The EU declares bureaucratic war on the UK

It was always agreed in the EU that welfare systems should be under national control.Even Labour, when giving away 138 vetoes over important policy areas, kept a red line around welfare. Decisions about how much to pay, and to whom, were to be made by national Parliaments and governments. The UK signed up to the free movement of workers, not to the free movement of benefit seekers.

I have been urging the UK government for some time to head off this threat. One way would be to make all benefits in the UK contribution based. If you either had to enjoy an education here, or have worked for five years paying UK taxes, before you qualified for any benefit, the EU would find it more difficult to intervene.

As the governemnt has chosen not to go that route, but to assert that the EU has no right to demand we pay benefits to more people than currently qualify, it might help to buttress its case.

The EU is foolish to choose to challenge the Uk over such a sensitive matter at this juncture, when many UK citizens are keen on a new relationship with the EU or want to leave the EU tomorrow without even negotiating a new deal.This bureaucratic interference sums up what so many of us dislike about the EU. They say they need to control our benefits systems to have a fair single market. Curious that. China and the USA trade with us quite happily, but we do not try to control their benefit systems, nor do they instruct us on how big our welfare bill should be.

I suggest the government might like to underwrite its strong view that welfare is none of the EU’s business by a simple short Bill. This Bill could be an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act, stating categorically that welfare is a UK issue and instructing the UK courts that the UK government will neither appear in the ECJ nor accept its judgement on welfare matters. Welfare payments should be decided here.

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83 Comments

  1. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more. Listening to R5L yesterday IDS gets it too. Its a shame though that the government puts out more noise on the likes of gay “marriage” than showing that its actually on the ball with something.

    Make all benefits contribution based. This has more than just the benefit of dealing with EU benefit arbitrageurs, it would also get the indigenous welfare lifers back to work (the jobs are there just ask a Somali taxi driver in Bristol or a Pole picking potatoes in Lincolnshire). Its something for lefties to think about too, as its also deals with crony capitalism too i.e. those companies that deliberately pay their staff low wages knowing that they can top up their incomes via the state.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Just because immigrants can survive working for minimum wage doesn’t mean people in the UK can survive. Especially when the immigrants only work for a few years then retire because they’ve made a fortune by the standards of their country.

      Also you mention picking potatoes but forgot that this is seasonal work, so it’s not available for about 11 months of the year.

    • Posted June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      So the British labour force are to compete East Europeans? Really. How is this going to work in you right wing fantasy?

      • Posted June 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        We are all competing right now, whether it “works” or not, is meaningless.

        • Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

          Looks like the East Europeans are winning then.

  2. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Who are those benefit seekers?

  3. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    It is indeed very strange that the EUrocrats are taking on our government about welfare payments at this exact time. After all, if I remember correctly, this particular scheme has been in place since 2004.
    If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d think that perhaps this is a bit of a helping hand the EU is giving Cameron, because he’ll have the opportunity to defeat this, and can then go to the country as a slayer of an EU diktat.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      @colliemum
      ” this is a bit of a helping hand the EU is giving Cameron, because he’ll have the opportunity to defeat this, and can then go to the country as a slayer of an EU diktat.”

      Got it in one.
      Expect more of the same heading into the elections.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      @colliemum: Not so sure that there is any conspiracy theories, just the usual bureaucratic bungling, considering that the EU are also taking aim at Spain over their health care provision for non-resident EU citizens.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      In lieu of a promised referendum (if genuine) there should be no new EU diktats to slay.

      One would have thought that there would have been a cessation on all EU diktats and immigration until 2017 until after the people have had their say.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      These laws had to operate for a certain amount of time before the EU noticed they were discriminatory. The EU then gave the UK until 2011 to reform these laws. Since the UK failed to reform these laws the EU is taking the UK to court.

      Cameron has little change of winning a court case as he has no real defence for the discriminatory effect of the law.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      In response to my previous response (doubtlessly to the dismay of the commenter in a previous thread who was irked by the self-responses to responses. I’m sorry.)

      “If you either *had* to *enjoy* an education here…”

      What does this mean ?

      • Posted May 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        That question addressed to Mr Redwood.

        (My eternal regret having used the word ‘enjoy’ on the subject of rail transport some years ago.)

  4. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed John, all this indicates is their zeal for a complete political and economic union in a country called Europe. Free trade requires free markets and movement of workers but does not need to include social/unemployment arrangements. EU workers pay taxes to their own systems and could claim under those unless they lived and worked here for a substantial time. If they could not survive on their national benefits in the UK then they should return home…….with perhaps a reasonable credit for NI payments so far. This is one gravy train which must stop along with the non payment of student loans by EU nationals……

    zorro

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      Quite, if one was to arrive here seeking one’s fortune and the role one was playing did not pay sufficiently to sustain one or even one did not have a role. One should return where one came from not expect others to sustain one.

