Edward Leigh MP

11 Jun 2009 14:56:54

Edward Leigh MP encourages transfer of powers from Leader of House to Speaker

Iain Duncan Smith, Peter Bottomley and others have joined Edward Leigh to call for the Speaker to take on the powers currently held by the Leader of the Commons.

This is the Early Day Motion initiated by Mr Leigh:

"That this House believes that the Government should not control all the time on the floor of the House; considers that Parliament should be reinstated as an independent forum by empowering the Speaker, select committees and backbenchers; further believes that Mr Speaker, through a business committee of the whole House, should determine a significant part of debate on the floor of the House, whilst leaving adequate time for the Government to get its business through, to enable select committees and hon. Members to make substantive motions as well as Government and opposition parties; further believes that Mr Speaker should effectively become the non-partisan manager of the House, liaising with Government and opposition business managers; further considers that select committees, as well as scrutinising Government departments should be upgraded to an advise and consent role on senior public appointments; further believes that Government should have to respond in detail to all select committee recommendations; further considers that select committee chairs should be selected by secret ballot of the whole House within the context of party balance; and further believes that select committees should be entitled to receive the kind of support from the National Audit Office and the Scrutiny Unit currently given to the Public Accounts Committee."

19 Jan 2009 10:51:36

Written answers round-up

There are a number of intriguing written answers in the latest edition of Hansard.

Shoreham & East Worthing MP (and Shadow Minister for Children) Tim Loughton uncovered some diplomatic buckpassing by the Government, through a question to the Olympics Minister:

"To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will invite the Dalai Lama to attend the London 2012 Olympics. [245235]

Tessa Jowell: Guests and dignitaries are invited to attend the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee and participating National Olympic Committees, and the Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee and participating National Paralympic Committees."

Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries asked about fishing quotas:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to make changes to the fishing quota system; and if he will make a statement. [247636]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At present, I have no proposals to change the current quota management system.

The UK is actively engaged with the European Commission's current activities to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which will include consideration of the quota and fisheries access management systems. I have publicly signalled my intention that the UK should play a leading role in shaping this reform and the future of the CFP."

Entering a negotiation with no ideas whatsoever is a novel tactic.

Continue reading "Written answers round-up" »

21 May 2008 08:48:17

Conservative contributions to yesterday's debate on the time limit for abortion

These are extracts only from some of the Conservative MPs who contributed to yesterday's debate on abortion.  Read the full debate here and click here for yesterday's ToryDiary entry on the subject.

Edward Leigh MP on the foetus at 12 weeks: "We believe that an unborn child of 12 weeks has undeniable human characteristics. Her organs, muscles and nerves have begun to function. She has fingernails and toenails. To become a child, she needs nothing more than to stay for a few months in the safety of her mother’s womb. We will all take different views. Some will not share our opinion, but undeniably the view is developing in this country that what I say is more and more true of unborn children of 16, 18 or 20 weeks. We must accept that in this instance we are dealing with a human life. If we cannot deny the humanity of babies at 12 weeks, we cannot deny our duty to protect them."

Mark Pritchard MP explains his support for a 16 week time limit: "Scientific evidence increasingly suggests that unborn children feel pain at 16 weeks. That is not simply a stress response; it is a physiological response, perhaps not the same as in a fully grown adult, but a physical and even emotional response beyond the norms of passive reflex. Pain is felt, which is why specialist, gifted surgeons who perform surgery on babies in the womb use anaesthetic. Now, 4D imaging reveals that 16-week-old unborn babies are very much alive and kicking, although their limbs are too small to be felt by the mothers. Those who have had children know that they are likely to feel kicking at around 17 weeks in the case of a second baby and 19 weeks in the case of a first baby. However, just because the mother does not feel kicking, it does not mean that there is no leg kicking.  Sixteen-week-old unborn babies are very small human beings, but they have many of the faculties of newborn babies."

