Douglas Carswell MP

16 Sep 2010 13:16:47

Douglas Carswell wants to stop the banks treating your money as if it were theirs...

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-09-16 at 13.15.06 ...And he presented a Ten Minute Rule bill yesterday to stop them doing so.  It was sandwiched between other chunks of Parliamentary business, but raises questions so compelling as to deserve a wider audience than much of what happens in the Chamber.

Carswell introduced his Financial Services (Regulation of Deposits and Lending) Bill by asking: "Who owns the money in your bank account?" -

"That small question has profound implications. According to a survey by Ipsos MORI, more than 70% of people in the UK believe that when they deposit money with the bank, it is theirs-but it is not. Money deposited in a bank account is, as established under case law going back more than 200 years, legally the property of the bank, rather than the account holder. Were any hon. Members to deposit £100 at their bank this afternoon or, rather improbably, if the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was to manage to do so on any Member's behalf, the bank would then be free to lend on approximately £97 of it. Even under the new capital ratio requirements, the bank could lend on more than 90% of what one deposited. Indeed, bank A could then lend on £97 of the initial £100 deposit to another bank-bank B-which could then lend on 97% of the value. The lending would go round and round until, as we saw at the height of the credit boom, for every £1 deposited banks would have piled up more than £40-worth of accumulated credit of one form or another."

He went on to explain that -

Banks enjoy a form of legal privilege extended to no other area of business that I am aware of-it is a form of legal privilege. I am sure that some hon. Members, in full compliance with IPSA rules, may have rented a flat, and they do not need me, or indeed IPSA, to explain that having done so they are, in general, not allowed to sub-let it to someone else. Anyone who tried to do that would find that their landlord would most likely eject them. So why are banks allowed to sub-let people's money many times over without their consent?

- And proceeded to set out the purpose of his bill -

My Bill would give account holders legal ownership of their deposits, unless they indicated otherwise when opening the account. In other words, there would henceforth be two categories of bank account: deposit-taking accounts for investment purposes, and deposit-taking accounts for storage purposes. Banks would remain at liberty to lend on money deposited in the investment accounts, but not on money deposited in the storage accounts. As such, the idea is not a million miles away from the idea of 100% gilt-backed storage accounts proposed by other hon. Members and the Governor of the Bank of England.

My Bill is not just a consumer-protection measure; it also aims to remove a curious legal exemption for banks that has profound implications on the whole economy. Precisely because they are able to treat one's deposit as an investment in a giant credit pyramid, banks are able to conjure up credit. In most industries, when demand rises businesses produce more in response. The legal privilege extended to banks prevents that basic market mechanism from working, with disastrous consequences.

He argued that ending the present system of fractional reserve banking would have beneficial results -

As I shall explain, if the market mechanism worked as it should, once demand for credit started to increase in an economy, banks would raise the price of credit-interest rates-in order to encourage more savings. More folk would save as a result, as rates rose. That would allow banks to extend credit in proportion to savings. Were banks like any other business, they would find that when demand for what they supply lets rip, they would be constrained in their ability to supply credit by the pricing mechanism.

Carswell acknowledged that Keynesian and monetarist economists alike will "recoil with horror" from his proposal "because their orthodoxy holds that without these legal privileges for banks, there would be insufficient credit".  However, he argued that "credit would still exist but it would be credit backed by savings...It would be, to use the cliché of our day, sustainable" and preferable in his view to the "crony capitalism" of the present financial system, which produces "great candyfloss piles" of unsustainable credit.

Carswell's got a clear-cut case on paper.  But I'd like to know more about what the effects of such change would be in practice (especially if applied in one country only): they look highly deflationary to me, to put it mildly.

The bill was unopposed - but in the absence of Government support has no prospect of finding its way on to the statute book.  Carswell was supported by my first-rate successor in Wycombe, Steve Baker, another eloquent supporter of change to the financial system.

