Richard Drax MP

19 Mar 2013 00:00:02

Fourteen Tory MPs defy Cameron on press regulation

By Paul Goodman
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Fourteen Conservative MPs voted against David Cameron's proposals on press regulation earlier this evening - or, rather, against the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which set out proposals for exemplary damages in relation to newspapers and websites that refuse to be regulated by the new regulator. The Hansard list isn't up yet, but I'm told that they were -

  • Richard Bacon
  • Christopher Chope
  • Tracey Crouch
  • Philip Davies
  • Nick de Bois
  • Andrew Percy
  • Mark Reckless
  • John Redwood
  • Andrew Turner
  • Martin Vickers
  • Charles Walker
  • Sarah Wollaston

- and that the tellers were Richard Drax and Jacob Rees Mogg.  I'm also told that there was only vote (on which there were rebellions, at any rate).  We will see more when the whole of yesterday's Hansard is published.  But we don't need to view it to laud this tiny band as heroes of free speech.

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.

11 Jul 2012 06:56:36

Highlights of yesterday's Lords reform debate

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday's debate on the Lords Reform Bill was heated, yet relatively polite. I noticed far more speakers against reform of the Lords than for - perhaps because pro-reform Tories knew, the programme motion having been withdrawn, that they would win the Second Reading vote easily (thanks to Labour votes).

Many Tories early in the debate - the initial stages took the form of Sir George Young, the Leader of the House, and his Shadow, Angela Eagle, giving statements on behalf of their leaderships - gave answers which followed the format of "Of course the current Lords is indefensible, but so is this Bill". Gareth JOHNSON GARETHJohnson (Dartford) did not take that line. He was proud to be in favour of the Lords' position as an unelected house:

"I have never defied the party line before, and it is something I hope not to do throughout my time in Parliament, but the Bill is fundamentally wrong. I have been a loyal supporter of both the Government and my party, but I am proud to be British, proud of our constitution and proud of our Parliament. The other place forms an essential part of our constitution, our heritage, history and culture, and once it is gone, it is gone. Seven hundred years of history will be undone if we support the Bill. I want to be able to look my children in the eye and say, “I did not forsake the British constitution. I said no.”"

HART SIMONSimon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) took a similar line:

"I may be in a small minority, but I am one of those people who do not become infected by the view that we must have a democratic House of Lords. I do not want a democratic House of Lords, and that is precisely why I shall vote against the Bill. I want objectivity, expertise, experience and wisdom, all the qualities that we are told so often that we do not have in this House. I do not want Members of the House of Lords to be subject to the electoral and party pressures to which we may be subject here."


Continue reading "Highlights of yesterday's Lords reform debate" »

5 Jul 2012 14:47:02

Philip Hammond gets rough reception from some Tories as he announces historic cuts to the Army

By Matthew Barrett
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Hammond statement

Philip Hammond's statement to the House this afternoon announcing cuts to the Army was bound to be a challenging time for the Secretary of State for Defence. The announcement signals the beginning of a long transformation for the Army, and jobs will undoubtedly be lost as a result of the changes. Mr Hammond told the House that the 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, 2nd Battalion the Royal Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire regiment, 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh would all be "withdrawn" or disbanded. The Secretary of State said: 

"These withdrawals and mergers, unwelcome as I know they will be in the units affected, are fair and balanced, and have been carefully structure to minimise the impact of the regular manpower reduction and optimise the military effectiveness of the Army."

Continue reading "Philip Hammond gets rough reception from some Tories as he announces historic cuts to the Army" »

2 Jul 2012 20:18:25

34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging

By Matthew Barrett
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Lansley2On Friday, 50 MPs, including 34 Conservatives, wrote a letter to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, expressing their "serious concerns" with the Department of Health’s proposal to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

The letter stated that:

"There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will have any public health benefit; no country in the world has yet to introduce it. However, such a measure could have extremely negative consequences elsewhere. The proposal will be a smuggler’s charter. ... this policy threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector, and over 65,000 valued jobs in the associated supply chain. ... Given the continued difficult economic climate, businesses should not be subjected to further red tape and regulation"

The signatories of the letter also expressed concern about the freedom aspect of blocking any branding of tobacco products:

"...we believe products must be afforded certain basic commercial freedoms. The forcible removal of branding would infringe fundamental legal rights, severely damage principles around intellectual property and set a dangerous precedent for the future of commercial free speech. Indeed, if the Department of Health were to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products, would it also do the same for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and all other products deemed unhealthy for us?"

