"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

PMQs: Summary & Videos

Tributes from all sides of the House were paid to the MP David Cairns who represented Inverclyde and died earlier this week at the age of forty-four.

It was another needlessly raucous session in the House - I really don't know what the backbenchers get so worked up about when Miliband and Cameron are playing ping-pong.  They'd do better to hold the Executive to account and question front-benchers more closely instead of indulging in this tedious repetition.   At the slightest whiff of a joke, a jibe or a point scored they were either cheering or jeering wildly, like over-acting extras in a Colosseum scene from Gladiator.

Miliband asked about Cameron's views on the NHS on the first anniversary of the Coalition. He pushed waiting lists, cancer waiting times and top-down re-organisation.  Cameron fell back on a lame Eddie the Eagle joke but someone must have replaced Clegg's batteries this week because he was much livelier and seemed to think it all very funny.

Three questions stood out for not being answered.  First was Philip Hollobone's question about the ruling of the ECHR on prisoner votes. When asked to confirm that Britain would not be subject to the ruling Cameron replied that "we should be trying to reform the European Court from inside" - we've had that lie before and it's an instance of 'in the ECHR but not run by the ECHR'.

Sammy Wilson questioned whether Britain would be drawn into further euro-zone bail-outs but Cameron simply replied that a direct contribution had been made only to Ireland and that there were contingent liabilities signed up to by the previous govt.

Ronnie Campbell asked, in the light of the unnecessary AV referendum, could we have one on the EU since 70% British people want one. Cameron evaded  the question completely.

Did your MP speak?
Philip Hollobone, Con, Kettering; Paul Beresford, Con, Mole Valley; Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid, Dwyfor Meirionnydd; Bob Russell, LibDem, Colchester; Alan Johnson, Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle; Tony Baldry, Con, Banbury; Wayne David, Labour, Caerphilly; Daniel Kawczynski, Con, Shrewsbury & Atcham; Tom Watson, Lab, West Bromwich East; Robert Halfon, Con, Harlow; Liz Kendall, Labour, Leicester West; Julian Sturdy, Con, York Outer; Sammy Wilson, DUP, East Antrim; Laurence Robertson, Con, Tewkesbury; Ronnie Campbell, Lab, Blyth Valley; Caroline Nokes, Con, Romsey and Southampton North; Alan Whitehead, Lab, Southampton Test; Richard Bacon, Con, Norfolk South; Sheila Gilmore, Lab, Edinburgh East; Tom Brake, LibDem, Carshalton & Wallington; William McCrea, DUP, South Antrim.

Topics Raised:
Ban on prisoners' votes/ECHR; funding for Variant CJD research; cyber-crime and harassment; gap between rich/poor + children in poverty in the UK + "the obscenity of 1000 multi-millionaires boosting their income by 18% last year"; the  proscription of Hizb'ut Tahrir;  CBI & deficit reduction plan; Labour's performance in Wales; cutting back-office costs at Shropshire Council; Soham, cyber-crime, Judicial Inquiry needed; Robin Hood, bankers' bonuses, petrol prices; cuts to emergency services vis-a-vis Olympics/terrorism; Obama's deficit reduction plan; UK contribution to EU bail-out amounts to half of savings made in UK's deficit reduction plan; no subsidies for Scotland if independent;  a referendum on the EU; child cardiac services in Southampton area; EU's 4th Carbon Budget; NHS IT projects via Computer Sciences Corporation; voluntary sector in Scotland; update on "financial wasteland" left by previous government; widow of war hero - seat in NI Assembly and support for our Armed Forces.

Videos to follow but have this in the meantime:

THIS, from the BBC, is Cameron's response to Hollobone about the ECHR.

All followed by Statement from Hague about "the future diplomatic network" of the UK. It's been on in the background as I write this up and it sounds like an important speech to me so I'll try to get some further references. He seemed to make it clear that the EU diplomatic network could not, and would never be, a substitute for Britain's own diplomatic missions. He also expressed it in such a way that I doubt Ashton & van Rompuy have much to cheer this afternoon.

Text of Hague's speech HERE.  Extracts:
"We will now reverse the previous Government’s policy of closing Embassies and reducing our diplomatic presence in key parts of the world, as a result of which 45 United Kingdom posts were closed after 1997, including 6 in Africa, 7 in Latin America and 8 in Asia, and the overall number of UK posts in the world fell by more than 30...
...The only way to increase our national prosperity and secure our growth for our economy is through trade, and our Embassies play a vital role in supporting British business. 
...Given that political influence will follow economic trends in the world and will increasingly shift to the countries of the South and the East over the long term, we need to plan ahead and create the right network for the future. 
While we are working closely with the new European External Action Service and ensuring that talented British candidates enter it, there is not and will never be any substitute for a strong British Diplomatic Service that advances the interests of the United Kingdom. We can never rely on anyone else to do that.
...This expansion does come at a price. In Europe there have already been significant savings in our diplomatic network. I am determined not to hollow out our Embassies there. But we will need to find further savings in recognition of the fact that only three of the world’s 30 richest cities are in Europe in terms of total GDP, and our Embassies there still cost more than elsewhere. So while we will fully maintain our Embassy network across Europe we will also find additional resource for our expansion elsewhere in the world from the network of subordinate posts in Europe outside capital cities. We will withdraw diplomatic staff from some subordinate posts while retaining UKTI and consular staff in many cases. This will lead to fewer subordinate posts in European countries."


Hollobone - Llwyd incl Cameron/Miliband

Russell - Bacon

Gilmore - end

With thanks for the videos to LiarPoliticians

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