Lending to the Eurozone?


On Tuesday a group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs have secured a Commons debate and vote on the issue of the European bail outs.  They asked me to support their motion, which I am happy to do. The motion argues that there is no Treaty legal base for making EU money available for bail outs. It questions the idea that the natural disasters clause can be used to justify the EU fund to pay these countries. The aim is to spare the UK the costs of these bail outs, leaving them as a proper matter for the Euroland countries.

The debate should also cover the whole issue of the wisdom of these bail outs. The fact that the Greek bail out has not worked, and has to be renegotiated should lead the EU to reconsider any others.  The EU should be worried about the money go round it is creating. A Euro member state needs to borrow more money. It does so from the rest of the EU and from its own banking system. The member state’s debt swells to  high levels, so markets worry about the stability of the banks that lend the state in trouble so much money. The state then has to lend more money or offer more guarantees to its banks, so the state itself then needs to borrow more money. This is not a good  way to seek to resolve a problem. There is simply too much debt in the system. Weak states cannot easily prop up weak banks, and vice versa.

So what is the answer?  There are three parts to a solution. The first is, the overborrowed banks and the overborrowed countries need to sell assets instead of borrowing so much extra money.  In order to break out of the vicious cycle of borrowing more, having to pay more interest, and having to borrow more to pay the extra interest, they need to sell assets to stem the borrowing. The damaged banks need to be slimmed down. If they are in grave trouble they need to be put through a kind of managed administration, keeping the important parts going but winding down and selling off the rest. The states need to disentangle themselves from the banking risks. There needs to be an honest statement of the losses to date, and a rapid move to staunch future losses.

The states themselves need to sell assets whilst they are looking for longer term ways to boost their revenues and cut their costs. Greece may well need to get better at collecting its taxes. A higher corporation tax rate is not a good answer for Ireland, as that economy needs to attract more business, not deter what it already has. Setting competitive tax rates may be part of the answer. Tax rates should be set to maximise revenues, not as some kind of revenge against commercial success.

There is, in the end, no substitute for going through the expenses of the state line by line. The not very important and the nice to have have to be deleted. The wasteful and needless have to be rooted out. European governments seem unwilling or unable to live within their means. Everyone else has to. If they refuse to do so, in the end taxpayers have to pick up the bills.













  1. Mike Stallard
    May 21, 2011

    I really admire you for supporting this Bill so wholeheartedly.
    Well done indeed.
    We will all be watching this carefully, I am sure.
    All power to your elbow!

    1. Tim
      May 21, 2011

      Mr Redwood I totally agree with your sentiments and suggested solution. There however seems to be a common sense block with the majority of our politicians from the main parties on the whole EU monster. £10 billion net contributions, £9 billion administration costs to administer regulations/directives annually, £12.5 billion bailout in direct contravention of the Maastrict treaty, more than twice the savings in our public services last year, mass migration loosing our young peoples jobs, £42 billion trade deficit last year and £262 billions over the last 10 years, 400,000 fishing jobs lost and an entire industry gone, no renegotiation of the CAP despite Blair giving away our rebate (he wanted the Presendency) resulting in 72% rise in our contributions for the benefit of our Eurpean competitors. So the benefits are?????????? Please help us to lobby for a referendum to a straight in/out of this insane project.

  2. lifelogic
    May 21, 2011

    Good luck with the debate but I doubt it will make the slightest difference to the mad Cameron/Clegg and the EU agenda on this issue.

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    May 21, 2011

    JR: “European governments seem unwilling or unable to live within their means.”

    I presume you include our own government in that admonition as they spend more, whilst hoping taxation will reduce the deficit. All governing parties become slaves of the EU, regardless of their previous scepticism, and I doubt if the slightest notice will be taken of this debate and vote by them. However, it may provide an opportunity to obtain more media attention to the ongoing European economic fiasco.

  4. alan jutson
    May 21, 2011

    At last the Parliamentary machinery seems to have kicked itself into action.

    Thank you for giving your support to this debate John. I only hope that the majority of the house will attend and make a contribution, if not by speaking, then by listening.

