John Hayes MP

28 Mar 2013 13:26:36

Mixed reaction from Conservative MPs to Cameron's micro-shuffle

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By Paul Goodman
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  • Further to Tim Montgomerie's report earlier this morning, Conservative MPs and others are asking whether the main driver of the move was the Liberal Democrats' desire to get Hayes out of DECC - though they will find Michael Fallon no pushover: the very opposite - or David Cameron's wish to get him into Downing Street.
  • If the latter is the case, a further question arises - namely, does the Prime Minister now feel that his position with part of his own party is so troubled as to justify a small reshuffle?  If so, is the move a sign of strength or weakness?
  • As one of the founding members of Cornerstone, the gregarious Hayes is not in a bad position to make overtures to the centre-right of the party.  But he isn't on easy terms with all of it, let alone other parts of the Parliamentary Party.
  • And as the tweets above indicate, there is irritation among some MPs with an interest in energy policy at Hayes being moved out of DECC.  After all, he was moved to that department in order to "deliver our people a win on wind farms" - as Cameron is reported to have told him.

11 Jan 2013 17:00:03

John Hayes: "I am the personification of Blue Collar Conservatism"

Timthumb.phpBy Tim Montgomerie
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Energy minister John Hayes MP has given an interview to Paul Waugh and Sam Macrory of the House Magazine. You can read the full interview here but it contains a classic Hayes line or two.

Asked about the privilege of certain Tories he responds:

“I appreciate that not everyone starts with the advantage of a working class background and so I try to be benevolent towards those that don’t.”

And why does he think a working class background is so advantageous? Here he goes...

"I am the personification of Blue Collar Conservatism. My childhood was idyllic because it was the perfect childhood…in a secure, loving home, a secure, loving working class home. I grew up on a council estate in south east London, a council maisonette, with my parents. I adored my father, I loved my mother. I had all that I desired. They made me feel like the most special boy in the world. It was a golden age. “I’m very proud of my working class roots and I’m very proud of working class culture. I’m a trade union member, my father was a shop steward, my grandfather was chairman of his branch. My friends in the TUC tell me I romanticise the working class too much. But I have a romantic view of working class culture. I loved that world."

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.

I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.

  1. Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  2. Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  3. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
  4. Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)
  5. Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  6. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)
  7. Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)
  8. Andrew Bingham (High Peak)
  9. Brian Binley (Northampton South)
  10. Bob Blackman (Harrow East)
  11. Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  12. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
  13. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)
  14. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
  15. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)
  16. Steve Brine (Winchester)
  17. Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  18. Robert Buckland (South Swindon)
  19. Conor Burns (Bournemouth West)*
  20. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
  21. David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
  22. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
  23. Douglas Carswell (Clacton)
  24. William Cash (Stone)
  25. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  26. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  27. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  28. Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
  29. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon)
  30. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  31. David Davies (Monmouth)
  32. Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire)
  33. Philip Davies (Shipley)
  34. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  35. Nick de Bois (Enfield North)
  36. Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  37. Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  38. Charlie Elphicke (Dover)
  39. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North)
  40. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)
  41. George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)
  42. Richard Fuller (Bedford)
  43. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
  44. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
  45. John Glen (Salisbury)
  46. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
  47. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby)
  48. Robert Halfon (Harlow)
  49. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)
  50. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
  51. Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
  52. George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
  53. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
  54. Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  55. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
  56. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough)
  57. Gareth Johnson (Dartford)
  58. David Jones (Clwyd West)
  59. Marcus Jones (Nuneaton)
  60. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  61. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)
  62. Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire)
  63. Philip Lee (Bracknell)
  64. Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford)
  65. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  66. Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
  67. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  68. Peter Lilley (Hitchen and Harpenden)
  69. Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  70. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  71. Anne Main (St Albans)
  72. Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  73. Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  74. Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
  75. Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  76. Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  77. Esther McVey (Wirral West)
  78. Steve Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  79. Nicky Morgan (Loughborough)
  80. David Nuttall (Bury North)
  81. Matthew Offord (Hendon)
  82. Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
  83. Priti Patel (Witham)
  84. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)
  85. Mark Pawsey (Rugby)
  86. Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)
  87. Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)
  88. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  89. John Redwood (Wokingham)
  90. Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
  91. Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  92. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire)
  93. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)
  94. Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
  95. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  96. David Rutley (Macclesfield)
  97. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
  98. Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  99. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
  100. Henry Smith (Crawley)
  101. John Stevenson (Carlisle)
  102. Bob Stewart (Beckenham)
  103. Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  104. Mel Stride (Central Devon)
  105. Robert Syms (Poole)
  106. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
  107. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)
  108. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
  109. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West)
  110. Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
  111. Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  112. Robert Walter (North Dorset)
  113. James Wharton (Stockton South)
  114. Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley)
  115. John Whittingdale (Maldon)
  116. Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  117. Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire)
  118. Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam)
* Conor Burns has stated that he will not be voting against gay marriage but may abstain.

