Private Members' Bills

22 Jan 2011 18:24:43

Conservative MPs Mike Weatherley and Sajid Javid differ over whether to clamp down on "ticket touts"

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday saw the Second Reading of the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill, a private member's bill being promoted by Labour MP Sharon Hodgson.

The central measure in her bill is a proposal to make it illegal for an unauthorised individual to sell tickets for a sporting or cultural event at a price greater than 10% above face value, when those involved in putting on the event have successfully applied for protection from the unauthorised resale of their tickets.

The Tory MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley, declared his support for the Bill, saying:

Mike Weatherley Commons "Music and other forms of creative expression are vital to the British economy. I have delivered a number of speeches in the House about the importance of the music industry to the country for overseas earnings and suchlike. The performing arts and sport sustain employment and tax revenues, which benefit all our citizens. There is, however, a blight that creams off revenues by exploiting an imperfect market and contributes nothing to the creative copyright holders. That blight consists of those who profiteer by exploiting excess demand.

"Ticket touts who take advantage of availability do nothing to promote our creative industries, and this is one of those rare examples where the Government need to step in to protect creative persons. There are five conditions for the formation of a perfect market, such as perfect knowledge of alternatives and so on. One of those conditions concerns the availability of supply. That is fine for physical products, which can be increased or decreased according to demand—for example, when manufacturing output is turned up, supply increases and the equilibrium price is found again. However, where supply is based on an individual, it is impossible for the number of hours in the day or the number of days in the year to be increased. A performer cannot be in two places at the same time. An imperfect market is then created, and prices rise due to a shortage of supply.

"The question is whether intermediaries should be able to take advantage of that imperfection against the wishes of those providing the service... My view is that the copyright owner who produces the good, whether it is a concert or a sports event, is the owner and should have control of it for various reasons. There are many reasons why a business might want to price at below full market value—in specific sectors, market penetration is one such reason; reward for loyalty is another. Football is a good example. There is differential pricing in stadiums, but clubs depend on their regular, grass-roots fan base, and this is recognised in the lower prices in certain sections. Many clubs have a young persons’ section at half-price. They could easily charge full-price for that section, but they do not. If the argument of free market enterprise were applied to those tickets, young people would buy them and sell them on at a much higher value, but the club does not want them to resell those tickets at a higher price, as it knows they could, because it wants to encourage a loyal fan base and benefit the community.

"On the face of it, ticket touts provide a free-market service, but scratch a little deeper, and for some events that is a misguided and counter-productive service. The touts are exploiting a market abnormality to the detriment of the wishes of those who put on the event."

But a number of Conservative MPs made clear their opposition to the measure. Here's what Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid had to say:

Continue reading "Conservative MPs Mike Weatherley and Sajid Javid differ over whether to clamp down on "ticket touts"" »

15 Jul 2010 07:06:31

Chris White MP: How I want to help government stimulate social enterprises and charities

White Chris Chris White is the newly elected MP for Warwick and Leamington and explains here the thinking behind the Private Member's Bill he will be introducing later in this parliamentary session.

Private Member’s Bills are a great opportunity for backbench MPs to influence the actions of Government. So I am delighted when I came third in the recent ballot.

I am particularly proud of the wonderful array of social enterprises, charities and third sector organisations that flourish in my constituency, Warwick and Leamington. So when I was deciding on what my Private Member’s Bill should be about, I wanted to see what I could do to help these voluntary organisations in my constituency and across the country.

This is why I have put forward legislation that will seek to put social enterprises firmly on the agenda (both national and local), and will place social outcomes at the heart of public sector procurement.

Social enterprises are defined by the Government presently as “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purposes in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners” and they are becoming an ever increasing part of our economy, generating over £20 billion a year or nearly 2% of our GDP.

These community-facing organisations combine a public-spirited ethos with a commitment to providing quality goods and services. For me, they embody the very principles that we fought our election campaign on: encouraging people and organisations to find innovative ways of providing goods and services; developing stronger communities and finding ways to maximise our public services.

