EU matters

 

           Yesterday in the Commons even Labour gave a welcome to the lower 7 year budget settlement achieved by Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel.  It is good to see cross party agreement that the EU has increased and should be rolled back, a general acceptance that it it should be easier to cut EU spending than national spending.

             Later the House considered a short piece of legislation to allow each member state of the EU to continue with a Commissioner, and to endorse the work programme of the EU’s very own Human Rights quango. Some of us used this debate to highlight yet again the need to stop the EU interfering and overreaching itself. We pointed out that we do not need an EU quango as well as the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

           I said that a democracy like the UK should be able to defend and advance our own human rights through a sovereign Parliament, instead of submitting to ECHR and EU law on these matters. There was considerable agreement on the Conservative side that we do not need an EU human rights quango. I also advanced the proposition that our membership of the European Human Rights Convention should be amended to the original intention, removing the right of individuals to take cases to the overloaded and slow court. Most cases should be settled in the UK by our own courts. The role of the ECHR should be redefined as originally drafted. It should be about high level human rights administered by states, not about a further layer of appeal for individuals. It should be a check on a states’ general level of human rights by the other signatories, not a new system of supranational justice.

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91 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I assume it will go ahead anyway despite your resistance? This as Cameron, Clegg and Miliband are all EUphiles to the core.

    Endlessly more levels of government and courts, huge delays, more litigation and no one knows what the law is, as it is a endlessly moving target. Moving entirely the wrong way in general and encouraging more litigation, and usually making thing far less efficient in the process.

    Reply Some Conservative Ministers in the Coalition wish to legislate to sort out the Human Rights Court interference, as the current position means the ECHR tells the British people and Parliament what to do on matters where we disagreee with them.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      “a democracy like the UK should be able to defend and advance our own human rights through a sovereign Parliament”.

      Well if more MPs were something other than self interested career politicians, loyal to party if anything and not the electorate. Rather less like children let loose in a sweet shop. We might have a democracy. Also if they ever did what they promised to – do unlike the liars Osborne and Cameron.

      In fact most are interest in the salary, the pension, the outside “consultancies”, jobs in the EU or Quangos, jobs for friends and relatives too ……

      Hence we have the EU, HS2, quack energy, the Olympics, the millennium dome, mad trams systems, absurd bus and bike lanes and other road blocking, The vote Boris bike adverts, state indoctrination, the warming drivel and endless other nonsense everywhere.

      • Mark B
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        +1

        Thank you.

      • Acorn
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        The trouble is our, so called sovereign parliament can’t be trusted. Over the years they have given circa 20,000 government officials, the right to break-down your front door in the middle of the night, using any one of 1300 different pieces of legislation; mostly without a warrant from a judge.

        Even now, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 has only repealed 15 of the 1300. Whitehall bureaucrats get to decide which ones they will allow our “sovereign” parliament to cancel. Such is the timidity of our policy makers; frightened of getting the blame if anything went wrong. Frankly, you would be a fool to trust them with your human or civil rights.

        Remember that our sovereign parliament consists of an administration with about 20 big chiefs and 100 little chiefs; the remainder 530 form the school debating club. Nothing they say or do changes anything important.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          “Nothing they say or do changes anything important.”

          Not even when they obediently, supinely, vote through yet another Bill to approve yet another EU treaty which further diminishes their own power over the government of our country?

          When the British people were last directly asked about this, in 1975, the government of the day swore blind that EEC membership would not diminish the power of Parliament because the UK minister would always have a veto over new EU laws; and yet when one of the most active advocates of a “yes” vote in 1975 became Prime Minister in 1979 she immediately set about getting national vetoes abolished and she did not think that this pretty fundamental change to the terms of our EEC membership should need fresh approval by the people in a referendum; and that Single European Act set the precedent for MPs to agree to further amending treaties without ever having the basic decency and respect for democracy to ask those who had elected them whether they actually wanted their MPs to do that.

          Reply Mrs Thatcher was persauded to surrender vetoes in the single market area – against my advice to her at the time. Her surrended was small compared to the huge surrender of authority and vetoes in Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon under the last government.

          • APL
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            JR: ” against my advice to her at the time. ”

            Who in her cabinet were ‘more persuasive’ than you?

            Of those people, who are in Cameron’s cabinet?

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        I see in the telegraph business section today “Inheritance tax plans do not add up” that the government expects the freeze in the CGT threshold will raise £1B a year. Since the whole of IHT only raises £2.9B last year how can this be remotely true?

        Only, it seems, if the dishonest Mr Osborne is not only ratting on his direct promise to the electorate, but is further going to tighten the noose on them by large, back door, stealth changes to the regime in addition.

        IHT only provides 0.66% of the total £437B raised anyway. Just get rid of it. Just the confidence and sense of direction it would give would raise more than that that in all the other taxes. Even this 0.66% would not all be lost as it would be spent or invested by the recipients generating more taxes.

        But alas Cameron snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and we thus have the mad and often it seems corrupt Libdems. The David Laws and Chris Huhne, renewable religion, types. Holding the Libdem noose around the neck of the few real Tories.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

          More tax cuts for the rich fantasy based on your usual trickle down effect which has largely been disproved. Inheritance tax is one of the most just and progressive taxes and when you are tightening up people on the dole by making them pay council tax and others with a spare room receiving housing benefit to save a few quid. The wealthy can pay a few quid when they don’t need any houses or rooms. Envy? We live in democracy not an aristocracy lifelogic. The rich must pay more. An irrefutable argument that your wealth worshiping cannot get around.
          Give a logical and sensible reply or stop writing your blind religious free market think based on the greed and jealousy of the rich thinking they are hard done by and poor compared to the worlds mega rich. We all deserve better and your arguments are bases on inflating the economy so you can charge more rent. Yes ‘rent’. A form of tax on all of us paid to the wealthy.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      To reply “Some Conservative Ministers in the Coalition wish to legislate to sort out the Human Rights Court interference”

      How many 30% perhaps at best?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      If you really want to stop the ECHR telling the British people and Parliament what to do, then you need to derogate from what is now Article 46(1) of the European Convention on page 25 here:

      http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5CC24A7-DC13-4318-B457-5C9014916D7A/0/EnglishAnglais.pdf

      “The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.”

