Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP

Posted on 9 Sep 2013 06:43:49 by Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP: Is it time to apply the Bribery Act to Labour's relationship with the unions?

Screen shot 2013-09-08 at 08.49.05Priti Patel is MP for Witham, and an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is meeting this week for their 2013 Congress. As usual, we will hear union leaders and delegates reel off the same old dogmatic speeches demanding more public spending, higher taxes and an end to austerity. Their agenda and list of motions for debate offer nothing original. Sounding like a 50 year old broken record, Unite is demanding “mass industrial action to oppose the cuts”, the PCS wants “a co-ordinated programme of industrial action and civil disobedience”, and the RMT are pushing for a “general strike.” The fantasy of millions of workers refusing to work and losing money is an addiction that some just cannot kick.

Union barons who love the sound of their own voice will take to stage and erupt with emotion and passion as they call for workers to rise up against the Government and crush capitalism. They will turn a blind eye to the 1.3 million new jobs in the private sector in favour of demands for more equalities officers, NHS managers and other wasteful non-jobs in the public sector.

There are also motions opposing the Government’s much needed health, education and welfare reforms as well as demands for an end to Royal Mail privatisation and for the railways to be re-nationalised. The vested interests of individual trade unions are also clear for all to see. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, for example, believe that the nation’s economic, health and poverty problems can be addressed by more spending on podiatrists, while Equity want more money ploughed into local theatres. In addition, we will hear claims from union leaders about companies and the wealthy dodging taxes. But when the PCS union’s own financial report discloses that they hold equities in Vodafone while their leader, Mark Serwotka, hypocritically  backs the UK Uncut anti-Vodafone protests, and the GMB’s tax affairs are being looked into by HMRC, their arguments on tax-dodging have no credibility.

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Posted on 26 Aug 2013 06:36:46 by Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP: The Government must hold firm against anti-fracking extremists

Priti Patel
Priti Patel is MP for Witham, and an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee

The recent anti-fracking protests in Balcombe have shown how parts of the green lobby and its eco-extremist followers have lost all interest in reason. Their dogmatic obsession with opposing efforts to take advantage of new fuel sources, threatening behaviour and acts of civil disobedience not only costs taxpayers money in policing costs and property damages, but it also exposes their naivety and the green lobby’s inability to make credible arguments.

If the green lobby genuinely believed in tackling climate change they would be more open minded to the benefits of extracting shale gas in the UK. This country needs to consume huge amounts of fuel each year to power our businesses and homes. Our demand for energy cannot be satisfied by new wind turbines, solar panels and other green technologies alone. Britain’s nuclear power stations, which currently generate 19% of our electricity, are all also scheduled to closedown by 2035, which will affect supply if suitable. We therefore need to be open about the need to secure energy in the long term from a range of sources – including shale gas, oil, coal, nuclear and renewables. But we cannot allow ourselves to take the risk of putting all our eggs into the renewables basket with the significant costs that would entail, as the green lobby demands.

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Posted on 26 Aug 2013 06:37:22 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Posted on 29 Jul 2013 07:04:25 by Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel: The Conservative Party needs to go much, much further than the EU Balance of Competences review

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Priti Patel is MP for Witham, and an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee

The publication of the first six reports of the Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union has caused some initial concerns among those in the Conservative Party and across the country who would like to see more powers repatriated back from Brussels to Britain. This initial wave of reports auditing the influence of the EU in the UK – and there will be a further 26 produced up to the autumn of 2014 covering a wide range of other policy areas – has given the impression that the officials who compiled them were content with the status quo.

The headlines that this was a ‘Whitehall whitewash’ and that the ‘EU is good for Britain’ will lead many to question whether important policy areas being looked at later in the review will be given the rigorous analysis needed to inform decision-making. When the damage that a number of EU measures are causing to this country is so blindingly obvious, it seems astonishing that that these reports have not been stronger in their criticisms of the EU and the benefits of repatriating more powers.

We know, for instance, that at a time when economic growth and job creation is so important, regulation and red tape emanating from Brussels is costing businesses and families billions of pounds. Research I undertook into new EU laws imposed on this country in the last two years showed that £5 billion of additional costs was being forced on us. Open Europe research found £124 billion of new regulatory costs from the EU presided over by the last Labour Government between 1998 and 2010, while the Government has identified an additional annual bill from EU red tape of £676 million for British businesses since the General Election. The practical impact of these rules is that Britain becomes a more expensive place to do business and costs go up. The European President of Ford, for example, has claimed that EU regulations add £6,000 to the cost of an average car.