My bill will mandate the Government to develop a strategy for all departments on encouraging social enterprises so that there is joined-up thinking when it comes to creating new initiatives and projects.

Continue reading "Chris White MP: How I want to help government stimulate social enterprises and charities" »

30 Jun 2010 15:33:23

Phillip Hollobone explains why he wants to ban the burqa

Earlier I noted the thirteen Bills being proposed by the Conservative MPs who have been successful in the Private Member's Bill ballot, and explained that I am giving them all the opportunity in the coming days to explain what motivated their choice of bill.

Hollobone_phillip In replying to my offer, Phillip Hollobone - who will introduce the Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill - has pointed me to the speech he gave during the debate on International Women's Day in the chamber on March 11th this year, previously unreported by us:

On this occasion of international women's day, I want to raise the difficult subject of Islamic full-face veils-specifically, the niqab and the burqa. I am sure we can all agree with the Leader of the House's remarks-we all want to empower women in being equal. In my view and that of my constituents, the niqab and the burqa are oppressive dress codes that are regressive as regards the advancement of women in our society. I want to make it clear that I am talking about the niqab and the burqa, not the hijab, the khimar or the chador.

I have been concerned for some time about the niqab and the burqa, but it was not until I took my children to the play area in my local park recently and saw a woman wearing a full burqa that it came home to me how inappropriate and, frankly, offensive it is for people to wear that apparel in the 21st century and especially in Britain. In my view and that of my constituents, the burqa is not an acceptable form of dress and banning it should be seriously considered.

As I was sitting on the bench in the playground watching my children play on the slides, I thought to myself, "Here I am, in the middle of Kettering in the middle of England - a country that has been involved for centuries with spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world-and here's a woman who, through her dress, is effectively saying that she does not want to have any normal human dialogue or interaction with anyone else. By covering her entire face, she is effectively saying that our society is so objectionable, even in the friendly, happy environment of a children's playground, that we are not even allowed to cast a glance on her." I find that offensive and I think it is time that the country did something about it.

We will never have a country in which we can all rub along together and in which people of different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different religions all get along nicely if one section of our society refuses even to be looked on by anyone else. As I thought more about it, it struck me that the issue is not the clothes that someone wears but the fact that the face is covered. Lots of people wear what others might feel is inappropriate clothing. That is, of course, everyone's choice. The issue with the niqab and the burqa, however, is not that they are just another piece of clothing but that they involve covering the face either in its entirety or with just the eyes showing.

The simple truth is that when a woman wears the burqa, she is unable to engage in normal, everyday visual interaction with everyone else. That is indeed the point of it. It is deliberately designed to prevent others from gazing on that person's face. The problem with that is that it goes against the British way of life. Part of the joy of living in our country is that we pass people every day in the street, exchange a friendly greeting, wave, smile and say hello. Whether we recognise someone as a person we know or whether we are talking to someone for the first time, we can all see who the other person is and we interact both verbally and through those little visual facial signals that are all part of interacting with each other as human beings.

If we all went round wearing burqas, our country would be a sad place indeed. Indeed, if we were all to be wearing burqas in this Chamber, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how would you know who to call? I also feel very sorry for women who wear the burqa, as it cannot be very nice to go around all day with only a limited view of the outside world. Of course, many of these women are forced to wear the burqa by their husband or their family. The resulting lack of interaction with everyone else means that many are unable to speak or learn English and so will never have any chance of becoming integrated into the British way of life.

The other issue with the burqa is security. Of course, that problem arises with some other forms of face covering and I do not see why those wearing the burqa should be treated any differently. Bikers wear crash helmets for their own safety, but they are required to take them off in banks and shops. If one were to travel on the tube wearing a balaclava, a police officer would ask one to take it off.

Many of my constituents have contacted me to say that when they visit Muslim countries they respect the dress codes in those countries and wear appropriate headgear. The phrase that has been given to me time and again is, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." This is Britain; we are not a Muslim country. Covering one's face in public is strange, and to many people it is intimidating and offensive. I seriously think that a ban on wearing the niqab or the burqa in public should be considered.

> Paul Goodman has repsonded to this here.

