Every say this week I am hosting constituents in parliament, and we have debates on the Health Services Medical Supplies Bill, the Criminal Finances Bill and debates on Wednesday on Yemen, in particular. I am heading north on Thursday and will be filming the Sunday politics live on Friday at the BBC in Newcastle.

Pity the poor people of Aleppo and Mosul. Pity the poor children. Our hearts go out to those who face the bombs and bullets, and try to survive in such war torn cities.

The west is rightly united in condemning the atrocities in Aleppo. The UK Foreign Office has made clear its fury, stating that “The actions of Assad and Russia are driving radicalisation and fuelling terrorism, not tackling it”. Many have protested to demand the West does more, and many MPs have spoken in the Commons of the need to relieve the pain.

The problem is what can the West do that can make the situation better? A much reviled but internationally recognised government in Syria has asked for Russian help. The area is now well armed by Syrian forces. President Obama has judged that any military intervention by a US led coalition would make the position worse so he is not proposing to try landing NATO troops or inserting more western warplanes and missiles into a highly explosive situation with all too many bombs already. Those the West would best protect might not welcome a full frontal war between the West and Assad, given the intensity of the violence that would require. Assad is able to exploit the unwillingness of the outgoing President to undertake more intense military action, and the delay before a new President. Mrs Clinton might be more belligerent.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government is seeking to evict ISIL from Mosul and the surrounding area by using substantial military force on the ground. Most agree that ISIL is a dangerous terrorist grouping with links to Al Qaeda affiliates. The problem is a military solution entails a lot of death and destruction. ISIL kill, maim and cow the civilian population, They may now take human shields and expose them to more risk as the Iraqi forces draw nearer. Let us hope that the action to recapture lost territory by the Iraqi forces does not lead to an ISIL inspired massacre.

There are no easy answers for this war torn and troubled part of the world. I Just thought I would give you, my readers, the chance to say your piece on these two conflicts. In the end these countries have to be stabilised by a political process. Governing forces have to emerge that can govern by laws and civil justice, not by force of arms. This still seems a long way off. Gaining military advantage for one side or the other does not necessarily speed a peace.

The referendum result has now handed Britain an historic opportunity to craft a new system of free trade, both with Europe and with the rest of the world.
Two weeks ago, I attended the 2016 GWPF (Global Warming Policy Forum) lecture at The Royal Society by Matt Ridley. My attendance, in itself was enough to draw down upon my head bucketfuls of contemptuous ire. The problem is that both the GWPF and Matt Ridley are open minded about the scale of dangerous global warming, and the appropriate public policy response to it. To many of those involved in what I will refer to to as the 'green' lobby, (and this is not meant to be disparaging) no right thinking person should even listen to any view other than that the world is facing catastrophe unless we make massive cuts to carbon emissions. We are simply told that the science is settled. There must be no further debate. My attending the Ridley lecture was akin to attending a meeting of devil worshippers intent on sacrificing virgins. Well, I think it's wise to listen to 'alternative' thinkers. Turned out it was a very good lecture. And thought provoking.

Matt Ridley began his lecture by telling us he agreed that we are experiencing a degree of global warming, and that he accepts the scientific consensus - which is that global warming is real, but not necessarily dangerous. There are several scenarios, ranging from harmless to catastrophic, according to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), with the extreme predictions of dangerous climate change being very unlikely. That's not too far from what I think. But being instinctively a cautious man, I tend to lean towards the opinion that we should decarbonise as quickly as we reasonably can.

First part of the lecture was about the extent of 'global greening' - the degree to which vegetation covers the face of the earth. I've not considered this as I should have done. We all know that more carbon dioxide makes plants grow more quickly. Indeed I'm told some glasshouse growers maintain high CO2 environments to encourage growth. Matt Ridley claims there has been a huge growth in global greening over recent decades, which he further claims is the result of higher levels of CO2. This seems highly credible to me. There was a whole lot more as well.

