Thérèse Coffey MP

18 Jun 2013 06:34:08

Cameron's coming reshuffle will be a reshuffle for women

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By Paul Goodman

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Having reshaped his Cabinet substantially last summer - sacking two Cabinet Ministers in the process - David Cameron is unlikely to do so again during this one.  This is because to do so would both risk destabilising his already fractious Parliamentary Party, and offend his instinct to keep changes to his front bench to a minimum. From the Prime Minister's point of view, it makes sense to delay a substantial Cabinet clearout until next summer, when a team can be put in place to fight the election in 2015.

Leaving the next big shuffle until later in the Parliament will also minimise any backlash from sacked Ministers, since they will rally round Cameron during the election run-up (that's the theory, at any rate).  The claim that Sir George Young will stay in post for the time being would dovetail with such an approach.  The Prime Minister's most likely reshuffle course, therefore, will be to restrict change to the lower ranks of the Government - but to promote to just below Cabinet level men and women who, in his view, are capable of making it to the top table next year.

Continue reading "Cameron's coming reshuffle will be a reshuffle for women" »

7 Mar 2013 17:31:00

What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget

By Peter Hoskin
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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" »

23 Feb 2013 11:30:26

Conservative MPs react to Moody's verdict

By Paul Goodman
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plus a Liberal Democrat... Screen shot 2013-02-23 at 11.18.44
...and the inimitable Tom Harris.

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4 Dec 2012 06:28:54

Leveson debate snapshot: Four Conservative MPs for statutory regulation, eight against

By Paul Goodman
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For statutory regulation

Robert Buckland

George Eustice

Sir Edward Garnier

Zac Goldsmith

Against statutory regulation

Angie Bray

Therese Coffey

Damian Collins

Richard Drax

Kris Hopkins

Peter Lilley

Jacob Rees-Mogg

John Whittingdale

This is, as the headline says, a snapshot.  It doesn't deal with speeches that didn't touch on the regulation debate; nor does it count interventions, and by its nature it compresses a good deal.  For example, Mr Collins, like some other speakers, was against statutory regulation by OFCOM.  And Sir Edward rejected the very term "statutory regulation", preferring "statutory underpinning".

8.30am Update: Ms Coffey has pointed out the thrust of Mr Collins's speech was against statutory regulation, and I have made the necessary change.  Quentin Letts describes her in his sketch today as a "very great lady".

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

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

By Matthew Barrett
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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.

17 Aug 2012 08:30:36

10 from '10 - ten Ministerial prospects from the 2010 intake

By Matthew Barrett
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Heads and ladders1

The 2010 intake is, by now, known for being one of the most active and resourceful for a number of generations. In choosing ten MPs who could be promoted from the 2010 intake, I have had to overlook a number of extremely good candidates who, in normal, non-Coalition times would undoubtedly be made Ministers, and would do an excellent job. Those MPs include Fiona Bruce, George Freeman, Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel and Charlotte Leslie. There are a number of other MPs who I have excluded from my list, because their past Parliamentary rebellions would probably rule them out of contention. These include Nadhim Zahawi, Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom, Rory Stewart, Richard Fuller, and Andrew Griffiths.

Continue reading "10 from '10 - ten Ministerial prospects from the 2010 intake" »

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?"

Continue reading "34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

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

By Matthew Barrett
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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" »

1 May 2012 18:30:23

Only three Tory MPs rebel against move to relax Sunday trading laws for the Olympics

By Matthew Barrett
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In the Commons yesterday, a debate was held on whether to suspend Sunday trading restrictions for the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The Bill passed through the House, with only extremely minor rebellion from the Tory benches. This was surprising because there was some consternation felt by some sections of the backbenches about the proposals, with the suspicion that the period was simply softening the public up for a full scrapping of Sunday trading laws. 

Halfon RobertMinisters were very clear in assuring the House that the proposals are temporary:

"Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Will my hon. Friend reassure a significant number of Harlow residents who have written to me that the Bill is just a temporary Bill for the Olympics, and that there are no plans to extend Sunday trading per se?

