Monday’s schools’ visits (From the archive)

June 30, 2008

I had two separate schools’ visits from Letchworth Garden City to the House of Commons today.

These were 6th Formers from St Francis in the morning and Fearnhill in the afternoon – two good local schools.

With St Francis, I held a Q&A with the young students. We started on the dire state of the economy, but the focus soon turned to the Education and Skills Bill. A lively debate ensued – with one bright girl asking me four questions! A possible parliamentarian of the future, no doubt. Then I showed the students and teacher Mary Fenton round the building. As always, they were bowled over by the sheer grandeur of the Westminster Palace and its history.

In the afternoon, Fearnhill students – with teacher Jan Lindsay – popped in after a London conference on conflict. We talked about the current conflict in Zimbabwe and I drew upon my recent experiences in South Africa, where I met displaced Zimbabweans and delegations from neighbouring countries and spoke about security and human rights at an international conference.

We finished and I went on to speak in the House on the subject of Energy Security, which gave me a chance to call for better measures on energy efficiency and renewable energy, but to raise concerns about on-shore wind-farms in Hertfordshire.

Ireland Lisbon Treaty Referendum (From the archive)

June 27, 2008

On the subject of the Irish recently voting against the EU Constitution, the so-called Lisbon Treaty, I just think it’s wrong that we have not had our chance in the UK to have our say on this treaty.

As Frederick Forsyth, the author and my best known constituent, was saying to me on Sunday, it is a denial of democracy that the Labour Government went into the last General Election promising a referendum on the EU Constitution but now they have backed out. We Conservatives will continue to press for a referendum in Parliament and I still hope that the House of Lords will come to the rescue of the people on this fundamental issue.

Of course, it shouldn’t be like that, it should be the House of Commons that is standing up for the people’s rights.

David Davis’ stunning decision (From the archive)

June 18, 2008

Many constituents have been in touch asking what I think about David Davis’ stunning decision to force a by-election.

I strongly support David’s views on the 42 days’ detention and about the erosion of liberty under this Government. Many of us Conservatives have found the Government’s actions disgraceful and demeaning to a democracy and the way in which the 42 days’ vote was won was disgraceful. When I see our rights and liberties that our forebear fought so hard for abused and betrayed in this manner I can understand David’s fury.

I was stunned when I heard that David had resigned his seat in order to fight a by-election. Nothing like this has happened in my 16 years. It is a very unusual move, designed to open up a national debate about the erosion of civil liberties, which is very brave of David. Of course it is not yet clear whether it will work but I will certainly be supporting his campaign for re-election. The absence of a Labour Government candidate shows how frightened Gordon Brown is of this issue. It would have been valuable for the people to have heard how feeble their arguments are, I do hope that David will still be able to open up this vital issue for national debate.

Today’s Committee on Standards in Public Life Meeting (From the archive)

June 10, 2008

Took the train to London this morning thinking about today’s Committee on Standards in Public Life Open Meeting – a televised event and launch of our annual report.

I expect the meeting to be packed because the areas we cover are very topical at the moment, particularly MEP/MPs’ allowances, where the Committee has laid down principles for the House of Commons to follow in improving the system. I remember the Committee being set up after the sleaze scandals of the mid 1990s’ that rocked British politics.

At the meeting Chairman Sir Chris Kelly replied to the BBC that the Committee wants to ensure that our guiding principles become practice. We believe we must ensure value for taxpayers and a transparent system.

Further questions followed and I answered questions about electoral fraud and Party funding, where the Committee’s recommendations are waiting for Government action.