My contribution to the Finance Bill, 06 September 2016

I had hoped to clear up my point in an earlier intervention on the Minister, but I fear that I was not happy with her answer so I shall try again and extend my case a little on the important matter of VAT on energy-saving materials. That is the principal issue at stake in new clause 15. As I was trying to explain to the Minister, many of us feel that it would be quite wrong to increase VAT on energy-saving materials, given that the House decided to choose the lowest rate that we are allowed to impose under European Union law. A case was then lost in the European Court, and the Government have wisely been undertaking a very long consultation into how they might implement this ill-conceived and unwanted judgement. The longer they consider it, the better, and the sooner we get out of the European Union, the sooner we can bring the whole charade to a happy end.

To many of us, this illustrates exactly what was wrong with our membership of the European Union, and this is something that we can offer to our constituents as we come out. They voted to leave and to take back control of their laws. That includes their laws over taxes. During the campaign, we on the leave side made a great deal of how we wanted to scrap VAT on energy-saving materials. Like many people in this House, we believe that we could do much more to save and conserve energy and to raise fuel efficiency, and if we did not tax those materials, perhaps they would be a bit cheaper for people. That would send a clear message that this was something that we believed in.

I urge the Minister to go as far as she can in saying that this Government have absolutely no wish to put up VAT on energy-saving materials, and that they would not do so if they were completely free to make their own tax decisions. I would love her to go a bit further—this might be asking quite a lot—and say that once we are free of the European Union requirements, we will be scrapping VAT on energy-saving materials altogether. It is not a huge money-spinner for the Government, and its abolition would send a very good message. It would particularly help people struggling in fuel poverty, who find energy-saving materials expensive. The extra VAT on them is far from helpful.

The Minister suggested to me that the Brexit Secretary was dealing with this matter, but I can assure her that he is not. He made a clear statement on these matters in the House yesterday and wisely told us—I repeat this for the benefit of those who did not hear him—that it is his role to advise and work with the Prime Minister to get our powers back. His job is to ensure that this House and all of us can once again settle the United Kingdom’s taxes without having to accept the European Union’s judgements and overrides. However, it will be for Treasury Ministers and the wider Cabinet to recommend how we use those wider and new powers and to bring to the House their proposals once they are free to do so.

I hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible. This is another reason why we should not rush to impose higher, crippling taxes on energy saving, because it is something we want to encourage. It is another incentive for us to get on with actually leaving the Union. A bigger cash incentive that is relevant to Budget matters in this Finance Bill is that we would soon be able to get back the £10 billion a year. Remember that every month we delay getting out of the European Union we have to raise another £850 million through a Finance Bill such as this to send away and not get back. I urge the Minister to take the matter seriously and to say that this Government have absolutely no intention of increasing VAT on energy-saving materials unless they are legally forced to do so. Will she confirm my view that the sooner we are out, the sooner we can have a rational policy on this most important matter?

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78 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    ” . . . . House decided to choose the lowest rate that we are allowed to impose under European Union law.”

    As I have been saying, the EU is our government and our administrators and has little to do with trade. And that is why we need to look at it in terms of governance as well as trade. We cannot just do a trade deal and think, that is that, it isn’t !

    “I hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible.”

    This from someone who, not that long ago, was dismissing the need to do that very thing. I just now need to convince our kind host of what I have been saying regarding the means by which we have our, ‘New relationship’ with the EU, and we will be well on the way to leaving.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      “I just now need to convince our kind host of what I have been saying regarding the means by which we have our, ‘New relationship’ with the EU, and we will be well on the way to leaving.”

      Well, we wont be leaving if we remain in the EEA as we will not be controlling our borders without which having armed forces to protect us is a futile waste of taxpayers’ money especially if we use that money to bomb the third world into all claiming asylum here.

      The other day, JR stated that we need to be in the Single Market without free movement which is different to saying we need tariff free trade with the Single Market. I assume there is some technical issue with regard to passporting; however, if we remain in the Single Market, it is not clear whether, if the Brussels regime strikes a trade deal with a third country, that is between the Single Market and the third party thus committing us to accepting that trade deal over one we might strike ourselves, or whether in fact the Brussels regime would ever agree to removing the fourth freedom for us when they regard it as essential for destroying the borders and nations of Europe. Full tariff free access to the Single Market with all present and future trading privileges would be the best option.

      Reply What nonsense. I have repeatedly said we have to leave the single market, and get tariff free access to it!

      • forthurst
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        I would further add that the Remain campaign is also proposing that we remain in the Single Market as the next best thing to full conrtrol by the Brussels regime. Their campaign is called ‘Open Britain’ which according to Companies House was changed from ‘The In Campaign Limited’ to ‘Open Britain Limited’ on the 6th September and signed off by Will Straw: a friend of yours, Mark?

        • Mark B
          Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          No.

          I think most sensible and balanced people here know where I stand.

          I want to leave the EU by the quickest and least damaging route. I want to remove the obligation to EVER CLOSER UNION and our commitment to obey all dictates from the EU and having to pay a large fee for the supposed privilege. I want to restore the right of our parliament, to set our laws, taxes and listen to our grievances. That is what I voted for but, I accept that others may have voted for other reasons. Even so, they like me, voted to leave.

      • forthurst
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        “Reply What nonsense. I have repeatedly said we have to leave the single market, and get tariff free access to it!”

        On September 3rd, JR stated, “Offer talks on trade and tariffs if they wish to change anything, saying we are happy to offer them no change to current arrangements. In other words we stay in the Single Market as now, without the freedom of movement and the contributions.”

