I would abolish the entire expenses system

12:46pm Wednesday 16th April 2014

MOST of the letters and emails I received about the Maria Miller affair were rather better informed than some of the commentary on the broadcast media.

It's our allies that need to raise their game when it comes to Russia

2:08pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014

THE only country ever to adopt a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament is the Ukraine: in 1994, by signing the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, it gave up what was the world’s third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in return for a guarantee of its territorial integrity.

Poor response to budge from Labour party

1:53pm Wednesday 26th March 2014

DEMOCRACY thrives with a healthy opposition to ask awkward questions about what the Government is doing, to challenge it to justify its decisions, and to campaign against unjust, or undemocratic policies.

Science in badger debate is inconclusive

2:53pm Wednesday 19th March 2014

I SAT through the third badger debate within a year in the Commons last Thursday.

Immigration figures 'an excellent story'

4:36pm Thursday 6th March 2014

THE migration statistics for the year ending September 2013 which were published last week gave rise to some pretty dramatic headlines.

Bishops get back to your vestries

2:28pm Wednesday 26th February 2014

I WONDER if I am living on the same planet as the 26 Bishops of the Church of England who wrote to the Daily Mirror last week.

Whipping the car smoke ban vote is like herding cats

4:05pm Wednesday 12th February 2014

ON Monday we had a “free vote” (at least Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did).

Big cheeses over-rode democratic discussion

10:12am Thursday 6th February 2014

FORGIVE me for returning to the subject once again, but it makes my blood boil and I simply have to get it off my chest.

Living within our means is the way forward

10:02am Thursday 30th January 2014

IN the 1980s I used to teach my economics students that there were three different ways of measuring the size of our economy: by measuring the output of goods and services (national product), by the total expenditure on all those goods and services (national expenditure), or by adding up all the incomes paid for producing those goods and services (national income).

Our defences are a force to be reckoned with

3:52pm Wednesday 22nd January 2014

AS a serving officer in our reserve forces, I was rather taken aback by the comments last week by the former US defence secretary Robert Gates, who said that we could no longer be considered a full military partner with the US because of the reductions in our own defence capability, consequent upon expenditure cuts which are part of the Government’s deficit reduction strategy.

EU referendum over House of Lords reform

3:33pm Friday 17th January 2014

EVERY sitting parliamentary day (with the exception of Friday) begins with an hour of question time, with each department of state answering questions once a month. Last Tuesday it was the turn of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Proud to be allied with Scotland

4:19pm Wednesday 8th January 2014

LAST week, while skiing in the French Alps, I shared a chairlift with a Scotsman wearing a kilt.

We're only doomed if we choose to be

7:00am Wednesday 1st January 2014

THE beginning of the year, and even more so the period after Christmas and just before new year, is full of predictions about the future, and usually doom laden ones.

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority should be scrapped

9:38am Wednesday 18th December 2013

I HAVE had the luxury of replying to the indignant emails, complaining about the proposed 11 per cent pay rise for MPs, by saying: “Not me guv” and telling them to write to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) instead.

I nearly fell off my seat...

11:37am Wednesday 11th December 2013

LAST week when the Prime Minister returned from China, I nearly fell off my seat when an Opposition spokesman complained that he had gone there at all, let alone for a second time.

Joy that referendum decision is en route

4:00pm Wednesday 4th December 2013

TO my absolute joy – and amazement – the EU Referendum Bill completed all its remaining stages in the House of Commons last Friday, after a marathon four full parliamentary days of debate in the main chamber in addition to the very lengthy committee stage.

We are making Britain less of a magnet to migrants

11:59am Wednesday 27th November 2013

I HAVE been receiving a number of emails from constituents fearful of invasion by hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians.

Portsmouth shipyard closure is complex issue

2:02pm Wednesday 20th November 2013

I HAVE been receiving a trickle of emails over the last ten days or so complaining about the decision to close the shipbuilding yard in Portsmouth, owned and operated by the defence manufacturing giant BAE Systems, while retaining their yards in Scotland.

We must remember

8:01pm Wednesday 13th November 2013

WAS asked by one of our Royal British Legion branches in the Forest to deliver the sermon at their remembrance service last Sunday. Here is what I said: “What we remember tells us something about ourselves.

Where is the Christian atttribute of charity?

2:39pm Wednesday 6th November 2013

AS soon as I heard a news item last week reporting that a senior judge, the President of the Family Division no less, had proclaimed that England was no longer a Christian country, I knew that the outraged emails would come flooding in.

High energy costs? Put on another layer

1:40pm Wednesday 23rd October 2013

LAST week a Downing Street spokesman backed off what appeared to have been earlier advice that, if people wrapped up against the cold a bit more, they could reduce their energy bills. Why withdraw such perfectly sensible advice?

Reshuffle only adds to sum of human misery

2:32pm Wednesday 16th October 2013

I DISLIKE reshuffles for a number of reasons.

Migrants were just seeking a better life

2:07pm Wednesday 9th October 2013

BAD weather prevented divers from recovering the bodies from the sunken wreck at Lampedusa.

Why we must reduce our reliance on carbon

1:41pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013

A FEW weeks ago I wrote that some emails had prompted me to reach for a copy of Mackay’s 1841 tome Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Making progress on treatment of women

2:35pm Wednesday 25th September 2013

THE issue of banning the niqab (the full face covering worn by some Muslim women) exploded into my emails last week. I am always taken aback at the passions aroused on this question in the market towns of the New Forest, where I am quite sure one has never been seen.