  5. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Some interesting choice of words and phrases Mr. Redwood.

    “The UK signed up to the free movement of workers, not to the free movement of benefit seekers”

    Not with my consent nor that of the rest of the electorate via the various treaties since 1974.

    “I have been urging the UK government for some time to head off this threat. One way would be to make all benefits in the UK contribution based.”

    Or invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and then be able to truly ‘renegotiate’ our relaitonship with the EU via bi-lateral agreements and/or membership of EFTA.

    Why do you not advocate this policy? it is the only one where ‘renegotiation’ (the buzz word of the current executive) can be truly implemented.

    “when many UK citizens are keen on a new relationship with the EU”

    Anyone who seriously thinks and believes that the EU executive (i.e. the Commission) is willing or even remotely committed to ‘renegotiation’ on any ‘competence’ (i.e. power it claims and has taken as its own) is seriously deluded and probably believes in the tooth fairy as well.

    “or want to leave the EU tomorrow without even negotiating a new deal”

    A foolish policy as well for we cannot just leave as the advocates of universal repeal of ECA 1972 as we would then have no ‘agreements’ in place to trade. Article 50 retains the Status Quo with one major exception; we have given ‘notice to leave’ and then the EU is committed to ‘renegotiation as per its own treaty terms. We are then able to rejoin EFTA and have real influence on GLOBAL trade and commercial issues and enter into bi-lateral agreements that serve our interests.

    “Welfare payments should be decided here.”

    As should every political, economic, judicial and every other policy decision affecting the subjects of this realm.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Totally agree with Andy I’m afraid, Article 50 is the only way we will be given a chance at renegotiation. The EU is a construct that has been deliberately engineered to end up as a superstate right from the very beginning. They’re not about to alter their plans for us, that’s for sure! Even now Merkel and Hollande are schmoozing over each other in their plan for a Euro President (yes another one).

      They’re either testing Cameron’s resolve or they are trying to drive us out. One way or another, we need to exit. This model of the EU is not for us, it goes against everything that we believe in. Unfortunately, for the Europhiles, each time the EU does this sort of thing, it makes the EU even more unpopular and will of course unfairly affect the Conservative membership. After all, only you can do something, you are essentially in charge. The Libdems might be in the coalition but they have lost all credibility.

      A comprehensive benefit system will only function fairly and equally if all EU countries have exactly the same policies. Why we should have to make excuses to satisfy the equality regulation when the policy itself is unequal, beats the hell out of me. If I am entitled to certain benefits here, then I should be entitled to the same benefits in all 27 member states and the same goes for all other EU citizens.

      “It was always agreed in the EU that welfare systems should be under national control” – This must be in writing somewhere? Surely this was agreed with the EU and put in some sort of document!

      Of course you could also stipulate that if claimants haven’t paid enough in contributions to claim benefits, the fact that their parents may have paid a lifetime of taxation and NI could be taken into consideration. That would work with the majority of Britons and only include 2nd generation immigrants such as those who arrived in the 50’s. These are people who were proud to come to the UK and worked hard for a better life for themselves and their families.

      Finally, the latest poll in the Telegraph showed that more than 89% of us want to just leave the EU as soon as possible. We’ve lost all patience with it and our seemingly useless, sterile government. I really wonder why we even bother having MP’s. You no longer function as you were meant to and it would make absolutely no difference if you were there or not as all our laws come from Brussels.

  6. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I’m grateful you’ve highlighted that a simple amendment to the 1972 EEC act is sufficient. Personally I think the EU is doing most people of the EU a favour by fiddling whilst Rome burns. The more they do to annoy us in the UK the more likely we’ll secure an exit vote in a referendum. They’ll never ‘get it’ as it’s the most common disease on the left. The absolute certainty that you are right(eous).

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Out of interest, how powerful is the 1972 EEC act? Many people have said that all it would take is to repeal this completely and we would be out of the EU. Of course, we’d be burning many diplomatic and trade bridges but it would be a backup if negotiations under Art 50 went awry.

      • Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        Well, you can read it here:

        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/contents

        both as originally enacted and in its present amended form.

