New Register Entry
Posted Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 11:02
As I’m sure many of you will have
noticed, two weeks ago the Parliamentary Committee on Standards ruled that I
had inadvertently failed to register my outside earnings correctly. I
apologised on the day that decision was made and immediately began the process
of ensuring the register was updated accordingly.
That has now been done and the new register has
been published online. It is available to view here.
While I had templates from the entries of MPs such
as Diane Abbott and Alan Johnson to use as examples of outside earnings from
media and writing work, I would also like to publicly thank the registrar for
her help in making this process as smooth as possible.
Although it has been done late, I maintain that
this is now among the most complete entries on the register as many other MPs
will be following the old guidelines I was advised to consult by the Whip’s
Office and a member of the Standards Committee.
One advantage of my own outside earnings is that
they can be used to help subsidise my parliamentary work. I now no longer claim personal expenses from the taxpayer. I pay for my own
Westminster accommodation when Parliament is sitting, my own constituency home
and make no claims for travel, food etc.
My position on expenses remains unaltered, they
should be abolished and until they are the British public will have no faith in
Latest Visit to Ampthill Fire Station
Posted Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 11:25
Last week I had the pleasure of being welcomed to Ampthill Fire Station and met both full and part-time fire-fighters. Unfortunately the Fire Service have been involved in a long running dispute with the government reaching back to 2000.
No-one disputes that we are living longer, this is a great thing and, for the most part, we all need to work longer. However in some jobs and professions there will be physical limits and difficulties associated with having to work until older age. Fire-fighters will have to work until they are sixty years of age in order to be entitled to receive their pension.
I attempted and failed to lift some of the equipment fire-fighters are expected to run with and carry, sometimes up long flights of stairs. I simply couldn’t do it and I don’t think many sixty year olds could, unless they were at the peak of athletic fitness in their thirties. They have to climb ladders, scale tall blocks of flats and then potentially carry an unconscious member of the public back down again to safety. They put their own lives at risk in order to save the lives of others.
The men and women of the Fire Service are in an unusual position as public servants. They aren’t as publically visible as those caring for us or healing us in the NHS, teaching our children in schools or patrolling the streets to keep us safe. There is very little public interaction and during major fires people are actively kept back from the locations where firemen and women are doing their jobs.
I do not believe that it will be possible to maintain the level of fitness required until the age of sixty. That is what is required of firemen by the pension changes being proposed. This is not about mental ability or feelings of tiredness at the end of the day, this is about requiring a very high level of physical fitness and I think that is unreasonable.
The vital move to us all working longer needs to be accepted by the great many people who will be affected and handled sensitively by employers and the government. There is a balance to be struck and I think that increasing the fire-fighter pension age to 60 is the wrong side of that balance.
My Group B Strep Adjournment Debate on 7th November
Posted Monday, 11 November 2013 at 13:58
To Train Up a Child (Update)
Posted Friday, 8 November 2013 at 13:40
Following me raising in the House of Commons yesterday the subject of the horrific book for sale on Amazon advocating child abuse, they have finally been in touch and sent me the following statement:
"Amazon does not endorse the content of any book that it offers. This book has been widely debated in the media, and on Amazon, for many years and anyone who wishes to express their views about this title is free to do so on its product page on our website."
Posted Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 11:10
This is the substance of my response to constituents who have contacted me in recent days about the ongoing events in Syria and the response of the British Government. The use of chemical weapons against a civilian population is an abhorrent war crime, however, I am absolutely convinced that any response must be based on verified facts and international law.
Before I would cast my vote on a motion regarding Syria I would want to read the UN report and verify the legalities. This is difficult when the report has not yet been written and the Security Council has not yet deliberated the matter. I would also need to be convinced that this conflict somehow requires intervention in a way that others don't.
I am concerned that the speed with which events are moving is in contrast to the lack of information available to justify military action and the UN mission in Syria must be given the time it needs to produce a comprehensive, factual report backed up by hard evidence.
Voting to send British armed service personnel into battle is one of the most important duties of a Member of Parliament. I would not sanction a course of action that would commit the lives of our British forces unless a compelling and definitive case of war crimes was made which thoroughly justified the case for British involvement. I would also seek the support of my constituents and would do this by urging constituents to contact me with their opinion. At the moment neither criteria has been met.
I will not be casting an uninformed vote in haste and consider that to submit to a whipped vote today would be to do just that. Therefore I will not be voting.
IPSA's Provisional Findings
Posted Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 16:16
I suppose the big question is why, out of 649 other MPs, IPSA chose to launch an expensive and time consuming investigation into my expenses, especially given that I have never claimed many of the expenses to which I was entitled.
I am sure it is just a coincidence that, as the pressure began to mount for my whip to be returned after three months of suspension, wham, I surprisingly had an investigation in process. Any request for reinstatement met with the response from the Chief Whip 'we now have to wait for the IPSA investigation to end'.
