Government departments do not like infraction proceedings

 

One of the reasons the EU now has so much influence over how we are governed is the permanent threat of infraction proceedings which hangs over lost Whitehall departments. Departments like Environment, Climate Change and Energy and the Business department are very constrained by EU law owing to the large n umber of Directives, regulations and Treaty articles that apply to them. Even more domestic departments like Welfare and Education are being dragged into the EU net as the powers of the EU expands. We were told tax stays outside EU jurisdiction, yet there have been a series of cases over VAT (an EU tax) and Corporation Tax which force changes to UK tax law.

The existence of a supreme court in the form of the ECJ means at any time the UK can be found guilty of failing to implement a Directive, or failing to enforce  a Directive or regulation properly.  Much of Whitehall’s time is taken up with revising and amending so called UK law to fit it into the pattern of Treaty and Directive law which we have to accept. All our c0mpetition law, for example, was put into EU shape by the last Labour government.

Past Ministers have often presented a new UK law as a desirable item thought up in the UK when they should have said it was being introduced entirely so we can comply with the EU. The latest row over Data Retention was really a row over the application of  EU law, though many politicians and the media seem to want to present it as an entirely UK based debate.

Ministers in many departments are very controlled by the framework and detail of EU law and policy. It is high time this was better understood and more fully debated. I have tabled some questions to find out what has been the recent pace of EU law generation department by department. Some departments find it difficult to keep up with the ever active EU legislative machine.

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42 Comments

  1. alan jutson,
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Given what you say, I am surprised that we have not heard the phrase.

    “Nothing to do with me gov, its the EU” more often.

    Never know could almost be used as much as:

    “Lessons will be learnt” a phrase that keeps on being trotted out after many a cock up.

    Are all these people so quiet simply because they think their job will disappear if we dump the EU.

    Once again, why are so many politicians so blind that they cannot work it out for themselves.

    I hope you get some sensible answers to your questions.

    • APL
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      alan jutson: “why are so many politicians so blind that they cannot work it out for themselves.”

      The whole of one party is ideologically wedded to the idea that there isn’t a problem existing that the solution isn’t another layer of government administration.

      Then about three quarters of the currently governing party is of the same idealogical mind bent.

      In the Tory party these are the Hestletines, the Clarkes and so on.

      It’s a make work scheme for people like these.

      JR: Departments like Environment, Climate Change and Energy and the Business department are very constrained by EU law .. ”

      Abolish these departments, the EU could implement as many regulations as they wished, there being no department to oversea its implementation, who cares?

      Double benefit, the economy would improve, and you could stick two fingers up to the EU, ‘thanks for your regulations, but sorry, we have no means to implement them’.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      The usual order is:

      Our heart goes out to the victims but it is to early to speculate
      Cannot comment due to enquiry legal actions.
      That was a long time ago things are different not lessons have been learned. De Capo

      • acorn
        Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        You missed out “hard working”.

  2. Mark B
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Something that I, and probably many others have noticed, is when a Minister is faced with the facts that their is direct EU involvement (eg the flooding of the Somerset Levels, or Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft), they would rather be publicly humiliated, than point the accusing finger at the EU.

    The sooner the people become aware to what level we have been absorbed into this Supranational State, the more I think people will want to leave.

    But I guess, to those that are in power, it is more important that we did not know what is being done to us, less we reject their plans.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Indeed but if they point the accusing finger at the EU it just points back at Labour and Tories for creating this botched mess in the fist place.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Yes ! They negotiated and signed those Treaties, no one made them do it.

        Which is TRUE !!!

    • Tom William
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      It is high time discussion about whether to leave or stay in the EU was raised from the stuck record repeating “single market….jobs…exports…crucial to our economy…punching above our weight” so frequently chanted by the CBI, the Lib Dems and superannuated Conservative politicians (you know their names) to the massive intrusion in almost every aspect of our daily life.

      From time to time the popular press has a good story which raises sales – and is dismissed by the chaterati. However the role of BBC is the biggest obstacle to revealing the truth.

  3. formula57
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I am glad you have put your questions as the answers should be part of common knowledge.

    Let us hope for better from this government with no repeat of the kind of disgraceful behaviour that saw the Energy Minister fail to reply to your letter asking about policy or the refusal to answer your parliamentary question asking who speaks for England. Let us also hope the Deputy Prime Minister is not charged with giving the answer for we would not believe some 7 per cent. figure.

  4. Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I don’t dee how the Data Retention law can be moulded to suit the UK as the EU Commission oversee the application of the law to ensure it is correctly applied.

    Why would they be scared of infraction proceedings if it was originally the Commissions job to ensure the application of law was correct. Surely it is the EUC’s responsibility?

