Parliament sidelined over the motor industry

Yesterday I was unable to cross examine the Secretary of State who announced the policy towards the motor industry, as he was in the Lords. More importantly, I was unable to cross examine the architects of the policy, as they were in Brussels.

The package of support for the motor industry had been well discussed, heralded and downsized in the press in the days leading up to the Statement. The Secretary of State correctly said it was “no bail out”. He should have gone on to explain that a bail out would be illegal under EU rules. He is permitted to offer some support for green technology, to help the industry adjust to tougher emissions targets imposed by the EU, which is what he did.

We need a system where the Commission has to send a senior representative to Parliament to defend and explain what they are doing. I would like to have asked such a person why they allow state aids to banks who pay their senior staff too much and who run huge risks in financial instruments for no good reason, but not to companies making things. I would also like to know why the EU competition authorities allowed the Lloyds takeover of HBOS, which has greatly increased the problems of Lloyds management. Stopping subsidies is a good policy, but it should be applied to all commercial organisations.


  1. Pete Chown
    January 28, 2009

    “We need a system where the Commission has to send a senior representative to Parliament to defend and explain what they are doing.”

    Perhaps what we really need is a self-governing, democratic Britain. Why do we let the Commission tell us what to do in our own country?

    1. Robert Eve
      January 28, 2009

      I agree totally.

  2. adam
    January 28, 2009

    You would presume to tell a commissioner what should and should not be? Seems unlikely to happen to me.

  3. number 6
    January 28, 2009


    We should get out of the EU, thus negating the need for any involvement from that remote, corrupt and undemocratic institution.

    While we are sadly trapped within, you must know that once the EU issues its diktats it will never sully itself by negotiating with mere local parliaments. Yours is but to obey old chap, not to question

  4. mikestallard
    January 28, 2009

    I loved the remark about “synthetic anger” which the MP who was presenting the policy for the government used for the very effective and – yes – amusing Mr Clarke.
    By sidelining parliament, the government is not exposing its ideas to scrutiny. This means that it is bound to make a series of mistakes as its ideas are not thought through. Lobbyists can only see one side of the problem and, it seems, lobbyists and the media are the people who initiate legislation nowadays. (EU stuff gets through on the nod, now, apparently, without proper scrutiny from the Lords).
    The good news is that the EU is breaking up. France is in the middle of a series of strikes. Spain and Italy are on the point of serious trouble with rather racist overtones. Greece is verging on a basket case. Germany, which dictates the EU policy economically, is being utterly selfish and refusing to help. We are getting lots of Latvians, Lithuanians and Hungarians here in Wisbech now as work seekers.
    I don’t think the EU will survive this crisis for more than a few years, and certainly not in its present shape.

  5. Chris
    January 28, 2009

    I echo the other responses – why do we have the commissioner at all? In the same vein why are we being told what is happening by an unelected representative. This is not democracy.

  6. Acorn
    January 28, 2009

    Your title for this post should have been “Parliament Sidelined on Everything”.

    I won’t bother mentioning that we should separate the Executive from the Legislature again; oops, sorry.

  7. number 6
    January 29, 2009

    I would agree with the above posts, particulary “Parliament sidelined on everything.” I fear the Mother of Parliaments has simply become a talkng shop, while the real decisions are made behind closed doors in Brussels.

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