        I cannot believe I was the only one reading that who misinterpreted JR’s intended meaning.

        Reply The single market includes free movement and contributions and legal ties which my plan rejects.

        • Mark B
          Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          I concur with our kind host. He always states that he wants trade but wants to do without tariffs and free movement. The problem is, they will not allow us to pick and choose. It is simply all or nothing.

          As for paying fees, we would not have to pay anywhere near as much as we do now and we would have more control over how it is spent. (see my link from earlier)

          As to free movement, the UK can ask it be changed for non-EU EEA members to that of just workers, like it use to be. The EU can keep it to persons if they so wish.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        The EEA is not the EU. The EU comprises of 28 Members and the EEA 31.
        Control of our boarders from who ? Non-EU immigration is running far higher that EU immigration. Illegal immigration will continue irrespective of whether we are in the EU or not.
        The bombing of the Third World had little to do with the EU. If you have any evidence to the contrary, please provide it. I think you will find that apart from our kind host and others, our Parliamentarians’ were only too happy to vote to bomb Syria !

        There you go again ! You are one of these people who are so narrow minded that you even refuse to read properly, and digest, that what I have written. I stated that the EU is our government. Our kind host, in my opinion, has admitted as much. This is more than just trade or immigration but a series of issues that need to be addressed. This is serious stuff and some people need to widen the debate. That is what I am trying to do.
        I have read elsewhere, that the Free Movement was originally meant for ‘workers’ but, the EU changed this into a more social aspect of just persons. This for non-EU countries like Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and hopefully the UK, needs to change back just to workers. EU Member countries can still retain the social aspect, therefore, not upsetting their desire for EVER CLOSER UNION.

        • forthurst
          Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          “There you go again ! You are one of these people who are so narrow minded that you even refuse to read properly, and digest, that what I have written.”

          Mark, you have just misconstrued what I wrote.

          Third world immigration has been so high because Osborne, who was senior to May at the time, believed that our GNP was more important to us than our country. We can and must have total border control otherwise our country is lost.

          Do you seriously imagine the fact that the EU is our government was unbeknownst to me; I explained that for hours on end to members of the public during the Referendum campaign; did you do that or did you spend your time trolling as usual?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          “I have read elsewhere, that the Free Movement was originally meant for ‘workers’ but, the EU changed this into a more social aspect of just persons.”

          Yes, I’ve read that as well, repeatedly, and over the years it has got a bit tedious to repeatedly point out that Article 3(c) in the 1957 Treaty of Rome referred to “persons” in general, not just workers.

          There are a number of these myths along the lines of “It was OK when it was just the Common Market”, and “The problems only started with the Maastricht Treaty”, and of course “We have Blair to blame for this” and “This was Brown and the Lisbon Treaty”.

      • agricola
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply

        Absolutely correct John, many still fail to see the difference between the single market, a political construct, and tariff free trade.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, we have to leave “the single market”, but get tariff free access to it. Or if they choose to impose tariffs we can do the same on them. As we import more than they do, this would not be in their interests anyway. The last thing we should be doing is endless dithering. Not long until the next election yet not decisions on anything at all yet. Other than the idiot one of no to a “points based immigration system”.

        • Jerry
          Posted September 8, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          @LL; “As we import more than they do, this would not be in their interests anyway.”

          You make it sound as if the UK buy such goods and services from other countries as some sort of charitable act! If the UK impose import tariffs on such goods and services it is far more likely to hurt us, than hurt them, in effect the UK would be cutting our own noses off to spite another’s face.

          “Not long until the next election yet not decisions on anything at all yet.”

          We only need two years, the next election is four years away, unless the current governing party decide to commit political suicide. Article 50 only needs two years, from notification letter to exit, and that assumes the UK actually bothers with A50, if we are going to have a hard Brexit with all the consequences then simply repealing 1972 Act of Accession is still an option.

          • getahead
            Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            “If the UK impose import tariffs on such goods and services it is far more likely to hurt us, than hurt them.”

            The UK is not in the business of imposing tariffs.
            Should that not be “If the EU impose import tariffs on such goods…..”

          • Edward2
            Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

            We are offering tariff free arrangements so why should the UK impose tariffs unilaterally?
            German trade ministers and unions have called for a no change trade situation which sounds the likely final outcome.
            What is the point of the UK adding 10% and other nations also adding 10%?

            Regarding Article 50 the PM has said several times that the plan is to trigger it early next year.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            Your first paragraph has got it the wrong way round.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted September 10, 2016 at 6:51 am | Permalink

            If we buy more off them and we both put a similar importation tax on good then we raise more tax than they do. So it is not in their interests at all.

            More like three years seven months and counting until the next election.

          • Jerry
            Posted September 10, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

            @LL et al; You are all missing the point with regards tariffs, import/protectionist tariffs only work if the country (or block) imposing them can find alternate supplies or is self sufficient – otherwise all they do is induce shortages or inflation into our economy.

            @Edward2; Germany says many things (as does France, and the two do not necessarily tally…) but what do the Brussels eurocrats say, will they agree to allowing the UK to keep access to the single market without freedom of movement (the eurocrats reaction to a similar request from the Swiss is not encouraging), indeed has not Tusk or Juncker gone on record in stating that the four pillars -free movement of goods, capital, services, and people- are central and without all four the EU (project) can not survive?

            Also I do hope that you took note the other day when the EP appointed the former Belgian Prime Minister and staunch federalist, Guy Verhofstadt, as its Brexit negotiator and is reported as saying (according to “The Parliament Magazine”) that he expects to to play a ‘central role’ in Brexit negotiations, much to the disquiet of the ECR group in the EP.