      Just making it more difficult for cases to be taken to the ECHR will not do that; instead you need to state publicly that henceforth the UK will not consider itself bound to abide by any judgment of ECHR.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Somehow I doubt that saying that no one has a right to a fair trial or a right to life in the UK is going to appeal to investors.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          Lucky then that “henceforth the UK will not consider itself bound to abide by any judgment of ECHR” wouldn’t mean that, it would only mean what it said.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I have just been thinking about Human Rights.

    First of all, inalienable rights are not granted by a government but “endowed by their Creator”. The government which gave them can always take them away (Abu Graib, or the discussion about gun law rights).

    Secondly rights are in no way “self evident” in the modern world. What exactly are they and who says? Rights in Saudi Arabia are completely different from those in Albania. What right has Mrs Merkel’s rep in the EU to tell me what he considers my rights are?

    Thirdly while speaking of ideals, we ought to remember that people who “know their rights” are there to take: those who are there to give rarely if ever talk about their own rights. A lot of the national debt is down to people insisting on their imagined “rights”.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Well if you don’t want rights go live in a dictatorship. If you want rights you can remain in the civilised world.

      Also there’s nothing immoral about insisting that you rights aren’t violated by those in power.

      • Robert Christopher
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        If those in power have no democratic mandate why should they listen to you?
        If they did listen to you they would only use the information to tighten their control (and watch you suffer). They are not affected!

        Sounds like the EU and the British Parliament’s futile attempt to govern
        us, overridden by Brussels!

        Immoral? More like pathetic! We were born free, so what is there to add?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Wrong.

        Citizens living under a dictatorship may well have loads of legal rights, on paper, in a codified constitution and in supplementary constitutional laws; but their problem is finding any way to enforce those theoretical rights in practice.

        The difference is between arbitrary rule and the rule of law, and the rule of law is not the same as rule by lawyers.

        Especially arbitrary rule by lawyers, and as I understand by some who are not even lawyers, sitting in a transnational court without the possibility of their increasingly bizarre interpretations of the law being corrected by any national democratic legislature.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      So rights are relative? If you are a woman in the middle East you by rights should have less rights as it’s way it is there. An apologist stance of monumental proportions and where does it end? Liberalism is not an easy option that can be abandoned when it is inconvenient to the argument.

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Why would the British parliament be such a good guarantee for a high level of human rights? For starters, it is not a really representative parliament and could in principle be misused by future UK governments relying on a smaller portion of the popular vote to change laws which lay down the functioning of UK high courts couldn’t it? How then would an international convention protect against such lowering of standards? What could apply to the UK in such a future, would equally apply to other countries (Russia?) if human right standards were to be lowered there. You might have created a toothless convention.

    Reply: It’s called democracy. Why do a few judges we do not choose act as the ultimate repository of human rights wisdom and judgement? Why can’t we meet them, cross examine them, and throw them out if we don’t like them?

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately our EU spokesperson from the Netherlands doesn’t get the concept of democracy. Parliamentary democracy using FPTP may not be perfect but it is the model favoured by the vast majority of countries in the world.

      You elect an MP and the party with the largest number of MPs forms a government – if they don’t have a parliamentary majority they may seek a coalition. What you also need to consider is that a significant number of seats held by other party politicians will have significant support for the governing party – not perfect but given the choice between this and a socialist quagmire run by a number of overpaid unelected bureaucrats I think I know which one wins.

      Your rose tinted EU glasses get ever rosier despite all the evidence we see to the contrary. Our DEFRA people no longer have proper controls over our food supply for goodness sake so now we get fed dodgy meat probably infested with who knows what and the govt don’t even have the power to take appropriate action!

      This EU monster really is turning into USSR mark 2 and the sooner we get a govt with a mandate to call a referendum and take us out the better. I have lost count of the number of well run and regulated abattoirs in Wales alone close down due to business being taken away thanks to CAP interference, we have enough land and farmers to produce our own food thanks very much.

      Back to your point I find it a total shame that the EU tentacles seem to stretch and intertwine with ECHR when one should have nothing to do with the other – especially given that we have our own capable judiciary.

      It sounds like that given so many politicians are lawyers by trade they create these legal monsters for their associates to milk the system (etc etc ed)

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        @Peter Davies: if you think that we don’t know the first thing about democracy, you’re of course welcome to have a look in the Netherlands, where you’ll find that, contrary to the UK, both houses of parliament are elected (Senate indirectly), that there are far more women among the “people representatives” (MPs), that they are a better reflection and a complete proportional representation of the Dutch people and don’t make life-long careers out of sitting in parliament (the “father of the house clocks 14 years of service in stead of 50 – in UK). When the Dutch “Telegraaf” tried to copy your “Telegraph” in a witch-hunt for MP misuse of expenses – the worst they could find was a pair of sunglasses. There must be some things different between my brand of democracy and yours.
        With your sketch about EU, USSR etc. you lose me, may be someone else will care to react.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Peter, most of us realise that the British national democratic system is deeply flawed and is open to criticism on both academic and practical grounds, not the least of the practical criticisms being that it has signally failed to protect the British people from the enemies of their democracy including yourself.

          On the other hand in practice it has prevented the establishment of an outright dictatorship, which is more than can be said for most of the other countries in the EU, and it has enabled the British people to help get others out of the soup when they’ve been taken over by neighbouring dictatorships.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Denis I don’t consider myself an “enemy” of British democracy, I only react my way when I see notice British “lecturing” the continent on democracy, which I think is misplaced. I also do acknowledge the role the allied forces, including the UK played to bring WWII to an end.

        • Peter Davies
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          @PVL

          I am familiar with the Netherlands and I am not comparing the UK’s parliamentary system with yours. I accept your country does many things better than the UK – this is not the point I was making.

