »

18 May 2011 06:40:18

Clarke on privacy and superinjunctions: "Every time I watch a football team I do not think I necessarily need to know about the sex life of each of the players."

By Paul Goodman

Nick Clegg's statement to the Commons on Lords reform - and Chris Huhne's on carbon emission reductions (that, at any rate, is what his statement was meant to be about) are covered in our newslinks today.  The Justice Secretary is in the news for other reasons - his Department plans to halve rapists' sentences under some circumstances - but it's worth reading in full what he said yesterday about superinjunctions, in reply to a question from John Whittingdale, the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

"Mr Whittingdale: Is my right hon. and learned Friend concerned about the possibility that the large number of injunctions that appear to be being granted on a routine basis suggests that the courts are paying insufficient regard to section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which was intended to protect press freedom? Given that, and given the huge speculation on the internet about the identities of those who have obtained injunctions, does he feel that the time is approaching when Parliament may need to revisit the issue?

Mr Clarke: I do not think any of us know whether the number is increasing. As far as I am aware, there have been two super-injunctions since the John Terry case, but the word “super-injunction” gets used very widely. I realise there is increasing concern, however. I personally have strong views on the secrecy of justice. We have a tradition of open justice in this country. Plainly, I believe in the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country, even when it is sometimes exercised provocatively, as it is supposed to be in a free country, but there are also areas where an individual is entitled to have their privacy protected. The time is certainly coming when the Government are going to have to look at this matter, although we will probably wait until we have had the report of the Master of the Rolls, who is looking rather more closely at the procedural aspects."

In reply to a question from his opposite number on Labour's benches, Sadiq Khan, Clarke said -

"As I have said, we will wait until he reports back before starting to take a proper look at the issue, but I think the Government will now have to study it and decide whether there is a case for intervening. There will never be unanimity on all these judgments, precisely because it is so difficult to balance the competing parts of the convention on human rights and the competing interests involved. There have been cases where we have certainly needed to know—such as where people are disposing of waste material by dumping it off the coast of Africa. That is easy in one direction, but in the other, every time I watch a football team I do not think I necessarily need to know about the sex life of each of the players."

10 Jun 2010 12:19:35

Select Committee election results: Labour and Liberal MPs line up behind the Conservative establishment

I wondered earlier this week here whether Labour MPs would use the Select Committee elections to make life difficult for David Cameron.

They didn't.  Instead, they lined up behind the Conservative establishment candidates. Andrew Tyrie took the Treasury Select Committee; Richard Ottaway, Foreign Affairs (a big, big consolation prize, after his defeat in the 1922 Committee Chairmanship election); James Arbuthnot, Defence; Stephen Dorrell, Health; Tim Yeo, Climate Change. Anne McIntosh, who won the Environment Committee, leans towards the left of the Party.

I didn't, of course, see anyone cast a ballot paper.  But unless Conservative MPs turned out en masse to vote against the Party's right - an unlikely course of action, given the '22 Executive results - Liberal and Labour support for less spiky candidates provides the only comprehensible explanation of the results.

It would be unfair to view the victors as patsies.  Tyrie, in particular, has a track record of independent-mindedness.  But ask yourself whether Cameron Towers would prefer the winners to, say, Patrick Mercer at Defence or Peter Bone at Health (let alone Nadine) or Philip Hollobone at Climate Change, and there's only one answer.

Bernard Jenkin and Chris Chope are both seen as men of the right.  But Chope's used the Chamber to launch independent-minded assaults on establishment causes, and it's noticeable that he lost out in the tussle for the Public Administration Committee Chairmanship.

John Whittingdale at Culture and Greg Knight at Procedure, both No Turning Back Group stalwarts, are in unopposed. Graham Stuart won what should have been, even if it wasn't, a close-fought battle for the Education Committee.

Full list of victors.

Paul Goodman

8 Jun 2010 14:09:20

How Labour MPs will vote tomorrow to make life difficult for David Cameron

As most readers know, the Select Committee Chairmanships have been carved out among the parties, and tomorrow's elections for the posts will be cross-party. So Conservative MPs, for example, can vote for Labour candidates, and vice-versa. Jonathan has a list of those standing here.

A question follows: on what basis will Labour MPs vote for the Conservative candidates? Answer: it depends.  Some will support the best candidate.  Others will vote for the Conservative candidate seen to be the more left-wing of the two.

Such is the attachment on the Labour benches to climate change orthodoxy, for example, that large number of the Party's MPs are likely to line up behind Tim Yeo, the establishment candidate for the Energy and Climate Change committee.

In other cases, however, Labour MPs will surely ask: who's the candidate more likely to cause David Cameron trouble?  Or, if they've a more elevated turn of mind: who's the candidate more likely to stand up for the legislature against the executive?