            As for Article 50, funny how people like you cherry-pick what you chose to listen to from Mrs May, indeed she has said much on Brexit and other issues but people like you refuse to accept most of it on face value…

            It is not in the interest of the eurocrats, and some member countries for that matter, to make Brexit easy -and best we as a nation do not forget it.

          • Edward2
            Posted September 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

            Jerry
            Many countries are trading with Europe quite happilly and without being in the single market and without accepting freedom of movement.
            I am quoting the PM and the Brexit ministers who have repeatedly said early next year for article 50.
            PS
            I don’t know what you are alluding to when you repeatedly say “people like me” but it sounds like one of your thinly disguised insults which would be better left out.

          • Jerry
            Posted September 11, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Indeed they are but I was replying to what Mr Lifelogic said, try actually understanding the context of my comments rather than trying to argue all the time. If you want to do the latter then pick up on what he has said, such as his comment above;

            Or if they choose to impose tariffs we can do the same on them.

            It was he who was advocating tariffs, not me, I was trying to explain why that would be utterly silly considering that we import far more from the EU than we export!

          • Edward2
            Posted September 12, 2016 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            If you fail to communicate with your words Jerry it’s not my fault
            Trying understand the subtle context of your comments is not easy
            Why not try to say things more clearly.

            Love your “argue all the time” comment.

        • CdBrux
          Posted September 9, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          In theory yes, but in practice?
          The EU27 trade (both ways) with UK is a high % of UK trade. It is a far far smaller % of EU trade. In that way of looking at it far more important to us than them, UK has proportionately way more to lose.
          And then you assume the EU would be wholly and coldly rational. The Brexit vote was, in part, because it isn’t!

          I would love a tariff free trade arrangement with the single market, but I don’t think the EU will agree as readily as you think and for political reasons – some of them, and as I understand any non WTO based arrangement needs a unanimous vote from them, won’t want to be seen to be making this easy, they may wish to punish UK (pour descourager les autres). I hope I am wrong.

          • Edward2
            Posted September 11, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            If WTO rules were to apply to vehicles for example the max tariff is 10%
            We charge on their imports
            They charge us on our export sales.
            Effectively we are back where we started.

          • Jerry
            Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; “Effectively we are back where we started.”

            If only that could be true – back were we started would be the pre EEC early 1970s. Talking of the motor industry, did you know that BL had its best ever year in 1971, with many of the cars produced went for export…

          • Edward2
            Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

            And back in those days BL lost fortunes in doing so.

            Back where we started…meaning if both sides add 10% then they may as well both agree to a tariff free trade.

  2. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    “They voted to leave and to take back control of their laws.”

    Including their immigration laws, and total not partial control.

    And in fact it cannot be only those who voted leave who want to put an end to unlimited and uncontrolled immigration from the EU; given that opinion polls repeatedly show that far more than 37% of the electorate want to reduce immigration from the EU, there must have been many who want that but nonetheless voted to remain in the EU out of fear of the economic and financial and other consequences if we left.

    If that means that we sell into the EU Single Market from outside, rather than being part of the EU Single Market, then there may be a price for that but it would be low.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Correct a referendum on reducing immigration would produce a massive majority. The political class still think they know better than the rest of us when all the evidence is there for all to see.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Dear Iain–And now we have the added joy that there is to be a trial of applicants to Universities and even jobs not being allowed to put their names on the applications. Hardly believable.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    An excellent contribution.

    Alas I am coming to the conclusion that Mrs May is not going to point the party in the right direction at all. Nearly two months in office and nothing of any substance at all so far and much that is profoundly misguided. Things like her workers/customers on boards and enforced gender pay reporting. No sensible announcements on stopping the greencrap grants, allowing fracking and new gas power stations, selective immigration, sensible tax levels, cutting tax complexity, stopping HS2, cutting the bloated inept government, sorting the dire NHS, building runways or anything else much at all.

    She rules out a points based immigration system she but offers no alternative. The government even seem to be backtracking hugely on their one positive announcement (on selective grammar schools). Allister Heath is spot on again today on this issue, the government should follow almost everything he says.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/09/07/be-brave-mrs-may-and-allow-state-schools-to-select-on-academic-a/

    I am far from convinced that T May is brave or even a Tory, will she ever get us out of the EU or indeed achieve anything much at all. Two months have passed and not even a sensible sense of direction has been set. She even seems to want to remain in “the single market” having “corrected” David Davis for saying this was unlikely.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      Why oh why did the foolish Mr Gove knive Boris in the back?

      If she continues like this, even for just another month then she surely must go. The last thing we want is a continuation of the dire Cameron/Osborne/Libdim agenda under May.

      She has a huge opportunity, why on earth is she failing to grasp it? Cameron also had two huge open goal elections, but failed miserably due to his duff Libdim compass.

      Has she learned nothing from Cameron’s incompetence and his abject failure?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    I too hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible.

    But Mrs May has not made any sensible commitment even on this. She looks more and more like a weak, lefty, still pro remain, ditherer. A rabbit caught in the headlights. I shall give her another month, but after two months of dithering and swiss pole walking and globe trotting, I do not have any real confidence she is up to the job.

    At the very least she could set a sensible direction of travel but nothing.