          The first question I would ask is that if the Netherlands have such a good parliamentary and judicial system, why do they see the need to reduce it to the status of a local council/assembly allowing important decisions to be made on your behalf by an institution run by corrupt and useless bureaucrats who you have no say over with their own agenda.

          The comparison with the USSR is quite striking, I stand by that comment, you remember it don’t you? I read somewhere they want to start monitoring EU citizens – see the signs?

          Replace guns and tanks with lawyers, appointed technocrats, lies and political subversion then before you know it we have a socialist federation of small European states that few people have signed up to.

          I read your comments on this blog and you sound like a clever man, very good written English and with a great awareness of how the UK works, you will have seen plenty of examples of countries artificially stitched together. We see the poverty now in southern Europe which can be attributed directly to contagion caused by the precious EURO, we see jobs moving out of the EU due to the ever escalating costs loaded on business – how on earth can this be a good thing?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

            @Peter Davies:
            – your first question – how can I even begin to answer it when the Dutch perspective is diametrically opposed to yours? Our view of the “institutions” (e.g. EC, EP, CoE) bears no resemblance to yours, pooling some sovereignty in a supranational / intergovernmental hybrid is not viewed as reduction, I even don’t believe Mrs Ashton is corrupt (have no evidence supporting your claim here), we do have a say over the agenda together with others. We’re really a little too far apart to start a sensible exchange of ideas I think
            – USSR – I remember the funny youtube guy making such comparisons, I even once listed the nineteen erros of judgement he made in the first few minutes of his monologue, but I’m getting tired of this. One can always read something somewhere, especially if this were done in UK eurosceptic tabloids.
            – The nature of the EU has been more conservative-liberal than socialist for quite a long time now. It is more an EU of the businesses than of the people.
            – Finally you can always see what you want to see: with particular glasses on I could even see a “Land of Lords and Looters” across the NorthSea but what’s the point? Global powers and businesses don’t share your analysis of the euro. Now that all the AngloSaxon predictions of euro collapse and EU collapse have proved impotent wishful thinking, why attach so much credence to the new popular eurosceptic analysis of EU North-South disasters. The UK is currently not a euro country I seem to remember. Still I read in the Huffington Post of 29-1-2013, that “the UK has the one of the worst levels for youth unemployment in the developed world, with just Spain and Greece experiencing higher levels in the OECD. In addition, the UK has experienced the fastest rise in youth unemployment of any country in the G8 since the start of the recession”

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      In principle, Peter is right. Democratic sanction has been used in many countries to remove “rights”. In 2005 the Blair government used Parliament to do away with habeas corpus.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: You may call it democracy, I won’t challenge that for now. But I much prefere a very strong separation of powers, with encoded human rights, and their interpretation left to independent experts (courts). Who is to protect against future torture flights, if it would happen not to be convenient for politicians to have it completely investigated? How well would, in the past, human rights have been protected in Norhtern Ireland without a European Convention? Politicians wielding power over independent judges doesn’t strike me as a brilliant idea.

    • Andyvan
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      You mean a democracy like the one that voted Hitler in? It’s the existence of a government with power over the people that allows abuses of rights. Power always corrupts. Just look at what is happening in the USA now for proof.

      • APL
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Andyvan: “You mean a democracy like the one that voted Hitler in?”

        ‘democracy’ without constitutional restraint is little more than rule by the biggest mob.

        It takes men (& women) of good will who are prepared to observe the restraints of a constitution, in order to preserve the democracy.

        We have no such people in Parliament.

    • Alan
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      I think democracy requires that we respect the opinions and rights of minorities, and the Human Rights Court is one of our mechanisms for doing that.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Indeed. In the EU, democracy is something that UK (and all the other nations, who are currently wearing blinkers) is much short of at the moment.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree Mr Redwood. I see that France passed legislation today to allow gay marriage and adoption. Just a coincidence or was Bishop Cranmers blog accurate that this is an EU directive and Mr Cameron brought it in earlier for political advantage (EU elections) in the hope that people wouldn’t remember and know the source as per FCO 10/3048?
      Please advise Mr Cameron he can’t get away with it in the age of the internet!

      • zorro
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        The idea of equalising the idea (before the law) of different/same sex marriage is certainly EU inspired. I posted a link to the relevant decision in 2010 a couple of months ago.

        zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      John what you’re calling for isn’t democracy but a dictatorship. Under separation of powers judges have to be independent of the Government to prevent the Government exercising arbitrary power.

      Also keeping judge free of politics and elections ensures that they are free from popular prejudices and will make decisions based on what is right, rather than what gets them re-elected.

      • Edward
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        Classic Uni,
        I love that phrase “independent of the popular prejudices of the people” and “make decisions on what is right rather than what gets them elected”
        What happened to power to the people man?
        Orwell would have been proud of you.
        We know best ‘cos we are in charge.
        Followed by we are in charge do as you are told
        Followed by just get on the train to the nice camp

        • Bazman
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          The death penalty is a classic peoples prejudice. Should we restore that one on the basis that the people want it?

          • Edward
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            Baz,
            Im happy to accept the view of the majority on this and other topics as reflected by the views of all the MP’s directly elected by us in our elections.
            I don’t always agree with every decision made but there is always the chance to make your views known to your local MP and to vote against that person at the next election.

            PS Having a view you don’t agree with Baz, isn’t a prejudice.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      “For starters, it is not a really representative parliament and could in principle be misused by future UK governments relying on a smaller portion of the popular vote to change laws”

      It happens all the time. We have a travesty of democracy in which smaller parties have no representation and cannot grow and old failed parties like the LibLabCons can govern with little popular support based on ‘First past the Post’, enforcing policies such as uncontrolled third world and EU immigration which are detested by the English people. Add to that, parliament has decided not to adjust constituency boundaries when they no longer represent equal populations such that we are now back to the situation prior to the Great Reform Act, 1832 which was supposed to abolish Rotten Boroughs.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      @PVL

      I think we will have to agree to disagree on the definition of democracy, just let me point out a couple of things first:

      “pooling some sovereignty in a supranational / intergovernmental hybrid is not viewed as reduction” If that’s what you think fine – to me established institutions being told what to do by an outside body is a glorified “vichy” organization. Your country now does what it is told to do, even if it has other wishes.