I'm not a scientist, and have no wish to enter into any sort of debate about the science. Neither do I feel competent to judge most of the speech, though I did find it informed and interesting. What I do find really interesting, and the inspiration for this post is that I do not think Government policy should be based on a partial view of science. I like to make judgements based on evidence. So often, I hear the greatest advocates of action to limit climate change as dismissive of any questioning. It's a mistake. In the end, governments the world over will be guided by evidence - or science delivered as evidence. I think Matt Ridley deserves to be listened to. At least his speech to the GWPF deserves to be read.
In the past ten days, several constituents have reported being increasingly subject to hateful abuse over their race or nationality in London, Oxford and Wycombe. Recently, I attended a conference where UK Christians described acts of persecution they had suffered after converting here at home. Hateful abuse like racism and religious persecution is and always will be intolerable. As this website has set out for years, I believe in equality before the law and freedom, including freedom of religion. Every […]

There is a welcome call from the British Medical Association to create a helpline for those suffering side effects of prescribed medicines. On Thursday I raised the new threat in Commons Business Questions. I will press for a debate.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)

The total number of deaths caused in America by the side effects of opioid drugs has now grown to a larger figure than the ​total number of people killed there by road traffic accidents, guns and terrorism. Given that the use of those drugs is increasing in this country, and given that our usage of them amounts to a third of that throughout the continent of Europe, may we debate the terrible dangers that result from medicines that are more deadly than the maladies?

Mr Lidington (Leader of the House)

The hon. Gentleman has looked at drug use and drugs policy for many years, so I listen with some respect to what he says. There will be the opportunity to question Home Office Ministers about this on 31 October, and I suggest that he take advantage of that opportunity.


On Wednesday there was a very enthusiastic meeting of the Commons All-Party Group on Prescribed Medicines Harm. Four experts gave fascinating, disturbing accounts of he scale and serious nature of damaging addictions and rising numbers of death from the use drugs-usually prescribed for transitory mild ailments. A vivid account was given of a life of a young journalist that was reduced to the inactivity of chronic addiction. The issue will receive a great deal of long over-due publicity in the next few days.

Among the inveterate campaigners are Barry Haslam and my former colleague Jim Dobbin who chaired the APPG before his tragic death on a Council of Europe visit to Poland. Jim was a Papal Knight, a fine MP,  a microbiologist and a rare MP scientist who understood the scourge of addiction and deaths caused by the careless prescription of dangerous addictive drugs.


Campaign news

The BBC Victoria Derbyshire episode can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07zmmgx/victoria-derbyshire-19102016 starting at 13.05 with the accompanying article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37682355

The BBC Radio 5 programme can be heard here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07zxrdb after broadcast which is at 11am

I am delighted that Camborne Recreation Ground has been preserved as a community facility following a major campaign and a petition by 5000 local people.  There is now an agreement between Cornwall Council and the Town Council to a 99 year lease which also secures the home of Camborne Rugby Club and the best rugby ground in the county for decades to come.

Camborne RFC has less than twenty years to run on their current lease. This has made it difficult for the club to acquire grant funding to improve the current facilities. The certainty that this agreement secures means the Club can now plan its future with confidence.

Two weeks ago I watched Camborne beat Salisbury 56-19 and the ground looked perfect: almost like a cricket pitch.  My father used to play for Camborne and a couple of years ago he deployed his farming knowledge to improve the ground.  He would be proud to see how well the team is performing this year.

Camborne Rugby Club has really been on the up in recent years.  They have recently been promoted from Tribute South West 1 West to National League 3 South West. They have also won all six of their first games this year in the higher league.  

The club also have teams for each year age group, and are also good at playing younger players in the main team so that they gain valuable experience. There has been a strong team spirit because the players quickly progress through the Colts and into the Chiefs and get used to playing rugby together.

I think that amateur sports clubs like this have a crucial role to play in our community. We need to have the club structures there to support and encourage children into the sport they love. Groups like this are the bedrock of our society and we need to support them.
Mock up ‘Hy'-end Magazine Boost for Hyndburn Scott Dawson Advertising is launching a brand new feel-good glossy publication for the Lancashire district of Hyndburn. LIFE:STYLE Magazine plans to promote the positive side of Accrington and its surrounding areas appealing to tourists, business investors, heritage, music and culture fans. Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, pictured, said: "I am thrilled

During the referendum campaign, there was one thing Remainers and Leavers agreed on: that a vote to Leave meant leaving the European single market. Who are Nick Clegg and co. kidding by denying that now?

