History made

A small piece of history was made in the Commons yesterday when for the first time because of the existence of the Fixed Terms Parliament Act there was a vote as to whether to hold an early general election. By 522 votes to 13 to Commons voted in favour of holding an election on 8th June. A few Labour MP’s voted against the idea. I am heading back to Bury today for the weekend. Inevitably a lot of election planning in between all my existing engagements and meetings.

Snap Election

Well, that was a surprise yesterday! I certainly was not expecting the PM to announce a general election. I was on the train down dealing with my usual mountain of emails when Lucy Powell the MP for Manchester Central tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I has seen the rumours on Twitter that there was to an early election. I had not. Within minutes it was confirmed. We are all back fighting a general election two years after the last one. As readers can imagine there is much to do. MUCH to do! If I am re-selected by the Bury North Conservatives to contest the general election this will be the sixth general election I have fought. Ususally I have been well prepared with literature written and campaign plans all in place. I now have to get to that position as quickly as possible. I am going to try and update my website as I usually do but from today I will not be undertaking to update it every single day. During election campaigns once we get into the main campaign period every day is pretty much the same. Get up, campaign, go to bed – repeat the next day.

Here in Parliament the Backbench Business Committee had a very short Committee meeting yesterday. We met only in private as there were no MP’s bidding for time. Just as well as we already have a backlog of debates we have approved and are awaiting time to allocate them. Now we know this Parliament is to be brought to an end quite probably as early as next week it is doubtful there will be anymore time.

Today, the big vote will be the vote on whether to actually have an early election. Under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 two thirds of MP’s have to vote for an election to end the five year term early. In the past the Prime Minister could have just gone to the Queen and seek a dissolution. The 2011 Act is a nonsense and should be repealed. I opposed it at the time if I can recall correctly.  As I  suspect today will prove how can any opposition party realistically oppose a motion to hold a general election! They would effectively be saying “no thanks we don’t want the chance to take over you are doing a a great job in government please continue! ” So I expect the motion will be passed today with the requisite majority indeed I am not even sure anyone will vote against the motion. Incidentally, the motion is now available on the order paper. It is a very short 9 words motion standing purely in the  name of The Prime Minister ‘That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.’

Commons Returns

The House of Commons returns to business today and I am heading back to London. Although a Tuesday we are sitting for Monday hours with a 2.30pm start and I anticipate a late finish. Business starts with questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I expect there will be at least a Statement from the Foreign Secretary to update the House on events in Syria and North Korea. I have a meeting of the Backbench Business Committee scheduled at 4pm so, depending on whether there is any other business such as Urgent Questions granted by the Speaker I will probably miss the Foreign Secretary’s statement. The main business will be the Second Reading of the Finance Bill arising from the Spring Budget.

Bury Local Plan Consultation Final Chance

The Consultation by Bury Council on the proposed local plan closes at 5pm today so what better opportunity on a Bank Holiday than to make your views known.

You can read about what is proposed and how to submit your views here:


The submission I have made is follows:

This submission is made in response to the ‘Notice of Intention to prepare the Bury Local Plan and invitation to make representations on what the Local Plan should contain’ issued pursuant to Section 18 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning)(England) Regulations 2012.

  1. It is clear from the said Notice and in particular the following statement:

Given that the GMSF will form an integral part of Bury’s development plan, it is important to note that the approach set out in the GMSF will need to be reflected in the Bury Local Plan. In particular, the Local Plan will incorporate and reflect the levels of growth, the strategic policy approach, strategic site allocations and any revisions to the Green Belt that may evolve through the GMSF.


that the scope for any local determination of planning policy will be severely constrained by the decisions taken by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and /or the Elected Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Consequently, I wish to place on record that I oppose the present proposed Greater Manchester Spatial Framework as set out in my submission to the consultation on that document.

  1. I believe Bury should make it clear they do not accept the premises on which the GMSF is based. The timeframe is unnecessarily long. The projected size of households is too low based on both historical records and the official projections of household size. The use of both a shorter timeframe, a more realistic projection of the size of households combined with greater housing density on existing brownfield land and future brownfields sites which can reasonably be expected to arise during the timeframe of the plan would remove the requirement for development on the existing green belt land.
  2. I believe Bury should make it clear to the GMCA that they will not approve any plan which involves the erosion of Bury’s existing protected green belt land. This position could be completely defended by the use of the official projections for population growth and household size.
  3. Subject to the above I believe that the Local Plan should require all the infrastructure to be in place before any new development is permitted. This must include roads, drainage and telecommunications (including the provision of superfast broadband). In the case of residential development it must be demonstrated that there is sufficient capacity in public services in particular GP’s and schools both primary and secondary to cope with increased demand.
  4. Given the recent problems with flooding throughout the Borough specific and additional consideration must be given to the risk of flooding not only to the proposed new properties but to the existing properties who may be adversely affected.

Back to Campaigning

I am off to join Conservative colleagues back on the campaign trail again this morning ahead of this years elections. I am then planning to go over to South Yorkshire to visit my father.

Good Friday

Whether you believe today marks the crucifixion of Jesus or not I hope everyone enjoys the start of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Let us spare a thought too for all those who are having to work over Easter.