Conservative MP launches defence of 'fruitcakes'

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A Conservative MP has defended backbenchers described as "fruitcakes" because of their views on the EU and the environment.

David T. C. Davies, speaking in a debate on the Queen's Speech on 14 May 2013, began by asserting that "I don't accept his [the energy secretary's] premise that the science on climate change upon which our energy policies are based is settled at all."

Caroline Lucas, the House's only Green MP, intervened to say he was speaking "rubbish" and that "I thought the discussion about Europe was where we found the fruitcakes".

Mr Davies responded: "It was the fruitcakes who warned against the euro ten years ago, we were all accused of being fruitcakes, then the fruitcakes were right. Fruitcake is a cheap and reliable source of energy. I'm for fruitcakes. I am proud to be a fruitcake. Long may fruitcakes continue!"

Later, Ms Lucas explained her concerns about the Queen's Speech. She said the government was "failing in its first duty to protect its citizens precisely by failing to address the worsening climate crisis".

She focused on the government's decision not to introduce a register of lobbyists, "a lack of meaningful action on fossil fuels" and "the education secretary's removal of climate change from the curriculum for under-14s".

Winding up for the opposition, shadow communities and local government secretary Hilary Benn accused Mr Davies of "railing against environmentalists".

He added that there was an "absence of practical help with living standards" in the Queen's Speech and that "it fails the fundamental test of what a government should be doing in hard times, which is to help those who have least".

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles accused Labour of underestimating the importance of a freeze in council tax, taking aim at his opposite number's personal wealth.

"The coalition government has worked with councils to freeze council tax," Mr Pickles said. "The freeze is a saving of up to £425 on average band D bills over the last three years. For most people £425 is a lot of money. I recognise for Labour members this is nothing - for the right honourable member opposite it's probably just the average morning's takings in the tea-room at Stansgate Abbey."

In a vote, Labour's amendment contending that the Queen's Speech provides "no answers for squeezed households facing a cost of living crisis" was defeated by 316 votes to 253.

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