Charlie Elphicke MP

17 Mar 2011 07:16:49

Justine Greening and an array of Tory backbenchers expose Labour's hypocrisy on the cost of filling a car with petrol

By Jonathan Isaby

Petrol pump The first of yesterday's opposition day debates in the Commons saw a Labour motion demanding a reversal in January's VAT rise with respect to road fuel and asking where the fuel duty stabiliser was - all in the name of the "hard pressed motorist".

The hypocrisy of Labour's position, given its record in government, was not lost on Conservative MPs, who proceeded to harry Angela Eagle, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who was opening the debate.

Here is a selection of their interventions and her non-replies to their points: 

Greg Knight: Will the hon. Lady help the House? Over the past 13 years, in every aspect of Government policy, the Labour Government were deliberately and decisively anti-motorist. Does the motion before the House today represent a seismic shift in policy, or is it, as we suspect, a transient spat of opportunism?

Ms Eagle: I am rather sorry that I gave way so early in my remarks to that kind of comment. I do not recognise the right hon. Gentleman’s caricature of our policies for motorists. Perhaps he has been reading too much of the Daily Express.

Robert Halfon: I find the Labour motion astonishing, because over the past few years the hon. Lady’s party crucified Harlow’s motorists by putting up fuel duty by 6% a year and increasing it more than 12 times—and it was going to introduce another tax.

Ms Eagle: I will come to the details of the motion later. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will do us the honour of staying in the Chamber and listening to that.

Charlie Elphicke: To clear up the addling of some minds in the House regarding the history of this matter, will she confirm that in 1997 duty was 36.86p and today it is 57.19p?

Ms Eagle: One has to remember that the price of petrol at the election was £1.20 a litre, at a time when the Conservatives were promising to cut 10p off the price of a litre because petrol prices were too high. It is now £1.32 a litre.

Brandon Lewis: Will she confirm that, despite what has been said, my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) is right: there were 12 fuel duty rises under the Labour Government, and six more were set to come into force before they left office and would have done in the next few years?

Ms Eagle: As I said, we had six years when we did not even increase the price of fuel by inflation, so there were real-terms price falls. The number of increases in all sorts of duties tends to expand the more one is in government.

Andrew Bridgen: The Labour party’s apparent Damascene conversion on fuel taxes will amaze and intrigue the bulk of the electorate. Will the hon. Lady confirm whether she supported the crafty action of the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, who effectively excluded fuel from a VAT reduction in 2008 by raising duty, and then put the VAT on fuel back up to 17.5% in January 2010?

Ms Eagle: One minute Government Members say that we have no plan to deal with the deficit, and the next minute they complain that we had a plan that would have raised money. They really do try to have it both ways and are not remotely coherent.

GreeningJustine And here is how the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Justine Greening, summed it all up as she replied from the Government front bench:

"The previous Government increased fuel duty four times in their last 16 months in office... They left many tax bombshells, but perhaps that pre-planned tax increase was the tax road mine. There was a pre-planned additional per pence increase on fuel and a pre-planned year-on-year RPI increase—the so-called escalator. Ironically and utterly bizarrely, we are today debating a Labour motion that goes against the policy introduced by the previous Labour Government.

"Listening to the Opposition is stunning. The outgoing Chief Secretary’s message to the incoming Government was that there was no money left. Worse than that, the previous Government had pre-planned increases, which were due to come in now... The bottom line is that it is outrageous for the Labour party to cry crocodile tears about tax increases that it had planned—it is disingenuous in the extreme, and shows that it has no credibility and no leadership on the issues that matter to people, such as motoring, which we are debating today. The audacity of the motion is stunning."

1 Mar 2011 18:27:43

Conservative MPs give their takes on the Big Society in the first parliamentary debate on the matter

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday saw MPs debating the merits of the Big Society on a backbench motion moved by Dover's Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, which stated its support for the Big Society, "seeking stronger communities where power is decentralised and social action is encouraged."

"The big society has been "much discussed in the media", yet this was, Elphicke asserted, "practically the first proper occasion on which it has been discussed on the Floor of this Chamber."

