This was a very good week for EDM 603 which calls upon the Home Office to find the funding to keep the National Wildlife Crime Unit going (in my opinion it actually needs an increase in funding!). 21 new MPs signed up to the EDM and it is difficult to imagine that that is not partly because of the stance taken by this blog and the action taken by you, its readers. Thank you!
And thank you to the following 21 MPs: Labour (13); Andrew Miller, Frank Dobson, Pamela Nash, David Blunkett, Bill Esterson, Sarah Champion, Kate Hoey, Glenda Jackson, Jim Hood, Andy McDonald, Jim Cunningham, Graham Allen, Graham Morris; Conservative (3); Mike Weatherley, Gary Streeter, Bob Blackman; Lib Dem (3); Mark Williams, Ian Swales, Robert Smith; DUP; David Simpson; SNP; Pete Wishart.
This is now the 4th most-supported EDM of this Parliamentary session – an impressive show of MP support reflecting public concern. It should be possible to get it into 3rd place with a bit more effort.
When I say impressive show of support that only applies to the Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, DUP, Alliance, Green, Plaid Cymru, Independent and SDLP parties. As you see below there is an embarrassing lack of concern on this matter by Conservative MPs:
Lib Dem (29/57)
Many Conservative MPs are replying to their constituents with a standard reply which has two main elements. The first element says that EDMs don’t make much difference as they are non-binding and that’s why they don’t bother to sign them. If I had a Conservative MP who replied to me like this I would write back saying that I think it’s a bit rich that he/she is not taking this perfectly easy way to tell me, their constituent, what areas of public policy interest them and that they support. However, I would like an answer specifically on the National Wildlife Crime Unit so could they write back to me and/or put a statement on their website. I would be writing to them whenever other EDMs that interest me come up and asking them to reply in detail on their views. I recognise this is a lot more work than signing EDMs but that’s your choice mate/missus.
The second part of the standard Conservative reply is as follows:
‘As you may be aware, with the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners and the creation of a National Crime Agency, there are significant changes taking place in the broader policing landscape. The role played by the NWCU will evolve in accordance with these. Consequently, I understand from Ministers that decisions regarding Government funding for the NWCU beyond 2012-2013 will be taken later this year. It may be that it is better to let the new police and crime commissioners decide how best to allocate resources at a local level rather than providing specific central funding.’
This is, at one and the same time, true and nonsense. The NWCU is a central resource providing help to all police forces and therefore its role and activities will not be replicated in each police authority (and if they were then it would be very expensive and inefficient). One might as well say that police forces can make their own decisions so we don’t need the Home Office – maybe we’ll see Theresa May resigning next week?
I don’t totally blame individual MPs for sending out this nonsense. No MP is going to be interested in all subjects, and not all MPs will have the requisite knowledge of all subjects, and so we should expect them to send out standard letters provided by their party on particular subjects. But the central Conservative office shows that it doesn’t have a clue on this subject and so, if I had a Conservative MP, I would write back to them saying that their reply is inaccurate and wrong and asking them to have another go at responding to your concern – or maybe they would like to put their name to EDM 603 as a mark of repentance?
I was tickled to see Labour’s Kate Hoey sign this EDM, given that she is Chair of the Countryside Alliance. I doubt whether we will see the CA’s ex-CEO, now Conservative MP for Camarthen West and Pembrokeshire South signing EDM 603 as he hasn’t signed a single EDM yet.