Showing posts from 2011

WCH Business case looks set for approval

It looks like the business case for the £90 rebuild and refurbishment for West Cumberland Hospital is finally set for approval. The West Cumberland News and Star reports that "Major progress could be made within weeks on the £90 million plan to rebuild Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital. The full business case for the landmark redevelopment of the infirmary is currently being considered by regional health chiefs." The paper says that local NHS bosses are hopeful that the case will be approved at a Strategic Health Authority board meeting in January. More details on the News and Star website or on my hospitals blog (see link at right.)

Vaclav Havel R.I.P.

The Czech playwright, thinker, philospher, dissident and ultimately statesman Vaclav Havel, who died earlier this month, was a truly great man. I did not agree with everything he said or did, but as someone who showed great bravery when he suffered under communism for speaking up for the victims of oppression and injustice, became a symbol of the aspirations of the Czech people, and when he eventually became President worked for reconciliation and forgiveness, he deserves a special place among those who are remembered as great human beings. Former Polish dissident and later President Lech Walensa said that he thought Havel should have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Rest in Peace.

Emergency Chemists in Copeland over the holiday

The Emergency Chemists in the Whitehaven and Mid Copeland area over the Christmas and New Year holiday period 2011/12 are as follows: CHRISTMAS DAY (25th December 2011) 5pm to 6pm Seascale Pharmacy Gosforth Road, Seascale. BOXING DAY (26th December 2011) 1pm to 3pm Boots the Chemist 26 King Street Whitehaven NEW YEAR'S DAY (1st January 2012) 6pm to 7pm Egremont Boots Pharmacy 67-67 Main Street Egremont.

A Merry Christmas to everyone reading this

May I wish a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2012, to everyone reading this blog.

Metal Theft - government acts

The government has today responded to the requests for action against metal theft, the need for which was highlighted on this blog yesterday. Home office minister James Brokenshire has confirmed that the government will be bringing forward measures to make it easier to catch metal theives. These will include "introducing a new licence regime for scrap metal dealers and prohibiting cash payments" and establishing a "metal theft taskforce" together with the Association of Chief Police Officers. He said that the Home office "is discussing with other Departments what legislative changes are necessary to assist enforcement agencies and deter offenders". Responding to a question from Gravesham MP Adam Holloway about the financial implications of metal theft, Brokenshire said the cost could be "anywhere between £220 million and £777 million per annum". Holloway asked whether there was "any argument for seizing the entire inventories of metal dealer

Crooked Cretins cut off Cumbrians

Thousands of West Cumbrian families, and other people as far away as Lancashire, lost phone services, including the ability to make emergency 999 calls, for part of the weekend after a bunch of idiotic criminals attacked a section of telephone cable near Workington. The motive appears to have been a futile attempt to steal copper wire - in which they were unsuccessful because copper was replaced by optical fibres in BT's trunk network years ago. About 13,000 homes and businesses lost all telephone service for a time, the main areas being hit in West Cumbria being Harrington, Cleator Moor, and parts of Whitehaven, though some customers in Lancaster were also affected. BT engineers working round the clock over the weekend made temporary repairs which restored service to all customers by Saturday afternoon, though it took until 2am on Sunday to complete permanent repairs. The damage also caused a reduction in network capacity that caused congestion for customers across a much wider ar

The Veto and democracy

"E.U. Leaves U.K." These were the first three words of the Indy's headline this morning - the full headline continued with "out in the cold" but I initially saw the first three words which seem curiously apposite. You can take them more than one way. Remember "Fog in the Channel: continent isolated!" A surprising number of commentators don't appear to get the main reason why David Cameron had no choice but to veto the proposed treaty this week. Some of the Liberal Democrats obviously do get it, which is one of the reasons that, despite all the efforts by some in the media to stir up a coalition split on the subject, I don't believe David Cameron's veto is going to bring down the government. * The fact that David Cameron thought the proposed treaty might damage the City of London was a very important argument against signing, but there was an even stronger one. * This was not about bashing Europe. Signing would have given DC a huge amount