  5. The PrangWizard
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Our ‘new relationship’ with the EU, an elastic phrase often used, to be clear, must be from the outside. I am never sure what Mr Redwood and others in his party mean when they use it, I fear it also includes remaining on the inside. Even if we manage to disentangle ourselves somehow from some of the clutches of the EU, and have some kind of reduced status, it is clear that the arms of the EU octopus will draw us back in, little by little, aided and abetted by the Europhiles in all levels of our civil and legal establishment. All must comply, threats will be used against those who dissent and resist.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      3. the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties, countries, people, etc: a business relationship.

      The term is successfully woolly so as not to frighten the Markets’. If we announced that we wanted the leave the UK, this may have detrimental effects. This whole matter needs to be managed carefully.

      The problem though, going forward, is that it could mean anything. And just about anything is being proposed, from full withdrawal, too partial leaving via EU-Lite.

  6. matthu
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the reason for there being so little criticism of the EU lies in the following judgement ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1325398/Euro-court-outlaws-criticism-of-EU.html ) :

    “THE European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that the European Union can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties.

    The ruling stated that the commission could restrict dissent in order to “protect the rights of others” and punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation”. The case has wider implications for free speech that could extend to EU citizens who do not work for the Brussels bureaucracy.”

    So, MPs fear for their jobs while ex-EU bureaucrats fear for their pensions.

  7. alan jutson,
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Off topic, or is it !

    I see the cooling towers at Didcot power station were demolished this morning.

    I wonder how many windmills (if there of course is wind, and that is not too strong) it will take to replace the power this plant generated in a single day, 365 days per year.

    Is this yet another EU directive carried through without any thought as to a sensible replacement being on stream before the deed was done.

    Perhaps lessons will be learnt yet again, after the lights go out !

    • Mark B
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      The irony of this is. It is being closed down because we need to save the planet from the curse of CO2. Yet, the generators that produced all that electricity, is being shipped too Germany, to run on Coal.

      I of course could be wrong. But these are stage times.

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      If the lights go out, it will be ‘someone else’s fault’.

      I did note that the TV news said it had taken many months of planning to arrange the demolition to ensure ‘efnsafety’ and that is one of the reasons given as to why is was done at 5am. It was certainly many months ago that the demolition was announced. I wonder what the add-on costs of all the government and local authority departments, agencies and the like were. Hundreds of thousands I would guess. Draining away our wealth on bureaucracy. Had Fred Dibnah still being alive it would have been interesting to have had him have a go.

  8. sjb
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    JR wrote: The latest row over Data Retention was really a row over the application of EU law, though many politicians and the media seem to want to present it as an entirely UK based debate.

    Perhaps because the UK – the most surveilled Member State – rushed through legislation to try and counter the Court’s judgment.[1]

    Readers may also remember the Marper judgment (from the ECtHR rather than the CJEU) about the UK government’s desire to retain the DNA on innocents.

    So please bear in mind both these recent judgments before trotting out how the Common Law protects our liberties, Magna Carta and the rest.

    [1] http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?num=C-293/12&language=en

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      It’s nothing to do with Common Law or Magna Carta, it’s more to do with the Bill of Rights 1688 under which the government, ministers of the Crown, cannot do these things without the consent of Parliament, and therefore it’s to do with the character of those we elect to the Commons. Once it emerged that the police were systematically retaining the DNA records of innocent people in an attempt to build up a comprehensive national database any MP worth his salt, of whatever party, would have immediately said that he did not accept that his constituents, those he was supposed to be representing, would be treated like that, without waiting to see what any court domestic or foreign had to say about it. It was always within the power of MPs to force the government to stop the police doing it, they choose not to do so because most of them don’t give a damn about their constituents and are mainly concerned with their own political careers. You can say that this shows democracy cannot work and should be abandoned, or you can say that we need to start electing different and better MPs to represent us.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Or better still, seek to change the ‘System’ ??

      • acorn
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Spot on Denis but, where and how would “we the people” start, inorder to enact a quantum change to a 21st century democracy?

        I and others have said that getting the Executive out of the Legislature would be the primary requirement. Then elect a Prime Minister by national popular vote, perhaps on a ticket with a Deputy PM. The PM would appoint his cabinet from the whole citizenry. Yes, it is a simplified USA structure, but it is a “starter for ten”.

        “The U.S. Constitution establishes a government based on “federalism,” or the sharing of power between the national, and state (and local) governments. Our power-sharing form of government is the opposite of “centralized” governments, such as those in England and France, under which national government maintains total power.” http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/rightsandfreedoms/u/gov101.htm .

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    In other words Heath, Major, Bliar, Brown, Cameron and even Thatcher have given away powers that were never theirs to give, have created a disastrous form of government and destroyed UK democracy in the process. Can we not have them arrested?