Jonathan Isaby

30 Jun 2010 10:32:37

Banning the burka and introducing daylight saving time are among the measures proposed in Tory MPs' Private Member's Bills

Thirteen Conservative MPs - including nine of the new intake - were successful in the Private Member's Bill ballot earlier in the month.

Today sees them formally presenting their Bills for the first time (there won't be any debate at this stage), which are summarised as follows on the parliamentary website:

"Bill to require the Secretary of State and local authorities to publish strategies in connection with promoting social enterprise; to enable communities to participate in the formulation and implementation of those strategies; to require that public sector contracts include provisions relating to social outcomes and social value."

DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL - Rebecca Harris MP (Castle Point)
"Bill to require the Secretary of State to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year; to require the Secretary of State to take certain action in the light of that analysis."

"Bill to amend the law relating to the distribution of the estates of deceased persons."

"Bill to prohibit the publication of certain information regarding persons who have been arrested until they have been charged with an offence; to set out the circumstances where such information can be published without committing an offence."

LEGISLATION (TERRITORIAL EXTENT) BILL - Harriett Baldwin MP (Worcestershire West)
"Bill to require the Secretary of State, when preparing draft legislation for publication, to do so in such a way that the effect of that legislation on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is separately and clearly identified; to require the Secretary of State to issue a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the draft legislation are in accordance with certain principles relating to territorial extent."

PLANNING (OPENCAST MINING SEPARATION ZONES) BILL - Andrew Bridgen MP (Leicestershire North West)
"Bill to require planning authorities to impose a minimum distance between opencast mining developments and residential properties."

COINAGE (MEASUREMENT) BILL - Mark Lancaster MP (Milton Keynes North)
"Bill to make provision about the arrangements for measuring the standard weight of coins."

"Bill to confer further powers on the Football Licensing Authority and to amend its name."

WRECK REMOVAL CONVENTION BILL - Thérèse Coffey MP (Suffolk Coastal)
"Bill to implement the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks 2007."

FACE COVERINGS (REGULATION) BILL - Philip Hollobone MP (Kettering)
"Bill to regulate the wearing of certain face coverings."

"Bill to enable local planning authorities to require planning permission prior to the demolition or change of use of premises or land used or formerly used to provide a local service."

"Bill to amend section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to include serious harm to a child or vulnerable adult; to make consequential amendments to the Act."

SECURED LENDING REFORM BILL - George Eustice MP (Camborne and Redruth)
"Bill to make provision regarding the rights of secured debtors; to reform the rights of certain creditors to enforce their security; to make other provision regarding secured lending."

I have invited them all to write for ConHome explaining why the have chosen to introduce their particular Bill, so I hope to be able to publish some pieces from them in the not too distant future.

Jonathan Isaby

10 Jun 2010 11:13:47

Thirteen Conservative MPs successful in the Private Members' Bill ballot

The ballot to get the chance to present a Private Members' Bill has taken place and ePolitix reports that the following have been successful:

  1. John McDonnell (Labour)
  2. Robert Flello (Labour)
  3. Chris White (Conservative)
  4. Rebecca Harris (Conservative)
  5. Greg Knight (Conservative)
  6. Anna Soubry (Conservative)
  7. Harriett Baldwin (Conservative)
  8. David Hamilton (Labour)
  9. Joan Walley (Labour)
  10. Sharon Hodgson (Labour)
  11. Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrat)
  12. Andrew Bridgen (Conservative)
  13. Mark Lancaster (Conservative)
  14. Jonathan Lord (Conservative)
  15. Therese Coffey (Conservative)
  16. Lorely Burt (Liberal Democrat)
  17. Philip Hollobone (Conservative)
  18. Nigel Adams (Conservative)
  19. Sir Paul Beresford (Conservative)
  20. George Eustice (Conservative)
Jonathan Isaby

1 Dec 2009 11:53:38

Eight Tories successful in Private Members' Bills ballot - for what it's worth

Some news from last week with which I am only just catching up: the ballot has been held for MPs seeking to present a Private Members' Bill this session and of the twenty names pulled out of the hat, eight are Conservatives.