Royal Mail needs to move with the times

11:23am Thursday 19th September 2013

I REMEMBER when a ten bob postal order on your birthday left you feeling like a wealthy man, but now all it would buy you is a second class stamp.

The madness of crowds

2:28pm Wednesday 11th September 2013

IN response to more than 250 emails in the last week, I have dusted down my copy of Charles Mackay’s excellent book Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841 (but in human nature little changes).

We may have made the workd a more dangerous place

3:15pm Wednesday 4th September 2013

ON Friday morning last week, when I heard the news reports of the parliamentary proceedings on Syria the day before, I began to wonder if the reporters had been on another planet.

HS2 will solve the real problem of too little capacity

12:16pm Wednesday 28th August 2013

EVER since I used this column back in February to declare my support for HS2, I have acquired the dedicated services of a number of assiduous constituents who search out news items which throw doubt on the project, and send them to me.

Don't let protestors call the shots

2:14pm Wednesday 21st August 2013

THERE is a right to peaceful protest which is a proud part of our political inheritance, and it is a liberty that, as a politician, I believe it is my duty to defend – even if I might disagree with the particular views of protesters themselves.

British influence will bring democracy

2:24pm Wednesday 31st July 2013

I AM back in Rwanda for a fortnight, a country I have visited annually over the last five years or so.

Government can't stand by as nation eats its way to ill-health

11:29am Wednesday 17th July 2013

I HAVE had a few vitriolic emails this week from constituents outraged by yet another intrusion of the “nanny state”, with the Government seeking to ban packed lunches from schools because it disapproves of what parents put in them.

It's perverse to entrust pay to independent body then insist on ignoring its view

12:55pm Wednesday 10th July 2013

THE Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) report for consultation on a significant increase in MPs’ pay was most unwelcome because, on balance, my colleagues prefer to be modestly paid and tolerated, than well-paid but hated.

Picking the right course of action is tough

4:41pm Wednesday 3rd July 2013

I LAST wrote about Syria in this column in September of last year when I analysed the sectarian religious divides involved.

Why would anyone pay MPs for questions?

12:11pm Wednesday 12th June 2013

I WAS both mesmerised and horrified by last Thursday’s BBC Panorama sting on Patrick Mercer.

Avon Valley must be protected

3:16pm Wednesday 5th June 2013

IT is more than three years since I last wrote in this column about our stretch of the lower Avon valley where there are two sites of special scientific interest; these are ‘Ramsar’ sites, which is the highest designation of environmental importance.

Law needs updating to help security services do their job

5:37pm Wednesday 29th May 2013

I HAVE regular correspondents on the subject of Islam; some are internet ‘trolls’ who send me emails filled with complete drivel that they have picked up from nasty right wing websites quite as ‘wacky’ as the Islamists they bang on about.

Numbers are rarely as bad as reported

5:35pm Wednesday 22nd May 2013

THE latest monthly unemployment figures were released last week.

Wrong time for referendum

4:51pm Wednesday 15th May 2013

I RECALL that when the referendum on the Common Market took place in 1975 my parents were abroad because my father had been posted to Afghanistan.

Gay marriage isn't popular in the New Forest

3:15pm Wednesday 8th May 2013

VITUALLY nobody I called on during the county council election campaign raised anything to do with Hampshire County Council, which is what the election was for.

Deporting Qatada now would be 'a farce'

10:09am Wednesday 1st May 2013

WHEN I last wrote about Abu Qatada in November last year, it was on the back of quite a few emails from constituents demanding that the government proceed to deport him anyway, in defiance of the courts.

Relationship breakdowns at root of problems

7:43pm Wednesday 24th April 2013

I HAVE never been comfortable with the term “surgeries” when describing my weekly sessions with constituents; it seems to imply an expertise I do not possess.

Reflections on the Thatcher years

3:23pm Wednesday 17th April 2013

I WAS present in the Chamber of the House of Commons from 2.30pm until 7.30pm just over a week ago for the tributes to Baroness Thatcher.

Welfare system should not trap people in unemployment

4:10pm Wednesday 10th April 2013

I VISITED a friend in Fordingbridge Hospital last weekend.

No trace of persecuted feeling

1:15pm Wednesday 3rd April 2013

I WRITE fresh from the packed Easter Day service at my parish church, where we enthusiastically sang a magnificent choice of triumphal Easter anthems including my favourite, Thine be The Glory, Risen Conquering Son.

Teaching is a noble profession...but nothing undermines it more than strike action

3:31pm Monday 1st April 2013

I’VE had a bit of an email spat with the NUT representative at one of our secondary schools.

A31 speed limit is worth a try

5:12pm Wednesday 20th March 2013

THE obsession of the “political classes” with regulation or nonregulation, of the press has not troubled my email inbox very much in the last couple of weeks despite how swiftly events have moved.

Immigration controls must be accompanied by willingness to embrace change

2:56pm Wednesday 13th March 2013

IMMIGRATION was the flavour of last week with a party political broadcast by Ed Milliband and speeches by both the Home Secretary and her shadow, Yvette Cooper.

Controlling immigration is a bit like steering a super tanker...

1:00pm Wednesday 6th March 2013

THERE has been plenty of commentary from politicians and the media “commentariat” about the message that the voters of Eastleigh have delivered.

Confusion over deficit and national debt

4:13pm Wednesday 27th February 2013

I SPENT most of last week canvassing at the Eastleigh by-election.

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