While a real storim with 100 mile-an-hour winds was lashing Britain, a political storm was raging in Brussels which will have far-reaching consequences. I am not delighted that David Cameron had to veto the proposed EU treaty but he had no choice whatsoever and he would have been wrong to sign up to what was on offer. The Eurozone needs to take effective measures to support their currency and deal with the solvency crisis, and it would have been wrong to try to stop them taking such measures, provided it were done in a way which does not harm Britain. Unfortunately it appears that signing up to the proposals could have harmed the City of London. I know the bankers are not popular right now (understatement of the decade) and I think there is a case for tougher regulation imposed within Britain in ways which make the city stronger rather than weaker. But on their past form I have zero confidence in the ability of the EU institutions to get that balance right, and in the present economic

Lansley: I am committed to West Cumberland Hospital

Health secretary Andrew Lansley confirmed while visiting Cumbria last week that he remains strongly committed to supporting West Cumberland Hospital. The Secretary of State was in Cumbria to open a new wing at the Eden Valley hospice near Carlisle. He made his comments to Penrith and the Borders MP Rory Stewart, who had arranged for him to meet a senior local consultant and GP to hear their concerns about services in Cumbria during his visit. Rory Stewart asked Mr Lansley to consider writing off the debts of the North Cumbria hospitals trust. The minister said that he might be willing to consider this provided the trusts can come up with a strong plan for the future. I am pleased by the confirmation that the government remains committed to our hospital, but it remains imperative that we keep up the pressure on the trusts and the government to ensure it is understood that we need a comprehensive range of health services in both West Cumbria and Carlisle.

EU debt crisis worsens as S&P flags credit risk

Last week the Governor of the Bank of England pointed out that the financial crisis in the Eurozone, which he described as a "Solvency crisis, not a liquidity crisis" posed a serious threat to the economies of all trading nations including Britain. Today we learn that EVERY Eurozone country which was not already at the world's worst rating (Greece) or already under review (Cyprus) has been placed on "Credit Watch" This means by definition that France, Germany and the other four Eurozone nations which currently have the best possible rating - AAA - are at some risk of losing that status. I think it is a bit misleading of Sky News to state that Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) move to place the whole Eurozone on 'credit watch' means that the six countries with AAA ratings "now have a 50% chance of losing that status." No, it means they are under review. If the markets really thought that France and Germany had a 50% chance of lo

Bransty Legion site planning application

Until the National British Legion closed all the nine clubs which were part of a particular group of "New British Legion" scheme clubs about eighteen months ago, the Bransty Legion club was an important part of community life for residents of Bransty Hill. It provided a meeting place which has a venue for all manner of community events, from Neighbourhood Forum meetings to Neighbourhood watch to changing for Bransty Rovers football club. Some of these have moved to Bransty school, which is the only remaining meeting place on the hill: others have been forced to stop or move outside the Bransty Hill area. This coming Wednesday, Copeland Council's planning panel will consider a proposal to give planning permission for houses on most of the site. Copeland Council's adopted local plan, with planning policies which are supposed to guide the planning panel, includes a clause to the effect that the council will resist the loss of a community facility unless it is replaced. S

Boundary commission submission

Tomorrow is the last day for the submission of responses on the Boundary Commission for England's proposals for new constituency boundaries for the North West. This was my submission "I support the Boundary Commission proposals for a new Carlisle constituency, but for the rest of the county I support instead the Conservative Party proposals. The Carlisle City Council area is an obvious community of interests. I support the Commission proposal to make the Carlisle constituency as close as possible to the local authority area. This is far more sensible than a rival proposal to put part of North Allerdale into a Carlisle constituency while associating significant areas of Carlisle City with Penrith. The North East part of Allerdale has economic, social and historical links with Penrith which are comparable with those they have with Carlisle: these areas were part of an earlier Penrith and the Borders seat when represented by the late Viscount Whitelaw. Having been a parliamentar

Time to batten down again

Take care if you are outdoors in some parts of Copeland this evening: there is a really nasty wind which is verging on the dangerous.

Beating the Metal Thieves, continued

Further to my blog post a couple of weeks ago about the ten-minute rule bill on metal theft, David Morris MP has also raised the issue of metal theft in the House of Commons. David, who is Conservative MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, was disappointed to hear of recent metal thefts in his constituency two of which were very high profile, namely lead being stolen from the roof of the Winter Gardens and the theft of metal from the ‘Picture Frame’ artwork in the West End Gardens. In his question to the Home Office Secretary David Morris MP asked “What steps is she taking to tackle metal theft from public buildings and memorials?” Responding on behalf of the Home Office, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP said. “The Home Office supports the wide-ranging plan being delivered by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Metal Theft working group to tackle metal theft, including the theft from public buildings and memorials. In addition, discussions are unde