In some cases, it's hard to tell.  For example, both candidates for the Treasury Select Committee Chairmanship, Michael Fallon and Andrew Tyrie, are independent-minded. But in others, it's easier to see who'd be more likely to give Downing Street a fit of the heebie-jeebies.

Step forward, then, Peter Bone - standing for the Chairmanship of the Health Select Committee - John Baron, contesting Foreign Affairs (Baron pursued Ministers energetically about Iraq during the last Parliament) and, in the Defence Select Committee poll, no fewer than three of the candidates: Julian Lewis, Patrick Mercer and, above all, Douglas Carswell (one half of the Carswell-Hannan "Cannon" dynamic duo).

If Carswell in particular wins (an unlikely event, but you never know), expect senior officials in the Ministry of Defence to start screaming and screaming, and be unable to stop...

So if any of the above are elected, take a long, hard look at the Labour benches for those responsible.

Official disclaimer: nothing in this article is to be read as an endorsement of any candidate, in any election, at any time, anywhere...

Paul Goodman

21 Apr 2009 11:49:17

Philip Hollobone: "We spend far too much time in this country celebrating cultures other than our own"

Philip Hollobone The House of Commons returned yesterday, and launched into questions to ministers from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone ensured that he won't get an invitation to join the front bench any time soon:

"Given that we spend far too much time in this country celebrating cultures other than our own, is it not time to start redressing the balance by creating a public holiday to celebrate St. George’s day?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett): I commend the hon. Gentleman for the work he does in promoting Englishness and the flag of St. George. I would have to discuss with Government colleagues the idea of holding a public holiday to celebrate St. George’s day, but I hope that people will follow the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and celebrate St. George’s day, while also remembering that we will also be celebrating the birth of William Shakespeare."

Shadow DCMS Minister Tobias Ellwood asked about lapdancing clubs:

"As the Minister will be aware, the so-called designated premises supervisor is legally responsible for the conduct of any pub, club or lap-dancing establishment. However, there is no requirement for that supervisor to be present in his establishment at any time; he can verbally hand over responsibility to an untrained manager with no qualifications. Will the Minister examine whether that is the best way to ensure that pubs, clubs or lap-dancing operations are run properly? The feedback from local authorities with vibrant town centres is that it is not.

Mr. Sutcliffe: Designated door supervisors have been a force for good in the sense of working with establishments, the police and local authorities. I made an enjoyable visit in my Bradford constituency to police on the licensing route late one Friday night, to see at first hand how door supervisors were working. [ Interruption. ] No, lap dancing was not on at that venue that evening. We are trying to ensure that local authorities, the police and the industry are working together in trying to protect the public."

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17 Nov 2008 13:00:20

John Whittingdale calls for tougher controls on the Internet

John_whittingdaleThere are a number of issues on which sincere Conservatives sincerely disagree. One of them is media content, and the extent to which the Government should intervene on matters of decency and to protect the vulnerable.

On Thursday, Westminster Hall hosted a debate on the Internet and video games. It was chaired by Buckingham MP (and former Shadow Cabinet member) John Bercow. What price Mr Bercow will one day be a candidate for Speaker?

John Whittingdale chairs the Culture, Media and Sport select committee (and is a former Shadow Culture Secretary). His committee undertook a "a major inquiry into the whole question of harmful content on the internet and in video games". Mr Whittingdale said that although extremely violent and sexually explicit material was an obvious concern, as was the use of the Internet to harm children, these were not the only matters that the committee considered. The encouragement of suicide, the glorification of guns and gangs, the encouragement of anorexics not to eat, terrorist networks and cyberbullying were all of interest.

Mr Whittingdale made clear that he was a fan of the Internet but that it can be misused:

"I want to preface everything that I say by making it clear that in my view, and in the view of the Committee, the internet is an extraordinary development that is overwhelmingly a force for good. ... It has revolutionised life, and there is no going back. We cannot disinvent it; nor would anyone want to. It has rapidly become a research tool, a source of information and knowledge, a means of communication and a convenient method of purchase. We do not wish to give the impression that we think that the internet is a bad thing that has to be controlled, even if it were possible to do so. None the less, the truth is that it can be abused. The purpose of our inquiry was to focus on those areas in which abuse can take place and to consider ways in which it can be tackled."

Mr Whittingdale supported what can be described as a low standard of proof for tackling potentially harmful material:

"Much of our conclusion was based on the fact that evidence of harm does not necessarily exist. If one looks for empirical, hard, factual evidence that viewing a particular video or playing a video game has led someone to go out and commit a crime such as a rape or an act of violence, there is very little. Our view was therefore not that we should necessarily say “In that case, we cannot act,” but that we should act on the probability of risk. Where there is a probable risk that someone would be influenced by exposure to such material, that is sufficient cause for intervention to protect that person from being exposed to it."

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