One of the Remain rearguard's transparent attempts to subvert the referendum result is to make out that Leave voters didn't know what they were voting for. "17.4 million people might have voted for Brexit", they say. "But they didn't vote for a particular kind of Brexit".

"Brexit", they expect us to believe, is just an empty word. It can mean anything you want it to mean. What the majority thought it meant when they voted for it is an unfathomable mystery.

Except, as anyone who was hasn't erased their memory of the last nine months knows, it's not. Throughout the referendum campaign, Brexit campaigners consistently made it clear what a vote to Leave meant. In short:

  • No more EU budget contributions
  • No more freedom of movement
  • Full Parliamentary sovereignty
  • Control over our trade policy – by leaving European customs union
  • Access to – but not membership of – the European single market

The fact that a Leave vote entailed leaving the single market was always a key plank of the Leave campaign. But it wasn't just Brexiteers who said so – although we did, repeatedly. Remainers said so too. The evidence, conveniently compiled by the Daily Politics, is clear (H/T Guido Fawkes).

Voters weren't kept in the dark. On the contrary: the majority made a deliberate choice to quit the single market.


Not because they didn't know what it meant, but because they did. Because single-market membership entails accepting the four freedoms, including freedom of movement. Because – above all – it means Britain couldn't become a sovereign nation again.

Staying in the single market would mean many of Britain's laws would still be made by a foreign, supra-national government without the consent of the British people. The question as to who should make Britain's laws wasn't a side issue in the referendum campaign. It was absolutely central.

Apparently it's too much to expect that trying to impose an outcome that the majority of voters expressly rejected would be beneath the dignity of elected representatives. But they should know better than to think voters won't notice.

Karen Lumley, MP for Redditch County, is urging residents who have an interest to go along and examine plans for the Redditch Eastern Gateway project.

The proposed £85m industrial development is sited east of the town at the junction of the A4032 and A435 and close to Ravensbank Business Park. The 75-acre site could see the creation of up to 2,500 jobs and almost one million square feet of new office and industrial space.

Developer Stoford, working alongside two landowners, are carrying out a public consultation ahead of the submission of a planning application later this year, and residents are invited to a public exhibition on the project this weekend.

Karen said: "This is a project which I am 100 per cent supporting. It will provide jobs and the potential for a huge cash injection into the local economy.

"I urge local residents to try and get along to the exhibition and have their say."

The exhibition takes place at the Blue Inn Hotel, off Far Moor Lane today (Friday, 21 October) from 3pm to 8pm, and Saturday, 22 October between 11am and 3pm.

Redditch Gateway, which was boosted by £1.8m in funding from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), is located close to the M40 and M42, with a drive time of just 20 minutes to Birmingham International Airport and railway station.

Tonight at the Rye Hill Tenants & Residents Hall, the residents of Solomon’s Passage got the opportunity to put their concerns directly to senior Wandle staff, including the Chief Executive Tracey Lees and Newman Francis, who is the appointed Independent Resident Advisor.


We discussed a number of ongoing issues and it is clear that some residents still feel worried and anxious about their housing future and communication with Wandle continues to be a problem.

I will continue to work with Wandle and Newman Francis to ensure all Solomon’s Passage residents are clear about their housing future and to make sure their options are fair.

Many thanks to Miriam Facey, Chair of Rye Hill TRA for arranging the use of the Rye Hill TRA Hall for this meeting.

This case has been reported in the media today. I have linked to the judgment for the case. To give a summary of the recent timescales: On 18th August 2016 Mrs Teresa Kirk was sentenced to a 6 month suspended sentence for not signing over a man in his 80s to an anonymous council (one presumes in England or Wales given the jurisdiction of the court). She was arrested on Sunday 25th September at

My father died just over a year ago. I dreamt about him last night. Thinking about him, I’m reminded of two things today: first, that he loved me; and second, that he was – to put it mildly – puzzled by my choice of profession. He never saw the point of parliament, which he thought a ‘giant talking shop.’ […]

The post The Public Point of View appeared first on Rory Stewart.

