A new UK fishing industry

Remembering past experiences of EU negotiations some fear another sell out of our fish. Unrelenting Remain supporters tell us as the fishing industry is so small, we should make concessions to secure other unspecified advantages in a general agreement. If the industry is as unimportant as they say it is to us, why would the EU be so keen to win concessions on it?

Isn’t the truth that it is small today for the UK only because most of our fish are taken by continental boats and often taken away for processing far from our shores?

Fish is one of many important wins from Brexit for the UK. It is also totemic, because most agree our membership of the EEC, now the EU, came with the sacrifice of our once large and healthy fishing industry. We have gone from good surplus and plenty of stock in our seas, to overfishing from abroad and an astonishing net deficit in fish.

The government needs to take action to make the most of this opportunity. They must of course hold firm in negotiations and refuse to make any sacrifice of our fish. A Free Trade Agreement makes sense for the EU, so there is no need to sweeten the deal with a gift of fish.

The government should also get on with the following policies

  1. Announce freeports, including our best fishing harbours, with favourable tax and regulatory conditions to found and grow a high quality food processing industry on the back of more landed fish.
  2. Offer a fund to finance or guarantee finance on the purchase of new vessels from a UK yard or second hand vessels from a non UK owner, to undertake a rapid expansion of the UK fishing fleet.
  3. Offer more training and training support packages to people wishing to undertake work in the industry.
  4. Add Enterprise Zones to our Freeports, encouraging food manufacturers to make up great fish recipes, provide frozen product and help identify new markets for our food at home and abroad.

I am sending this to the government for consideration.

Posted in Uncategorized | 212 Responses

Three cheers for overseas aid

I am glad the UK spends money on ships and equipment that go to assist countries facing flood and tempest. I am in admiration of our medics and armed forces when they sometimes go to help treat and contain dangerous infectious diseases abroad. I am pleased the UK as one of the leading and richest countries of the world helps alleviate and tackle poverty in the developing nations.

The UK should set out what it can do and what it is good at, and should be generous where need arises and where we have the means to help. I want to see reform of our budgets and our activities in these areas so we achieve more with better value for taxpayers.

I went along with the Conservative leaderships’ support for hitting the 0.7% target of GDP, though I have misgivings about such targets. I do not think we should commit to spend a certain proportion of a fluctuating and usually growing number. We should decide on spending on a case by case basis and against our general budget background. We do not pledge to spend a fixed proportion of GDP on health or education or policing, but look at those budgets in the light of needs and costs. I trust the government will now repeal the 0.7% pledge in our law codes.

Labour will doubtless oppose such a change. They averaged under 0.4% of GDP on overseas aid in their period in government 1997-2010, despite pretending to support the international commitment to spend around twice as much as they managed. They never explained why during all those years they did not do what now they say we must do. Those who want to see more overseas aid spent might do better to lobby the EU and its member countries who spend together well below the 0.5% the UK is now indicating as a new temporary level.

Last year the UK again spent 0.7% or £15bn on overseas aid. £10bn of this was spent on projects and activities we chose along with the recipient country in so called bilateral aid. The balance of £5bn was spent by our giving the money to the EU and other multinational bodies to spend as they saw fit in so called multilateral aid. As we leave the EU it is a good time to bring our overseas aid spending back in house and decide on how we can best help those in need. We should also look at the full support we give, which goes wider than the items allowed under international conventions to be called Overseas Aid. Some of our Defence expenditure is aid, being used to help bring peace to strife torn countries and providing assets to tackle disasters.

I want us to identify the areas where we have most expertise and can do most to help. Maybe the UK should specialise in a few areas like the provision of clean water to each home, the provision of primary education to all girls as well as boys in poor countries and the roll out of programmes to tackle infectious diseases.

We should follow certain guidelines. The money should for preference be spent in the country we are trying to help, using as much local labour and skills as possible. Where we need advanced country inputs these should usually come from people and companies based in the UK. We should work on the principle that it is better to teach a hungry person to fish and farm for themselves rather than sending them food parcels. The aim is to get countries out of poverty, not into dependence. More trade is often of more help than more aid.

