The debate on the EU bill

 

             Yesterday’s debate on the EU was lively. The strong view from most on the Conservative benches was the same – we want effective  action to curb any more  powers going to Brussels, and get powers back. The Bill places a “referendum lock” on the transfer of new competences, but it does not tackle the immediate issues of more powers going to regulate business, bail out the Euro, strengthen economic governance, build a stronger EU diplomatic service and increase EU Criminal Justice powers. My speech in the  debate appears under “Debates” on this site for those  interested.

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25 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Is the referendum lock made of the same very brittle “Cast Iron” as Cameron’s treaty guarantee – if so we can assume it is just another P.R. fig leaf.

    Your speech was very good but will it make the slightest difference?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      If Ken Clark wishes to see fewer people in prison why are we locking up Mr Assange when he has not even been charged with anything? Ken Clark says “British courts will be totally objective and I will be astonished if there is a sub plot” let us hope he is right but I have my doubts – look at the details of the release of the, probably innocent in my view, Lockerbie bomber.

      In view of the EU extradition treaty might it not be simpler and cheaper if they just legislate to say you need an EU licence signed by Mr Barosso in order not to be locked up.

  2. Sue
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
    • alan jutson
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps one way to get more MPs in the Chamber for discussion, is to only allow those who attend a Debate to vote on the subject.

      Realise that this is most inconvenient and would be a problem for some Ministers, but to only have a few MPs present for a Debate, and then hundreds trooping in just to vote having not listened to a word, is hardly Democratic or honest.

  3. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr.Redwood, You are to be congratulated on such a clear and concise speech. I watched it live (I think!) and was surprised how few were there to hear you. As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating but no one can be in any doubt you have tried to get Parliament to take note.

    Reply: Thanks. There was quite a good attendance by Parliamentary standards, including the Foreign Secretary. Others watched on TV.

  4. pipesmoker
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    It is fiddling at the edges while Rome burns.

    JR there is only one way and that is for us to leave this wretched organization. It will happen one day and your party should be instrumental in seeing it does? Right the wrongs of traitor Edward Heath.

    • Robert Eve
      Posted December 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

  5. Martin
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I hate to ask this but can’t any future government that finds this referendum business inconvenient can just repeal the legislation?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      They can and will if it suites them which it probable will.

  6. Jonathan Woolf
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, a very good speech. It is some comfort to know that at least a few of our MPs take the fundamental constitutional issues raised by the EU seriously, even if far too many treat the concerns of those MPs and the public on this issue with elitist contempt.

    What I still cannot quite believe is the Tory leadership’s wilful refusal to take advantage of the current EU crisis to demand a wholesale revision (as promised in the manifesto) of our relationship with the EU? I gave Cameron the benefit of the doubt when he weaseled his way out of the referendum promise, but it is now clear that was merely the beginning. The change of government hasn’t altered our supine EU policy one bit. Blaming this on the requirements of Coalition is wholly unconvincing; the Coalition have torn up many other conventions (ministers abstaining on tuition fees being the latest example) and could have agreed to disagree on this question as well.

    In addition, as you and others have argued, instead of being a distraction from taming the deficit and restoring fiscal sanity, it would be part of a solution to that if we reduced our budget contributions and became able to throw growth-, job- and wealth- destroying EU red tape in the bin.

    What makes this truly puzzling is the fact that any such policy would be very popular with the vast majority of voters (self-righteous Guardianistas aside). Is Cameron just too fond of an easy life, being popular with European politicians, and his present position of power?

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Jonathon

      Seconded

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    John, you made an excellent contribution but I fear your government colleagues aren’t listening. The LibDems are Eurofanatics and the leaders in your own party appear to have been brain-washed by attendance at the EU. As Kate Howie said this seems to happen to all governments and the coalition seems to be no exception. The view of the British people from whom power has been entrusted seems to be of no account; government continues to give away those same powers without even the slightest regard for those from whence it came.

  8. Iain Gill
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I understand that the EU has today signed today a treaty between the EU and India, which will agree “GATS mode 4 immigration”

    This will allow further (words left out) Indian nationals into this country as workers, many of whom will go on to stay here permanently

    This will disproportionately affect the UK, Germany and France have a natural barrier to (many-ed)Indian nationals working there – the language, since Indian nationals are routinely taught English they can (get employment-ed)here in ways unimagined in Germany or France, and I can say for certain that Germany and France would block this treaty if they were under the threat the UK is from these practises

    How many people in parliament have questioned the government on this specific point?

    Reply: I am taking up the questions raised by blogegrs here with the Home Secretary

    • Simon
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Extremely disappointing .

      The final nail in the coffin of the British I.T. Industry : R.I.P.

      20 years ago the predominantly white middle class viewed I.T. as a profession for ethnic minorities and the socially inept .

      The establishment have once again come out on top and have beaten an industry they didn’t understand and trust into extinction .