Funny that no longer seemed important the morning after UKIP did so well in the local elections and I suddenly got my whip back, whilst the IPSA investigation was still in process.
With regard to the report itself, I am delighted that the compliance officer made NO findings against me, which is obviously the biggie, and that throughout the report he stressed that I have at no time sought to benefit from the scheme and he even highlighted some of the expenses I could have claimed but didn't.
There was a technical breach that was IPSA's fault. Strange how it becomes technical when it's down to IPSA. They approved travel expenses which the compliance officer said should not have been approved, by IPSA.
They were wrongfully claimed on IPSAs explicit instructions to claim and then wrongfully paid by IPSA.
He didn't mention that, in error, they haven't paid me £6,000 worth of salary. Probably because he didn't think it was relevant to the investigation but IPSA would never have let him as it would have only highlighted further their total incompetence.
I have to say, the compliance officer is a straight guy but in my opinion he is nobbled by IPSA. Even though his appointment is statutory, which means he doesn't officially work for IPSA, his office is bang in the middle of the IPSA staff and I believe they have the upper hand.
This report was due out on Monday, however, I have lost count how many times IPSA have referred the report, which makes no findings against me, back to their incredibly expensive lawyers at Matrix Chambers. Or at least, I believe that's who they use.
Is there a connection between the people at Matrix and Board members at IPSA? Did IPSA use a tendering process before they appointed their lawyers? Or is someone in Matrix a friend of someone in IPSA? I'm only asking because it is public money and the rumour is that IPSA have spent half a million pounds with Matrix.
Anyway, as everyone knows, I have removed myself from the personal expenses system. I shall use my salary to fund my second home in Westminster and my travel and all other personal expenses, which in effect means I shall be working for free.
When we had the expenses crisis in 2009, the problem was never who paid the expenses, it was expenses. Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg thought that the answer to the problem, was to change the people who paid the expenses from the fees office to IPSA.
Expenses need to be scrapped in their entirety.
Posted Friday, 19 July 2013 at 12:59
I may not have held on to my crown but I was delighted to come second overall and be the top Conservative MP in the annual Politics.co.uk twitter awards that were announced yesterday.
Thanks to the judges. The top 10 can be found here
, the worst 10 MPs are discussed here
, which is a hilarious read.
My Adjournment Debate about Employment Terms for Reserve Forces Personnel
Posted Friday, 28 June 2013 at 11:33
Posted Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 08:38
I can’t talk about the IPSA investigation until it reports other than to say that so far I am happy with the way the investigation has been conducted and I am looking forward to the report.
However, separate from the investigation, I have made the decision to stop claiming any personal MP expenses and to fund my role as an MP from my salary. In effect this will take most of my salary, which means I will be representing Mid Bedfordshire for free!
I cannot fulfil my role as an MP without accommodation in Westminster. I cannot travel backwards and forwards to and from Bedfordshire on late nights. As I am on the Speakers Panel, if I am late for an early morning Public Bill Committee then the committee cannot sit and that creates a serious problem for the Clerks, Officials, Ministers and MPs involved. Therefore a second home in Westminster is essential.
For the last eight years I have claimed for the cost of my room/flat, as I am entitled to, plus council tax, utilities and my travel expenses to and from the constituency to Westminster — as do the majority of MPs.
From the end of July I will fund this using my salary and will draw no personal expenses.
I have rarely claimed the late night meal allowance and have never claimed the £2,800 pa allowed when I was a single parent with a child under the age of 21 in full time education.
I have long said that under the present system, before long, Parliament will be a place of millionaires or paupers. I loathe the expenses system and believe it should be scrapped and MPs paid one flat-rate fee.
Whilst I draw personal expenses I cannot argue for reform of the system or put forward the case to scrap expenses. Not drawing expenses puts me in a stronger position to be able to do this.
As someone who is high profile and frequently reported I have also decided that it is not fair to put my staff through the constant stress that scrutiny and investigations bring about.
I have given a statement to www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/local/exclusive-nadine-i-ll-work-for-free-1-5226386
NB: The cost of running the office, postage, staff salaries and constituency mileage will still be claimed.
Emily Davison Memorial
Posted Wednesday, 5 June 2013 at 14:52
Other women Conservative MPs and me marking 100 years since the death of Emily Davison in 1913.
The fight for equality goes on!
My Contribution to the Queen's Speech Debate on Health and Social Care
Posted Monday, 20 May 2013 at 14:42
Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire) (Con): My speech will be in two halves. I shall talk first about health care issues, as this is a health debate.
I welcome the Care Bill, particularly its commitment to social care. I feel that words such as “compassion” are sometimes missing from our discussions on health care. Before I say more, let me welcome publicly, for the first time, the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) to her position as head of a review body that will examine NHS complaints.
