Diary - we must support our NI veterans

Another busy day, ending in controversy. In early, a croissant and coffee and then to Room M at PCH for a meeting about NI veterans. Former MP Danny Kinahan joined APPG chairman Sir Henry Bellingham to present his latest paper on the vexed issue of how to end this disgraceful witch-hunt against former NI veterans. Three guests, all former members of the RUC, and with huge experience on NI matters, gave us an interesting insight into what is going on over in the Province. There is no doubt there is a bias against the security forces, not least because it's easier to pursue them. Did the terrorist log details of their murderous past? I don't think so. What Sinn Fein is seeking to achieve, it would appear, is equivalence. That the barbaric behaviour of thugs on both sides of the political divide is the same as shootings committed by the armed forces. Well, of course it is not. These thugs went out intentionally to kill or main, while a member of the security forces was responding to a military situation that was not premeditated. There is a huge difference and it's this issue which lies at the heart of our attempts to seek final justice for those veterans who are still being chased through the courts. A lunch followed, where a number of MPs and Peers get together every month for a catch-up. It was a private affair and most interesting. In the afternoon, I spent 30 minutes with Richard Brown, who wishes to impose a national park on a large part of my constituency. I listened carefully to his argument, but am still to be persuaded that such a designation is appropriate for Dorset. I can quite see the value of a NP in places like the moors and hills, or the New Forest, but Dorset is a living, vibrant community and NP status would, in my view, add another layer of bureaucracy that we really do not need. An AONB exists already, with many other designations like SSSIs, in abundance. Still, I shall retain an open mind and continue to listen to all the arguments. A regular private meeting of a small team of my colleagues followed. The first series of votes on the Northern Ireland Bill came at 1700. Labour had mischievously submitted amendments to the NI Bill, bringing both same-sex marriage and abortion rights into line with the rest of the UK. Both matters were not for this Bill, in my view. They are devolved matters and for NI politicians to deal with. I voted against as it is not for us to interfere with morality issues in NI. They were free votes. Then to a meeting of the ERG, which again was in private and did not last long. With the two leadership contenders still slogging it out, there really was not much to discuss. Back to the Chamber at 1900 for the next series of votes, three of them unhelpful amendments from arch Remainer Dominic Grieve. Despite his claims that he was pushing his amendments in NI's interests, we all knew that was not the case. Mr Grieve's intentions are far from honourable and he is doing all he can to thwart Brexit. I remain saddened to see my neighbour Sir Oliver Letwin accompany Grieve into the lobby against us. Tonight, beginning at 2000, ITV hosted a live television debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. I watched some of it before turning the TV off. These blue on blue clashes are unhelpful, to say the least, and prove nothing. The only winners are the media, who, depending on their political leanings, interpret either man's comments they way they want to.