By Joseph Willits
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Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, James Brokenshire MP, has answered questions from four Tory MPs about the Government's plans to combat metal theft. Brokenshire said that "the Home Office is discussing with other Departments what legislative changes are necessary to assist enforcement agencies and deter offenders". Some of the measures to do so, he said, would include "introducing a new licence regime for scrap metal dealers and prohibiting cash payments" and establishing a "metal theft taskforce" together with the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Responding to a question from Gravesham MP Adam Holloway about the financial implications of metal theft, Brokenshire said the cost could be "anywhere between £220 million and £777 million per annum". Holloway asked whether there was "any argument for seizing the entire inventories of metal dealers found to be purchasing what are effectively stolen goods". Brokenshire confirmed that this was one of the reasons for a new taskforce, "to inform intelligence and ensure that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice".
"It’s a historic sort-of shift for Britain; it does mean that we can think more freely about where we want to be in the long-term. I think the great majority of British people don’t want to be part of political union. We want free trade and co-operation, but we don’t want to be tied into a straitjacket, and that is something that we need to address in the coming years, and I’ve no doubt David Cameron will understand that and will take that forward. He’s proved, as Prime Minister, that he’s prepared to put Britain first, and that’s what he’s done ... We never had a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, so there are issues that need to be addressed, but at least we have a Prime Minister that understands what matters to Britain, and is prepared to stand up for our country, put Britain first, and show the bulldog spirit, and that’s what David Cameron did this week."
"I think that the immediate reaction is the Prime Minister secured the objectives, the two objectives that he had. One was to give encouragement to the eurozone members to sort out their problems, because he recognises the immense damage that collapse of the euro could have in this country, and the second, more complicated objective, but very important, is to protect the interests of the City of London, so he wasn’t prepared to give away any sort of negotiating position or any degree of national control in the middle of the night on Thursday."
2pm Mark Reckless MP told Sky News about his expectation of support for the Prime Minister amongst MPs:
"I think when the Prime Minister makes his statement on Monday he is going to be exceptionally well received on the Conservative benches. He kept his word. He said that if we didn't get protection for the City he would veto the treaty. He didn't get that protection so he vetoed the treaty. I think many of my colleagues will see this as an opportunity to develop a new relationship with Europe whereas a country we become independent once again, trading with Europe but governing ourselves and making our own arrangements with Europe - like the Swiss do - while the EU-26 go ahead with fiscal union with the union."
"I am a Conservative, and it is my job to urge the Coalition Government to reflect more fully the very strong Conservative opinion on this issue where I think we are in touch with the mood of the country, where the polls show that about four out of five people agree with us that we want less Europe. They don't agree with the Liberal Democrats. ... The UK isn't afraid of Germany, and we are happy to look Germany in the eye and say we don't agree on this and we want to do something different. A lot of the smaller countries near Germany are scared and they have to go along with a German Europe."
"We are going to see the detail of what [the 17] are proposing, but I don't see this as being necessarily negative. They already have the Euro, which is something that the 17 of them agreed on that has not harmed us. They have had other things that haven't harmed us either. I don't see this as one of those seminal moments in history that we are suddenly seen to be isolated in some way. We are still an economic power and buy more from Europe than we export to it."
"The eurozone want to move ahead now and pool their sovereignty and have decisions over tax and spending taken centrally by Brussels and so on. We don't want to be part of that. We want them to get on with it, to sort out the eurozone crisis, because it has been spreading across and slowing down economies right across Europe. We wish them well in that but we certainly don't want our tax and spending decisions taken in Brussels. We are going to protect that."
George Eustice MP in the FT (£):
"The truth is that today, Europe unites rather than divides Tories and they will all support the stance Mr Cameron adopted at this summit. They will judge him favourably because of how hard he has tried rather than what was achieved. There is a pragmatism within the new parliamentary party but underlying that patience is a steely resolve to see a new relationship between Britain and the EU: one in which, as Mr Cameron said in his Mansion House speech, powers ebb back to Britain rather than flow away."
John Redwood MP on his blog:
"The numbers of Conservative rebels will doubtless wax and wane, but there is now a hard core of at least 45 who are likely to vote against unsuitable EU measures, meaning the Coalition needs some Labour support or help should they want to put through more EU decisions."
Robert Halfon MP on his blog:
"Britain's veto was of huge importance. It is the first shift away from the ratchet effect of European integration for many years. It shows that the UK will no longer accept the unacceptable transfer of powers away from our nation state. It also opens up a real possibility of a fundamental renegotiation of our relationship with the EU: as part of a co-operative free-trading bloc within a European Economic Community - rather than being an inexorable part of a federal superstate."
