Although three days this week have been taken up with the consideration in Committee of the European Union Bill the announcement that the economy shrank ny half of one per cent in the last quarter of 2010 was probably the major news of the week. The thing that surprised me was the number of commentators and ( perhaps less surprisingly!) opposition politicians who suggested that this ought to result in the Chancellor changing has economic policy. I am sure he will not change and he absolutely right not to. There is no doubt that the problem with our economy is that we are spending more than we earn every month every year. Without balancing the budget the outcome is certain we will eventually be unable to borrow any more and the result will be that others will be telling us to make savings as the price for funding our spending.
There are times when the work of Parliament has very wide ranging and important effects despite not being widely reported. Such a case occurred yesterday when I spoke in the House in favour of a Bill introduced by the Rt. Hon Greg Knight the Member of Parliament for East Yorkshire. Having been drawn fifth in the ballot for private members bills Mr Knight used the opportunity to introduce a Bill to change the law relating to the law of succession. At the moment if a child murders their parent/s leaving a child surviving then not only can the murderer not benefit from the murdered parents estate (due to the application of the rule that a criminal should not profit from their crime) but also any child or children of the murderer are also unable to benefit from their grandparents estate. The children are being punished for the sins of their parent. This is because of the way the current law is drafted. A similar problem arises if a parent disclaims an entitlement. The proposed new law would remedy this problem by introducing the assumption that the parent predeceased the deceased and after a debate in the Commons yesterday the Bill was given an unopposed Second Reading and it will now be examined in detail at the Committee Stage and I have agreed to serve on the Committee that will examine this Bill.
After Question Time today the newly elected member for Oldham East and Saddleworth took her seat in the House. I had had the opportunity of saying Hello to he a short while before because she has been allocated the office next to mine.
There were no Urgent Questions and no Oral Statements to the House so after the 10 minute rule Bill which was about amending the Act of Settlement 1701 so as to allow the first born of the Monarch to succeed to the throne regardless of their sex. As a 10 minute rule Bill I suspect it will not be debated again.
The main business has been the final stages of the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill which if passed by the Lords will mean the next General Election will be on 7th May 2015.
The main business in The House of Commons today is the Second Reading of the Localism Bill which heralds a major transfer of power from central government to local government. It is a very substantial Bill which has a number of parts and indeed it is so lengthy that it has actually been published in two volumes, one containing the main clauses of the Bill and the other containing the numerous schedules. More details can be found here
When I was growing up one of the few things I remember knowing about China was that they dominated the World at the game of table tennis. I see today that for the first time in a major snooker final two players one from mainland China and one from Hong Kong are contesting the final of the Masters. With over a billion people to choose from I guess it is not all that surprising that Chinese sportsmen will become an ever more familiar sight on our television screens.
Sue and I took CeeCee to his dog training class in Bury this morning. I think it says alot about the outlook of local folk and dog owners particularly that despite the heavy rain the class was still as full as usual. I have to say I don’t think CeeCee was all that keen especially when he had to go into the down position and get his undercarriage wet!
Despite the rain I decided that because of the ice and snow over Christmas I had not been able to get to see a football match I would go down to Gigg Lane and watch the Shakers play Aldershot. After falling behind to an early goal Bury went in 1-0 down at half time and I feared the losing run might continue. However the Shakers battled well in very difficult conditions in the second half and equalised to secure another point in their push for promotion.
Notwithstanding the combined might of CCHQ, a visit from the Prime Minister and an excellent local Candidate the Conservatives started in third place before the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election and are still in third place after the by-election. I have to say I am not altogether surprised Labour held on I remember campaigning in Winchester back in 1997. The Conservatives lost on General Election day by just two votes; the losing Conservative Candidate won the right to a re-run after a Court battle and lost the re-run by about 20,000 votes if I remember correctly. It seems voters do not take kindly to the Courts ordering re-runs of election whatever the reason!
Having returned from Westminster last night I have been working in the Constituency office today and also held one of my regular surgeries.