July 2012

Mon, 30 Jul

A good run, into the office for a short while before heading down to Weymouth to the college.

I'd gone there to meet some young volunteers on the National Citizenship Scheme, being run by the Cabinet Office.

I was met by the lovely Katie Parker, a lecturer at the college, who'd volunteered to run the scheme during the holidays.

The course last four weeks and the 40 or so students have already done a range of activities, including canoeing and abseiling.

Their last week was to be dedicated to a community project.

I chatted to the teenagers for some time and then took questions from them at the end.

They all impressed me by their determination and cheerfulness. The work ethic was very much evident and all wanted to succeed.

Afterwards, I popped in to see the new principal Liz Myles, a most able lady, who will be very good news for the college and the town.

She believes in a firm infrastructure for young people and I quite agree.

Back to the office in the afternoon.

Fri, 27 Jul

 

Today was the day. The Olympic opening ceremony revealed its secrets to billions of viewers tonight, but more of that later.

Having worked steadily through the morning, I hopped on to my motorbike at 11am and headed down to Weymouth to meet an extraordinary lady, who'd beaten cancer and had been chosen to run a stretch with the Torch as a result of her fundraising exploits following her recovery.

Her names is Jo Shorey and I knocked on her door at midday on the dot.

She welcomed me in and we went upstairs to meet her charming husband Colin. What a delightful couple and we were soon engrossed in conversation as I found out more about this wonderful lady.

Since recovering from cancer, Jo has raised thousands of pounds for charity and lost four stone.

She's now a fitness fanatic and wants to become a personal trainer. I thought of employing her on the spot!

I spent an hour with them before it was time to head back to the office. Once there, I continued wading through numerous constituency issues before heading out into the sun for a good, long run. The hotter, the better, for me, anyway.

A quick shower and then back on to my motorbike and back down to Weymouth to attend an evening party hosted by the local paper.

It was fun and editor Toby Granville was in good form. We were made to feel very welcome on a smart motor yacht, moored along the quay.

I popped into the Royal Dorset Yacht Club on the way home and got my first glimpse of the opening ceremony which was being watched by members on a giant screen.

I got home at about 10pm and then sat up for the remaining two hours to see it through to its conclusion.

Well done the organisers, and well done the Queen, for allowing Mr Bond to enter her office and then follow her throw the helicopter door, to parachute down to her seat for the ceremony.

My only criticism is that I thought the NHS phase was a little long, but otherwise perfect. What a start to the Games and good luck to Team GB.  

Thu, 26 Jul

The poor, young lady who was killed by a landslide at Burton Bradstock was called Charlotte Blackman,

The 22-year-old was with her father and boyfriend when the rocks came crashing down on to the beach. Such a sad and tragic accident. It just shows how we must all enjoy each and every day, as you never know what might happen.

The local press covered my latest letter to Transport Secretary Justine Greening, which concentrates on eight rescues during the torrential downpour on Saturday, 7 July.

The day started early as I had to be at Budmouth College by 9am for a meeting to discuss further what we can do to help young people into work.

Weymouth businessman Derek Luckhurst chaired the meeting and we made some progress. The difficulty is knowing exactly what to do although we have the big picture very much in mind.

The meeting went on longer than I anticipated, but gave me time to pop across to Portland to visit the Coastwatch station and chat to two, charming volunteers.

Princess Anne is due to visit the outpost in a few days' time.

Fortunately, I was on my motorbike, so heading back to Wyke Regis to see a young mum who believes the poor condition of her home is affecting her young daughter's health.

I shall write to the landlord and see if we can't persuade him to carry out some work to improve matters.

Sadly, there is evidence of shoddy workmanship everywhere you look.

Grabbing a sandwich, I headed back to Portland and up to HMP The Verne to meet the Governor, James Lucas, a former soldier and thoroughly good egg.

Russ Trent, the governor of the YOI, was also there, so we had a good catch up at the new cafe James has created right on top of the hill.

It has a view to die for and I can only imagine that if the prison was not there developers would be falling over each other to do something with the range of old buildings. 

James then took me on a tour of the prison, where I met staff, prisoners and a number of church representatives.

The governor's relaxed outlook and good leadership is creating a new mood at the prison. You can sense it.

More strength to his elbow.

Then, back home to head off to meet some very old friends for dinner.

Wed, 25 Jul

 

Sadly, we have learnt that a 22-year-old woman was killed in the landslide at Burton Bradstock.