      ” I even don’t believe Mrs Ashton is corrupt (have no evidence supporting your claim here)” I never said that she was corrupt, I have other thoughts and could use other words but never said that.

      Lastly your comment about “Youth Unemployment” – firstly the Huffington politics news is very left wing, secondly the UK elected a Labour Government which did their usual thing of spending too much with the added touch of breaking the banks by amongst other things lowering their captial requirements as you know, coupled with social engineering and the demise of the economy

      – this is a bad symptom which could be put right if we did not have so many anti business policies and associated costs and of course had the freedom to seek out new overseas markets without EUSSR hindrance.

      Yes this is poor and I hope we don’t see another labour govt – that is one flaw in UK democracy, there is far too much representation in all UK institutions from those from the left in the UK having a strong voice which often leads to the media and politicians and too many people are now institutionalized in the “labour way”

      I wish you well in your socialist EU paradise.

  4. Andyvan
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Pyrrhic victory. Grinning Dave got a trifling concession that the EU had undoubtedly planned for and doesn’t mean anything since the budget is out of control anyway. The EU now knows it can manufacture some meaningless “renegotiation victory” for Dave and he will come back waving a piece of paper saying “Britain’s sovereignty is safe in our time” and all the fawning idiots in parliament and the media will convince the country to stay in the EU with no real change to the terms. Are we really so gullible and easily bought? Apparently we are.

    • Bob
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Rights are more easily given up than won as David Davis once remarked:

      “If you give the government power they will abuse it.”

      “The privacy and dignity of our citizens [is] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen — a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person’s] life.”

  5. Ben Kelly
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning Mr Redwood,

    When can we expect to see a real terms cut in the UK budgeted expenditure?

    Zero sum budgeting principles should be applied in the next spending review. It is now that time of year when public funds are shovelled out of the door to protect next year’s funding. The Chancellor attempted to address this I’m his first budget but I fear little progress.

  6. Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I think it is disgusting that we are set to pay even more to the eu.

    In view of the obvious scepticism of the British public surely the Conservatives’ only hope of securing an outright victory is to propose an eu referendum in 2013 and ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament in the next few weeks.

    Let US decide if we want to give even more money to the eu and give us a chance of having a decent government for a change.

  7. lojolondon
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Dear John,
    I am afraid you have been had.

    According to the constitution, this is what will happen : the EU parliament is going to have a secret ballot, and reject the government offers, and so we will pay last years budget plus 2%. But the UK will pay even more because our rebate is going down.
    They ALL know it – it was a total setup, Cameron and Merkel get to go back to their voters and claim ‘victory’ and ‘tough on Europe’ and then say they were outflanked, but believe me, when the meeting ended at 4 pm I knew that everybody had agreed the way forward.
    The UK and German taxpayers will pay and everyone else is laughing, including our top negotiators (Cameron and Merkel). Who are both clearly liars and traitors.

    If I am wrong, I promise to write to you and apologise, but I would bet my house on this.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      lojolondon,
      I agree. What will our MPs do when this happens? Nothing, but try and keep up the pretence that this was an historic budget. It certainly will have been if it is overturned by MEPs voting in a secret ballot!

      • Chris
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that the electorate have been sold the story that Cameron has achieved a cut in the EU budget, and this has been reinforced so many times that many people will believe it. What seems to be critical to politicians is the first message that is given out to the people – doesn’t seem to matter if it is not strictly accurate. It was vital for Cameron’s spin doctors that a good message came out from the European Council meeting, which it did. That it is not true does not seem to matter. I originally trusted the Conservatives and thought it was only New Labour that did that sort of things. How incredibly naive of me. However, I now have a choice and it is that I will no longer vote Conservative as I have no trust in Cameron and his team, and I will transfer my allegiance to someone I do trust and who speaks plainly, Nigel Farage.

        Reply: It is entirely true that Mr Cameron got a cut in the original budget plans, and a cut compared to the previous budgets and settlement. He also very clearly pointed out that the UK may still end up payign more thanks toL abour’s reckless surrender of part of the rebate. if he had not got an overall cut in the budget our increase would have been even bigger.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      As I’ve pointed out before, although JR seems unusually reluctant to publish it: that claimed fallback position of last year’s budget plus 2% does not appear to be part of EU law, and it appears that our MPs have never been asked to approve that fallback position or anything from which it could be held to spring.

      Therefore unless the government’s lawyers could come up with solid arguments to support the contention that the UK would be under a valid treaty obligation to allow the budget ceilings to be automatically inflated by 2% a year, I don’t see why MPs should have any compunction about refusing to authorise increased payments.

      • Chris
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        It is very interesting what you have posted, and I don’t doubt you are right as you seem to have a very extensive and in depth knowledge of the relevant legislation. It is like other issues, however, where Cameron could challenge the EU but does not as he does not want to rock the boat or to fundamentally alter the status quo. His quest for renegotiation for example is only tinkering at the edges and the fundamental issues such as immigration have not been mentioned with regard to renegotiation, as Cameron basically has no wish to challenge this fundamental tenet of the EU – the free movement of people.

        Reply Do not confuse Mr Cmaeron’s views with the line followed by the Coalition government, where anything they do has to be agreed with the Lib dems.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          I gingerly pick my way through the tangle of treaties and laws, always conscious that I may be missing something and therefore always open to correction.

          However I’ve argued this before, on this blog and on the Open Europe blog and elsewhere, without anybody yet supplying a reasoned contradiction of what I’ve said.

          Last November on this blog I highlighted that Mark Reckless MP was expecting a Bill to approve the multiannual financial framework once it had been agreed, but on a quick search I hadn’t been able to find an Act which approved the present seven year plan.