      • Iain Gill
        Posted December 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        bit like the way the RAF top brass have had it in for Harrier pilots for years

        I had not looked at it quite like that, but Simon I think you are right

        and the large sums in foreign earnings the British IT industry generated are largely lost

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 10, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      sounds like one MP then

      as much as you are to be congratulated John

      this does leave the public getting remarkably poor value from our elected reps

  9. figurewizard
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Frankly speaking a debate on the EU at present seems to be superfluous. It is far better to wait until after Germany’s voters have called time on the Euro in its present form. I very much doubt that we will have to wait long.

    • EJT
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Sorry to repeat this comment, which I have made before under other posts, but it really is something that those who think we can wait for the Germans to save us need to answer. If the Germans decide to punish Merkel all the signs are they will do so by voting SPD. How does that help ?

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Not only is this lock defective in its construction, it is also proposed to fix it on the door with the screw heads on the outside so that it can easily be removed by an intruder … there is no attempt to entrench it, not even at the most basic level of giving the Lords an absolute veto on its repeal.

    Therefore it provides the British people with no reliable legal guarantee that they would have a referendum on even such a fundamental change as scrapping the pound and joining the euro.

    It would be so easy –

    Step 1 – A party puts up its official candidates for a general election on a manifesto which does not state that the party intends to take the UK into the euro, and may well say exactly the opposite – whatever is required to win a majority of the seats in the Commons and form the government. Of course nothing in that manifesto is legally enforceable.

    Step 2 – Having won its Commons majority, that new government announces that having been able to examine the true position of the country it has concluded that it is in our vital national interest to join the euro, and it would be against our national interest to risk that decision being blocked by a referendum in which the electorate could not possibly understand the full complexities of the issue, and in any case we are a parliamentary democracy and decisions of this kind should be entrusted to our elected representatives.

    Step 3 – In parallel with negotiating the final terms for the UK’s entry to the euro, the government introduces a short Bill to repeal the European Union Act 2011 into the Commons, and whips its MPs to pass it; if the Lords then reject that repeal Bill, the government waits about 13 months until it can invoke the Parliament Act and get Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords.

    Step 4 – The pound is scrapped and the euro becomes our currency, and under the EU treaties there is no way that can ever be reversed, so other political parties agree that this is a done deal and we’ll just have to make the best of it.

    Therefore when Cameron says that mooted EU treaty changes to strengthen economic governance of the eurozone would not affect us and so there would be no need to put them to a referendum, he is being disingenuous to say the least: even if there were no changes which would affect us immediately, which seems doubtful, they would certainly all affect us once a future government had bounced us into the euro without any significant impediment from his “referendum lock” law.

  11. adam
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    But if you vote the wrong way on the referendum their is no lock forcing them to listen to the vote
    Direct democracy, like positive liberty, is an elitist sham.
    You might be able to fool the general public but you cant fool the anti world gov. experts
    In a representative democracy parliament is supposed to decide on EU integration, not the consultation system method.

    • edgeplate
      Posted December 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      If an act arises from the bill in anything like its current form, we have a smokescreen under which further integration will take place.

      If the bill is rejected and no act arises, it will be taken as evidence that ‘no one is interested in Europe’ and further integration will take place.

  12. Boudicca
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    The proposed EU Bill is virtually worthless. Nearly all the significant competencies the EU wanted have already been transferred. Anything else they demand will be handed over on the basis of the Minister/Prime Minister declaring that it isn’t a significant transfer of power and doesn’t warrant a Referendum.

    But anyway, we don’t want to stop the process here. At the very least we want it put in reverse so that competencies are returned to the British Government and the EU is downsized to the absolute basics.

    Personally, I want out altogether.

    I hope UKIP goes from strength to strength in the next year or so while Cameron capitulates to the EU at every turn and Osborne hands over even more taxpayers’ money to prop the Euro. We either need UKIP in a position to seriously challenge for seats in Westminster or one of the mainstream Parties to realise that they must offer a Referendum on our membership in order to win. I don’t care who it is – I will vote for ANY Party which guarantees a Referendum; it would be good if it was the Conservatives, but I can’t see it happening under Cameron.

    UKIP it is then.

  13. Andrew Shakespeare
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, your post appears to endorse the referendum lock, although the opinion of other prominent Eurosceptics, such as Douglas Carswell and Roger Helmer, is that it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

    Do you disagree with them? If so, I would appreciate your opinion.

    Reply: I explained in my speech and intervention what I thought. It is not going to bring a referendum this Parliament, which is part of what I want.

  14. A.Sedgwick
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I have just read your speech and you expose numerous flaws in your admirable forensic approach. “Contrived” and “abstruse language” sum up the EU and regrettably Cameron and his Liberal Conservatives. Why DC did not manifest an EU referendum in the election was a no brainer until you realised post election what many had suspected in his deft hyjacking of the Conservative Party he is a Liberal. A report recently suggests the UKIP vote cost the Conservatives 23 seats, this is a sign of things to come. I cringed at his performance and no doubt his encouraging PW’s involvement in the FIFA debacle, but then political nous and judgment have not been abundantly evident during his meteoric parliamentary rise to power.

  15. Tom
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    A. Sedgwick. Totally agree your points.

    Denis Cooper. Very plausible. Probably already drafted in the Foreign Office as a contingency paper.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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