The job of Shadow Leader of the House is proving very worthwhile. There is great scope for making contributions on ANY subject. Tradition demands that the exchanges should have a strong element of humour and knockabout politics but serious points are also needed. Yesterday I spoke twice at the starts of Business Question and in conclusion of a series of final day debates.:Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West
I thank the Leader of the House for giving us the business.
It is a great pleasure to echo the words of the Leader of the House, particularly concerning Noeleen Delaney, who we all know as a valued friend, adviser and comforter over many, many years, and all the other members of staff who serve us so faithfully. After the recent days, we might consider accelerating progress on making this place a habitable accommodation for staff, many of whom have suffered severely in the recent heat, and perhaps we are thinking of following your example, Mr Speaker, of having less formal dress, which members of staff are forced to wear and which must be very uncomfortable at this time of the year.
It is right to note that we have lost the previous Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), now the Secretary of State for Transport. I regard it as a bit of a challenge—I have to pay tribute to his services, which were considerable over his period as Leader of the House. All these bouts of Question Time between Leader of the House and shadow Leader of the House have their own personality. We remember with fondness the number of questions that the previous Leader of the House answered; his answers were occasionally related to the questions asked. What we will miss is the rapier-like wit of my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), striking against the steamroller solidity of the right hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell.
It is, however, an undiluted pleasure to welcome the present Leader of the House, but I fear, as a long admirer of his, that his political career might not be on an upward trajectory in this appointment, because his career has been blighted by his solid devotion to the three R’s—rationality, restraint and reasonableness—which are not attributes that go well in his party at the moment. He was a splendid spokesman on European affairs, and the voice of sanity on so many issues, and I am sure that we look forward to his continuing with his restrained and mature performances at Question Time.
The right hon. Gentleman is also, I am told by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), the supreme champion on the television programme “University Challenge”. Not only did he win splendidly in his own time, but when he came back for a challenge of challenges, he was the supreme winner. It is great to know that he is doing this job from the platform of his own scholarship and knowledge. I believe that it is going to be a vintage year and a vintage period for a leadership of the House.
We have the Welsh Bill returning. It is a great shame that we did not get it right the first time. Welsh Bills are not just for St David’s day; they are for eternity, and we keep having them, and O that we had got it right the first time. I am afraid that when the first Welsh Bill was introduced in the ’90s, the attitude of this House to devolution reflected the fact that it was not then a popular cause; but although it is now universally accepted, devolution to Wales is still seen as a grudged gift—it is doled out in small parcels, a little bit at a time, and some is then pulled back. I hope that the generosity of the Government, in seemingly becoming completely converted to the idea of devolution, will be expressed in this Bill, with the support of all parties, and will help to serve the wellbeing of the people of Wales.
Baroness Altmann made a contribution this morning about her resignation, and I believe that all parties in the House should listen carefully to what she said. She gave as her reason for retiring that the parties—her party, which is the Conservative party, but this is also true of the Labour party—pay too much attention to their internal divisions, to the detriment of policy making. That is a very penetrating criticism of both the Conservative and the Labour party, which we would all do well to heed.
As we look forward to the new Session of Parliament, we should bear in mind the dreadful event that still casts a terrible shadow over this place. The family of Parliament was bereaved by the cowardly, brutal murder of one of our family members, Jo Cox, and the grief is still raw. We could do no better than ensure that our work here is illuminated and inspired by her thought: there are more things that unite us than divide us.
I thank the shadow Leader of the House. The Leader of the House is indeed perhaps our most illustrious egghead.
Mr Speaker, I am not sure how I respond to that compliment. I have felt, as a student of Elizabethan history, that the last three or four weeks have been the closest thing to living through one of the crises of the 16th-century Tudor court that any of us is likely to experience, and I suspect that events in British politics this year will have given Hilary Mantel ample material for her next trilogy.
I thank the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) for his warm welcome to me and for the deserved tribute that he paid to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, who indeed did act as a champion of the House, not just in the Chamber, but in the many exchanges behind the scenes that fall to the Leader of the House. I, I hope on behalf of the House, wish him well in his new responsibilities.
Listening to the shadow Leader of the House, I felt that the three R’s he laid out before us—reasonableness, rationality and restraint—summed up our Prime Minister’s approach to Government and to politics. In fact he may have presented us with a motto for my right hon. Friend’s Administration and approach to Government.