    Would it be too much to ask or wish, that the Majority of MP’s will take off their blinkers and Party hats, to open their eyes, and see the absolute folly of lending more and more money to any bankrupt organisation, be it a commercial business, a National Bank, or any Country.

    The longer you keep proping up any bankrupt organisation, the longer it will take before real remedial action is taken, and the big crunch comes.

    As I have said before, of any one who is in financial trouble, when the truth of the situation is revealed, it is always, but always, WORSE THAN IT SEEMED AND WAS ADMITTED AT THE TIME.

    Let us hope the House will see commonsense, will see these bailouts for what they are, will regognise that there is no lawful base for such action, and will support the motion.

    Any MP who does not attend this debate quite honestly should be named and shamed, as clearly they have no interest whatsoever in what happens to taxpayer money, and the way it is being squandered.

    1. Mike Stallard
      May 21, 2011

      Thank you for your remarks in capitals. Much appreciated. I truly did not even think of this very obvious fact. (When I am sarcastic, you will know! I mean this quite sincerely).

  5. oldtimer
    May 21, 2011

    Your prescription also applies to the UK government. As you conclude:
    “There is, in the end, no substitute for going through the expenses of the state line by line. The not very important and the nice to have have to be deleted. The wasteful and needless have to be rooted out. European governments seem unwilling or unable to live within their means. Everyone else has to. If they refuse to do so, in the end taxpayers have to pick up the bills.”

    Is it not a pity that the UK government continues to indulge itself in unnecessary spending (such as DfID), unnecessary subsidies and taxes (such as windfarms and other ill-considered, ineffective schemes) which squander our taxes and deter investment in job producing ventures?

  6. Anthony Harrison
    May 21, 2011

    Another lucid, eminently rational summary of the situation from John Redwood, for which we must be grateful.
    The trouble is, Mr Redwood, every time you write something such as this it highlights pitilessly the fact that our government as a whole does, or will not, accept the fundamental economic facts of life and act upon them: they are almost as bad as those PIIGS states since the Coalition position is one of supine acceptance of bailouts, of shoulder-shrugging resignation that we are allegedly compelled to go along with this criminal folly and there is simply nothing we can do, much though (of course) we would like to…
    I have written to my MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, urging her to support the motion you mention. I will be interested in her reaction.

  7. Duyfken
    May 21, 2011

    I have written to my MP (a government Minister) to urge his support of the motion, but of course cannot expect any assistance from this quarter. Will he even attend the debate? I doubt it.

    Reply: He will be whipped to attend the vote!

    1. alan jutson
      May 21, 2011


      John you mention in your reply:

      MP’s will be whipped to vote.

      Just out of interest, what is the governments position on this motion, and will there be a government and opposition whip to go against the motion, no matter how the debate pans out.

      Are you planning to speak on the day ?

      Guess its on Parliament TV any idea of approximate time ?

      Sorry for all the questions, but I am very interested in this debate.

      Reply: I expect Conservative and Lib Dems will be whipped against. I do not know Labour’s position. It will be the main business on Tuesday afternoon, after questions end at 3.30 and after any statements or Urgent Questions.

  8. APL
    May 21, 2011

    JR: “There needs to bean honest statement of the losses to date, ..”

    There is a statement of fact. Some people have been demanding an honest statment of the losses since Northern Rock.

    Not only have we wasted three years, but we have exposed sovereign balance sheets to the contagion in an attempt to prop up banks that because of their activities SHOULD HAVE GONE BANKRUPT.

    It is clear that the banks have formed part of a ‘circle jerk’ and when that unholy circle is broken the States will be FORCED to dramatically reduce spending. But all that has been achieved in the last three years is to postpone the inevitable, during the interlude the situation has become much worse.

    Should have faced up to it three years ago.

    Cameron’s ‘spending cuts’, the image of Rome in flames comes to mind.

    1. APL
      May 21, 2011

      Now Norway is having second thoughts about Greece.


  9. Simon
    May 21, 2011

    Wouldn’t lending this money to other countries mean we would have to borrow it because we basically don’t have it to lend ?

