Mark Pritchard MP

24 Jan 2013 08:29:38

What is the Bruges Group?

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 21.54.21My series profiling the groups of Tory MPs continues with a look at a pioneering Eurosceptic group which helped backbenchers cause significant headaches for Prime Minister John Major during the early 1990s. The Bruges Group is a well-established forum for advocating looser ties with Brussels, and it has gone from a relatively small collection of Tories to one of the groups that best represents mainstream Conservative thinking on its particular policy area.

Origins of the group

The Bruges Group was founded in February 1989 to promote and uphold the ideas Margaret Thatcher expressed in her famous Bruges Speech in late 1988. Mrs Thatcher argued that the tide of opinion on the continent was towards centralising the structure of the European institutions - and this would be unsuitable for Britain's national identity and democracy. In the most famous passage of the speech, Mrs Thatcher said:

"I want to see us work more closely on the things we can do better together than alone. Europe is stronger when we do so, whether it be in trade, in defence or in our relations with the rest of the world. But working more closely together does not require power to be centralised in Brussels or decisions to be taken by an appointed bureaucracy. ... We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels."

The group was set up by Patrick Robertson and Lord Harris of High Cross, ie Ralph Harris, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs from 1957 to 1988. Lord Harris' work promoting free-market economics at the IEA was instrumental in the creation of Thatcherism.

Continue reading "What is the Bruges Group?" »

3 Jan 2013 14:24:05

Shock, horror: CCHQ and Mark Pritchard agree about ethnic minority candidates

Screen shot 2013-01-03 at 13.23.58
By Paul Goodman
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Mark Pritchard is right.  He is right to say that CCHQ should not "fast-track favoured ethnic minority candidates over equally talented white-British candidates".  Right to say that it is "politically naive to think that by merely increasing ethnic representation within the Parliamentary Party...Asian and Afro-Caribbean voters across Britain will experience some sort of ‘political epiphany’ and suddenly begin voting Conservative".  Right again that tokenism can go "disastrously wrong as different religions, sects, and schisms within the same ethnic communities emerge over an election campaign".  And right, too, that "voters from all ethnic backgrounds mostly share the same ‘needs and wants’ as one another....The Conservative Party must not embark on an ethnic beauty parade."

The shocking news, though, is that CCHQ is more than halfway to agreeing with him.

Continue reading "Shock, horror: CCHQ and Mark Pritchard agree about ethnic minority candidates" »

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.

29 Oct 2012 10:38:27

Tory MPs table motion to ensure EU budget "is reduced in real terms"

By Tim Montgomerie
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6a00d83451b31c69e2017d3cf1ce57970c-500wiLast week a group of Tory MPs began work on a campaign to encourage the Government to harden its stance on the EU budget. Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander have also now seized on the issue in an intervention in The Times overnight.

The Tory MPs have now agreed on a motion to be debated in the Commons on Wednesday (contrary to other reports there were never rival motions). The motion in the name of Mark Reckless MP "calls on the Government to strengthen its stance so that the next MSF* is reduced in real terms".

Continue reading "Tory MPs table motion to ensure EU budget "is reduced in real terms"" »

24 Oct 2012 18:40:54

New 1922 Committee and Select Committee members elected

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

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

7pm Update: 

The following MPs have been elected to Select Committee vacancies:

Business, Innovation and Skills Committee

Caroline Dinenage and Robin Walker

Culture, Media and Sport Committee

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

22 Oct 2012 15:31:06

Conservative Select Committee appointments announced

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

Communities and Local Government

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


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


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

Continue reading "Conservative Select Committee appointments announced" »

11 Jul 2012 09:43:57

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

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

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

4 May 2012 12:05:47

Record of how Conservative MPs are reacting to the local election results

A variety of reactions are pasted in this blog. The names of those calling for some change of message, priority or operational changes are emboldened. We have also included the contributions of MPs who have not advocated substantial changes.

