Aidan Burley MP

9 Jan 2013 09:34:08

The main arguments made by Tory MPs in defence of the benefits squeeze

By Tim Montgomerie
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Here is a selection of the arguments that Tory MPs made during yesterday's debate on limiting the increase in benefits to 1% for each of the next three years.

The Government's overall policies help those on low incomes: "The Opposition have argued that this uprating of 1% will impact on working people and not just those on benefits. Given that the previous Government made 90% of workers eligible as welfare recipients, that is inevitable. Unfortunately, Labour Members make the mistake of taking these measures in isolation. If we take the Government’s measures as a whole, including tax allowances, energy tariff changes and cutting petrol duty, low-income working households will be better off." - Aidan Burley MP

And the biggest burden of deficit reduction is being met by the better off: "I want to remind the Opposition of what they have done. They have opposed £83 billion-worth of savings this Parliament. That is equivalent to adding another £5,000 of debt for every working family in the country. We hear much about taxing the rich, yet, in this Parliament, the richest will pay more in tax than in any single year of the previous Government—more tax on capital gains, more stamp duty—they will be less able to avoid and evade tax and they will pay more when they take out their pension policies." - Iain Duncan Smith MP

Stop taxing people only to return that money via the benefit systems: "Is not the philosophical underpinning of this debate our wish to create a hand-back society, not a hand-out society? Is not cutting taxes on lower earners the best way to help those on low earnings, rather than recycling their hard-earned money through the benefits system?" - Robert Halfon MP

Fairness between those in work and those out-of-work:

  • "My constituents in Erewash often say to me that fairness works both ways. One gentleman said to me that he is working around the clock and his wife has two part-time cleaning jobs, and that they are trying their best to keep things going. Like me, he wants to support people in this society who, for whatever reason, will never be able to stand on their own two feet and get work, but that was not his point. His point was about the standard of living of other people in the area on full benefits. He did not think it right that they should have a higher percentage increase than his family’s budget." - Jessica Lee MP
  • "I was approached by a member of Manchester constabulary in my advice surgery recently. He said, “How can you justify putting out-of-work benefits up by 5.2% last year, when I have had a pay freeze and I risk my life every day?” Is that not the nub of the argument? People who are in work have to be treated fairly." - Jake Berry MP

Continue reading "The main arguments made by Tory MPs in defence of the benefits squeeze" »

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.

Continue reading "Conservative Select Committee appointments announced" »

14 Sep 2012 14:09:34

The 24 Conservative MPs who are still on the backbenches and have never rebelled

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:

  • Are not currently on the government payroll (including as PPSs)
  • Were not on the government payroll before the reshuffle (including as PPSs)
  • Have not rebelled against the Government
I've excluded Nigel Evans, who is a Deputy Speaker, and I've noted their constituencies and years first elected. It's also perhaps worth noting Arbuthnot, Dorrell and Yeo are Select Committee chairmen. 
  1. James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire, 1987)
  2. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk, 2001)
  3. Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury, 1983)
  4. Steve Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire, 2010)
  5. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley since 1997, MP since 1992)
  6. Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase, 2010)
  7. Neil Carmichael (Stroud, 2010)
  8. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham, 2010)
  9. Oliver Colvile (Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, 2010)
  10. Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood. 1979)
  11. Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock, 2010)
  12. Charlie Elphicke (Dover, 2010)
  13. Graham Evans (Weaver Vale, 2010)
  14. Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet, 1983)
  15. Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest, 2010)
  16. Rebecca Harris (Castle Point, 2010)
  17. Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne, 2010)
  18. Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke, 2010)
  19. Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock, 2010)
  20. David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale, 2010)
  21. Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham, 2010)
  22. Chris Skidmore (Kingswood, 2010)
  23. Mark Spencer (Sherwood, 2010)
  24. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk, 1983)

Continue reading "The 24 Conservative MPs who are still on the backbenches and have never rebelled" »

28 Jul 2012 09:03:51

All Tory MPs pour praise on opening ceremony (well nearly all)

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:

Screen Shot 2012-07-28 at 08.48.44

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:

  • Stuart Andrew: As you can see Mr Romney, we are ready! Well done all!
  • Harriett Baldwin: Loved it all, but being a Worcestershire dog owner my best bits were Elgar and the corgis
  • Steve Baker: Wonderful to see two great British engineers celebrated tonight: Brunel and Berners-Lee
  • Dan Byles: Has Danny Boyle just secured his knighthood, with this incredible ceremony?
  • Damian Collins: Absolutely stunning start to the London 2012 Olympics. Danny Boyle's opening ceremony really was the best of British.
  • Alun Cairns: Fantastic opening ceremony and S&P confirm Britain's AAA rating. Looking good even without winning a medal so far
  • Charlie Elphicke: An amazing #london2012 opening ceremony. Brilliant @DannyBoyleFilm celebration of our nation. Tonight we are #OneBritain
  • Margot James: Jerusalem, Chelsea Pensioners, forging, James Bond and the Queen, nurses, great music, quirky history of our Isles loved
  • David Jones: Over a billion people watching this. Watching our country. Very proud.
  • Louise Mensch: Beyond awesome. We rule. #GodSaveTheQueen
  • Nicky Morgan: Oh wow! The Olympics are here. Only city to host for a third time.
  • Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: Well that was fantastic. The world was watching London and London delivered. Well done to all who made it happen.
  • Rob Wilson: Oh Danny Boyle, English eyes are smiling! Sing it everyone.

11 Jul 2012 09:43:57

80 Tory backbenchers voted for Lords reform last night. 110 did not.

By Matthew Barrett
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We know that 91 Tories voted against the Lords Reform Bill last night. That's the big, headline grabbing figure - the biggest rebellion in this Parliament. 

Continue reading "80 Tory backbenchers voted for Lords reform last night. 110 did not." »

21 Jun 2012 14:02:35

Tory MPs speak out against regional pay in Commons debate

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday evening a debate was held on regional pay. I blogged earlier this week on why I don't think the Government will introduce regional pay bargaining - and the Commons debate last night certainly didn't dispel my theory. After initial pro-regional pay contributions to the debate from Elizabeth Truss, Mike Freer, Margot James, Aidan Burley, and Andrea Leadsom, Guy Opperman, the Member for Hexham rose.  Guy Opperman CommonsHe said: 

"There are two key arguments in the debate, the first of which is economic. Having worked as a legal aid barrister or state prosecutor for 15 years .... It was during that time that I saw the effects of local pay, as it is described, and took into account the argument of the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) ... who first contemplated it in 2003 and then forced it on the Courts Service in 2007. As with so many of the right hon. Gentleman’s economic policies, I see little evidence that local pay was a success. I have tried to study the economic argument behind it ... I do not support such arguments, which are obscure at best and have not been shown to work in real terms. Also—surely this is the crucial point—it is not supported by businesses in my constituency, none of which has come to me to press for it."

Andrew Percy CommonsAndrew Percy, the Member for Brigg and Goole intervened:

"In our region, the Humber, we cannot get NHS workers to come and work and have to consider paying them more. A few years ago we could not get teachers to teach in the city of Hull and had to give them an enhanced salary to do it. Whatever the economics, the reality is that we cannot get some public sector workers to come to our region. How we would do that if we paid them even less is beyond me."

Continue reading "Tory MPs speak out against regional pay in Commons debate" »

18 Dec 2011 07:00:25

Cameron sacks Aidan Burley MP after it is revealed he paid for hire of SS uniform at stag party

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen shot 2011-12-18 at 06.57.07Aidan Burley MP has been sacked as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, after Downing Street learnt that he had personally hired the SS uniform that had been worn at a stag party that he attended. The additional revelations appear in the Mail on Sunday. Number 10 commented:

"Aidan Burley has behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish.  That is why he is being removed from his post as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) at the Department for Transport. In light of information received, the Prime Minister has asked for a fuller investigation into the matter to be set up and to report to him."