        It’s fundamental, because without it the EEC/EC/EU treaties and laws springing from them would have no legal force in this country, but with it:

        “All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the Treaties, as in accordance with the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognised and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly; and the expression [F1 “enforceable EU right”]F1 and similar expressions shall be read as referring to one to which this subsection applies.”

        according to its Section 2(1).

        It is akin to an enabling act through which Parliament delegates extensive powers, but the delegation is not to the UK national government, or to any other body internal to the UK, but instead to the external, transnational, EEC/EC/EU institutions.

        However while repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 would mean that the EEC/EC/EU treaties and laws would cease to have any legal force on the domestic plane that would have to be complemented by action on the international plane; the UK having previously consented to be bound by all of those treaties by the government depositing successive instruments of ratification, it would have to abrogate the treaties by revoking or cancelling the instruments of ratification.

        As without this national legislation the government would be unable to ensure compliance with any of the terms of the international treaties, it would really have no choice but to entirely abrogate them.

  7. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    You are just whistling in the wind as the EU is on a mission towards ever closer union and the elimination of the nation state.

  8. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Such a bill would be an excellent idea, but it surely won’t ever happen under Cast Iron/Heart and Soul and Clegg. Also how are they going to protect the City from the absurd Tobin tax, the commercial only olive oil bottles in restaurants, the religious energy lunacy and even the suction power of your vacuum cleaner. Almost everything the EU propose is hugely damaging and often totally bonkers.

    Still progress is being made, I read that even the green religion enthusiast, Tim Yeo is shifting and has said:-

    “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

    Had anyone sensible ever suggested that climate does not change and has only human causes? Of course the evidence is overwhelming it always was, but that is not the issue. James Delinpole’s blog is very amusing on this, yesterday.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

      Now a man of principle would pay back all the government subsidies.

  9. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    The EU will beat our government on this as the EU always does. OUT NOW

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed we will lose. Perhaps because the leadership and much of our government and the BBC is clearly on the side of the EU bureaucratic non democratic superstate – for reasons of personal interests or some other reasons they dare not elaborate on. Such as why we do not want to be a Greater Switzerland.

      In fact we could be far freer and better off than a Greater Switzerland, as we are larger and not landlocked and surrounded.

      • Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic: Being landlocked didn’t seem to hinder Switzerland during two World Wars (in some ways they ever managed to benefit), thus trade is but a small part of the Swiss success story, it’s far more to do with their society – thus whilst the UK will undoubtedly benefit from having genuine free trade once out of the EU bureaucracy I some how doubt the UK will ever be a “Greater Switzerland”, most likely a Little USA (or Canada).

        • Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Switzerland has the great advantages of some real democracy, far fewer lawyers per head, fewer graduates in general, a sound currency, better tax levels and tax laws and rather more good engineers per head too.

          The UK could boom just by halving the state sector, going for cheap energy, free trade, lower taxes and fewer/better regulations……….. we have the “advantage” of such a huge bloated over paid and inefficient state sector available to cut back. We just need some leadership.

        • Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          Switzerland and Germany are middle class societies with many laws, customs and regulations that this involves and none of lifelogics free markets fantasies will produce this, in fact the opposite will happen.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      @Old Albion: Is that call for an equally undemocratic UDI or do you think the UK people should have a say first, if you are correct that the EU will defeat our own governments wishes regarding welfare payments then surely that is good, more power to the “OUT” campaigners?… If a GE majority or a Referendum goes against leaving the EU then what the EU has done will be irrelevant as the people will have voted for the status-quo of rolling Federalism.

  10. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    If it is as simple as amending the European Act then why don’t we do that for all the other iniquities like the Common Agricultural Policy, the regulations that threaten the city, the immigration issue as a whole, the European Court of Human Rights, etc, etc?
    It seems to me that it is the lack of forethought and courage by the UK government and Parliament that has led to us being ruled by Brussels. As usual politicians fail us.

  11. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    To the extent that welfare policy should be decided (or not) in the EU, so should tax policy. Then we can collect tax Greek style.

  12. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Discrimination between Irish and French nationals living in Britain and claiming benefits? That wouldn’t happen in the Netherlands which is also strict on welfare. Could it be that a life-long eurosceptic minister provoked this court case?

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Here’s to that Minister !

  13. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I don’t know, but rather take it as a given that our welfare system is more generous and easy of access than theirs, what with our “magnificent values” that I recently read about in an article in the Another Newspaper. But no worries, it will all be sorted in as little as 5 years’ time (very much maybe).

  14. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I am a British subject living in France. Entitlement to health and other social security benefits in France depends on your nationality, your work status and your residence status. You must normally contribute to French social security for a certain period before you’re eligible for benefits. This seems eminently sensible to me.