What a tragic way for someone so young to go. My deepest sympathies extend to her family and friends.

Spent most of the morning working on my battle to keep the Portland SAR helicopter.

Spoke with the chairman of the transport select committee, which is taking evidence up to 14 September no the proposed changes.

Clearly, I intend to submit some in the hope that the committee will agree with me and everyone else that the helicopter must be kept.

A working lunch seeing how the harvest is going before back in the office to write this week's column.

I have refrained from the Olympics so far, but bearing in mind the opening ceremony is on Friday - the day of my column - I thought it time I touched on this sporting spectacle.

We are officially still in recession, with Labour pontificating we should move to Plan B - spend more!

No, we should stick to Plan A, except instigate far more radical reforms, including repatriating powers from the EU, which are making us uncompetitive.

We need a heavy dose of Conservatism, not more Labour, God forbid.  

Tue, 24 Jul

 

A hectic morning, not least drafting a lengthy letter to Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, about my on-going concerns at the proposed loss of our Portland SAR helicopter.

It was called out eight times during the floods on Saturday, 7 July, and I wanted to underline the helicopter's significance.

Coincidentally, three fishermen were plucked from their life raft by a dive boat after their vessel sank in Lyme Bay in the early hours.

Although our helicopter did not rescue them directly, the incident showed, yet again, how important this air asset is.

I was interviewed by BBC Radio Devon and then, after a working lunch, by BBC Spotlight down in Weymouth.

Very sad news that people - numbers unknown - were trapped in rubble after a landslide at Burton Bradstock.

These event are always shocking and no doubt the picture will become clearer in time.

Sat, 21 Jul

 

 

Hopping on to my motorbike, I headed to Weymouth for the unveiling of a plaque at the Redlands Sports Centre.

The plaque had been awarded by the National Playing Fields Association and meant that the sports fields could now never be concreted over.

This is very good news and a large team, including the Mayor and the new principal at Weymouth College attended.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Sir Anthony Jolliffe, was in China so the Mayor stepped in and did the unveiling.

Fri, 20 Jul

 

Emotions were always going to run high at any public meeting about the future of Swanage Hospital, and so it proved, but more of that later.

After a busy morning in the office, I headed to Wareham for my quarterly farmers' meeting at the NFU office.

With milk prices going through the floor, placing a lot of dairy farmers on the point of bankruptcy, I knew feelings were running high.

We had a most useful meeting lasting some two hours. We covered a lot of ground.

There was agreement all round that the Government could not set a millk price, but a request that it does help with a voluntary code of conduct between producers, processors and supermarkets.

That's under way at the moment, and I hope it succeeds.

Then, it was down to Swanage pier to meet my next appointment, a Poole man with a business in the resort.

I waited for some 30 minutes but no show.

Across to the Conservative Club to meet come local colleagues to discuss the imminent public meeting at the Mowlem Theatre.

In mid meeting, John Morton, from NHS Dorset, appeared among us, saying I was expected at another meeting with him and two GPs.

This had indeed been organised, but I was led to believe it was the following Friday.

Anyway, I attended and John and the two GPs tried to convince me of their plan to close Swanage Hospital, replace the existing clinic with a new one, and share a new hospital in Wareham.

There were other connotations, but in simple terms that's what's on offer.  

I am not convinced and have yet to hear a suitable alternative to a much beloved cottage hospital.

We then went across to the theatre and the queue to get in was impressive.

The theatre was packed - nearly 300 people.

The same amount gathered outside and started chanting while the meeting inside got under way.

Mr Morton and the two GPs did their best but, judging from the audience's reaction, lost the argument.

Jan Turnbull, the Friends' chairman, made a brief and excellent speech, before it went to questions.

They came thick and fast and were very, very good. Some appeared to throw those on the stage, while others were loudly supported because of values they espoused.

It was an emotive evening and at the end I said a few words.

I was not for closing the hospital and we'd won a debate on the floor of the House in September, looking at the future of cottage hospitals themselves.

This surely must be sensible before any are closed.

Mr Morton was not a happy man at the end, feeling that he'd been ambushed. I explained that if you attempt to try and take away something as special and as loved as our cottage hospital that was the sort of reaction anyone would get.

There's much more to do before we can rest easy with this issue.

Thu, 19 Jul

 

Spent most of the day in the office, organising future events and catching up with a mountain of correspondence.

