By Matthew Barrett
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Guido 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.
By Tim Montgomerie
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Aidan Burley MP has got himself into trouble (again). This time for some sour tweets about the Olympics' Opening Ceremony:
There's a report in The Telegraph. Number 10 quickly distanced himself from Mr Burley's Tweets. "We do not agree with him," said a Downing Street source. Fellow Tory MP Gavin Barwell tweeted his own rebuttal. There's nothing left-wing about embracing diversity, said the member for Croydon Central.
Robert Halfon MP was positive throughout the evening (writing a blog entitled "Olymptastic") but he did object to Shami Chakrabati's casting as Olympic flag carrier "given her senior role in LSE: the Uni that sucked up to Gadaffi". I agree with Rob, why not an Afghan war vetaran instead?
Most Tory MPs were completely uncritical, however. Here's a selection:
By Tim Montgomerie
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Earlier today I published Philip Cowley's list of the 143 Tory MPs who've rebelled against the Coalition. One of the names on the list is Stuart Andrew MP. Stuart was one of the 81 rebels on the backbench EU referendum motion. But guess what? The Cabinet Office will shortly announce that he's the new PPS to Francis Maude. You may remember that Mr Maude lost his previous PPS - Angie Bray - over the Lords rebellion.
This is a significant moment. It's the first sign that rebels may have a hope in the expected September reshuffle. My Whips Office source was careful to point out that Andrew rebelled on a backbench motion rather than government business but neither would he rule out promotions for Lords rebels. "Let bygones be bygones" were his words.
Forgiveness is probably the right way forward but the small number of Tory MPs who have stayed loyal to the Government at all times may not feel the same way if they see rebels leapfrog ahead of them.
By Matthew Barrett
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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."
By Tim Montgomerie
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David Cameron dispensing ice creams in Downing Street and with girl guides:
Stuart Andrew and friend waiting on the Commons Terrace for the pageant to pass by:
Rob Wilson with Sir John Madejski, Chairman of newly promoted Reading FC:
Matt Hancock and his predecessor Lord Risby (Richard Spring) planting a Jubilee Oak at Haverhill:
Send any more photographs to email@example.com.
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).
By Joseph Willits
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After Justine Greening's announcement giving the go-ahead for a high speed rail network, High Speed 2 (HS2), 37 Conservative MPs were able to question the Transport Secretary within 60 minutes.
The exchanges demonstrated the opposition of those MPs whose constituencies are directly affected by high speed rail. However their reservations were outweighed by praise for the scheme from MPs namely in the North and the Midlands - and some in the South East who claimed that their seats have benefitted from HS1.
Fervent critic of high speed rail, Andrea Leadson MP (South Northamptonshire), questioned the project's costs in yesterday's debate. Leadsom praised the Transport Secretary's patience in listening to her concerns many times, but spoke of "communities blighted by this high-speed rail line". She continued:
"How sure is she that the actual costs in their entirety will be kept to the amounts we have been talking about, and how realistic is it for Britain to afford this project at this very difficult time economically?".
The country "cannot afford not to do this" replied Greening, who cited High Speed 1 as an example of being both on time, and on budget. Once Crossrail had been completed, the cost to the taxpayer would begin, Greening said.
Another MP whose constituency will be touched by high-speed rail, Steve Baker MP (Wycombe), welcomed that "additional protections for the Chilterns will reduce costs", but asked whether Greening would "consider tunnelling the entire width of the Chilterns?". At £1.2 billion, although considered, was "unaffordable", replied Greening.
Drawing examples from both France and Spain, St Albans MP Anne Main raised concerns "that the north might not get the projected benefit and that instead it might be London that grows". Both Lyon and Seville were "caused expense" rather than growth as Paris and Madrid benefitted, she said.
Greening responded by reiterating the backing for the project, and that the cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield all believe "this project is vital." Rehman Chishti MP (Gillingham) reminded the House that "real concern was expressed prior to the introduction of High Speed 1 in Kent". This has now led to "real economic regeneration and growth in the south-east and Kent", he continued. Another Kent MP, Damian Collins (Folkestone & Hythe) echoed Chishti's sentiment with the hope that Kent will further benefit from connections north.
MPs from the North and the Midlands were most vocal in their support for the project. Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew spoke of the need to "rebalance the economy" nationwide, and allow the North "to become more attractive for business to invest in". The "solution", he said, was HS2. Martin Vickers MP (Cleethorpes), who has many constituents working at the Tata Steel plant in Scunthorpe, welcomed the announcement of HS2 as a boost to industry. He asked for "categorical assurance that everything possible will be done to ensure that the procurement procedures favour British-based companies". His sentiment was echoed by Nigel Mills MP (Amber Valley) who concluded that the decision would "be even more popular in Derbyshire if the trains are built at Bombardier".