15 Jul 2010 17:08:22

Osborne's OBR pledge proves the new power of Select Committees

By Paul Goodman

George Osborne on Politics Show Peter Hoskins has posted a brief account on the Spectator's Coffee House site about this morning's Treasury Select Committee appearance by George Osborne.  The Chancellor promised to allow the committee to approve his proposed new appointments to the Office of Budget Responsibility - thereby giving them the power to veto his suggestions if they wish.

I left the Commons largely because I believed it was changing for the worse.  So it's right to acknowledge that in some ways the place is getting better.  The cross-party election of Select Committee Chairman has been a democratic revolution.  MPs from previous Parliaments especially told me that they've found canvassing support from political opponents a liberating experience - as they line up with them as legislators to hold the Executive to account.

Continue reading "Osborne's OBR pledge proves the new power of Select Committees" »

10 Jun 2010 12:19:35

Select Committee election results: Labour and Liberal MPs line up behind the Conservative establishment

I wondered earlier this week here whether Labour MPs would use the Select Committee elections to make life difficult for David Cameron.

They didn't.  Instead, they lined up behind the Conservative establishment candidates. Andrew Tyrie took the Treasury Select Committee; Richard Ottaway, Foreign Affairs (a big, big consolation prize, after his defeat in the 1922 Committee Chairmanship election); James Arbuthnot, Defence; Stephen Dorrell, Health; Tim Yeo, Climate Change. Anne McIntosh, who won the Environment Committee, leans towards the left of the Party.

I didn't, of course, see anyone cast a ballot paper.  But unless Conservative MPs turned out en masse to vote against the Party's right - an unlikely course of action, given the '22 Executive results - Liberal and Labour support for less spiky candidates provides the only comprehensible explanation of the results.

It would be unfair to view the victors as patsies.  Tyrie, in particular, has a track record of independent-mindedness.  But ask yourself whether Cameron Towers would prefer the winners to, say, Patrick Mercer at Defence or Peter Bone at Health (let alone Nadine) or Philip Hollobone at Climate Change, and there's only one answer.

Bernard Jenkin and Chris Chope are both seen as men of the right.  But Chope's used the Chamber to launch independent-minded assaults on establishment causes, and it's noticeable that he lost out in the tussle for the Public Administration Committee Chairmanship.

John Whittingdale at Culture and Greg Knight at Procedure, both No Turning Back Group stalwarts, are in unopposed. Graham Stuart won what should have been, even if it wasn't, a close-fought battle for the Education Committee.

Full list of victors.

Paul Goodman

8 Jun 2010 08:59:35

Endorsements for Michael Fallon, Douglas Carswell, Keith Vaz and Margaret Hodge

Joint endorsements from Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome and Will Straw of LeftFootForward.

"Who will Chair the House of Commons Select Committees that hold ministers and their departments to account? For the first time ever the Whips won’t decide. Those wanting to chair the 23 committees are having to stand for election. They will only win those elections if they win support from MPs in all parties. This democratic mandate will give the Select Committees new authority and independence from the party hierarchies. It is a very welcome and overdue development that strengthens the power of the House of Commons relative to the executive.

In one small way of communicating the importance of these elections we have come together as editors of ConservativeHome and LeftFootForward to endorse four candidates – two Conservative MPs and two Labour MPs.  We believe these candidates represent the spirit of this constitutional innovation. Candidates of independent mind. Candidates who enjoy cross-party support. And candidates who have command of their briefs.

Screen shot 2010-06-08 at 08.04.33 On the Tory side we endorse Michael Fallon as candidate for the Treasury Select Committee.  As Deputy of the TSC for the last eight years he has developed a reputation for tough, insightful questioning. The four members of the committee who are still in Parliament but not standing themselves are backing Fallon because they know that with previous Chair – Labour’s John McFall - Fallon established the high reputation of this most important of all the Select Committees. Those members are Andy Love and John Mann from Labour; John Thurso from the Liberal Democrats and Conservative MP, Graham Brady. With an inexperienced team inside HM Treasury, Fallon’s constancy of service and familiarity with the issues will provide some important balance.

