By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday I noted that the Tory backbenches were bubbling away with innovative new thinking. Those backbenchers can be encouraged this morning to know that their ideas can become policy.
Exhibit one is Mark Menzies. Mark has been campaigning for a relaxation of Sunday trading laws during the Olympics Games. He put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill on the subject and lobbied various ministers, including Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He wrote about his campaign on his personal website. 48 hours ago he got a call from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's office to say that his idea would be implemented with emergency legislation rushed through parliament to enable it. Retailers are set to gain by tens of millions of pounds for this temporary economy-boosting measure – and he proves that backbenchers can make a difference.
Another backbencher making a difference is Ben Gummer. Earlier this year Ben argued that every taxpayer in the country should receive a personalised statement of the tax they pay and how that tax is spent. It was this ConservativeHome article – entitled "George Osborne should give every taxpayer a receipt, detailing how their money is spent" – about how they do this in America that reminded Ben about the potency of the idea. Today's Mail and Telegraph both lead on the news that George Osborne will implement this idea. For the first time ever we'll know exactly where our money goes. I suspect many people will be surprised at the relatively small sums that go to help tackle global poverty.