The debate on the Fusiliers motion was excellent yesterday. John Baron in whose name the motion stood on the order paper opened the debate and set out the main reasons why the Second Battalion should be retained. There were thoughtful and sensible contributions from both sides of the House and the Minister clearly did not enjoy having to try and defend the Government’s position. The public gallery was full of former Fusiliers and the Parade and they all applauded when John had finished speaking although the security glass is so thick we can hardly hear it in the Chamber. I was delighted I was called to speak and at the end of the debate John asked if I would act as one of the tellers for the Ayes. Tellers are the people who count the number of MP’s who vote on each side. Both the Government and Opposition front benches had decided not to take part in the vote and so less than 10% of MP’s actually voted but for the record the Motion was carried by 57 votes to 3.
There is a debate today in the House of Commons on the following motion:
That this House opposes the disbandment of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF); notes that 2RRF is the only infantry battalion being cut that was not initially due for disbandment on military grounds; further notes that 2RRF was instead caught by the Government’s additional criteria of only one battalion loss per regiment and no deletion of cap-badges, which has resulted in more poorly-recruited Scottish battalions being saved; further notes the social and economic costs of disbandment; and urges the Government to reverse its decision.
I have put in a request to speak in the debate and hopefully I will be called. Hundreds of retired Fusiliers will be parading through London and many will be attending the debate.
I was delighted to be able to welcome the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester to St. Anne’s Tottington this morning when he joined our annual harvest festival service. It was a ‘Parade’ service with standards being presented by the various uniformed organisations and as is now traditional their members contributed a small mountain of food and drinks for use by the Booth Centre in Manchester. Unfortunately, the Lord Lieutenant had to leave after the service in order to get to his next engagement down in Bury which is a pity as he missed the superb harvest lunch buffet.
I visited the great local charity Re>Build before going down to Birmingham for the Party Conference . The following is the press release issued following that visit:
Whilst many people will be aware of the fantastic work RE>BUILD does in providing new homes for used pre-loved furniture they also provide great work opportunities for young people and adults looking to get back into the workplace.
“ I have been very impressed by the quality and range of the furniture and other household goods available at RE>BUILD. Many people will be aware of the shop on Tithebarn Street off The Rock but there is also a huge range of furniture and stock at the Park Road warehouse. The charity is providing valuable opportunities for people to learn new skills whilst cutting down the amount of used furniture that would otherwise be sent to landfill.”
Liz Jackson the Chief Executive of RE>BUILD said “It was great to have this opportunity to show our M.P. round and explain our work in more detail. Many people know our furniture reuse project, but aren’t aware of the work we do with people from many different backgrounds. People are at the heart of everything we do and today this was enabling those with additional support needs to paint garden planters. Tomorrow it might be bringing young people in to refurbish bicycles while building team-work skills. No two days are the same!”
David added “ I have sent furniture to RE>BUILD and I would urge anyone who is replacing furniture to consider whether RE>BUILD could make use of any items of furniture they no longer need.”
To donate furniture or find out more, you can contact RE>BUILD on 0161 764 0444 or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org `
Millions on account holders with RBS who have been expecting the transfer of their accounts into the hands of Santander will be surprised to learn today that the deal is off. I have been a RBS account holder for decades so I know how they feel. I was one of the account holders who was told the account was being given over to Santander. Not something I wanted and whilst I know I could decide to move my account quite frankly changing a current account is such a hassle I decided to sit tight. So for the moment actually I, and I suspect many others, will be quietly relieved. Unfortunately, RBS are still need to try and sell hundreds of branches by the end of next year so millions of RBS account holders could still find themselves under the wing of another a bank.
These customers may well ask why? Why should RBS be forced to sell off some branches. There is hardly a demand for it. Well it is all down to the rules of the European Union. When the NatWest and RBS were bailed out by the Government the EU decided to intervene and say that if our Government were going to help one of our Banks they were going to intervene and tell us – or rather tell RBS – what to do. Yet another reason why I believe we would be better off out. Why should the EU tell the Companies of this Country what to do? As usual with the EU there is no question of consulting the customers. Simply a case of do as we say.a
Bad news today from British Gas that prices are on the up next month.
Good news from the Government this week that Council Tax Bills will be frozen for a third year.
At least Phil Bentley the Managing Director of British Gas has written to me directly today with the news and I have set out below what he has said so you can all read it:
I know this will be unwelcome news at a time when household budgets are already stretched. I hope you can take a few moments to read this email so that I can explain why we’ve made this decision and – most importantly – what help is available for our customers.
We are raising prices because costs that are outside of our control are going up.
- Britain’s North Sea gas supplies are running out. We’re having to buy more energy on international markets. (A few years ago we were a net gas exporter; today we import more than 60% of our gas needs.) The price of purchasing this energy at the market rate has risen by around 13% since last winter.
- The rising cost of the important upgrade to Britain’s national grid is being funded via energy bills.
- The costs of various government policies to ensure we have a clean, green, energy efficient future – which we support – are also rising significantly.
These three costs make up 85% of a British Gas bill – all are rising – and we have no control over them. There are two parts of a bill that we do control – making up the remaining 15%. Of these, our operating costs (10%) are down and our profit margins are flat at 5p in the pound. But rising prices don’t necessarily mean rising bills. There is lots of help available to our customers in Bury North to keep their bills under control. We are already helping your constituents:
- Free loft and cavity wall insulation. This can save a home hundreds of pounds a year. 1022 homes in Bury North have already been insulated by British Gas, saving them a total of up to £178,850.
- Warm Home Discount. Last year, we gave 285,000 customers the Warm Home Discount. Last year in Bury North, 557 received £120 credit on their electricity bill – totalling £66,840. Eligible constituents will receive £130 this year.
- Grants from the British Gas Energy Trust: We have invested £41 million in the Trust which gives grants to customers to help with bills. 29 households in Bury North received £36,455 worth of grants in 2012 so far.
We recently sent you a pack outlining all the ways you can help your constituents access support with their energy needs this winter. If you would like to receive another copy then please let me know.
I know that this price increase is unwelcome. But energy efficiency is the way to deal with rising bills. Please encourage people in Bury North to contact us and take advantage of our free insulation offer, as well as the other help and support available. We can be contacted on 0800 980 1917. We are currently embarking on the Green Deal and the roll-out of smart meters – it is important that energy companies and politicians speak up for the value of energy efficiency to support these schemes.
A word on our profits – often the first question we get asked when we raise prices. We make 5p in the pound on average, and have done since 2009. With that profit we invest in new energy supplies for Britain, energy efficiency for a cleaner energy future, help for those who need it most, and – as you heard earlier this week – jobs. We employ 35,000 people and have just announced a thousand new apprentices. Without our profits we wouldn’t be able to continue with these investments.
I am not slow to offer constructive criticism of my Party Leadership if I think they are going down to wrong route on a particular issue but I thought the PM’s speech yesterday summed up for me why I and millions of others suppor the Conservative Party. He set out in simple clear terms why it is that in order to help the poorest in Society you have to more than simply tax the already rich and wealthy and give their money to those who have less. Of course we as a Society have to provide for those who need help but welfare must not become a way of life. A lifestyle choice as some have called it.
Of course those who believe in Socialism will howl with objections but the fact is that more taxing and yet more borrowing can not be the answer to Britain’s problems. We need to compete on the World stage. It is this need to compete on the World stage which is why I believe we would be better off outside of the European Union (something Mr Cameron has yet to catch up with me on!). Taxing our entrepreneurs and risk takers will simply drive them away. If we are to have good quality public services we need as many high earners in the Country as possible!