Autumn Statement

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his 2011 Autumn Statement to Parliament. Responding to the Office of Budget Responsibility's updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Chancellor has set out details of further action the Government will take to protect the UK from global instability and the euro area crisis and build a stronger, more balanced economy for the future. The Chancellor announced permanent reductions in spending to ensure that the UK meets its fiscal targets, using some of those savings in the short term to fund infrastructure investment to generate long-term growth. Alongside this, he announced measures to help households and businesses cope with higher inflation and to ensure that deficit reduction is implemented fairly. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: "We are committed to making Britain the best place to start, finance and grow a business. "The measures I am announcing today will help us to achieve this by creating an en

West Cumbria libraries future confirmed

Cumbria County council has been considering the future of local libraries and has held a public consultation. Following the consultation it has been announced that three West Cumbria libraries which had been considered for closure will remain open. Among the suggestions was the possible replacement of 20 smaller community libraries – including Moorclose, Seaton and Distington – with borrowing points in community centres, shops or other locations. However, the council has announced that instead of closure it is looking at the possibility of setting up friends groups for Seaton and Moorclose libraries to enable the community to enhance the activities beyond those which the county council can fund and provide. Distington was be discussed by the county’s Copeland local committee last week. There, council officers have suggested negotiating with the community centre for it to take over the running of the library. Bruce Bennison, county manager for library service review, said: “We are takin

Thoughts on Advent Sunday

Today is Advent Sunday, which means a number of things * The actual official start of the Christmas season, so all the people who have put up Christmas trees, shops selling Christmas stuff, etc, etc are no longer jumping the gun * The start of the church's year * The start of the Advent season in which the Christian church looks forward to the coming of the saviour. The bible readings set for Advent during this season look to the coming of Jesus - not just his coming as a baby but as a man, and his second coming. As such they include some pretty apocalyptic stuff about the end of the world. As I was listening to one of those readings in St James' church Whitehaven this morning, I was reminded of those people and sects who have used these passages of the bible to predict the imminent end of the world. (Canon John Kelly made the same point in his sermon a few minutes later.) And yet, however, frightening these passages can be, the people who use them to predict the end of the wor

Prime Minister's Questions

Hat tip to the Guardian for organising a set of "Prime Minister's Questions" in which various people put a question to David Cameron. You can either read his answers here , or hear them here . A sample of some of the questions and replies: From Piers Morgan, TV presenter: If you could relive one moment in your life, excluding births of children and marriage, what would it be? DC ANSWER: "God, that's a really good question. Piers, why don't you ever ask really good questions like that normally? I think it would be this holiday in Italy when I met Samantha properly. It was that sort of carefree wonderful time when you get together with the person you end up spending the rest of your life with. That feeling of happiness and a wonderful holiday with your family around you and the sun is shining and the sea is beautiful and you're with someone who makes you laugh, makes you happy with that sense of excitement in the future." From Richard Dawkins, biologi

Beating the metal thieves

It is comparatively rare for a Labour MP to put forward something which I strongly approve of, but it has happened with this week when Graham Jones MP proposed the Metal Theft (Prevention) Bill in the Commons under the Ten Minute Rule. Bills proposed under this mechanism very rarely become law, but are a useful opportunity to highlight a problem, and the one Graham Jones has drawn attention to needs urgent attention. I hope the government will take the opportunity to implement something along the lines he is suggesting. As Mr Jones himself pointed out, metal recycling is a valuable industry, it is a sustainable means of reusing an increasingly important commodity. But we need to put this industry onto a regulatory basis which does not provide an incentive for thieves to steal metal which is still in use. It's not a new problem, but it is one which has become vastly worse over the past few years. About twelve years ago, around the start of my second period as a councillor in St Alb

How not to create jobs in Copeland, part two

The free-for all chaos with parking which has been experienced in Copeland over the past few months in the absence of any enforcement has not been good for local residents or local businesses, so I welcome the prospect that Copeland BC might be about to do something about this. What I don't welcome is the prospect of car parking charges being raised. We desperately need to get more people into the town centre, and parking legally rather than illegally. This is not a good time to put up charges from either of those perspectives. I still think the Conservatives were right earlier this year to propose a period of free car parking in the Copeland council car parks and I bitterly regret that the option to do this was not taken.

How not to create jobs in Copeland, part one ...