          Of course JR was in the Commons at that time, and if he can recall and point out which piece of primary legislation approved the InterInstitutional Agreement of May 17th 2006 then that would put a different complexion on the matter.

          Likewise Open Europe released an analysis:

          http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Article/Page/en/LIVE?id=9489&page=PressReleases

          saying inter alia:

          “If EU leaders fail to reach a deal before the end of next year, the 2013 budget ceilings are carried over, adjusted to the standard GDP deflator (i.e. a 2% increase to account for inflation).”

          and referring to points 16 and 24 in the 2006 InterInstitutional Agreement; but none of that team has ever responded to my argument that this is not part of binding EU law as directly or indirectly approved by our MPs, and therefore they need not feel under any obligation to go along with it.

      • Acorn
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Article 315 (Lisbon). Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Article 315 TFEU is about the annual budget, and we haven’t got to that yet.

          For the multiannual financial framework which is presently under discussion the relevant provision in the current treaties is Article 312 TFEU, which may be read starting on page 182 here:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0047:0200:EN:PDF

          However paragraph 4 of Article 312 TFEU can only refer to a future situation when the operation of the Article had already put into place a multiannual financial framework laid down through a Council regulation:

          “Where no Council regulation determining a new financial framework has been adopted by the end of the previous financial framework, the ceilings and other provisions corresponding to the last year of that framework shall be extended until such time as that act is adopted.”

          At present there is no such legally binding financial framework laid down through a Council regulation under the terms of that Article.

          All there is at present is an InterInstitutional Agreement of May 17th 2006:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:139:0001:0001:EN:PDF

          and although that agreement is recorded in the EU’s Official Journal it has two unusual features: firstly the annotation “(Information)” at the head of the document, and secondly the absence of any citation of a legal base in the treaties which were in force at the time the agreement was made.

          No legal base could be cited for the simple reason that there was no legal base in May 2006, the relevant provision Article 312 TFEU being a completely new article introduced through the Lisbon Treaty which only came into force on December 1st 2009:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12007L/htm/C2007306EN.01004201.htm

          “261) The following new Chapter 2 and new Article 270a shall be inserted … ”

          270a later being renumbered as 312.

          Likewise a new Article 252a was inserted:

          “The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall consult each other and by common agreement make arrangements for their cooperation. To that end, they may, in compliance with the Treaties, conclude interinstitutional agreements which may be of a binding nature.”

          which is now Article 259 TFEU.

          What is missing from Article 312 TFEU is a paragraph retrospectively elevating the 2006 InterInstitutional Agreement to the status of EU law, something along these lines:

          “6. The InterInstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management dated May 17th 2006 shall be regarded as the present multiannual financial framework for the purposes of this Article”.

          If that had been included then it could now be argued that MPs had retrospectively approved the 2006 InterInstitutional Agreement through their approval of the Lisbon Treaty, even though as far as I can discover MPs were not asked to approve it at the time; as it was not included MPs need not feel themselves to be under either a legal or a moral obligation to accept it.

  8. EJT
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    “the lower 7 year budget settlement achieved by Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel”

    I thought this had been bottomed out, and it had been established that “the lower 7 year budget settlement” hasn’t “been achieved” until/unless the EP aproves it ??

    • Chris
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Politicians are continually peddling this myth that a budget cut has been achieved. The Lisbon Treaty makes clear that the process is two pronged, in order to provide checks and blances. No cut in the budget has been achieved until the second part of the process has been completed i.e. the European Parliament debate and vote. If the EP vote in favour of budget cuts, then, and only then, will a budget cut have been achieved.

    • John Maynard
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      If the particularly unpleasant German socialist president of the EP, is rash enough to engineer a blocking coup, that will ensure that the increasingly Eurosceptic German electorate returns Angela Merkel.
      No wonder she is amused.
      There must be some frantic communications humming down the wires between SPD central and the plotters in Strasbourg.

  9. Gary
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    How ironic, we can get a reduction in the eu budget, but we can’t get a reduction in our own. So, which system is working better ?

  10. Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    They have cut the budget, but not the amount the UK pays. Although the budget has been cut, it is still bigger than before.
    This is standard Civil Service procedure. Decide how much money you expect to spend next year to perform your duties, and then double (or maybe triple) it, depending on what you think you can get away with. Then scream like mad about “the cuts” when it is reduced to something like the figure you first thought of.
    Which is why I don’t believe any of the “cuts” in this government’s expenditure have actually happened, it is just the proposed increases which have been cut to slightly smaller increases.

  11. stred
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    One of the principles of ‘Rights’ is that everyone should be treated equally and impartially. This would presumably apply to groups of people or even country sized groups.

    When the Germans realise that their advanced Green energy programme is not working and their Greens refuse to have nuclear, they are allowed to build some dirty coal fired stations in other countries, as usual. Then they import nuclear from France. While the UK is ordered to shut down large coal fired stations and rely on another Green energy programme, which needs an eightfold increase in backup gas generation. How is this being treated impartially?

    Meanwhile, the Romanians are forced to ban horse carts, which have no EU standards but run on ‘biofuel’. The horses are then killed, and sent by CO2 producing, lorry or ship to the UK via Holland, Luxembourg, Cyprus and France where they are cooked. Is this not a case of the EU legislating for one thing and the result being the opposite to the intention of another law.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The Germans had already exceeded their green targets, while the UK hadn’t.So they were treated differently because they were different.

      Also which EU law bans horse carts.

  12. Neil Craig
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    “general acceptance that it it should be easier to cut EU spending than national spending”

    Swiftian.

  13. Wilko
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The first duty of Government is defence of the Realm.

    The Realm needs defending from sinister forces destined to undermine its freedom to do good, sensible, efficient things.

