Bill Cash MP

12 Jul 2011 08:32:49

29 32 Tory MPs rebel against Britain's £9.3 billion EXTRA contribution to IMF bailouts

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter. 

Last night at least 32 Tory MPs (listed below) voted with Labour against an 88% hike in Britain's contribution to the IMF. The hike is to partly fund the IMF's ability to fund bailouts. I write "at least" because I've only quickly scanned the voting list. Please email [email protected] if I've missed anyone off the list.

  1. Steve Baker
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Douglas Carswell
  5. Bill Cash
  6. Chris Chope
  7. James Clappison
  8. Philip Davies
  9. David Davis
  10. Zac Goldsmith
  11. James Gray (added at 9.30am)
  12. Gordon Henderson (added at 9.30am)
  13. Chris Kelly
  14. Edward Leigh
  15. Julian Lewis
  16. Anne Main
  17. Karl McCartney
  18. Nigel Mills (added at 11.30am)
  19. David Nuttall
  20. Matthew Offord
  21. Andrew Percy
  22. Mark Reckless
  23. John Redwood
  24. Simon Reevell
  25. Richard Shepherd
  26. Henry Smith
  27. Graham Stuart
  28. Peter Tapsell
  29. Andrew Turner
  30. Martin Vickers
  31. Charles Walker
  32. John Whittingdale

The Government won the vote to increase Britain's contribution from £10.7 billion to £20.15 billion by 274 votes to 246. This is the first time that the Labour frontbench has voted with Tory Eurosceptics. Labour was voting against an increase in the IMF subscription that was largely agreed during Gordon brown's time in office.

Redwood-on-NewsnightS On his blog John Redwood suggests that the 29 rebels are only one sign of Tory discontent. Given that there are more than 300 Tory MPs he calculates that AT LEAST 80 Conservatives were unavailable, abstained or voted against the government. He writes:

"Some of us want the UK government to use the influence it says it has at the IMF to halt the futile bail outs of Eurozone members. The debt markets show the markets do not believe that Greece can repay all its debts in full and on time. Yesterday was a day when market worries spread beyond Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Italy. Those in  charge of the Euro scheme need to get a grip. It is doing a great deal of financial and economic damage, and they no longer seem to be in control of their project. The IMF should decline to bail out rich countries that have shackled themselves to a currency scheme that was badly put together and needs a thorough re think."

Carswell Douglas Central Lobby 10.30am Douglas Carswell has just blogged this:

"The decision to raise our IMF subscriptions by 88 percent was first mooted when Gordon Brown was in charge – but was okayed by the current government last October.  While Canada, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium all managed to keep the increase in their subs low, whoever negotiated the deal on our behalf seems to have preferred to have UK taxpayers assume greater debt liabilities so that they could sit on a bigger chair at the various international summits they attend on our behalf. Alongside fiscal policy and monetary policy, our approach towards the bailouts and the IMF shows that there has been remarkably little change in economic policy at the Treasury since Gordon Brown was in charge." 

More from Douglas Carswell.

5 Jul 2011 08:30:46

Conservative MPs rebelling more against Cameron than Major

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter.

Over on the NottsPolitics blog Professor Philip Cowley underlines the rebelliousness of backbench Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs since the formation of the Coalition. This graph confirms that this is the most rebellious intake since the second world war:

Screen shot 2011-07-05 at 08.20.20

Cowley notes:

  • "Backbench dissent amongst government MPs is running at a historically high level – with a rebellion in almost one in every two votes in the Commons...
  • This is especially striking once you remember that this is a first session (normally relatively quiet) and even more so once you realise that this is a first session after a change of government (normally extremely quiet)...
  • The rate [of rebellion] for Conservative MPs alone is higher than in any first session since the war, including that of John Major in 1992, when he faced all the Maastricht rebellions...
  • The rates of rebellion are themselves very high: Philip Hollobone in particular is rebelling at a rate of roughly one rebellion in every four votes.  This is much higher than, say, Jeremy Corbyn under Blair or Brown..."

Jonathan Isaby has produced his own list of top rebels. Professor Cowley has done the same:

Screen shot 2011-07-05 at 08.20.37

Read Cowley's full blog.

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" »

2 Mar 2011 07:23:14

Why did no-one ask how military intervention in Libya would work?

by Paul Goodman

I've glanced back at the Prime Minister's Commons statement on Monday about Libya, and found the following:

  • Richard Ottoway asked whether defence co-operation with Gaddafi was misjudged.
  • Edward Leigh demanded no further cuts in the Royal Navy.
  • James Arbuthnot asked about Hamas's refusal to hold elections in Gaza.
  • John Baron inquired what effect support for democracy would have on our autocratic allies in the region.
  • Tobias Ellwood asked about mercenaries sent by African governments to support Gaddafi.
  • David Tredinnick wanted to know about planning for regime change.
  • Tony Baldry said that Gaddafi should be referred to the International Criminal Court.
  • Bill Cash urged arming the resistance.
  • Robert Halfon attacked the LSE for taking Gaddafi's money.
  • James Gray said that contractors should make better plans for evacuations.

These were all fair questions.  But I'm struck on reading them by one that was missing.

David Cameron did nothing to discourage speculation, raging that day, that Britain would play a part in military operations against Gaddafi - including the imposition of a no fly zone (which Labour's Mike Gapes referred to).

It's striking that not a single backbench question tried to pin down Cameron on the matter, ask how a British contribution to a no fly zone or other intervention would work; how it might be affected by the coming defence spending scaleback - and, above all, how we could avoid being further drawn in.