    If so you have the support of every right minded person in the Country .

    Not sure about your prescriptions though .

    What do the Greeks have to sell ? Should they really be compelled to sell their Islands to repay banks which knew the risk when they decided to lend ?

    As punishment or do you really believe it would avoid default ?

    Your sentence which sums it up for me is “There is simply too much debt in the system” .

    There need to be measures to stop politiians running it up in the first case and ensure that banks which do so go bust without affecting their depositors or having the option of socialising the disaster .

    I don’t see why I or the next generation should have to pay for the stupidity of politicians, greed of the financial services industry , Big banks fraud and gearing ratios of up to 100:1 .

    Reply: Greece does have state assets it can sell, and a banking system to tidy up. It also has state spending to control – a country has to live within its means just as you and I have to.

    1. Epigenes
      May 22, 2011

      You should do some homework before asking questions like this.

      The Greek government owns an airline, airports, hotel chains…. It has property assets alone worth about EUR280bn.

  10. electro-kevin
    May 21, 2011

    So long as we pay this money to profligate EU member states and to corrupt third world regimes why should the British public take cuts lying down ?

    Why should I – as a union official and natural Tory voter – break strike in support of David Cameron and all his broken promises ?

  11. acorn
    May 21, 2011

    100% with you JR. As this is Backbench Business, can the “motion” be read anywhere on the parliament web site? Does a yes vote on the motion carry any weight and force any action on the executive?

    How do we get you on the short list for the IMF job 😉 ? I see the IMF appears to be holding about 3,000 tonnes of Gold, ($145 billion). Gold sir, that will do nicely.

    Yes, the Motion will appear on the Order Paper just like a government Motion. A vote is a vote – if the government and Opposition do not combine to vote it down but lose the vote then the government has to follow its terms.

    1. davidb
      May 21, 2011

      Gordon McDoom knows a thing or two about selling gold.

  12. forthurst
    May 21, 2011

    No doubt, Greece has suffered, as has the rest of the World, from the attack of the Vampire Squids, one of which enabled it to enter the Eurozone by deceit rather than from having demonstrated a new improved capacity for managing its finances, in which there was a massive expansion of debt originating from the FED private secret bank in order to facilitate the sales of suitcases full of derivatives of dubious provenance and value. No one would expect, if they were to tether a thoroughbred and an old nag together, that they would be able to proceed round Epsom Down in synchrony and at the speed of the thoroughbred, but that is what is expected of Club Med and the Celtic Tiger in respect of Germany.

    Any further loans to Greece would buy a little more time and leave it even more burdened with debt. At some point, countries and banks will need to be treated like any other entity which owes more money than they are capable of repaying.
    The consequences otherwise is to test the concepts of fiat currencies and bank created debt to destruction.

  13. Martin
    May 21, 2011

    Of course we in Britain don’t go to the EU or IMF – we just take from savers in the form of low interest rates and high inflation.

    While Greece’s lenders will get to tell that country to sort itself out does the British saver even get that privilege?

  14. sm
    May 21, 2011

    This is good news albeit later than needed. A debate is needed even in our fig-leaf eudemocracy.

    In the meantime has taxpayer money replaced some or if not all of the private money at risk? I would suggest we ask how much money has paid out in full with ‘taxpayer’ money? We should ask what it has achieved? What was the real purpose of the bailouts if not to re-set countries on a sustainable path?

    The same questions should be asked of the UK bailout mechanisms? ZIRP and other subsidies?

    I fear the taxpayers have already been forced to assume the problem and it is now faced with a governmental problem of inflation/tax , tax or cuts or default? or maybe all?

    Meanwhile there are those still flying high (being refueled in flight by the taxpayer debt). Do they know they need to land somewhere. Maybe they are planing reaching orbit using non-renewable resources.

    We need to redirect that wasted money to tax cuts for our non-finance sector to fund a more balanced economy employing UK residents.

    What are we doing to reduce the huge trade imbalances which are driving this merry go round. We need fair trade not so ‘called free trade’.

    Silly question whats our inflation target again?