5.45pm A little round-up of what Tory MPs have said during the day:

David Ruffley MP advocated radical economic measures - and a withdrawal from the Coalition if Lib Dems won't back them:

"I think now with the position now where there was a Coalition Agreement two years ago but quite a few senior colleagues think that was then, this is now. We didn't think two years ago that the economy would still be flat on its back and everything now has to be directed towards getting the British economy going. And yes it does mean looking at tax again but also, a freer labour market, the hiring and firing proposals to make sure that young people aren't turned away from jobs because of the very onerous social employment protection legislation in this country, so we should say to the Liberals on things like that which they are blocking, 'Listen we are in a real hole now. We need some radical economic polices put in place and you go with it and if you don't, we how would you like a general election?'"

Peter Bone MP urged the Government to drop any "wishy-washy" policies in the Queen's Speech:

"You can see what happens when there is a Conservative Government, because there was a Conservative Government run in London by Boris and he got re-elected. He put forward Conservative policies and he got re-elected and he bucked the national trend, and that really should be a message for the Coalition. Be more conservative and be less liberal wishy-washy and I think that’s what the voters would like to see in the Queen’s speech.” 

Continue reading "Record of how Conservative MPs are reacting to the local election results " »

1 May 2012 18:30:23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 Mar 2012 05:57:45

What is the Free Enterprise Group? Matthew Barrett profiles the most influential new gathering of Tory MPs

Free Enterprise GroupBy Matthew Barrett
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The Forty. The 301. The 2020. These are some of the groups formed by Conservative MPs after the last general election. Most are largely made up of, or driven by, 2010-intake MPs. Over the next few weeks, I'll be profiling some of these groups. 

Today, we kick off with the Free Enterprise Group (FEG). The FEG is considered influential by sources at the Treasury, and George Osborne is said to think very highly of it, regarding it as the most important of the new groups to emerge. 

Origins of the Group: The group initially formed out of concern at the anti-free market atmosphere that has developed in the last few years. The behaviour of the last government, in cosying up to big business cartels and corporatist interests, often gave people a mistakenly bad impression of the free market that didn't necessarily exist twenty years ago. Polling suggests 21st-century Britons are less receptive towards free enterprise than the Chinese, Americans and Germans. There is also a wider cause - making Britain globally competitive again. The FEG's website highlights startling statistics about our place in the world: the fact that we are now 83rd in the world for regulation, 94th for taxation, and so on. This concern derives not just from the fact that we are being overtaken by emerging markets like Brazil, but also established Western economies, like Germany, have become more free market than Britain.

Continue reading "What is the Free Enterprise Group? Matthew Barrett profiles the most influential new gathering of Tory MPs" »

5 Dec 2011 17:41:54

Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty

Friday 8.45am John Redwood MP blogs:

"Orderly but rapid break up would be the least cost option. It would liberate the countries allowed out, and permit them to adjust their competitiveness by a devaluation which would be swift and easier to sell than large wage cuts. There is  no foundation to the proposition that the EU would lose 10-50% of its output if they changed currencies. To my knowledge 87 countries have left currency unions since 1945. In most cases they have prospered more after exit. The successful break up of the 16 member rouble bloc could be the model."

8.30pm Philip Hollobone told Sky News:

Hollobone_phillip"...we need to have a disorderly breakup so that the whole of Europe and the rest of the world economy can get back to significant economic growth in the future. This idea that we can prop up the eurozone in the next ten years with constant austerity is just not going to work."

6.45pm The leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan MEP said: 

CALLANAN MARTIN"If there is any treaty change which creates European fiscal union then clearly that will radically effect the UK and that should be put to a referendum. That is what democracy demands, because we would be creating a fundamental change to the EU and our relationship with it. However, that could take years to complete. It might be a way to solve the next crisis - but not this one. That is why the focus should be on measures to address the issues at the heart of this crisis."

He said these would include "The casual one-size-fits-all approach that had undermined the euro from its foundations", "The massive economic imbalance between its prosperous and economically-disciplined members and those which were debt-ridden and financially dysfunctional", "The over-regulation which hampered wealth-creation and innovation and encouraged a dependency culture in struggling states."