  14. Chris
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    With regard to EU matters, and how Cameron wants to be in the EU and not run by it, there is an interesting comment by Richard North (who has a formidable knowledge of all things to do with the EU, and who does not suffer fools gladly) on how Owen Paterson has actually achieved something by making the EU work for him. I refer to the horsemeat scandal, which is far more complex than meets the eye, and which has been poorly reported and sensationalised by the press. North has written several articles on this, including an excellent background one
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83606
    plus this one where he praises Paterson.
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83613
    “….This was the Secretary of State that spoke in the House of trying to get away from the expression “food chain”, talking of an “extraordinary network” – an amazing kaleidoscopic variety of factories and suppliers all working together.
    It is a real network, said Paterson, and what is quite clear in this case is that there has to be more rigorous and more random testing. I have faith in the advice of the independent Food Standards Agency, but down the road, I would like to see more random testing.
    Then to get all the players on a Europe-wide basis together for Wednesday is something of a coup. He has got Commissioner Borg to accept that there must be changes to the control regime, and has his agreement that more hands-on testing across the board.
    This is not a man failing to get grip. Rather, Paterson is turning Hague’s little slogan on its head. For the moment, we seem to be in Europe and ruling Europe. Even the French are being helpful and friendly….”

    There have been rumours circulating that Owen Paterson would make a good leader of the Cons Party, representing grassroots, and being eurosceptic and apparently not afraid to take the EU on and make it work for him. It could be that Paterson deserves more praise than he is getting in the media, a media which (bar Christopher Booker) really does not seem to understand the complexities of the situation and which is looking for someone to blame?

  15. cosmic
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    All that’s happened so far is that the European Council has agreed a position, and the European Parliament can, and most likely will, scupper it so that default year on year budgeting takes place.

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/02/eu-budget-beware-the-european-parliaments-veto-power/

    Far too much cheering at this stage I’d say.

    As for the EU interfering and overreaching itself, given its fundamental goal of ever closer union and its bureaucratic and anti-democratic nature and the fact that Westminster has agreed it’s our supreme government, it’s simply acting according to its rights and purpose. If we don’t like this, the answer is to leave.

    The EU and the Council of Europe both act to eliminate the identity and self determination of the nation state. Out of the EU, the intentions of the ECHR become more or less advisory, as a member of the EU they act in synergy.

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    JR: ” Yesterday in the Commons even Labour gave a welcome to the lower 7 year budget settlement achieved by Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel.”
    Why shouldn’t Labour have welcomed it? After all they, like you, supported Mark Reckless’s amendment at the end of October that called for a real-terms cut in EU spending between 2014 and 2020 which was opposed by Cameron, the government and a majority of Conservative and Lib Dem MPs. We don’t have such short memories as you nor are we as easily pleased by statements by a mendacious leader. Your party is not eurosceptic as you would have us believe and we can expect nothing to be achieved in returning our sovereignty from the EU.

  17. P O Pensioner
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Moving off subject I wonder how many know the following copied from the NHS Scotland website;

    “Unlike the rest of the UK, where air ambulance services are funded by charitable donations, in Scotland the service is fully funded by NHS Scotland.”

    Subsidised by the English taxpayers!

    • P O Pensioner
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Just to be rechnically correct, this quote was actually copied from the Scottish Ambulance Service website not the NHS Scotland website as I stated.

      We’re still all paying for it though!

  18. con
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Have we really got a ‘sovereign’ parliament?

    How many laws are made in the UK – around 12%?

    Nobody ever voted for it but surely we are now just a state within a political union?

    Why do we need a sovereign parliament? We have effectively ceded our authority on almost evrything to the eu.

    If we do need some form parliament, why do we need the same number of m.p.’s that we had when parliament was a real parliament? surely some 100 m.p.’s would be plenty.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      According to Parliament’s own studied EU law accounts for 7% of statutes and 13% of statutory instruments. So the vast majority of the UK’s laws are made in the UK.

      Also in 1975 people did vote to remain in the EEC and Parliament has since approved treaties that turned the EEC into the EU.

      Reply: A big underestimate of the EU content of UK law

  19. Bert Young
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Your contribution in the House was , as usual , sensible and welcome .Defending our democracy should be deep in the heart of every MP and it is surprising that PvL does not understand . We never signed up to be governed by Europe or to have any outside body telling what to do or how to behave ; our system and practice of democracy has been a model to and been adopted by many other countries ; it must never be surrendered .

  20. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be silly, John, pan euro quango harmonisation is obviously very necessary to the fanatics pushing this agenda.

  21. Pleb
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    The EU is a forth reich

  22. uanime5
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I said that a democracy like the UK should be able to defend and advance our own human rights through a sovereign Parliament, instead of submitting to ECHR and EU law on these matters.

    Given that human rights and EU cases often involves the Government policy breaching these rights it’s clear that Parliament cannot be trusted to act in a just manner. We need full human rights to be enforced, not whatever rights Parliament considers acceptable.

    I also advanced the proposition that our membership of the European Human Rights Convention should be amended to the original intention, removing the right of individuals to take cases to the overloaded and slow court. Most cases should be settled in the UK by our own courts.

    Most cases are settled by UK courts based on previous ECHR judgements, it’s only when a new issue is raised that the ECHR is consulted. What you are proposing John is a return to a time when if you wanted to enforce your human rights you had to go through the entire UK legal system, then bring your case before the ECHR. A system that was abandoned because it resulted in the Government having to pay huge legal costs because cases would drag on for at least a decade.

    As long as UK courts are slaves to Parliamentary law and have no power to strike down laws that abuse human rights then the ECHR is needed to enforce human rights that Parliament is trying to repress because these rights are inconvenient for politicians. Giving the state power to decide when human rights apply will result in nothing but tyranny and injustice.

    Ironically the judgement from the Court of Appeal on Workfare came out today and the judges found that it was illegal because it amounted to forced labour. Had people not been able to enforce their human rights in the courts then they would have needed to appeal to the Supreme Court and ECHR in order to obtain justice.

