Robin Walker MP

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

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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.

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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."


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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" »

9 Jun 2010 18:07:01

Robin Walker and Mark Pawsey pay tribute to the fathers in whose parliamentary footsteps they are following

Two MPs who were elected at the general election for the same seats that their fathers once represented made their maiden speeches yesterday.

Robin Walker Commons First there was Robin Walker, son of Lord Walker of Worcester:

"There was, of course, another Member for Worcester with whom I am very familiar, but as my hon. Friend spoke so eloquently on his behalf in his maiden speech, I shall say only that, as many thousands of constituents have reminded me on their doorsteps, he is a hard act to follow. I owe that Member, my father, my lifelong knowledge of, and deep love for, my constituency and its history, not to mention my support for the once and future premiership rugby team, the Worcester Warriors, and my support—shared with the Governor of the Bank of England—for the cricket team, which has the most beautiful ground in the country."

He then put his political credo in an historic context:

"At the end of the battle of Worcester, the parson of the parliamentary army addressed the troops and said to them:

“Say you have been at Worcester, where England’s sorrows began, and where happily they are ended.”

"I hope that, given the alleged role of Worcester woman in bringing Labour to power over the past 13 years, the same might be said again today.

"The civil war was one of the historic events that gave us the evolved constitution that we have today. Respect for that constitution is one of the things that inspires me in politics, and, despite much tinkering over the past 13 years, there is still much to be defended: the unique position of the Crown; the privileges and stature of this mother of Parliaments in holding the Government to account; the powerful ties that bind Members to their constituencies; and a system of election that is simple, effective and allows for the removal of failed Governments. All those are worth fighting for with the same passion that our ancestors fought on the battlefields of Worcester."

He concluded by recalling the words of his father's maiden speech from 1961:

"The last Walker to speak for Worcester began his maiden speech by saying,

“I hope that if, in the course of my remarks…I make what are considered to be constructive criticisms of the Government’s economic policy, this will not be considered indicative of a person representing a constituency noted throughout the world for its production of sauce.”—[Official Report, 20 April 1961; Vol. 638, c. 1433.]

"I shall be equally ready to make constructive criticisms and to place my constituency at the forefront of my parliamentary career. In the interests of Worcester, I commend the Gracious Speech."

Mark Pawsey Commons The came Mark Pawsey. son of former Rugby MP, James Pawsey:

"Previous Members include Andy King and, before that, someone well known to me, since that person is my father—James Pawsey, who was first elected for Rugby in 1979. I know that it is not unusual for a son or a daughter to follow their father here, and there are many examples in the current intake. I join my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), who spoke just before me, as a son following a father into the same seat. My father still has an excellent reputation in Rugby as a hard-working constituency MP. Throughout the time that I was seeking to be elected, many potential constituents spoke to me about how much he has done for the people of Rugby. I have heard many similar tributes from people here since I arrived—colleagues and staff who remember his contributions, particularly in the field of education. Like my hon. Friend, I feel that I have a very tough act to follow."

He went on to voice his belief in the need to back business:

"I have spent 25 years starting, running, managing and building up a business, and I have a good understanding of the challenges that businesses face. We need to recognise more effectively those who create wealth and jobs. Small business is ready to make its contribution, but it needs a work force with the skills and the attitude to roll up their sleeves and play their part. Too often, regrettably, there is insufficient incentive for jobseekers to do that, and I welcome the changes in our welfare system that will put incentives to work firmly back in place. I make no apology for putting the case for manufacturing and for business, particularly small business, and I look forward to doing so in the House over the coming years, in addition to representing all the electors of Rugby, with whom I believe I have a special bond."

Jonathan Isaby