I fully understand the position of those Copeland Councillors who voted to grant planning permission for the new Harbourside complex. For one thing, councillors should never lightly ignore the professional advice of planning officers, and in this case the officers had strongly recommended that permission be granted. Councillors have a legal duty to grant applications for planning permission unless there are sound and clear cut planning reasons for refusal: "we don't like it" won't cut the mustard and I'm afraid even "the voters don't like it" won't be accepted either unless the council can show that public opposition is based on sound and clear cut planning reasons. E.g. if members of the public have objected to a planning application on the grounds that that some aspect of the proposal would create a risk of death or injury, and the council can produce hard evidence at an appeal inquiry that this danger really exists, a decision to refuse planni

Power cut in Whitehaven

Woken this morning by our burglar alarm going off because of a power cut covering part of Whitehaven. We were without power for about two hours. It is extraordinary how you don't realise how used you are to having something available (in this case electricity,) and how dependent you are on it, until it is taken away for a while.

Northern Rock sale

I thought that Richard Branson should have been allowed to buy Northern Rock four years ago instead of nationalising it. If that policy had been pursued by the last government, the bank would probably now be in a position similar to where it is today but without hundreds of millions of pounds of losses to the taxpayer. Mind you, that loss was not incurred today. Northern Rock had lost about £400 million in operating losses in the four years since being nationalised - and if it is successful under Virgin ownership, the taxpayer will ultimately get back as a result of today's deal approximately what the previous government originally put in, less those losses. Nevertheless, I am delighted to see the bank out of the public sector and being run as a commercial enterprise, which is where it belongs. Governments of whatever colour have enough trouble doing their own jobs. They should absolutely not be running banks. I'm also pleased that the new owners have guaranteed no compulsory r

Youth Unemployment

The latest unemployment figures, and particularly those for young people, represent a tragic waste which demands the most urgent attention. The government understands this. To get young people - and everyone else - into work we need to get the economy growing again, which means putting fewer burdens in the way of businesses, especially small ones, and that government at European, National, and local level has to think very hard about how to reduce the burden of bureaucracy. Abandoning the attempt to cut the government's deficit absolutely is NOT the way to help get youngsters or anyone else into work, because the immediate result if the government appeared to be going soft on deficit reduction would be that interest rates would go up. And even if that did not push Britain into the sort of crisis which Greece, and Italy have been having, it would certainly "crowd out" investment, especially by small firms, and make it harder for them to create jobs. We also need to watch

Boundary proposals consultation still ongoing

If you have views on whether Copeland should have an MP who also represents the Windemere area on the other side of the highest mountain in England and the deepest and longest lakes in England, there is still time to participate in the consultation process on the proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission for England. Written submissions can be made until Monday 5th December. These can be made: 1. By visiting the following website: . and filling in the online form 2. By e-mail: send representations for the North West region to 3. In writing: send representations to Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQ

On Remembrance Sunday

From "For the Fallen," first published during the first world war "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them."

Sajjad Karim on the Democratic Deficit

Conservative Euro-MP Saj Karim made the following response to an article by Larry Elliot in the Guardian about the cabal running Europe. Mr Elliot’s article can be read online here . Sir Larry Elliot’s article on Europe’s democratic deficit (Guardian 8/11/11) may have been stating the obvious but we do need to debate it. The European Union has always had a problematic relationship with democracy. Ireland said no to the Nice Treaty in a referendum and was ordered to hold a second ballot to ensure victory. Yes, a cabal runs Europe, it would be worrying if their policies were working but they are not. The trouble for the average citizen is that governments come and go but the policies remain. The question ‘why bother’ is then asked leaving a vacuum for a cabal to survive. Turnout across Europe at the last EU elections was 43%, hardly a ringing endorsement. Democracy is not a given thing; it is a concept to create, recreate and enforce. The power of the cabal will be broken when we learn

Lest we forget

Today is Armistice Day, the 93rd anniversary of the end of World War One: Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. At 11 AM on both days we will remember those who were killed in both world wars and all the other conflicts in which people have given their lives for others. We will remember them.

Greek Tragedy

Apparently now Greece will not after all hold a referendum on the bailout plan. It is interesting that President Sarkozy has suggested that Greece might have to leave the Eurozone if they don't accept the bailout plan. I suspect this will be seen as bullying in some quarters, and it is also a tacit admission that leaving the Euro is possible. However, he did have a point - operating a common currency without some attempt to harmonize economic policies is simply not possible.