21 Nov 2012 15:57:10

Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Charles Walker and Jesse Norman amongst the stars of the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards

By Matthew Barrett
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Spectator-Logo-resize-395x400Below are the winners of the different categories of the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which were held this afternoon.

  • Newcomer of the Year – Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
  • Backbencher of the Year – Alistair Darling MP (Lab)
  • Campaigner of the Year – Andy Burnham MP (Lab)
  • Inquisitor of the Year – Margaret Hodge MP (Lab)
  • Speech of the Year – Charles Walker MP (Con) & Kevan Jones MP (Lab)
  • Resignation of the Year – Lord Hill of Oareford (Con)
  • Apology of the Year – Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem)
  • Resurrection of the Year – Sir George Young MP (Con)
  • Minister to Watch – Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
  • Double Act of the Year – Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem) & John Hayes MP (Con)
  • Peer of the Year – Rt Revd Justin Welby
  • Minister of the Year – Theresa May MP (Con)
  • Parliamentarian of the Year – Jesse Norman MP (Con)
  • Politician of the Year – Boris Johnson (Con)

Three names especially strike me: Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.

Jesse Norman deserves relentless praise for his defence of our constitution against the offensive, mandate-lacking desire of some in the Coalition to see the House of Lords destroyed. But Mr Norman is far from being a mere skilled rebel. He is a serious economic and philosophical thinker, and a remarkable talent on the backbenches. His award is richly deserved.

Continue reading "Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Charles Walker and Jesse Norman amongst the stars of the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards" »

19 Oct 2012 14:53:01

John Hayes MP, Energy Minister, a new Boris with the eloquence of Demosthenes and the common good written on his heart

By Tim Montgomerie
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The Prime Minister may not have come out of the last 24 hours particularly well but new Energy Minister John Hayes has had a good energy shambles. I wonder if a new star has been born? How many readers have seen (watch this Guardian clip from just after two minutes in), heard or read about John Hayes' performance at the despatch box yesterday? It took the breath away. The sketchwriters all feasted on his performance. Here is a selection of what they wrote...

Screen Shot 2012-10-19 at 14.34.39Donald Macintyre in The Independent: "When the Labour MP Nick Smith congratulated the minister on his "chutzpah" before asking him if his Department had advised No 10 against the very policy Mr Cameron had announced 24 hours earlier, he said (astoundingly given the notoriously bad relations between his Energy colleagues and George Osborne) that it had "a wonderful relationship" with No 10 and the Treasury: "I say, with appropriate modesty, that that relationship has improved still further since my arrival."

The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts was equally amazed: "‘Alacrity and the defence of the common good – the heart of all I do,’ he said at one point, practically clutching his right breast and removing a tear from his eye. ‘Clarity is the prerequisite of certainty, certainty is the prerequisite of confidence and confidence is the prerequisite of investment,’ he said, quite unscripted... The Government would act ‘in weeks, rather than months’. He raised his chin and scanned the Chamber to ensure that it shared his astonishment at the Executive’s sense of urgency."

