I am both surprised and disappointed to hear that my colleague Douglas Carswell has decided to leave the Conservative Party and join UKIP. I have always had a great admiration for Douglas who has an independence of thought which is very refreshing.
I should say that I had absolutely no advance knowledge of this decision and at no time have I ever discussed this with Douglas.
Of course people will now be asking who will be next and as Chairman of the Better Off Out group of MP’s and Peers in Parliament I have no doubt my name will be the frame. I can say therefore that whilst I will continue to make the case for the UK leaving the EU – something I agree with Douglas and of course UKIP about – I intend to stay in the Conservative Party. We have made enormous progress since I was elected in May 2010. When I first put forward the idea of having an In/Out referendum in October 2011 there was a three line whip from all the main parties against the idea. Now the Conservative Party is putting a three line whip on a Private Members Bill which provides for an In/Out referendum in 2017. The only way we are going to get that referendum is to have a majority Conservative Government. Even UKIP accept there will not be a UKIP Government and there is a real danger that in many marginal seats voters will stop Conservatives being elected and allow Labour MP’s to be elected.
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill was announced in the House of Commons on 10 July. The Bill ensures that capabilities to fight crime and protect the public are maintained. It clarifies existing law without extending current powers. Some may think that it gives too much power to the Government but I am content that it only gives the powers the police and security services need in order to keep us safe,
Communications data is the context not the content of a communication. It can be used to demonstrate who was communicating; when; from where; and with whom. It can include the time and duration of a communication, the number or email address of the originator and recipient, and sometimes the location of the device from which the communication was made. It does not include the content of any communication: for example the text of an email or a conversation on a telephone. Communications data is used by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies during investigations regarding national security and, organised and serious crime. It enables investigators to identify members of a criminal network, place them in specific locations at given times and in certain cases to understand the criminality in which they are engaged.
Interception provides, under strict conditions and for a limited number of public authorities, access to the content of a communication. This Bill will not alter the existing safeguards which regulate interception. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will continue to require an interception warrant signed by the Secretary of State.
Today sees the first votes of the new session on the Queen’s Speech.
The Queen’s Speech outlined eleven new Bills which will be dealt with in the months ahead.
Armed Forces (Services Complaints and Financial Assistance ) Bill
Childcare Payments Bill
Modern Slavery Bill
National Insurance Contributions Bill
Pensions Tax Bill
Private Pensions Bill
Recall of Members of Parliament Bill
Serious Crime Bill
Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill
In addition to these Bills there are still half a dozen Bills which have been carried forward from the last session of Parliament which need to complete their passage through the House of Commons.
Taken together thee Bills will help to secure the economic recovery which is now underway. The difficult decisions taken by the Government have meant that the budget deficit has been reduced by a third. income tax has been cut for 25 million people and 1.5 million more jobs have been created.
There is of course much more still to do but it is only by sticking to the long-term plan the Government has embarked on that we will be able to secure a better future fur Bury and a Better future for our Country.
As promised when I spoke ahead of tonight’s Freedom Association Quiz Evening here is a summary of some of the points I made:
1. A lot has changed since I first moved a motion on the floor of the House of Commons that there should be an In/Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Back then in October 2011 all three main parties imposed a three line whip against the idea. Since then the Prime Minister has decided it is time the British people had their say and all credit to him for changing his position. Anyone who wants to leave the EU or indeed anyone who simply wants the right to have their say now knows the only way to achieve that is to ensure there is a Conservative majority Government in one years time.
2. The Prime Minister has made clear that his preferred option is to renegotiate the terms of our membership and then argue for us to stay in. The Prime Minister thinks it will be sufficient if a few powers are repatriated. Those of us who believe the UK would be better off outside the EU want to see all the powers we have lost brought back.
3. We have already seen in the last few days how it appears that power to control our own borders is not going to be recovered. I understand why those who want us to stay in do not want to set out any red lines: they would be used as a scorecard to judge the success of the re-negotiation. However, for many people who are very concerned about immigration ability to properly control our borders again is a red line issue and the fact that this has apparently already been given up on will have already persuaded them that they will need to vote to leave the EU when the time comes in 2017.
4. If a majority of voters are to be convinced to vote to leave the EU we must deal with the fears they have that somehow there will be job losses. More importantly we must also paint a positive picture of what life outside the EU would be like. A UK better able to compete once it is freed from having to comply with EU rules and regulations that the rest of the World are free from.
5. Finally, it is imperative that we build a broad-based coalition of voters including those who may generally support parties on the left of the political spectrum. There is no way we will have a majority with just Conservative and UKIP voters . This is above party politics. It is about the future of our Country
The very latest figures released today have confirmed that the British economy is continuing to grow providing further evidence that the Conservatives plan for rebuilding our economy is working.
Over the last quarter the economy grew by 0.8% and that means it has grown by 3.1% over the last year. It is only by having a growing economy that we can provide security for families and improve the living standards of hardworking families across Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington.
Encouragingly, for the first time in a decade all the three main sectors of our economy have grown by at least three per cent over the last year That mean growth in manufacturing, growth in services and growth in construction so this is a broadly based recovery and not one based on just one segment of the economy.
The 2014 budget has to be looked at, as all budgets do in the context of the overall economic position of the Country. The situation is still extremely difficult but it is better than it was four years ago.
The scale of the problem is demonstrated by the fact that even though the Government has reduced the annual deficit by a third the Country is still having to borrow an estimated £109billion this year just to pay the bills. No individual, no business, no organisation can continue for long paying out more than it gets in.
Fortunately, the economy is growing again. The latest forecast from the Independent Office of Budget Responsibility is that the economy will grow by 2.7% in the current year.
The reason why all this is important is that it is only because the Conservatives have a long-term economic plan which is making it possible to help savers. pensioners and families. In the long-term it is for the benefit of our children and grandchildren that we get the nations finances in order so we don’t pass the debts we have built up on to them.
I have just spent the last couple of weeks on jury service. I had never been selected before although Sue ( my wife was selected a couple of years ago so she had given me a bit of briefing). I had to report to Lancaster Crown Court. Originally 19 jurors were there then 3 were allowed to go. There is quite a bit of waiting to do as cases which are not trials are dealt with. Lancaster Crown Court is situated in the old Lancaster Castle and is the oldest Court in the Country. It is a great location.
12 jurors are randomly selected for each trial and my name was drawn out both times. When Sue went she missed out and never got to sit on a jury. Jurors are warned not to discuss the cases and I am therefore not going to make any comment at all about the two cases I sat on. I will say all the other jurors were a great group of people from all walks of life and it is difficult to think of a better system for determining the disputed facts of a criminal case.