As many Members know, I was a nurse in a former life, and it was a profession that I absolutely loved. I was, I think, a committed nurse. I lived in a nursing home, and often worked for more hours than I was supposed to. I would go into the hospital on my days off to visit patients who had no relatives. I was not alone in that; most of the nurses in my nursing home behaved in the same manner. I pay tribute to a nurse who started work on the same day as me, on 5 November 1975: Helen Windsor, who contacted me recently. For all these years, she has been delivering the same committed care that she delivered in 1975.
I suppose many people will say that that was a long time ago, and it was, but I think that qualities such as compassion, kindness and caring are timeless. It does not matter when they were being delivered; they should be delivered in the same way today. Unfortunately, however, I—like many other Members—regularly receive complaints from constituents about the standard of nursing care. I mentioned Helen Windsor because I want to pay tribute to the nurses who do deliver good care.
I recently visited a constituent in hospital, an 89-year-old man with no relatives. It was interesting that the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley mentioned nail clippings, because I had already written down that I intended to raise the subject. That constituent was agitated because his nails were serrated and were catching on the cardigan that he was wearing as he sat in his chair. When I asked the nurse whether she could cut his nails—he said that he had been asking for it to be done himself—she replied “No, I can’t. We are not allowed to do that.” So I took an emery board out of my handbag and filed his nails myself. I know that sometimes, as Members of Parliament, we feel that we are social workers, but I had never imagined that I would extend my role to the nail care and general hand hygiene of a constituent in hospital—but I did.
Unfortunately, on a number of occasions recently I have sat in a hospital and witnessed nursing care being delivered to my own daughter. Only a few weeks ago, when she was on a hospital trolley waiting to go into the operating theatre—distressed, anxious, upset—we witnessed nurses holding conversations over her head about intimate details of their love lives and their social lives, which, while she was in pain, my daughter had no interest in hearing. Not only was she subjected to those intimate details of their private lives; she was also subjected to a lack of care. She was completely ignored on that trolley. Yes, she was about to go into an operating theatre and be dealt with, but it is when patients are in that condition that they need nursing care most. They need to be reassured. They need to be calm. They need to know that everything is going to be OK. However, there was no interest in that.
The most appalling thing that happened was that, just before my daughter went into the operating theatre, one nurse told the other that she was going to the bathroom, and then gave exact details of what she was going to do there. I cannot think of a more polite way of putting it in the Chamber. It was a totally inappropriate conversation to be having outside the doors of an operating theatre.
A constituent who recently came to see me in my surgery told me that, when in hospital following a road traffic accident, she had noticed after a few days that her bottom sheet had not been changed and was bloodstained. Each day she wrote the date around the border of the bloodstains. When she left hospital 10 days later, she left that bottom sheet for the nurses to see, with the dates written in a pattern around the bloodstains. During those 10 days, no sheets had been changed. We used to change the sheets every day, and that was possibly excessive, but I think that, given that we are constantly trying to find ways in which to deal with, beat and get on top of hospital-acquired infections, bloodstained sheets indicate a lack of care.
I do not want to labour the point about complaints, because I know that a number of other people have already done so, and I feel that it is now the remit of the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley. Rather, I want to discuss immigration and its impact. We send £53 million per day to Europe, which limits our dealings with the rest of the world—in fact, the Prime Minister is trying to tackle that issue today. Labour will not commit to a referendum. Do Labour Members not see that that £53 million a day could be spent on dementia care, on Alzheimer’s care, on young carers? There are so many things we could do with that money.
People were asked one question when we went into the Common Market: do you want to go in, yes or no? They should be asked the same question to exit. If we can go to the electorate on behalf of the Liberal Democrats with a referendum on the alternative vote in a matter of months, why do we have to wait years to offer them a referendum on an issue as big as the European Union? Do we not realise what a self-serving, self-interested bunch we seem to people out there, when we can call an expensive national referendum on AV, yet obfuscate and delay on the question of European Union membership?
It is no good saying that people are not interested in this issue, because they are: it is the subject of almost every other question I am asked when I go out in my constituency. People now know exactly how much we are spending on the European Union, and they do not believe that leaving will cost us 3 million jobs. They would like a piece of the action in China, which reported growth of some 9.5% in the past year. They want some of the action taking place in the BRIC countries. That is where they want to trade—not in a sick and failing Europe that is getting sicker by the day.
I want to add my voice to those who have spoken out on this issue, and I would definitely join the two Cabinet Ministers in voting to be out. I would vote no tomorrow, and I know many of my constituents would. I completely support the measures in the health Bill in the Queen’s Speech, which will be well received by everybody, but I want to add my voice to the case for an in/out referendum. We must find a way to deliver that. We know that the Prime Minister means what he says; but if we can do it on AV, we have to do it on the EU: otherwise, people will not believe us.
Tactics for the run-up to 2015
Posted Monday, 20 May 2013 at 14:35
For those who may have missed them, here are links to my Telegraph interview
from Saturday and my column in the Sun on Sunday
from last week, where I discuss how to keep Labour out in 2015.