Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 16:44
I was thrilled to receive this picture from Meppershall Baby and Toddler Group. It is now proudly displayed on the wall in my Westminster office.
Gypsy and Traveller Sites in Mid Bedfordshire
Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 10:33
I passed some Gypsies and travellers the other day and thought I would take a couple of pictures. It’s not how I choose to live but I respect their wish to live as they want.
If they applied for a pitch in Mid Bedfordshire to help them through the winter, before they travelled on, I wouldn't object.
What I do object to though is people who use the ethnic grouping classification of 'gypsy and traveller' to apply to live in some of the most prestigious villages in Bedfordshire when, in fact, I travel more than most of the applicants do.
One recent G+T applicant in Bedfordshire who applied for a pitch was discovered to be a home owner in Leicestershire.
My surgery on Friday was long, fractious and dominated by residents complaining about the fact that Central Bedfordshire is being forced to allocate yet more G+T sites.
Not one of the proposed sites is anywhere near public transport, employment opportunities, health care facilities, or schools.
If genuine G+Ts wish to settle down then may I suggest they do what the rest of the British population have to do. You need to get a job and save up for a number of years before you can expect to live in villages like those which have been proposed in Central Beds.
The people who live in those villages are able to do so because they worked hard, saved up and aspired to move to a rural location. You need to do the same.
One householder in Maulden has been advised by an estate agent, now that the site has been proposed, he would have to virtually give his house away if he wanted to sell it.
The house is his pension, he wants to downsize but now he can't. Having brought up his family he now faces his retirement in a large house with big bills and decreasing disposable income for no other reason than a site has been proposed at the back of his house.
Even if the proposed site is struck off and doesn't get to the final cut, the damage is still done until something of some description is built at the back of his house to remove the possibility of it becoming a G+T site in the future.
Central Bedfordshire has taken more than its fair share of G+T sites whereas other areas haven't. It’s time for other councils to step up to the plate and do their bit.
Warwick Uni Conservatives
Posted Friday, 22 February 2013 at 09:40
Yesterday evening I spoke to the Warwick University students Conservative Association. Last week I spoke to the London Universities Student Conservatives and over the next two weeks I have two more student engagements.
It is a whole new ball game addressing a group of incredibly sharp and politically aware students.
Thanks to everyone at Warwick, sorry that not everyone who attended is in the photos. I had a great time and thank you for making me so welcome.
Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 13:22
A newly divorced MP recently attended court for a child custody hearing. An hour before the hearing his barrister gave him some advice: drop your request for custody. You live in three locations, Westminster, your constituency and the town where your children were born and are educated. Your working hours and commitments mean it is very unlikely the judge would agree unless you first agree to give up your job.
The barrister came to that conclusion without even knowing about IPSA.
Last week, IPSA posted on its web site an announcement stating that it is going to investigate my expenses under two categories, but did not say why.
This resulted in a wave of hate email and threats which rained down on my head, including a threat to firebomb my home.
IPSA was established in 2009 to administer MP’s expenses. Before I bore anyone with the facts of my investigation I would just like to ask the question, does anyone know of any company or organisation which has a budget of almost eight million pounds per year to process the expenses of six hundred and fifty employees?
No, I don’t either, but that’s what IPSA charge the taxpayer. It is infinitely more than was ever mis-claimed by any MP each year. After a few years of operation, with set up costs, IPSA must have cost us all circa 20 - 30 million pounds and counting.
One has to ask, isn’t there a better way than this? How many A+E departments would that money have saved? How much of that thirty million could have gone into a social care budget? I am not of course advocating a return to the old system because MPs like myself need to be protected from accusations of wrongdoing (oh, the irony), however this is an obscene waste of money highlighted by the fact that IPSA are now resorting to desperate measures to protect its own jobs for the boys status.
IPSA have decided in my case that because my Westminster electricity usage was up in May, June, July 2012 (the bill was circa £70) I must have sublet my flat.
Yes, that is exactly what they have said, in writing. Actually in May my daughter, who is in full time education, broke up for the summer and was transported with me to Westminster until I switched to working in the constituency at the end of July.