It will be great to see us achieve more by concentrating our efforts in areas where we have most to offer, harnessing public and private sectors together, and taking control with more programmes we run for the benefit of the poorer countries. .

Posted in Uncategorized | 269 Responses

My speech during the debate on Exiting the European Union, 24 November 2020

May I reassure the Opposition that I wanted to make a few comments in this debate, and I submitted a request to participate on my own initiative? I have not received any message from the Whips, either before or during these debates, that I should not make a few remarks. With the permission of the House, I will exercise that democratic right.

I understand that there is a parliamentary game going on and that the Opposition want to extend this debate because there are some other things that they do not want to discuss, but that is a matter for them. Oppositions are quite entitled to use what time is available for their own purposes.

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP): May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the game is not on the Government’s side, given that they have withdrawn all their speakers, except for his good self?

John Redwood: On the contrary. As I have just explained, there has been no pressure to withdraw my application. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who thought that they were going to speak in the debate have reread the proposal and realised that, given the incisive eloquence we would hear from the Minister, there was absolutely no need for them to come to the Chamber and duplicate and triplicate that. I have been foolish enough to think that I can add something to the Government’s case, because I support the measure. The fact that my right hon. and hon. Friends seem to have better things to do shows that they are 100% behind the measure, and just want it to be passed as quickly as possible as they attend to their other duties as busy MPs.

So why do I support these regulations, and why are the Government doing this? The first reason is to take back control. That is what millions of people voted for, and many of us are very frustrated that it still has not happened. As the Minister stated clearly, this is about ensuring that, from 1 January, we in this House, on behalf of the British people, can decide for ourselves within international law what the rules shall be on tariffs, quantitative barriers, restrictions and inducements to trade—and how right that is.

I always find it so disappointing that the Opposition, who now say that they understand the spirit of Brexit and have embraced it, do not believe that they can come up with any single improvement on the great body of European law that has been forced on us over many years. I am more optimistic. Working with the talent on the Government Benches, I can see lots of ways of improving on European law. It can be better, not worse, and more rather than less in the right areas. Surely our trade policy should be geared to the interests and concerns of businesses that back this country by investing and creating jobs in it.

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab): I raised a serious point in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) about the Falkland Islands. Does the right hon. Member agree that the UK family is a large one, including our overseas territories, and we ought to be backing the fishing fleet in the Falkland Islands that are trying to export squid and calamari to the EU? Will he join me on a cross-party basis in urging the UK Government to address the concerns of the Falkland Islands?

John Redwood: Of course I hope we can do things to help the Falkland Islands, as we have over many years. They are clearly part of our family, and blood and treasure have been shed to ensure that they are part of our family, so I above all think that we should do all we can.

From 1 January, we in this House can do the things that are in the power of an independent country. We cannot instruct the EU when we are out of it any more than we could when we were in it. There have been a glittering array of failed issues that we put to the EU on which it did not sympathise with us. We had a series of Governments who were so broken backed that they only ever accepted things that the EU wanted to do and did not try to do anything that we wanted to do, which is why it got so frustrating as a member of that body.

It is about taking back control, and I urge everyone here to be more optimistic about the powers of this House. What is the point of someone being a Member of Parliament if they do not believe that they can improve on anything in the inherited corpus of EU law? Why do the Opposition, on the whole, say, “Everything EU perfect, everything generated in this country rubbish”? It is not plausible, and it is against the spirit of the Brexit majority in this country. They want us to get a grip and do better. If we do not do better, they will change us. That is the joy of Brexit—they, at last, will get back control over us. If the law went wrong in the European Union, it did not matter who was in the Government. Even if they threw the Government out, nothing changed, because the EU would not change the law, whereas if we get the laws wrong, the public will know what to do—they can throw Ministers out.

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North): Will the right hon. Member give way?