The shadow Leader of the House is a man of undimmed ambition who has leapfrogged on to the Opposition Front Bench after so many years of parliamentary experience, and for whom two shadow Cabinet roles are just a bagatelle—something with which he can easily cope. I think his ambition should not be restrained, even now. I have been studying his remarks and I note that he said of the Leader of the Opposition that it is very difficult to see how he can unite the Labour party, and he said:
“We’re in the worst position we’ve been in the whole history of the…party”.
I think there is an embryonic leadership campaign there. I would encourage the hon. Gentleman to disregard any taunts and to throw his hat into the ring while there is still time.
On the serious point that the hon. Gentleman made about the legacy of Jo Cox, the security risks that Members face need to be considered very carefully and action needs to be taken. Without going into details on the Floor of the House, I can say that there has been agreement among members of the House of Commons Commission that new measures should be taken. We will be able to go into further details very soon after the House returns in September.
Finally, I hope that Members of every political party would look to Jo Cox and see someone—whether we agreed or disagreed with her on a particular issue—who was motivated above all by a drive to improve the lot of the people whom she served in her constituency, nationally and globally. In that sense, I think there could be few finer examples for us to follow.
Summing up Adjournment debate.
It is heartening to end on a climactic point and to congratulate Mrs Fitzpatrick on her award. This has been a splendid debate. It is one of the joys of Parliament that we have a day on which we can discuss these matters. It is politics in miniature, as we discuss matters that are of protozoan importance nationally, but of vast, gigantic importance in our constituencies.
I have the pleasure of welcoming the new Deputy Leader of the House to his post. We have jousted together on the Home Affairs Committee, where his ferocious skills as an interrogator terrified witnesses, who were subject to a cross-examination that would be worthy of a mass murderer in the High Court. Many of them, when they left the Select Committee room, went out seeking the number of Samaritans or a trauma counsellor.
The hon. Gentleman has already reached the peak of his parliamentary career, which he cannot overtop. During our debate to congratulate Her Majesty earlier this year, he told an anecdote that will live long in the legends of this House. It concerned the vital matter of the positioning of a chain around the unicorn’s neck in the stained-glass window in Westminster Hall. This anecdote was described in The Daily Telegraph, by a writer who uses the traditional and admirable English gift for understatement, as
“the single most boring anecdote of all time.”
I ask you—where can he go with his career after that major achievement?
We have had a fascinating list of possible holiday destinations laid before us today. For anyone who is interested in yoga, Harrow is the place to go; it is the yoga paradise of the world. But they should watch out, because it is a hellhole for those who accumulate garden waste; it has the highest collection charges in the whole of the United Kingdom. We have heard about the joys of the Gillies in Stirling. Gillie is the Gaelic word for a servant, and we heard about the magnificent occasion when the Gillies came out and banged their saucepans and drums and convinced the English Army that reinforcements were on the way. We have heard about the joys of Bushy Park in the constituency of Twickenham, where, we were told, the airport should not be bigger but should be better. And for those with exotic tastes, there is a festival of engineering in Chippenham, which will set all our pulses racing.
A theme that ran through the debate was transport, and at least seven Members bemoaned the deficiencies of the privatised rail service. I commend to all of them a report on privatisation, published in this House in 1993 on the advent of privatisation, under the great parliamentarian Robert Adley—who tragically died on the Sunday before the Wednesday on which the report was published—which forecast in minute detail the problems that we are talking about today. Of course, Robert Adley was a great expert on railways, and I believe that is the supreme report of any published by a Select Committee in my time in the House. We are seeing the legacy now. The problems that we face spring from the difficulties of privatisation, rather than from any disputes that have taken place.
To his great credit, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South (Mr Marsden) cleverly used the debate to point out that today the Government have published 29 reports, which cannot be scrutinised in the House. He brought attention to the very important increase in the level of fees, and ultimately loans, that students will suffer, and to the withdrawal of bursaries for student nurses. Those vital matters are the subject of just two of the 29 reports that have been published today—in order, presumably, to bury bad news.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) made an impassioned plea on behalf of those who are suffering from Government policy on poverty. We often talk about the state of the economy generally, but she talked about what happens at the level of the family—the difficulties that they face. I think that we will all read her speech with great interest and learn a great deal from it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) and the hon. Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith) raised the crucial problem that worries us a great deal: the alienation of young people post Brexit. We realise that we have a legacy from the referendum and the deficiencies in our electoral system, for which we will pay a high price unless we tackle them with major reforms.
The hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) raised, quite legitimately, the problems of the defence budget. Spending on conventional weapons is being delayed, while spending on the useless symbol of national virility has, sadly, been approved by this House.
I offer great congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Dr Allin-Khan). I noticed from her maiden speech that she has the good luck to be married to a Welshman, which is rather like being upgraded on a plane. She made the very powerful point that what the Government are doing with their plans for the health service is trying to stretch the funding for a five-day health service over seven days. She pointed out that key weakness, and spoke about this matter with great knowledge and experience. Again, she is a great asset to this House, and I am sure she will have a great career. It is disappointing that the former Prime Minister’s forecast that she would be in the shadow Cabinet within a day has not been fulfilled, but perhaps it will come true during the next few weeks.
I thank everyone for what they have said today. I cannot go into all the details of what was raised, but I am sure this is Parliament at its very best—doing the work not on the great issues we pontificate about, but the bread and butter issues that concern our constituents. I believe all the issues raised will have the attentive ear of the new Leader of the House and his Deputy, and we look forward to instant results before we return in September.
There’s no let up in the efforts to talk the UK economy down. PMI rushed out a week early their July survey, with less than a full set of responses, to show that the confidence of a number of senior business executives fell when they got the result of the Brexit vote wrong. There’s a surprise!
These surveys have forecast recessions in the past that did not happen. Confidence took a nasty knock on 9/11 for understandable reasons but it did not lead to a recession. It would be surprising if many executives who by a large majority seemed to vote Remain suddenly expressed confidence a few days after losing the vote. As I discovered in the referendum campaign a large proportion of senior large company executives were keen to remain.
I suggest commentators and pundits calm down and await data on what actually happens June- October in the real economy. The signs I see suggest there will be no recession. Employment is at high levels, real wages are rising, and export intentions are up.
The Chancellor has said that he will await more data and come to a judgement about the balance of the budget and economic policy at the time of the Autumn Statement in the normal way. I welcome that commonsense approach. If government borrowing rates remain at the new much lower levels we have reached in recent weeks post Brexit, he will have an immediate windfall in the form of lower future interest charges on government debt. He could use this to cut the deficit or to spend a bit more. There is also the question of when will the government cease making financial contributions to the EU. That money should be spent on our priorities, as argued here before.
There is no need to move to a government surplus by 2020-21, unless the economy has by then heated up too much and is in danger of going too fast. At current borrowing rates using some borrowed money for investment could make sense. It will be important to make sure the chosen investments do add to national wealth and income by being well thought through.
Clearly developing trade links is a key part of any Brexit strategy. The UK needs to move fast. Big responsibility on Liam Fox and his team. There is absolutely no guarantee that the UK will have access to the single market. The price may be too high. The UK needs to develop effective trade arrangements with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, India, China, Columbia, Brazil, Africa etc.. Progress on these arrangements may well make it easier to reach agreements in Europe. But this is just one aspect of Brexit, and not the subject of this post.
Let us consider the law instead. If I have to choose one reason why I voted to 'Leave' it would be about how UK law is made. And it seems to me it's the behaviour of Court of Justice of the EU over many years which more than anything else delivered the vote to leave. Up with the CJEU the British people would not put.
The majority of British people are committed to self-government, to parliamentary democracy and the prerogatives of the nation-state. Over many years, the EU has misused judicial power, and given every indication it intended to misuse it further. This is not about the European Court of Human Rights, which is often blamed and which may well not be effected. It is about the Court of Justice of the EU, which has become, in effect, a 'political court' - guilty of unacceptable 'overreach' pursuing the political objectives of 'ever closer union'. This approach to law is not British, and has been rejected by the British people. We do not want our Parliament to be effectively subjected to a foreign court.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights says the Government should only bring in new legislation if there’s found to be a gap in existing powers. It warns that a crackdown on religious conservatives could end up driving wedges between the communities. The Committee says there is no clear definition of what extremism actually is, the new measures could be used indiscriminately against evangelical Christians or orthodox Jews. The most precious asset is the support of the Muslim community and it could be undermined unless the Government treads with great care.