Continue reading "34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging" »

8 May 2012 13:03:56

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

By Matthew Barrett
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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" »

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" »

9 Nov 2011 16:40:45

Government EU budget motion passes without rebellion

By Paul Goodman
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COMMONS-sittingThere are conflicting views at present about where Conservative Euro-revolts go next.  One is that they peaked on the vote over an EU referendum.  Another is that they will climb higher if Britain enters any new treaty negotiations without a repatriation of powers proposal. My view is the latter (were the Government to present a bill based on such a treaty).

But either way, it is worth recording briefly that a Government motion relating to future EU budgets was passed yesterday evening without a Tory backbench amendment.  Both a source loyal to the Government and a rebel used the same phrase to me yesterday about potential future rebellions - "guerilla warfare".

In other words, they are united in agreeing that rebellions will be back sooner or later, but for the moment there is no appetite for more among most of the 81 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government on the referendum motion.  I think that Tracey Crouch's letter to Mark Pritchard last week rather caught the mood.

Continue reading "Government EU budget motion passes without rebellion" »

31 Aug 2011 14:29:55

Ten new MPs responsible for a quarter of all rebellious votes by Tory MPs

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sitting As reported last week, this Parliament has seen more rebellions than during the Major years, and in fact, the 2010 intake has been the most rebellious since at least 1945. The last Parliamentary year has seen Conservative rebellions on issues such as European bailouts, recognising marriage in the tax system, or on law and order matters.

An interesting new post by Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham's NottsPolitics blog shows just ten Conservative MPs from the 2010 intake are responsible for nearly a quarter of all rebellious votes by Conservative MPs. 

Their findings also show:

  • Tory newcomers have accounted for 31% of rebellious votes cast by all Conservative MPs
  • More 2010 intake Conservative MPs have rebelled (46), compared to Labour MPs (21) or the Lib Dems (7)
  • 31% of new Tory MPs have now rebelled
  • New Conservative rebels have cast 249 rebellious votes

Continue reading "Ten new MPs responsible for a quarter of all rebellious votes by Tory MPs" »

21 Jun 2011 17:15:09

Iain Duncan Smith sets out and defends the Government's pensions legislation

By Matthew Barrett
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DUNCAN SMITH AT CSJYesterday saw the Second Reading in the Commons of the Pensions Bill - the legislation currently in the news which accelerates the existing timetable for increasing the State Pension age to 66. This will mean the pension age will be increased from 60 to 65 for women by 2018, before being raised to 66 for both men and women in 2020.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, said the core aim of the Bill is to "to secure this country’s retirement system, putting it on a stable and sustainable footing for the future."

The news headlines surrounding the Bill relate to the fact that women born in March 1953 will begin to receive their pension at 62, but women born in April 1953 will have to wait until 65. Mr Duncan Smith was asked about this early on in his remarks: 

"Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Given that the vast majority of the 600,000 people who will be excluded from getting a pension under the raised threshold are women, is the Secretary of State at all worried that the Bill is beginning to look as if it discriminates against women?

Mr Duncan Smith: I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s concern. We are not blind to the issue, but we have decided to strike a balance between making the scheme work from the beginning and avoiding driving people on very low incomes into sacrificing too much and therefore not seeing the rewards. It is important to make the point that in the Green Paper, as the hon. Gentleman will have noticed, we talk about the single tier pension, from which there will be very significant benefits to women. We hope that in due course that will achieve a balance.

I do not dismiss the hon. Gentleman’s considerations. We keep the issue constantly under review and will watch carefully to see what happens. It is important that we get auto-enrolment off the ground in a stable manner. I hope hon. Members on both sides of the House recognise that these are balanced decisions—sometimes nuanced decisions—that we have to take, but we will make sure that we review them."

Mr Duncan Smith was also asked about this specific group of women several times, by Members on all sides, including Conservatives Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) and James Gray (North Wiltshire), as well as Labour's socially conservative welfare reformer, Frank Field. Mr Duncan Smith stood his ground and defended the Government's policy:

Continue reading "Iain Duncan Smith sets out and defends the Government's pensions legislation" »

19 Jun 2011 16:18:35

Majority of the 50 most "cost-efficient" MPs are Conservatives

By Matthew Barrett
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HoCThe company Key Business Insight's "Commons Performance Cockpit" ranks MPs by their total cost - that is, staffing costs, travel expenses, office costs, salary, and so on. The majority of the 50 "most efficient" MPs, in terms of total cost, are Conservatives. 

