I Thank My Hon Friend

I have been known, at times, to be critical of people in positions of authority, like our Parish Council.  Maybe it’s a quirk in my character.  However, I would not like it to be thought that my attention is drawn exclusively to people through who’s windows I can throw bricks.

Indeed I have to say that I am very far from impressed with our MP, David Morris.

David Morris and George Osborne

I have to put it on record that I was, for a good number of years Chairman of both the Cumbria Liberal Party and the Carlisle Liberal Association. I cannot, therefore claim to be free of prejudice.

The emails that the Lune Bus Action Group and I have exchanged with David Morris’s office were, quite frankly, of no help what so ever.  On every subject he claimed that it was someone else’s responsibility not his. Of course he has been correct, but we were not looking for him to take responsibility, just to exert influence.

Of course as an ex session guitarist with Rick Astley (he even appeared on TOP with Rick) David has always been in demand.  In the same way as both Roy Williamson and I he has been caught by the Daily Mirror with an attractive young blond sat on his knee.

David Morris and Alexandra Swann

I might add that in the 80’s Rick Astley was a friend of my daughters, and went to school with her.  He borrowed a guitar lead and a mike stand from me, and never brought them back. I wonder if they are in David Morris’s attic?

As an avid watcher of PMQ’s every Wednesday I can’t fail to notice his interventions.  Even today he asked the following question of Theresa May:  “The investigative reporter, Patrick Christys, has uncovered questions over serious data breaches by Labour headquarters. The Information Commissioner has been notified. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister join me in asking the Information Commissioner to do a thorough investigation?”

Being a matter of such vital importance to the Lune Valley I am in eager anticipation, if little hope, of a ground breaking response.

David Morris and Theresa May at PMQ’s 28 March 2018.

Following a very short period of research I was able to trace every word he has spoken in the House this year. He has submitted no written questions. To provide a feel for the matters which David considers important to him I list all the interventions, in addition to todays, including the Speaker having to slap his wrists:

David Morris
Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the British Army for all the work it has done, in conjunction with the Malawi Government, to protect elephants in Malawi? The ivory trade has seen a reduction in the number of elephants from 4,000 10 years ago to 2,000 now. Something must be done and thankfully the British Army is helping.

David Morris
I do not know whether it is relevant or not, but I am the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on space.

David Morris
I thank the hon. Lady for that great intervention.

We are talking about £14 billion per annum going into our economy and about 38,000 people being employed in the sector, so it is huge, and it is expanding. Most of the technology that has been utilised, especially by American companies, has come from Great Britain—even in the early stages of space exploration—so we have a lot to offer. We are taking a huge leap into the future by putting this Bill forward. Over the next few years, the equivalent of £1 billion will go into these projects, and that will be welcomed by the space industry.

I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for letting me speak in the debate. I urge that the Bill go forward in the best way it can and that Members on both sides vote for it.

David Morris
This is quite a great day for me because I have been the chairman of the parliamentary space committee for nearly four years. When I was elected in 2010, it was the first all-party group I joined, so I have been watching ​with interest over the past few years how this Bill has proceeded from its embryonic stages—from being just an idea—through various stages of development, to the point we are at today.

I have mentioned the space sector many times before, and that has brought a smile to some people’s faces because they do not realise just what the sector actually means for the UK economy. The space sector brings in £13.7 billion—nearly £14 billion—a year. It has outgrown every other sector by approximately 10% all the way through the recession and the austerity measures. The figure I think we heard tonight is that it has seen 6.5% continual growth over a period of about six years. It has therefore outperformed any other sector in the United Kingdom.

A lot has been said about Brexit issues and about how space will progress. EASA is actually separate from the Brexit issues and the EU, so I hope the projects we have already designed and agreed with EASA will carry on after the United Kingdom has embarked on its solo voyage away from the rest of the EU.

Having a spaceport is extremely important, because the space industry in the United Kingdom is very scattered, but very prolific. We have installations in the seat of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), who has just spoken, and in the Leicestershire area. We even have them in my constituency; in fact, there is one above my office, and I often joke that when the phones go off we know that the teleport system is being engaged upstairs.

This is a vast industry. The industries in my area are looking to put satellites into orbit to provide better navigation for ambulance services in the NHS. People do not realise just how big an industry space is and how our everyday lives are affected by it. Satellite navigation in cars, which is taken for granted, comes from the military applications that NASA first sent up back in the 1960s. These things are now trickling down and being used in our everyday lives.

What would I like to see in the future? I think—these are personal, not informed thoughts—that our first spaceport will more than likely be in the Cornwall area. That is purely and simply because of Virgin Galactic and our space industry being opened up on a tourism basis. However, it is important that we branch out to places such as Prestwick; we have to look towards having ballistic installations, so that we can capitalise on deep-space orbits and not just sub-orbital, as we would with space tourism. We have to look towards the future, and this Bill is facilitating our footsteps on the great journey that we are taking.

Kourou in French Guiana is where EASA has a spaceport, and even the former Soviet Union sends up its Soyuz from there. We can therefore see that space is not really a political industry; it is actually for the greater good of humanity.

David Morris
Jackie Daniel has received a damehood for turning around the Morecambe Bay trust along with the staff, which is very positive. Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister look forward to working with Jackie Daniel’s successor to carry on turning the trust around, and will she wish Jackie well?

