Posted Tuesday, 13 December 2011 at 14:33
Yesterday I raised with Ministers at the Home Office the growing problem of metal theft, which is an issue I hear about more and more in my constituency post-bag.
Churches across the country have long been aware of the problems caused by thieves stealing the lead from their roofs, which is despicable but the problem is evolving to become much more troubling.
Man-hole covers are increasingly being targeted, leaving hazardous, gaping trip hazards on pavements and roads. But most worrying are the trends for thieves to steal signalling cables from railways and gas pipes from school buildings. The potential consequences of these crimes are catastrophic and are avoided only by continuing good luck.
The solution proposed by many is amending the Scrap Metal Dealers Act so that payments can no longer be made in cash but rather through traceable and accountable bank transfers. This is not a comprehensive solution but is certainly a step in the right direction.
I entirely support Bedfordshire Police in their efforts to clamp down on this dangerous but mostly opportunistic crime. The Government has shown itself to be willing to listen and act on the problem, but it now needs to show a bit more urgency.
Feet to the Fire
Posted Friday, 9 December 2011 at 10:09
David Cameron has done the only thing he could do and said ‘No’ to the French and German attempt to filch billions of pounds from our financial services sector to prop up their own failing currency.
However, in reality, there was nothing else he could do. If he had said ‘Yes’, Cameron understands that the fall out at home would have carried serious political consequences within his own party.
The next few days will be full of praise for his decision and rightly so, he finally displayed a degree of courage, even if only because the back benchers held his feet to the fire in order to get there.
However, the prospect of a trading block of 23 countries is a far greater threat to British interests than the seventeen we were facing yesterday and this will raise new questions in Parliament.
To continue on the periphery of Europe, not part of the club but bound by its pernicious rules and regulations, is not an attractive position for UKPLC to be in. An inner group of 23 rather than seventeen makes the case for a referendum greater than before. 23 are much more likely to seek to protect their own interests, particularly when it comes to trade.
This raises our need to become more competitive than ever before and the only way to do this is to repatriate many of the powers we have already conceded to Europe, including employment law. The only way to achieve this is via a referendum and hopefully an out vote.
Cameron may have wriggled away from the fire, however, when he returns to Parliament he will be walking into a very hot kitchen.
Newsnight and the EU summit
Posted Thursday, 8 December 2011 at 14:12
Following Newsnight last night I have been encouraged by the support my office has received today in the form of telephone calls and emails from people who are desperate that their voice is heard. One gentleman who called told a member of my staff that I had spoken on behalf of the party’s ‘grassroots’ members.
There is much hype regarding David Cameron’s visit to Europe this weekend. The visit will be hailed as a success as the PM will return having defeated any attempt to impose a ‘robin hood’ or transaction tax upon the City. In reality this shouldn't be a difficult outcome to achieve as it only requires a simple 'No'.
He will also attempt to bring back a guarantee for British business to protect our interest as a result of the 17 single currency countries forming a stronger fiscal union. In effect, they will become one country.
But anyone who believes that the seventeen countries will not act in some covert, protectionist way in order to support the new ‘union’ is sadly mistaken.
Southern European countries already have a healthy and inherent disregard for any European regulation and are notorious for doing their own thing. There is a strong attitude of ‘so what? Take us to court and be dammed'.
This is why no guarantee will work. Merkel cannot provide a guarantee to override the cultural habits of half a continent.
I have no doubt that the PM will return with some form of a guarantee for Britain as the last thing Merkel wants is a referendum in Britain. If Britain succumbs, other countries may follow suit and the effect such an event would have on the markets would be damaging for Germany. After all, it’s all about Germany.
A fiscal union of 17 EU members forming one new country and in effect a new trading block will have huge implications for Britain and British business.
It's time we gave the British people their say via a referendum.
The next two days will test the Prime Minister's courage and skills. If he misses this opportunity to grasp the nettle and give the British People their say, they may eventually make him pay with the one vote they will have.
Mail on Sunday and blog closing
Posted Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 11:08
Two links to the Mail on Sunday. The first is my own article (scroll down the page) re the 5.2% pay increase to the long term unemployed and the fact that this was a Lib Dem proposal. The Liberal Democrats also had the 1bn increase in working tax credit claimed by hard working parents scrapped in order that Nick Clegg could have a ‘policy’ to call his own re youth unemployment. The money had to come from somewhere so he took it from the hands of those who work to feed their children, in order that he could have pictures of himself beamed into kitchens at tea time looking earnest alongside a group of teenagers. That’s how desperate and shallow the Deputy Prime Minister is folks, just in case you hadn’t noticed already.
In the Sunday Times, which is behind a paywall, the statesman, Iain Duncan Smith vows to reverse the 5.2% hike.
The second article is about a rude councillor who has been suspended from his council for his offensive Twitter comments about Rob Halfon, that’s the MP who has pushed the Government to reverse its decision of a fuel duty hike and myself, who wants vulnerable women to be offered independent counselling before an abortion. Good to see Waveney council maintaining high standards.
I will very shortly be closing my blog down and using wider outlets for comment. My new web site to record parliamentary work only will be up and running as parliament returns following the Christmas break.
The orange, overweight, toupe wearing has-been strikes again!
Posted Friday, 2 December 2011 at 00:09
Andrew Neil to Gisela Stuart MP on This Week: "So, you are originaly from Germany Gisela, what's Angela Merkel thinking now?"
If it wasn't so funny I would ask, what am I paying my license fee for?
Posted Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 17:02
In the summer Parliamentary recess I led a delegation of MPs to Equatorial Guinea. This was undertaken at no cost to the taxpayer and in my own time. We went with open minds and were determined to report honestly on what we found. Our report was duly published and can be read here.
After we returned, the Labour MP Paul Flynn criticised us for going on the trip because it was paid for by the government of Equatorial Guinea. We had always been open about this but if you read the report you will see that we let nothing other than the facts come into our judgement of the country and its rulers.
Mr Flynn did not accept that using the money of a despotic government to shed light on the appalling way they run their country was a better way of spending it than on designer clothes, jewellery and expensive cars for their ruling elite.
After Mr Flynn aired his views about our trip to several national newspapers without talking to me to find out why we went and what we found out, I must admit to feeling a small sense of schadenfreude today after it has been revealed that Mr Flynn is accused of gross anti-Semitism and will be, according to one of his Labour colleagues, ‘summarily retired’ at the next election.
However, I wish Mr Flynn no ill. I just hope he now realises that his first phone call should have been to me or one of the other people involved rather than a journalist.