Mr Prisk: I am happy to give that assurance. I do not want to test the patience of the Deputy Speaker. The motion is about the proceedings of the House, but I want to make it crystal clear that the Bill will come off the statute book immediately after 9 September."

The first vote, which was merely a procedural vote concerning the passage of the BIll, was agreed to with 281 ayes, and 112 noes. The only two Tory noes on that vote were Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone, who voted with the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party and many Labour MPs. 

Andrew Selous MPIn the second period of debate, which was more substantive and longer, several Tory MPs sought assurances about elements of the Bill:

"Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): I am extremely grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. He is being extremely generous very early on in his remarks. Will he give me some reassurance? What protection will be in place for, say, volunteer sports coaches or church workers with commitments on Sundays, if their volunteer commitments are threatened by having to work extra hours?

Vince Cable: Of course, they could opt out of the commitments, as is already provided for under existing legislation, which means that they will receive all the protections subject to unfair dismissal legislation."

Continue reading "Only three Tory MPs rebel against move to relax Sunday trading laws for the Olympics" »

21 Jan 2012 15:35:13

Conservative backbenchers halt effort to move clocks forward

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday, a Private Member's Bill by Rebecca Harris, the Member for Castle Point, which sought to move British clocks forward by an hour all year round, was brought before the House. 

The Government was supportive of the Bill, and there was a strong turnout with wide cross-party support for the proposal. However, a small group of Members, mostly Conservative, managed to talk the Bill out of Parliament. As a result of the Bill not being passed yesterday, the Government has decided not to allow further Parliamentary time for its consideration, and the Bill is now dead. 

Chope Christopher PSThe main objection to passing the bIll is summarised by Christopher Chope (Christchurch)'s contribution to the debate. He argued:

"[T]he Bill’s Achilles heel is that it has been redrafted in such a way that it would enable the United Kingdom Government to change the time zone in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. We know that the Scottish Parliament, and MPs representing Scottish constituencies, do not support a change that would make winter mornings in Scotland even colder and darker than they are already. ... my concern is that if this Parliament changes the time zone for the United Kingdom against the wishes of the people of Scotland, it will give extra ammunition to those people in Scotland who are campaigning for independence. We would be playing into their hands if we forced the Bill through."

Rees-Mogg timezoneOver the last few days, North East Somerset MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has called for Somerset to have its own timezone. This was part of the run-up to yesterday's debate. Mr Rees-Mogg attempted to amend the proposed Bill to make considerations for Somerset, in order to delay its passage. Although his amendment was not selected for consideration, Mr Rees-Mogg did play an active role in opposing the Bill. Mr Rees-Mogg's contributions were very varied and lengthy, but I have chosen a few of his more remarkable comments:

  • "It is worth pointing out that the coming power of the next century, China, has only the one time zone, and as we know from Noel Coward, China’s very big."
  • In reply to Tom Harris MP: "I have the greatest respect for the hon. Gentleman and, had I thought that he would welcome it, I would have supported his candidacy for the Labour leadership in Scotland. I kept very quiet about that, however, because I thought that I might do him more harm than good."
  • "At one point, I felt that much of the Bill was aimed at lie-abeds—those who do not get up very early in the morning, but snooze on, remaining fast asleep in a relaxed and happy way."
  • "On that occasion I meant the majority party in the Scottish Parliament, but I see the hon. Gentleman’s point, so perhaps we should have two representatives from Scotland, which means we must also have two from Somerset, because Somerset would feel let down if the numbers were not maintained with the rest of the Union."
  • "The relevant Secretary of State and President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), is known to be one of the wisest men in Parliament. Lenin’s brain after his untimely death was kept for scientific research to see how such a great brain could operate and why it was different from other brains, and I am sure that this will happen in the sad event of the death of the President of the Board of Trade—may that day long be put off."
  • "I wonder further whether my hon. Friend thinks that if we did have a big fight with Brussels over this, it would increase the happiness of the nation."
  • "I just wondered whether my hon. Friend had noticed the time on the clock, because had the Bill already come into force, the debate would by now have ended."

Continue reading "Conservative backbenchers halt effort to move clocks forward" »

7 Jul 2011 15:02:17

Tory MPs debate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sittingRedoubtable Labour Member Chris Bryant managed to secure an emergency debate in the Commons yesterday, following Prime Minister's Questions and a statement by the Prime Minister on the situation in Afghanistan, to discuss the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. 