The story first broke last week and Downing Street took no action. Mr Aidan had apologised profusely in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle in which he cited support from Stuart Polak of Conservative Friends of Israel:

"I have worked closely and travelled to Israel with Aidan Burley. I know him well and he does not have an antisemitic bone in his body. The actions of his friends in France were unacceptable and inexcusable. Aidan should not have been associated with this. However, Aidan is both a friend of Israel and a friend of the Jewish community."

Others had been less sympathetic. The Jewish Board of Deputies was "alarmed" that Mr Burley had not confronted his fellow party-goer and the Holocaust Education Trust commented that "it should be obvious to anyone that this kind of shameful behaviour represents an appalling insult, both to those who survived the Holocaust and to those who fought to defeat Fascism in Europe." Martin Bright made the case for Aidan Burley's sacking on his Spectator blog.

This may be a sad Christmas for Mr Burley but his career can start again. Unlike Ed Balls, at least he didn't actually wear a Nazi costume himself.

7 Sep 2010 07:00:00

Aidan Burley MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...

Picture 4 Aidan Burley was elected MP for Cannock Chase with a majority of 3,195.

1. What is your earliest political memory? Being born in 1979 it would have to be Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power. I vaguely remember the miners’ strike in 1984 and the circularity of life was not lost on me 25 years later when I was elected as a Conservative MP in a constituency which once boasted 52 working coal mines

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I’m middle class and I think it’s about time politicians stood up for the dutiful tax-payers, the law abiders and those who aspire to a better life for themselves and their children. They are too often forgotten, yet they are middle Britain and they are the majority of Britain. Their concerns, needs and aspirations are just as important as those of the poor and those of the rich.”

3. Who is your political hero and why? Ronald Reagan – who can forget such immortal lines as: “What are the ten most dangerous words in the English language? I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” and “The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? When I won my School’s Mock Election in 1997 – afterwards pupils were coming up to me asking when I would be delivering on my election pledges such as privatising the tuck shop and having a joint dining hall with the girls’ school!

5. What is your reading material of choice? Political biographies, Grahame Greene novels, The Spectator, Sunday Times, ConHome and since my girlfriend works in fashion, I am increasingly attracted to NOW magazine and Cosmopolitan!

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Jeremy Paxman. Just a flash of those raised eyebrows and withering look of contempt for a politician’s stock answer would have me wriggling in my seat...

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? The Home Office. I spent many years working with police forces before becoming an MP, trying to reduce their bureaucracy and make them more efficient and effective. I also worked inside the Home Office itself, helping to set up the single non-emergency number, 101. I was especially proud when Nick Herbert asked me to help him write Policing for the People, the Conservatives’ blueprint for reforming the police, as part of David Cameron’s Police Reform Taskforce.

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? If you take the word politician at its worst interpretation – that of a Machiavellian manipulator - Tony Blair. At the height of his powers he was an extraordinary communicator and persuasive speaker, who won three elections. I am extremely glad that none of the Labour leadership contenders possess anything like his ability. I am also glad he has been found out! Most actors are.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? Lord Prescott. It’s a size thing.

10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? Reluctant Republican.

11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? Cooking with my girlfriend.

12. What is your favourite book? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig

13. What is your favourite film? E.T.

14. What is your favourite music? Coldplay.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? Lamb saag balti and peshwari naan in virtually any curry house in the West Midlands.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination? Bali.

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? Help to put Cannock Chase back on the map by showing that we are open for business, have a skilled and motivated local workforce, and to increase the profile of the area. For the record our location at the heart of the country and proximity to the M6 toll makes us an ideal destination for conferences and exhibitions, as well as businesses and jobs – in case any employers are reading!

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I was the runner up in the national auditions to become the Milky Bar Kid.

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. In the reign of Henry VIII the forest of Cannock Chase was frequented by the King and gentry for hunting – and is still home to wild deer that descend from the original herd introduced in Norman times.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. A key member of my campaign team looks uncannily like Rodney Trotter from Only Fools and Horses – and introducing ‘Rodders’ was a fantastic way to break the ice at local meetings!

> Previously: Gavin Williamson MP

9 Jul 2010 14:37:50

Aidan Burley and Rehman Chishti discuss anonymity for those accused of rape in their maiden speeches

Yesterday saw two maiden speeches delivered during the debate about anonymity for those accused of rape, which I covered here this morning.