    The laissez-faire attitude in the UK to the dishing out of benefits (especially health care) is the reason people, who have paid considerable sums into the system over their working life, become resentful when they discover the entitlements of those who have contributed nothing.

    • Posted June 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Or benefits to the wealthy from abroad when they have contributed nothing such as rich Russians coming here and benefiting from our education system, infrastructure and security. They pay little or no tax for these services that they value very highly.
      Running a country for the benefit of the wealthy is a benefit we can not afford. The trickle down effect is false as proven by the ever widening gap of wealth a factor created by politicians pandering to business and not by as the fantasists would have us believe by market forces across the world.

  15. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Could it really be so “simple” to fix this egregious interference from Brussels?
    And if so, could it be a template to correct the EU’s numerous other policy land grabs?
    On this particular one no doubt there would be cross-party support.
    But in other areas it could also be enlightening to see how Clegg and Miliband respond.

  16. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I wish to state that I agree with much of what Andy Baxter has written, and wish to add the following:

    The EU and the EEA are not the same thing. The EU is the political part, and the EEA is the economic part. The EU Commission in conjunction with the ECJ is taking action against the UK because the UK is in breach of its rules regarding benefits. As you can see from the links provided below, the UK Government has had a fair degree of maneuver on this issue, but has chosen not to take the necessary steps within our own legislation. All the EU-Commission is doing is enforcing the rules that the UK has signed up-to. In short, we are in the wrong and do not have a leg to stand on.

    Mr. Redwood MP sir, your piece is passionate and well intentioned, but thanks to the power of the internet, we the people can, if we so wish, can seek the information ourselves and come to our own conclusions without resorting to the MSM or such like.

    Briefly reading the EU/EEA rules on this matter. If a EU or EFTA/EEA member citizen has paid sufficient contributions into their own benefits system, they maybe entitled to make a claim upon our benefits system upon arrival. This oddly enough also applies to Non-EU and non-EFTA/EEA persons (eg. refugees) who arrive in one member state but choose to live in another member state.

    The links I provide are from the EU website. I would be grateful if our kind host would allow others to view them, if they so wish.

    http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=850

    http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/empl_portal/SSRinEU/Your%20social%20security%20rights%20in%20UK_en.pdf

  17. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    JR: “This Bill could be an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act, stating categorically that welfare is a UK issue and instructing the UK courts that the UK government will neither appear in the ECJ nor accept its judgement on welfare matters.”

    For the first time ever, that is a wedge, the thin end of which I like.

  18. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The EU are, at times, very stupid. Or maybe they are doing everything possible to make the UK leave the EU. That goes a long way to explain things.

  19. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    There appear to be two schools of thought about this EU challenge. One is that the EUrocracy is blind to the political consequences (in the UK) of the challenge – namely that it will be a recruiting sergeant for UKIP. The other is that they are all too aware of the implications and shooting down the challenge will provide the chance of an easy win for Cameron. Either way your idea of a simple short Bill amending the 1972 European Communities Act sounds the right way to go.

  20. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    “They say they need to control our benefits systems to have a fair single market. Curious that. China and the USA trade with us quite happily, but we do not try to control their benefit systems, nor do they instruct us on how big our welfare bill should be.”

    What an utterly ridiculous point! With an obvious retort/answer: The UK is not in a common market with the US or China.

    I’ll happily admit – it doesn’t help the EU’s cause to be taking the UK to court on this – but on the other hand, it is the arbiter of the single market, whether we like it or not. And if we choose to break the rules of the single market (favouring our own citizens over those from elsewhere in the union), then in fairness to the rest of the members, the EU/EC needs to act.

    You play the usual “bring powers back” argument without really addressing the main point. If we have a single market, how would it be single if everything was decided by individual governments? So the real question for Tories is whether we want a single market or not.

    Reply I have often pointed out that we want trade, not a single market. A single market has come to mean Brussels government.

  21. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    It seems perfectly logical, having created massive Europe wide unemployment with their Euro, to wish to hide the social costs by passing the bill to the UK taxpayer. We’ve obviously got plently of spare cash anyhow, otherwise we would not be able to afford to give billions away to third world countries with independent nuclear arsenals, unlike ours, whilst also donating billions of pounds worth of ‘freedom’ by means of bullets, bombs and boots on the ground.

  22. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The press release (url link provided below) gives the background and explains why the Commission decided to refer the matter to the CJEU.

    The press release gives the example of an Italian woman who worked in the UK for two years – paying NICs and tax – but was then made redundant. Her claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance was refused because the DWP applied a different residency test to that faced by UK nationals.

