New year, new website

I hope readers like my new website. I and my team have been built this beta version ourselves, and we can change and add things as we go along. There's more work to do and a lot more content to add, but we're keen to hear from people with ideas for new features or issues you'd like us to include.

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Nick HerbertP4MD, LGBT, TB Comment
Gambling the Conservative economic record

In today’s Daily Telegraph I’ve co-signed a letter with 20 fellow MPs in support of Conservatives for Reform in Europe, the new campaign which I chair. They include former ministers, senior MPs and a number who are known to be particularly sceptical about the EU, for instance rebelling against the Government in the last Parliament to demand a referendum.

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Lord Taylor's support for new "garden villages"

The Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Taylor of Goss Moor has authored a pamphlet published today by Policy Exchange, 'Garden Villages: Empowering localism to solve the housing crisis'. What a pity that Lord Taylor fails to mention in his pamphlet that he is a director of Mayfield Market Towns Limited, a developer which has been trying to build a "new market town" of up to 10,000 houses in open countryside in my West Sussex constituency.

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Boris orders sobriety

Boris Johnson has today launched a really interesting initiative: a compulsory sobriety trial in South London which aims to reduce alcohol-related reoffending. People committing alcohol-related offences will be required to remain sober for a period of up to four months, enforced with electronically monitored tags that can detect if they have been drinking.

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Presumption against fracking in our beautiful countryside is welcome

The Government’s announcement today that fracking will not take place in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty save ‘in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest’ is a welcome and sensible move. That will be a relief to the residents of Wisborough Green and Kirdford in my constituency, two villages in beautiful countryside close to the South Downs National Park which have faced the prospect of drilling.

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Rights and wrongs

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson had an interesting report this morning that the Conservatives are planning - should we form the next government - to pass a Bill to allow Parliament to override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), although Britain would aim to remain a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights.

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A Chief Executive for Whitehall must not answer to Sir Humphrey

Overshadowed in the ephemeral excitement of the reshuffle, a change at least as significant. It's been announced today that Sir Bob Kerslake is to step down as Head of the Civil Service, to be replaced by a Chief Executive "at the centre of government". The new CEO will "lead the next phase of work on Civil Service transformation and the Government’s efficiency and reform agenda".

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Why ending the illegal wildlife trade matters

This week is an important one for international conservation.  The Government is hosting a major conference on the illegal wildlife trade, focusing on the serious threat to elephants, rhinos and tigers in particular from poaching to satisfy the demand for animal body parts.  There’ll be a two day symposium hosted by the Zoological Society of London, followed by a high level event hosted by the Prime Minister with delegates from around the globe. 

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Old Whitehall cannot hold

James Forsyth's piece in today's Spectator is insightful about the growing political consensus that Whitehall needs a shake-up. It's often missed that the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, and the Head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, have been supporting change. Notably, Kerslake co-signed the Government's Civil Service Reform Plan and its first year update with the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude.

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Wise Judge-ment

Like the proverbial London buses, you wait for one senior judge to say something about the European Court of Human Rights, and along come two more. Hard on the heels of Lord Justice Laws' call for our courts to stop deferring to the ECtHR, and Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption's view that the Court "undermines the democratic process", comes a bombshell from no less a figure than the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.

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