Our second Conservative endorsement is more controversial. We endorse Douglas Carswell for the very simple reason that he will challenge the defence procurement industry. Over a number of years, defence contracts have been running massively over budget and over time. At a time when spending cuts are going to be necessary it is vital that procurement is reformed so that taxpayers get better value for money and our armed forces get better equipment. Carswell has a solid record of challenging his own party leadership and the Commons authorities. His independence of mind would make him a very bold choice.

On the Labour side we endorse Keith Vaz to maintain his chairmanship of the Home Affairs Select Committee. His continuity of service in one of the most difficult areas of government will be useful to policy scrutiny in the Parliament ahead whilst his strong network within the BAME community and experience in foreign affairs gives him valuable insight into the most challenging of policy issues from immigration to counter-terrorism.

For the Public Accounts Committee we endorse Labour's Margaret Hodge. With experience in four government departments and 20 years of local government service before that she is well placed to hold ministers and officials to account. As the government faces difficult choices on public spending her strong record of cross-party co-operation will be invaluable in examining government spending decisions with the taxpayers interests in mind, rather then the perspective of mere party political advantage.

Regrettably Margaret Hodge is one of only five women (out of 44 applicants) standing to be a select committee chair. While she stands on her own merits, this is another reason for our endorsing her."

2 Mar 2010 15:35:00

Douglas Carswell implies Tory colleague was talking out his 'in/out of EU' referendum bill

Two Conservative MPs clashed in the Commons last Friday. Tory whip Brooks Newmark spoke for about an hour on localism, in favour of Alistair Burt's Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill. Douglas Carswell suspected that he was filibustering in order to stop discussion of his own bill on an in/out referendum on the EU. The exchange is posted below:

"Mr. Douglas Carswell (Harwich) (Con): My hon. Friend has spoken eloquently about the need to restore faith in our democracy. Does he agree that that extends to not seeking deliberately to talk out items on the agenda that are of interest to millions of voters?

Mr. Newmark: I have no idea what my hon. Friend is talking about, unless he is referring to his own Bill. Earlier this week, I had a discussion in the Tea Room about this Bill. I stressed how strongly I felt about it, and my hon. Friend gave me some advice.

Mr. Carswell: "Keep it brief", is what I said.

Mr. Newmark: I do not believe that my hon. Friend said that; he encouraged me to talk about the importance of localism, which I have supported ever since I have known him."

I'm told that the Government was determined to talk out Nigel Dodds MP's bill on the Lisbon Treaty anyway - and because that was number three on the order paper, and Douglas Carswell's was number four, the Commons was unlikely to find time to discuss it. Whatever the exact truth, we have some way to go before backbenchers have the powers that the frontbenches promise.

Tim Montgomerie

23 Oct 2009 06:39:50

Douglas Carswell MP attacks "monumentally useless" Commons that has lost powers to activist judges and quangoes

In a debate on the constitution Douglas Carswell describes the Commons as "monumentally useless". He says it has been reduced to a "talking shop" but one that struggles to even do that without MPs being prodded by the whips to get on to their feet to ensure someone is saying something until the 10.30pm closure of 'debate'.

Power has shifted during the Labour years towards an alphabet soup of quangoes and activist judges, interpreting a bogus human rights act.

Voters are not apathetic. They are not the problem.  They have rightly clocked that democracy is broken.

Mr Carswell advocated more powers for the legislature and more powers for voters.

13 Oct 2009 21:56:35

Douglas Carswell MP proposes the end of 'the safe seat'

Earlier today Douglas Carswell MP introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill that would allow the "recall" of MPs in specified circumstances and "to provide for the holding of primary elections in such circumstances".  His key arguments are posted below.