Continue reading "John Hayes MP, Energy Minister, a new Boris with the eloquence of Demosthenes and the common good written on his heart" »

13 Sep 2012 17:20:45

"Significant victory" for Robert Halfon MP as new Energy Minister John Hayes promises to investigate oil market practices

By Matthew Barrett
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Robert Halfon held a debate on the oil industry in the House today, focusing on the harmful consequences of high petrol prices for many Britons, and especially those in rural areas. Mr Halfon summarised his argument for ConHome this morning, so there's not much need to re-state the case for an investigation into the oil market, but it is worth noting the response of the newly appointed Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes. Mr Hayes agreed to look into the complaints raised by Mr Halfon and the Petrol Promise campaign. 

HAYES JOHNMr Hayes said:

"When the review into LIBOR is looked at, it will of course include this market [the oil market], and will aim to publish conclusions by the end of September... as a result of this debate, and the arguments from my Hon. Friend [Robert Halfon], I will also write to the FSA about concerns raised today... It is absolutely right that we enhance transparency in the oil and commodity markets... It is clear from the data that there is a considerable time-lag involved [between oil prices and petrol prices]. My Department's analysis shows that falls in the oil prices are passed on, but nevertheless, I am going to ask my officials to look at this matter again, to revisit their analysis, as a direct result of this debate and my Hon. Friend's [Robert Halfon's] contribution today... The Government would be happy to take action again if the evidence legitimises it. As a result of the arguments that Robert Halfon has put today, I will instruct my officials to do a detailed study, with analysis of how far people have to travel to reach their nearest petrol station and how this can change over time. He can count that as a significant victory."

Continue reading ""Significant victory" for Robert Halfon MP as new Energy Minister John Hayes promises to investigate oil market practices" »

5 Sep 2012 20:21:19

Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers

By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.

Cabinet Office

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General – Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
  • Minister for Government Policy – Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
  • Minister of State – Rt Hon David Laws MP (jointly with the Department for Education)
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Nick Hurd MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Chloe Smith MP

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and President of the Board of Trade – Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Rt Hon David Willetts MP
  • Minister of State – Michael Fallon MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Matthew Hancock MP (jointly
  • with the Department for Education)

Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
  • Senior Minister of State (Faith and Communities) – Rt Hon Baroness Warsi (jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Minister of State (Housing) – Mark Prisk MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) - Nicholas Boles MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Rt Hon Don Foster MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Brandon Lewis MP

Continue reading "Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

24 Feb 2012 07:40:25

John Hayes displays his passion for apprenticeships in the House Magazine - while referring to St Augustine, Aquinas, Hegel, Burke...

By Paul Goodman
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...Disraeli, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury.  He tells Sam Macrory of the House Magazine that his apprenticeships programme -

“ - is about installing, in the whole of society, purposeful pride. When society is riven with purposeful pride, Britain will stand tall; it’s as big a mission as that. It’s about understanding [that] what we do together is more important that what we do apart. It’s about understanding the collective wisdom of the ages is enshrined in great institutions like the courts, Parliament, the church and the crown, and the everyday institutions we encounter – families, the ‘little platoons’, as Burke called them.”

The Burke quote is frequently used by Conservative politicians but it is unusual for David Cameron's senior Ministers to dismiss "the centre ground" -

“The common ground in politics is the ground which reflects people’s preoccupations, their sentiments, their hopes and their fears. And any politician who’s truly, not just claims to be, the people’s champion, must be guided by the people’s desires. I always have been...I see [the apprenticeships policy from a Tory perspective because mine is the party of Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Disraeli after all. Social justice is in our blood, it’s absolutely written, tattooed across every Conservative’s breast.”

As Macrory writes: "The numbers can’t be argued with: there are more apprentices." (Though I would like to know a bit more about how those numbers break down.)

Given Hayes's unusual G.K.Chesterton conservatism - in the modern Tory party, anyway - his quotability, and his fixer role as the co-Chairman of Cornerstone, I remain surprised that to date he has flown undetected beneath the radar of most political journalists.

17 Jan 2012 06:47:29

Introducing John Hayes, in his own words (and mine)

By Paul Goodman
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The most illustrious example of a fake Twitter account is @SteveHiltonGuru.  At least, it's a fake in the view of those who ask who the real author is.  The answer is obvious.  It is Hilton himself, staging an elaborate double-bluff.

