Pickles flies the Flag of England
Brandon Lewis is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, working under Eric Pickles. Yesterday he tweeted on a matter upon which His Grace has previously written - the EU’s deep sense of insecurity when it comes to flag-flying. Here's the relevant bit of Monday's Hansard:
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if his Department will encourage local authorities to follow the example of Cumberland in raising awareness of their county flags and coats of arms. It is good to have the thrust of Eric Pickles' 2011 speech on the parliamentary record. It might make it a bit harder for councils to harass (or the police to arrest) those who dare to display the St George Cross. Isn't it time Mr Pickles was promoted?
Brandon Lewis: Since May 2010, my Department has taken a series of steps to champion the flying of local and national flags across the United Kingdom.
We have regularly flown county flags from outside our offices in Victoria to mark county days or those of their patron saints, and we have explicitly recognised England 's traditional counties such as Cumberland and Middlesex. We have also recognised wider localities, such as the kingdom of Wessex , which was the foundation of the English nation.
Previously, many parts of Whitehall and municipal officialdom have shunned our traditional and historic identities, many of which date back over a thousand years of English history. Our moves to champion local identities complements this Government's abolition of unelected regional government in England which was based on European Union's artificial “NUTS1” administrative boundaries.
My Department has amended the law to make it easier to fly flags without a permit from the council. A plain English guide, which provides a brief summary of the simplified rules over flag flying, is available online: www.gov.uk/government/publications/flying-flags-a-plain-english-guide
We have encouraged councils to fly the Cross of St George with pride and we have challenged the tiny minority who have foolishly tried to ban the flying of our national flags for the misplaced fear of “giving offence”. Community cohesion is strengthened—not undermined—by flying the flag.
We have not undertaken an explicit programme to raise awareness of coats of arms, but I would welcome suggestions from my hon. Friend and other hon. Members. I am also keen to support local communities, be they a county, district, borough, city, town, village, burgh, parish or riding, in establishing and flying their own local flags.
Of course, flying a flag should be a pleasure, not a chore. Our actions in supporting local people in flying their flags with pride are in contrast with the draconian actions of the European Commission, which has sought to bully Britons into flying the EU flag under the threat of fines through Article 7(2) of EC Regulation 1828/2006. Any institution which seeks to coerce people into flying its flag is one with a deep sense of insecurity about the lack of its public affection and support.