    The Antonissen case decided in 1991 held that a jobseeker can be construed a worker but only for a limited time.

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-475_en.htm

  23. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    What comes next?
    Presumably in the interests of European equality they will soon want the same rates of pay all over Europe.

  24. Posted May 31, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The department responsible estimates that around 50,000 EU children get child allowance although they have never set foot in the country. WHY.
    They also according to todays Times say that 28,000 have been refused some benefits. How many are receiving benefits. Why can anyone come to this country and claim to be self employed and receive benefits immediately.
    We are spending billions on EU and non EU providing education, health and cash which must be stopped immediately but whats the betting the Eussr will win the argument on some elfansafety or workintime directive route by QMV>
    Wait till next year when the fun starts.

  25. Posted May 31, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Little by little, bit by bit, we are being subsumed by the EU. It is happening so slowly, that people hardly notice. Many British people know of no other system of government than the one we presently have and they are afraid of the unknown. They have no faith that an alternative can actually work in their favour, but the benefits need to be made clear in order to make progress.

    Perhaps this will demonstrate the amount of unnecessary interference by the EU in matters that do not concern them, and highlights the dangers of the ‘competence creep’ that we who are against the EU always warned about.

    Yet I remain unconvinced that the British government will actually win through on this. They will follow a trend. They will kick up a fuss, then finally throw up their hands and say there is nothing they can do.

    Even Hollande is today warning of a disaffected post crisis generation. If this doesn’t show that Britain needs to get to hell out of the EU, then nothing will ever convince the likes of Cameron, and his removal will become an absolute priority.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  26. Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should hand over runway allocation powers to Brussels in the hope they get the bulldozers going in under 30 years where Westminster has failed miserably.

  27. Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    This intervention shows the European in its truest colours, so paradoxically is very welcome.
    A contribution-based system would be closer to the thinking behind the Beveridge Report. Without wishing to sound Blimpish, it is mad that a youngster can be given 11 years of “free” education at a likely cost of GBP 60,000-plus, leave school with no qualifications, go on the dole and in the fullness of time live in a taxpayer funded flat or house.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      How would they live then? How would they support themselves. As peasants living of the land? If there are undeserving poor then by default there must be undeserving rich and no doubt there would be some equilibrium produced as they found work, but not the type you have in mind. Would they be wrong to just take from the rich in these circumstances?

  28. Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This country does not want to share institutions of government with continental nations. And is only happy to accept decisions of the European court regarding the implementation of trade and harmonisation agreements, narrowly defined. How is it that so many politicians find it so difficult to accept this very simple point?

  29. Posted May 31, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, the party of which you are a member, would NEVER do as you suggest.

    I believe you are in the wrong party. You are well established and respected enough locally to comfortably resign from the Conservative party and carry on as an Independent. I am sure you would win in the next election too and that people would applaud a principled position.

  30. Posted May 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t we simply say ‘no’ to those things we don’t like or want? If they take us to court, let them and let them wait the years until the court decides we’re in the wrong and then, ignore the court citing ‘national interest’.

    All this fudging will never work, the Commission will always find ways of pursuing its objective of a single entity and if we allow them, they will win against the wishes of apparently the majority of the British populace.

    We should be giving the EU our list of requirements for us to remain as members, if they don’t like it then we leave, simple but needs motivated leaders; say no more!

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      When our country finally emerges from this unfortunate historical episode, as I believe it will, it would be better to do so with our rule of law intact.

      Parliament is our supreme legal authority, not the government; and as Parliament has previously passed Acts instructing the government to ensure full compliance with the EEC/EC/EU treaties and all the laws springing from them, it is down to Parliament to make any variation to those standing instructions.

      The EU’s rule of law is of relatively minor importance; despite the public pretence that “The European Union is based on the rule of law”:

      http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/decision-making/treaties/index_en.htm

      the eurocrats have no compunction about not only bending its treaties and laws, but bending them beyond breaking point when that suits their purposes.

      We need not feel that we are under any moral obligation to scrupulously observe those treaties and laws when our treaty counterparties do not, but for our own sakes we do need Parliament to authorise any deliberate breaches.

  31. Posted May 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    One issue that has always existed with the British benefits system is those who are born with problems that mean they can never work and pay NI contributions. Those who are left blind and or deaf and or disabled by contracting measles in infancy fit into that category. As you may know from the Sue Ryder Home they and many others live a natural life span so outlive the parents who looked after them, paid for with the benefits they were entitled to.