Today's news is that the Government's backing off military intervention, and the media's beginning to ask questions about how it would work.  What can we glean from the fact that no Member of Parliament did so? (Though Tredinnick deserves a mention in dispatches for coming closest.)

12 Jan 2011 06:47:45

27 Tory MPs back Bill Cash's amendment on reaffirmation of parliamentary sovereignty

By Jonathan Isaby

Bill Cash Yesterday saw a whole day's debate in committee on the floor of the House on the European Union Bill, principally considering Bill Cash's amendment, which would have added to Clause 18 of the Bill:

"The sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament is hereby reaffirmed."

We covered the issues involved in yesterday's ToryDiary on the subject, and Cash's lengthy speech to his amendment can be read here, with Europe Minister David Lidington's reply to the debate here.

The amendment was defeated by 314 votes to 39, with 27 Tory MPs backing it, namely (* denotes 2010 intake):

  1. Steve Baker*
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Andrew Bridgen*
  5. Douglas Carswell
  6. Bill Cash
  7. Chris Chope
  8. James Clappison
  9. David Davis
  10. Richard Drax*
  11. Zac Goldsmith*
  12. Gordon Henderson*
  13. Philip Hollobone
  14. Bernard Jenkin
  15. Chris Kelly*
  16. Edward Leigh
  17. Julian Lewis
  18. Jason McCartney*
  19. David Nuttall*
  20. Mark Reckless
  21. John Redwood
  22. Richard Shepherd
  23. Sir John Stanley
  24. Sir Peter Tapsell
  25. Andrew Turner
  26. Charles Walker
  27. John Whittingdale

They were joined by 8 Labour MPS,  5 DUP MPs and 1 Independent MP.

It was the first time that Bernard Jenkin, Chris Kelly*, Edward Leigh, Sir John Stanley and John Whittingdale have rebelled on a European issue this Parliament.

Conversely, three of those who have rebelled in at least two of the three previous Euro rebellions (see here for previous European rebellions this Parliament) failed to back Cash's move: Philip Davies did not participate in the vote (I do not know his reason - he may have been on parliamentary or constituency business out of Westminster) whilst both Andrew Percy and Martin Vickers both voted with the Government.

2 Jan 2011 17:55:53

Is a Commons defeat on Europe really on the cards for David Cameron?

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 9Today's Sunday Telegraph splashed on Melissa Kite's story suggesting that David Cameron "faces the prospect of an embarrassing defeat on Europe" when a Committee of the Whole House debates amendments to the European Union Bill on Tuesday 11th January.

The Bill introduces the "referendum lock" on the future transfer of powers to Brussels and - as Martin Howe noted this morning here on ConHome - seeks to make it explicitly clear that laws emanating from the EU have effect within the UK only for so long as that remains the will of Parliament.

However, the Telegraph reports that Bill Cash has tabled amendments to the Bill to further strengthen it by "reaffirming the supremacy of the UK Parliament" over British law.

But how real is the prospect of the Government being defeated on a European matter? The Coalition has a working Commons majority of 84, meaning that on a full turnout of MPs, at least 43 Government backbenchers would need to vote against a measure to raise the possibility of defeat.

Liberal Democrat MPs cannot be expected to do anything but back the Government in the face of a eurosceptic rebellion on European matters. The Telegraph suggests that Labour are open to backing Tory eurosceptic rebels on this matter, although it is surely unlikely that Labour would repeat its feat from the tuition fees vote and deliver a 100% turnout of its MPs. Then there are the assorted nationalists and Unionists to factor into the equation.

Thus far there have been three noteworthy Tory rebellions on European issues since the general election**:

  1. July 14th - 6 Conservative MPs opposed a motion supporting the establishment of the EU External Action Service, with one (Justin Tomlinson) registering a positive abstention by voting in both lobbies.
  2. October 13th - 37 Conservative MPs voted for an amendment to a motion tabled by Douglas Carswell demanding a reduction in the EU Budget contribution - although a further 12 had signed the amendment but did not in the event vote for it.
  3. November 11th - 25 Conservative MPs opposed a motion noting European Union documents relating to the co-ordination of economic policy in the EU.

** A fourth division relating to matters European - namely a motion tabled on December 14th supporting the Government's approach of working closely with the European Commission to deliver a strong, principles-based framework for financial sector corporate governance - saw just one Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, registering a vote against.

So who were they? (2010 intake are marked with an asterisk*)

Continue reading "Is a Commons defeat on Europe really on the cards for David Cameron?" »

25 Nov 2010 05:54:31

Bill Cash fails in his attempt to make future early elections subject to a Commons motion passed by a simple majority

By Jonathan Isaby

CASH WILLIAM During the latest proceedings on the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill yesterday, Bill Cash led an attempt to make a pre-full term general election subject to a motion passed by a simple majority of MPs, rather than two thirds of MPs, as the Bill proposes.

Moving his amendment to clause two of the Bill, which was also signed by Ed Miliband on behalf of the Opposition, he explained:

"The clause is the turn of the screw by the coalition into our democratic system of government, which, at its essence, is about the individuality and votes of conscience of MPs, irrespective of the Whips and the patronage system. It creates a permanent constitutional change through a passive, silent revolution—the most silent revolution since our Parliament began. It is being done without a mandate of any kind for any party, in any manifesto, in any part of the political system."

