John Redwood MP

19 Mar 2013 00:00:02

Fourteen Tory MPs defy Cameron on press regulation

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

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.

17 Mar 2013 15:24:33

John Redwood and Douglas Carswell worry about banking panic after confiscation of Cyprus deposits

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

BFgqpVhCAAAoDzI.jpg-largeTory MPs have reacted with concern to the terms of a bailout of Cyprus' banks which will see up to 9.9% of depositors' money confiscated as part-payment for the rescue.

John Redwood has blogged that savers have been "mugged". The unexpected raid on depositors was, he continued, "a great way to encourage the mass migration of savings from weak banks in the Euro area to stronger banks somewhere else." Douglas Carswell agrees. The Clacton MP told the Mail on Sunday that "ordinary Europeans are being fleeced by the Continent’s elite in order to rescue foolish banks." "Why," he asked, "would you risk putting your money in Greek, Spanish or Portuguese banks after this?" ATMs of Cypriot banks have been emptied this weekend by anxious savers. UKIP's Nigel Farage called the bank levy "theft, pure and simple". Eurozone leaders have done little to reassure investors in other troubled parts of the single currency. The Times' Sam Coates Tweeted that Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of group of EZ ministers, "declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus".

George Osborne, meanwhile, has said that British troops and other government workers serving in Cyprus will be compensated for the EU's extraordinary levy. He told BBC1 that for "people serving in our military and serving our government we are going to compensate anyone affected by this bank tax." The Chancellor also used the news to reinforce his argument that deficit reduction must continue. Cyprus was, he said, "an example of what happens if you don't show the world that you can pay your way".

> Our ToryDiary report of George Osborne's BBC1 interview.

7 Mar 2013 17:31:00

What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

With the Budget less than a couple of weeks away, I thought it would be a good time to collect some of the recommendations being put to George Osborne by Tory parliamentarians. Of course, the parliamentarians listed below may want other measures too – and there may be other parliamentarians who want what they want – but I’ve tried to go with the most prominent examples from the past few weeks. If you think I’ve missed anyone off, please do shout out in the comments section, or email me on pete @ (without the spaces).

Robert Halfon MP: The reinstatement of the 10p tax rate

RHRobert explained how and why he wants the 10p rate of income tax reinstated in a recent article for ConservativeHome. Here’s a snippet:

“When Labour brought in the 50p income tax-rate, it cost HMRC something like £7 billion pounds overnight, as people changed their behaviour to avoid the new tax. This year, the Coalition will cut that 50p income tax-rate down to 45p, because this is expected to raise more money from the rich, not less. The message of the campaign at — or, alternatively — is that we should use every extra penny raised from this to restore the 10p basic rate of income tax, to help lower earners. Added to the Universal Credit, this will help stop disincentives to employment, and to ensure that work always pays.”

He also discussed the policy on the Daily Politics today.

Continue reading "What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget" »

7 Mar 2013 09:57:44

The No Leaking Stories Group?

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 09.33.24"Well, gentlemen, I see we have a good gathering tonight," said side-burned Forth, like a teddy boy relishing a dust-up with some mods at the local disco. "I think we ought to have a discussion of what this group believes in.  I must say I always thought we believed in lower taxes, locking up more criminals and standing up for Britain. But now I am told we stand for something called REACHING OUT! He shrieked the words with melodramatic disgust."

This morning's account in the Times (£) of a "dinner table plot to unseat the coalition" turns out to be the second subtantial leak from the No Turning Back Group - the right-of-party-centre backbench dining club of Conservative MPs of which I was once a member.  The first is chronicled in loving detail in Simon Walters's romp, Tory Wars, and I quote from the words of the late, great Eric Forth - whose attack on Michael Portillo opens the account. (It followed Portillo's speech to the Conservative Conference in 2000.)

Key quotes:

  • Portillo: "Presumably you want homosexuals and lesbians to vote for us? We don't want to say to them: "We don't like you, we don't want your vote."
  • Owen Paterson: "You are obsessed by a few issues which are of great interest to the metropolitan elite, but they are of no concern to most of our members who don't live in London."
  • Alan Duncan: "Michael is right. We have got to appeal to other groups such as ethnic minorities."
  • John Bercow: "If we give the impression that we are bigoted about gays or people of other races, then we will lose floating votes too."
  • "Redwood, relishing the sight of his right-wing adversary [Portillo] being roasted on the spit, gave it another turn. 'We are not bigots. We simply don't want to make these issues a big part of Conservative policies.' "
  • "David Davis, who arrived late, sat back and enjoyed the spectacle of his best friend Forth making a fool of Portillo, whom he had long held in contempt."