    A good article in the spectator today by Martin Vander Weyer about the damage done by her student visa crackdown.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I see that Cameron’s “priority in three letters NHS” is now missing all its targets in England (A&E times, cancer care, ambulance response times and routine operations). Is his proud of his record with the NHS? Or indeed in any other area of his (say one think do the complete opposite) record? Perhaps he is proud “repaying the debt” as he falsely claimed?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Nothing that is free at the point of use, or is run by the state is ever likely to work efficiently, the NHS illustrates this perfectly.

        • Jerry
          Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

          @LL; “Nothing that is free at the point of use ../anti NHS rant/..”

          Are you seriously suggesting that a (public or private) health service funded by payments in to a pre-paid health insurance scheme [1], that then provide access to a ‘free at the point of need’ service, will fail, for that is what you have implied above, do you really expect people to flash their credit cards or wallets stuffed full with £50 notes before receiving treatment?!

          People like you Mr Lifelogic and your crass, totally ill-informed, ant NHS idealogical clap-trap do nothing other than drive swing voters -who decide elections- towards the left (or at least to sit on their hands on polling day).

          [1] which National Insurance contribution are, in effect

    • Jerry
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      @LL; “I too hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible. But Mrs May has not made any sensible commitment even on this [../rant/..]”

      Funny that, on the day after the Brexit result and its fallout, as many eurosceptics on the right were thinking they could see ‘their man’ in 10 Downing Street by October, I suggested on here that Mr Cameron should trigger Article 50 by the following Monday and in reply many asked what the rush was?! Now, because it is not ‘their man’ in No. 10, people like you are demanding immediate action…

      Yours and others thinly veiled rants against Mrs May, someone who many right-wing eurosceptics did not want as PM, fools no one other than the unthinking europhobes (and UKIP supporters) amongst our hosts audience.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        I hope she performs well but little sign of it as yet. She even assured voters during the referendum that “we had control of our borders through Schengen”. So either she is very daft or she is a blatant liar and one who was prepared to lie to voters in order to trick them into remaining in the EU.

        Which Jerry do you thing it was, or do you have any other alternative?

        • Jerry
          Posted September 10, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          @Lifelogic; “So either she is very daft or she is a blatant liar and one who was prepared to lie to voters in order to trick them into remaining in the EU.”

          Yet more, unthinking, anti TM bilge from you.

          Many Brexit campaigners said that we would keep access to the single market, there was also that promise (made on the side of a bus by the official Leave campaign) that the NHS would receive a whopping daily Brexit dividend, so far there is little sign that either is going to happening come actual Brexit – so were those Brexit campaigners also either just very daft or were they “blatant liars who [were] prepared to lie to voters in order to trick them” into leaving the EU?..

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I was interested to see this House of Commons Library Research Briefing on the ratification of the Paris Agreement:

    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7393

    For general information:

    “There are two separate processes for the ratification of the Agreement; one for the European Union (EU) and one for the UK Government. For the UK, an EU treaty requiring ratification is presented to Parliament as a Command Paper. A draft Order in Council is laid before Parliament. It may be debated and/or approved by both Houses by the affirmative procedure, which means it needs the approval of both Houses.”

    “Ratification by the EU will not take place until this approval has been completed by all Member States, and many have already indicated that they are unlikely to be have done so before 2017.”

    But we are leaving the EU, are we not, so what difference could that make?

    “Some commentators have questioned whether the UK will continue to participate in the Agreement or whether the Agreement itself may need to be rewritten after Brexit.”

    However, there is a view the adjustment need not be particularly difficult:

    “… the UK may need to separate its National Determined Contribution (NDC) from that of the EU but this require a “recalibration” rather than any change to the architecture of the Agreement.”

    Now contrast that sanguine attitude to the task of adjusting this international agreement to take into account the UK’s departure from the EU with this dire prediction about the task of similarly adjusting trade deals:

    http://news.sky.com/story/brexit-to-cause-15-years-of-economic-pain-former-eu-lawyer-10569236

    “Brexit To Cause ’15 Years’ Of Economic Pain – Former EU Lawyer”

    “When you have got out, you have no trade agreement at all with anybody because you are losing the fact that you were a member of the single market and you were participating in the 60 or 70 agreements concluded with a lot of countries in the world by the EU.

    “You lose all of that. Trade is going to be very difficult. You will need a lot of manpower and expertise which the UK doesn’t have.

    “You know a trade agreement is very difficult. It is thousands of pages.”

    This is what he has told Sky News, which is still campaigning to keep us in the EU.

  6. Ian Wragg
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Brussels is all about harmonisation . Removing every vestige of national independence and maximising revenue for their wasteful projects.
    As we are about to leave it would be a start if we stopped implementation of EU legislation immediately.
    If they squeal. Good.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed what on earth is Theresa waiting for?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Seconded

      • turboterrier
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Me three

  7. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    EU laws and regulations should continue to be enacted promptly and thoroughly. There is no indication apart from “saids” that the UK is about to leave the EU or is going to leave the EU at any time in the future.

    The international financial “community” does not believe the UK will leave the EU. It is putting its money where its mouth is too. In today’s news a leading UK electrical retailer ( and wholesaler ) which is dependent now on more expensive foreign imports has not factored it into its pricing of any on-sale products.
    The Leave Camp are proclaiming the Brexit vote has not affected commerce very much if at all apart from a speculative blip. They are absolutely right. But are missing the obvious.

    The UK is not leaving the EU in anything but name. Articlle 50 has not been triggered. Well of course not. Wake up!

  8. agricola
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    This is but one example of what is wrong with the EU, and why we voted to leave. When we do, can those in the HoC be trusted to correct all these examples of EU meddling.