5.45pm Mark Reckless MP has recorded a video-blog, in which he says:
"Our Prime Minister has shown that he is a man of his word... David Cameron said that unless he got a protocol to protect the City from European regulation that he would veto the European treaty. He didn't get that protocol...and he vetoed the treaty as he promised he would, and I just think restoring faith in politics is so important, and I think the Prime Minister has helped do that."
5.45pm The Daily Express reports on Boris' praise for the PM:
"The Mayor of London said: "David Cameron has done the only thing that it was really open to him to do. He has played a blinder.""
"I welcome the Prime Minister's stand. He is to be given credit. However it is now clear that the United Kingdom's relationship with the EU will significantly change given the emergence of a new inner EU-bloc, a dominant bloc. This new bloc is a major power shift, and establishes a new paradigm in the way the Eurozone and the wider EU will do future business. The UK has the full legal rights of all the other EU members. If these rights are abused then the UK should use its considerable budget contribution to the EU as leverage in its interests. The unintended consequence of these negotiations is that it seems more, not less likely that there will be an EU referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU within this Parliament, which is something our Coalition partners have also agreed upon in their last election manifesto. Today is a good day for British sovereignty"
4.30pm VIDEO Cameron has created path to "full renegotiation" of UK's EU relationship, claims Bill Cash MP
3pm Douglas Carswell told PoliticsHome:
"The events in Brussels show that we have changed direction. We have got a long way to go, but I think people will be supportive of David Cameron for doing the right thing. What we need to do is make absolutely clear that there is no scope for changing the small print of the deal. ... The idea of a new architecture of the EU that we are not part of is incredibly, incredibly exciting, and has the possibility of giving us a better relationship with the EU. We must make sure that we actually deliver the change."
2.30pm Lord Tebbit has just blogged for the Telegraph:
"At last! When all other options had been exhausted, David Cameron has done the right thing. By refusing to sign up to changes in the Treaty of Rome (which is now, after amendments, really the Treaty of Lisbon) the Prime Minister has adopted the policy which, in a conversation with Giscard d'Estaing, I described as “getting the British dog out of the European federal manger”. ... Whether Cameron's decision was made out of conviction and understanding of these great issues, out of fear that his party would split with a majority led by dissident Cabinet colleagues against him, or out of fear that demands for a referendum would become irresistible, we cannot know. We should just be grateful that he made it."
Edward Leigh MP on the foetus at 12 weeks: "We believe that an unborn child of 12 weeks has undeniable human characteristics. Her organs, muscles and nerves have begun to function. She has fingernails and toenails. To become a child, she needs nothing more than to stay for a few months in the safety of her mother’s womb. We will all take different views. Some will not share our opinion, but undeniably the view is developing in this country that what I say is more and more true of unborn children of 16, 18 or 20 weeks. We must accept that in this instance we are dealing with a human life. If we cannot deny the humanity of babies at 12 weeks, we cannot deny our duty to protect them."
Mark Pritchard MP explains his support for a 16 week time limit: "Scientific evidence increasingly suggests that unborn children feel pain at 16 weeks. That is not simply a stress response; it is a physiological response, perhaps not the same as in a fully grown adult, but a physical and even emotional response beyond the norms of passive reflex. Pain is felt, which is why specialist, gifted surgeons who perform surgery on babies in the womb use anaesthetic. Now, 4D imaging reveals that 16-week-old unborn babies are very much alive and kicking, although their limbs are too small to be felt by the mothers. Those who have had children know that they are likely to feel kicking at around 17 weeks in the case of a second baby and 19 weeks in the case of a first baby. However, just because the mother does not feel kicking, it does not mean that there is no leg kicking. Sixteen-week-old unborn babies are very small human beings, but they have many of the faculties of newborn babies."
Mike Penning MP highlights the scale of abortion in Britain: "5.5 million pregnancies in this country have been terminated. As we heard earlier, the latest available figures show that nearly 200,000 were terminated in 2006. The figure has risen dramatically since 1969, when 5.2 women in 1,000 had an abortion. The figure is now 18.3 per 1,000, which is a huge amount. I believe that everyone in the House would like to see a massive reduction in the number of abortions taking place in this country. This is not about choice; I want everybody to have a choice, but surely, in a compassionate society such as ours, we would all want to see fewer terminations taking place."