    Reply: It’s not the first time I have objected to UK loans to Euro area countries – I have done so consistently in Commons debates.

  15. Damien
    May 21, 2011

    JR the first bailout of Greece has not worked and now the EU stabilization package has grown to a staggering $1 trillion of our money. Remember the record IMF bailout of Brazil in 2002 was only $30 billion. There is no evidence that suggests that the EU will not call on the whole $1 trillion, of which the UK taxpayer is ‘on call’ for a substantial yet to be defined amount.

    The banks have managed to socialise their debts by passing them onto the british public yet there has been nothing but a continued decline in mortgage lending of 60% over 3 years (£363 billion drop)

    Any solution that ignores the 11.3m people with mortgages (£1.2 trillion-BOE stats) is doomed to failure. Reprofiling of mortgagees debt at home takes priority over the PIIGS. Such reprofiling would entail an optional extension of the maturity date of all ‘existing’ mortgages (from 25/30 years to 50 years?) and possibly even a reduction of the principle owed .Interest rates on existing mortgages should also be capped from any further increases. That would reduce monthly payments and ring-fence the current crisis of personal debt related the housing market. This would also allow Mervyn King to start to raise interest rates for savers and new borrowers without further effecting the existing mortgagees.

    The whole point of us staying out of the euro is so that we could respond to the needs of our own economy so its time to implement these measures though our own parliament in a timely manner.

    This suggestion is not intended to be a swipe at the banks but a realistic attempt to recognise that millions of homeowners at a loss because of sub prime lending in the US and other reckless banking (CDS’s) which has caused contagion by HSBC and others who are HQ in the UK.

    The consumer represents over 70% of the economy and until we address the private debt the economy cannot grow. Consumers have cut spending and paid down some debt but this is creating Keynes’s paradox of thrift.

    As Nouriel Roubini asks who will bailout the EU and IMF?

    1. APL
      May 21, 2011

      Damian: “Such reprofiling would entail an optional extension of the maturity date of all ‘existing’ mortgages (from 25/30 years to 50 years?) and possibly even a reduction of the principle owed”

      Huh! What about those people who have been a lot more modest, bought a less extravagant house, used their property as, I know such an idea is considered rather eccentric these days, a place to live rather than a casino. Will your scheme include refunding them the money at the rate you propose to subsidize those people who now need principle reductions?

      And does your scheme include compelling the children of people who’s mortgage is increased from 30 years to 50 years to pay off the debts of their parents?

  16. Bazman
    May 21, 2011

    One of the main problems not mentioned is corruption by many people, often the wealthy in these countries. Raising taxes and cutting benefits of the main population causes hardship when it is often the fault of an elite few. Who are not only on the take, but also avoiding tax and hiding their assets.

  17. Bob
    May 21, 2011

    It’s a shame that the majority of your colleagues in the Tory Party are in favour of borrowing more money to give to the Eurozone for this so called “natural disaster”.
    To classify this as a natural disaster is just fraud – plain and simple, and it’s our children who will be enslaved in order to pay for it.
    There is nothing conservative about the Tories any more.

    1. APL
      May 21, 2011

      Bob: “To classify this as a natural disaster is just fraud – plain and simple, and it’s our children who will be enslaved in order to pay for it.”

      Exactly. Look at Ireland, now in a position of owing sovereign debt to the international banks of two to three times its GDP. Essentially enslaving the next generation of Irish to pay the profligacy of their parents. And all because the politicians are desperately trying to protect their chums in the Banks.

      Immoral doesn’t describe it.

  18. Gary
    May 21, 2011

    In other words immediately proceed to mark all debt to market and then deal with it appropriately. But you cannot do this, because the banks lobbied to get the accounting laws changed so that they are not required to do this, they value their books at whatever they want, and that in a nutshell is the problem. Until the banks, all of them including the Central Banks, are FORCED to keep accurate and transparent books, this malaise will continue and we will lurch from crisis to crisis until the system finally breaks.

    PS : they say the Central Bank is a govt agency, well test it. If it is a govt agency then the owners of the govt, we the people, must be allowed to see the books of the central bank. See how far you get with that one.