    I find even more worrying the ambivalence towards the opening of new grammar schools. How the left hate excellence, and there is still plenty of left in the conservative party. To say the least I was disappointed in the stance of David Willets against the reintroduction of grammar schools. He is the product of what you might call a super grammar school, at the time we thought of it as a highly selective Direct Grant Public School. I left in 1955, he in 1974. It offered a fantastic education in the round to anyone who had the talent to pass their entry exam. Usually around 100 out of 3000.

    This stopped in 1976 with the abolition of the Direct Grant Scheme (DGS), offering it’s education to the very best, which effectively closed it to those who could not pay. Not being content with this, the last Chief Master created a trust into which past pupils could donate to open the school once more to the talented ,but parentally impoverished. The scheme took off and continues to fly. One can envisage a time when it might get back to where it was under the DGS. I find it sadly bizarre and hypercritical that a politician who has benefitted from such a school should wish to deny even a lesser version of it to those most suited to an academic education. Yes we need to expand technical education and to do it in those areas of the UK most in need of something to aspire to. This is the most basic investment in the future of a country that any government can make. Those that abhor selection will find that life is highly selective whether they like it or not. Perhaps they can accept having their appendix removed by a D stream drop out, though I doubt it.

    You can do the best for pupils by offering them the best at the level at which they can absorb it. Not by mixing all levels together and hoping for the best. Grammar schools offer the greatest chance of social mobility and answering the political desire for a greater proportion of working class people at Oxbridge. Equality of choice should be the aim, not a desire to achieve the lowest common denominator.. In a much earlier part of my life, exposing young people to new challenges , I found that the ones with the greatest initiative came from Eton and Borstal.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Also off-topic:

    https://euobserver.com/tickers/134964

    “Sweden: UK cannot get special deal on EU workers”

    “Swedish PM Loefven has told Reuters that the UK cannot forbid EU workers but still get single market access. “You cannot have free movement of goods and services and capital and not people … The Union doesn’t work like that and there will be differences if they are not members”, he said. British PM Theresa May will hold talks on Brexit with EU Council president Donald Tusk in London Thursday.”

    Well, the knowledge that “the Union doesn’t work like that”, that for political reasons the Union insists on making an irrational connection between trade and immigration, was one powerful reason why the British people voted to leave the Union.

    And it cannot be said that this was not well understood by the people before they voted, when the government had incessantly banged on about the supposedly huge benefit of the EU Single Market, including in its official referendum booklet that it had delivered to every household, and so too the officially appointed Remain campaign, and the miscellaneous Tom Dick and Harry on that side of the debate, and yet the vote was still to leave.

    There was one important aspect which was not well understood before the vote, and that was the fact that supporters of the EU routinely exaggerate the economic benefit of the EU Single Market, which for the UK is around 1 % – 2% of GDP, and that is before taking into account its costs.

    The Remoaners’ current argument that there is a mandate for leaving the EU but none for leaving the EU Single Market is typical sophistry, to the contrary if Theresa May respects the verdict of the people in the referendum and makes the restoration of total control of our immigration policy her first “red line” then it is indeed “highly improbable” that EU leaders like Loeven can be persuaded to allow the UK to remain in the EU Single Market while controlling immigration from the EU.

  10. Bert Young
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Delay in triggering Article 50 is a mistake ; today’s blog simply illustrates the frustration . It our decision alone to decide on what and how we tax ; we should simply get on with it and ignore any outside interference . The French have been past masters at going it their own way when it suited them – we should do the same .

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but when Tusk tells May today “The ball is in your court” that is no doubt a touch of Polish humour, as he will know that the ball is actually in the High Court.

  11. Mitchel
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Looking at the reports back from yesrerday’s Syria conference,it would appear that Boris Johnson has already gone native at the FO-every inch the Saudi hireling,contradicting his own views from a few weeks ago and indulging the Syrian “opposition” in what even the BBC reporter called a fantasy.

    Leaving aside the fact that this was a pointless waste of time,can we be sure that Boris will not also go native as regards the EU?

  12. stred
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    There is certainly an urgent need to insulate the walls and floors of our older housing stock, which accounts for a large proportion with many houses finding high energy prices difficult to pay. At present the coalition devised Green Deal has failed because it has over regulated, forcing the use of specialised contractors who install expensive thick insulation at high cost, which then is paid for with high interest rates, supposedly compensated by lower bills. The insulation value of a plastered solid wall is around 2.2 (U value) and it is quite easy and inexpensive to improve this to 0.5 or lower using low emission cavities and plasterboard on the inside of walls, without losing much space. The higher regulated standard leads to already small rooms becoming smaller. External insulation is often not an option in narrow streets or where the character of streets needs to be preserved.

    Instead, we should allow specialists to be free to devise practical ways and offer costed methods and insulation values. These could be tested in practice by independent labs and checked by ministry engineers.

    Then, with zero VAT and possibly subsidies on insulation instead of wasting them on wind constraint payments and making gas inefficient by turning stations up and down to suit the wind and solar, house owners could borrow at low rates from the green bank. They may have money available if as likely it turns out that their investment in burning trees turns out to save little CO2.

    Wind contraint payment, to turn off when too windy, have increased from £0.5 to 9m from 2012 to 2015 and with all the huge offshore farms coming on over the next few years, the problem will increase. The one off the Sussex coast will be complete in 2 years. The noise of piling is already waking people up at night.

    http://euanmearns.com/uk-wind-constraint-payments/#more-15118

  13. acorn
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    You might like to ask a minister why UK pre-tax and levy electricity prices, are 46% higher than the EU average? Also why, as the EU on average, apply tax and levies that form 32% of the retail price, against 4.8% in the UK; the UK price at 0.218 €/KWh is above the EU price of 0.211 €/ KWh? (The answer is the tax the UK does not levy becomes company profits and those companies are price setters, due to a useless regulator.)

