Simon Hart MP

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

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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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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against reform of the Lords than for - perhaps because pro-reform Tories knew, the programme motion having been withdrawn, that they would win the Second Reading vote easily (thanks to Labour votes).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?"

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24 Jun 2011 06:13:58

The substance of yesterday's debate about banning wild animals from circuses

By Jonathan Isaby
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Paul has already covered the row yesterday afternoon between Tory MP and 1922 Committee Secretary, Mark Pritchard, and the Government Whips' Office and their attempt to persuade him to withdraw his motion proposing an outright ban on wild animals from circuses.

So what was the substance of the debate?

Pritchard's motion proposed directing "the Government to use its powers under section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a regulation banning the use of all wild animals in circuses to take effect by 1 July 2012." but the Government was not at all happy about that, as Defra Minister, James Paice, was forced to explain:

Picture 13 "We had a new set of advice from our lawyers and we had to use that in coming to our view. It clearly indicated that there were serious risks of a legal challenge should we opt for an outright ban, despite our being minded to do so. I will return to the detail of those legalities because that has occupied much of the afternoon’s debate, but it is for that reason and in the interest of avoiding a long judicial process that we concluded that the quickest way to reduce and, we hoped, eliminate cruelty to wild animals in our circuses would be a robust licensing system, which might well result in circuses deciding to stop keeping such animals."

"If the House were to approve the motion, the Government would have to respect that, but as a Minister I am duty bound to lay before it the possible consequences—I stress the word “possible”—of that decision not only for the Government, but for the House, taxpayers and possibly the animals that we are concerned about... The legal advice we have received on section 12 of the 2006 Act is that although it could be used as the basis for a total ban, it is highly likely that we would be challenged on the basis that an outright ban was a disproportionate measure for improving welfare in circuses.

But Mark Pritchard was indefatigable in his defence of his proposal:

"Today, this country has three travelling circuses with a total of 39 wild animals, including zebras, tigers, lions and camels. Until the recent exposure of the brutality with which Annie the elephant was treated, there were also elephants, but there are now no elephants in circuses in England... The trouble with the Government’s proposed licensing scheme is that it would create a new generation of animals that could be imported. It would give a green light to new imports. We might not have any elephants left in our circuses now, but we would certainly have some if the new licensing regime came into effect. My concern is shared by 92% of the public, and there are very few public policy areas that attract that support. I am concerned about the cruel and cramped conditions in the housing and transportation of these wild animals. Countries including Singapore, Bolivia, Israel and Hungary have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Many of those circuses are commercially successful.

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8 Jun 2010 18:15:03

Simon Hart reminds the Government not to forget rural Britain in his maiden speech as Margot James celebrates the "basic truths" and values of her constituents

Simon Hart Commons The outgoing Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart, gained the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire at the election and of his rural constituency, he said that “it should not be thought that everything is rosy in our particular garden”:

“We have the same economic and social problems as any other constituency, which is why today’s debate is so crucial. I was encouraged when the Deputy Prime Minister nodded in the direction of rurality in the context of constitutional reform.

“People who form just 2% of the electorate cannot help thinking from time to time that their votes may not count for anything at all, and cannot help thinking from time to time that Governments are there to do things to them rather than for them. If we have learned anything at all in rural communities during the election campaign it is that voters have told us that cheaper is not necessarily the same as better in politics, and that quality was raised much more often than cost in our doorstep conversations.”

He summarised the political philosophy of those who sent him to Westminster thus:

“Our voters hope that this new coalition will adopt a less-is-more approach to government and will have at its heart four simple objectives: to keep us safe; to keep us solvent; to keep us healthy; and to keep us free from prejudice and discrimination. Honour and respect for politics and Parliament will be restored only if we apply those simple rules to every single decision we take in this House.”

Margot james Commons Margot James, who gained Stourbridge, also took the time to celebrate the values of her constituents in her maiden speech:

“The people of the black country and Stourbridge hold on to certain basic truths that are not just old-fashioned notions that can simply be cast aside—for example, that one should never borrow what one cannot pay back, that we should not foster a culture in which people are led to expect something for nothing, and that, in the more elegant prose of Abraham Lincoln:

“You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

“Finally, as a Christian country, and indeed a country of many faiths, we should always look after those who cannot look after themselves. During my time of service in the House, I will work to reflect those enduring values for my constituents in Stourbridge.”

Jonathan Isaby