The top 50 "most efficient" MPs between 1st April, 2010 and 31st March, 2011 are listed below:

  1. Dan Jarvis (Labour, Barnsley Central) £5,457*
  2. Deborah Abrahams (Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth) £12,472**
  3. Eric Illsley (Labour, Barnsley Central) £57,485***
  4. Zac Goldsmith (Conservative, Richmond Park) £59,242
  5. Rushanara Ali (Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow) £59,242
  6. Ben Gummer (Conservative, Ipswich) £60,422
  7. Gavin Shuker (Labour, Luton South) £60,687
  8. George Eustice (Conservative, Camborne and Redruth) £60,692
  9. Sam Gyimah (Conservative, East Surrey) £60,899
  10. Matthew Offord (Conservative, Hendon) £61,077
  11. Anne-Marie Morris (Conservative, Newton Abbot) £61,292
  12. Teresa Pearce (Labour, Erith and Thamesmead) £61,776
  13. Mark Reckless (Conservative, Rochester and Strood) £61,780
  14. Guy Opperman (Conservative, Hexham) £61,857
  15. Gemma Doyle (Labour, West Dunbartonshire) £62,324
  16. Christopher Pincher (Conservative, Tamworth) £62,583
  17. Stella Creasy (Labour, Walthamstow)  £63,510
  18. Ian Paisley, Jnr (Democratic Unionist, North Antrim) £64,755
  19. Richard Drax (Conservative, South Dorset)  £65,102
  20. Owen Smith (Labour, Pontypridd) £65,157
  21. Damian Hinds (Conservative, East Hampshire) £65,365
  22. Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge) £65,396
  23. Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative, Spelthorne) £65,571
  24. Gavin Barwell (Conservative, Croydon Central)  £65,651
  25. Jonathan Lord (Conservative, Woking) £66,162
  26. Rebecca Harris (Conservative, Castle Point) £66,576
  27. Anas Sarwar (Labour, Glasgow Central) £67,630
  28. Andrea Leadsom (Conservative, South Northamptonshire)  £67,940
  29. Claire Perry (Conservative, Devizes) £68,047
  30. Sajid Javid (Conservative, Bromsgrove)  £68,171
  31. Sarah Newton (Conservative, Truro and Falmouth) £68,172
  32. Conor Burns (Conservative, Bournemouth West) £68,443
  33. Eric Ollerenshaw (Conservative, Lancaster and Fleetwood)  £68,624
  34. Margaret Ritchie (SDLP, South Down) £68,705
  35. Rehman Chisti (Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham) £68,917
  36. Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist, Strangford)  £69,063
  37. Liz Kendall (Labour, Leicester West) £69,147
  38. George Hollingberry (Conservative, Meon Valley) £69,251
  39. Alok Sharma (Conservative, Reading West)  £69,273
  40. Chris Kelly (Conservative, Dudley South) £70,316
  41. Angie Bray (Conservative, Ealing Central and Acton) £70,334
  42. Naomi Long (Alliance, Belfast East) £70,581
  43. Kate Green (Labour, Stretford and Urmston)  £70,619
  44. Margot James (Conservative, Stourbridge)  £70,755
  45. Pamela Nash (Labour, Airdrie and Shotts) £70,842
  46. Jack Dromey (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)  £70,912
  47. Kris Hopkins (Conservative, Keighley)  £70,944
  48. Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock) £70,966
  49. Shabana Mahmood (Labour, Birmingham Ladywood) £71,072
  50. Tristram Hunt (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent Central) £71,269

*Took his seat on 3rd March, 2011
**Took her seat on 13th January, 2011
***Resigned his seat on 8th February, 2011 

25 May 2011 07:28:32

Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts

By Jonathan Isaby
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We have already highlighted the result of the vote of yesterday's debate on the future use of the European Financial Stability Mechanism to bail out eurozone countries, which saw a rebellion by thirty Conservative MPs.

As I explained yesterday afternoon, Mark Reckless MP proposed a motion that would have required the Government to place the EFSM on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and effectively mandated British ministers to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement relieving the UK of liability had been agreed. Reckless wrote about it for ConHome on Monday.

However, Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris - at the behest of Tory whips, according to a variety of sources - tabled an amendment signed by a large number of fellow backbenchers which watered down the original motion, instead merely urging the Government to raise the issue and expressing support for "any measures which would lead to an agreement for a Eurozone-only arrangement".