    It seems to me that benefits claimants must at least be residents in the country that is paying out, as should the children for whom they are claiming child benefit. If they relocate to another country, say Poland or Spain, that government’s taxpayers must take on paying at the British rate.
    The key question to ask the EU is – Do France and Germany pay benefits to people who do not live and work in their countries?

  32. Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Fine – but how quickly can it be dome and will the hierarchy do it?

  33. Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Viewed in its own terms I would support the bill you suggest. With a wider viewpoint other factors influence the judgement.

    If negotiating a new relationship with the EU then the specifics of this bill would fall within the compass of the renegotiation, and to take unilateral action before renegotiation has begun would call into doubt the extent to which the discussion would in fact be a “negotiation”.

    A unilateral statement by a member country of its relationship with the EU does imply that the member country does, as a matter of policy, wish to continue as a member. While tactical sound this could be strategically inept.

    Alternatively, why bother? The welfare relationship may play big in the UK, but in the grand scheme of things it is but a sideshow. Such a bill will require resources; the bill may be simple but the issue, if pushed, will be complex and time consuming. Resources could be better spent addressing the real issue, IN or OUT.

    And I guess the coalition government would be unable to introduce the suggested bill because it would be vetoed by the LibDems. Though I do concede that a LibDem veto would be a beneficial outcome of trying.

  34. Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    A short Bill amending the 1972 European Communities Act, “stating categorically that welfare is a UK issue and instructing the UK courts that the UK government will neither appear in the ECJ nor accept its judgement on welfare matters” would be fine for this particular purpose.

    But, JR, why not also make it much more general, more in line with the idea behind Bill Cash’s proposed New Clause 17 for the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, which would have empowered ministers to disapply EU laws by order?

    No doubt you will remember that proposed amendment back in May 2006, debated on May 15th, with your own contribution starting at Column 750 here:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo060515/debtext/60515-0010.htm

    And the vote taken the next day, May 16th, Division No 239 at Column 945 here:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo060516/debtext/60516-0017.htm

    when senior Tories, including IDS, trooped through the “aye” lobby in official support of the amendment.

    “New Clause 17

    DISAPPLICATION OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES ACT 1972 (NO. 2)”

    “The House divided: Ayes 136, Noes 318.”

    Reply: Indeed, I supported it then and would support it again.

  35. Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we simply kill two birds with one stone and make most unemployment benefits contribution-based as other countries such as Germany do? That way we stop foreigners from simply turning up with their hand out for money, and we also stop school leavers from walking straight from education into a life on the dole.

    This sort of system would be fairer, easier to explain and would go a long way to remove the notion that benefits are a right from the minds of many of the underclass. If the system were also set up so that if married or in a civil partnership a spouse gets half of the NI credits of their partner, then the deplorable decline in marriage would also reverse quite abruptly. The system would also offer a huge disincentive to cash-in-hand working, since such casual work would not count towards benefit contributions.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      You would have to pay real amount of unemployment benefits if it where to be contribution based like in Germany. Could be expensive and what of the youth unemployment where many have never had chance to contribute? What would be the result of not being able to find a job and running out of insurance?

  36. Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and then Brussels will know we are serious. Then start some serious negotiation basically to detach ourselves from political federal Europe, trade on an EFTA basis, and cooperate where it is of mutual benefit.
    Our dear leader must know that the private members referendum bill will go nowhere unless Labour have a sudden realisation that their position puts them in conflict with those who might vote for them. ODL will claim that he has tried while rejoicing in the fact that he cannot do anything.
    I do not buy the argument that ODL needs a majority in the HOC to invoke Article 50 because I cannot recall parliamentary approval to the string of treaties that have been signed up to since 1975. I am open to correction on that one John. None sought the specific approval of the electorate for sure. I rather hope that in 2015 UKIP will confine it’s electoral efforts to opposing those MPs who from their voting record are intent on opposing the will of the people to have a referendum. It is then possible that we end up with a coalition government of the right of centre that can begin acting in the interests of the UK.

  37. Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    The EU is foolish to choose to challenge the Uk over such a sensitive matter at this juncture, when many UK citizens are keen on a new relationship with the EU or want to leave the EU tomorrow without even negotiating a new deal.

    Given that the EU gave the UK until 2011 to voluntarily change the law the only option the EU has left is to take the UK to court.

    Also if the UK leaves but wants to be part of the EEA or EFTA then the UK will have to allow the “free movement of workers”. So this issue is likely to remain even if the UK tries to leave the EU.

    This bureaucratic interference sums up what so many of us dislike about the EU.