The full list is below, but we shouldn't get too excited - few PMBs are successful, even in a full session, so in a session being truncated due to the general election, the chances of getting a law onto the statute book are virtually nil.

We will discover the subject of the Bills which the MPs intend to present in January, but in the meantime readers may have suggestions of their own...

  1. Brian Iddon (Lab)
  2. David Chaytor (Ind Lab)
  3. Andrew Gwynne (Lab)
  4. Albert Owen (Lab)
  5. Julie Morgan (Lab)
  6. Anthony Steen (Con)
  7. Alistair Burt (Con)
  8. John Smith (Lab)
  9. Chris Grayling (Con)
  10. Nigel Dodds (DUP)
  11. Richard Taylor (Ind)
  12. Simon Hughes (LD)
  13. Nigel Waterson (Con)
  14. Douglas Carswell (Con)
  15. Bob Spink (Ind)
  16. Mark Hoban (Con)
  17. David Cairns (Lab)
  18. Richard Shepherd (Con)
  19. David Heath (LD)
  20. Mark Field (Con)
Jonathan Isaby

11 May 2009 11:10:04

Government offers tentative support for Peter Ainsworth's Green Energy Bill

Peter Ainsworth On Friday East Surrey MP and former Shadow DEFRA Secretary Peter Ainsworth sought a second reading for the Green Energy (Definition and Promotion Bill). Here are some highlights from his speech:

"There is at last cross-party agreement—something that I have long sought—on the need for Government action to put in place measures to liberate the pent-up ingenuity, creativity and capital of businesses and markets, and the public’s pent-up enthusiasm to engage with delivering real power to the people by decentralising the way in which we create and use energy in this country.


The opportunities before us are enormous. Rebuilding the economy as if the earth mattered is an enormous task, but it brings together an array of interlocking benefits—not just sustainable economic growth and safe green jobs, but enhanced global and national security, improved social justice at home and abroad, and a more thriving and robust natural environment. I think that the whole House will agree that bringing those things together is a worthy task, but it will require vision and courage, relentless attention and, above all, hope. In that mighty context, this little private Member’s Bill may seem a trifling affair. It is indeed a modest Bill—modesty befits private Members’ Bills—but I believe that if it succeeds, it will play its part in helping the clean energy sector to grow, and helping all of us citizens to find it easier to play our part in the green revolution.

Continue reading "Government offers tentative support for Peter Ainsworth's Green Energy Bill " »

29 Apr 2009 15:02:01

Jacqui Lait calls for children to be protected from exploitation

Jacqui Smith MP Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait introduced a Bill in the Commons yesterday. It seeks to "prevent the exploitation by parents of their children by means of seeking publicity, primarily for the purpose of financial gain, in respect of the actions of such children; and for connected purposes".

The Bill was presented by Mrs Lait, Charles Hendry, Mr. Nigel Waterson, Mr. Iain Duncan Smith, Mrs. Maria Miller and Tim Loughton (Shadow Minister for Children). It will be read a second time on 26 June.

Mrs Lait said:

"It would be a rare adult who was not appalled to discover that a mother could plot with other members of her extended family to kidnap her daughter for financial gain, and I, for one, was relieved that the plot was discovered and the mother and her accomplice jailed. Not much later, the story broke of the alleged 13-year-old father, and we had to endure the spectacle of him, the baby, the mother and other claimants to fatherhood all over the world’s media.

I ought to declare an interest as my husband is leader of East Sussex county council, which was involved in that case. Senior officers in the council have done much devilling work for me and I am grateful to them for their help and advice, as I am to the Clerks and the Library of the House. I am also grateful to my hon. Friends the Members for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) and for Wealden (Charles Hendry), among others, for sponsoring the Bill, and I hope they do not think I am treading on their toes. I regard this as potentially a nationwide issue.