Also prepared for the public meeting on the future of Swanage Hospital tomorrow night.

Wed, 18 Jul

 

A whole range of issues to follow up.

Preparations for a public meeting concerning the future of Swanage Hospital; managing to place a 15 year old student from Royal Manor Arts College with a consultant at DCH; organising a day at Yeovilton for another Royal Manor student, who wants to work on helicopters; wriiting weekly newspaper column; collating facts for another letter to Transport Secretary regarding Portland SAR helicopter; updating surgery timings; going through diary for the summer and tying up details on Olympic ambassadorial duties; and writing several letters to constituents.

There's a lot going on.

And in Swanage, I am helping an elderly couple deal with a troublesome neighbour. The relevant housing association is being very helpful and I hope the problem will be resolved shortly.

A long run in the evening and some time with my youngest son ended a busy day.  

Tue, 17 Jul

 

Last day in the House. Began the day with my morning constitution. Park surrounded by huge boards for a series of pop concerts.

Into the Commons and after dealing with several constituency matters, went into the Chamber for health questions.

I had hoped to catch the Speaker's eye as I wanted to ask Mr Lansley about the future of cottage hospitals.

There was then an urgent question on Olympic security, where Mrs May regurgitated what she'd said the week before.

I went back to the office for a short while until attending my Efra select committee.

We took evidence on milk prices, which have plummeted, causing uproar and anger in the dairy industry.

We posed questions to the NFU, a processor and Asda. Some very interesting answers, not least from Asda, who'd raised the price they paid for their milk that day! 

The meeting went on for some time.

I worked through to 7pm before heading down to Dorset and home. 

Mon, 16 Jul

 

More rain! Will it ever stop?

For farmers, rain of this volume before harvest is very bad news and could be serious unless the sun comes out and soon.

On the dairy side, a row is brewing about the price that some dairy farmers are getting for their milk.

After an hour or two in the office, I headed to London.

Had just begun to wade through the in-tray when went into the Chamber for defence questions.

I wanted to ask a question and got my chance at topical questions, which are held in the last 15 minutes.

I was called and asked the Defence Secretary whether soldiers removed from promotion courses to deal with the Olympic security shambles would be fully compensated.

The Defence Secretary looked blank at my question and promised to get back to me.

I gave a short interview to The Times newspaper.

I then remained in the Chamber as an Urgent Question was put to the Home Secretary about the G4S shambles.

Mrs May handled herself well, but I am sure an inquiry post Olympics will reveal that G4S made a hash of its contract and potentially landed Mrs May in the soup.

Back to the office for a while before meeting the deputy chairman of the NFU with many other MPs to discuss the catastrophically low milk price offered to some farmers.

Many are now desperate  and calling on the Government for help.

Blunt views were exchanged and nothing was really achieved.

I then enjoyed supper with Minisiter Bob Neill, an extremely nice and able minister who'd come down to S Dorset recently at my request.

Nicholas Soames joined us, which is always good value.

A vote at 10pm before clearing my desk and heading home at 11pm.

Sun, 15 Jul

Down to Swanage for a poignant Service to lay up the old standard of the Royal British Legion's local branch and dedicate a new one.

We all gathered outside St Peter's Church at 2.30pm and the chairman, Bobby Alexander, organised us all.

The Mayor, Cllr Bill Trite, and his lovely consort, Cheryl, were present, and we all marched into the church on the dot of 3pm.

John took the Service most ably, as always, and we belted out some good old favourites before the new standard was dedicated on the altar.

Sadly, not as many residents in church as I would have thought, but the jazz festival was under way and I expect more were tempted that way.

Afterwards, we walked up to the Legion and enjoyed a feast fit for a king, laid on by a team of wonderful ladies, who had worked so hard to feed us all.

Bobby made a short speech, thanking everyone, before it was time to head home.

I strolled onto the platform on the way to my car and chatted to some of the team working on the railway. The last diesel of the day was about to pull out. 

A wonderful and most poignant afternoon.

Fri, 13 Jul

 

An ominous date! But, as it turned out, a really great day.

No rain!!!

On to my motorcycle at 5.50am and down to Portland Bill for the start of the Torch relay through S Dorset.

I arrived at about 6.30am - there being no traffic - and the crowds were already gathering.

The Torch team - a convoy of buses, police motorcycle outriders, LOCOG BMWs, and other back up vehicles was arriving in the car park there as I did.