    Yet even now Cameron and LibLabCon still want more of the same and expect election on that basis. Cameron vacuous list of EU renegotiation demands is totally vague & pathetic, as indeed is the, wrong on nearly every issue, man. Why do we need three fake green, pro EU, high tax, anti democratic socialist parties?

    • cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      LL,
      In answer to your last question, I suspect to keep the mirage of democracy going! Many repressive regimes, are more honest in so far as there is only one candidate whereas, in my opinion, here in the UK, we have the same “candidate” under three different names (LibDems, Labour, Conservative) with hardly a fag paper between them in real terms, just to kid us that we still have a choice.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Your collegues in government would have us believe that, contrary to what you say and we know, the EU is not taking more powers on a virtual daily basis and that they will “renegotiate” the return of, as yet unidentified, powers from the EU. The three current main parties in Westminster all promulgate the myth that any further transfer of powers to the EU will require a referendum whilst wilfully acquiescing in the constant stream of such transfers. That is why none of them can be trusted.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Some people have been asking how Theresa May could decide that the UK should opt back into the EU Arrest Warrant without that triggering a referendum.

      The first part of the answer is there is only a legal requirement for a referendum if Hague’s carefully drafted law, the European Union Act 2011, says that there should be a referendum, and a decision to opt back into the EU Arrest Warrant is not on the list of events which would trigger a referendum.

      Many other events are on the list as triggers of a referendum, but a decision that any innocent person in this country could be arbitrarily arrested and summarily deported to another EU member state to rot in a foreign prison for many months is not included on the list.

      However there is a second part to the answer, which is that the Tory MP Bernard Jenkin proposed an amendment which would have added it to the list, but the government opposed that and it was overwhelmingly voted down, Division No 183 on January 26th 2011, here:

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110126/debtext/110126-0004.htm#11012677000602

      “Ayes 26, Noes 313″

      And it can be seen here:

      http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2011-01-26&number=183&mpn=Jeremy_Wright&mpc=Kenilworth_and_Southam&house=commons

      that only 15 Tory MPs were in favour while 255 Tory MPs were against; and one of the tellers for the “Noes” was a certain Jeremy Wright, the Tory MP for Kenilworth and Southam since 2005, who Cameron has just appointed as Attorney General to replace the rather too obviously eurofanatical Dominic Grieve.

      No change there, then, probably; it will just take time before people realise that Cameron has ostentatiously removed one eurofanatic but installed somebody else who is less well-known but may be just as bad.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Denis,
        Thanks for the links. I note that our host was absent.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

          I also noted that, but I’m prepared to think there may have been a good reason why he wasn’t with the other dissidents in the “Aye” lobby on that occasion. At least he didn’t vote the other way.

  11. Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “Tabling questions” is all very well but the time has now come for action . I am completely fed up with the turmoil wreaked on us by one form of EU over-lordship or another and this interference has to stop . I have just witnessed the destruction of the Didcot Cooling Towers brought about by EU enviromental controls ; I further understand they have required the demolition of the remainder of the coal burning electricity complex . Our need for cheap and accessible energy is basic to the economy and ought to be paramount in the drive for better and affordable lives , instead our politicians have been lap dogs to the EU mantra and have disregarded the voters . We must demand and insist that our system of representation works for the country – our country ; our priorities have a uniqueness to us and are not spread across Europe .

  12. acorn
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Some Departments are on their eighth “statement of new regulation”, which comes in useful for data miners:- https://www.gov.uk/search?q=statement+of+new+regulation .

    Richard Heaton First Parliamentary Counsel and Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, has a very good piece on GOV.UK:- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/when-laws-become-too-complex/when-laws-become-too-complex . He comments on UK gold plating, “… said to be a ‘British problem’ as most other EU member states have historically adopted a ‘copy out’ approach.”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      I read there:

      “A short Act that requires the user to go to a complicated set of Regulations is not, overall, a simplifying measure.”

      and laughed; the European Communities Act 1972 was just 38 pages long but it has brought us a world of trouble.

  13. Martin Ryder
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    The problem is that the civil servants in the EU Commission have nothing else to do other than spew out a never-ending stream of directives, regulations, etc. If they stop they will lose their jobs. They have power without responsibility in that they make the laws but do not, themselves, have to apply them or pay for them. It is as if Whitehall had no ministers and our civil servants were left alone to make up laws as they go along, whilst forcing local councils to tax us to pay for them.

    I know that each nation in the EU nominates a commissioner to oversee the Commission but they immediately go native – they do not have any choice in the matter – and do whatever Herr Humphrey tells them to do. Your dear leader and the leaders (?) of the other parties are colonial chiefs who take their instructions from the Imperial Government in Brussels. The appalling thing is that they like it this way.