Over ten years on, how fortunate we are that these contentious issues have been put to rest!

A word on the Times's story and the NTB itself. The Times refers to some MPs “chuntering” about a leadership contest.  If that's all that took place, what took place wasn't a "plot" - so the headline is a bit out of proportion.  The Times mentions the idea of a "mandate referendum" to precede the In-Out one to which David Cameron is committed.  There's no great mystery about whose idea that is.  It's Davis's.  We know that because...he set it out publicly at a ConservativeHome conference last autumn.

Finally, note the names quoted in the Times story: Davis, Redwood, Liam Fox, Bernard Jenkin. Chris Grayling.  These names are those of very senior MPs.  The report also says: "it is understood that about a dozen MPs were present".  If that's right, it sounds like a gathering consisting almost entirely of senior and older MPs.  I wonder if the NTB is replenishing its membership.  At any rate, no member of the 2010 intake, which now constitutes half the Parliamentary Party, is quoted in the story.

When I was a member of the NTB in the last Parliament, about 20 or so MPs would turn up regularly, including John Baron, Mark Harper, Jonathan Djanogly, Andrew Turner, and Angela Watkinson.  Clubs of Tory MPs spring up all the time - for example, the Free Enterprise Group, which gave very public advice to Osborne earlier this week - and the more established ones must renew themselves to stay at the cutting edge.  One thing's certain: the NTB will this morning be undertaking a leak enquiry. 

24 Jan 2013 08:29:38

What is the Bruges Group?

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

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?" »

14 Dec 2012 07:27:35

Anyone for the John Redwood manifesto?

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

It is by far the best blog written by any Tory MP. Each day - without fail - John Redwood offers a thoughtful reflection on a policy or strategic issue of the day. I suspect many ConHome readers are already regular readers but here is my selection of the former Welsh Secretary's wisdom as blogged by him in the last couple of months. My guess is that many Tory Party members wish that wisdom was more regularly embraced by those leading our party...

Redwood Revolutionary

Climate change policies need to be multilateral to be fair and effective: "The EU needs to negotiate multilateral reductions, not just unliateral reductions in its own contribution to the world totals." 12th December.

A later retirement age: "Many of us wish to be generous to pensioners, so maybe as longevity rises so we have to make further increases in the age of retirement to help balance the books. A 60 or 65 year old today is on average fitter and likely to live considerably longer than the equivalent twenty years ago." 8th December.

No unemployment benefits for recent immigrants: "We should not extend out of work benefits to people who recently arrived in the UK and are not UK citizens." 8th December.

Continue reading "Anyone for the John Redwood manifesto?" »

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

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.

7 Nov 2012 11:33:34

Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Here's David Cameron's statement:

“I would like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.

I have really enjoyed working with him over the last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years.

There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal.

Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.

Above all, congratulations to Barack. I’ve enjoyed working with him, I think he’s a very successful US president and I look forward to working with him in the future.

Continue reading "Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory" »

8 May 2012 13:03:56

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

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

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" »

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 " »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

26 Apr 2012 16:52:24

What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

In my series profiling groups of Tory MPs, most groups I've looked at have been mostly or wholly composed of 2010 intake MPs. The next group is bit different, as it was founded more than 25 years ago. The No Turning Back group has a proud history of celebrating and promoting Thatcherism. How is the group doing now? In this profile, I'll be examining what No Turning Back, the backbench group for Thatcherites in Parliament, is doing now. 

Origins of the group

Thatcher1No Turning Back was founded in 1985 to defend Mrs Thatcher's free-market policies. The 25 founding members included, amongst others, now-Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon, now-Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, and the late, great Eric Forth.

The name of the group comes from Mrs Thatcher's famous conference speech given in October 1980:

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends."

Key members

There are about 100 members of the group, which is chaired by John Redwood, including "quite a lot" from the 2010 intake. Members include such big beasts as John Redwood, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Lord Forsyth, and Liam Fox. Current Conservative officeholders who are members of the group include the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron's PPS, Desmond Swayne; Nick Clegg's Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mark Harper; the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers; a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly; three government whips, Angela Watkinson, Mark Francois and Greg Hands; the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, Greg Knight; and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, who was Mrs Thatcher's Political Secretary in the late 1980s.