I also alerted the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Malik) to the fact that I was planning this Bill. I quite understand that, as a Minister in the Ministry of Justice, he cannot be involved, but I hope he hears my argument and acts on it. I am also hugely grateful to the Centre for Social Justice for its analytical work, which has opened up the whole debate on the impact of family breakdown on society

Those two cases had in common the misguided desire of a self-interested adult member of a dysfunctional family to profit by exposing their child to a media storm. I shall not refer any more to the details of those cases as those involved have had the protection of the law to regain their anonymity. What alarmed me about them was the damage that would inevitably be caused to the youngsters who were exposed to the full glare of publicity.

Continue reading "Jacqui Lait calls for children to be protected from exploitation" »

23 Mar 2009 12:34:38

Charles Hendry: nine million people are in fuel poverty

Charles Hendry MP Shadow Energy Minister Charles Hendry spoke in the House of Commons on Friday on Liberal Democrat MP David Heath's Fuel Poverty Bill.

Mr Hendry expressed profound concern about the issue:

"This is without doubt an extraordinarily important issue. As the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Stephen Pound) has just said, the passion it generates is equally strong among Members in all parts of the House; Members in all parties are extremely concerned about fuel poverty and serious in their efforts to combat it. Rather than in any way denying that there is an issue to address, we are all looking for the best way to do so.


I greatly welcome the constructive approach taken by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome. We welcome his willingness to say that we should look to achieve a band C level of energy efficiency rather than a band B level if that would make it easier for the Government to accept the Bill. We also welcome the Bill’s broad nature. It is extremely important that it addresses issues of microgeneration and does not just deal with energy efficiency and energy conservation. It is crucial for us, as a nation, to start to address all those issues with greater clarity and determination.

We all broadly welcome the Bill’s objectives, and I think we can also all agree that fuel poverty has generally been getting worse over recent years and that home energy efficiency in this country is nothing like good enough.


We are not on track to have secure energy supplies, low-carbon energy generation or affordable energy, and those three requirements matter very much to this House and to the country outside. The thinking behind this Bill is an attempt to address a couple of those particular challenges. The Government’s fuel poverty strategy has called for the eradication of fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010, and in all households by 2016 in England and a little later in Scotland. In an intervention, the Minister said that she was concerned that the Bill advanced an “absolutist position”, yet the Government’s target was to abolish all fuel poverty by 22 November 2016. One cannot get much more absolutist than that, although I know that she has not specified whether it is intended that that will happen before lunch or after lunch on that date.


The Government’s figures on fuel poverty only go as far as 2006, and they show that 3.5 million households were in fuel poverty then, compared to 1.8 million in 2005. The estimate is that 5.5 million households, or 9 million people, are now in fuel poverty. There are some 23,000 excess winter deaths, as they are unattractively called, each year as a result of fuel poverty, and the situation is becoming ever more challenging. The annual dual fuel bill is now £1,100, up from £572 in 2003. Every 1 per cent. increase in fuel bills pushes another 40,000 people into fuel poverty. We are all genuinely concerned that the reductions in people’s domestic energy bills have not happened anything like as quickly as the increases that we saw a while ago.

Continue reading "Charles Hendry: nine million people are in fuel poverty" »

12 Mar 2009 12:14:32

Anne McIntosh brings in Bill to tackle shoplifters

Anne_mcintoshVale of York MP and Shadow DEFRA Minister Anne McIntosh introduced a Private Member's Bill yesterday, about shoplifting.

Miss McIntosh told the House:

"The Bill has cross-party support and I am grateful to my co-sponsors for their support. Organisations representing retailers, including the British Retail Consortium, the Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Small Businesses, are supportive of the work that I am doing and welcome the Bill. I am delighted that the Magistrates Association also supports the Bill and that the Justice Secretary has taken the opportunity to meet many of the organisations concerned.

Crimes against business cost the UK economy £19 billion every year according to the British Chambers of Commerce. The cost to small business of shoplifting alone in the past 12 months ran to £1 billion according to the Federation of Small Businesses. In 2007-08, more than 290,000 incidents of shop theft were recorded, and, of course, there might have been many more.