John Redwood: I am not giving way, because I have a couple of points to make, and I am conscious that many Members wish to make speeches.

Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab): Where are they then?

John Redwood: There are clearly Members on the Opposition Benches wishing to catch Madam Deputy Speaker’s eye.

The second point I want to make is that this is about our balance of trade and our balance of payments. One of the tragedies of our membership of the European Union over nearly 50 years was how we transformed ourselves from an industrial country with a strong farming and fishing industry into one that had been badly damaged by the rules and tariffs that the EU imposed on us and our trade with the rest of the world. It was asymmetric and very cruel.

We lost a large chunk of our motor industry in the first decade of our membership—I think it halved—and we lost a lot of our steel industry. We moved from being a net exporter of fish to being a heavy net importer, with much of our fish taken by foreign vessels and foreign industry. We have lost a lot of our self-sufficiency in temperate food, because the common agricultural policy did not suit us. State aid, cheap energy and so forth on the continent helped places such as the Netherlands to outcompete us on salads and flowers, for example.

We have a big job to do to rebuild ourselves as an industrial, farming and fishing country that is capable of cutting the food miles, cutting the fish miles and delivering more to ourselves and to our own plates through import substitution.

I hope that from 1 January, if not before, Ministers will use these new powers to review all the restrictions and rules about trade and tariffs and create a British model that is better and fairer to Britain, so that “made in Britain” means something, and more is made in Britain and willingly bought by British people. It is very difficult for the Opposition to oppose that, although they will doubtless try to, because they always want to sell Britain short and to build the EU up to greater heights.

None the less, outside this Chamber there will be great relief to know that at least some people in Parliament wish to see a revival of British fishing, British farming and British industry and to understand that the rules of trade and the skewed subsidies and tariffs against the rest of the world have been extremely damaging to people who want to build businesses and farming activities in the UK and that it is time for a reversal.

I wholeheartedly support this measure. I want to take back control and I urge more MPs to get into the spirit of it, and, instead of cavilling and criticising every move that this country wishes to make to be independent, contribute to the debate about how we can be better.

Posted in Uncategorized | 230 Responses

Plenty of spending

So the government plans to spend £280bn more this year on their response to the pandemic. Some of this was much needed compensation for people who were not allowed to work or trade their businesses, and some of it was necessary extra spending on NHS capacity to handle the disease.

Now it is most important the government seeks value for the spending, and get the NHS up to full running on all the non CV 19 work.

Posted in Uncategorized | 163 Responses

State debt and money printing

Time was when I and many other economic commentators would have rightly warned that a country cannot take on too much debt as it has to pay the interest and pay it back one day. It needs to live within its means. I would also have confirmed that any attempt to simply print more money to spend in the public sector or to use to buy up the debt would lead to high inflation, and would come to create a deep recession as hyper inflation undermines normal activity.

There are plenty of examples from history and current economies to show what goes wrong if a government tries to borrow and print its way out of economic troubles. Call it the Weimar model, from 1920s Germany, or the Zimbabwe model from that country in the first decade of this century. Or call it the Venezuela model, still living through the disastrous consequences of borrowing and spending too much in the public sector and trying to print its way out of the debts. A government that prided itself on generous handouts to the poor ended up leaving the poor hungry and roaming supermarkets with little food. Hyperinflation set in. That clears the shelves of goods, drives imports sky high in price as the currency plunges, and undermines investment and business. Venezuela, the country with the world’s largest oil reserves has been unable to pump much oil, as the oil wells go without maintenance and the transport fails.

But today I need to report that the Euro area, the USA and the UK have embarked this year on a major programme of expanding state debt, and their Central banks have printed a large amount of new money, politely called Quantitative easing. Indeed, to save the world economy the Fed created an extra $3trillion this spring. We should be grateful, as it was needed.

I will call this the Japanese model. For 30 years now since her huge credit crunch and asset price crash, Japan has followed a policy of greatly expanding its public debt, and buying in large quantities of it with money created by its Central Bank. State debt in Japan is now around a remarkable 250% of GDP. It stands at 1,328,000,000,000,000 yen. Despite this Japan suffers from practically no inflation, output is fairly stable, investment continues and the currency is behaving well against others.