Power from politicians and to the people: "We have all heard, on doorstep after doorstep, “You’re all the same. It doesn’t make any difference how I vote, nothing ever changes.” My Bill aims to address those concerns. I want to restore dignity to this House and independence to its Members. I want to shift power from the Executive to the legislature, from parties to Back Benchers, and from Government to people."

Too many seats are safe and MPs in those seats serve their parties rather than their constituents: "Our constituents have a point when they complain that it does not matter how they vote. At four of the last five general elections, fewer than one in 10 parliamentary constituencies changed hands. The fifth of those was, of course, the Labour landslide of 1997, but even then, more than 70 per cent. of seats were held by the parties that already controlled them. In other words, most of us represent pocket boroughs. As long as we retain the right to stand under the colours of our parties, we have tenure. Our incentives are thus twisted. Instead of answering outwards to their voters, MPs in safe seats are encouraged by the system to answer upwards to their Whips."

Candidates should be chosen by as many local people as possible in open primaries: "My Bill would abolish the concept of a safe seat, eliminate pocket boroughs and open candidate selection to the wider public through open primaries. It would allow local people to have a direct say over who gets to be their MP in the first place, and give local people and local parties the right to petition their returning officer to organise open primary ballots. It is right that that should remain a matter of choice—this is not about legislating for political parties in a free society."

MPs should be sackable in mid-term if found guilty of serious wrongdoing: "At the same time, my Bill would provide for a recall mechanism—that is, a way to trigger a by-election where a Member of this House was guilty of serious wrongdoing. Plainly such a measure would need safeguards. We would need to ensure that it could not be triggered frivolously or on partisan grounds. We would need to guarantee that charges could not be levelled against MPs simply because they had voted with their conscience. A recall vote should be entered into—as the Book of Common Prayer says of matrimony—“reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly”. Triggering a primary would require the backing of a significant number of local people, and it would also require confirmation of serious wrongdoing by the Committee on Standards and Privileges."

The full speech can be read in Hansard. No link yet.

18 May 2009 11:57:34

The Commons must debate Douglas Carswell's motion of no confidence

Over on his blog Douglas Carswell MP has published his motion of no confidence in the Speaker and the list of supporting MPs:

"That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker and calls for him to step down; notes that Mr Speaker has failed to provide leadership in matters relating to hon. Members' expenses; believes that a new Speaker urgently needs to be elected by secret ballot, free from manipulation by party Whips, under Standing Order No. 1B; and believes that a new Speaker should proceed to reform the House in such a way as to make it an effective legislature once again."
  1. Douglas Carswell
  2. Kate Hoey
  3. Norman Lamb
  4. Richard Bacon
  5. David Davis
  6. Philip Hollobone
  7. Paul Flynn
  8. Gordon Prentice
  9. Richard Shepherd
  10. Philip Davies
  11. John Hemming
  12. Jo Swinson
  13. Norman Baker
  14. Lynne Featherstone
  15. Stephen Williams

There is talk that the Commons may not even debate the motion. That would be a mistake. The issue needs to be resolved one way or the other.

Tim Montgomerie

2 Apr 2009 13:50:05

Three Tory MPs say schools should have National Curriculum opt-out

Graham Stuart MP The Children, Schools and Families Select Committee has published a report today on the National Curriculum. Three Conservative members of the Committee - Graham Stuart, Edward Timpson and Douglas Carswell - have published a minority report.

They argue that that the National Curriculum has failed, and that "a major rethink is needed". They say that "the curriculum has reduced the ability of teachers to do their jobs as respected professionals or to innovate. Inflexibility and constraint have been the hallmarks of the national curriculum under every administration." The report recommends:

"a) A national curriculum that sets out broad goals to be reached by the age of 16. The curriculum would set out a framework of the core subjects and would include no further instruction as to what aspects of those subjects should be taught or how subjects should be taught.

b) All schools, as well as independent schools and academies, would be free to opt out of the national curriculum where their governing bodies voted to do so and were supported by a majority of parents who would vote in a ballot. This would act as a safety valve against further interference with and overloading of the national curriculum.

c) The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is ineffective and should be scrapped or much reduced in size.  In its place, each university would be invited to send a representative to a “National Curriculum Board.”"