Art wronger, vita brevis

A cleaning lady at the Ostwind Museum in the German city of Dortmund has destroyed a work of art which had been insured for $US 1.1 million by mistaking it for a stain on the floor and cleaning it up, according to a Dortmund city spokesman. If I were a shareholder of the insurance company who are going to have to pay this sum, or if I were the private collector who lent the artwork "When it starts dripping from the ceiling" to the museum, I would probably be having a serious sense of humour failure about this. And whichever member of the museum management and that of the contract cleaning company which employed the cleaning lady concerned was responsible for ensuring that the cleaners were properly briefed should probably be preparing to spend more time with their families. A work of art is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. But honestly, can any artwork which it is possible to mistake for a stain on the floor really be good enough that in a rational world it would

Greece, Democracy and the Markets

You can make a case that the decision of the Greek Prime Minister to call for a referendum on the Euro-deal was an act of lunacy or a stroke of genius. Certainly the manner in which it was done has sent the markets into a tailspin and terrified most of Europe's heads of government. If the Greek government does call a referendum on the package, gets it out fo the way quickly, and wins it, the results would be almost entirely positive. The fact that there was proven to be public support for the package, including the tough medicine to which is part of it, would make the necessary reforms much easier to carry out. And the precedent of involving the public in such decisions would be very positive. However, the way the proposed referendum appears to have been sprung on everyone could perhaps have been better handled. And if it fails the results for Greece and some of the other Eurozone countries, and those who export to them - like Britain - could be very bad news. I can see this one is

Health and Safety

There are none so blind as those who will not see and that perfectly describes a poster I saw today with the headline "Job Killer" which quotes a statement which David Cameron had made about health and safety rules destroying jobs and businesses, and misinterpreted it as a suggestion that the government is going to scrap all health and safety employment rules. This is not what the policy is about. It is not, and never has been, the policy either of the Conservative party or the coalition government that there is no need for legislation to protect the lives and limbs of people doing dangerous jobs. We have never suggested that there is no need for legislation to protect employees, customers and anyone else who might be exposed to genuine danger if industrial equipment is not maintained in a safe condition with appropriate measures to prevent it from causing such a risk. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that a facility such as, say, the plutonium containment facility at

Government grant creates 1000 jobs in West Cumbria

The Coalition Government's Regional Development fund is to give a grant of £5.5 million to the Energy Coast West Cumbria, which is expected to create 1,000 new jobs in West Cumbria. This is in response to a bid which was supported by local authorities and local business, and the money will help businesses in the area to diversify. This is one of three successful bids to the Regional Development Fund in Cumbria. Another is for tyre company Pirelli to develop more environmentally-friendly tyres at their plant in Carlisle, and the third is £2.5 million for Gilbert Giles & Gordon to rebuild and refurbish their turbine factory in Kendal. This is excellent news for Cumbria and shows that the government is taking the problems of the county seriously.

Another take on the Euro-vote

Hat tip to Plato at "Political Betting" for drawing my attention to a very interesting piece by Mail journalist Tim Shipman called Why Cameron really defied the Euro rebels . Shipman argues that Cameron's reasons for opposing the motion for a referendum on membership of the European Union was not because he completely disagreed with what the rebels wanted, but because he does agree with much of what they want but considers that calling for a referendum now is not the best way to get it. Here are some extracts from the article "Mr Cameron’s behaviour over the last week is more explicable if you take the view that he sought to crush the calls for a referendum not because he doesn’t want to repatriate powers but precisely because he does and wants to remain in charge of the process. "If he is to take on Brussels, he wants to do so on his own terms and at a time of his chosing. His aides stress that the threat of a referendum is a single shot distress flare, rather

Nixon, China, and the monarchy

Sometimes when a change happens it is people at the opposite end of the political spectrum from those you might have expected to enact it who actually do. It's like the "Vulcan Proverb" which supposedly said that "Only Nixon could go to China." And witness the fact that it was a Conservative Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary who finally took action, agreed at the Commonwealth meeting yesterday to start the process of scrapping archaic and ridiculous rules about the succession to the monarchy. Both the ban on anyone married to a catholic inheriting the throne, and the rule which ruled a monarch's female children out of the succession while a brother of any age was available, should have been repealed decades ago. This sort of rule lays the country open to charges of enshrining discrimination against women in our constitution at the highest level and has no place in the 21st century. (I don't think I need to declare an interest in the former case: I am

Quote of the Day

On "Any Questions" today (rebroadcast from yesterday evening) David Davis, following a Lib/Dem speaker who had just made a contribution recognising the role of prison sentences in the fight against crime, said words along the lines of 'I'm a Liberal Democrat and I robustly support prison:' - the coalition is working.

