Margot James MP

1 Apr 2011 08:02:46

Will the Office for Fair Access provoke the next Conservative rebellion?

by Paul Goodman

On Wednesday afternoon, I picked up unease in the Commons from Conservative backbenchers about the Government's University admission plans.

Yesterday, this unhappiness was reflected during Business, Universities and Skills questions -

"Mr Rob Wilson (Reading East) (Con): I have discussed on many occasions with the Minister for Universities and Science my view that Governments should avoid unnecessary interference in universities. The enhanced role given to OFFA is causing great unease in the sector and among some Government Members. Will the Secretary of State clarify the powers that OFFA has and how it will be expected to deploy them in relation to universities that set fees above £6,000?

Vince Cable: I think that there is complete clarity. I set out the position in a letter that I sent to OFFA some weeks ago, which is available and which I can certainly make available to the hon. Gentleman. It is absolutely right that, in return for being allowed to charge the higher fee levels, universities should make the maximum possible access available to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is a particular problem with traditional universities, where social mobility declined in the last decade. We are determined to overcome that."

Continue reading "Will the Office for Fair Access provoke the next Conservative rebellion?" »

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 " »

26 Aug 2010 06:30:49

Margot James MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...

Margot james Commons Margot James was elected MP for Stourbridge with a majority of 5,164.

1. What is your earliest political memory? The assassination of JFK and the election of Harold Wilson as PM in 1964.

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I believe in enterprise, reward for risk and hard work and the freedom of the individual."

3. Who is your political hero and why? Margaret Thatcher, because I grew up in the Seventies and my father’s business, which was entirely self made (he left school at 14), was nearly destroyed by the Trade Unions and no one thought it was possible to change the course of decline Britain was firmly on.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? When I was 16 I asked Michael Heseltine at a by-election public meeting whether a Conservative Government would denationalise the nationalised industries. He said great idea, but no one would want to buy them..... I thought there had to be a way and that I’d like to become an MP and have a go.

5. What is your reading material of choice? Biographies and history, political diaries, The Times and The Week.

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Nick Robinson.

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? Business, Innovation & Skills - I’d like to put my experience of business and further education to use, I think I’d be a good ambassador for British Business and manufacturing and I’d like to do everything possible to defend excellence in higher education.

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? Barbara Castle: she saw the need to stand up to the Unions before anyone else did and she was a fighter – until late in to her 80s she was shaming  the Labour Government’s record on pensions.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? Gordon Brown.

10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? What a choice - a fiscally conservative Democrat or a socially liberal Republican, either way I’d be in for an uncomfortable ride!

11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? I walk my dog – or cook a nice meal, nose around my wine collection and maybe order a few more bottles.

12. What is your favourite book? Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

13. What is your favourite film? The Go Between.

14. What is your favourite music? I like so many types of music, I love Motown, soul, opera and the sort of Rock genre that includes Pink Floyd, U2, Dire Straits etc but most of all I love choral music.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? A Sunday roast with my family in our home in the Cotswolds.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination? An impossible choice but France has everything, great skiing, wonderful beaches, beautiful cities and the rural way of life that I adore - I like everything about France except doing business there!

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? I would like to make a positive mark on the Health bill, the provision of mental health services (not forgetting mental health in the criminal justice system), and accommodation for older people - in particular I’d like to contribute to the solution we find for funding residential care. I’d also like to support IDS’s efforts to make work pay. Most of all I’d like to make the people who voted for me in Stourbridge feel proud of me as their MP..

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. There are times when I wish I wasn’t so driven because I would love to have more of the life I only have a tiny slice of really - time with my nephews and nieces, time making jam and marmalade, picking vegetables and cooking for Jay and the family..

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency.  It is the Balti capital of the Midlands as well as being the centre of historic glassmaking – the factories of Stuart Crystal, Webb Corbett and others becoming world renowned.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. When I managed to offend all but one of my wonderful young male volunteers: I served lots of tea and cake during our afternoon breaks and gave a fork to everyone and the last guy to be served one day was Matt, a tree surgeon who had come in from work and had dirt all over his good looking face.  I said ‘’Here's your cake Matt, you don’t need a fork, do you, you’re a real man’’ and the others were obviously quite upset!

> Previously: Sajid Javid MP

8 Jun 2010 18:15:03

Simon Hart reminds the Government not to forget rural Britain in his maiden speech as Margot James celebrates the "basic truths" and values of her constituents

Simon Hart Commons The outgoing Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart, gained the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire at the election and of his rural constituency, he said that “it should not be thought that everything is rosy in our particular garden”:

“We have the same economic and social problems as any other constituency, which is why today’s debate is so crucial. I was encouraged when the Deputy Prime Minister nodded in the direction of rurality in the context of constitutional reform.

“People who form just 2% of the electorate cannot help thinking from time to time that their votes may not count for anything at all, and cannot help thinking from time to time that Governments are there to do things to them rather than for them. If we have learned anything at all in rural communities during the election campaign it is that voters have told us that cheaper is not necessarily the same as better in politics, and that quality was raised much more often than cost in our doorstep conversations.”

He summarised the political philosophy of those who sent him to Westminster thus:

“Our voters hope that this new coalition will adopt a less-is-more approach to government and will have at its heart four simple objectives: to keep us safe; to keep us solvent; to keep us healthy; and to keep us free from prejudice and discrimination. Honour and respect for politics and Parliament will be restored only if we apply those simple rules to every single decision we take in this House.”

Margot james Commons Margot James, who gained Stourbridge, also took the time to celebrate the values of her constituents in her maiden speech:

“The people of the black country and Stourbridge hold on to certain basic truths that are not just old-fashioned notions that can simply be cast aside—for example, that one should never borrow what one cannot pay back, that we should not foster a culture in which people are led to expect something for nothing, and that, in the more elegant prose of Abraham Lincoln:

“You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

“Finally, as a Christian country, and indeed a country of many faiths, we should always look after those who cannot look after themselves. During my time of service in the House, I will work to reflect those enduring values for my constituents in Stourbridge.”

Jonathan Isaby