Mr Stuart has added this comment:

"The National Curriculum as it currently stands has had its day. Ministers and unelected quangos have used it to meddle and interfere over what is taught in classrooms, instead of trusting the instincts and professionalism of teachers. If we are to have a curriculum at all it should be a significantly scaled down version that sets out a number of broad aspirations and goals and doesn't try to micro-manage every day of a child's life. It's also vital that schools have the option to opt out of the curriculum altogether, if parents and school governors so wish. This will be an essential valve to stop future governments, of whichever colour, imposing more central direction on schools. Overall we need to get out of the current mindset that Ministers know best. This has stifled innovation in schools and damaged the quality of learning that is provided to the nation's children."

I agree with the trio that something has to give. Under normal circumstances I think all kids should learn English, maths, British history and some science, but the current system is far too prescriptive.

There needs to be proper controls on and scrutiny of teachers, but in the final analysis schools will only work if teachers are given their heads and allowed to flourish. That's the way to let pupils flourish too.

Tom Greeves

30 Mar 2009 16:46:24

Douglas Carswell gives the useless, futile, unaccountable and smug House of Commons a Z-rating

CARSWELL DOUGLAS Douglas Carswell MP has marked nearly four years as an MP with an A to Z guide to Parliament on his blog.

It amounts to an extraordinary attack on the "futility" of the Commons.

Here are some of his conclusions:

  • A is for... Accountable, something many of our MPs are not...
  • C is for ... Commons Committees, and all their spineless, executive-controlled futility....
  • D is for ... Directives, the EU rules - issued despite Westminster - which really decide how Britain's governed...
  • H is for .... Hansard, that record of evasion and bluster...
  • P is for ... Pocket, as in “the Commons is in the pocket of government”...
  • Q is for ... Quango, the unaccountable institutions that really run Britain...
  • S is for ... Smug, self-satisfied, self-regarding SW1...
  • U is for ... Useless, as in the House of Commons...
  • V is for ... Vanity, which stops many MPs 'fessing up to the fact they no longer count for much...
  • W is for ... Whitehall, which is to Westminster what puppet-master is to puppet...
  • Z is for ... The grade I give our broken Westminster system after four years there as an MP.

Read the full A-Z here.

Tim Montgomerie

24 Mar 2009 10:08:06

Why shouldn't the Government hold DNA samples?

DNA 2 Home Office questions came around yesterday.  

The most interesting questions were about the holding of DNA samples. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith outlined the Government's position:

"The national DNA database plays a key role in catching criminals, including many years after they might think that they have got away with their crime, eliminating the innocent from investigations, and focusing the direction of inquiries. In 2007-08, 17,614 crimes were detected in which a DNA match was available. Those included 83 homicides and 184 rapes. In addition, there were a further 15,420 detections resulting from the original case involving the DNA match. Those occur when, for example, a suspect, on being presented with DNA evidence linking him to one offence, confesses to further offences.

...

The specific ruling [by the European Court of Human Rights] was on a blanket policy of retention of the fingerprints and DNA of those who had been arrested but not convicted, or against whom no further action was being taken. The Court also indicated that it agreed with the Government that the retention of fingerprint and DNA data

    “pursues the legitimate purpose of the detection, and therefore, prevention of crime”.

We are, however, looking at the key point in the judgment, and drawing up proposals that will remove the blanket retention policy. We will bring forward those proposals for consultation soon.

...

I announced in December our intention to remove all those aged under 10 from the database. That has now been carried out. When we bring forward proposals to change the blanket approach to retention, we will give particular consideration to those aged under 18, and to how the protection of the public can be balanced with fairness to the individual."

