Simon Kirby MP

1 Dec 2012 08:18:01

A productive day in Parliament - with progress on banning illegal scrap metal dealing

By Matthew Barrett
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PARLIAMENTGenerally speaking, Fridays are unproductive days in Parliament. They are used to consider Private Member's Bills, which are often talked out by MPs, some of whom are serious in their opposition, and some of whom have been asked to block a Bill by a party hierarchy (not always their own). With the possibility of a PMB passing through to the next stage of consideration by Parliament often being risky, a day when several PMBs go through is notable.

Such a day happened yesterday. There were PMBs passed through in both Houses. In the Commons, Bills included:

  • Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill - Gavin Barwell
  • Marine Navigation (No. 2) Bill - Sheryll Murray
  • Presumption of Death Bill - John Glen
  • Mobile Homes Bill - Peter Aldous

And in the Lords, two went through:

  • Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill - Simon Kirby/Baroness Thomas of Winchester
  • Scrap Metal Dealers Bill - Richard Ottaway/Baroness Browning

The titles might be a little dry, but they dealt with common-sense causes, including stopping non-disabled drivers using disabled car parking spaces, and trying to stop illegal scrap metal dealing - often involving the terrible crime of stealing from churches and graves.

6 Nov 2012 20:07:35

Conservative MPs react to Nadine Dorries's suspension

By Paul Goodman
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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" »

6 Jul 2012 13:17:19

41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices

By Matthew Barrett
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C-home Fairness for motorists

Robert Halfon, the Member of Parliament for Harlow, and one of the most successful campaigning MPs in Parliament, has organised a motion, backed by 60 MPs from all parties, and including 41 Tories, calling for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate allegations of price-fixing by British oil companies. The full motion is worded as follows:

"That this House urges the OFT to investigate oil firms active in the UK; calls on the Government to consider the emergency actions being taken in other G20 nations to cut fuel prices, for example President Obama strengthening Federal supervision of the U.S. oil market, and increasing penalties for “market manipulation”, and Germany and Austria setting up a new oil regulator, with orders to help stabilise the price of petrol in the country; finally urges the Office of Fair Trading to note that the Federal Cartel Office in Germany is now investigating oil firms active in the UK, after allegations of price-fixing."

Continue reading "41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices" »

15 May 2012 15:45:08

Tomorrow's 1922 Committee Elections - nominations in full

By Paul Goodman
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8.45pm Update by Matthew Barrett: I have now learned which candidates are being backed by the traditional organisations on the right of the Conservative Party, such as the No Turning Back group. I have highlighted these in purple.


The following have been returned unopposed:-




Posts for which elections will take place (I have marked those previously identified by Tim as members of the 301 slate in blue):

1) Secretary - the following nominations have been received for TWO posts:


2) Executive members - the following nominations have been received for TWELVE posts.

PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.

Finally and separately, the following nominations have been received for Conservative members of the Backbench Business Committee - four posts:


14 May 2012 12:07:22

The People's Pledge announce shortlist of 39 constituencies for new European referendums

By Matthew Barrett
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4pm update: People's Pledge sources tells me that Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot has come out in support of a referendum

Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, has also backed a referendum. This is significant because Freer was not one of the 81 rebels, but has now come round to the view that Britain should have an in/out European referendum. 

These two new additions to the list of MPs supporting the People's Pledge means 68 MPs - from several parties - back a referendum. 


PeoplesPledge2Following on from their successful referendum campaign in Thurrock - turnout was higher than in the recent local elections - The People's Pledge campaign have announced further referendums, to be held in 3 contiguous seats. The campaign has announced a shortlist of 39 seats, grouped in 13 contiguous triples, from different regions, from which one triplet will be chosen in the next few days, with a polling date set for late July.

Continue reading "The People's Pledge announce shortlist of 39 constituencies for new European referendums" »

20 Apr 2012 06:33:09

Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee

By Matthew Barrett
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The 301 group is perhaps the most active and important group of backbench Tory MPs. Tim Montgomerie reported last week that three MPs - Charlie Elphicke, George Hollingbery and Priti Patel - want to organise a candidate to be elected to the 1922 Committee's executive who will give the '22 a focus on policy and campaigning. The Spectator's James Forsyth blogged that "The vote for their candidate, and his opponent, will give us the best idea yet of where the backbenches are at the moment politically. Indeed, I expect that the machinery of the 301 group, the most pro-Cameron of all the backbench groups, will be thrown behind the Elphicke-Hollingbery-Patel slate."

