Clause 2 — Restriction on voting rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 am on 6th March 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 10:32 am, 6th March 2015

I had not intended to speak in this short debate, but having listened with embarrassment to the kind words of my hon. Friend Jonathan Evans, the least I can do is thank him very much for his service to the House and to the Conservative party. I hope that his wisdom and experience will continue to be used by and available to our great party. As he says, our party is at its best when it embraces all strands of Conservative thinking.

My hon. Friend is still the chairman of the party in Wales, and I hope that in that capacity and as a member of the board of the Conservative party, he will continue to have a significant influence on the party’s affairs and ensure that our leadership is always mindful of the fact that we are a broad church. We have a large umbrella over us, and if we try to reduce the scope of that umbrella, the likelihood is that alternative parties will try to get into the space that is vacated. That mistake has been made in Germany by the Christian Democrats. They have in a sense given space for the Alternative für Deutschland to enter the fray, and I hope that something similar does not happen in this country and that we continue to maintain a broad church in our party.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on successfully steering the Bill through the House. I helped in every way that I could to try to ensure that his balloted Bill—the Off-patient Drugs Bill—got on to the statute book, but it was blocked in a rather unfortunate manner by the Government. Having originally not been open with him about whether they were for it or against it, we forced them to come clean in the end and say that they were against it in principle, which they could have said many months earlier. That is typical of the problems that we have with Friday business, but I am sure that, as my hon. Friend said, that Bill of his will reach the statute book in due course.