So far the actions taken by the USA, UK and the Euro area during the pandemic have shown that we can at least temporarily follow the Japanese model. We should not ,however, assume we will be able to do this indefinitely or will need to do what Japan has done for some 30 years. We cannot assume our economies will remain immune to inflation, that our currencies will remain relatively stable against others, were we to persevere with too much debt and too much money printing.

It has been possible to do it so far because the anti CV19 measures were such a big hit to demand and incomes, that it needed an equally large offset from borrowing more and creating more money. There was no shortage of goods for the money to buy, apart from a few specials like PPE which duly shot up in price. The UK has decided it can afford to expand state debt above 100% of GDP, and has set out on a course of creating an additional £450 billion of new money, on top of the £445bn of QE money inherited from previous governments and the banking crisis. This should be fine, and gives the UK a crucial breathing space to make the unusual and large expenditures caused by the CV 19 response.In effect this newly created money will pay for the excessive one off costs of the pandemic policies. It would be best to assume that as we recover we need to bring the special measures to a well timed end. Too fast and we are back to recession. Too slow and we are on to inflation.

The UK state through the Bank of England will own well over 40% of the large state debt it is building up. The Treasury pays interest to the Bank and the Bank sends it back as a dividend to its government owner. This is why I am less concerned than many about the level of debt. This view is reinforced by the way so far the UK can borrow large sums at near zero interest, removing the normal pressures and constraints on borrowing more.

Confidence remains a precious flower. The government must seek value in all this extra spending, and have plans to get back to something more normal in good time. The Japan model works for Japan, but Japan usually has a balance of payments surplus, an ageing population with a savings habit and years of experience of no price rises. The US and UK with large trade deficits and a history of more inflation are only temporarily able to follow the Japanese model.

Posted in Uncategorized | 213 Responses

Postings to the site

When I moderate the postings I see the name and post as usual. I now see you cannot see all the names on the public version so will ask the webmaster to sort it out.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Responses

A better Christmas?

Plenty of people want a Christmas to cheer them up. Sales of trees and decorations are by all accounts good. People are brightening up their living rooms early this year, and planning a family get together. The government was at least wise to relax the rules a bit to allow more people to come together for Christmas meals and conviviality as they wish.

There has been much worry expressed by some government scientific advisers over what all this social contact might do for the spread of the virus, and a wish on their part to have periods of greater restriction before and after. They like the idea of each of us having some sort of limited freedom budget, and if we spend too much of it on meeting people over Christmas we need to rein in before and after.

We need to move on to a more trusting approach, where we all make more of our own decisions based on understanding the messages from the medics and scientists. We can calculate our own risks and the risk we might pose to others, as we do about all other such threats in the normal course of life.

It is not easy making choices for people, weighing the danger from opening non essential shops against the danger of opening hospitality venues. I am glad the discussions some of us have had with Ministers making the case for sports facilities to be open and against the curfew have led to some sensible modifications of the local lockdown schemes. What do you think of the latest proposals? I and my colleagues will study the detail of these new measures as it is published, and will want to see a way forward that minimises damage to business and ,jobs.

Posted in Uncategorized | 249 Responses

The battle of the EU budgets – and the rule of law

The EU claimed it had reached agreement on a 7 year budget from 1 January 2021 and on the planned Euro 750 billion CV 19 recovery fund, now known as the Next Generation EU fund. There remains, however, one large obstacle.

Poland and Hungary object to the rule of law proviso. The European Parliament is particularly keen on this part of the deal. It means any country that is said to have infringed the EU’s idea of the rule of law will not receive their sums from the fund. Poland and Hungary are presently thought to be in violation over independence of judges. Both countries have said they will veto the financial package as a result, and believe the EU is seeking to change their migration policies to one of open borders by this means.