  14. Bob
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    There is a simple solution to this problem which manufacturers use to discount their goods, it’s called “cashback”.

    Charge the VAT at the prevailing rate and offer a grant to the purchaser, the same way that grants for loft insulation used to be paid upon presentation of an invoice.

    The grants could even be means tested to make sure they only apply to people not living in mansions (or two bed terraced houses to those living in London). The administration of the means testing would in turn create thousands of jobs.

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Good idea Bob

  15. Atlas
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Agreed John.

  16. graham1946
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    How will cutting or even abolishing VAT on energy saving materials help those in fuel poverty?

    Poverty means paying too much for fuel and not having sufficient money for the basics of life, so I doubt taking a few percentage points off loft insulation will send them down to B&Q in a hurry.

    You should be pressing for VAT to be abolished on fuel itself especially for home heating and lighting and even road fuel, where VAT is simply a tax on a tax. Whilst you are at it you should also press the government to scrap the ridiculous green levies on fuel. These are what will make a difference to fuel poverty and poverty in general, not a bit of a discount on draught excluder strip.

    Reply I did press for VAT on domestic fuel to be abolished!

    • graham1946
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Thank you, good to know. As you haven’t said, I guess there is no useful reply. Winter is coming and the speed at which this government works another 40,000 will be dead of the cold before spring notwithstanding the ‘Global Warming’.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      If they are that poor they perhaps need personal insulation, a thick jumper, coat, thermals or the likes. Quite cheap at charity shops.

      • graham1946
        Posted September 9, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        So says a landlord from the comfort of the Channel Isles.

        Breathing cold air is very bad for people especially if they have athsma or any other bronchial disease and arthritis etc is not alleviated with a pair of long johns. The elderly often have to sit for long periods or stay in bed due to mobility problems. For a ‘Lifelogic’ your really ought to think before posting right wing clap trap. You really don’t have any humanity at all do you, just a lust for money.

    • turboterrier
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      @ Graham1946

      Whilst you are at it you should also press the government to scrap the ridiculous green levies on fuel.

      It is well documented how hard how our host and his 100 odd colleagues have tried to stop all these subsidies but the snake oil salesmen of the renewable energy lobby have worked their magic well. The easiest way to stop the subsidies in my view is to allow them for the first two years and then nothing. All land owners and nationalised companies (forestry) etc should be included in that they are taxed to receive 20% net of their ground rent payments and the taxes raised used to assist those who are suffering the most due to these ridiculous subsidies and constraint payments. The majority of our power companies are foreign owned and I’am sure they benefit from some sort of tax breaks. The renewable energy companies have had more than a good run and with over 2 million in fuel poverty the process has got to be changed and it could all start with the repealing of the Climate Change Act which has in reality done nothing except help former ministers of that department leave government and pick up very lucrative contracts with foreign energy companies. (e.g. offered ed)There are still companies on the net are still trawling out guaranteed returns on investment for turbines backed by government policy.

      etc ed

  17. Bob
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    “I hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible.”

    According to UKIP London MEP Gerard Batten, article 50 merely sets out a complex & costly structure which places the terms of exit into the hands of the EU, and the withdrawing member state is not allowed to participate in the discussions or decisions of the Council.

    The process could take two years, but may be extended indefinitely by mutual agreement, so it could be deferred beyond the next General Election, and a new govt with a new mandate May decide to abandon Brexit.

    As you have previously suggested Mr Redwood, repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 would be the quickest, cheapest and simplest way forward.

    • DaveM
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I’m not interested in Mrs May “showing her hand”, neither do I want a “running commentary”. I don’t care how it’s done, but I want to see the UK leave the EU. We are still paying in a fortune each week, and are not even invited to their conferences. We voted to leave 10 weeks ago – that’s longer than the time lapse between Argentina invading the Falklands (2 April 1982) and Argentina surrenduring (14 June 1982). We didn’t even have a High Readiness Reaction Force in those days.

      Her speech yesterday referred back to trade time and time again. What part of “we want full control over immigration, borders, taxation, and laws” do you people not understand? The Leave vote was about all those things, and most people who voted to leave did so because of those factors.

      Patience is running short outside the Westminster bubble, Mr Redwood…

    • Mark B
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I’d doubt the EU want us around that long. They need to fix the Euro and allow transfers from wealthier states to poorer ones. Currently, that cannot be done for both personal political reasons and legal ones.

    • graham1946
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      This is what I have been worrying about as well.

      Delay and procrastination is the Civil Service’s favourite weapon to defeat what they don’t want done and we know from Gus O’Donnel that they don’t want Brexit. They are permanent, governments are transitory and enough delay defeats politicians wishes (assuming they actually want it, which is not at all clear from the breakdown of the HOC in favour of Remain and Mrs May herself is no Brexiteer). We should have had a Brexiteer as Prime Minister, which shows where the Tories really are – there were enough candidates but jiggery pokery assured no election was actually held.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I can understand why some people would like to simply wield their sword and slash through the Gordian Knot which has become ever more tightly entangled over the past 43 years of involvement with the EEC/EC/EU/USE project.

      And Article 50 is actually part of that Gordian Knot, not least because Gordon Brown denied us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty which brought it in; but the fact is that in 2008 we agreed that if any member state wished to leave the EU then it should use the procedure laid down in that article, and so that it where we should start, with the proviso that if we are messed about we can always just leave.