Although the debate was abused by some Members (Labour's Clive Efford, for example: "Only if ordinary people make a stand will we stop these rich people—rich people who have invaded the lives of ordinary people in the street—making themselves even richer and even more powerful."), Conservative members took a range of considered and serious positions in reaction to news of the scandal. 

Three Conservative Members called for a "pause" in the current News Corporation takeover of BSkyB (as, it appears, has now taken place):

  • Nicholas Soames pointed to "serious criminality" at News International: "Given that there is clear evidence of serious criminality on the part of some people at News International, would not due process also now include, in any event and without necessarily referring this to the Competition Commission, calling a pause pending further evidence?"
  • Anna Soubry called for the issue to be referred to Ofcom: "Such is my concern—I have been persuaded by much of what I have heard today—that I think there must now be a pause in the consideration of the matter that has been referred to and will be determined by Ofcom. I urge the Secretary of State to consider whethbryer we should pause things, given what has happened."
  • Zac Goldsmith said anything other than a pause would be "appalling" to the public: "That deal needs to be put on hold by the Government until the dust has settled and we know where we stand. Anything less than that will be viewed as appalling by the public and will be met with a nod of disapproval."

Continue reading "Tory MPs debate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal" »

5 Apr 2011 07:14:19

Lansley under supported on front bench, but strongly supported from backbenches

by Paul Goodman

This morning's reports of Andrew Lansley's Commons statement yesterday haven't missed that he was unsupported in the Chamber by the presence of senior Cabinet colleagues.  (The Prime Minister was en route to Pakistan.)

What some may have missed is the strong support given to the Health Secretary by Conservative backbenchers.  Some it, clearly, had been organised in an operation by the Whips - but not all.  By my count, Lansley received ten questions specifically supportive of his plans -

"Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): As the Secretary of State may know, I still have a faint link with the NHS and medicine in general. The GPs I have met in my constituency and elsewhere are very much in favour of the proposals. In contrast, the complaints are circular letters that have been well organised. Does the Secretary of State agree that GPs will be devastated if there is any reversal and backtracking?

Continue reading "Lansley under supported on front bench, but strongly supported from backbenches" »

19 Mar 2011 07:43:37

Conservative MPs line up to support Cameron on Libya - but he's probed about the arms embargo

by Paul Goodman

I list below every question asked by a Conservative MP yesterday in response to the Prime Minister's Commons statement about Libya.  For better or worse, I haven't cited his replies in every case, but his answers on regime change, the arms embargo and the International Criminal Court are of special interest, and are therefore quoted in full.

"Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): As one of the doubting Thomases of the past few weeks, I congratulate the Prime Minister on his success and leadership and offer him my full support. I also join him in paying tribute to Sir Mark Lyall Grant and his team at the UN for what is a remarkable diplomatic success, which hopefully will mark a turning point in the development of these issues at the UN.  I am sure the Prime Minister agrees that difficult questions remain. At this moment, however, it is incumbent on all of us to stand behind the armed forces, particularly our airmen, who have to implement the resolution.

Mr James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire) (Con): Yet again, my right hon. Friend has shown a breathtaking degree of courage and leadership. I support what he has said and what he has done. Does he agree that, while regime change is not the aim of these resolutions, in practice there is little realistic chance of achieving their aims without regime change?"

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con): I join others in congratulating the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and all the others who have been involved in securing this very tough resolution, and indeed the building of a broad-based coalition to deal with Gaddafi. Does the Prime Minister agree, however, that in the weeks to come it will be important for the country to know that at the same time as trying to deal with Gaddafi, the Government are also intent on forging ahead, with our European partners, in keeping the middle east peace process revitalised and going, so that we can draw the poison from the well?