"My amendment 4 is based on a simple point of principle, namely that a motion can be passed by a simple majority of one, as has been the case from time immemorial—from the very inception of our parliamentary process in what is sometimes described as the “mother of Parliaments”. That is now being changed in a manner that will seriously alter the method whereby a Government may fall."

"Why have I tabled this amendment? It is because I object to the new-fangled idea that an early election would result from a motion, perhaps proposed by the Opposition, any MP or even the Government themselves, that requires—this is contrary to all constitutional precedent and history since our Parliament first sat representing the electors of this country—the support of two-thirds or more of those eligible to vote as Members of Parliament. In other words, we are talking about seats and not the persons present in the House of Commons. That is a profound and dangerous doctrine."

"The coalition originally proposed 55%, but that was so manifestly absurd that the coalition agreement was then torn up and the figure was replaced with two thirds. If not 55%, why two thirds? The Scottish Parliament—I am using this analogy because it has already been raised, but I think that it is completely irrelevant—does not form Her Majesty’s Government. Decisions in time of war, a Finance Bill or any of the other great levers of power are issues are determined, and will continue to be determined, by the United Kingdom Parliament. One such great exercise of power at a most important time was the confidence motion of 10 May 1940, which was passed, as it happened, by the Government, and it led to the demise of Neville Chamberlain’s Government, because everyone knew he had to go. I do not regard the Scottish parliamentary experience as relevant. If not two thirds, why not 75%, 60% or any other number that Harry Potter’s wand might conjure out of thin air?"

He then moved on to the issue of votes of confidence, which the Bill would still make subject to a simple majority, but rather than causing an immediate general election, there would be a fortnight for a new government to be formed which could command the confidence of the Commons, before a new election had to take place:

Continue reading "Bill Cash fails in his attempt to make future early elections subject to a Commons motion passed by a simple majority" »

3 Nov 2010 07:43:36

Rebel Tory backbenchers fail in their attempt to impose thresholds on the AV Referendum - but 21 MPs back the bid before the bill clears the Commons

By Jonathan Isaby

During last night's proceedings on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, Tory MP Bill Cash proposed an amendment that the AV referendum should be subject to a 40% turnout threshold.

He explained to the Commons:

"My amendment is very modest. It simply calls on the Government to agree that we should insert in the Bill that the result of the referendum will not pass if less than 40% vote in it. That is 40% of those who are eligible to cast a vote. It is about turnout, and 40% is not a large proportion. It is much less than what George Cunningham insisted on in the Scottish devolution proposals that led to the 1979 legislation on that; he insisted on having 40% for a yes vote, whereas I am calling here for only 40% of the electorate. It is a very modest proposal. Is it not a reasonable proposal? Is it not reasonable that the people of this country should be able to have the result of a referendum refused if less than 40% actually cast a vote in it?"

"The threshold question is very important and we were previously deprived of an opportunity to discuss it properly because of the programme motion and other activities that I regarded as rather disreputable. I believe the Bill is being severely vitiated, and I think it is very important that the people of this country know that threshold is a key issue. Indeed, threshold and the 40% figure are regarded by all commentators as having significance across the international scene as well as for the United Kingdom."

Eleanor Laing, meanwhile, had another proposal: to require 25% of those who are entitled to vote, to vote yes for the referendum to be binding.

In replying, Cabinet Office Minister Mark Harper did not accept their amendments. He said:

"The reason why we have not specified a threshold in the Bill is, as a number of hon. Members said, that we want to respect the will of the people who vote in the referendum, without any qualifications... People may choose to abstain, but the amendment would create an incentive for people who favour a no vote to abstain. So people would not campaign, as they rightly should, for only yes or no votes in the referendum. We would have people campaigning actively for voters not to participate. We debated this a little on Second Reading, and as I said in my speech then, I do not think that is right. We need to encourage participation in the referendum. We want people to take part, and putting in a rule that encourages at least one side to campaign actively for voters not to take part would do our democracy a disservice.

"I am not concerned as some colleagues are about what the turnout will be. As we have said in previous debates, both in Committee and in the House, there are elections for the devolved Administrations-for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly-but there are also elections scheduled next year for 81% of England. The percentage turnout in English local elections varies, but it is usually in the mid to high 30s at least. I am confident that with the additional publicity and the awareness of the referendum, and the fact that it is an important decision, we will indeed get a good turnout."

"Let me now focus on the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mrs Laing). She is right to say that it proposes a completely different, outcome-specific threshold. It is worth saying to colleagues on the Government Benches who support the Government's proposals and respect the coalition agreement that my hon. Friend's amendment is not compatible with what we set out in the coalition agreement, which was a simple majority referendum, without an outcome-specific threshold. Colleagues who are reconciled to a referendum being held should bear that in mind if they are tempted to vote for my hon. Friend's amendment."

The voting saw 31 MPs favour thresholds with 549 voting against.

The 21 Conservatives backing the thresholds were:

  • Steve Baker* (also voted No, effectively making a positive abstention)
  • Peter Bone
  • Graham Brady
  • Bill Cash
  • Chris Chope
  • Geoffrey Cox
  • Philip Davies
  • James Gray
  • Philip Hollobone
  • Eleanor Laing
  • Edward Leigh
  • Julian Lewis
  • David Morris* (also voted No, effectively making a positive abstention)
  • David Nuttall*
  • Andrew Percy*
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg*
  • Richard Shepherd
  • Keith Simpson
  • Andrew Turner
  • Andrew Tyrie
  • Sarah Wollaston*

It is odd to see Keith Simpson's name there since he is a PPS and would usually be expected to vote in line with the payroll. Those marked with an asterisk* are members of the 2010 intake.