Mrs Merkel currently chairs the Council as Germany holds the rotating Presidency. She is keen to sit down with the President of the Commission and try to broker a way through. They have to prepare for the crucial meeting on December 10/11 when unanimous agreement is needed, and they need to woo the European Parliament to accept any compromise.

The multi annual 7 year budget is planned at Euro 1.1 trillion , boosted to Euro 1.8tn with the borrowing fund. This will require every member state to consent to lifting the current ceiling on the budget. Whilst this sounds like a lot of money, it is around1.5% of the combined GDPs per annum. Some 30% of the total is said to be to promote green growth.

The Commission plans to use permission for this larger 7 year budget to justify a range of new taxes over the next few years to be levied at EU level. They want an expanded emissions levy, a Financial Transactions levy, a Digital levy, and a couple of proposals to tax company profits. Gradually, step by step, they are building their fiscal union. By offering Hungary and Poland larger shares of the planned Next Generation fund they hoped to rein them in on borders and the rule of law.

It is going to be gripping battle, as this is the one occasion when member states have some individual power as they still have a veto over the 7 year budget and the new fund. Once the new fund is established, assuming consent, an important new principle of the EU borrowing large sums on its own account to promote pan Union policies has been established.

It would be interesting to hear from those who still regret the U.K. decision to leave on the following issues

1 If we had stayed in should we have supported this substantial increase in the EU budget?

2 Should we have accepted part liability for the Next Generation Fund or fought to keep it outside the EU balance sheet somehow? Would we have been happy to be a substantial net contributor through this mechanism?

3. Would we have accepted the new EU taxes which flow naturally from the larger budget or would we have battled to prevent the EU increasing its direct tax raising powers?

4. Does this further move on tax and budgets confirm yet again this EU is much more than a trading arrangement or customs union?

Posted in Uncategorized | 256 Responses

Who will run Germany – and the EU?

As always the mainstream UK media ignore the gripping power struggles going on in Germany and the EU. You would have thought the media’s enthusiasm for all things EU and the geographical proximity of these countries to us would merit some news and analysis to balance the intensive coverage they give to the USA across the vast Atlantic.

Three years ago Mrs Merkel announced she was standing down as Leader of the CDU, the largest German party in the government coalition which had supplied her as Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She implied her successor would become the CDU’s candidate for Chancellor in the 2021 general election, though Mrs Merkel intended to remain in the all powerful number one job for the time being.

The party duly elected AKK in 2018 who presided over poor election results and then decided she would resign in February 2020 before ever fighting a general election to try to become Chancellor. The CDU agreed to hold a new contest to choose a replacement this spring. The virus interceded making it difficult to hold a party conference for the traditional in person voting. The election was put off until December 4th. This date has now also been cancelled, with the lead candidate complaining the further delay is to damage his chances, whilst the party establishment claims the further delay is another CV 19 inspired move. They apparently do not wish to turn to the obvious alternative of a postal ballot.

There are three main candidates for this all important post. After two women in a row as Leader and with the transfer of Mrs Von Der Leyen from the German Cabinet to the role of President of the Commission, this time all three are men. Norbert Rottgen is a self styled centrist and keen enthusiast for a strong EU along German federal lines. He is currently chairman of the Federal Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Armin Lashet is another so called centrist who can also accept Merkel’s drift to the Greens and the left. He is also a strong Catholic which affects his political views and is Minister President of North Rhine Westphalia. Friedrich Merz is said to be the current front runner. He moved into the private sector some years ago, and is more right of centre than Merkel or the other two candidates.