Continue reading "Anne McIntosh brings in Bill to tackle shoplifters" »

10 Mar 2009 11:33:15

David Mundell's bill to establish equal UK-wide status for Scottish banknotes

David_mundell_mpI have been remiss in not reporting on Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell's Scottish Banknotes (Acceptability in United Kingdom) Bill, which had its second reading on Friday.

Mr Mundell told the House of Commons:

"My constituents were instrumental in the Bill’s inception. After my position in the ballot for private Members’ Bills was announced, I sought their views on what piece of legislation I might introduce. The acceptance or, I should say, non-acceptance of Scottish banknotes was certainly to the fore. It was an issue with which I was personally familiar and a problem, at least anecdotally, that most Scots have experienced. There is also a phenomenon to which my constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale bears witnesses. My constituency has as its backbone the M74 corridor linking central Scotland with the north of England. Increasingly, people who are heading back to England, having spent time in Scotland and found themselves in possession of Scottish banknotes, are going to local banks and businesses and asking to have their Scottish notes changed to Bank of England notes, for fear that they will run into difficulty with the use of the Scottish notes back in England. My constituents deal politely with such requests when they can be accommodated, but they are irked by the implicit suggestion that there is something wrong with the Scots notes.


The Bill is not designed to force unwilling retailers to take Scottish banknotes or to impose draconian sanctions on anyone who does not. I am very aware of the regulation that business faces already, and I want less regulation, not more. Unnecessary additional burdens are to be avoided. The Bill simply seeks to put Scottish notes on an equal footing with any other banknote that is accepted.


All Members will have seen Scottish banknotes, and some will even have used them daily, but few will have considered all the issues that are being aired today. If they have not had cause to ponder them before, they might believe that the deeper significance of Scottish banknotes does not resonate with the public. However, I would tell them that the existence of Scottish banknotes is one of those things that we see before us every day but take for granted. Only when Governments have conspired to do away with them, either through carelessness or small-mindedness, has the attention of the public and the media flashed on to what they stand for. Only then do we realise the historical, cultural and promotional value that the notes have in addition to their monetary value.

Continue reading "David Mundell's bill to establish equal UK-wide status for Scottish banknotes " »

9 Mar 2009 10:54:18

Government oppose Peter Luff's bill for small businesses

Peter_luff_mpIt was the second reading of Peter Luff's Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill on Friday. It is backed by the Federation of Small Businesses and reflects the fact that business rate relief is not taken up by half the smal businesses entitled to it. Around £400 million earmarked for rate relief for small businesses is returned to the Treasury every year.

In 2007 the Welsh Assembly made such payments automatic in Wales. In Scotland businesses with a rateable value below £8,000 have had their rates abolished.

Some 115 MPs have signed Mr Luff's Early Day Motion, number 676, on the subject. He told the House of Commons:

"I sincerely thank the supporters of the Bill and of the campaign, especially the Federation of Small Businesses for taking a lead, suggesting the measure to me and campaigning tirelessly on behalf of all our small businesses. Towards the end of my remarks, I will name some of the many other supporting organisations, to which I am grateful for all their support and advice, especially the Local Government Association. Its unqualified support for the Bill was an important factor in my decision to proceed with it.

I also thank the 115 colleagues from all parties who signed early-day motion 676 on the subject, and the 11 colleagues, again from all parties, many from the Business and Enterprise Committee, who sponsor the measure. I thank the Minister for Local Government and the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan), for their help and advice, for agreeing to a private meeting before today’s Second Reading and for at least giving the impression that they sympathised with the Bill’s objectives and might be tempted to support or adapt it, and introduce it with a package of other measures to help small businesses. We will wait and see what the Under-Secretary says in his winding-up speech.

The Bill should attract all-party consensus because its basic rationale can be found in the explanatory notes to the Local Government Act 2003, which introduced the small business rate relief scheme:

    “Research published by the Government shows rates to be an especially heavy burden for small businesses, accounting for a significantly higher proportion of operating profits than in the case of larger businesses.”


I do not pretend that the Bill is a cure-all or a panacea, but I believe that it constitutes a useful and important step forward. Indeed, the Federation of Small Businesses said in a statement that it gave me to read out:

    “This cash injection could save many small businesses laying off staff or closing down completely. Our members fully support the call for automatic rate relief, a key theme of our Keep Trade Local campaign.”

