What David Cameron said at the Council of Europe

January 31, 2012

Following last week’s blogs, constituents have asked me what David Cameron said to the Council of Europe about the European Court of Human Rights.

When I was at the Council of Europe last week, the Prime Minister gave a convincing argument why the European Court of Human Rights must change. For a long time the Court has been viewed as a last judicial resort, when previous court hearings in their home countries, have not ruled in their favour; indeed for those in the UK, the issue of the possible deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada is a case in point. As the Prime Minister pointed out to politicians from the 47 member states: “The problem today is that you can end up with someone who has no right to live in your country, who you are convinced means to do your country harm. And yet there are circumstances in which you cannot try them, you cannot detain them and you cannot deport them;” and this is surely not a way in which you wish the country in which you live, to be governed?
So what is needed:
The Court needs to allow more subsidiarity to national supreme courts.
The Court has a backlog of 160,000 cases. A better filter is needed to screen out cases which are not in the Court’s jurisdiction.
Some countries need to implement human rights more effectively.
These are the key points made by the Prime Minister.

Strengthening links with China…

January 26, 2012

Oliver speaking to a Chinese Delegation

Britain is trying to strengthen links with China at all levels and George Osborne has recently visited China to develop trade and economic contacts. The Chinese are also interested in how our constitution works and our anti-corruption measures.

I was recently invited to speak to a delegation of elected officials from Shanghai about standards in public life. I was able to explain the development of thinking in this country over recent years, leading to the establishment of the Nolan Committee, subsequently the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and the introduction of IPSA and the role of the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee. The officials were well-briefed and took a keen interest in Nolan’s seven principles of public life. We had a lively discussion – or as lively as can be had via an interpreter – and it did seem that the highest echelons of local government in Shanghai are looking closely at emulating some of our procedures.

David Cameron taking Questions at the Council of Europe

January 25, 2012

David Cameron’s speech has been well received and he is now answering questions.

David Cameron Addresses Council of Europe

January 25, 2012

Here is David Cameron making his long awaited speech to the Council of Europe about the European Court, setting out Britain’s love of human rights, but the need to reform the European Court.

Reform of European Court of Human Rights

January 24, 2012

The photograph shows Europe Minister David Lidington speaking to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg about Britain’s plans, as this year’s Council Chairman, to reform the European Court of Human Rights. It is good to be here helping to argue for common sense change. The Prime Minister arrives tomorrow.

Daylight Saving Bill

January 20, 2012

I was very disappointed that the Daylight Saving Bill ran out of debating time today, when it was so close to going into law. I hope some extra time can be found.

I was pleased that the Live Music Bill succeeded, as this will really help budding musicians and the British music scene.

The proposed Estuary Airport….

January 20, 2012

I think that the idea of an Estuary Airport is well worth pursuing. For as long as I can remember there has been debate about the extension of Heathrow airport but popular consensus seems to have moved away from it. About a quarter of all homes affected by aircraft noise in Europe are close to Heathrow. Boris Johnson has taken a bold lead pressing the case for an Estuary solution.

Likewise, the prospect of extending Stansted Airport is not a suitable alternative either. No decisions have yet been taken about this project, but as the Chancellor made clear in his Autumn Statement, the Government will explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow and, if found to be appropriate, an Estuary Airport is a much better solution to address the issue of extra flight traffic. I will certainly continue to fight against Stansted’s expansion.

It will be necessary to take into account the wildlife which currently lives in the estuary area, but as we have seen in Washington DC, wildlife can be successfully relocated.

In the meantime, the Government will consult on a sustainable framework for UK aviation this spring and alongside this it will publish a call for evidence on maintaining an effective UK hub airport. I would also like to see the economics effects of building the Estuary Airport modelled, because I believe it would be a big boost to the economy and jobs.

Update on House of Lords Reform Bill Committee…

January 19, 2012

As I’m sure my avid readers are aware I am a member of the Committee which is reviewing the House of Lords Draft Reform Bill. We have been meeting for 6 months now and one of the prominent issues which has arisen is how each region and nation electing senators for the new second chamber will affect the power of the second chamber. The Government is suggesting that the senators to this chamber will be elected for 15 years but they will not able to stand for re-election. This raises the question of whether they will be truly accountable. Equally if both Houses of Parliament are elected, there is much more scope for gridlock with the two Houses disagreeing with each other as we have seen can happen in America –the Committee is therefore looking at ways of avoiding this problem. The committee has two more months of deliberation, by which time these difficult problems will have had to have been fully explored, if not resolved.


January 18, 2012

This Friday is Super-Friday for Private Members’ Bills – probably the last opportunity this session for a Bill brought forward by a Backbencher to make it through to become law.

There are 64 Bills queuing up for debate. They are listed for debate in the order below and a Bill is unlikely to become law without a debate, although it is not impossible. There is a real head of steam behind the first Bill, Rebecca Harris’s brave attempt to change the time. Her Bill would put the clock forward to give an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon. I have had letters from teachers and sports’ coaches welcoming this as encouraging out-of-school clubs and sports’ training. The last time this came up, there was quite some opposition locally and concern about Scotland, but this time there has been a strong postbag in favour. I intend to support Rebecca.

The second Bill, the Live Music Bill seeks to enable unamplified music to be played anywhere between 8am and 11pm without a licence, ending the situation where the playing of a piano in a street could be subject to fines. Where there are up to 200 people present in a pub or restaurant, or in workplaces such as a hospital or school, live music can also be performed between 8am and 11pm without a licence under the Bill.

The Live Music Bill has therefore been prepared as a modest way to tidy up the problems created by Labour’s 2003 Act to provide for a licensing regime that will enable small venues to develop bands, discover new talent and act as beacons for local music scenes. I suspect these two Bills will become law, but Bills further down the list are much less likely.

DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL: As amended in the Public Bill Committee, to be considered.

Member in charge: Rebecca Harris

For Amendments, see pages 3975-76 of Supplement to Votes.

LIVE MUSIC BILL [LORDS]: As amended in the Public Bill Committee, to be considered.

Member in charge: Don Foster


Member in charge: Mr Christopher Chope


Member in charge: Mr Peter Bone


Member in charge: Thomas Docherty


Member in charge: Mr Philip Hollobone


Member in charge: Valerie Vaz


Member in charge: Nadine Dorries


Member in charge: Andrew Rosindell


Member in charge: Zac Goldsmith


Member in charge: Zac Goldsmith

Future of High Streets

January 17, 2012

We are having a good debate (Tuesday 17th January) about the future of High Streets and Town Centres, a subject I have long campaigned about. Indeed last week I had two parliamentary questions answered about Mary Portas’s recent report. There is no doubt that retailers acting together with town centre managers and Chambers of Commerce can make a difference and Mary Portas also pointed out the importance of car parking availability and the need to avoid overburdening shoppers with charges and restrictions. This is not a time to make life more difficult and any help would be welcome.

It is also important that there is variety of shops in High Streets and many colleagues have spoken today against a few chains dominating. The challenge of internet shopping is to be considered. It is noticeable that people do like spending time in their towns and many make internet purchases follow research in stores. There is also a more positive picture with cafes, restaurants and takeaway food outlets. Government, NHS and local government can help by keeping and clustering facilities in town centres.

It is encouraging to see so much enthusiasm for our town centres. I will continue to press for action.