David Morris
Moving on to a positive note about the NHS, my NHS trust, Morecambe Bay, has turned around from being one of the worst in the country—it was safe to say that five years ago—to one of the best. ​That happened due to injections of huge amounts of cash, but the staff were amazing and turned the hospital around. Jackie Daniel, the chief—

Mr Speaker
Order. I gently invite the hon. Gentleman to be sensitive to time. We want not a long spiel, but a short question with a question mark at the end of it.

David Morris
Jackie Daniel has received a damehood for turning around the Morecambe Bay trust along with the staff, which is very positive. Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister look forward to working with Jackie Daniel’s successor to carry on turning the trust around, and will she wish Jackie well?

David Morris
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, which brings me nicely to my next point. I have to be careful what I say because I am still Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I put it on record that I wish him well. He has not just been an excellent boss; he is a more than excellent friend. I welcome the new Secretary of State, whose name has just been announced: my right hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley).

We have a free trade border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and we have had it since the 1920s. Two currencies operate in the area, and there is not a problem. To be grown up about the situation, there is no reason why that should not carry on. However, I urge all Members to think of the benefits that can arise from our leaving the EU. Gibraltar has been mentioned. Since Brexit was announced, Gibraltar has increased its trade by 25%, and there does not seem to be a problem with borders that it is not already experiencing. It is therefore in the interests of not just the UK but the EU that we continue with the frictionless borders and frictionless trade tariffs. That is the grown-up view.

I urge hon. Members to allow the Bill to go forward. I will vote for it this evening and I urge Ministers to heed what I have said, even though it is about a microcosm of the UK, and ensure that we get the best deal for the UK within Europe.

David Morris
The hon. Gentleman explains succinctly that the supply chain that makes the buses is immense in his constituency and in the wider UK. That is why trade must flourish between Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe.

It is a fact that we will leave the EU, and it is best to think about how we do it. The Bill covers the initial stages of facilitating that.

David Morris
I could not have put that any better—I agree with everything the hon. Gentleman said.

I will give just one taste of how trade works in my area. We are the first port of call—excuse the pun—for Northern Ireland. I hope that the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) and I are going on a little project on a Wrightbus—known as the Boris bus—from his constituency through the port of Heysham all the way down to London to demonstrate exactly how trade works within the UK and how it will flourish under the Bill.

David Morris
I really wanted to contribute to today’s debate because my local port of Heysham is directly affected by what the outcomes of what we are discussing today will bring.​

I went to see the port not so long ago to talk about how we best facilitate the trade coming through it. I met the port authorities and the chief executive of Seatruck Ferries, Alistair Eagles, who envisaged that, given the way things are looking, there would be no problem with trade from Northern Ireland coming into the port of Heysham and the rest of the UK. There was one thing that concerned me around that time: press reports of a “Dad’s Army” of customs officers being recruited. Such reports were completely unfounded and erroneous, because we know now that customs officers are being recruited. The main point I looked into was the fact we could get our trade from Northern Ireland moving through the port of Heysham seamlessly, as happens now. It was agreed at the time that that could carry on, so I am glad to report to the Chamber that, judging by what I found out and the experiences of how the port is working, we do not envisage a problem.

Never let it be said that our Member of Parliament does not have his finger on the pulsating heart of the villages in the Lune Valley, and in particular their commitment to the space industry. (Eh! What! [Editor])

John Keegan (with grateful thanks to Hansard)

5 thoughts on “I Thank My Hon Friend”

  1. Getting elected isn’t the aim. The aim is make things happen. Getting elected is merely a path on the way.

  2. Regarding elections, I had a visit today in my shop from the 3 Conservative candidates (South Lakeland), one of whom would be capable of being PM, the other two not so. Please don’t misunderstand me, my politics are to the right of Thatcher, but I think it should always be a case of the right person for the right job. Maybe Kirkby needs One Tory and Two Lib Dems this time,

  3. Graham Williams has kindly pointed me in the direction of this Sunday Express article of June 2016. I refrain from comment:

    “David Morris last night told Express.co.uk he will definitely compete to become the next Prime Minister if the one and only candidate he supports does not run.

    The MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, 50, kept the identity of his preferred candidate a mystery, revealing only that it is a male MP.

    But he added that the potential candidate is not certain to stand, paving the way for a Morris leadership campaign.

    Morris, who was in a band with 80s pop sensation Rick Astley and wrote songs for Jason Donovan, even named who he would like to become Chancellor if George Osborne resigns in the wake of Thursday’s Brexit victory, although he backs Osborne to remain in his post.

    He believes either Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid or 37-year-old Matt Hancock would be suited to the role, although he stated he is tipping Hancock, who he described as “a very talented economist”.

    Speaking about his leadership ambitions, Morris said: “If I don’t like any of the other candidates I’m going to run for it myself.

    “I have got a preferred person in mind but if he doesn’t come forward I’m not going to watch the others go for it.”

    He confirmed he would stand for election on a “centre-right” manifesto and gave a glowing review of David Cameron’s premiership, saying: “I think the Prime Minister got it bang on the nail.”

    Morris, who is chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, could barely mask his true feelings about Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson.

    He said: “I regret the pressure he and others have put on the Prime Minister and the situation it has left the country in at this time.”

    As well as throwing his hat into the ring for the Conservative top job, Morris sought to reassure the public about the future of big foreign businesses based in Britain amid the Brexit turmoil.”

    We can only wonder at what might have happened.
    John Keegan

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