Karen Lumley, MP for Redditch County, on Wednesday (20 July 2016) held talks with Civil Servants in London to register her concerns over plans to build thousands of houses in Webheath.
Karen arranged the meeting in the wake of a planning inquiry into the borough's local plan, which appears to give the green light to some 3,400 new homes in Bromsgrove district from Webheath up to Bentley, with approximately 2,800 going in at Foxlydiate and 600 at Brockhill.
Karen wanted to air her concerns to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) before the summer Parliamentary recess, and she spoke to senior Civil Servants there.
Karen said: "I have been saying for a long time now that Webheath is simply not the right place to build this number of houses, despite what the inspector says.
"Due to the onset of the Redditch Eastern Gateway project, many of the employment opportunities that become available over the next few years will not be near Webheath where the infrastructure is inadequate in any case. Jobs will however be very accessible to the Bordesley area, and in my view that is where this enormous number of houses ought to be centred.
"Officials listened to my point of view. They are now going to fully examine the issues involved before putting the arguments before a Government Minister."
Karen has also asked for Redditch's Local Plan No. 4 (BORLP4), which provides a framework for future development in Redditch over the next 15 years, to be halted in line with the 2016 Planning Act to allow for further examination of proposals regarding Bordesley. This is up for public consultation anyway until mid-September.
Quick trip to the Dr and then to a certain shop to buy my departing senior assistant a present. Entered the Chamber at 1130 to watch our new Prime Minister handle her first PMQs. She was very good and spoke well, answering the questions put to her by a struggling Mr Corbyn. Well done, Theresa. I then enjoyed a farewell lunch with my office team as said goodbye to Jane, who has worked with me since I entered the House in 2010. We shall all miss her. A mass of correspondence to get through before the House rises for recess. Last vote at about 1830 and then on the road to Dorset.
Over the past few weeks, it has been fantastic to see the hard work of people working across our town being recognised. Swindon has always had a proud tradition of enterprise and innovation and I am pleased to see residents rewarded for their efforts.
Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 20 June 2016
As a continued supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society, Tracey is supporting the Kent Memory Walk, taking place on 1st October, and encouraging constituents to sign up for this fantastic cause.
As a continued supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society, Tracey is supporting the Kent Memory Walk, taking place on 1st October, and encouraging constituents to sign up for this fantastic cause.
Many of you have written to me asking my views on the forthcoming EU referendum, so I wanted to respond by letting you know why I will be voting to remain. Like you I only have one vote - but as you elected me to serve as your MP I have a duty to explain to you why I have decided to vote this way.
Jeremy will be holding a hustings event on the EU referendum at Haslemere Museum at the Wilfred Noyce Centre, Godalming, on Tuesday 21st June at 7pm.
As Attorney General from 2010 to 2014, I had plenty of opportunity to observe the workings of the EU and its impact on our country. The EU and its institutions exist to give effect to the Treaties by which its 28 member states agreed to create a single market in goods and services and promote co-operation in other fields including environmental protection, health and safety and security and policing. The UK enjoys a special position in not being bound by some parts of the EU Treaties.
Dominic Grieve on why Britain should remain in the European Union
The Award is named after Archbishop Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of the signing of Magna Carta.
The Award made from Fairtrade silver will be conferred on Sir Tony Baldry by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 31st March.
For further information click here.
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Rory Stewart MP met with local producers in Penrith last week to discuss the upcoming ‘Cumbria Day’ in London, which he is organising along with fellow Cumbrian MP’s; John Stevenson, Sue Heyman, Jamie Reed and Tim Farron. It would be the second event of its kind, celebrating Cumbrian business, and in particular, it’s speciality food […]
Hello. If you are reading this it might be because you want to sign up for my campaign to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. There is a separate site for this which can be found at this Tom for Deputy link.
The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!
“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.
“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.
“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.
“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.
“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.
“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.
“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.
“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.
Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.
I hope I still have at least one reader left!
Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.
Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.
“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”
Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.
“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”
The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.
Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".
But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.
The toll of death will continue to rise.