Penningmike Mike Penning MP highlights the scale of abortion in Britain:
"5.5 million pregnancies in this country have been terminated. As we heard earlier, the latest available figures show that nearly 200,000 were terminated in 2006. The figure has risen dramatically since 1969, when 5.2 women in 1,000 had an abortion. The figure is now 18.3 per 1,000, which is a huge amount. I believe that everyone in the House would like to see a massive reduction in the number of abortions taking place in this country. This is not about choice; I want everybody to have a choice, but surely, in a compassionate society such as ours, we would all want to see fewer terminations taking place."

Mike Penning also urges more reflection before an abortion: "I had a vasectomy on the national health. I went to see my GP, who said, “I want to speak to your wife.” My wife and I both sat there and agreed that a vasectomy was the way forward for us as our own personal form of contraception. The GP then sent us away for three or four days, after which my wife and I both saw the consultant, and again we both agreed that a vasectomy was the way forward. I entirely agree with the hon. Lady that if that time for thought is right for a man having a vasectomy—which, by the way, can be reversed, albeit painfully—there must be a provision for more time to think and consult when it comes to such a serious decision as having an abortion."

Dorriesincommons2 Nadine Dorries MP recounts her gruesome experience as a nurse, assisting with a late term abortion: "I first became concerned about and interested in the issue of abortion when I worked as a nurse. I worked for nine months on a gynaecology ward, and assisted in many terminations and late terminations. I also went to witness a late surgical abortion six weeks ago. I became interested in abortion when it became apparent to me, as a nurse, that far more botched late abortions were taking place than should. The first one that I witnessed was a prostaglandin termination. A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bedpan, which was thrust into my arms. When I looked into the cardboard bedpan, the little boy was gasping for breath through the mucus and amniotic fluid. I stood by the sluice with him in my arms, in the bedpan, for seven minutes while he gasped for breath. A botched abortion became a live birth, and then, seven minutes later, a death. I knew when I stood with that little boy in my arms that one day I would have the opportunity to defend babies such as him. I thought that we committed murder that day. I cannot think of another word for a nurse or doctor present at the birth not attempting to resuscitate a baby who was an abortion but became a live birth."

Nadine Dorries MP on how NHS doctors do not want to conduct late term abortions: "It is a fact that doctors do not like to perform late abortions. In the NHS, hardly any abortions over 16 weeks take place. We have a Government policy of 24 weeks, and an NHS that does not want to carry that policy out. We have a private abortion industry that has mushroomed around the NHS in order to carry out late terminations that doctors and nurses in the NHS do not want to do."

John Bercow and Ann Widdecombe clash:

John Bercow MP: "She is concerned about humanity; so are other right hon. and hon. Members. Does she not accept that if there is a two-week reduction, very, very frightened and vulnerable women will unquestionably suffer? We should stick with the status quo."

Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe MP:
I cannot believe the way my hon. Friend has simply dismissed the humanity of the child. Because of the 24-week limit, that situation already arises. What limits the period to 24 weeks? The humanity of the child; the ability to feel pain, on which there is now a vast body of scientific evidence; the ability to feel distress. I ask again, why is it that we need to give a lethal injection to a child if it is not living in the womb? It may not be living outside the womb, but it is living in the womb. Those who believe in preserving life acknowledge the life of what is living, even though we cannot see it. If we could see the children that are being taken for abortion, there would be a national outcry.

All attempts to lower the abortion limit were defeated.

20 May 2008 12:28:20

Edward Leigh fails to persuade MPs that adult stem cell research should be preferred to embryonic research

Edward Leigh MP says that there is a better, ethically uncomplicated way of tackling disease: "Adult stem cell research has been much more successful than embryonic stem cell research: "Particularly in the public mind, the debate has been clouded by the sense that there are diseases out there waiting to be cured. Enormous advances have been made on stem cells—there have been 70 successful treatments with adult stem cells—but for the past 10 years, we have been told that useful developments on embryonic stem cells are just around the corner. I sat through most of the Second Reading debate, when the fact that 70 successful treatments have arisen from adult stem-cell research was mentioned several times. The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) has mentioned the prospect—we have heard this again and again—of two early clinical trials in the United States. We have heard that for many years, but nothing has happened... I leave the last word to Professor Yamanaka, who was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds) in the debate on Second Reading? The professor has turned away from embryonic stem-cell research and is a leader in adult stem-cell research. He turned away because of what he saw through the microscope 10 years ago:

“When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realised there was such a small difference between it and my daughters.”