Later last night the Bill then comfortably obtained its Third Reading by 321 votes to 264.  With speculation at various points that the Government would struggle to get the Bill through as it wished - with MPs wanting to change the referendum date, impose those thresholds or be less prescriptive about the electorate quotas of the new constituencies - the whips will doubtless be quietly pleased about it attaining a majority of 57.

The following 15 Tories voted against the Third Reading:

  • John Baron
  • Brian Binley
  • Peter Bone
  • Bill Cash
  • Chris Chope
  • Philip Davies
  • James Gray
  • Philip Hollobone
  • Julian Lewis
  • Patrick Mercer (also voted Aye, effectively making a positive abstention)
  • David Nuttall
  • Richard Shepherd
  • Sir Peter Tapsell
  • Andrew Turner
  • Charles Walker

27 Oct 2010 17:47:34

Treasury minister Mark Hoban insists the UK is exempt from the EU economic governance regime

By Jonathan Isaby

Further to my report earlier and that of Lee Rotherham on Monday about Herman Van Rompuy's Task Force on EU Economic Governance, Treasury MInister Mark Hoban came to the Commons this afternoon to answer an Urgent Question from Bill Cash on the issue.

Mr Hoban said:

"The report concludes that the EU should take steps to reinforce fiscal discipline and that the euro area in particular must face tougher surveillance of its fiscal policies, with sanctions for non-compliance with the pact where appropriate. It also recommends measures to improve EU-level co-ordination of macro-economic policies. That will ensure that any harmful macro-economic imbalances between member states can be identified and corrective action taken. Finally, the report notes that there should be a permanent crisis resolution mechanism for the euro area. The UK supports its conclusions.

"A strong and stable euro area is firmly in the UK’s own economic interests, given the high level of UK exports to those countries and our close economic ties. In the years before the crisis, fiscal discipline was absent, and not just in states in the eurozone. High levels of debt have exacerbated the problems that some member states face during the economic downturn. The taskforce recommends that there should be greater focus on member states’ public debt levels in future, and the Government agree with that approach.

"I am pleased to note that the report explicitly states that sanctions cannot be applied to the UK under the stability and growth pact. Domestic fiscal frameworks play a crucial role in ensuring that member states act responsibly. EU surveillance is useful, but as the House knows, national Parliaments and national institutions must hold Governments to account for their economic and budgetary policies."

"The UK’s exemption from the sanctions proposal will be explicit, and there will be no shift of sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels. The report makes that clear, agreeing that “strengthened enforcement measures need to be implemented for all EU Member States, except the UK as a consequence of Protocol 15 of the Treaty”.

Bill Cash was not persuaded by the minister's claim:

"Unfortunately, the explanation that we have just heard from the Minister does not answer all the questions that arise in this matter. In particular, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was on the taskforce, and the Council’s recommendation is that these moves should strengthen economic governance “in the EU and the euro area”, in other words not excluding the UK, “and can be implemented within the existing Treaties.”

But Mr Hoban re-iterated:

"The language in the taskforce report guaranteed that sanctions would not apply to the UK. Paragraph 18 of the taskforce report refers “to the specific situation of the UK in relation to Protocol 15 of the Treaties.” In addition, paragraph 4 states that the measures set out in the taskforce report can be implemented through “EU secondary legislation…within the existing legal framework of the European Union”, so nothing in the report requires a treaty change. I am aware that France and Germany have suggested that there may be treaty changes, but we have yet to see the details of such proposals, which would be made to the European Council at the weekend."

Putative treaty changes were also raised by Peter Lilley:

"Can the Minister confirm that even if the proposed treaty concerns only and exclusively the member states of the eurozone, it would still require the support of the British Government to go ahead? Can he assure me that that support will not be given without obtaining concessions in return, such as the return of powers to this country that were unnecessarily given? Can he assure me that we will not give that support without demanding a price? This is the ideal opportunity to obtain that price."

Mr Hoban replied:

"My right hon. Friend makes an important point, but I would point out to him that, at the moment, there are no proposed treaty changes on the table. That may happen at the European Council next weekend, and we should respond to those treaty changes as they arise. However, I go back to the comments that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made: we will not agree to any changes to EU treaties that move more powers from this country to the EU."

Further notes of scepticism were raised by several other Tory backbenchers:

Douglas Carswell: In June, Ministers made a big deal of the fact that the UK Budget would not need to be submitted to EU institutions before it was brought to the House of Commons. Will the Minister confirm that, in fact, the UK pre-Budget report data are part of the European semester process, and that, while we might be exempt from sanctions, we are part of that surveillance? Will he be honest and admit that we are part of the EU fiscal scrutiny process?

Mr Hoban: I believe that this Parliament should hear news about this country’s finances before the EU does. We have secured that situation and that was the right thing to do.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The Minister has drawn our attention to paragraph 18 of the report. I am curious about paragraph 16, which refers to “New reputational and political measures”, including the threat of “enhanced surveillance”. Would the British fiscal position be subject to enhanced surveillance in certain circumstances, and what would that mean?

Mr Hoban: I take the view that the measures that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has announced in relation to strengthening the fiscal framework, and the consolidation that he announced last week, will ensure that we will not be subject to any surveillance whatever.

