Eric wouldn’t have stood for it

A group of ten renegade Conservatives evoked the spirit of the late Eric Forth on Wednesday when they tried to hold up the business of the House of Commons by raising points of order, and calling divisions on normally uncontentious issues. The reason? The idea of members of the UK Youth Parliament sitting on the hallowed green benches during the summer recess.

Tory backbench opposition the teenage hordes meant that the House was treated to a division on the Child Support Regulations 2009, with six Tories voting against the Government, while the rest of the Conservative frontbench abstained. And while no-one had raised any objections to a European take note motion on ozone depleting substances during Committee, eight Tory MPs found a reason to do so, calling yet another division. When the motion to allow the Youth Parliament to sit on the green benches was read out, honourable members shouted ‘Object’.

Earlier, the House was treated to another old-fashioned Conservative split over Europe on the subject of energy security. While two Europhiles – John Gummer and Ian Taylor – supported the Government’s motion, five Euro-sceptics – William Cash, Mark Field, John Hayes, John Redwood and Richard Shepherd – voted against, as once again the Conservative frontbench abstained. Alan Simpson was the only Labour MP to vote against the motion. The most obvious name missing from the aye lobby was Kenneth Clarke. Now that the hon. Member for Rushcliffe has rejoined the Tory frontbench, he has to behave himself on all matters European.