This measure is a step too far, and we should oppose it."

Bill Cash MP: "It seems quite clear that we ought to have a provision in the Bill, one way or another, that excludes embryonic cell research when adult stem-cell research has been proved viable. If adult stem-cell research becomes viable, it should then be the only kind of research available."

David Burrowes MP:
"In this country more than 80 therapeutic treatments have been made possible by adult stem-cell research, and there have been more than 350 clinical trials. We should concentrate on and invest in efficacy and the development of valuable research in this country and overseas, rather than allowing ourselves to be distracted from the results that are being produced."

Edward Leigh's amendment was defeated by 336 votes to 176.  More in Hansard.

9 Nov 2007 11:23:09

Edward Leigh says it is "delusional" to believe that western liberal values can be imposed in Iraq or Afghanistan

Leigh_edward_mp Edward Leigh MP: "The Government have alienated the Muslim minority in this country and throughout the world through their policies on Iraq, in particular, and Afghanistan, to a lesser extent. It is well known that I voted against the Iraq war, and I shall not go over that again. However, in the Liaison Committee over the past year, I have repeatedly asked detailed questions of the former Prime Minister, and I have also asked the Secretary of State for Defence what on earth is going on in Iraq. Answers have not been forthcoming.  We have had an answer from a senior serving officer, responsible for thousands of troops, who told a Sunday newspaper that the decision to pull soldiers out of the centre of Basra last month came after commanders concluded that using Iraqi forces would be more effective. He said:

“We would go down there dressed as Robocop, shooting at people if they shot at us, and innocent people were getting hurt. We don’t speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?”

The article also states:

“British forces have struck a deal with Shia militias to withdraw to a single base at the international airport in return for assurances that they will no longer be attacked.”

The fact is that the invasion of Iraq was a fundamental diplomatic and military disaster. It has given enormous impetus to Muslim extremism and we are still making mistakes there. We are still alienating Muslim opinion. We have got out of Basra and it appears that the only victors there are the Muslim militias. I voted against the war and I think that we should get out as soon as possible.

There are also real dangers facing us in Afghanistan. I know that terrorism is a real problem there, and we should by all means go in there to deal with it. But if we think that we can impose our western liberal values on Iraq or Afghanistan, we are deluding ourselves."

22 Oct 2007 12:13:14

Cost of appeals tribunal a red herring

Philip_davies Philip Davies in support of the new Clause 1 of the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill argues that we need safeguards to protect people in the eventuality of the Human Rights Act being repealed, and that the cost of an appeals tribunal to monitor this law would be small compared to Government waste and expenditure:

My hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells mentioned the point about whether it was necessary, given the existence of the Human Rights Act 1998. I know that the hon. Member for Hendon is an enthusiastic supporter of that Act, but—as my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch said—some of us wish to see it repealed. We cannot therefore rely on it to be the safeguard in every eventuality for every piece of legislation. We have to have things in place to protect people when the Act is repealed, as I would like it to be. It is important not to rely on legislation that we do not support, and that we put in place other mechanisms to ensure fair play.

The other objection that my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells made was about costs. I understand that entirely, as I would not wish to incur unnecessary public expenditure. However, it is important to have an appeals process and it would not cost a considerable amount in the scheme of Government expenditure. A modest cost for a tribunal that ensures fair play is important.

Edward Leigh: My hon. Friend is being unfair on himself. I suspect that the cost of his proposal would be extremely modest compared with the very large sums lost in inefficiency and waste in even one Department.

Philip Davies: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. In his role as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, there is no one better in the House at ensuring that money is properly spent. He is absolutely right that any costs incurred by the new clause would be modest in the scheme of Government expenditure. If the Government are so concerned about waste in the public sector, I am sure that there are far better targets with far bigger rewards than this modest tribunal.

We need an appeals tribunal to ensure that the rules are fair. Although the cost objection is understandable, it is a red herring, because the costs would be incredibly modest. I invite the House to support the new clause, despite the reservations expressed, because it would improve the Bill and make it more likely to gain support in both Houses of Parliament.

More from Hansard here.