Philip Davies: Whenever the Minister defends this country from a power grab and a cash grab by the European Union, he will have the enthusiastic support of Members on these Benches. Some of us are rather nervous, however, because when the Conservatives were in opposition, they opposed the European External Action Service, yet they sang its praises when introducing it in the House not long ago. They also opposed giving more money to the European Union, yet they recently rubber-stamped an increase through this House that had been agreed by the previous Government. Does the Minister agree that his Government should be judged on what they do, and not on what they say?

Mr Hoban: Absolutely. That is why I would encourage my hon. Friend to read this document. He will see the gains that we have managed to secure in Europe to defend our position.

14 Oct 2010 08:49:39

Despite massive whipping operation, 37 Conservative MPs vote to cut UK contribution to EU

By Tim Montgomerie

Yesterday I highlighted an attempt, led by Douglas Carswell, to reduce Britain's contribution to the EU.

The following Tory MPs voted for his amendment*:

  1. Baker, Steve
  2. Baron, Mr John
  3. Bebb, Guto
  4. Bingham, Andrew (not on yesterday's list)
  5. Binley, Mr Brian
  6. Blackman, Bob (not on yesterday's list)
  7. Bone, Peter
  8. Carswell, Mr Douglas
  9. Chope, Mr Christopher
  10. Clappison, Mr James
  11. Cox, Mr Geoffrey
  12. Davis, rh Mr David
  13. de Bois, Nick (not on yesterday's list)
  14. Dinenage, Caroline (not on yesterday's list)
  15. Eustice, George (not on yesterday's list)
  16. Goldsmith, Zac
  17. Halfon, Robert
  18. Heaton-Harris, Chris
  19. Henderson, Gordon
  20. Hollobone, Philip
  21. Latham, Pauline (not on yesterday's list)
  22. Lewis, Dr Julian
  23. Main, Mrs Anne
  24. McCartney, Jason (not on yesterday's list)
  25. McCartney, Karl (not on yesterday's list)
  26. Mosley, Stephen (not on yesterday's list)
  27. Nuttall, Mr David
  28. Percy, Andrew
  29. Reckless, Mark
  30. Redwood, rh Mr John (not on yesterday's list)
  31. Reevell, Simon (not on yesterday's list)
  32. Stephenson, Andrew (not on yesterday's list)
  33. Stewart, Bob
  34. Stuart, Mr Graham
  35. Turner, Mr Andrew
  36. Vickers, Martin (not on yesterday's list)
  37. Walker, Mr Charles

Congratulations to all 37. The whips mounted a massive operation to minimise the rebellion and urged support for an amendment put down by Bill Cash which, more meekly, "call[ed] on the Government to reject European Parliament proposals to increase the budget". That later was passed.

The following Tory MPs did not vote for the Carswell amendment despite signing it:

  1. Philip Davies
  2. David T C Davies
  3. Jackie Doyle-Price
  4. Richard Drax
  5. Chris Kelly
  6. Kwasi Kwarteng
  7. Andrea Leadsom
  8. Stephen McPartland
  9. Patrick Mercer
  10. Priti Patel
  11. Andrew Rosindell
  12. Richard Shepherd

Some might have bowed to the whips' pressure but that won't be the explanation for all. Philip Davies and Richard Shepherd, to name just two, are serial rebels and may simply have had prior, immovable engagements.

Patel The overall debate was a festival of Euroscepticism with particularly strong contributions from younger, newer Tory MPs. One got the sense that the baton of opposition to the European superstate was passing to a new generation. Priti Patel, in particular, was on great form. Here is one extract from her contribution:

"When the Lisbon treaty was passed, we heard claim after claim that it would make the EU decision-making process more efficient and democratic. How can it have led to more efficiency, when the EU budget is due to increase by 5.8% in payment appropriations? Even the Opposition, with their astonishing record on spending and waste, would struggle to justify an annual increase in spending on that scale. I very much doubt that, in the current economic climate, any Department calling for such an increase in its budget would be given any consideration.

The Government's position is to keep cash levels at the same rate as last year, but, at a time when most domestic Departments are looking to make efficiencies and cuts ranging from 25% to 40%, why is the EU not being pushed further? With a total budget exceeding €130 billion, it is not unreasonable for the Government and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in her negotiations, to pursue the Commission and other member states to make deeper cuts in order to bring down the cost of the EU and to protect the British taxpayer.

My constituents in Witham and the majority of the British public now understand that the Government are dealing with spending, and that spending must come down. As decisions affecting my constituents are taken, however, they will be furious to see that, although they cannot have their new school buildings or road improvements for now, more and more of their hard-earned money is being handed over to Europe."

Credit also to Justine Greening, Treasury minister. She was robust in her statements to the House and was later compared to Margaret Thatcher by John Redwood:

"The last time we had a good battling female Minister who stood up for Britain she was armed only with a handbag, yet with that one piece of equipment she came back with the biggest rebate we ever got: the rebate the Labour party stupidly gave away, and the rebate we need back. That rebate would give us twice as much money as the amount the Government are hoping to save from the cut in child benefit. We know the Minister has the right equipment. She assures me that she has an excellent handbag, so we wish her every success in putting that argument."

