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Looking ahead to a positive 2012

HAPPY New Year! As we enter 2012 it is an occasion to reflect on the year departing and to look forward to events this year.


It hasn’t been the easiest of years. The turbulence of the eurozone continues to impact our economy and that is prolonging economic uncertainty. We must use our voice in Europe to make sure EU leaders do not duck the challenge of fixing the euro’s problems. The action we are taking to tackle debt is not easy, but it is improving market confidence in Britain. We must learn the lesson that we should never allow any Government to live beyond our means again.

Read more... [Looking ahead to a positive 2012]
EU veto was for the best

I WAS fortunate to be welcomed by David Cameron to Chequers last week following the European Union summit where he became the first British Prime Minister to use the veto when faced with a new European Treaty which did not do enough to safeguard UK interests.


The most important thing is that we have a relationship with the EU which allows us to maximise the benefits which will arise from trade, while maintaining a robust defence of our national interests. We now have a Government prepared to take a tough stance with our European partners.

Read more... [EU veto was for the best]
Getting a grip on immigration irregularities


Over 10,000 were killed and many displaced, to claim asylum all over Europe. Today Kosovo is endeavouring to establish itself as an independent nation. It is very exciting to see the new organisations of Government emerging and to engage with the young, passionate politicians who are determined to ensure independence is positive for the country.


Many asylum seekers given safe haven in the UK have returned home now their country is free from conflict. So I was staggered to discover the UK Border Agency is receiving many applications from Kosovans applying for leave to remain in the UK. More than 90 per cent are fraudulent.

Read more... [Getting a grip on immigration irregularities]
We've got it wrong on metering

AS A member of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, it is my job to scrutinise the detail of Government spending and assess whether it is offering value for money.


There has been a lot of interest in rising energy bills and last week we looked at the plan to install smart meters in all households by 2019.

The proposition is that every household is fitted with a meter for both gas and electricity, so households can reduce their energy consumption. The cost of the installation will be borne by customers. The cost of fitting the meters is £240 and they will reduce energy consumption by £23 per household a year.


Not a great deal is it?

Read more... [We've got it wrong on metering]
The question was wrong on the EU

THE week at Westminster has been dominated by the motion for a referendum on Europe.


There is clearly a strong case for a referendum on our relationship with Europe, however the motion before us on Monday was flawed. It effectively conflated two separate questions – in or out or renegotiation.


A referendum requires a simple yes or no option. It was simply the wrong question at the wrong time.

Read more... [The question was wrong on the EU]
Businesses' success should be cause for celebration

THIS week saw much celebration following the announcement by DP World that the next phase of work at the new London Gateway Port is due to start.


The new port is the largest inward investment in the UK and is set to create 36,000 new jobs. This investment will establish Thurrock’s position as the leading port in the UK. As it is there is already more cargo landed here than in Dover or Liverpool. Eighty per cent of cargo landed in the Port of London arrives in Thurrock.

Read more... [Businesses' success should be cause for celebration]
Travellers are not above the law

ALL eyes are on Dale Farm as Basildon Council is about to finally clear the illegal traveller development, after a dispute which has lasted a number of years.


While celebrity campaigners are queueing up to give them support, a number of inconvenient truths seem to have been ignored.

This development has grown rapidly, without planning permission and in full knowledge that planning permission would never be approved by the council because it is a green belt site.


Read more... [Travellers are not above the law]
Libya has been a worthy intervention

It has been amazing to watch the events unfold in Libya over the last week. The way in which we and our allies have supported the people of Libya in the face of tyrannical rule and oppression on the part of Colonel Gaddaffi, offers a textbook case for humanitarian intervention. Our support has been prompt and decisive.


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The good, the bad and the ugly

We have seen the best and worst of Britain in the last two weeks. The images of people rioting and looting were truly shameful.

There are those who would claim these riots were about race and social division. They were not. This was criminal behaviour, in many cases perpetrated by selfish opportunists, who in the frenzied atmosphere probably thought they could get away with helping themselves to a plasma screen through a broken window.

Read more... [The good, the bad and the ugly]
We've got to keep dealing with the debt

As Barack Obama fights to achieve a financial deal with Congress that will prevent America defaulting on its financial obligations, we are reminded there can be no Plan B – we simply must deal with excessive Government borrowing.

Read more... [We've got to keep dealing with the debt]

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