Oliver Heald MP

21 Nov 2012 07:36:43

Conservative MPs raise concerns about the judicial treatment of Sergeant Danny Nightingale

By Matthew Barrett
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Last night an adjournment debate was held on SAS soldier Sergeant Danny Nightingale's court martial and imprisonment after illegally bringing home a pistol given to him by grateful Iraqis. Julian Brazier, himself a former Captain in the SAS, led the debate.

Brazier JulianAs well as setting out the facts of the case, Mr Brazier detailed the detachment of the current military justice system from its original workings:

"Military justice was consciously modelled on civilian criminal justice. Originally, 12 officers echoed the 12 householders of repute on a jury, although the number became more commonly five 100 years ago. In the past 20 years, under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, the system has been turned on its head and today a judge advocate chairs the court with up to five regimental officers who are no longer allowed to ask direct questions."

Mr Brazier outlined the main complaint against the judgement against Sgt Nightingale:

"Danny Nightingale has compelling medical evidence to show that his memory was severely impaired. Do we really believe that the second half of the offence—the transfer of the kit, en masse, to military digs after he had suffered the memory damage and when he was under huge service pressures—passes the service interest test? Is this what the military covenant is about? Does this amount to paying fair regard to the particular pressures of life in special forces and their effect on a man whose memory had been impaired and who had made his way back into action?"

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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.

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5 Sep 2012 20:21:19

Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers

By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.

Cabinet Office

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General – Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
  • Minister for Government Policy – Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
  • Minister of State – Rt Hon David Laws MP (jointly with the Department for Education)
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Nick Hurd MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Chloe Smith MP

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and President of the Board of Trade – Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Rt Hon David Willetts MP
  • Minister of State – Michael Fallon MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Matthew Hancock MP (jointly
  • with the Department for Education)

Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
  • Senior Minister of State (Faith and Communities) – Rt Hon Baroness Warsi (jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Minister of State (Housing) – Mark Prisk MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) - Nicholas Boles MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Rt Hon Don Foster MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Brandon Lewis MP

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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. 

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28 Jun 2011 19:36:23

Tory MPs voiced their scepticism about an elected second chamber during yesterday's debate in the Commons

By Jonathan Isaby
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I have already covered Conor Burns' sideswipe at Lord Heseltine from the debate on Lords reform, but what else happened during the debate?

Overall, one got the impression that (with a few exceptions) the Conservative benches were highly sceptical about an elected second chamber - including many who are usually deemed to be supporters of the Government.

Later in his speech, Conor Burns spoke in favour of the status quo - ie a fully appointed chamber - and then considered what parties had promised in their manifestos:

"I wish to deal briefly with the argument that reform was in every party’s manifesto. It was, to some degree, and the Liberal Democrats, who had the most pro-reform manifesto commitment, got 23% of the vote in the general election. Labour, which was slightly more lukewarm, got 29%, and the Conservatives, who were the most lukewarm, got 36%. There is almost an argument that if we want to do things on the basis of what was in the manifestos, we should remember that the most people voted for the party that was most lukewarm on the issue. We have to ask ourselves, as at the time of Maastricht, when all three Front-Bench teams are united on something, how do those who dissent make their view known?

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27 Feb 2009 16:56:01

Is Lord Falconer going to get a monster pension?

Francis_maude_mpShadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has pressed the Prime Minister over the rather fraught issue of Lord Falconer's pension. In November 2007 the Telegraph reported that Lord Falconer was ready to sue Gordon Brown over the size of his pension. Lord Chancellors have historically had generous arrangements to reflect the fact that they have to give up legal careers when they assume the role. Lord Falconer was reported to believe that he was entitled to a pension twice what the Cabinet Office had in mind, i.e. £52,193, according to the Telegraph.

A £100,000 plus pension would not go down well in the current climate, if ever.

Mr Maude has asked the Prime Minister about Lord Falconer's pension:

"Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 541W, on Ministers: pensions, whether Lord Falconer of Thoroton is to receive (a) a pension equivalent to that received by other Secretaries of State in the House of Lords, (b) a pension entitlement derived from the provisions of the Lord Chancellor’s Pension Act 1832 as amended or (c) a pension settlement on another basis in respect of his service as Lord Chancellor; and if he will make a statement. [258692]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the right hon. Member on 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 541W."

The 28 January answer referred Mr Maude to an answer Gordon Brown had given to Mark Hoban in October 2007, which had referred Mr Hoban to an answer Tony Blair had given to Oliver Heald in 2003!

"Mr. Heald: To ask the Prime Minister whether the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs will receive the pension entitlement of the Lord Chancellor (a) during the planned transition period before the proposed abolition of the office and (b) subsequently, if the office is abolished; and if he will make a statement. [120022]

The Prime Minister: No. The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs has elected to receive only a salary and pension equivalent to that received by other Secretaries of State in the House of Lords."

It would be helpful - for the public if not the Labour Party - if a specific figure could be put on Lord Falconer's pension entitlement.

Tom Greeves

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25 Nov 2008 10:00:00

Oral questions for Work and Pensions

The House of Commons was dominated by the Pre-Budget Report yesterday, which has been well reported elsewhere on ConservativeHome. But there was also an oral questions session on Work and Pensions.

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, exposed a worrying fact - that far too many gas fitters are not properly qualified:

"Mr. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con): CORGI estimates that as many as 20,000 people are working illegally with gas in the UK. What more can the Government do to ensure that the public are aware of the dangers of employing unqualified workers?

Jonathan Shaw: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question. He is right: about 10 per cent. of installations were carried out by people who are still not registered with CORGI, and more needs to be done on that. As part of the arrangements for the new contract with Capita, that body will donate about £1.7 million to a charity. My noble Friend Lord McKenzie is asking other energy providers to put in resources, too. That fund will be used further to raise awareness. The more we do to raise awareness, the greater the reduction in the number of fatalities will be."

Philip Dunne, the Ludlow MP, uncovered latest unemployment figures:

"Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): How many jobseeker’s allowance claimants there were in (a) the UK and (b) Ludlow constituency on the latest date for which figures are available.    [237964]

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): The number of people in the UK claiming jobseeker’s allowance in October was 980,900. In Ludlow, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance was 651.

Mr. Dunne: I am delighted that the Secretary of State is aware that unemployment in Ludlow has gone up by 10.5 per cent. in the past year alone, but why are there 300,000 fewer British people in work today than two years ago, while there are almost 1 million migrant workers in work?

James Purnell: On the first part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, we totally understand that people will be worried about the economic circumstances, and our commitment is to do everything that we can to help people get back into work if they lose their job. That is why we have announced, for example, an extra £100 million—to do exactly that. We will do that to ensure that we never reach the unemployment levels that we had in the past of almost 3,000 people, not 651, in his constituency at the height of the previous recession."

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