I parked up and began to meet the early risers.

The ambulance staff and St John volunteers were all there, bless them, along with some cadets from Budmouth College and other school children.

The first man to carry the Torch was called Tom. Sadly, I didn't catch his surname, but met his proud parents.

On the dot of 7.05am, Tom set off amidst cheers, whistles and yells. The Town Cryer rang his bell hard and the crowds parted as this apparition in white came jogging forward, holding the precious, flaming Torch.

I popped up to the Coastwatch station but couldn't find anyone although the downstairs door was open.

On to Easton Square for a bacon-butty, before visiting Tony Walker, the POA branch chairman at the YOI.

Also there was POA national chairman Peter McParlin, who lives in Weymouth.

The POA is concerned that prison officers will have to work on well into their 60s before getting their pension.

They claim, and I agree, that that's too old to do a job which carries it with the risk of assault and the need sometimes to tackle violent prisoners.

On that note, I was given a very realistic demonstration in a training cell to show me just how difficult it is to restrain a strong man who is asking for a fight - and this happens.

It took four big, beefy officers to control one of their colleagues, who play-acted almost too well!

The point was made and made well.

I could not dwell too long as I needed to get to Osmington before the Torch.

Just as well, perhaps, as one of the prison officers, with a wicked gleam in his eye, wanted me to play the role of the prisoner.

I declined and fled!

The advantage on being on a motorcycle is obvious and I managed to navigate my way around the Torch procession and to Osmington in good time.

I'd been asked to the Sunray Pub, which is under new ownership, by the proprietor Laura Guntrip.

What a lovely lady.

I then went outside and walked up the road past hundreds of people to find Cllr Teresa Seall.

She had organised for more than 200 children to attend and was in her element.

Dead on time - and you can set your watch on the Torch schedule - the convoy emerged over the top of the hill and began making its way through Osmington.

Huge excitement, cheers and a carnival atmosphere as the Torch bearers did their stuff brilliantly.

All too soon it was over and I popped into the pub for some coffee and a gallon of water.

Said my farewells and headed to Corfe Castle.

Managed to catch up with the Torch in Wool, before taking the back roads across to Swanage.

Huge crowds at Corfe Castle, where I parked up at the Castle Inn and said a big hello to Mark Turner.

They are such a lovely family and we watched the Torch past on its way to Swanage.

I caught up with the flame as it was beginning to make its way out of the resort and back to the middle school where the support team was having lunch.

I dropped into the Conservative Club and wolfed down two delicious ham and tomato buns and a pint of lager. So good.

Saw many of the usual characters and, as always, the club was humming. Such a good atmosphere there.

Back on the bike and home via Stoborough and Wareham, which were heaving with people.

I have to say that the Flame is doing its job, making people aware that a sporting treat is on its way and we should all enjoy the moment while it lasts.

Back into the office and a couple of hours writing letters of thanks etc to those I'd met on my way.

Still no rain!!!!

Thu, 12 Jul

 

An early start to the day, a day that the Olympic torch finally arrived in South Dorset, but more of that later.

Worked through the morning and watched the rain begin AGAIN!

This is bad news for everyone, especially farmers. The implications for them are serious unless we have some sun.

At lunchtime, I headed down to Portland to meet my colleague Bob Neill, the minister for communities and local government, who was down in Dorset on a number of visits.

Some months ago, I asked him to come and meet a remarkable group of people led by former policewoman Yvonne Beven.

She and a small team started an organisation called Revive Portland.

Their aim was to smarten up their island, encourage more people to join them and foster a community spirit to get things done.

They are not enamoured with either the town or district councils.

They have worked wonders and Bob's first stop was the working men's club in Fortuneswell, opposite the Britannia Inn. 

I got there first in the pouring rain and bumped into two volunteers who were painting and scrubbing down doors.

Both men were charming and doing if for love.

The club is huge, but sadly run down and cursed with flat roofs, which leak of course.

But, undeterred, Yvonne and her team are cleaning the place up, and the library is moving there.

Bob was impressed and, avoiding the new paint, was shown around what could be a most splendid asset to the island.

We then had the huge honour or walking - in the rain - to Jackson Gallery, run by the charming Jo and Mark Jackson.

They have renovated the place and it is stunning. Clean and bright, we all enjoyed a cup of tea and some cakes.