To organise or endorse candidates for the '22 is certainly the most power a backbench group has yet wielded in this Parliament. In this profile, I'll be looking at the origins, members, aims and plans of the group to get a sense of what the group wants to campaign for.

Origins of the group

HopkinsLeeThe 301 was first organised by Kris Hopkins (Keighley), a former soldier and leader of Bradford Council, and Jessica Lee (Erewash), a former barrister, and now Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The group began with small meetings of a handful of MPs who were "concerned that the narrative in Parliament was not representative of the conversation" that MPs had had with the electorate while campaigning during the 2010 general election, and also dissatisfied with the fact that the mechanisms of debate amongst backbenchers, and between the back and front benches, were not conducive to trying to correct that narrative. Each of those attending brought a friend, and so on, until after three meetings the group reached 60 members.

Continue reading "Who are the 301? The Tory MPs who want to refresh the 1922 Committee" »

17 Apr 2012 07:59:19

What is the 40 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the MPs trying to keep hold of the most marginal Tory seats

By Matthew Barrett
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I recently profiled the 2020 and Free Enterprise groups of Tory MPs. Those two groups are formed by ideology: MPs are attracted to the groups because, in the case of the Free Enterprise Group, members wish to open up markets and make Britain business-friendly enough to compete with other world class economies. The 2020's members want to renew and refresh Project Cameron, while considering how the country should look after a majority Conservative government.

The 40 is rather different as it is a group of MPs brought together solely by necessity - the members are those MPs who were elected in 2010 with the narrowest majorities in the Party.

Origins of the group and key members


The group was founded early last year by Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood), Graham Evans (Weaver Vale), and David Mowat (Warrington South). There is no rigid structure to the group as such, given its non-ideological purpose, but when it meets, the convener is usually David Mowat. Other key "executive" members of the group include Evans and Ollerenshaw, as well as Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye), James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) and Ben Gummer (Ipswich).

Continue reading "What is the 40 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the MPs trying to keep hold of the most marginal Tory seats" »

24 Mar 2012 08:02:40

The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'

6a00d83451b31c69e20167634cd8f7970bGavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, is this week's ConservativeHome Diarist. Follow Gavin on Twitter.

House of Lords reform

Much of my week has been spent on the contentious issue of House of Lords reform. Back in July, I was appointed to a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament that was tasked with scrutinising the Government’s draft House of Lords Reform Bill. Since then, we have considered a huge amount of evidence from proponents and opponents of reform and from various constitutional experts (self-appointed or otherwise), and on Monday and Wednesday we had the first two of three meetings where votes are cast to agree the exact wording of the report.

Being a member of this Committee has been one of the most interesting things I have done in my nearly two years in Parliament. As the recent discussions on ConservativeHome illustrated, House of Lords reform is an emotive issue that divides our party. The same is true of the Labour Party and even the Liberal Democrats to a lesser extent, so the divisions on the Committee are not along party lines and we have seen some unusual alliances!

Whatever one’s views on the issue of principle - whether those who have a hand in making the law ought to be elected - if the Government does decide to proceed, it is important that it does so in a way that doesn’t undermine the primacy of the House of Commons nor the relationship between an MP and his constituents, and doesn’t significantly increase the cost of politics. The Committee will make some sensible suggestions as to how the Government could improve its proposals and I hope our deliberations will result in changes that will make the proposals more palatable to ConservativeHome readers.

The Queen comes to Parliament

On Tuesday, I had a brief and welcome interlude from the arcane details of House of Lords reform when Her Majesty came to Westminster Hall to receive addresses from both Houses of Parliament and to see the Diamond Jubilee window, a gift paid for by MPs and Peers from all political parties. The window was the idea of my colleague Michael Ellis. His ennoblement is surely only a matter of time…

When Her Majesty ascended to the throne, Winston Churchill was still Prime Minister. In a period of profound changes to our country, she has been a symbol of continuity and her record of public service is one that stands as an example to all of us.

A Budget that rewards work

At 11.30 on Wednesday morning, I rushed from the Joint Committee meeting to grab a seat for Prime Minister’s Questions and the Budget that followed it. PMQs was a rather tepid affair - Ed Miliband clearly felt he couldn’t ask about the Health & Social Care Bill again, and that’s the only topic he really feels comfortable with, so he opted for some non-partisan questions about Afghanistan and some worthy questions about the Riot Damages Act.