5.30pm Paul Waugh reports that Edward Leigh said the following in a Westminster Hall debate this afternoon:

LEIGH edward MP"We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years in the days preceding a summit that 'they will stand up for the British national interest' and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, 'I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests'."

Update: Paul Waugh tweets

"No.10 hits back at Edward Leigh's Chamberlain remarks. PM's spokeswoman: "It was offensive and ridiculous.""

5.15pm Nadine Dorries blogged

DORRIES-Nadine"I have no doubt that the PM will return with some form of a guarantee for Britain as the last thing Merkel wants is a referendum in Britain. If Britain succumbs, other countries may follow suit and the effect such an event would have on the markets would be damaging for Germany. After all, it’s all about Germany. A fiscal union of 17 EU members forming one new country and in effect a new trading block will have huge implications for Britain and British business. It's time we gave the British people their say via a referendum. The next two days will test the Prime Ministers courage and skills. If he misses this opportunity to grasp the nettle and give the British People their say, they may eventually make him pay with the one vote they will have."

4.15pm Nick Boles appeared on the Daily Politics show this afternoon, and argued:

Jenkin Campbell Boles"Today is the moment of maximum economic danger for Britain. Our retail sales are falling, manufacturing output is collapsing, Brazil has stalled, China has stalled. The entire global economy is sitting on the edge of an abyss and the urgent priority for the British people is to protect our economy and their jobs by getting this Eurozone crisis fixed. We need to repatriate powers but we need to come to that after we've saved our economy, not before. ... What I want David Cameron to do is to protect our economy, protect our jobs - mainly, because that's the thing that's under most threat from the Eurozone - protect the City of London, but he needs to help them get a solution to the Eurozone crisis so that the entire European economy doesn't fall apart. ... We are going to work out an entirely new kind of outer-tier relationship, and that is a big exercise, it's a very important exercise, and it offers big opportunities for Britain, but it's probably going to take two or three years - it's not the work of a weekend when the global economy is on the precipice."

3.30pm Sir Peter Tapsell told Radio 4:

Tapsel Peter"The fact is the French and German leaders have been meeting for weeks and weeks. I have very little doubt that they will not be able to solve the eurocrisis on Friday but it is very much in the British national interests that it should be solved. As we argued at the time of the Maastricht Treaty to think that you can have a single a interest rate for a whole variety of countries at different stages in their development. And that remains true today and although we opted out of the euro right from the beginning and very sensibly so, but we are affected by the euro and I feel really sceptical that they can solve to eurocrisis, I don’t expect it to survive. ... The reason why Europe is in crisis has to be traced back to the Maastricht Treaty. They then introduced a whole series of measures which weakened the European economy by comparison with those of the Far East and America and so on."

Continue reading "Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty" »

2 Nov 2011 09:54:07

Tory MP and EU rebel Tracey Crouch tells Mark Pritchard she won't be part of any "bash the PM" group

By Tim Montgomerie
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DSC_0082__2_There have been reports in the press - see today's Independent (following yet another Paul Waugh exclusive) - that an "81 Group" was being formed to organise last week's rebels. Mark Pritchard MP is quoted as saying that "it is not a formal grouping, a faction or a party within a party but an informal caucus of like-minded MPs from both the left and right of the party who want to put the country first." Dan Byles tweeted disdain for Paul Waugh's discription of the group last night. Tracey Crouch MP, another of the 81, has gone further with a letter to Mark Pritchard MP and copied to others. She tells Mark that she does not want to be part of any "bash the PM' group. The full text of her letter is below.

"Dear Mark,

Since my election you’ve shown me genuine support for my abstention on tuition fees, my election to the 1922 Executive, the party’s initial views on boundary changes and my fight with the FA; it is support that has been much appreciated.  In return I supported you on the motion to ban circus animals, which was a victory for animal welfare in these modern days and is an issue I shall continue to campaign for.