    Here’s hoping that this judgement also strikes down the equally rotten work programme.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9864568/Unemployed-cannot-be-forced-to-work-in-Poundland.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/9864673/Back-to-work-scheme-ruling-explained.html

    • Edward
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      In one paragraph you say we desperately need the EU to maintain human rights and in the next you give an example of our UK courts giving a judgement which upholds your own view of good human rights.
      Make your mind up.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        The EU isn’t involved with human rights, the ECHR is. You really should learn the difference.

        Had you bothered to read my post you’d know that the only reason the court was able to apply human rights law was because the human rights act forces courts to ensure all laws comply with human rights. What John is proposing is the removal of this protection so courts would no longer consider human rights. So if the system John recommended was implemented this case wouldn’t have considered human rights because Parliament would have decided that forcing the unemployed to work for free was acceptable.

        • Edward
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          You are sounding more and more like Sir Humphrey out of Yes Prime Minister with every post Uni.
          I jwould simply prefer to have laws made and upheld by the Parliament of the UK, and decided upon by UK judges, be they human rights laws or any other laws, where I feel I have a better democratic connection than with judges in Europe where I feel very distant from.
          But I am well aware you prefer the EU option.

  23. Tad Davison
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Watching the goings-on in the Commons yesterday, made me sick to my stomach. MPs were queuing up to congratulate David Cameron, for agreeing to a slight increase, instead of a big increase, to the EU budget. And this is supposed to pass for healthy Euro-scepticism!

    The bulk of Tory MPs showed their true colours yesterday, but they sure as hell weren’t blue! No self-respecting political representative worthy of the label ‘democrat’, would countenance such a feeble achievement, and laud it as a success. No, they have an eye on the next election, and are figuring out how best to appear Euro-sceptic, because they know it’s a vote-winner, whilst still slowly but surely, selling us down the river.

    I used to find the experience of lobbying MPs generally very nauseating, although some were good decent men, and I consider myself fortunate to be their friend. But it was clear, that a great many would put party before principles, and they subsequently sacrificed the country’s best interests, for the sake of party unity, or short-term expediency. I am proud that I have remained loyal to my own principles throughout. I put Britain first, second, and third, which is more than I can say for them, and nobody can buy me with thirty pieces of silver, which I guess would disqualify me from standing for parliament. But most of those good men and true, have now departed, only to be replaced with yet more contemptible, lily-livered yes men. So where the hell have all the men of true virtue gone?

    Commeth the hour, commeth the man, but I’m damned if I can see anyone on the horizon as yet who is strong and committed enough to lead this anti-EU fight, not at least in the three main Westminster parties!

    If the Tories think this is a success, you wait til the whole EU project implodes because of their lack of judgement and foresight. I only wish there was some form of redress afterwards, to make them accountable for their actions. But Cameron’s ‘deal’ is something to shout about?

    Do me a favour!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  24. forthurst
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    According to the EU Commission, British Beef is not beef, but by all accounts, if a beast has been pulling a cart in Romania it can become labelled as beef.

    “Dr Mark Woolfe, former head of food authenticity at the Food Standards Agency, said the European Commission told retailers in April last year that they could no longer describe desinewed meat as beef.”

    “The European Commission gave British retailers just two days notice of the change, forcing them to look to European suppliers for cheap alternatives. The processed meat had previously been used in value products sold by British supermarkets for a decade.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9864916/Horse-meat-scandal-EC-ban-on-cheap-British-meat-blamed.html

    Is it not rather unfair of the government to monster Tesco et al whilst it is they who are totally responsible for allowing the EU once again to ride roughshod over our food producers and retailers in favour of dodgy foreign producers, when attempting to supply wholesome food to the domestic market?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Given that our food producers were trying to make things as cheaply as possible and chose dodgy foreign producers because of their low prices it’s hardly fair to blame the EU for this.

      • Edward
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Uni,
        The EU put themselves in charge of inspection so they are now responsible if things go wrong.

  25. David Langley
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    As you say we do not need a few foreign Judges to tell us what we should be doing. So why are you not ignoring them, what can they do jail you? Very few of the EU countries adhere slavishly to the dictats from the Brussels gang. Switzerland has been in breach of the immigrant quota for years but doesnt care, their Taxpayers like their country as it is. I like their country as it is too.
    Sorry John but our parliament is just an expensive talking shop, with no cojones. There seems to be some shambles or other every week. Even the committees just whine at their victims, no powers no effect.
    I get so frustrated with the government, no logic, no common sense. What we need is our money back, just think what we could do with this daily fine of over £50 million pounds by the EU. We can still satisfy our regional funding and have billions to spare. To be honest all the current MPs are a disgrace when you consider their priorities and what really they should be doing. Fiddling while our democracy burns.

    • Wilko
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      The Swiss exhibit signs of being averse to diluting the essence of their population. Earlier they required businesses employing foreign nationals to reduce their number by 10%. This occurred year on year. Even existing employees of international organisations with offices in Switzerland were restricted.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      What immigration quota are you talking about? EFTA countries don’t have to admit a certain number of immigrants every year, nor do EU countries.

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I notice during the debate:

    “Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the biggest transfers of power happened in the 1980s with the Single European Act and with the Maastricht treaty in 1992? Actually, the current Foreign Secretary voted against a referendum on Maastricht.”

    There you go, it was Tory governments which set the precedents now repeatedly cited against EU referendums by the Labour party.

    Reply The largest transfers of power were under Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. The Uk opted out of the main transfer at Maastricht, the Euro.

  27. Mark
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    There seems to be an ongoing problem affecting recent threads which means that some comments disappear prior to moderation. They can be restored to being “in moderation” again by posting an additional comment: however, a subsequent comment may then fail to register.

    I can see signs that some other posters have been similarly frustrated. I still have comments outstanding on the inheritance tax, price of money and austerity budget threads.

    This is obviously a site software problem, and seems to have arisen since the move to new servers.

    • Normandee
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Maybe you are asking the wrong questions Mark, I have been asking the same question for some time now and they have stopped appearing as well. It maybe a case of “I know all the answers if you ask the right questions”

  28. REPay
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Much as it pains me to say it, I and a number of other expats are considering going to the ECHR to stop the UK government disenfrachising us after ten years abroad. The UK is the only country to do this.