Highlights from Ms Greening's contribution:

  • The EU should not be immune from spending cuts: "I will not hide from the House the Government's frustration that some of our partners-and those in EU institutions-do not seem to understand how bizarre it is, when national budgets are under such extraordinary pressure, that the EU should be immune from that."
  • All over Europe nations are cutting costs, but not the EU itself: "If we look at the size of the EU budget, we see that there is a marked disparity between the Commission's proposed budget increase and the substantial reductions in public spending that countries across the EU are having to make. The Governments of, among others, France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Romania, as well as our own, have all announced sizeable austerity measures¸ and the EU as a whole has taken unprecedented action to secure economic stability. Yet the Commission has proposed that the EU budget should increase by nearly 6% in 2011. The Commission's draft budget explains that the proposed increase is driven primarily by pre-planned rises in the financial framework, and by large spending programmes such as the research framework programme. As we have heard, however, it is impossible to ignore other elements, such as the startling 4.4% increase in the cost of running the EU institutions themselves."
  • EU budget priorities, as well as the total spend is wrong: "The Government will not only focus on the size of the EU budget. We also want to focus on its priorities for spending, because it is clear that certain areas of the EU budget simply do not offer the best possible value for money that we should be able to expect. The common agricultural policy, citizenship spending in some areas and spending on the EU's own administration are foremost among them. There is also, of course, the perennial question of why the EU is based in both Brussels and Strasbourg. Critically, we want an EU budget that prioritises economic growth and recovery across the EU and worldwide, just as we are doing with our fiscal consolidation measures here in the UK. We want a budget that is focused on prioritising poverty reduction, promoting stability and addressing the challenges of climate change."
  • The Carswell amendment cannot be supported: "We want to see the 2011 budget cut. The problem with the amendment is that if we withdrew our money from the EU, under its terms that would be illegal. We cannot support an amendment that would make our action illegal, so we will have to reject it, but I can tell my hon. Friend that if he had worded the provision slightly differently, we might well have been able to support both amendments. It is with regret that we have to reject his amendment, despite agreeing with its sentiments."
  • Up until now we don't have venough votes in the EU to freeze the budget: "I should remind the House that when we had the opportunity in the European Parliament to vote against the rise in the Parliament's 2010 budget, we took it. Although the Council had battened down the rise proposed by the Commission, the Government could not accept the proposed level of budget increase and we therefore voted against the Council's first reading. In fact, six other member states joined us: our Nordic partners-Finland, Sweden and Denmark; and the great brewing nations of Austria, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The Council's position was, however, adopted by a qualified majority, although I just remind the House that we were very close to achieving a blocking minority on that vote; we were just three votes away from doing so-we got 29 votes when we needed 32. That is why we have been working so hard with our European partners to put our case, because we want, at the minimum, to be in a position to have a blocking minority. We really want to aim for a majority, and that is what we are working towards."

* Five non-Tories also supported the amendment.

28 Jul 2010 09:38:44

Theresa May defends European Investigation Order as necessary for cross-border crime-fighting but backbench Tory MPs warn her that it is an EU 'power grab'

By Tim Montgomerie

In the Commons yesterday the Home Secretary explained to MPs why the Government was adopting the European Investigation Order. Posted below are key highlights from her opening statement:

The need to deal with cross-border crime: "To deal with cross-border crime, countries enter into mutual legal assistance-MLA-agreements. Those agreements provide a framework through which states can obtain evidence from overseas. MLA has therefore been an important tool in the fight against international crime and terrorism."

The European Investigation Order aims to simplify and accelerate cross-border crime-fighting: "The process is fragmented and confusing for the police and prosecutors, and it is too often too slow. In some cases it takes many months to obtain vital evidence. Indeed, in one drug trafficking case the evidence arrived in the UK after the trial had been completed. The European investigation order is intended to address those problems by simplifying the system, through a standardised request form and by providing formal deadlines for the recognition and execution of requests."

The Association of Chief Police Officers want the EIO: "The Government have decided to opt into the EIO because it offers practical help for the British police and prosecutors, and we are determined to do everything we can to help them cut crime and deliver justice. That is what the police say the EIO will do. We wrote to every Association of Chief Police Officers force about the EIO, and not one said that we should not opt in. ACPO itself replied that "the EIO is a simpler instrument than those already in existence and, provided it is used sensibly and for appropriate offences, we welcome attempts to simplify and expedite mutual legal assistance.""

The EIO does not threaten civil liberties: "We will seek to maintain the draft directive's requirement that evidence should be obtained by coercive means, for example through searching a premises, only where the dual criminality requirement is satisfied. Requests for evidence from foreign authorities will still require completion of the same processes as in similar domestic cases. In order to search a house, for example, police officers will still need to obtain a warrant. The execution of the EIO must be compatible with the European convention on human rights. That means that there must be a clear link between the alleged criminality and the assistance requested, otherwise complying with the request would be in breach of article 8 of the ECHR, on private and family life."

Continue reading "Theresa May defends European Investigation Order as necessary for cross-border crime-fighting but backbench Tory MPs warn her that it is an EU 'power grab'" »

15 Jul 2010 08:58:15

Votes from Tory MEPs were "decisive" in speedy expansion of the EU's foreign service

KEEPINGanEYE Last Thursday, on the orders of William Hague, the ECR group in the European Parliament, that includes Tory MEPs, voted to support the formal creation of the European External Action Service. I write formal because the EEAS has been in effective existence for some time. The EEAS is a deliberately bureaucratic name for what is the EU foreign service. It has, blogs Dan Hannan, a budget twenty times larger than the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It has 7,000 staff members, operating in 130 global embassies.

Last week's ECR votes were decisive in seeing the EEAS motion pass*. Without ECR support, reports EurActiv, there would have been no decision until the autumn - time, some believe, that could have been used to dilute the EEAS' powers.

Charles Tannock MEP, the ECR's Foreign Affairs spokesman, told EurActiv:

"We were opposed to the creation of the EEAS but we are now reconciled to engaging constructively within the new architecture in the best interests of our countries."