Mike Penning also urges more reflection before an abortion: "I had a vasectomy on the national health. I went to see my GP, who said, “I want to speak to your wife.” My wife and I both sat there and agreed that a vasectomy was the way forward for us as our own personal form of contraception. The GP then sent us away for three or four days, after which my wife and I both saw the consultant, and again we both agreed that a vasectomy was the way forward. I entirely agree with the hon. Lady that if that time for thought is right for a man having a vasectomy—which, by the way, can be reversed, albeit painfully—there must be a provision for more time to think and consult when it comes to such a serious decision as having an abortion."
Nadine Dorries MP recounts her gruesome experience as a nurse, assisting with a late term abortion: "I first became concerned about and interested in the issue of abortion when I worked as a nurse. I worked for nine months on a gynaecology ward, and assisted in many terminations and late terminations. I also went to witness a late surgical abortion six weeks ago. I became interested in abortion when it became apparent to me, as a nurse, that far more botched late abortions were taking place than should. The first one that I witnessed was a prostaglandin termination. A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bedpan, which was thrust into my arms. When I looked into the cardboard bedpan, the little boy was gasping for breath through the mucus and amniotic fluid. I stood by the sluice with him in my arms, in the bedpan, for seven minutes while he gasped for breath. A botched abortion became a live birth, and then, seven minutes later, a death. I knew when I stood with that little boy in my arms that one day I would have the opportunity to defend babies such as him. I thought that we committed murder that day. I cannot think of another word for a nurse or doctor present at the birth not attempting to resuscitate a baby who was an abortion but became a live birth."
Nadine Dorries MP on how NHS doctors do not want to conduct late term abortions: "It is a fact that doctors do not like to perform late abortions. In the NHS, hardly any abortions over 16 weeks take place. We have a Government policy of 24 weeks, and an NHS that does not want to carry that policy out. We have a private abortion industry that has mushroomed around the NHS in order to carry out late terminations that doctors and nurses in the NHS do not want to do."
John Bercow and Ann Widdecombe clash:
John Bercow MP: "She is concerned about humanity; so are other right hon. and hon. Members. Does she not accept that if there is a two-week reduction, very, very frightened and vulnerable women will unquestionably suffer? We should stick with the status quo."
Ann Widdecombe MP: I cannot believe the way my hon. Friend has simply dismissed the humanity of the child. Because of the 24-week limit, that situation already arises. What limits the period to 24 weeks? The humanity of the child; the ability to feel pain, on which there is now a vast body of scientific evidence; the ability to feel distress. I ask again, why is it that we need to give a lethal injection to a child if it is not living in the womb? It may not be living outside the womb, but it is living in the womb. Those who believe in preserving life acknowledge the life of what is living, even though we cannot see it. If we could see the children that are being taken for abortion, there would be a national outcry.
All attempts to lower the abortion limit were defeated.
Nadine Dorries: "Making access to abortion easier should not be a priority. We do not want to see the numbers go up. What is it that we would be asking nurses to do? My American intern, Stephanie, telephoned a British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic and said that she was 18 weeks pregnant and a student alone in the UK. She said that she had been to see a GP who had told her that she was 17 weeks pregnant and she needed a termination, and asked what she could do. She said that she did not want to have an anaesthetic or go into hospital. The clinic said, “No problem. Come along to the clinic, we will give you medication and you can go home and abort there.” They told a student, who they thought would be on her own, with a pregnancy of 17 weeks gestation to go home and experience pain like she would never have known before, to bleed in a way that she would never have imagined possible, and then to abort her own baby and dispose of it. At that stage of gestation, the baby would be entirely recognisable. That is what is taking place today in the UK—and the amendments that I have described would make abortion even more easily accessible.
The BPAS, and the other providers carrying out abortions on behalf of the Government, do so for around £700 a time. There are some 200,000 abortions a year, and some people have a very serious interest in ensuring that we do not restrict the number of terminations, and even that they increase. I call that almost an abuse of women’s rights. When a woman goes to a doctor to request an abortion, she is in crisis. Every woman who presents at a GP’s surgery requesting an abortion should be counselled and told what the alternatives are. She has a right to know her options and the consequences of abortion, but that does not happen. I want amendments tabled to the Bill that would give a woman the right to know what abortion entails and what she would go through.
I hope that hon. Members, when they seek to inform themselves about abortion, will not go to the Science and Technology Committee report, the RCOG committee or the BMA, because too many people in those organisations have too great a financial vested interest in the industry."
More from Hansard here.