However, while the reports and audits published may not have been as critical as we may have expected, we should not be completely shocked by them. After all, these reports have been compiled and published by a coalition Government which is committed to remaining in the EU. The Coalition’s Programme for Government published in 2010 makes this abundantly clear (“The Government believes that Britain should play a leading role in an enlarged European Union but that no further powers should be transferred to Brussels without a referendum”). The civil servants putting these reports together would have been operating under that brief and within that paradigm.

Those of us wishing to see a more radical approach taken must recognise that for the foreseeable future the Government’s focus is on the three Rs – Reform, Repatriation and Renegotiation – rather than withdrawal. The review into the Balance of Competences is not designed to build a comprehensive case for withdrawal from the EU in support of a ‘no’ vote in a referendum. Nor is it meant to portray blueprints for various models of the possible future relationship between the UK and the EU. It is, however, there to provoke further debate on Europe and this is what must now take place.

One noteworthy aspect of the advantages listed in the audits for the policy areas so far examined (the single market, foreign policy, foreign aid, health, animal health and taxation) was that many of these are not exclusively dependent on our membership of the EU. For example, on foreign policy, having a coordinated approach within the EU to crises and the use of sanctions on regimes such as the Iranian and Burmese, was listed as an advantage where the ‘EU adds value.’ However, it is perfectly possible for those benefits to be derived outside of the EU. In international affairs it is important to build up alliances of like-minded countries from Europe, North America, Asia and elsewhere to tackle the world’s biggest problems. We have a strong military alliance with NATO, but this does not require us to surrender huge swathes of sovereignty. Greater cooperation in foreign policy can therefore be achieved without the inconveniences of deep political integration.

Likewise, the benefits we gain from being part of the single market could also be largely derived without many of the political consequences of being a member of the EU. The Review of the Balance of Competences has not looked at our relationship with Europe from this perspective in depth, but it is something that we must consider and debate.

We should also pay close attention to the disadvantages caused by the European Union, some of which the audit has highlighted and seek to expose more. For example, the report into foreign aid stated that: “EU development programme management and delivery are overly complex and inefficient, and the EU does not systematically measure the results that EU aid achieves.” It is scandalous that the EU is wasting hard-pressed British taxpayers’ money in this way and this must stop. The impact of the Working Time Directive on the NHS, red tape on business and other damaging aspects of our membership of the EU must remain high on the political agenda as well.

Indeed, in the build up to the next general election and the formation of our manifesto, as a Party we should not be afraid to continue to debate Europe. This is because the public not only need to be reassured about our commitment to hold a referendum by 2017, but also need to see a clear blueprint of what changes ministers will be looking to achieve post-2015. The Review into the Balance of Competences is part of this process, and as a Party we should be determined to eliminate the disadvantages caused by EU membership and then let the people decide.

Posted on 29 Jul 2013 07:04:25 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Posted on 15 Jul 2013 06:37:05 by Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP: Ministers should reject ECHR judgements that undermine the sovereignty of our Parliament

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Priti Patel is MP for Witham, and an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee

The European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on life sentences was deeply disturbing and disgraceful. To have European judges demand that we scrap our system of life sentences and give the country’s most evil killers the real prospect of having their sentences reviewed and the hope of release is sickening. These judges have claimed that life sentences were inhumane and degrading unless there was “both a prospect of release and a possibility of review.” They also believe that prisoners serving life sentences should “be offered the possibility of rehabilitation and the prospect of release if that rehabilitation is achieved” and that life sentences are “incompatible with...human dignity.” Few in Britain would agree with these sentiments and most would rather see these killers, who took away the lives and dignity of their victims, stay behind bars.

As a result of these judges’ obsession with supporting the demands of Britain’s most vile and heinous killers, this decision has now quite rightly reignited the debate about whether the UK should remain part of the ECHR and the future of human rights laws in this country. It is a debate we must have and one the Conservative Party should be leading. But as shocking as this decision was, the judgement did not surprise those of us who have warned of this undemocratic Court’s meddling in our affairs.

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Posted on 15 Jul 2013 06:37:05 | Permalink | Comments (0)