John Hayes, the Business and Education Minister, is definitely the author of the tweets from @JohnHayesTory.  Like @SteveHiltonGuru, it is said to be a fake account "celebrating the wit and wisdom of the Government's most alliterative Minister, John Hayes".

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I have known Hayes for the last 25 years or so, and to call him an old-fashioned Tory is an understatement of the sort in which he does not usually indulge.

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Hayes is a Merrie England, God-Save-Queen-Anne, beef-and-beer, Chesteron-and-Belloc, arts-and-crafts, dance-round-the-maypole, pro-small craftsman, anti-big usurer, stop-em-coming, hang-em-high Tory of a kind unknown since the death of Colonel Sidthorpe.

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Unlike the Colonel, however, he's an operator.  Hayes helped to found the Cornerstone Group, now a force on the right of the party.  When David Cameron proposed the Coalition to the 1922 Committee, Hayes spoke for it - thereby signalling that it would be acceptable to part of the right.

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Since he's now a senior Minister in two departments, and has a worldview untainted by fashion and a way of expressing it unconstrained by inhibition, I am surprised that Hayes has not been better introduced to voters by lobby journalists and others.

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He is devoted to his Ministerial task of creating more apprenticeships, which fits nicely with his belief in the dignity of labour, manual craftsmanship and self-realisation through work.  Despite his homely outlook he may be too exotic a creature for the Cabinet.

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However, a week is a long time in politics, and so on, so you never know what will happen.  It must be a long time since the Cabinet contained an unabashed admirer of Hegel.  But Hayes has not exactly been in the vanguard of the struggle for modernisation -

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- so such a promotion is unlikely.  Anyway, I disgress.  I had meant by now to end with a pre-election story which illustrates Hayes's style and is too authentic not to be true.

Woman in audience: Mr Hayes, how can we save our country?

Hayes: Can I ask you, Madam, are you a Christian?

Woman in audience: Well, I mean...yes, I think I am.

Hayes: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Saviour?

Woman in audience: ...Er -

Hayes (interrupting): - Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Woman in audience: Um...well, I suppose so.

Hayes: In that case, Madam, if you really want to save your country you should pray to God that I'm made a Minister in the coming Conservative Government.

4 Nov 2011 16:33:47

20 Tory MPs celebrate apprenticeships policy

20 Conservative MPs have written to ConservativeHome, commending the progress the Government, and in particular, Skills Minister John Hayes, has made with regards to apprenticeships. Here is their letter in full: 

Dear Tim,
Your article (“Apprenticeships - the government's ‘remarkable, unprecedented’ success story - 29th October) highlighted the welcome dramatic increase in the take up of apprenticeships during the last year. As members of the 2010 Conservative intake who campaigned on this issue, we were not only heartened by the over 50% increase in apprenticeship starts for 2010/11, but encouraged by important aspects of this growth. 
Firstly, the strong increase in engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships (up 20%) will be especially important as we strive to rebalance the economy towards more high-end manufacturing and greater exports. Secondly, around three quarters of the growth is amongst the over 25s with a firm weighting towards advanced level apprenticeships (A level equivalent); factors which underpin the necessary re-skilling of the workforce - identified by Lord Leitch in his landmark report for the previous Government - via the apprenticeship route. Thirdly, the significant increase in the number taking apprenticeships in business, accounting and law will be important in widening access to the professions and so vital in promoting greater social mobility.
The facts flatly contradict critics’ predictions that apprenticeship growth would be almost all at the low levels and in anything but the high tech, high skilled sectors of the economy.We believe that the Government’s striking progress in this area is of critical importance to both our economic future and for the life chances of the hundreds of thousands of people who are now seizing the opportunities apprenticeships present.
The positive shift in the perception of apprenticeships, their rapid take up and an emphasis on quality, through minimum contract values for providers and stricter rules on employment, owe much to the work of our Party through our Skills Minister, John Hayes MP who vigorously championed apprenticeships for many years in opposition and has now successfully driven this programme through to real delivery in the early life of this Parliament.
Yours Faithfully
Stuart Andrew MP 
Jake Berry MP 
Andrew Bingham MP 
Nicola Blackwood MP 
Neil Carmichael MP 
Oliver Colvile MP 
Jane Ellison MP 
George Freeman MP 
Zac Goldsmith MP
Richard Graham MP
Rob Halfon MP
Matt Hancock MP
Richard Harrington MP
Sajid Javid MP
Brandon Lewis MP
Stephen McPartland MP
Sheryll Murray MP
Sarah Newton MP
Neil Parish MP
Paul Uppal MP