The Chancellor delivered the Budget with real confidence - he is one Minister who has grown in stature in office. It was good to see that in the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts of growth, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits and borrowing had all improved slightly since the Autumn Statement.

Continue reading "The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'" »

7 Jun 2010 17:49:31

Mark Garnier, Simon Kirby, Julian Sturdy and Gareth Johnson all set out their scepticism about further European integration in their maiden speeches

Further to Andrew Bridgen’s speech, which I noted earlier, there were four more maiden speeches which addressed the European issue in last Thursday’s debate.

Mark Garnier Commons Mark Garnier, who gained Wyre Forest from the Independent MP Richard Taylor, said he ”could be persuaded“ of the case for coming out of Europe:

“I was keen to speak in this debate on Europe because I feel that we can learn many positive things from our European partners, including lessons from Sweden on school provision. I am frequently asked where I stand on the issue of Europe, and my answer is that I am neither a Europhile nor a Europhobe, but a Euro-realist: I feel that we are where we are on Europe. As someone newly elected to Parliament, I deplore the creeping nature of legislation that comes not from this place but from Brussels. I welcome the coalition's proposed referendum lock, and I will always stand firm against joining the euro.

“When I consider whether we should be in or out of Europe, my first instinct is to examine how it will affect the people of Wyre Forest, and whether my constituency would be better off if we came out of Europe. I remain open-minded and could be persuaded otherwise, but my instinct is that Wyre Forest's economy stands a far better chance in the future if we stay in Europe, taking advantage of the trading opportunities available, which we talked about earlier.”

Julian Sturdy Commons Julian Sturdy, who won the newly drawn York Outer constituency addressed the Commons for the first time on his 39th birthday. Noting that his father, Robert, is a serving Conservative MEP, he lambasted the previous Labour Government for breaking its pledge ot hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty:

“The previous Administration's decision to deny the people of this country such a vote was, frankly, a devastating blow to those who care passionately about the sovereignty of this House. Indeed, I feel the decision not to fulfil the promise of a referendum further damaged public trust in our politics and politicians. I therefore welcome the new Government's determination to improve political accountability, openness and transparency. Europe has always been a contentious issue and I am sure that will continue to be the case here in Westminster. However, I can assure the House that, back in York Outer, a sizeable majority of my constituents seem to share my concerns about the recent transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels. To put it simply, I firmly believe that we cannot allow any further erosion of powers from this Parliament without allowing the public to directly express their will on such important constitutional amendments.

“As such, I welcome the European Union Bill that was set out in the Queen's Speech last week. The Prime Minister is right to ensure that the people of this country are granted a referendum before any future treaties that hand over powers to the European Union are approved by Government. The Government should seek to be a proactive, positive and friendly partner in Europe, particularly when it comes to promoting British business and trade. In other key areas, too, the EU has the potential to be a force for good as we tackle global poverty and the rise in global competitiveness, and get to grips with global climate change.

“Britain should play a full role in ensuring that the EU's voice is heard loud and clear on an increasingly diverse global stage. However, we will not be able to play such a role unless the boundaries and limitations of the EU are clearly drawn. The public need to believe in the worth of the EU and, in my view, that will happen only when we strengthen and protect further our own democracy here in Westminster.”

Gareth Johnson Commons Gareth Johnson, who gained Dartford, clearly set out his feelings about European integration:

“I agree not only that Britain can benefit from its membership of the European Union, but that Europe benefits from Britain's membership of the union. We should resist unnecessary interference from the European Union, which should not seek to interfere with every facet of our lives. We need individuals to have greater freedoms over their lives and for this House to have the freedom to operate without further subservience to the European Union.”

“My constituency is also the home of Ebbsfleet International train station, which lies on the new high-speed rail line between London and Paris. These increased transportation links - rather than increased political links - with the European Union represent the direction in which I believe we should be moving.”

Simon Kirby Commons Finally, Simon Kirby, who gained Brighton Kemptown, noted his constituency’s proximity to mainland Europe, but the suspicions of his constituents about it:

“Brighton Kemptown, as we know, is very close to Europe, and I have to tell the House that in 1514 the French invaded the town of Brighton at the time and razed it to the ground. I am not surprised that even 500 years later, many of my constituents are still suspicious of our relationship with Europe… My hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) mentioned the Domesday Book; Brighton appears in it, and there is a fantastic Norman church in the village of Ovingdean. I have mentioned the French invaders, so we will move on.”

Jonathan Isaby