Here we met Yvonne's team of volunteers, who were simply fantastic. 

Bob then had to visit Chickerell, to meet some Torch bearers, before returning to London on the train.

I was about to go to the beach party to see the Torch arrive when my London office called saying a gentleman was concerned that his house might flood for a second time and no one was helping him.

Mr Matysiak lives in Nottington by the river and last weekend was flooded out when the river burst its banks.

Although fit, he was an elderly gentleman and I could see he was agitated.

After listening to his problem, I asked if anyone else had been flooded and he replied that Lord and Lady Knight had been.

So, after reassuring him, I crossed the road and spoke to Lady Knight. Poorthings, they too had been badly affected.

With the rain still belting down, I called the council and asked the emergency team to bring some filled sandbags, which I think they duly did. I still have to find out! I was told they did; let's put it that way.

Then, it was down to the Pavilion to attend the Mayor's celebration party after the flame had been safely brought ashore and lodged somewhere secure.

It was a good party, culminating with a firework display fired from a floating barge.

A great day and more to come tomorrow.

Wed, 11 Jul

 

Another busy day, beginning with a good run.

Then to the dentist - my favourite activity!

Back to the office and into PMQs.

I leapt up and down to attract the Speaker's attention, but to no avail.

I wanted the PM's reassurance that he will review the role of cottage hospitals before ones like Swanage are closed.

A sandwich lunch, constituent's corrrespondence, weekly newspaper column and drafting final speech for afternoon debate on VAT on fuel for air ambulances.

I was there to speak on behalf of ours - Dorset and Somerset, and to explain that it does not pay VAT on fuel because it's run by a third party and not a charity, which has to pay VAT.

The speeches from both sides of the House called on the government to look at this issue which costs 18 air ambulances across the country about £100,000 - that's about 30 rescues.

The debate followed another about working times in the House, so we finished just before 7pm and then I headed to Dorset.

The Olympic torch arrives tomorrow night and then travels through the constituency on Friday.

I regrettably did not have time to attend a reception hosted by a colleague on the Jurassic Coast, but such is life in this place.

Left the office at about 8pm and arrived home two hours later. 

Tue 10 Jul

Back from a family commitment in Norway and straight into the fray!

Day began with an early morning run and ended with a fracas in the House regarding the Lords' reform bill.

Caught up with a variety of matters all morning, before supporting Dr Wollaston MP attempt to get a discussion on the future of cottage hospitals on the floor of the Chamber.

We attended the 1pm meeting of the Backbench Business Committee and put our case strongly.

There was stiff competition for time in the Chamber, as there always is.

I then entertained a member of my team and her mum to lunch, before taking them upstairs to the gallery to watch the Lords' reform debate.

I meanwhile entered the Chamber for the long wait to speak.

I did manage to sneak out to meet some students from Westfield Arts College, whose radio station has been nominated for a national award.

This is a tremendous achievement and such an accolade to the school and students.

My office team came down to look after them as I had to return to the Chamber.

There were many passionate speeches on Lords' reform.

I think it fair to say that the majority of us agreed there were too many of them, they couldn't be made to retire and their method of selection needed close scrutiny.

BUT, on the whole, the existing system works well.

The 'Sensibles', as we were dubbed by the press, fought to get this bill kicked into the long grass.

The plan to have 15 year Senators, elected under some form of PR, and totally unaccountable to anyone was too much for me and for 90 other colleagues.

We rebelled in the late vote at 10pm, along with 30 or so other MPs from other parties.

It was a large rebellion and it upset the Whips and the Prime Minister.

I shan't go into detail as to what exactly happened, for that is not my place, except to say that tempers were lost and words said, which I'm sure on reflection were not meant.

Call it politics!

We didn't win the vote, but there was enough of us for the government to withdraw the programme motion.

Victory in a sense, and a good one too.

What is being offered is nothing short of constitutional vandalism.

Thu, 5 Jul

Up at 6am and off around the park.

Into the office briefly, before attending a delegated matter at 9am.

MPs are whipped to attend these normally short affairs, where business is carried out in a similar style to that of the Chamber, but in miniature. 

Back into the office for a short while before entering the Chamber to listen to the Defence Secretary announce the latest round of cuts.

It was a sad hour and we should hang our heads in shame that our armed forces are yet again being sliced.

Yes, it is in part a response to the mess we inherited from Labour, but Governments have to prioritise and in my view defence is top of the list.