Continue reading "Conservative MPs line up to support Cameron on Libya - but he's probed about the arms embargo" »

12 Jan 2011 08:38:27

Tory MPs call for Cameron to show "backbone" and resist voting rights for prisoners

Tim Montgomerie

In Westminster Hall yesterday, ahead of the binding Commons vote, Philip Hollobone instigated a debate on voting rights for prisoners. Mark Harper MP for the Coalition is proposing that prisoners with sentences of four year or less should get the vote. Labour will seek to amend that proposal, limiting voting rights to one year sentences or less. Unless the Coalition compromises it is likely to be defeated.

Jail Vote Philip Hollobone called for David Cameron to show backbone in resisting votes for prisoners

"Here is a question for hon. Members. Who said: 

"Frankly, when people commit a crime and go to prison, they should lose their rights, including the right to vote"?

He also said:

"It makes me physically ill even to contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison."

The answer is my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and I could not agree more with him. The vast majority of people in this country would also back him in those sentiments. One difference between the Prime Minister and myself, however, is that he is actually in a position to do something about this issue. We need some backbone-we need a hardened spine-if we are to take on the European Court of Human Rights and resist its judgment."

Dr Thérèse Coffey noted that rapists will be given the vote under the Coalition's four year limit

"On the point about limits, does my hon. Friend agree that the crimes of rape, for which a three-and-a-half year sentence was awarded in November, in a case in Warwick, and armed robbery with a knife, which has also been given a sentence of less than four years, are serious crimes, and that it is shocking that the Government even contemplate that such things should be covered?"

Matthew Offord pointed out that many other nations have not complied with the European Courts on this issue

"It may interest hon. Members to know that 13 other countries that are signatories to the European convention on human rights also have blanket bans. Why is this country being singled out for the treatment it is getting from the European Court, when blanket bans continue in other countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova and Slovakia, among others? Our constituents will be outraged that the UK is being singled out for special treatment."

Stewart Jackson argued that the Government's four year limit was "arbitrary"

"Is not it true that the recent case of Greens and M.T. v. the United Kingdom specifically allows the Government to proceed with a range of policy options, which, like the consultation in 2009, could be put out for public discussion? Instead the Government have gone for an arbitrary four-year limit, without any further debate or discussion in the House or with the public."

Continue reading "Tory MPs call for Cameron to show "backbone" and resist voting rights for prisoners" »

12 Dec 2010 08:14:35

Tory MPs line up with ideas to save the British pub

Tim Montgomerie

Thirty-nine pubs are closing each and every week. The all-party save the pub group secured a Westminster Hall debate last week to highlight the problem and discuss solutions. Contributions from MPs are extracted below.

Great-british-pub-large Karen Bradley MP said pubs are socially useful: "The group shares a belief that the British pub is an important part of this country's history and heritage, and that pubs are hugely important to the communities they serve as a focus for community, social, sporting and charitable activity. The traditional public house also provides a sociable and controlled drinking environment, which is important to encourage responsible sociable drinking."

Jack Lopresto MP says the smoking ban should be relaxed: "Overall, the smoking ban has been positive. It has improved the environment of pubs no end, especially for those that rely on serving food as a key part of their business, and it makes for a much more pleasant experience for most people who are non-smokers. It has also made pubs more family friendly. But there needs to be a re-think on having a dedicated smoking area inside buildings, with extractor fans, where no children would be allowed and no food would be served. I realise that this would not be possible in every case, but it would allow many pubs to utilise extra space or even have a smoking bar and non-smoking bar or room/lounge-whatever-and end the practice of smokers being thrown outside in all weathers at any time of day or night, with the problems that can be caused with disturbance to local residents who live close by. That would generate a significant increase in business for pubs that are currently struggling and it could make the difference between a pub staying open or closing."

Thérèse Coffey MP said that pubs should offer diverse services: "We must also encourage other income streams; I think of what is happening with post office essentials. If a pub is open from 11 until 11, there is no reason why one cannot buy stamps and get driving licence forms and so on there. There are also aspects such as the internet hub. We have the digital village pump, and I know that schemes are afoot already to try to ensure that it is near the pub, so that people can use the internet there as well. Of course, we had the endorsement of His Royal Highness Prince Charles in 2001, when he spoke about the pub as the hub. On that note, I raise my glass and toast the future of British pubs. Cheers, everyone."

Continue reading "Tory MPs line up with ideas to save the British pub" »