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11:11am Thursday 24th July 2014
LORD Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which would allow assisted suicide, was read a second time in the House of Lords last week. Unlike the House of Commons, the Lords debate – but do not vote – at second reading. Given the volume of business to get through in the Commons, the bill is unlikely to be debated there at all. It is too soon therefore, to assess how much support there is in Parliament.
10:03am Thursday 17th July 2014
NOTWITHSTANDING a significant number of hostile emails, I make no apology for the fact Parliament has spent a significant amount of time dealing with the new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill.
9:42am Thursday 10th July 2014
AT the beginning of May I used this column to set out my reasons for believing the way forward for managing the water levels in the Avon Valley between Fordingbridge and Christchurch was the creation of an internal drainage board. Such a board used to exist years ago, prior to the Environment Agency taking over responsibility for the river.
10:28am Thursday 3rd July 2014
LAST week I was asked to address the annual meeting of Amnesty International New Forest on the principal threat to human rights and what we can do about it. This is what I said: For most of the 20th century the principal threat to liberty arose from the collectivist ideologies which set too low a value on individual rights and property, as against the priorities and demands of the state. In this respect communism and national socialism were not dissimilar. Likewise, the enormities inflicted by Stalin and Mao rank with those of Hitler.
3:06pm Thursday 26th June 2014
3:58pm Wednesday 18th June 2014
3:36pm Wednesday 11th June 2014
4:27pm Thursday 29th May 2014
2:27pm Thursday 22nd May 2014
2:20pm Wednesday 14th May 2014
SEVERAL people have emailed me to express their alarm about US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s bid for our own British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and to demand Government intervention to prevent such a takeover.
6:17pm Friday 9th May 2014
BACK in February I used this column to update readers on my efforts to secure proper management of water levels in the lower valley of the River Avon between Fordingbridge and Christchurch and I included a letter I had sent to Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, in which I asked for another meeting to review the situation.
3:04pm Wednesday 30th April 2014
3:18pm Wednesday 23rd April 2014
12:46pm Wednesday 16th April 2014
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.
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.
2:53pm Wednesday 19th March 2014
4:36pm Thursday 6th March 2014
2:28pm Wednesday 26th February 2014
4:05pm Wednesday 12th February 2014
10:12am Thursday 6th February 2014
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).
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.
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.
4:19pm Wednesday 8th January 2014
7:00am Wednesday 1st January 2014
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.
11:37am Wednesday 11th December 2013
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.
11:59am Wednesday 27th November 2013
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.
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.
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.
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?
2:32pm Wednesday 16th October 2013
2:07pm Wednesday 9th October 2013
1:41pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013
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.
11:23am Thursday 19th September 2013
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).
3:15pm Wednesday 4th September 2013
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.
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.
2:24pm Wednesday 31st July 2013
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.
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.
4:41pm Wednesday 3rd July 2013
12:11pm Wednesday 12th June 2013
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.
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.