The media may have sensationalised and trivialised the campaign, or the candidates may be doing that for themselves. Mr Lashet has been criticised for his opposition to gay marriage, though he now has a deputy on his ticket to soften this. He has also attracted hostile attention for his attitude to girls under 14 wearing headscarves. He is thought to have handled the pandemic poorly in his state. Mr Merz has also been criticised for one of his answers on homosexuality, and has his critics for supporting leitkultur, the promotion of German culture for migrants. He claims to be an economic liberal who has in the past attracted flak for his wealth and for flying himself around in his own plane. In the wings stands Mr Soder, leader of the Bavarian CSU sister party and Prime Minister of Bavaria, who might fancy putting himself forward to be Chancellor were the votes at the general election to give him a chance or more importantly were he able to do a deal with whoever does become leader of the far larger CDU party. He is the most popular candidate for Chancellor in some polls,

The polls show that during Germany’s response to the virus – which has gone better than other large European countries – the CDU have risen , with the Eurosceptic AFD falling back to around 10%. The Greens have sustained ratings close to 20%, leading people to assume there would have to be a CDU/CSU/Green government next time. It is a moot point whether the much lower virus impact came from better actions by government or from a different response of people in Germany to the threat or even just a different pattern of virus transmission but it has helped the CDU as the lead party in government.

Mr Merz thinks that a more authentic Conservative message would help win back lost votes and contain the electoral damage to the CDU from the Greens and AFD. His two other opponents are more willing to praise green policies and prepare for a different coalition. Whilst there are different degrees of EU enthusiasm all three will wish to see Germany as the leading country in the EU. All three would assume good lines of communication and influence directly into the Commission with their former Cabinet colleague or party friend in control there. It is surely time for the mainstream media to show us these people and interview them about their intentions were they to come to power. Our media might also enjoy examining their Troublesome views on migrants, culture and marriage where they could stand in wokeish judgement over them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 294 Responses

Politically correct speaking

Wokeish is not my mother tongue, but I feel I can usually speak and write it fluently because it is all the opposition parties in the Commons speak all the time. It is prevalent on the BBC and mainstream media, so news is dominated by its tropes and preoccupations.

It is stifling much debate and creating a divide with the informal conversations of some parts of the social media and of life when permitted in many clubs, bars and homes. It seems to be driving some people who do not follow politically correct thought into more extremes of language and frustration, which is bad for democratic debate. It means anyone however moderate and decent can fall foul of the unwritten rules of language and attitude that the left insist on. It leaves those of us who want proper debate about the preoccupations of the public struggling to allow it, given the severe censorship of the very topics on one side, and the roughness of language of some frustrated voters on the other side who threaten to abuse what should be the right of free speech.

There is a narrow preoccupation with certain themes, and a rigid view of certain challenges and opportunities. Brexit is all bad and always bad to the followers of politically correct fashion. They simply take every lie, half truth and threat from the EU side in the negotiations and retail it as truth.Many editors and interviewers bat for the EU in composition and questions of the interviews.

They alternate their anger over Brexit with their dominant wish that every sacrifice be made by the UK to purge the last drop of oil, the last molecule of gas and the last lump of coal from our lives and economy, as if the UK alone was responsible for their view of impending climate disaster and as if it will save the planet if the UK does abandon all carbon. There is no proportion in their understanding, and no room for anyone to ask critical questions or offer an alternative way forward. Gone is the usual worry about lost jobs or economic penalties as they chase a perfectly carbon free economy before the technologies to deliver it resonate with the public or are even available to buy.

Like most of us, they object strongly to slavery, yet their main anger is to slavery past by UK traders, with no mention of the people who traded slaves with them. They show scant parallel interest with the ugly slaveries of today that we might do something about. They rummage through UK history to highlight events and attitudes that we no longer support, ignoring the noble causes and the successes. They decline to mention the common adoption of the unacceptable by other countries and governments at the same time. England is always in the wrong, and never the victim in their world of devils and angels. There is a complete lack of pride in the UK’s role in bringing democracy to the world, in the successful campaigns fought against religious intolerance and slavery, and the battles for equality under the law and votes for all.

We need to take back control of our language and of the agenda. A strong democracy is one that can conduct a civilised but serious and passionate debate about what matters to large blocks of opinion. Attempts to prevent topics and ban any view you disagree with is usually an unwelcome move to alienate significant parts of the electorate and impoverish decision taking.

Posted in Uncategorized | 361 Responses
  • 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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