The Bill may have shortcomings and I am sure that, if it gets a Committee stage, we can discuss two specific changes in more detail. However, I believe that the Under-Secretary understands that the current position is unacceptable and can be improved. Approximately half of all small businesses currently claim the relief, leaving half not getting money to which they are entitled. The Bill is far from perfect—I do not claim perfection for it—but it would improve the current position and save jobs in the real economy.


A fascinating statistic is that 64 per cent. of all commercial innovations come from small firms. We know that this country needs to innovate to stay ahead in the international competitive race. Small firms will play a key role in helping us do so, but many are in serious trouble. The Federation of Small Businesses has seen a 200 per cent. increase in phone calls to its small business helpline compared with last year. To take one example, small independent retailers seem to be in terminal decline across the UK. The accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward forecasts that 33,900 small businesses will close in 2009, which equates to 120 a day. I will not list all the statistics of doom and gloom, but one that particularly worries me, as a Member with a predominantly rural constituency, is that 42 per cent. of English towns and villages no longer have a shop of any kind. We must protect the shops that are still running."

Continue reading "Government oppose Peter Luff's bill for small businesses" »

5 Mar 2009 11:18:34

Andrew Rosindell introduces bill to make British history core school subject

Andrew_rosindellRomford MP and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrew Rosindell introduced his Teaching of British History in Schools Bill yesterday. It would make British history a core subject in schools at all ages.

Mr Rosindell told the Commons:

"Unlike in most European countries, the teaching of history is no longer compulsory in British schools after the age of 14, and evidence suggests that the history curriculum in our country is deeply flawed. The following findings from surveys conducted over the last few years offer some alarming insights into this matter. It was found that 70 per cent. of 11 to 18-year-olds did not know that Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar was called HMS Victory. More than 20 per cent. of 16 to 24-year-olds thought that Britain had, at one stage, been conquered by the Germans, the Americans or the Spanish. Several children mistook Sir Winston Churchill for the first man to walk on the moon. He also joins King Richard the Lionheart and Florence Nightingale as being mistaken regularly by our youth as a creation of fiction.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) has previously highlighted, full participation in our nation is greatly aided by a thorough understanding of our heritage and tradition. The study of history helps children better to grasp their own identity, and reading history enables our younger generation to analyse and question the present by engaging and examining what has gone before. Knowledge of the history of our country is so important because it allows people to make informed decisions about the future of our nation. If our children do not know where they come from, how can they possibly move forward? By learning about the rich tapestry of British history, they can identify with the culture and society of modern Britain.

Over the past decade, the number of students reading history has fallen, from 35 per cent. of teenagers taking history at GCSE level in 1997 to 30 per cent. in 2007. This led Ofsted to claim last year that history was increasingly becoming an “endangered subject”. Indeed, Britain in particular is envied for its rich history, the knowledge of which we must cherish and hand down to future generations. Something is going wrong, however. Many pupils harbour a negative view of history by the age of 16. According to some universities, many of those who study the subject in higher education have very little knowledge of history prior to the 20th century.

It is Henry and Hitler who now dominate the history syllabus. Most pupils today would be able to recite the fate of Germany in the second world war and the tribulations of Henry VIII and his wives, but little else. World war two and the Tudor dynasty were, of course, significant events in our nation’s history, but to study them in isolation is not truly to understand the events that led to and followed them.


If we are to advance the cause of British history, we must not focus solely on England. Currently, the history curriculum sheds very little light on Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. British history should encompass all countries and all peoples of these isles, as well as those parts of the world in which Britain has had a significant input—including those whose people still identify themselves as British, such as in Her Majesty’s overseas territories and Crown dependencies.

A proper appreciation of our nation’s history is an important factor in forging national cohesion. It would combat the current failure of some pockets of our youth to engage with society and enlighten them as to the impact of the key factors that have shaped our nation over the centuries. History has always been a great contributor to British democracy and has allowed us to conduct a pluralistic analysis of the status quo."