Wells MP David Heathcoat-Amory posed a question on civil liberties:

"What does the Secretary of State say to Mr. Daniel Baker, a constituent of mine who was a victim of mistaken identity? He was never charged with any crime and is entirely innocent, but the police are retaining his DNA against his wishes. When will the Secretary of State start recognising the liberties of the individual, and stop regarding everyone in the country as a suspect?

Jacqui Smith: I think that the case study that I cited a minute ago identified some of the important benefits of DNA retention. There are real-life cases in which people have been made safer by the retention of DNA post-arrest. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman’s constituent can apply to the police force, in exceptional circumstances. That is why— [Interruption.] That is why I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will look closely at our proposals for a more proportionate way of dealing with the retention policy."

The Home Secretary had described a case where a man arrrested for violent disorder was released without charge. However, a DNA sample was taken. Several months later a rape occured. Skin taken from below the victim's fingernails was matched to this man's sample, and he is now in prison.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling went with the same issue:

"This is a very straightforward and simple issue. It is, right now, illegal to store the DNA of innocent people over long periods on the DNA database, but as of today, the Government are still doing that. Why?

Jacqui Smith: I have made it very clear to the hon. Gentleman that we have looked in detail at the judgment in the case of S and Marper and we will bring forward proposals very soon—and when we do so, I hope that Opposition Members will engage with them with slightly more sophistication than they have done today.

Chris Grayling: But this is illegal now, today. Furthermore, it is a principle in our society that people are innocent until proven guilty. This Government have a habit of throwing away many principles in this society, but that is one that should be sacrosanct. In the case of the DNA database, however, they appear happy to abandon the principle. They are also happy to store the data of babies and children. Their actions are clearly morally and legally wrong. Why will they not just stop keeping this data illegally, right now, today? Why will they not stop now?

Jacqui Smith: As the hon. Gentleman knows, there is a period of time during which, quite rightly and reasonably—not least given that the Government’s approach to the retention of data was upheld in the UK courts—there is consideration and proposals are brought forward. That is what the Government are doing, and he obviously was not listening when I said that no DNA of children under the age of 10 is kept on DNA databases now."

The Government has proven itself utterly inept at holding people's personal details, but I don't have any other objections to them holding DNA samples for individuals. Indeed it would seem to have lots of advantages. I suppose one other worry is that most of us are not in a position to question the authority of scientists who assure us that DNA samples match - something I always think of when someone says they are in favour of the death penalty "when there's no doubt".

Continue reading "Why shouldn't the Government hold DNA samples?" »

11 Nov 2008 10:57:44

Douglas Carswell's bill for Justice Commissioners

Douglas_carswellDouglas Carswell, MP for Harwich and Clacton, is introducing another Ten Minute Rule Bill in the Commons today.

The Police (Justice Commissioners) Bill would create a directly elected Justice Commissioner for every county and large town in England and Wales.  Justice Commissioners would determine local policing priorities. Mr Carswell comments:

'The public are losing confidence in the criminal justice system - even the government's own advisers now recognise that people no longer feel the criminal justice system is on their side. 

There's been no shortage of Home Secretaries, and other Westminster politicians, talking about the need to "get tough" on crime.  But it always just talk.

Imagine if local people, not remote Home Office officials, determined the priorities of the police where you live.  Imagine if you could hold your local police chiefs to account for fighting crime.  Then we'd see a "get tough" approach for real.   

My Bill seeks to replace failing Police Authorities with properly accountable Justice Commissioners.  Each local Justice Commissioner would be held directly accountable by local people - and would have to take responsibility.

Home Office targets would be scrapped, and it would be up to each Justice Commissioner to set the priorities for their own area. 