29 Oct 2011 13:01:16

Apprenticeships - the government's "remarkable, unprecedented" success story

By Matthew Barrett
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Hayes John ParlJohn Hayes, the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, is responsible for one of the unmitigatedly good things the government is doing: creating hundreds of thousands of apprenticeships.

At Business Questions on Thursday, Mr Hayes was in fine form, decrying the "whiners and whingers" who seek to play down the successes of the government in this area:

"The hon. Gentleman is right that there has been a growth in over-25s apprenticeships and he will know that the previous Government commissioned the Leitch report, which said that that was exactly what we needed—to upskill and reskill the work force. Notwithstanding that, however, he will also know that there has been remarkable, unprecedented growth in 16 to 18 apprenticeships and in 19 to 24 apprenticeships over two years. Contrary to the complaints of the carpers and the cringers, the whiners and the whingers, the biggest proportion of growth has been at level 3—that is A-level equivalent."

Continue reading "Apprenticeships - the government's "remarkable, unprecedented" success story" »

8 Sep 2011 07:33:23

The senior Tories who backed Dorries/Field yesterday - including Cameron's PPS

By Paul Goodman
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Lists of how Conservative MPs vote on "moral" issues have a perennial fascination (since they tend to divide more evenly than Labour ones.)  Some vote for reasons of principle alone; others, particularly senior ones,  want to show a bit of ankle to the party's right or the liberal media - and these motives aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Here below from Hansard is the list of MPs who voted for the Dorries/Field abortion amendment yesterday on counselling.  Among the senior Conservatives who voted in the Aye lobby were Henry Bellingham, Graham Brady, Chris Grayling, John Hayes, Gerald Howarth, Tim Loughton, Maria Miller, and Desmond Swayne, David Cameron's PPS.

I noted yesterday that Liam Fox, Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith voted for the amendment, which was lost by 316 votes to 118.  I will try to have a look later at those who passed through the No lobby.

Continue reading "The senior Tories who backed Dorries/Field yesterday - including Cameron's PPS" »

5 Mar 2011 11:32:27

Chris Chope introduces Bill to force universities to award places on merit alone

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday Christchurch MP Chris Chope saw his Further and Higher Education (Access) Bill get its Second Reading debate.

Chris Chope The Bill would "make provision to require all institutions of further and higher education in receipt of public funds to allocate places on merit" and Chope expanded on his cause thus:

"There is a lot of confusion at the moment, among universities in particular and other institutions of higher education, because the Government seem to be at sixes and sevens in developing their policy in this area. Originally, the Government said that they would publish guidance to the Office for Fair Access by the end of January to enable it to give guidance to universities by the middle of February on their admissions policies for the academic year starting in 2012. Despite full guidance having been issued in the middle of February, with the Minister for Universities and Science saying in a press statement at the time that OFFA would be able to advise universities by the end of February, as of now, in the first week of March, there is still no information from OFFA on the principles that universities should apply for next year’s admissions."

"The full guidance that was issued by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for Universities and Science to the director of fair access in February was based on the draft guidance that was issued on 7 December 2010. Paragraph 6.1 of the draft guidance was very clear: 'There have been no changes in the legal constraints on your powers as Director of Fair Access. You are not empowered to interfere in institutions’ decisions about the admissions of students and you may only set conditions that clearly relate to promoting participation and access.'

"When the final guidance was issued last month, that paragraph was omitted. I tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Universities and Science, asking why it had been omitted. Unfortunately, the fact that I received a holding reply rather than an immediate substantive reply makes it obvious that he had to think about the reasons why it had been omitted. Eventually, he came back with an answer pursuant to the holding answer of 16 February: 'Paragraph 6.1 was unnecessary as it provided no new information.'