However I was horrified to read in the papers and on twitter this morning that my vote for the EU referendum motion last week is being turned into something it was not, namely an attempt to bash the PM on Europe.  I voted for the motion last week for reasons that Zac in particular articulated so well in the chamber: we need to restore trust in politicians and if we promise to do something, albeit in loose terms, then we should do it. I also voted for the motion because not only has our relationship with Europe changed since the referendum on our entry into the EEC but I believe the millions of British taxpayers under the age of 50 who contribute to the funding of the EU want a say on our future relationship with Europe – which incidentally should not necessarily be interrupted as wanting to get out of the EU but taking ownership of our relationship with the EU. Finally, despite accusations of it being fundamentally flawed, I supported the motion because I was attracted to the fact that it included the 3 options of In, Out or Renegotiation. I personally think that a referendum, which secured a popular vote on the latter, would give the Government a strong mandate to take on the European institutions.  I did not support the motion because I want to see us leave Europe and I fear the establishment of your “81 Group” is painting those of us who reluctantly defied the whip in order to represent the very many constituents who contacted us on this issue as anti-European.

By using the label of the 81 Group it undermines the principled stance that some us took and looks to the media as an organised faction against the PM.  While I think the Government should be doing more to articulate its policy on repatriating powers from Europe, I have no desire to be part of this faction and would like to strongly disassociate myself with the Group.  I see the work that George & Andrea are doing on the EU as enough in terms of backbench representation and that no further formal or informal groups are required.  Last week should not be seen as the start of some sort of Tory Spring - I voted for a referendum not a revolution!

I have copied in some colleagues from the 2010 intake who voted for the motion last week, many of whom defied the whip for the first time in doing so, some of whom don’t agree with my less than anti-EU views but may well share my disappointment that the vote is being taken down a path that it was not intended.

I am chairing a conference later this morning and sadly won’t be at the 1922 Exec this afternoon due to the AGM of the APPG Dementia and/or the amendment on knife crime in the chamber.  I’m also slipped for a ministerial visit tomorrow but happy to chat over the weekend.  In the meantime, please do reconsider either the name or the aims of this 81 Group – I really do believe it is not helping our cause, either as a group of people who want a referendum or a team of colleagues who want a Conservative Government.

Best wishes


Chatham & Aylesford"

I don't think Mark Pritchard ever claimed to have all 81 MPs signed up but I'm sure he'll clarify the status of the group soon.

11am Mark Pritchard has sent this letter back:

Thank you for your email.
I agree with you entirely.
This name has not come from me. I understand it came out of a centre right meeting last week (which I did not attend). I also understand that the name had been blogged about several days before today’s comment.
It is not a term or name that I created. Others have done that.
The comment I made to the press was inclusive and rebuts the idea of a ‘formal’ group or any faction but recognises that perhaps on other major European votes, some of the MPs who voted for the Motion last Monday, may or may not vote along similar lines in the future.
I am happy to chat.

I like Tracey Crouch but it might have been better to have picked up the phone to Mark first and get to the bottom of the nature of the 81 Group. I think it's also unfair to say Mark Pritchard is simply a "PM basher". Regardless of this, the organisers of the group will certainly now need to proceed with greater caution. They must be careful not to present themselves as a bigger group than they are.

6 Sep 2011 07:28:35

An absence of backbench grovelling to "liberal, practical Conservative" Cameron over Libya

By Paul Goodman
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Grovelling? Yes, let's face it: it happens.  But not yesterday when the Prime Minister was questioned after his statement on Libya.  Read Patrick Mercer on Islamism, Andrew Tyrie on torture, Peter Lilley on getting Libya to pay, Baron on intervention, Chisti on Syria.  Plenty of pertinent questions

Also follow David Cameron being polite to Mark Pritchard, telling Rory Stewart that he shouldn't have gone to Libya recently, and being thrown for a moment by a very sharp question from Andrew Bridgen.  Here are the exchanges in full from Hansard.

"Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): As someone who had reservations about the principle of intervention, may I congratulate the Prime Minister on a successful outcome in Libya? It was largely achieved by two aspects: first, it was legal; and secondly, it had the support of the Libyan people. Further to the previous question, however, will my right hon. Friend now use it as an illustration to persuade permanent members of the Security Council, such as Russia and China, that a well conducted intervention can be successfully used to restrain autocrats in countries such as Syria?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he says. Everyone should have misgivings about such operations, and one should never have the naive belief that they are easy or that everything is going to go to plan. That very rarely happens, and we should always be hard-headed and careful about such things. We should also respect the fact that this is not done—this is not completed yet.

Also, I think that we should be very cautious about trying to draw up a new doctrine, because it seems to me that as soon as a new doctrine is established, a case comes up that flies completely in its face, but I do hope that other members of the Security Council will see that there has been success in removing a dictator, and in giving that country a chance of peaceful and democratic progress, which will be good for the world.

Continue reading "An absence of backbench grovelling to "liberal, practical Conservative" Cameron over Libya" »

30 Jul 2011 10:54:05

Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty

By Matthew Barrett
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The blogger Guido Fawkes has launched a campaign to bring back the death penalty, in light of the government's proposed "e-petition" scheme. "E-petitions" mean members of the public can post petitions on a dedicated government website, and petitions attracting 100,000 electronic signatories will be "eligible for debate in the House of Commons".

The petition says:

"We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

The findings of the review and the necessary substantive legislation to be presented to House of Commons for debate no later than 12 months after this petition passes the acceptance threshold."

Continue reading "Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty" »

24 Jun 2011 06:13:58

The substance of yesterday's debate about banning wild animals from circuses

By Jonathan Isaby
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Paul has already covered the row yesterday afternoon between Tory MP and 1922 Committee Secretary, Mark Pritchard, and the Government Whips' Office and their attempt to persuade him to withdraw his motion proposing an outright ban on wild animals from circuses.

So what was the substance of the debate?

Pritchard's motion proposed directing "the Government to use its powers under section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a regulation banning the use of all wild animals in circuses to take effect by 1 July 2012." but the Government was not at all happy about that, as Defra Minister, James Paice, was forced to explain:

Picture 13 "We had a new set of advice from our lawyers and we had to use that in coming to our view. It clearly indicated that there were serious risks of a legal challenge should we opt for an outright ban, despite our being minded to do so. I will return to the detail of those legalities because that has occupied much of the afternoon’s debate, but it is for that reason and in the interest of avoiding a long judicial process that we concluded that the quickest way to reduce and, we hoped, eliminate cruelty to wild animals in our circuses would be a robust licensing system, which might well result in circuses deciding to stop keeping such animals."

"If the House were to approve the motion, the Government would have to respect that, but as a Minister I am duty bound to lay before it the possible consequences—I stress the word “possible”—of that decision not only for the Government, but for the House, taxpayers and possibly the animals that we are concerned about... The legal advice we have received on section 12 of the 2006 Act is that although it could be used as the basis for a total ban, it is highly likely that we would be challenged on the basis that an outright ban was a disproportionate measure for improving welfare in circuses.

But Mark Pritchard was indefatigable in his defence of his proposal:

"Today, this country has three travelling circuses with a total of 39 wild animals, including zebras, tigers, lions and camels. Until the recent exposure of the brutality with which Annie the elephant was treated, there were also elephants, but there are now no elephants in circuses in England... The trouble with the Government’s proposed licensing scheme is that it would create a new generation of animals that could be imported. It would give a green light to new imports. We might not have any elephants left in our circuses now, but we would certainly have some if the new licensing regime came into effect. My concern is shared by 92% of the public, and there are very few public policy areas that attract that support. I am concerned about the cruel and cramped conditions in the housing and transportation of these wild animals. Countries including Singapore, Bolivia, Israel and Hungary have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Many of those circuses are commercially successful.

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