Any MP who lived through the 2009 expenses crisis and then decided to sublet their Westminster room (it is a studio flat) would need certifying. It is a very strong allegation that is totally untrue.
The next allegation was entitled ‘duplicate claim’ under travel and subsistence. I rarely claim the subsistence allowance, I pay for my own food, so this sent my office into a frenzy. There was complete astonishment when the ‘duplicate claim’ was identified. In March 2012, the ‘26th’ button in a drop down bar on a computer screen was clicked twice, by accident, when submitting a travel claim. This meant it was submitted twice. I thought IPSA had been paid 20- 30 million pounds to pick things like that up? Why was the person who double paid that receipt asleep on the job? Didn’t he or she think ‘oh, hang on, same claim submitted twice on same day, surely some mistake? Better make a phone call and just check?’
Apparently not. Worth mentioning here is the fact that, despite the vast amount of tax payers revenue paid to IPSA, they have a policy not to answer their phones until 1pm. That’s right, they spend their millions on so few staff that they have no one to answer their phones in the morning.
There is also a third complaint, that I do not use my Westminster studio on a routine basis. Really? Here is the Oxford definition of ‘routine’:
“A sequence of actions regularly followed; performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason”
I stay in my Westminster studio when Parliament sits late and the nights are evenly spaced out over the term. I think I meet the definition of routine. I have never made any claim that I stay there other than when it is difficult to get home, that is the purpose of the accommodation. For a little while I haven’t been able to stay there every single night Parliament sits and that is down to this little lady here:
She has now reached the ripe old age of thirteen. I would stay in London, except she isn’t allowed in the studio with me. I would much prefer that we didn’t have to drive four, sometimes five hours a day, but having suffered the indignity of being told by a security officer ‘you can’t bring that dog in here’ when we arrived at the studio very late one night (how dare he speak to her like that!) I often have to drive home and can only stay overnight when I can leave her somewhere and with someone.
There is only so much putting on friends and neighbours one can do. Who knew such a beauty would live this long?! I didn’t. If I had known we were going to be this lucky, maybe I would have planned things a little differently, however, regardless, I was still very keen to ensure no IPSA dictat was broken.
I am quite sure the IPSA solution to my being a single mum and lone carer of a family and a dog would be to have the dog put down and my child adopted, but I’d rather not. The barrister who told the MP to drop his case may never have taken it on in the first place if he had known about IPSA.
When IPSA has finished its fruitless and costly investigation I want an apology for the upset and humiliation it has caused my family by an online announcement which it chose to post on a Friday afternoon, in true Machiavellian, spin doctor style, straight from the school of Mandleson - Campbell, hoping to cause maximum personal distress and make the most of journalists looking for stories to fill the weekend papers.
When IPSA has finished its fruitless and costly investigation, I want a letter of apology, posting on the IPSA web site at exactly the same time on a Friday afternoon so that I can gain the same benefit of maximum impact.
In addition to an apology, I want an explanation. I would like to know why, when there had been no justified complaint about my travel expenses or use of my flat, IPSA chose to go on a fishing expedition through my expenses after I came out of the jungle? Was it because they haven’t had an investigation since 2011 and knew it would be a matter of time before someone asked, “hang on, why have we paid this organisation so much money exactly?” Was it because someone thought that following the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ publicity that I must be so unpopular that the public would praise IPSA for launching an investigation into the expenses of a high profile MP who had none of the protection afforded by a Ministerial position or a cabinet office? If IPSA did, they got it very wrong.
Did they think there would be a public clamour that would place a veil over the validity of the investigation whilst they embedded a reputation of shrewd gatekeepers in the public psyche and I was publicly shredded?
Wrong again. IPSA have seriously underestimated the public ability to smell a rat. They also appear to have forgotten that actually, as a result of IAC, the public now know me and some of the support we have received over the weekend, including offers of legal help, has been amazing.