That is an EU-constructive rather than an EU-sceptic position. This is the latest example of the Coalition government engaging with the EU in what it calls a "constructive" rather than "sceptical" way. The ambition is to make arrangements work better rather than delay or frustrate.

This morning's Telegraph reports that the EU desk will be moved to the centre of the UN General Assembly as part of a "back down" by William Hague:

"Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign minister or "High Representative", will be given a special seat alongside a new European UN ambassador with "the right to speak in a timely manner, the right of reply, the right to circulate documents, the right to make proposals and submit amendments (and) the right to raise points of order". EU sources told The Daily Telegraph that William Hague, the foreign secretary, was forced to "back down" and accept the plan as part of the creation of a Brussels diplomatic service under the Lisbon Treaty."

Lidington In the House of Commons yesterday, Europe Minister David Lidington explained this enhanced EU role at the UN:

"Supporting the EU in having enhanced rights in the UN General Assembly is a good example. We want the High Representative to be able to do what the rotating presidency used to do: to speak and act in support of an agreed common position. The Foreign Secretary explained that policy in more detail in a written ministerial statement earlier today. If the General Assembly agrees, the High Representative will have the rights necessary, and no more than the rights necessary, to fulfil the representational role previously carried out by the rotating presidency. That includes the right to speak after the member states have spoken, but not the right to a seat among individual UN members and certainly not the right to vote in the General Assembly. These arrangements will not give EU delegations enhanced rights in United Nations agencies or in other international organisations."

Mr Lidington was also warm about the relationship that the Coalition wants with Baroness Ashton, the "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy":

"The High Representative has made a very good start to her challenging role. She has an impossible job-almost three jobs, in fact: High Representative, British Commissioner in Brussels and chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. She has been criticised for not being at two different ministerial meetings that were held in two different countries at the same time, but that seems more than a little unfair. I am told that she has 400 days of appointments in the year, and she does not yet really have a proper department to help her. The Conservatives wished her well when she embarked on her task and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I are already working closely with her."

Labour MPs were delighted at Mr Lidington's contributions yesterday. Labour's former Europe Minister, Chris Bryant welcomed Mr Lidington's "conversion". And this from Michael Connarty MP:

"I am sensitive about intruding on private grief, but I am witnessing the acting out of a scenario in which a Minister who takes a very positive approach to issues relating to the European Union is surrounded by a large number of Eurosceptic Members of Parliament who had previously imagined that they were serving under a Eurosceptic Government. The words "a cosy consensus" have been used, but I am not sure that what is happening. I see it more as the sweet breeze of EU realism blowing through the Conservative Government."

CASH WILLIAM In the debate William Cash spoke for Eurosceptics:

"I regard this whole decision as a triumph of European aspirations and European parliamentary ambitions over reality. I am deeply worried about the manner in which this game of multidimensional chess will play out, and I have already indicated to my hon. Friend the Minister my concern about the overlapping functions and the contradictions that will emerge between the necessity of maintaining our bilateral relations with other countries and the extremely ambitious proposals in this decision on global reach. It is phenomenal to imagine an external action service on this scale that would in any way be regarded as not interfering with our domestic diplomatic service."

Tim Montgomerie

* Not all Tory MEPs voted for the EEAS. Dan Hannan, Nirj Deva and Roger Helmer, for example, voted against. I also understand that Geoffrey Van Ordern MEP abstained.

1 Jul 2010 16:25:32

Is there a plot to block Bill Cash from chairing the European Scrutiny Committee?

Wednesday July 7th update:

BIll Cash has in the event been nominated unopposed to chair the European Scrutiny Committee. He said:

“I am utterly delighted at receiving such overwhelming support from so many colleagues. We now have to get down to the business of sifting through the massive logjam of European Directives and other European Commission proposals and setting up the membership of the Committee as soon as reasonably possible because European proposals and legislation have such a pervasive impact on the daily lives of the voters of the United Kingdom.”

Jonathan Isaby


Screen shot 2010-07-01 at 16.14.28Michael Connarty, the Labour Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee during the last Parliament, asked the following question in the Commons earlier today -

"May I press the Deputy Leader of the House to get his master, the Leader of the House, to come to the House and give the statement that he promised two weeks ago on progress on setting up the European Scrutiny Committee, and to scotch the rumour that is going about that Ministers intend to vote in the 1922 committee’s election of the Conservative chair of that committee? I hope that the Deputy Leader of the House will say that even the gelded Liberals would not stand for the Government’s trying to elect a Back-Bench committee’s chairman." 

Since Commons Committee Chairmen are elected either on a cross-party basis by all backbench MPs, or by the members of the Committee concerned, the procedure that Connarty was referring to is obscure.  But the rumour to which he was alluding is that the whole Conservative Parliamentary Party - including its Ministers - will, in a unique arrangement, vote soon to nominate one of the Conservative committee members as its Chairman.

One of those members looks to be Bill Cash, who's sat on the Committee for 26 years.  It's no secret that he's not exactly the pin-up boy of the Whips' Office.  Labour sources confirm that Connarty was suggesting that this peculiar manoeuvre is an attempt to block him, and instead install Oliver Heald, a former Shadow Leader of the Commons.

Connarty didn't get much of an answer from David Heath, the Deputy Leader of the House.  As a Liberal Democrat, Heath was able to say that the workings of the '22 are nothing to do with him.  It's understood that Labour and other non-Conservative members of the new committee may be unwilling to have a Tory other than Cash foisted on them (as they're apparently likely to see it).