Cameron dismisses suggestions of "bitterness" over Europe vote

David Cameron has ruled out any suggestion that there might be any bad blood or rancour over the rebellion on Europe earlier this week. He told Sky News that "These [the rebels] are valued Conservative colleagues. I understand why people feel strongly and we'll go forward together and tackle the difficult decisions that the country faces. "But you have to do the right thing and give a lead in politics, and that's what yesterday was about." He added that there was "no bad blood, no rancour, no bitterness" over the fact that some people had taken a different view.

EU vote in the commons

Parliament has voted not to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership at the present time, despite a sizeable rebellion by both Conservative and Labour MPs. The front benches of the Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour parties voted against the motion. In total 483 MPs voted against while 111 defied party whips and voted for, a majority of 372. Labour leader Ed Miliband said the revolt was a "humiliation" for Prime Minister David Cameron. "If he can't win the argument with his own backbenchers, how can the country have confidence that he can win the arguments that matter for Britain?" he said. He didn't explain how this chimes with the fact that, on Labour's own figures, about 25 Labour backbenchers failed to vote with him. A Downing Street spokesman said many people who voted for the motion felt very strongly, and their views were respected. "However, the government has to do what is in the national interest. The easy thing to do would have been

On the rights and wrongs of a Euro referendum

A very insightful piece in the Economist today about the arguments concerning whether we should have an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the E.U. I am old enough to remember that about thirty-five years ago Britain did have a referendum on E.U. membership and it produced a two-to-one majority for staying in. This was then used by the advocates of closer union as "proof" that Britain wanted a much greater degree of integration than I suspect many of those who voted "Yes" thought they were voting for. Two thirds of referenda in Britain produce a vote for the status quo. I know that there are a lot of people who think that it's time for another vote on the issue, and they are entitled to that opinion, but I think it is worth those who support any given referendum asking themselves exactly what they are trying to achieve. I know exactly why I support referenda being reqired for certain things. I wanted one on the Lisbon treaty because it was a bad tr

Buzz !

Just after I had come for lunch this week, a horrible noise started to come from the TV, the same sort of noise which sound equipment often makes when something else, such as a mobile phone, is interfering with it. My wife asked if my mobile was causing the problem, and I had just pulled my phone out of my pocket and was trying to work it if this could be the cause when, on the TV, Andrew Neil asked the New Labour panellist who was speaking whether he had a mobile phone on him, and if so, could he please turn it off. He had, and it was interfering with his mike. A great many of the stories people tell about mobile phones - such as that they can cause explosions at petrol stations - are complete fiction. (The electrical impulses inside a mobile phone are orders of magnitude lower than those inside a car engine, and the hottest possible temperature or any component of a mobile phone is vastly cooler than many parts of a car. There is not a single confirmed case of investigation proving t

Parliamentary boundaries

Spoke today at the public hearings about the Boundary Commission for England proposals for the new Parliamentary constituencies in the North West The public consultation is open for another few weeks. Best way to study the proposals and have your say is through the BCE's consultation website, at . The website contains all the Initial proposals, reports and maps, the electorate sizes of every ward, and an online facility where you can have your say on their initial proposals.

Christmas is coming

It's still around a fortnight to halloween and the shops are already full of Christmas themed products. It's a free country and they have the right to offer whatever they think they can sell, but it does seem a little premature.

Electoral registration day today: don't lose your vote

Today is the qualifying date for the electoral register: each household should register with the local electoral authority the names and details of voters, plus sixteen and seventeen-year olds, normally resident in that household as of tonight. It is perfectly legal to have more than one place where you are normally resident and register to vote at more than one address - students, for instance, often register at both their home and college address - provided that you don't actually vote more than once for the same body. This year we had the opportunity to register by returning the paper form, on the internet, by freephone telephone service, or by text. I used the internet service and found it very easy and straightforward. Apart from the little matter that if you don't register you are breaking the law, it also means that you lose your vote and your voice. Don't forget to register!