      There will be a negotiation between the withdrawing state and the other EU states, and it would be unreasonable to expect that the withdrawing state would be sitting on both sides of the table for that negotiation.

  18. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The only noticeable impact on the economy since the Brexit vote is that it has prompted Mr Serene to unnecessarily devalue the Pound, making our holidays more expensive.. Otherwise there has been not the slightest re-positioning of Financiers and Fund Managers in their portfolios as one might expect of any major potential realignment, good, bad or indifferent, in a 500 million strong economic market and of course a world market of billions.
    It is just as if nothing HAS happened: Nothing is GOING TO happen.

    I believe Mrs May and Mr Johnson and others will ultimately fail to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s EU membership just as Mr Cameron failed. The EU will call their bluff knowing that they will never leave the EU come what may. We should vote against Mrs May in her General Election which will be based on a renegotiated EU membership which the EU will “suddenly” “miraculously” present.

  19. Richard Butler
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    A Bremainer argument doing the rounds, informs us we will ‘loose out big time’ as a result of no longer having free trade access to third party markets.

    Important to educate these fearful characters that aside from S Korea, the deals in existence (many of which merely ‘contain a trade component’ and not FREE trade) are with the likes of;

    Madagascar
    Andorra
    San Marino
    Jordan
    Akrotiri and Dhekelia (one of many British territories that presumably will wish to continue good trading terms with the Mother land)

    Faroe Islands
    Bailiwick of Guernsey
    Bailiwick of Jersey
    Kosovo
    Liechtenstein
    Tunisia
    Algeria

    EU trade deal delivery is paltry, the US deal just completed it’s 13th round of talks without delivery.

    The Bremainers also love to point out small nations cannot prosper by their trade deals with large states such as China as ‘the larger partner dictates the terms and the smaller sucks it up’. Another exercise in wilful ignorance, if these deals are so one sided the smart people of NZ or Switzerland would not enter them.

    Lastly do keep in mind trade deals are falling out of favour and being seen by some as getting in the way of proper free trade. Plenty of nations export successfully into the EU with no trade deal.

  20. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Off tpopic:
    The ECB has announced just now as I type virtually no change right up to 2017 and beyond in its plans. No provision even as a twinkle in its bureaucratic but knowledgeable and intelligent eye of anything whatsoever of any import happening to the membership or input of its present nation-states. Including that of the UK

  21. ian
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes bob you are right, like i have been saying, triggering article 50 is the worst thing the government can do because it is open ended and never ending, it is designed to keep a country in the eu after it parliament has been forced to give it people a ref on the eu.

    Before article 50 was put into the Lisbon treaty a country could leave the eu on a ref vote at once after the vote, that why they put it in the lisbon treaty when the euro came in to force so people of one country could undermine the euro.

    That why the con party put the ref in their manifesto to win votes knowing full well that the outcome did not matter because of article 50, you still might get out because the eu is feed up with the uk and it companies lobbying the eu for new laws all the time, it has been the usa and uk companies behind most of the new laws but they not getting what they want so they are going for TTIP or the Canada deal to be pushed which will put companies above the people parliament and laws in europe.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    We now have a rather peculiar situation where the UK government officially denies that the minister for exiting the EU is correct when he says that it is highly improbable we will be able to remain in the EU Single Market, because of its irrational connection between trade and immigration, while the German government is distancing itself from a leading German politician who admits that only three of the much-vaunted “four freedoms” have a principally economic purpose while the fourth has a principally political purpose, and that it would be possible to separate them into the three that the UK wants to retain and the one that the UK does not want.

    Norbert Roettgen, head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, from 10 minutes in the video here:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-08/merkel-lawmaker-sees-flexibility-on-migration-in-brexit-bargain?cmpid=BBBXT090816

    “Merkel Lawmaker Sees Leeway on Migration in Brexit Bargain”

    “ … we can separate the economic project of the Single Market consisting of the freedoms of capital, of goods, and of services, and that the fourth freedom, the freedom of workers, makes this project to a political project, so we can separate that, this is possible … “

    I think this is the first time I have heard a German politician, or indeed any EU politician including any UK politician, admitting that the supposedly sacred principle of the freedom of movement of persons is political rather than economic in its intent, and that it would be possible to separate it from the other three principles which are economic in intent.

    The Swedish Prime Minister may say “That is not how the Union works”, but it could be how the Union interacts with the UK once it has left.

  23. agricola
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Continuing my off piste comments on Grammar Schools.

    The grammar school debate illustrates why we the electorate have become so cynical regarding the spoken and written word of politicians. Today David Willets is urging the abandonment of plans for more grammar schools saying things such as, “Selective schools failed disadvantaged children”. “They only benefit rich children at the expense of mobility”. ” Selective systems tend to be captured by the better informed, more affluent parents”. I would suggest that this is just what his parents and my parents did in the past.

    In the school magazine of 2015, David Willets explained his humble background based on the timing of dinner. I parallel his thoughts. He believed that the school we both went to provided a fair chance to bright children whatever their background. Neither of our parents paid fees, thanks to the Direct Grant Scheme; Ergo social mobility. To this point I am totally with him and support the trust fund set up by the school to continue to make it’s education available to the less well off following the demise of the Direct Grant Scheme in 1976. It is now an independent school.