Some MPs in the Midlands did seem to be slightly cautious about the region's positioning, leading to a lesser service and coverage by HS2. Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy spoke of businesses in north Staffordshire requiring stops between Birmingham and Manchester (of which Stafford would be one). This "stop is essential to the development of the regional economy", Lefroy said, and asked Greening to "confirm that it is still under serious consideration". Rugby MP Mark Pawsey's concern was slightly different in that the town's good service to London could be jeopardised by high speed rail. He hoped that even with high speed rail, "the legacy line will retain the speed and frequency of their existing rail links".
You can watch the debate on the BBC's Democracy Live.
By Jonathan Isaby
Yesterday saw MPs debating the merits of the Big Society on a backbench motion moved by Dover's Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, which stated its support for the Big Society, "seeking stronger communities where power is decentralised and social action is encouraged."
"The big society has been "much discussed in the media", yet this was, Elphicke asserted, "practically the first proper occasion on which it has been discussed on the Floor of this Chamber."
His motion had been co-signed by a number of Conservative MPs, as well as Labour's Jon Cruddas and Tristram Hunt and Lib Dem Bob Russell.
Here are some excerpts from a variety of the 24 speeches delivered by backbench Tory MPs - who, interestingly enough, were all members of the 2010 intake.
What I want to talk about is the sense of annoyance that everyone has when an individual feels put off from simply sweeping the snow from the pavement outside their house for fear that they will be sued, or when they are scared to jump into a pond and rescue a drowning child.
How have we got to the situation where individuals do not feel that they can take responsibility, and that rules and procedures stop them doing so? It is important to encourage people to take more action and more responsibility for their own lives and for their communities. People in communities are frustrated, such as the head teacher who cannot decide which children are in his school and feels that he is being told what to do by diktat, and the hospital worker who wants to take responsibility for his area, but who has to follow detailed rules and procedures.
Communities as a whole-big communities such as mine in Dover-want a greater sense of being able to chart their own destiny and future direction, but feel hampered by central Government saying, "No, these are the rules. This is how it is going to be. It is all going to be top-down and what you say doesn't count for much." It is that sense of annoyance and frustration, which stalks the land up and down the country, that the big society aims to counteract.
I said in advance of the general election that the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs would see Thatcher’s socially-mobile children of the 1980s finally arriving in Parliament.
Two fine examples of this breed made their maiden speeches on Monday.
Jackie Doyle-Price, who gained Thurrock from Labour, said that tackling the long-term culture of welfare dependency was “probably the single most important ingredient in really sorting out and fixing our broken economy”:
“The need for welfare reform was the main issue that brought me into politics as a teenager. In those days, I was living on a council estate in Sheffield. It seemed to me a real injustice that hard-working families—people working every hour to put food on the table—had no better standard of living than many households where no one was in work. The frequent lament at the working men’s club was, “Why do we bother?”
“Over time, that injustice seems to have become more and more entrenched. The way that tax and benefits interact today means that work simply does not pay for far too many households. The result is that we have a society where too many individuals do not have the self-respect or discipline that comes from work and individual responsibility, the rest of society is burdened by an ever-higher tax bill and we as a country are dependent on migrant labour to fill those jobs that simply do not pay for our workers to do. We cannot go on like this.”
“I hope that the Budget really marks the beginning of our quest truly to reform the dependency culture that exists in Britain today and to give everyone the opportunity and incentive to work. In so doing, we will not only reduce welfare bills, but increase tax receipts to the Exchequer, so that the entire nation will become better off and future Budgets will be a lot less painful than this one.”
“I shall say a little about my background. I grew up on a council estate in a family that had very little money. I was the eldest, and even I had hand-me-downs. What helped my family and others was the ability to start a new business. I remember my father starting a small roofing company. It was not much, but it was something. It got him off the dole and it employed another person. That is the sort of wealth creation that we need in this country so that we can help the small businesses to create the wealth to improve the prospects for our future, and also to help the millions of people who have been abandoned by the Opposition on benefits. I think particularly of the young people who are out of work. Through the creation of wealth and jobs we can turn the country round and improve the prospect of helping those people.”
He went on to welcome measure sin the Budget to tackle the Government’s debt and to encourage regional growth:
“Yes, this is a difficult Budget, but these are difficult times and I am glad we have a responsible Budget, one which is sensible and is now clearly endorsed by members of the G20. The scale of our debt is truly terrifying and threatens to restrict what we will be able to do in future years. If we do not deal with the debt now, we will be wasting more than £70 billion a year on interest alone, which will threaten our household interest rates and business growth.
“I welcome the initiatives of the Chancellor for encouraging regional growth. Tax breaks for new businesses outside London and the south-east are particularly welcomed by someone who is a Yorkshire MP. I want to see our private sector grow so that we are not so dependent on the public sector. Capital investment, too, has been mentioned. I was pleased to hear about the Leeds and Liverpool railway line. I know that there are other things that we want for our city in Leeds, for which I will be pressing the Chancellor. All these will encourage enterprise.”