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Rory Stewart MP joined staff, supporters and beneficiaries on Friday at the 30th Anniversary celebrations of Eden Mencap Society (EMS), celebrating the important local service that began in 1986. The birthday party took place at their premises in Duke Street, Penrith, which has provided the local charity with vital extra space to support its users […]

Left to right: Centre Director Sean Day, Stables Manager Henri Carew, and Rory Stewart MP

The Community of Cumbria

Last Friday, I came home on the train, feeling that parliament and even Britain was out of sorts. But twenty separate meetings – starting in Penrith, on to Wigton, and finishing at a memorial service for Mary Burkett in Carlisle – changed my view. First, we broke the foundations for the new Sunbeams Music Centre, […]


Bringing to life better minds

Yesterday, I was asked to explain to school-children what I liked about reading. I found it very difficult to do, without describing particular books. Recently, for example, I came across a book by the British monk Gildas. It caught my eye, on a shelf, when I should have been doing something else. I opened it, […]

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On Scale and Economic Growth

Penrith and the Border has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Britain – at last count 572 people were receiving job seekers’ allowance, out of about 65,000 adults in the constituency. We have one of the very highest rates of self-employment, and of people working from home (more than a quarter of our population). […]

National Citizen Service


Last weekend I met some charity volunteers in Alston. It was a warm, late summer day – none of the leaves yet falling – and the volunteers were heading cheerfully into the hills. Twenty other groups were setting off at the same moment: all from different points along a route that Alfred Wainwright first walked […]

changing the world from cumbria

Last Sunday I sat with six professors who were discussing how ‘to change the world.’ They included Central European dissident, a computer specialist, and a seventy-five year old French communist.  At times they seemed hardly conscious of each other, and the words they used were puzzling (the Frenchmen for example liked to talk about ‘the happiness of dissatisfaction’). But it […]


Rory’s speech on the Big Society

Transcript I honour the hon. Member for Dagenham and Rainham (Jon Cruddas) for giving a good defence of many of the good elements of the big society, and a good warning on some of its dangers. Much of the debate, however, reminds me of sitting in a room with a group of philosophers looking at […]

thoughts on the big society

I thought I’d share a couple of points I’ve been trying to make in correspondence with a constituent about the Big Society: thoughts welcome… Big Society projects are by their very nature local and varied. For that reason, they can only be fully assessed on the ground and in a particular place. A successful big […]

House of Commons Localism speech

Rory debates the Localism bill

Transcript This debate is an example of why changes such as those in the Bill are so difficult. All the arguments that Labour Members are making-all the “Yes, buts” we have just heard-show that we live in a strange world. Many Labour Members have said how much they support initiatives such as those in the […]