I was called to intervene, when I made the point that, if the army was to shrink to 82,000, there should be a higher proportion of regulars than part-timers.

The Defence Secretary disagreed.

Then, came the inevitable punch-up between the Parties as we discussed how to deal with the banking crisis.

Labour wants a judicial inquiry, while the Coalition is calling for a parliamentary one.

The issue is complicated, but simply put the Prime Minister believes the latter will be quicker and give the House time to introduce new legislation in the Finance Bill if it's needed.

The former could take two to three years.

The difficulty with both, as the Leveson inquiry found, was that any criminal procedures get in the way of an inquiry and narrow the investigation.

Ed Balls was in vintage form, accusing the Chancellor of impuning his character with comments in the Spectator alleging he new about some of the scandal back in 2008.

There is no love lost between the two men and you could feel the animosity across the Chamber.

Wed, 4 Jul

A run and into the office.

Attended PMQs, a quick sandwich and then back to the office to write my weekly column and prepare for the Adjournment Debate on the Navitus Bay wind farm.

Dealt with on-going constituency matters, like the threatened Swanage Hospital.

And on that note, I am teaming up with Dr Wollaston MP who intends to bring a debate on the future of cottage hospitals into the Chamber.

This is very important as their future must be taken into account by the Government before they are closed!

Worked through until 7pm and then entered the Chamber to wait to be called.

The Adjournment debate began at 7.35pm and several Dorset MPs attended in support.

Two spoke - Connor Burns and Tobias Ellwood.

The Minister's reply did not reassure us, it has to be said.

If given the go-ahead, we could have more than 300 giant wind turbines located 13 kms of the Swanage coastline.

This is simply not acceptable.

If they want to erect these monsters, they can do it much further out to sea.

Tue, 3 Jul

A damp, stuffy start to the day.

A run first, then into the House in time for my first appointment with BBC SW.

They're a nice team and we chatted about news items both current and future.

I then had a brief appointment with the Speaker, who's a good man.

My niece had popped in to see what went on in the House, so leaving her with one of my staff, I headed to No 10 to meet Andrew Cooper, one of the PM's advisers.

Typically, the meeting had been cancelled, so back to the Commons I trudged for a sandwich lunch.

I then submitted my third attempt to win an adjournment debate on our Portland SAR helicopter, having successfully been granted one of the Navitus wind farm off Swanage.

At 4pm there was a most useful brief/discussion on cottage hospitals and, with our cosy one in Swanage under threat, I was all ears.

Hopped into the car to pick up my wife from hospital - all very minor - and took her home before returning to my office in the Commons.

Worked through until the late vote at 11pm.

Mon 2 Jul

An early start to the day and out to Corfe Castle First School to see the delightful and very able headmaster Nigel Beckett.

They were due to unveil a new school sign, but lashing rain postponed the event.

I did see the new sign going up and very smart it is too.

Caught up with school news and then headed home, into a suit and off up to London for another week.

The Prime Minister made a statement on his recent trip to Euroland and the Chamber was packed.

We all lept up and down to attract the Speaker's attention and I was successful.

I asked Mr Cameron why he was pushing closer political and fiscal integration in the eurozone when all the evidence revealed this federalist, Soviet-style bureaucracy is the main reason for economic chaos and civil disorder.

He didn't really answer the question, but the PMs rarely do!

Due to my commitment in the Chamber, I was late to meet teaching assistant Janet Tizzard, who'd won a regional award and was invited by the organisers for tea in the Commons.

Sadly, I missed her by five minutes as she'd left to catch the train back to Weymouth.

I had, however, met her at Royal Manor's superb graduation ceremony last week. Still I was disappointed we didn't meet up again.

I headed back to my office and worked through until 11.30pm, when the debate on the Finance Bill came to an end with a couple of votes and the late night adjournment debate started.

I remained for this because I wanted to support my colleague Gavin Williamson, who was calling for the Government to scrap the beer escalator.

This outrageous and punitive tax is imposed annually on the brewing industry and it's time it ended. 

I promised one of my oldest friends, David Woodhouse, who ran his family brewery in Blandford before he died of a heart attack aged 49, that I would fight to get rid of this tax which every time it was implemented forced breweries like his to make staff redundant.

This is madness.

I managed to intervene once during the short 30 minute debate.

Then it was home to bed at about 1am.  A long day.