I have been told by South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group that the current contract holders at Studley Health Centre have given their 6 month notice to terminate their contract. SWCCG are now considering two options, either the GP services will continue with a new provider, or patients will be asked to register with another local practice. All patients at Studely Health Centre should have been contacted for their opinion, you can do this online by completing this survey. Alternatively you can contact them by email at contactus@southwarwickshireccg.nhs.uk or by post at the following address:  NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Market Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 4DE There will also be a drop in session at Studley Village Hall, High Street, Studley, Warwickshire, B80 7HJ on Thursday 11th August between 4pm and 6pm The deadline for all comments is 5pm on Monday 22nd August 2016. Please take these opportunities to let SWCCG know your thoughts on what the future of this GP practice should be.  ...

Sir Tony Baldry is to receive a new Award from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Langton Award for Community Service.

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.

This morning, first thing, I dropped by the Esher and Molesey Royal Mail delivery office. It's an opportunity to see first hand just how busy our local postmen and women get at this time of year.

Mark Peters, the office manager, showed me round, how the systems work, and the kinds of challenges they have to grapple with - from rotweilers to bad handwriting on envelopes. I met a few of his team in the process. Good luck to all our postmen and women at this festive but hectic time!

Quietly and surreptitiously Osborne is marking out his pitch for the leadership,   The trouble is, it’s thoroughly bad pitch.   By denigrating opponents of privatisation he has set his face against the 70% of the population who earnestly want rail re-nationalised, a proportion so large that it must include nearly half who’re Tories.   … Continue reading Osborne stirs up more shit in which to bury himself in
With regards to today’s news from the High Court, my solicitors, Clifford Chance, have prepared this statement on my behalf: "This petition was part of Mr Ireland's continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the p...
Between 2010 and 2015 I was the Minister of State for Pensions and continue to take an interest in pensions issues.  I tweet regularly (@stevewebb1) but occasionally 140 characters doesn't quite do justice to the wonderful world of pensions.   I have therefore relaunched this blog site as an occasional location for pensions thoughts.

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.

“Finally, I would like you to vote for me because there is still more that needs to be done – for all the reasons I got into politics. We need stronger public services. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. We need to fight for a community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I’d like to be a part of that work for the next five years.”
Am I the only one who has found that the rise and rise of twitter (and to an extent) facebook has eaten their blog? Despite the best of my intentions, I have ended up posting minute by minute stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Does this say something about our ever diminishing attention-spans as a society? Or just about me not being very good at managing the blogger app on my iphone...?   Who knows.  But be warned - this blog may not be updated as much as it should be. A big blue bird came and ate it up.

Make sure you stay up to date with all of James’s news by liking his Facebook page!


So, avid readers will notice that I've been a little absent in the blogging world over the past few months.  I've been busy, which isn't an excuse as we are all busy, I know, but writing a blog can't be top on the list of my priorities so posts on here have fallen by the wayside a little bit, sorry.

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!
Shadow Fisheries Minister Tom Harris has welcomed a campaign by representatives of the smaller fishing industry to win a fairer share of UK fishing quotas.

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.”
I recently organised a meeting with a number of local residents about the upkeep and maintenance of Kew Bridge Railway Station. I met with representatives from Strand on the Green Association, St George's, Kew Green, The Kew Bridge Society, Express Tavern, West Thames River Group, a disability interest group, Friends of Stile Hall Gardens, Brentford Community Council and Network Rail.
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 Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has welcomed the Localism Bill published by the Government on 13 December. The Bill will give individuals, groups, and their local councils a much greater say in decisions affecting their local communities.


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.”


Starting with a Bang

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.
Desperate to prove they are doing something about the rising toll of deaths from guns and knives the government have resorted to the old idea of an "amnesty." This will enable a few aging war veterans who collected a "souvenir" and some farmers who forgot to renew their shotgun licenses to hand over guns that would never have been used for any kind of crime. Some of the younger "wannabe" gansters may also find that their weapons, usually replicas, are handed in by angry mothers.

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.