  19. Denis Cooper
    May 21, 2011

    I’ve found the Motion here:


    and notice at its end that this House:

    “… requires the Government to place the EFSM on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone only arrangement which relieves the UK of liability under the EFSM has by then been agreed.”

    Is it likely that the Motion will be pressed to a vote?

    Reply Yes

    1. Denis Cooper
      May 22, 2011

      If the Motion was passed, would it be the first time that the House of Commons had directly instructed the government to take certain actions at an EU meeting (as distinct from pre-approving actions proposed by the government), or are there precedents?

      Reply: There have been government motions before approving the government line with the EU over various items. This motion is only possible from backbenchers thanks to the new backbench time system.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 23, 2011


        So I expect the government will try to prevent Motion being passed, not least because that would set the precedent of MPs taking the initiative and giving the government an order which it didn’t want.

        But even if it did pass, and the government tabled the item at the EU meeting and voted against the continued use of the EFSM unless … etc, won’t the EU decision be taken by QMV?

        Reply: We are claiming that there is no legal basis for the bail outs from general EU sources, and asking the governemnt to resist the demands on legal grounds.

  20. REPay
    May 21, 2011

    I am also writing to my MP. Good luck. Unless the Euroland countries adopt the measures you suggest, they are simply going to kick the can down the road…leaving bigger problems for the (not-so-distant) future.

    PS I am wondering if and how it will be reported by the BBC. I suppose if it embarrasses the government it will be given star billing as a political headache rather than as an issue worthy of debate.

  21. Javelin
    May 21, 2011

    Thank you so much John.

    I would add not to allow the EC not to issue debt from organisations or financial centres (eg the recovery fund who’s name I’ve forgotten who have issued 3 bonds already) we have signed up to. That is to say we are not lending them money – but we are still incurring liabilities never the less. I think this is the sneak of choice for the EU.

  22. Daedalus
    May 21, 2011


  23. David Hearnshaw
    May 21, 2011

    As long as the Cameron/Clegg government continues to throw money down the drain on increasing foreign aid, a crack-pot energy policy and the bloated EU whilst cutting defence and law and order spending and supporting the dreadful `Human Rights Act’, I have to agree with Bob that there’s nothing Conservative about the Tories anymore. One despairs!

  24. Martyn
    May 21, 2011

    John, more power to your elbow and thanks for the insight into this. Blundering around the web today I find to my astonishment yet another EU spend of our money – this time on something called EU-MED and associated website EUROJAR. When one looks at the money – partly our money, presumably – that they are pouring in the middle east ticking time-bomb, how is it that this has not been mentioned before?
    Can any, for example, tell us why the EU is sponsoring Palestine to produce its own beer? Or funding Lebenon’s media? Darned if I know and I am aghast at our money being piped that way by the EU, courtesy it would seem of the government.

  25. Martin
    May 21, 2011

    Why is loan to Greece only a matter for countries that happen to use the same currency? No country of note uses Sterling yet Britain in the past has been loaned money by other countries. Are international loans only to be arranged between counties who share the same currency?

    Given the ghastly state of Britain’s economy and its vulnerability to economic shocks I would have thought that an insular approach to lending might not be so clever. Being negative about the Euro might look awfully good in tomorrows tabloids but if Britain ever needs a loan then that sort of negativity does us no favours.

  26. ferdinand
    May 21, 2011

    It is very tempting to attribute spiteful malice aforethought to darling’s actions in make us liable for a share of the bailouts. Oh dear, how could I think that ?

  27. BobE
    May 21, 2011

    John, thank you.

  28. APL
    May 21, 2011

    JR: “There are three parts to a solution. The first is, the overborrowed banks and the overborrowed countries need to sell assets instead of borrowing so much extra money.”

    Now we have a fire sale of both banks and sovereigns if that doesn’t spell massive asset deflation, I don’t know what does.

    By the way, it will happen.

