By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday 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."
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 in Adam Holloway MP, Alun Cairns MP, Andrea Leadsom MP, Andrew Bingham MP, Andrew Bridgen MP, Andrew Griffiths MP, Andrew Mitchell MP, Andrew Rosindell MP, Andrew Turner MP, Angie Bray MP, Anne Main MP, Anne Marie Morris MP, Bernard Jenkin, Bill Cash MP, Bill Wiggin, Bob Blackman MP, Brian Binley MP, Charles Walker MP, Charlie Elphicke MP, Christopher Pincher MP, Craig Whittaker MP, Crispin Blunt MP, Dan Byles MP, David Amess MP, David Davies MP, David Morris MP, David Nuttall MP, Gareth Johnson MP, Gerald Howarth MP, Gordon Henderson MP, Graham Evans MP, Graham Stuart MP, Heather Wheeler MP, Henry Smith MP, Iain Stewart MP, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, James Clappison MP, James Duddridge, Jason McCartney MP, John Baron MP, John Whittingdale MP, Justin Tomlinson, Karen Lumley MP, Laurence Robertson MP, Marcus Jones MP, Mark Field MP, Mark Reckless MP, Mark Spencer MP, Martin Vickers MP, Matthew Offord MP, Mike Weatherley MP, Neil Parish MP, Nick Herbert MP, Nigel Mills MP, Peter Aldous MP, Peter Bone MP, Peter Lilley MP, Philip Davies MP, Philip Hollobone MP, Richard Bacon MP, Robert Halfon MP, Robin Walker MP, Sarah Wollaston MP, Sheryll Murray MP, Stephen McPartland MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP, Stephen Mosley MP, Stephen Phillips MP, Steve Barclay MP, Stewart Jackson MP | Permalink | Comments
By Tim Montgomerie
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The video above can also be watched on StopDangerousDrivers.com, a website that was recently launched by Steve Barclay MP. The video, website and campaign aims to change sentencing guidelines for "drivers who kill".
The campaign notes that over 600 people were killed last year by dangerous drivers but that, last year, "150 drivers who killed DID NOT GO TO PRISON AT ALL".
Visitors to the site are urged to sign a petition that, among other things, urges "the Sentencing Council to review the guidelines for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving."
About 2,000 people look to have signed the petition so far.
The campaign has also received significant media attention, including on ITV1's Daybreak.
I'm not writing this blog to comment on the specifics of Steve Barclay's campaign but I'm impressed by the nature of the campaign. The video, the web design and the petition all communicate seriousness about an issue that clearly matters to Steve Barclay and, I suspect to many people inside and beyond his constituency. At ConHome we're always interested in good campaign ideas. Do send them to us via news[at]conservativehome.com.
By Matthew Barrett
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After last week's reshuffle of the Secretaries and Ministers of State, and this week's reshuffle of Parliamentary Private Secretaries, it's possible to investigate the state of a dying breed: the backbenchers who've always been loyal. The list below features the Conservative MPs who meet the following criteria:
Friday, September 14, 2012 in Aidan Burley MP, Charlie Elphicke MP, Chris Skidmore MP, David Morris MP, Graham Evans MP, Jack Lopresti MP, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, James Arburthnot MP, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Mark Garnier MP, Mark Spencer MP, Neil Carmichael MP, Nigel Evans MP, Oliver Colvile MP, Pauline Latham MP, Rebecca Harris MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Richard Bacon MP, Roger Gale MP, Sir Paul Beresford MP, Stephen Dorrell MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP, Stephen Phillips MP, Steve Barclay MP, Tim Yeo MP, Tony Baldry MP | Permalink | Comments
By Tim Montgomerie
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The Prime Minister was on confident form at last night's Carlton Club Dinner, speaking without notes and hesitation for fifteen minutes about the Government's record and the tasks it still faces. It was largely a private occasion so I don't think I should give a full report on what he said but his big message was that real progress was being made in clearing up Labour's mess. He emphasised the fact that the deficit had been reduced by a quarter and that the economy had created more than a million private sector jobs. Lord Bates, author of "The recovery IS underway", sat in the audience and nodded his approval.
Interestingly the PM ended his speech with a warning about party disunity. The party must not go back to the bad old days, he said. It was a sign that he is somewhat concerned at the rebelliousness that has infected the parliamentary party in recent weeks.
Joke of the evening went to Lord Feldman, however. The Coalition was sticking together, he said, for the sake of the children but while they might be under one roof, the two parties were in separate rooms! Let's hope the kids won't still need Nick and Dave to continue cohabiting once 2015 arrives.
“If hon. Members googled my name as a new MP, the first website they would find is that of Steve Barclay, the comedian and cabaret entertainer. I can assure the House that that is not me in an unregistered second job. My speech sadly lacks the zany comedy and musical backing that his performances offer, and the current headline on his website, “Barclay storms the cabaret floor” is one that my local paper—the Cambs Times—will never ascribe to my performance in the House.”
Having talked about the drainage of the fens in the mid-17th century, he went on to talk about “a second drainage that is taking place in the fens”:
“This drainage leaves not fertile land, but barren areas, as more and more assets are centralised in our cities, paradoxically as houses are being built in rural communities. There is a misconception that all rural areas are rich. Eighteen of the 25 most deprived wards in Cambridgeshire are in fenland, and one in 10 people in my constituency have used the excellent services of the citizens advice bureau in the past 12 months alone, 43% of whom did so for advice on personal debt—the manager, Linda Hutchinson, does a formidable job. Prosperous areas mask pockets of deprivation in rural communities, and often float us above the aggregate score on which national funding is usually targeted.
“The drainage of our amenities continues at a frightening pace: we recently lost our driving test centre even though it cost only £11,000 a year in rent; our new further education college was scrapped a month before building work was due to begin; and local pubs are closing. There is a battle on to save them, not least Claire Hammond’s fight to save the Nag’s Head in Eastrea. We now face the risk of the closure of our magistrates court, adjacent to which is our police station, the cells of which have already been closed. I will discuss this closure with Ministers in the weeks ahead. As a community, we pay twice as much to the Exchequer in business rates as we receive back in the local settlement grant. It is time that the funding imbalance between the rural shires in England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom is looked at again.
“I want to resist the temptation today to focus on the previous Government’s legacy. Anyone in any doubt can look at that temple of waste, the regional fire headquarters in Cambridgeshire, which was built at a cost of £23 million and stands empty because the emergency phone lines cannot be made to work. Instead of large regional projects, we need to focus spending much more effectively to deliver the jobs and services that we need in rural communities such as mine.”
He concluded by addressing matters pertaining more closely to the Finance Bill:
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