    If we are to stay in the EU (and I fear that we will unless the whole rotten edifice collapses) the Commission should be cut down to size and become the secretariat of the European Council of Ministers. If a new law is needed: a draft should be proposed by a group of national representatives; the draft placed on a web-site where it can be seen by everyone, including EU parliamentarians; and discussed by the Council after the ministers have consulted their own legislatures. QMV should be used to decide on whether the law should be introduced as drafted, or as amended, and nations should be able to opt out where the law affects them adversely.

    Whilst I was typing the last paragraph a squadron of pigs flew by the window.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    There should be no question that the government must obey the law, and for the sake of upholding the rule of law I would prefer to have ministers and officials spending time making sure that they were keeping on the right side of the law rather than have them straying into illegality.

    The real question is where that law should ultimately be determined, and my answer is that the supreme legal authority for our country still is, and should forever remain, our sovereign national Parliament as the representative of the sovereign people, and those who we elect to that Parliament should fully accept that responsibilty and not undermine our national democracy by conniving at attempts to irreversibly transfer their power, our power, to other bodies.

    Unfortunately we have been electing people who do not actually believe in the sovereignty of the Parliament, let alone the sovereignty of the people; only a small minority are firmly committed to that constitutional principle, with another, probably smaller, minority of MPs who are willing to openly deny it; and while others will occasionally pay lip service to the principle it is with so little conviction that for the sake of their careers they are prepared to see our government taking its orders not from Parliament but from external bodies, the institutions of the EU including its court in Luxembourg, as well from another foreign court in Strasbourg.

    For as long as Parliament directs that the government must obey EU law in every particular, as it has done through its Acts starting with the 1972 European Communities Act, then that is what the government should do, the rule of law demands it; and MPs should not blame the government for obeying the law as passed by Parliament, instead if they have complaints about certain outcomes then they should give the government express Parliamentary authorisation to ignore the EU law in those cases.

  15. ian
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    You have to look at humans, manner of behaviour . If you look at usa they have no eu laws or involvement but look at what they have done to themselves and you can say that about most country in the world. No rhyme or reason to their actions. Some say it because of energy policy others say multinational companies, some say it for handful of silver. One thing is for sure they are self destructive. What their objective is remains to be seen, most likely they make it up as they go along because there does not look like there is any intelligent behind it all. Maybe it because they like having one over on each other for the fun of it.
    Taxation to keep you in your place, half baked democracy so you do not have a say. New laws to take what right you did have away and list go”s on and on, no let up insight

    We would have been were we are with out the eu, that”s way they think at the top the eu is just a story.

  16. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s a mercy we haven’t agreed, perhaps in a tidying up exercise, that we no longer have our own laws and that EU law has been incorporated by reference lock stock and barrel, with the odd mutatis mutandis where necessary.

    (What is it with this posting too quickly admonition? I couldn’t type quickly if I wanted to)

  17. BobE
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Just saying goodbye to Didcot Power station. Three of the cooling towers were pulled down early this morning. What fools we are to abandon coal and buy Russian Gas.
    What fools.

    • miami.mode
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Added to that Bob is that it would seem Kellingley Colliery will probably close and Drax Power Station, about 10 miles away by rail, is to become a gigantic partial wood burner with appropriate subsidies and the wood will be transported in excess of 3000 miles from the USA and Canada. Fools indeed.

  18. miami.mode
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    JR writes “Past Ministers have often presented a new UK law as a desirable item thought up in the UK when they should have said it was being introduced entirely so we can comply with the EU.”

    DC’s latest little coterie of female appointees apart, how many ministers would like to admit that they have become EUnuchs – totally emasculated?

  19. Terry
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I have just four words to sum up my contempt for the EU……….

    PULL THE PLUG. NOW!

  20. Charles Efford
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    EU generated laws should be exposed at every occasion. This is vital evidence that the people should know before the referendum. Social media beyond this website should be used to maximise the extent of the publicity.

  21. BobE
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    I know its really late. But Im so angry that we are now running scared of Putin. He holds the cards and the EU fools are scared of him now.
    Plonkers!!!!!

  22. Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It is beyond my comprehension that we have allowed our sovereign Parliament to become subordinate to the EU juggernaut. The rubber stamping of legislation by idle and irresponsible politicians resulting in the subversion of this sovereignty is a national disgrace. On a parallel theme, why does SKY give so much mileage to Nicholas William Peter Clegg ??

  23. Alan Wheatley
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    And, as far as I can see, we have no say of any significance over these EU laws. In other words, no democracy.

    This ought to be at the heart of the EU/UK debate, not triviality of the short-term, relatively minor matter of how much better off we would be in or out.

  24. Posted July 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    It becomes ever clearer that the EU is an undemocratic empire; some would say a German Empire. We simply have to get out, assuming that meaningful renegotiation proves to be impossible. Smart people will vote Conservative but be ready for a coup within the Conservative Party if the PM does not harden his negotiating stance.

  • 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.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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