Continue reading "What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame" »

22 Mar 2012 15:00:13

An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

Traditionally, after a Budget speech, high-profile MPs speak in the debate that follows, to give their verdict on the Budget. Compiled below are some of the most significant contributions. 

TYRIE ANDREWFirstly, Andrew Tyrie, the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, raised his concerns about the Government's proposed scheme for banks to lend to small businesses:

"Yesterday’s announcement on the loan guarantee scheme responded to many constituents’ complaints that they simply cannot get the money they need to run or start up small businesses. We all have constituents in that position, and the scheme will offer some welcome relief. How much relief? I think it will offer only a little, and there is a risk of the banks pocketing most of the money. The Treasury Committee, the Public Accounts Committee— I do not know whether its Chair is in her place—and the National Audit Office all need to play a role in ensuring that the banks do not run off with the money, and that value for money is secured."

Tyrie nevertheless commended the scheme:

"I still think the scheme may turn out to be valuable, for several reasons. First, by announcing it the Chancellor has raised the salience of an important issue and put pressure on the banks not to dismiss requests for loans without examining them properly. Furthermore, it seems to me that the Treasury’s own pessimistic briefing yesterday that the money will go only to existing borrowers is almost certainly mistaken. There is very likely to be some more lending, because banks will benefit from the stronger financial position of firms to which they have lent. Those loans, in turn, will be less risky for the banks, so they should have some more headroom for new lending without altering their risk profile."

Continue reading "An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne" »

13 Mar 2012 15:58:04

Tory MPs condemn Government interference over Backbench Business Committee

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

The Government's decision to change the rules of the Backbench Business Committee - the substance of which I wrote about yesterday morning - was debated and voted upon in the House yesterday. John Redwood has written on his blog about the debate:

"Yesterday the government rushed proposals through to change the way the Committee is elected in future, against the wishes of the current Committee. It was a sad and strange decision. Everyone speaking claimed the current Committee has done a good job. They were all elected by the whole House. They have not operated in a party political way. Now the government wants them to be elected by party, with Conservatives voting for Conservative members and Labour voting for Labour members. Backbenchers fear the front bench aim is to exert more influence over who gets these jobs."

This perfectly sums up the spirit of contributions from Conservative backbenchers, the highlights of which I have selected below.

Bone PeterPeter Bone criticised the Government for u-turning on the Wright reforms, which it had supported "vigorously" in Opposition:

"The Government’s actions fly in the face of the House of Commons Reform Committee report, “Rebuilding the House”, which proposed what are known throughout the House as the Wright reforms. Those reforms were designed to restore trust in Parliament and to reduce the power of the Executive. They were the very reforms that the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House supported so vigorously when they were in opposition. I am sad to say that it has taken less than two years for the Government to do a U-turn and go back to the bad old days of the Executive trying to tell Parliament what to do. There have been several signs over the past few months that the Government are adopting the policy of always knowing right and of assuming that Parliament is there only to rubber-stamp their decisions. This motion is the clearest and most obvious breach of their commitment to put Parliament first."

Continue reading "Tory MPs condemn Government interference over Backbench Business Committee" »

1 Mar 2012 16:43:13

Conservative backbenchers slate Fiscal Union treaty and urge Greek exit from the €uro

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

CasheurefYesterday in the House, an emergency debate was held on the following resolution, which was moved by Bill Cash:

"That this House has considered the matter of the legal and other action now to be taken by the Government in upholding the rule of law and protecting UK interests in respect of the nature and content of the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union."

Cash made his case for us yesterday on Comment, saying more Europe always leads to less prosperity and more disorder. Other Members who spoke made the following points:

Leadsom AndreaAndrea Leadsom was pleased with the opportunity for "change" as a result of any new treaty:

"The euro summit will consider things such as competition and structures, and inevitably will, therefore, be a forum for caucusing... So change is in the air.  I take great pleasure in the fact that, because change is in the air, there is the opportunity for change for Britain too. The prospect is no longer of a two-speed Europe but of a multi-tier Europe—in respect not just of those in the eurozone and those outside it but of those in the Schengen arrangement and those outside it, and of those great fishing nations interested only in the common fishing area and those who wish to be excluded from it. A multi-tier Europe in which member states can pursue their own particular interests but join together in areas of common cause is the opportunity facing us."


Continue reading "Conservative backbenchers slate Fiscal Union treaty and urge Greek exit from the €uro" »