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, a signatory to the Reckless motion, was incandescent.

Continue reading "Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts" »

11 Feb 2011 07:23:27

Highlights from the Conservative contributions to the debate on votes for prisoners

By Jonathan Isaby

Prisoners votes In advance of yesterday's debate on votes for prisoners, the man moving the motion, David Davis, made his case on ConHome here.

So below are some of the highlights from the contributions of other Conservatives during the debate.

NB A full breakdown of how all MPs voted is here.

South West Devon MP Gary Streeter said the motion invited people to address  the "fundamental issue" of "whether or not we can pass our own laws":

"There comes a time when it is necessary to take a stand. I argue that right now, on this issue, it is right for this House, today, to assert its authority. The judgment of the ECHR in the Hirst case flies in the face of the original wording and purpose of the European convention on human rights, in which it was clearly intended that each signatory should have latitude in making decisions on the electoral franchise in that country.

"We decided in this country centuries ago that convicted criminals should not have the right to vote, and I support that decision. After all, the punitive element of incarceration is the denial for the time being of certain rights and privileges that our citizens enjoy. We decided long ago that in addition to surrendering their liberty, convicted criminals while in prison would also give up their right to vote. That was the case in 1953 when the treaty on human rights was signed, and it remains the case."

Attorney General Dominic Grieve set out the Government's position early in the debate:

"Ministers will abstain. The Government believe that the proper course of action will be to reflect on what has been said and think about what proposals to bring back to the House in the light of the debate. The Government are here to listen to the views of the House, which are central and critical to this debate, as was acknowledged in the Hirst case."

Continue reading "Highlights from the Conservative contributions to the debate on votes for prisoners" »

10 Sep 2010 15:59:01

MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of British troops remaining in Afghanistan (with only one Tory MP dissenting)

By Jonathan Isaby and Paul Goodman

8.45 pm update: It's also worth noting the amendment tabled by Julian Lewis, supported by three other Conservative MPs, which sought to add to the motion the following words -

"provided that a more realistic military strategy is adopted designed to fulfil the United Kingdom's long-term interests in the region at lesser cost in life, limb and financial resources".

Lewis argued that -

"...all the Governments are signed up to an unrealistic strategy which ought to be changed. The reality is that General Richards was not really wrong in what he said previously and he is not really wrong when he says that we ought to be talking to the enemy. It is a question of timing. The truth of the matter is that General Petraeus is absolutely right to pursue such a counter-insurgency strategy, provided that we have all the time in the world and that we are prepared to take the casualties that are being inflicted on us by irregular forces. If we are not prepared to take those casualties, we will have to adopt a more realistic strategy, because otherwise we will withdraw arbitrarily and, on our withdrawal, the likelihood of the Afghan Government's being able to sustain themselves is open to doubt."

His speech can be read here.  He was supported in the lobbies by Philip Hollobone and Andrew Turner.  Conservative MPs seem to have been whipped to vote against the amendment.


Yesterday saw a debate initiated by the Backbench Business Committee on the presence of British troops in Afghanistan.

The motion before the Commons was "That this House supports the continued deployment of UK armed forces in Afghanistan" and was passed by 310 votes to 14. Only one Conservative opposed the motion - John Baron - and two Lib Dems, Julian Huppert and John Hemming. The remaining opponents were a variety of Labour MPs along with the Green and a Plaid Cymru member.

Below are some of the highlights of the Conservative contributions.

Bob Stewart Commons Bob Stewart (Beckenham):

"We have made some fundamental mistakes. I am not blaming anyone, but we made mistakes in 2006 when we dissipated our forces so they were in platoon houses and were not within the envelope. That meant that they could not have protection from artillery, and we had to use air power instead. The air power protecting them knocked out houses around them and killed local people, turning the people against our forces. In 2007 and 2008 we had gone back to counter-insurgency tactics—taking, holding, building—and our gallant troops went in to take, but they could not hold. They had to withdraw. Perhaps Members remember those pictures of helicopters flying with men strapped aboard to try to bring troops back. We could not hold the ground. Also, of course, our enemy came in and put devices on the ground that caused real problems, and they continue to do so to this day.

"We now have a situation in which there is an increase in the number of soldiers on the ground, principally from the United States, and the principles of counter-insurgency are, in fact, beginning to work. They are protecting the people, and the key is whether the Afghan people feel protected and safe and can live a decent life."

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