Author Archives: David Heath MP

David Heath MP reports back on the CITES conference and global agreement to protect sharks and manta rays

Much of my work in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs centres on the last two parts of the title, so it’s good just occasionally to be able to make a difference on the other part of the agenda, the environment. I had just such an opportunity last week when I represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

I was in Bangkok, Thailand, leading a trade mission on behalf of British meat and livestock to the biggest trade fair in Asia. But the timing meant that …

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David Heath MP writes… The future of our forests

I was delighted when I was asked to take on ministerial responsibility for our forests. If I had any doubt about what forests offer, and I didn’t, I would have been even more convinced as I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country. Our woodlands are places where people can get out in the fresh air and enjoy walking, bike riding and picnicking. But they’re also important for public health, preserving wildlife, storing carbon dioxide, and have huge potential to provide sustainable employment in some of our most rural areas.

That’s why I have worked hard over recent months …

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David Heath MP writes… Freedom of Information and the NHS risk register – we should publish as much as possible

It was 12 years ago that I sat on my very first House of Commons bill committee, and a pretty important bill it was too. We were considering what was to become the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and I was helping Bob McLennan try to stiffen up what was in danger of becoming, in the hands of the last government, an increasingly flaccid piece of legislation.

After decades of campaigning, the 2000 Act was certainly a longtime in coming for Liberal Democrats. It was Clement Freud who first introduced a Private Members Bill in 1978 that attracted considerable support, …

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David Heath MP writes… Action at last on a lobbyists’ register

It’s strange how this selective amnesia thing works. The official Opposition has been agitating over recent weeks about when the government will publish the promised consultation on a Statutory Register of Lobbyists. You’d think they had always been in favour of such a thing. Er, no, not exactly. Because there were calls for its introduction under the last government. Liberal Democrats, for instance, asked repeatedly why the then Labour government wasn’t responding to clear recommendations from select committees to do just that. Labour ministers didn’t want to know. We even proposed amendments to at least require companies to report on …

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What should be done after the Derek Conway affair?

About twenty years ago, when I was Leader of Somerset County Council, I remember a councillor colleague of mine telling a story about a conversation he had in his local pub. He asked people in the bar how much they thought he was paid as a councillor. Their answers varied, but the consensus drifted to “about £30,000”. The real answer was barely a tenth of that figure.

The great British public is all too ready to believe the worst about their elected politicians, at any level. That’s why episodes like the Derek Conway affair are so damaging. Egged on by an …

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments
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