"I am not convinced by that and remain very suspicious. Indeed, the full guidance is more extensive than the draft guidance. The full guidance is some seven and a half pages long, whereas the draft was only five and a half pages long. That clearly expressed paragraph is omitted from the final guidance. I share the concern of many people in universities that the Government are trying to increase regulation and interference to tick boxes on social engineering and social mobility, and that that is ill conceived."

"My Bill is designed to promote the freedom of universities to decide the issues in question for themselves and to restrict the Government’s ability to interfere in the governance of our universities, many of which are international institutions of high repute. They are expanding and raising their standards in the global higher education context, and they are highly respected. They do not need an interfering Government, who are pledged to reduce regulation, increasing the regulatory burden on them. However, that, of course, is exactly what the Government’s current policy seems to be."

Continue reading "Chris Chope introduces Bill to force universities to award places on merit alone" »

1 May 2009 10:51:28

Doubts persist about funding for education and training

David Willetts MP Ministers from the ludicrously named Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills had questions in the House of Commons yesterday.

Shadow Secretary of State David Willetts asked about funding provision for apprenticeships:

"In a parliamentary answer on 20 April, the Under-Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Simon), assured me that funding will allow every person who has started an apprenticeship to complete it. So why are providers approaching us to warn that funding cuts for next year are so severe that they cannot be confident even of being able to maintain their current apprenticeships, let alone meet the Government’s ambitious targets for more apprenticeships? Will the Secretary of State consider our proposal for a nationwide clearing house for all apprentices who are now in danger of losing their apprenticeships before they are completed?

Mr. Denham: Two issues are involved. On the funding for apprenticeship training, it should not be the case that training providers are unable to pay for or receive funds for the completion of current apprenticeships. On the second issue of those who lose their jobs because their employers are unable to keep them in work as a result of the downturn, we already have a clearing house in construction apprenticeships, which is obviously one of the most pressured areas, and that has managed to place more than 600 apprentices; we have changed the rules so that an apprentice can continue training for up to six months at college even if they do not have an employer, so that their training is not interrupted; we have reached agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions that—this is unusual—apprentices will automatically be able to continue for up to 13 weeks seeking work solely in the line of occupation of their apprenticeship; and we are discussing with the DWP the best way of ensuring that apprentices whose technical training might be interrupted are able to do intensive work in college to complete their training. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are doing everything that I think is feasibly possible to ensure that we continue to support apprentices who might lose their jobs while they are training.

Mr. Willetts: I heard what the Secretary of State said, but I have to tell him that there are training providers who, having seen the provisional proposals for their funding in 2009-10, are not sure that they will have the funding to continue providing the training for apprentices whom they have already recruited. We will be holding him to account for the assurance that he and the Under-Secretary have given. I warn the Secretary of State in respect of any thought he may have had that further education capital spending was under control. He has a plan for 50 per cent. of students to go to university next year, yet he has cut his plans for university student numbers so that it is absolutely impossible for that figure to be reached. Given the current funding pressures, will he consider suspending the reorganisation of all the quangos, which has been estimated to cost £140 million, and devoting that money instead to ensuring that apprentices and students are supported during this Labour recession?

Mr. Denham: I would remind the hon. Gentleman that on 5 January his party announced that it would be cutting my Department’s budget by £610 million in this financial year, and he has yet to reply to my letter of 15 January to explain where those cuts would fall, so he is not in a position to talk about this Department’s spending.

I invite the hon. Gentleman to follow up with me the points that he has made about training providers. I understand that although it is, of course, necessary to ensure that budgets are adhered to within the Learning and Skills Council on apprenticeships—he will entirely understand that—there should be no question of someone having the funding for an apprenticeship that they have already started withdrawn. I am perfectly happy to follow that issue up."

There is not room to record all the interventions here, but Conservative members were deeply concerned about the funding of institutions in their constituencies. There seems to be a disconnect between what is promised and what is delivered.

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