I also want answers. How much has it cost the tax payer for IPSA to make these incorrect allegations? How much will this unnecessary investigation cost? It is time the spotlight turned onto an organisation whose employees appear to have so little to do, they are focusing all their efforts on justifying their own existence and, whilst other public sector workers lose their jobs and pensions, use duplicitous methods to ensure they keep theirs.
Because a woman died under the hooves of a horse in the quest of female emancipation and because IPSA impact upon every single parent who is or wants to be an MP and because I refuse to allow a money hungry quango to compromise my right to work, be a mother and a pet owner, I am not allowing IPSA to get away with this.
My Debate in Westminster Hall on Engineering as a Career Choice for Young People
Posted Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 08:28
Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 18:10
Proposed Traveller Sites in Mid-Beds
Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 09:42
Yesterday morning I attended and spoke at a public meeting in Flitton village hall regarding the two proposed gypsy and traveller sites in the village up for consideration and consultation.
Also speaking at the meeting were Central Bedfordshire Council Leader, James Jameison, Parish Councillor Nick Thompson. The meeting was chaired by Simon Sadler.
Over 250 residents attended the meeting and some very pertinent issues were raised. The proposed sites are in an area with poor public transport, no accessible employment, over-subscribed schools and nowhere near health care services.
A number of villages in my constituency are proposed sites and all are equally unsuitable.
My suggestion was that the three Bedfordshire councils work in partnership to find sites which are appropriate and close to facilities and end the madness of small villages being imposed upon.
The response I got back was that Bedford and Luton don't have the same problem as rural Mid Beds, as travellers simply don't want to live there.
Gay Marriage Speech
Posted Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 18:57
Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow such a wise speech by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Robert Flello), and I will follow on from his main point.
This Bill does not create equality. It highlights the inequalities that will always exist, because the definition of marriage is based on the definition of sex. It is absolutely impossible to shoehorn same-sex marriage into the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to provide equality. The gay lobby have said themselves in their campaigning that they have been looking for a Bill that will give them the same rights as heterosexual couples and enable them to enjoy faithful and committed relationships. This Bill in no way makes a requirement of faithfulness from same-sex couples; in fact, it does the opposite. In a heterosexual marriage, a couple can divorce on the grounds of adultery, and the legal requirement for adultery to have taken place is that someone has had sex with a member of the opposite sex.
In a heterosexual marriage, a couple vow to forsake all others. They are basically saying, in accordance with liturgy and the 1973 Act, “I will forsake all others because to you I will be faithful in honour of our vows and my faithfulness to us and our marriage.” A gay couple have no obligation to make that vow. They do not have to forsake all others because they cannot divorce on the grounds of adultery; there is no requirement of faithfulness. If there is no requirement of faithfulness, what is a marriage?
The Minister says that there is no requirement for consummation in a marriage. No, there is not, but a marriage is voidable without consummation. There is no requirement for consummation in the Bill because the definition of marriage and the definition of sex is for ordinary and complete sex to have taken place. Same-sex couples cannot meet this requirement. The Government have tucked this aspect right at the back of the Bill, possibly because they do not want it to be debated in Committee. That is sad, because it is part of the inequality. If I were part of a gay couple, I would feel like a poor relation as a result of this Bill. I would feel that it was a shoddy Bill in which gay couples are not as well considered as heterosexual couples. It highlights the inequalities.
Gosh, I am down to one minute left. I hope that the Minister will elucidate on one point. Mr Tatchell apparently said outside the gates of Downing street that the Prime Minister had been inspired by his words and that the Prime Minister used lines from his speech to promote the Bill. I admire Mr Tatchell—he is a brave man who says what he thinks and I respect his right to do that—but he also says that, on this issue, equality is not enough and that he is part of a movement of social revolutionaries who are out to turn society and the world upside down. Will the Minister please tell us that Mr Tatchell has not inspired this Bill and that it is not based on his words, and will she repudiate the overall intentions of Mr Tatchell and his lobby?
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill Second Reading debate speech
Posted Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 16:02
Now on Facebook!
Posted Monday, 4 February 2013 at 11:29
Not a single person in the UK voted Conservative in 2010 because we said we would introduce same-sex marriage
Posted Monday, 4 February 2013 at 11:00