Burley AidanEarlier in the week we covered Aidan Burley’s famous victory in Cannock Chase at the general election. Yesterday, he spoke in the debate as a newly elected member of the home affairs select committee:

“Let us not beat about the bush here: a false allegation of rape can ruin a man’s life. Even if he is tried in a court of law and found not guilty, he will still remain suspect in many people’s eyes. It is human nature to say that there is no smoke without fire, especially, it would seem, when it comes to the thorny issue of rape. It is virtually impossible for a man to survive an accusation of rape without a stain remaining on his character. There will always be whispers and rumours and slurs.

“To me, what this debate is about is very simple: it is about avoiding punishment before, and sometimes without, trial. That is why I welcome this debate on the Government’s proposals to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases. For me, anonymity only until trial is not enough, because the principle of no smoke without fire still applies. Surely all hon. Members will accept the principles of equality before the law and equality between men and women. Surely all hon. Members also believe that people are innocent until they are proven guilty.

“The legal situation that exists now protects women in rape trials, but it does not protect men. It gives women anonymity, but not men. A special legal exemption has been made in the case of rape, but why has it been made just for those making the accusation? Why does that same protection not apply to those who are being accused? If we are singling out this particular area of the criminal justice system for special treatment, why should it not apply equally to both men and women? Male defendants should be afforded the same protections as women making the accusations because every man is innocent until he is proven guilty. If women need anonymity for this particular type of case, so do men.

“We would all agree that men who are convicted of rape should have their names made public. Convicted rapists should be known and should face the consequences of their actions in respect of public opinion towards them. All that the Government’s proposals mean is simply that a man will face those social penalties after he has been convicted of the offence rather than facing advanced trial by others who will always think that there is no smoke without fire. In high-profile cases, this will also avoid trial by media in advance of trial by court.”

Chishti Rehman Also making his Commons debut was Rehman Chishti, the new MP for Gillingham and Rainham, who was able to speak from a barrister’s perspective:

“The effect on those falsely accused of serious sexual offences by the publication of their names and the revelation of their identities in the media can have long-term and far-reaching disastrous unintended consequences. In April, a taxi driver who worked for a firm in my constituency was cleared of rape at Maidstone Crown court. The story had been reported on the front page of the Medway Messenger , the largest circulating local newspaper in the area. It was only on the day of the trial—months later—with the defendant waiting in anguish, that the two supposed victims admitted that they had made up and falsely invented the serious allegation in order to avoid having to pay a taxi fare. They were later jailed for two years. The consequences for the wrongly accused defendant have been nothing short of disastrous as a result of the publication of his identity in the media. The concept of “mud sticks” is alive and kicking. He and others like him in the future deserve some measure of protection, as I believe we still have a system of justice in this country, of which we are justly proud, in which the accused is innocent until proved guilty on conviction by his peers. If safeguards are required to re-enforce that in sexual offences cases until conviction, in order to balance these competing interests, they should be put in place as a matter of urgency.

“I immediately acknowledge the arguments in favour of the publication of the identities of those accused of serious sexual offences, such as that that might encourage others to come forward. However, that approach does fly in the face of the presumption of innocence and presumes that anyone accused has done this before. We should examine the statistics carefully in trying to balance these crucial and diametrically opposed interests. Neither should be sacrificed in the interests of the other without the most careful consideration.

“Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 has served us well in relation to the publication of the name, address or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of any child or young person who is involved in criminal proceedings, including those on sexual offences. A court has complete discretion to hear anybody in support of or in opposition to an application pursuant to the section and consideration should be given to the extension of it automatically to include all those accused of serious sexual offences, allowing a judge to lift such a restriction in appropriate cases until conviction. A restriction until charge does not go far enough, as the test for charging is a “reasonable prospect of conviction” and thus far lower than the standard required for conviction by a jury.

“In other words, we should trust our judiciary to maintain the balance in any case, having carefully considered the competing arguments. We must also do everything we can to bring to justice those who commit such serious crimes.”

Jonathan Isaby