Parliamentary Sketch – Ding Dong. Here we go again
Notes in the Westminster Village Scrapbook:
Big Ben fell silent and normal business was suspended as a former PM was laid to rest. Not so for Ted Heath or Harold Wilson. Would Tony Blair expect the same?
Meanwhile Mrs T’s reputation for divisiveness followed her to the grave – with mourning, street parties, eulogies and backs turned.
Then there’s the Tale of two Farms. Here the Government abolished the Agricultural Wages Board; a body set up in 1948 and which protects 6 grades of pay and conditions for 154,000 farm workers. I voted against the Government (yes, again!).
Many farmers want to keep the Board because they want a clear national benchmark set to guide them – not uncertainty and difficult local negotiations, the risk of having to call in a Human Resources Consultant to handle the process and an unhelpful formality when dealing with loyal staff. I fear a race to the bottom.
On the other hand farmers in Afghanistan are growing opium like never before. The UN estimates that about 90% of all the world’s opium production comes from the country. Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban production has increased.
One of the reasons Tony Blair gave to send troops to Helmand Province in 2006 was to curb the trade. Opium production has tripled.
At that time I proposed that we should harness production to provide a source for diamorphine for medical use – to enhance dwindling global stocks.
I visited Helmand twice to support our troops in their nation building and peace keeping mission in the province. It was clear that – although successful in building schools, health centres, improving sanitation, building bridges, etc – eradicating opium production was not as achievable. Nor was it a priority.
Finally, I lead a debate this week on energy production. Wealthy UK pension funds want to invest in UK energy infrastructure but will probably place their money abroad if the Government doesn’t produce clear investment targets for decarbonised energy. The West Cornwall Wave Hub was given an honourable mention.
MP for the West Cornwall &
Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives
16th April 2013