Commons debate on nuclear power at Sellafield

There was an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, secured at the request of the MP for Copeland, at the conclusion of which the Minister made the following statement. Charles Hendry (Minister of State (Renewable Energy), Energy and Climate Change; Wealden, Conservative) "Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for granting this debate. I congratulate Mr Reed on securing it and thank him for doing so. The matter is timely and important, not just to his constituency but to our national interest more generally. I am delighted to see on the Front Bench and to congratulate Caroline Flint and Tom Greatrex on their appointments to the important positions in the shadow team. I am grateful for the chance to clarify the Government’s position on the future of the nuclear industry in Sellafield, although I cannot give the hon. Member for Copeland all of the answers that he seeks today. I begin by acknowledging the vital contribution that the nuclear industry makes to the economic prosperity

Extending the Right to buy

David Cameron has announced that the government will increase the discounts offered to council house tenants to buy their homes as part of a plan to boost construction of new homes. Cameron announced on the first day of the Conservative Party conference yesterday that the government would also release land it owns to be used to build homes. These actions together would provide thousands of jobs in the building industry with more houses being built, he said. The plan aims to make the Right to Buy scheme, introduced by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, attractive again, the government said. The cash raised by an increase in council house sales will be used to build 100,000 homes that will then be rented out. Cameron said that this would create 200,000 jobs in the construction industry, adding that the release of government land for house building would create a similar number of homes and jobs. More details of the precise level of discount increase will be provided by the government&

DC's final round up from Manchester

A final message from David Cameron about the Conservative Conference in Manchester this week. "This year's Conservative Party Conference was a crucial one. We weren't talking to ourselves; we were talking to the nation, clearly setting out how we are delivering the leadership this country needs to secure a better future. "Over the four days we spent in Manchester we showed that our resolve to tackle Labour's crippling debt is unwavering - because the only way to build a better country is to start with strong economic foundations. "But our Conference was about more than dealing with the deficit. Because, even during these tough times, we can do so much. Together we can protect the vulnerable and safeguard our NHS. We can improve school standards. We can tackle the 'something for nothing' welfare system. We can build our Big Society. We can confront so many things - bonkers health and safety rules, the adoption crisis, famine overseas, reoffending rates

Where is the Tomato Juice ?

Doing a famiy shop at one of the supermarkets in Whitehaven this morning I observed, not for the first time, that while in general there is a much broader choice of fruit juices than used to be the case, the healthiest of the lot, which was readily available in my childhood and early adulthood, is now quite hard to find. Unless the latest dietary advice has done another flip-flop since I last looked, the substance which gives most tomato products their red colour is also one of the most powerful anti-carcinogenics known to man, and including tomato juice as part of one's regular intake of fruit and veg is a very good way to reduce the risk of getting several types of cancer. So why is there obviously not as much demand for it as you might expect? Perhaps tomato juice is for some people an acquired taste, although I never found it hard to acquire: certainly it isn't as good as some other drinks for dealing with a thirst because the taste is too strong to enable you to drink larg

The EU is not the best place to set speed limits

North West MEP Jacqueline Foster and other Conservative MEPs have slammed a proposal from German MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, who has put forward on behalf of the Parliament's Transport Committee a resolution including the introduction of a 30km speed limit in every residential area in Britain. That's about 18.64 mph. I am all in favour of LOCAL authorities being able to impose 20 mph speed limits where LOCAL people know that they are needed - for example, there are a number of places in Copeland where 20 mph speed limits are or have recently been in place where they were entirely appropriate. And the removal of the 20mph speed limit in St Bees was extremely unpopular. But it is just plain daft to set that kind of speed limit in Brussels for every residential area in Europe. There are places where it's needed and places where it is not: and local people and councillors have a much better idea which is which than an MEP from the other end of the continent. As Jacqueline Foster

DC's speech to conference

"This week, in Manchester, this party has shown the discipline, the unity, and the purpose that is the mark of a party of government. I'm proud of my team, I'm proud of our members, I'm proud to lead this party - but most of all, I'm proud of you. "People have very clear instructions for this government: "Lead us out of this economic mess." "Do it in a way that's fair and right." "And as you do it, make sure you build something worthwhile for us and our children." Clear instructions. Clear objectives. And from me: a clear understanding that in these difficult times, it is leadership we need. To get our economy moving. To get our society working, and in a year - the Olympics year - when the world will be watching us, to show everyone what Great Britain really means. But first I want to say something to you in this hall. Thank you. Despite the predictions we won elections all over the country this May, so let's hear it fo