    This isn’t about bureaucratic interference, it’s about the UK illegally discriminating against other people from the EU.

    China and the USA trade with us quite happily, but we do not try to control their benefit systems, nor do they instruct us on how big our welfare bill should be.

    China and the USA are subject to tariffs and quotas, the UK is not because we agreed to obey EU law.

    This Bill could be an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act, stating categorically that welfare is a UK issue and instructing the UK courts that the UK government will neither appear in the ECJ nor accept its judgement on welfare matters.

    This has no chance of working. The UK cannot legislate that they can discriminate against EU citizens or that the ECJ judgments don’t apply to them. The only result of this bill will be to make this problem even worse.

    Your earlier idea about changing the benefit laws so you have to have been educated or worked in the UK for 5 years before you can claim benefits was much better.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      uanime5 said;
      “China and the USA are subject to tariffs and quotas, the UK is not because we agreed to obey EU law.”

      Not entirely correct. You quite rightly mentioned that membership of EFTA/EEA would not change the situation but fail to understand that the EU along with the EFTA/EEA members both ‘share’ in the rule making of the EEA (Single Market).

      • Posted June 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        ‘share’ in the sense that EU members can vote on the proposed legislation; EFTA/EEA members cannot.

        “Because we’re not part of the decision-making process, we can’t take care of Norway’s interests in a good way,” said Svein Roald Hansen, chairman of the European Movement in Norway, the main organization working for Norwegian membership. “We’re left to lobbying other countries to make our views have influence.”
        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/world/europe/26iht-norway.html?_r=0

        • Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          An impartial and truthful view, then.

          Unless the European Movement in Norway is like that here.

  38. Posted May 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Me thinks the politicians forget who governs this country. Your comment about the USA or China is irrelevant – we do not belong to them and we are not governed by them. We only trade with them.
    Of course most of us want OUT of the EU now – renegotiation is impossible and any pretence will be to wave a piece of paper ! Have you ever heard of Acquis Communautaire – competencies once given/signed to the EU NEVER given back. We want our independence and sovereignty back much like China and the USA.

  39. Posted May 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    The comments regarding the methods available to leave/renegotiate with/change the purpose of the E.U. all seem to focus on what is legal. Changes to the 1972 Act, invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty have been suggested again and again. Such suggestions are irrelevant.

    The 1972 Act and every Treaty and Act since are unlawful, for the are contrary to the English Constitution. By definition, an unlawful action cannot be law. Our entry into the Common Market was fraudulent, undertaken by Edward Heath, who lied to the electorate about the loss of Sovereignty involved. Unlawful actions have continued under successive governments.

    A return to the Rule of Law does not require votes or referenda or pacts between political Parties. It requires honest men and women in Parliament refusing to continue breaking the law and doing what they were elected to do, namely to represent those who elected them in accordance with their oath of fealty to the Queen and in conformity with the Constitution.

    If they cannot do that in good conscience, they should step down, in favour of those who will.

    John Wrake

  40. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    EZ has created economic disaster which may not see GDP in S countries back to peak till ?2020/25 – need to leave Euro & default & say 2 years for it to have effect-then they begin climb back to previous peak – with our (lesser) problems it will take us SEVEN years.
    Thankfully our firms have made use of time bought by Sr Draghi to pivot away from EU (the Economist! praised UK for this). The final Cyprus deal showed that N would not put a EURO more of their taxpayers’ money at risk-yet Eurexit is also RULED OUT. No dealing with this sort of illogicality. UK voters have some sympathy for renegotiation but dealing with firefighters in ‘burning building’ will be difficult with their having more urgent tasks.
    The deal in 1973 was to join a customs union with countries with better economic growth than ours. What we have now is a customs union with countries being dragged into economic vortex (because of the hubristic decisions of Schroder generation). Not wise to wait around for nemesis – P I G S have got to find a route to growth – may be only ‘populist’ parties can take them there & they are not even in government 5 YEARS after crisis began.
    Because English people have 1400 years of history behind them usually a phrase in the language for any situation – the one here is ‘throw good money after bad’ though the military phrase of ‘don’t reinforce failure’ would be even better.

  41. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    You are right Mr Redwood when you say the way round this is to make all all benefits in the UK contribution based including British nationals, because the Commission has said it is taking this action because of discrimination caused by the additional right-to-reside test introduced by Labour in 2004. This contravenes EU rules on the coordination of social security systems which outlaw direct and indirect discrimination in the field of access to social security benefits.