    He now complains that children from poor backgrounds fail to get into grammar schools, therefore such schools should not be a component in our education system. There is no attempt in his current argument to ask why. I would submit that if you reduce the supply of grammar schools you automatically increase the demand. Same rules that apply to Chateau Latour. I would add, disinterested parents, and low aspiring primary education are two more reasons. His argument would appear to be that the chickens are laying smaller and fewer eggs so lets kill the chickens. He should be asking why and correcting their poor diet.

    The two of us benefitted from a fantastic education at the same establishment at different times. Let the availability of places at independent and grammar schools exceed demand ,then watch social mobility flower, as it did for he and I. Balance it with a greater provision of technical schools for those who prefer that route to success rather than academia. Most important make sure that at primary level children are getting a level of education that will allow them to progress to both grammar and technical schools. Place the emphasis in the deprived areas of the UK Get your heads round the fact that being poor does not mean you are stupid. Understand that education is the lifeblood of the country, do not let it bleed away.

  24. Nockthesheeple
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Differential tax rates are attempts at social engineering. They distort markets, inspire tax avoidance and make everybody worse off.

    Wrong campaign.

    We’re not going to take back control from Brussels just to give it to Westminster you know.

  25. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Seems a good idea to abolish this VAT charge but everything seems to depend on whether Mrs May personally agrees with you – I expect one of her advisers will brief a journalist on this in due course.

  26. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    John

    Will you seek to speak in favour of triggering Article 50 forthwith when the House debates the matter on 17th October?

    • turboterrier
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      @ Glenn Vaughan

      As previously mentioned the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 would be the quickest, cheapest and simplest way forward.

      Can for once we do something the quickest and cheapest way, Too many countries are waiting in the wings to negotiate trade deals reason enough for speeding up the process

      • Glenn Vaughan
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        I don’t envisage repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 happening before 17th October.

        Given that there will be a debate that day, I see no reason why proponents for triggering Article 50 should not make their voices heard. Let us then see who votes in favour and who wants to delay the process at the end of that debate.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        But it might be better to take the way forward which is reckoned to be the legal way forward, the Article 50 TEU way which we agreed to in 2008.

  27. bigneil
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    OT

    Have just had a look at an article on the Mail site. A French family of 10 who are complaining about their housing – -I would like you John to have a read at how much these have had spent on them since arriving in 2012- -and compare it with my 40+yrs of contributions – -to get zilch for the last 4.5 yrs. Even my pension is not going to be anywhere near the promised flat rate £155 – Why work? – come to England and start demanding – -far better off, come to England and complain – -is there any wonder why people are so angry. Our own govt has a bottomless supply of cash for foreigners – and sod all for the people who are taxed to death.

  28. Andy
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Personally I don’t feel that the EU will offer any meaningful ‘deal’ to the UK, so we will end up being like Australia etc. I suppose what is left to discuss are the assets and liabilities – I assume some of teh building etc have a value, so the EU should buy these rights out.

    My solution, probably illegal, would be to trigger Article 50 and at the sametime bring forward a Bill to repeal the 1972 Act. Once that has Assent you are out of the EU because it has no powers here.

    And I’m not bothered about being in EEA, and EFTA may be ok so long as we can control immigration. I’ve come to see the EU as a big bully. It needs a counter weight.

  29. acorn
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    After a few days reading the posts and comments on this site, it becomes obvious how little understanding there is of trade agreements. For a start, there is no such thing as a “free” trade agreement, somebody always pays for it; mostly the UK work force.

    Trade agreements only ever benefit transnational corporations. They do not benefit the domestic work force in the “consumer” country that created the FTA.

    As Thad Beversdorf implies: Imagine all CEO’s replace their UK workers with cheap foreign workers, in hopes of increasing profit. A trade agreement is put in place to negate the higher risk of their foreign capital investment and to ensure no tariffs are placed on products when they sell them back into the UK domestic consumer market.

    So all firms build products overseas, ship them back to the UK, and put them on the shelves at ASDA. Imagine all UK units of global trans-national corporation CEO’s, replace their domestic workers with cheap foreign workers in hopes of increasing profit.

    A trade agreement is put in place to negate the higher risk of their foreign capital investment; and, to ensure that no tariffs are placed on products, when they sell and import them back into the UK consumer market. Eventually, all firms build products overseas; ship them back to the UK; put them on the shelves at ASDA.

    As Thad continues to say. This is the absolute heart of the problem and helps to clarify the difference between capitalism and corporatism. Corporatism strategies (trade agreements and economic cannibalism) necessitate credit and welfare (private and public debt) whereas capitalism is self sustaining.

    Once you suppress the income of your domestic wage earning consumer base, “global corporatist” profit generation, becomes dependant on increasing household debt (credit) and increasing government welfare payments (budget deficits), to the income short consumers.

    If you are not the currency issuer, like the UK Treasury, you eventually hit your credit limit as a currency user. That is when global corporatism will hit the buffers; I give it ten years at most.

  30. ian
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Finance bills have been one of the biggest destroyer of this country, instigate by labour and the con party against it people and goes on year after year on behalf of companies and the elite to enrich themselves at the people expense with poor services and high taxes and has been in overdrive for the last 14 years as they rack up the country debt, no money for housing, social care, mental health, and a lot of other things. PFI, PFI2, new contracts going out all the time for everything and anything you can think of, leverage up at 1 to 6 and 1 to 10 like HS2 about 7 to 8 billion cash to build but with parliament finance with bankers the sky the limit, you have been sold out by nearly every MP in parliament and companies involved, billions a year for nothing and most of the money going out tax free and this has been made possible by parties politics with most politician elected for life hand picked by their party and overseen by the house of lords.

    Same with the EU.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. 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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