The link between police and public has eroded in recent years as police forces have begun to answer to Home Office targets - rather than the communities they are meant to serve.  Quango culture ensures that the priorities of certain police chiefs are not the same as the local people.

I'm fed up listening to politicians just promising to cut crime - but never delivering.  It's time for change.  It's time to trust local people to decide how their own local communities ought to be policed.  If we made the criminal justice system answer directly to local people we'd soon get the sort of criminal justice system we need.' 

The Bill is being sponsored by Conservative and Labour MPs. It is one of the proposals described in Mr Carswell's book The Plan: 12 months to renew Britain.      

31 Oct 2008 12:01:05

Douglas Carswell and Gerald Howarth disagree on defence

Douglas_carswellGerald_howarthThe House of Commons saw something rather unusual yesterday - a Conservative front bench spokesman going out of his way to rebut the remarks of a Conservative backbencher.

Speaking in a debate on defence, Harwich MP Douglas Carswell talked about procurement:

"Labour came to power promising to overhaul defence procurement, yet according to the best-selling author Lewis Page, its defence industrial strategy amounts to business as usual. The defence industrial strategy is more about industry than defence. It does more to safeguard the interests of selected contractors than the interests of the armed forces. The DIS is good at putting large amounts of public money on to the balance sheets of a few contractors, but that is about all it is good for. The DIS talks about best value for money, and improving delivery and costs, but all the evidence shows that the DIS promises things that are almost by definition mutually exclusive. We cannot both shore up our defence industrial base and provide our armed forces with the best value kit in the world; it is a logical impossibility.

"The DIS is, in reality, a corporatist, protectionist racket. Lobbyists for the DIS on the political left justify it as a means of preserving jobs. The same arguments once trotted out to justify Government subsidy of British Leyland are used to legitimise squandering our defence budget. To those on the political right, the fig leaf justification is about something called sovereignty of supply. The same arguments were once trotted out to justify the corn laws."

Shadow Defence Minister Gerald Howarth is also MP for Aldershot, an Army town. In his closing remarks he said:

"As far as the defence industrial strategy is concerned, I am afraid to say that I fundamentally disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich. He is entitled to his view, but I have to put on the record that some of the things that he said about buying off the shelf are not the policy of the Conservative party. The policy of our party is to ensure that we have sovereign capability over key equipment, such as the joint strike fighter, and his suggestion that the whole procurement programme is a corporatist, protectionist racket is very wide of the mark."

With whom do you agree?

27 Oct 2008 16:16:42

What is a Ten Minute Rule Bill?

In a fortnight's time Douglas Carswell, MP for Harwich & Clacton, is introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill to make the criminal justice system more accountable, and he has announced that he plans to bring in several more. So what is a Ten Minute Rule Bill?

Well, they tend NOT to be an earnest effort to introduce legislation - in the short-term at least. Normally the preserve of backbenchers, these bills give an MP the chance to draw attention in the House of Commons (and, through the media, elsewhere) to a particular issue.

Continue reading "What is a Ten Minute Rule Bill?" »

24 Oct 2008 16:55:13

The Government continues to dodge written questions

ParliamentIn the latest copy of Hansard, several more written questions have been inadequately answered.

There will be times when the Government really can't answer a question, or when it would be undiplomatic for it to do so, or when pulling the information together would be excessively costly. But those occasions are comparatively rare.

This post is longer than normal, but with good reason. It's time to spotlight what appears to be indefensible obsfucation. If anyone can suggest good reasons why the answers below were in fact satisfactory, we'd be delighted to see them.

There are some real gems, including this one from Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Harwich:

"Mr. Carswell: To ask the Prime Minister how much champagne was ordered by the Prime Minister’s Office for consumption at events at (a) 10 Downing Street and (b) Chequers in each of the last six months. [226474]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is not held."

If this isn't a lie, and they really don't know how much they spent on bubbly, that's actually more horrifying than trying to cover it up.

Continue reading "The Government continues to dodge written questions" »