    Considering that the EU has rules on the coordination of social security systems Regulation EC/883/2004 Regulation EC/987/2009 your amendment bill looks a bit wobbly, would you not be breaking the treaties. Of course we could always approach the Commission and ask them nicely to allow us to ignore these rules.

    I think the problem is for as long as we are members of the EU we have to abide by the rules of the club even those agreed previously by our political opponents, the only way out of this impasse is to leave the EU.

  42. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Its not just this but another example is the Financial Transaction Tax and I think there is widespread misconception about who pays that. It will come from peoples savings and pension funds. The very wealthly money which is a huge chunk will leave the EU and UK and thereby reducing what the EU expected in tax receipts so it will raise the rate. Fund managers will have to become non active so fund performances will drop. Its mad in many ways and why people think that giving part of their savings and pension to the EU is a good idea I don’t know.

    I did see some good news, a load of squaters were brought to court under the new rules. Peoples homes were being stolen and wrecked and one of the many upside down things that went on under Labour. Nice to see that one tackled.

  43. Posted May 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    “The UK signed up to the free movement of workers, not to the free movement of benefit seekers.”

    Sir, you go to the very heart of the matter – that must be the most apposite and poignant statement yet made in the whole EU-benefits debate!

    Although I would ardently support the view that benefits ought to be contribution-based, I am strongly of the opinion that the DWP has become an essentially self-serving organisation deriving great self-importance, and corresponding funding, from its role in administering benefit claims (with scant accountability). I think the DWP establishment could be cut by well over 50% if things were done more rationally, but that would harm many career prospects.

    Mr. Redwood, it really the case that ‘government has chosen not to go that route’? …. is it not more likely that successive hapless, bewildered Ministers have been browbeaten by successive DWP mandarins into maintaining a status quo more favourable to the DWP than to the nation?

  44. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    William Hague’s “red card” proposal is totally inadequate for the simple reason that it presumes that there will be adequate scrutiny of the proposed laws before they are enacted.

    This never happened with any of the treaties, which is why we were all assured they were all minor “tidying up” exercises and why we are in the mess we are in.

    By the time we realise the true intent of a law, it’s often too late to wave a red card.

    So, nice try, Mr Hague – but no cigar.

    Reply The main issue is the laws already passed, not the new ones to come.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Hague’s proposal is just a tweak to the existing system which led to our Parliament being outvoted by other national parliaments back in January.

      MPs debated whether there should be an EU law prescribing gender quotas for company boards, they went along with the government’s position that any such EU law would breach the principle of subsidiarity, and a lengthy “reasoned opinion” to that effect was sent off to Brussels.

      Nine days later, it was announced that the UK Parliament had been outvoted – only 6 national parliaments had objected to there being an EU law, and 21 had said that there should be, so it was going ahead anyway:

      http://euobserver.com/justice/118749

      “Parliaments back EU-level gender quota law”

      The crucial point is that it’s always “parliaments”, plural; a casual reader might pick up the idea that the UK Parliament would have its own “red card” which it could deploy independently of other national parliaments, in other words a national veto, but that would not be the case even though it should be.

  45. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    China and the USA trade with us quite happily, but we do not try to control their benefit systems, nor do they instruct us on how big our welfare bill should be.

    Exactly. Nuff said.

  46. Posted May 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I think the bureaucratic problem is more on this side of the channel. How to turn 1167 words into 27,000. Hansard, Lord Phillips, tells how sclerotic old nations finally legislate themselves to death. Hey! at least you will be able to say, I-was-there. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/130509-0002.htm#13050924000717 .

  47. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    As we no longer govern ourselves, perhaps there could be legislation whereby EU citizens can travel wherever they like within the EU but would receive from the host country only the level of health and social care available in their country of origin.

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      In some EU countries the level of benefits you can claim is based on 80% of your previous salary. So this may lead to some immigrants getting far higher levels of benefits than UK nationals.

  48. Posted May 31, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    So will the Modern Party schedule an In/Out Referendum for 2014?

  49. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    “those that had been educated here”

    Surely to enjoy a (non paid for) education here current taxpayers must provide the infrastructure.

    There is much written about immigration being positive but with each child costing £4k plus per head per year to educate plus the cost of expanding schools how much does an immigrant need to earn to offset the increased infrastructure cost (includimg incumbent benefit payment) before they net contribute? That is without NHS housimg benefit et al.

    Immigration improves our restaurants for which I am grateful but I could learn to cook at less personal cost through taxation.

  50. Posted May 31, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    In the words of us northerners…’We are being taken for mugs’

  51. Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    The Lib-Dems will hate the UK-control-its-own-welfare bill that you suggest.

  • About John Redwood


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

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