The bill will be read a second time on Friday 16 October.

Perhaps Mr Rosindell will be accused of jingoism, or worse. That would be unfair. He is a consistent enthusiast for Britain, without ever giving the impression that he thinks ill of other countries or people. I personally regret taking Geography instead of History for GCSE (who cares about ox-bow lakes?!), and wish I had been given a better grounding in what has made our nation tick.

The Curriculum is currently too burdensome, but that doesn't mean the next Tory Government should not add any requirements. As long as the overall impact is a (big) reduction in the demands made on teachers, we can well afford to expect that kids learn about their heritage. Indeed we can't afford them not to do so.

The United Kingdom is one of the greatest nations of all time. How sad that so many of us grow up knowing far too little about it.

Tom Greeves

3 Feb 2009 13:47:11

Bill Cash wants British jobs for British workers

Bill_cash_mpStone MP BIll Cash is presenting a bill today. It is a:

"Bill to provide that, notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972, workers or members of a trade union who are UK nationals shall have rights of employment in the United Kingdom equal to or as favourable as those afforded to foreign nationals or conferred by the United Kingdom Parliament."

Mr Cash comments:

“This reference to the United Kingdom Parliament is absolutely crucial because it is essential that legislation is passed by this Government overriding the rulings of the European Court of Justice in accordance with the formula in this Bill, notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972.

The posted workers directive which is at the root of the wave of strikes across the country was adopted on 16th December 1996, under John Major’s Government, when Ken Clarke was Chancellor of Exchequer. European Court of Justice rulings cannot be changed except by the agreement of all the 27 Member States and in any case, the negotiations will take years.

However, contrary to statements made by BBC correspondents, the problem can be solved by passing legislation at Westminster as John Monks, former head of a British trade union and general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation stated this morning on the Today programme, effectively endorsing the Bill which was tabled last night.

David Cameron, on becoming leader, in a modern progressive and principled statement, said in his speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in November 2005: ‘For Britain, the first priority must be the return of powers over employment and social regulation. This would be the strategic imperative of my European policy.'

The Bill is supported by former Secretaries of State and members of the Cabinet, including Peter Lilley, John Redwood, David Heathcoat-Amory and Michael Ancram and many other former ministers as well as MPs.

It is clear and fair that UK nationals should have equal rights to everyone else, they should have rights on par with those of foreign nationals and also rights which are presented them to by their own sovereign Parliament. That is why I am presenting this Bill. We need British jobs and British laws for British workers.”

16 Nov 2007 04:30:19

Michael Fallon tops ballot for introducing Private Members' Bills

Fallon_michael Sevenoaks Tory MP Michael Fallon has the best hope of introducing backbench legislation after finishing top of the Private Members' Bill ballot.  Julian Brazier was the next best-placed Conservative and then Stephen Crabb.  Via, here is the full list:

Full ballot results:

  1. Michael Fallon (Con, Sevenoaks)
  2. Sharon Hodgson (Lab, Gateshead East and Washington West)
  3. Andrew Miller (Lab, Ellesmere Port & Neston)
  4. Julian Brazier (Con, Canterbury)
  5. John Heppell (Lab, Nottingham East)
  6. Stephen Crabb (Con, Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  7. Nigel Griffiths (Lab, Edinburgh South)
  8. Mark Lazarowicz (Lab, Edinburgh North & Leith)
  9. Keith Hill (Lab, Streatham)
  10. Tim Yeo (Con, South Suffolk)
  11. Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North)
  12. David Howarth (Lib Dem, Cambridge)
  13. Michael Mates (Con, East Hampshire)
  14. Simon Hughes (Lib Dem, North Southwark and Bermondsey)
  15. Derek Conway (Con, Old Bexley and Sidcup)
  16. Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire)
  17. Justine Greening (Con, Putney)
  18. Ann Snelgrove (Lab, South Swindon)
  19. Bill Cash (Con, Stone)
  20. Gordon Prentice (Lab, Pendle)

Wikipedia explains PMBs here.