  29. Normandee
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    So, tell me, should I vote for my Conservative MP who openly supports the EU or should I vote for an anti EU candidate. You are a long serving MP and should be able to give me guidance on this. You see according to some of the things you have said before I will get the same result whichever way I vote, more Europe, maybe it’s time for a change. Or is it the change you fear.

    Reply There is no election so you do not have a chance to vote anytime soon. Why not help move the current Parliament in a sensible direction?

    • Normandee
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      For goodness sake how? I have told my MP that his support of the EU will lose him my vote, he doesn’t seem to care, I only have my one vote to negotiate with. I have tried supporting people like you that appear to have the same ideals as I do, but it gets to the point where you will go no further and even stop communicating because you have reached the limit of your commitment to the cause. I feel strongly enough to withdraw my support for the party, that’s my limit, I can go no further. That is what is frustrating, you appear to have a comfort zone you will not leave, that puts me and by the tone of some of your correspondence, others, in doubt of your commitment. I have been here before with Mr Carswell, and now even Dan Hannan is prevaricating and wandering off the plot. You and your colleagues cannot have comfort zones the big decisions have to be made and just throwing snowballs at glasshouses is not enough, that’s what you get the big money and perks for, you may think it’s not enough, but just check the value of your pension and the value of the average working man’s.

      Reply I lack no commitment to the cause of restoring democracy to the UK. Sometimes you need to accept that people like me who do this every day in Parliament have to make judgements about what is the next step and how we can best advance the cause.

  30. Boudicca
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    We don’t need the EU.

    That’s all you had to say.

  31. Sue
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    The EU budget ‘victory’ cheers go on in the Commons, but the facts seem to have been lost in the Prime Minister’s ‘triumph’. What the cheering Tories can’t quite grasp is that all that came out of the European Council last week was an agreed position to make cuts in the EU’s long term budget. That’s all, an ‘agreed position’. It was not a deal. Under the Lisbon Treaty, there is no deal until the European Parliament agrees to one: and the Parliament is in no mood to agree any cuts in EU spending.

    And if the Council and the Parliament cannot reach an agreement? The Parliament would be delighted. EU spending would stay at the 2013 ceiling of well over a trillion euros, tens of billions above last week’s agreed position of €960 billion.

    So to anyone watching from Brussels, Cameron’s victory celebrations look very odd. Either the PM doesn’t know the procedures for how the budget is agreed – is it possible he still imagines the Council has the same powers as in Margaret Thatcher’s time? – or he is pretending he’s had a great triumph as a ‘proof’ that he can renegotiate successfully with an unwilling EU.

    It is unlikely Martin Schulz, the German socialist who is president of the European Parliament, cares what the answer is to that one. He is busy getting on with blocking the cuts, and – added personal bonus – humiliating a British Conservative. All that is needed in the parliament to over-turn the agreed position is an absolute majority vote against it. The vote is planned for March, Already the four main groups in the Parliament, representing 80 percent of the votes, have come out to back Schulz. To make sure the vote is certain, the groups will put into play Rule 169 of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, allowing for a secret ballot: ‘When a request for a secret ballot is submitted by at least one fifth of the component Members of Parliament before voting begins, Parliament must hold such a vote.’ So it’s a dead cert if Schulz wants it, and he does.

    But why in secret? To stop national parliaments threatening their MEPs over how they vote. The word at the Parliament is that the secret ballot is meant in particular to protect Polish MEPs, some of whom want a bigger EU budget but fear reprisals by Donal Tusk’s Civic Platform party. Schulz’s excuse for this kind of behaviour is: ‘We are the voice of the people.’

    Among the other leaders in the Parliament lining up with Schulz are Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chairman of the Greens but more famous as Dany the Red of the Paris student riots of 1968. Also Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister, now leader of the liberal group in the Parliament and founder member of the Spinelli group. The group is named after Altieri Spinelli (1907-1986) an Italian Leninist turned Stalinist whose goal in Europe was ‘the definitive abolition of the division of Europe into national sovereign states’. The group today denounces countries which ‘cling to national sovereignties’.

    As I say, this lot and their allies control 80 percent of the vote in the Parliament. Backing them are the Commission elite, who have already sent out a warning to Cameron that ‘the summit was only the first chapter of the story’. Not quite VE day, then.

    TIME WE GOT OUT!

    Reply Mr Cameron not only knows the Parliament can vote this down, but told the UK Parliament so, and urged the other party leaders to get their MEPs to vote for it. It is now up to people who want a lower budget to maximise pressure on MEPs to deliver it. Mr C and all Conservative MPs voted against these budget powers for the European parliament, so don’t blame us for them.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Thats a good insight of how this mess works, something I have not paid too much attention.

      These battles must take an awful lot of time and energy which would be better spent sorting out the domestic mess at home.

      Your right it is time to get out of the EU and move on, the advantages in my mind severely outweigh the disadvantages and these arguments have gone on for so long.

      This was a huge thorn in the side of Mrs T, and proving the same for Cameron though not so for Blair/Brown who just quietly got on with complying with their federal wishes without the consent of the people thus committing treason in my mind.

      Here’s an idea, make the referendum promise part of the next general election to be held straight after and settle the issue once and for all

  32. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 16, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Has anybody noticed John Major’s recent weasel words: “Don’t negotiate too hard with the EU and don’t expect too much.”? He also referred to the promise of an in/out referendum as “a gamble”. Oh, dear, people might say “No”. It’s lucky that he wasn’t in charge of the EU budget negotiations. Truly, a good President of Surrey County Cricket Club in a bad year.

    Mr Major is relying on the fact that people over 50 don’t recall Harold Wilson’s trick of promising a comprehensive renegotiation and then settling for little change. Don’t worry, those of us that are over 50 are going to tell everyone else in considerable detail and often.

    This time round, we won’t buy a pig in a poke. The ‘bottom line’ must be nailed down in the Conservative Part’s manifesto.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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