  29. Bernard Otway
    May 22, 2011

    Not quite on the detail of all the comments,but just something sensible I can’t get out of my thinking,and something very germain to the economic wellbeing of every person especially after retiring. We all know the only people who can look forward to a decent pension from now on are government employees and those in the rest of the public sector,forget the very highly paid in the private sector.
    I did an exercise on my calculator ,take the average uk salary of £25000 allow a pension contribution of 10% half paid by the employee and half by the employer ,escalate that by a 10% increase every 5 years and calculate an interest rate [Tax free] from the beginning,this to be accumulated in an untouchable fund for 40 years,this fund to be a national mortgage fund invested in private household mortgages ,each mortgage to be properly valued and be a maximum of 90% of that value [Bricks and mortar security],just the simplest of calculation ie £2500 +5% +£2500 +5% not monthly escalation as would be the actual case
    and after 40 years the figure I get is £379138 as a POT at say 60,if this continued to earn
    5% per annum again Tax free as it would be a pension then the annual amount would be
    £18,957 still leaving the POT intact, if that pot was allowed to be reduced by 20% every 5 years the annual interest amount would reduce on a sliding scale but every 5 years a lump sum of £75827 would be available,given that the elderly don’t generally spend huge amounts like that this would likely go to children ,grandchildren etc.WHY can’t some clever politician or jobsworth public servant come up with something like this,as certainly the reliance on the nanny state for these people would fall away.By the way the employees contribution and the employers would be tax deductable. The average man’s pension
    [Single] being £140 a week at the moment that is £7280 per annum add to that the amount
    mentioned above of £18957 and you get an annual pension income of £26237 without the cash lump sums ,surely retirees would live very well and contribute to the state through all the Indirect taxes they pay ie VAT etc and not be a burden on the state [Taxpayer] at all.
    This POT would be UNTOUCHABLE legally by any government enshrined in the statute book,and on pain of the pensioners voting any government that did so out of office at the earliest opportunity after all we constitute the biggest voting block and get bigger all the time,plus anyone at 45 would have a lot to lose as well 25 years worth of contributions and interest.

    1. Simon
      May 22, 2011

      “WHY can’t some clever politician or jobsworth public servant come up with something like this,as certainly the reliance on the nanny state for these people would fall away.”

      Sadly that is well beyond the capability of most politicians but Iain Duncan Smith and Frank Field have appreciation of this area and would imho do a great job .

      There are plenty of bright people in the civil service who could do a brilliant job of coming up with something .

      It doesn’t seem to much to ask does it for for instance the GAD (Government Actuaries Department) to come up with a PROPER PLAN that works .

      To reiterate a proper plan , not another interim measure .

      I favour a primary (state) pension set to pay out at the level at which means tested benefits cut in , around £250. Compulsory in nature with an element of redistribution .

      Would render means tested benefits redundant (they cost a fortune to administrate) and stop people who save extra from being penalised by missing out on means tested benefits .

      Then an optional secondary pension which would be open to public and private sector workers . Existing public sector schemes would be closed .

      Take a look at the proposed Universal Protected Pension which Frank Field was working on when he was told to “Think the Unthinkable” and did !

      Recommend reading that in conjunction with Neil Record’s “Sir Humphreys Legacy” .

  30. grahams
    May 22, 2011

    George Osborne is reported to be nominating France’s (typically competent) Christine Lagarde to run the IMF, with a predictable brief and predictable consequences for debt. Mr Osborne cannot blame Alistair Darling this time, though both of them doubtless received advice from the same quarter.

  31. Stephen Gash
    May 22, 2011

    If we are going to sell assets then let’s make sure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are compelled to sell theirs too. So far only England’s assets have been sold off. Danny Alexander even campaigned to stop Scotland’s forests being sold by the Scottish government (England would have seen none of the proceeds) while being in the forefront in selling off England’s forests (the proceeds of which would have gone into the central treasury, thus benefitting Scotland).

    Danny Alexander was reduced to campaigning to save Scotland’s forests because he has no say in what happens in his own country, Scotland, being a mere British MP there.

    Why David Cameron is not putting pressure on Alex Salmond instead of appearing to kowtow at every opportunity is simply mindboggling.

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