His motion had been co-signed by a number of Conservative MPs, as well as Labour's Jon Cruddas and Tristram Hunt and Lib Dem Bob Russell.

Here are some excerpts from a variety of the 24 speeches delivered by backbench Tory MPs - who, interestingly enough, were all members of the 2010 intake.

Charlie Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke Commons What I want to talk about is the sense of annoyance that everyone has when an individual feels put off from simply sweeping the snow from the pavement outside their house for fear that they will be sued, or when they are scared to jump into a pond and rescue a drowning child.

How have we got to the situation where individuals do not feel that they can take responsibility, and that rules and procedures stop them doing so? It is important to encourage people to take more action and more responsibility for their own lives and for their communities. People in communities are frustrated, such as the head teacher who cannot decide which children are in his school and feels that he is being told what to do by diktat, and the hospital worker who wants to take responsibility for his area, but who has to follow detailed rules and procedures.

Communities as a whole-big communities such as mine in Dover-want a greater sense of being able to chart their own destiny and future direction, but feel hampered by central Government saying, "No, these are the rules. This is how it is going to be. It is all going to be top-down and what you say doesn't count for much." It is that sense of annoyance and frustration, which stalks the land up and down the country, that the big society aims to counteract.

Continue reading "Conservative MPs give their takes on the Big Society in the first parliamentary debate on the matter " »

7 Jun 2010 13:36:41

Dover’s new MP, Charlie Elphicke, use his maiden speech to demand proper border security

Charlie Elphicke Commons Charlie Elphicke gained Dover at the general election and used his maiden speech during a debate on European affairs to raise issues close to his constituency’s heart:

“We in Dover are, of course, used to visitors. One of our earliest recorded visits was in 55 BC by Julius Caesar; he caught an early ferry from France and came to Dover. In those days border security was quite good-would that were still the case - and he was unable to make a landing at Dover because warlike tribesmen were going to see him off. Instead he went down the coast a few miles-to Deal and Walmer, it is said - where he landed and did the customary European thing in those days: proceeded with an invasion. Having made some progress with his invasion, he then dispatched a communiqué back to Rome. This is what he said:

"By far the most civilised inhabitants are those living in Kent, a purely maritime district".

“Well, Dover maritime is very maritime - and, we like to think, very, very civilised. While we are disappointed that Julius Caesar made war upon us, we forgive him a bit because of his very communautaire approach in talking so nicely about us to his capital city.

“European relations have continued in this vein ever since, in war and in peace. In Napoleonic times the channel fleet was stationed off the coast of Deal. The long historical link between Deal and the Royal Marines was forged, too. As Members will know, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the glorious retreat from Dunkirk. Our white cliffs came to symbolise a nation's struggle to survive-a nation's struggle for sovereignty and the values of liberty, democracy and freedom that our nation upholds. As Member of Parliament for Dover, I know that I carry a heavy responsibility to uphold those vital values.”

“Other things come out of our history of being the gateway to England and the border of our nation. The first of them is concern: concern that the previous Government conceived a plan to sack our experienced immigration officers. We are concerned because we do not want porous borders, nor do we want more human trafficking, more gun running or more drug smuggling. We want to ensure that we have proper border security and national security. We want to ensure that the "jungle" in Calais is dealt with, not simply because we are concerned about the number of people there, but because we are concerned about the children there, who are living in terrible conditions. We want them to be looked after properly in a proper European settled way. We must co-operate with our friends, allies and community partners to get a lasting solution to this concern that many hold.

“The previous Government also conceived a plan to sell off our port. We do not want our nation's borders to be sold. The people of Dover are trenchantly opposed to that idea. I come here planning to do all in my power to find a better way forward than simply to sell it off at the bottom of the market, possibly to a foreign power. That would be the wrong thing to do for our nation's security… The liberty of the subject is one of the most important calls on any Member of Parliament, and as the Member of Parliament for Dover, I especially feel that responsibility, given my constituency's history in defending our nation's freedom and liberty.”

Jonathan Isaby