If Ministers vote in such a election, the gambit will obviously say much about Conservative tensions over the EU.  There are two other important issues at stake.  The first is the right of backbenchers of all parties to decide who chairs Commons committees.  The second is the right of the '22 to remain the property of Conservative backbenchers.  David Cameron's recent attempt to merge the '22 with the frontbench was both wrong and unsuccessful.  It shouldn't be repeated in any form - let alone in relation to so vital an issue.

Paul Goodman

23 Apr 2009 13:16:44

Ming Campbell calls for debate on Damian Green

Damian Green Former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell has tabled an Early Day Motion on Damian Green. It has been signed by Michael Howard, Bill Cash, Peter Bottomley, Bernard Jenkin and David Davis.

Herewith the text of EDM 1307:

"That this House notes the statement of the Director of Public Prosecutions on 16 April 2009 announcing his decision that no charges would be brought against the hon. Member for Ashford in relation to the documents leaked and stating that, `Mr Green's purpose in using the documents was apparently to hold the Government to account'; and calls for the House to be given the opportunity to debate a motion to refer the matter to the Committee on Standards and Privileges."

Update: Alan Duncan and Bernard Jenkin both raised this matter at Business Questions today - and got a rise out of Harriet Harman.

Mr Duncan said:

"Most of us in the House will be pleased that the case of the arrest of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) has now been satisfactorily resolved. Even though the issue became rather heated, surely we should now stand back and study the implications of what happened. May I therefore ask the Leader of the House to reflect on early-day motion 1307?


Will the Leader of the House support the motion that was originally tabled on the Order Paper before the Easter recess to ensure that the House can refer this matter to the Committee on Standards and Privileges as soon as possible? Now is the best time to learn the lessons of this affair so that all the confusion can be cleared up for the future. It is no good her saying that the Attorney-General’s opinion was that there was no confusion, because there was. There is a perfectly good process available to us, and we should invoke it; will she confirm that she will co-operate in doing so?"

The Leader of the House of Commons replied:

"Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman asked about the arrest of the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) and the issues of parliamentary privilege that arose from it. The House has already made a resolution to refer the matter to a Committee of the Speaker, and I do not think that it would be a good idea to set up a twin-track approach. All the issues about entry on to the premises of Parliament, the searching of parliamentary offices and constituency correspondence and what is, or should be, available to the court can be considered by the Speaker’s Committee, which the House agreed should start its work after the criminal proceedings had come to a conclusion. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman that we should set up a twin-track approach and a separate inquiry into the same issues via the Standards and Privileges Committee.

Alan Duncan: Different issues.

Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman says that, but he would need to explain why the Speaker’s Committee could not consider the issues that he is concerned about and believes need to be looked into. I am obviously keen for the House to be able to have all the issues that it wants resolved looked into, and I have no vested interest in the House not looking into them and coming to a satisfactory conclusion. I just do not want there to be a twin-track proposal or for us to undermine a resolution that the House has already made at your request, Mr. Speaker, that there should be a Speaker’s Committee to look into the matter."

Continue reading "Ming Campbell calls for debate on Damian Green" »

25 Mar 2009 11:17:54

Andrew Lansley says Government should have intervened over Stafford Hospital

Andrew Lansley MP Health questions were put in the House of Commons yesterday.

The situation at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which has been slammed by the Healthcare Commission for "appalling" emergency care at Stafford Hospital, stood out. Between 2005 and 2008 about 400 more people died there than would ordinarily have been expected.

Stone MP Bill Cash expressed his profound concern:

"Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Will the Secretary of State take account of the fact that I am repeating my call for an inquiry into this whole matter under the Inquiries Act 2005? Will he also make it clear that all those in that trust who are culpable, as set out in the Healthcare Commission report—that includes other senior management besides the chairman and the chief executive at the time—must be removed and not merely suspended on full pay?

Alan Johnson: As I just said, the investigation will involve everyone who has any position of authority within that trust—the whole board and all the executive directors. It will be a proper investigation and it will be fair, and the action taken will result from that inquiry, not from any knee-jerk reaction by me or anyone else."

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley (above right) went on the same topic:

"On 15 October 2007, after the terrible events at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, the Secretary of State said that

    “we should be spotting these issues much earlier and getting rid of incompetent chief executives or chairpersons who, fortunately, are in the minority, rather than waiting for a report such as this, by which time, frankly, most of the damage has been done.”—[ Official Report, 15 October 2007; Vol. 464, c. 571.]

The Secretary of State knew about the failings at Stafford in May 2008, so why did he not intervene then and there?

Alan Johnson: I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at the Healthcare Commission’s report carefully. The difference between what happened in Stafford and in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, and the fact that the Healthcare Commission took into account those words and what others said at the time, is that as soon as commission staff went into Stafford and saw the problems—in May 2008—they immediately called the chief executive to a meeting, put their concerns to him, and started to see the process of improvement. That is the job of the Healthcare Commission while it carries out its inquiry. The staff cannot say at that stage that they have come to any conclusions, and it would be unfair, one day into an inquiry, to reach conclusions and say that heads must roll and recommendations must be made. We made that specific point to the Healthcare Commission at the time of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, so in Stafford staff immediately introduced measures to put things right, rather than wait for the end of the process and the report to be published—as I said they should do in that quote.

Continue reading "Andrew Lansley says Government should have intervened over Stafford Hospital" »