Parliamentary Technology

The Procedure Committee (which I sit on) has this week published its third report of the new Parliament dealing with the use of new technology in the Chamber of the House of Committee. Our previous two reports dealt with Ministerial statements and the use of Parliamentary Questions. Already it seems this latest report is attracting more media attention.

The House already allows the use of mobile phones to allow MP’s to check emails and many make use of this. The new report suggests that MP’s be allowed to use ipads and smartphones to replace speaking notes and provided they are always silent they can be use to reply to emails and those who wish may send Tweets using the micro-blogging site Twitter. It is this last point that seems to be attracting some comment. I took the view that if we were going to allow the use of these machines there was no way we could really enforce any rules about what they could be used for. The report will have to be debated and the House will then decide whether to adopt the new proposals.

Budget 2011

I have always maintained that what makes a good budget is not how it is reported in the media in the first 24 hours but how it is viewed after the analysts and experts have had chance to study the small print. I think that this years budget will be regarded as being the right mix of carefully targeted measures designed to boost private sector growth combined with the economic imperative of ensuring the budget deficit is one day eliminated.

Motorists will be glad that for the first time I can remember the price of petrol following the budget has gone down instead of up.

Those who complain about the complexity of our tax code will be pleased that swathes of complex rules and regulations are to be abolished.

The long term plan to merge tax and national insurance contributions is the first step on what I guess will be a long road which will really start to reduce the size and complexity of the tax system and ultimately make it easier for employers to employ people.

Libya

I will be voting in favour of the Government resolution tonight in support of our armed forces taking part in the enforcement of the United Nations resolution 1973.

The full resolution is as follows:

That this House welcomes United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1973; deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with others, in the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the No Fly Zone, including the use of UK armed forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

Voting in favour of putting our brave armed forces in arms way is one of the most difficult issues that a Member of Parliament has to face. I know from speaking to colleagues that many have thought long and hard before deciding to vote in favour of this resolution. I will post the result of the vote once it is known later in the day.

UPDATE The vote was carried by by 557 to 13.

The Peoples Pledge

Today The Peoples Pledge officially launches. The idea is to ask people across the Country only to vote for Candidates who will pledge to support an in/out referendum in Europe. I do support the idea of having an in/out referendum and I support the idea of this new initiative. It is a cross party initiative which has already attracted the support of two national newspapers. The campaign is supported by people who very much want us to stay in the European Union but it is no less valid for that. it is thirty-six years since the Country last had the opportunity to vote on our relationship with Europe and I think it is time the people of the United Kingdom were given the right to have their say on this vital issue.

UPDATE

I attended the well attended launch this morning of The Peoples Pledge at Altitude 360 in Millbank Tower. Representatives from both the Labour Party ( John Mann MP) and the Conservative Party ( Zac Goldsmith MP) spoke along with the distinguished economist (Ruth Lea) and representatives from the Green Party and the Trade Union movement. Thousands have already indicated their support so if you would like to have a say on the EU click on the link here and sign up!

Japan

The events of the past few days in Japan make us all realise hoe lucky we are. I often say that there are always people who are far worse off than we are. Natural disasters such as this demonstrate that even living in a highly developed nation does not shield you from the power of nature.