Yesterday I was unable to cross examine the Secretary of State who announced the policy towards the motor industry, as he was in the Lords. More importantly, I was unable to cross examine the architects of the policy, as they were in Brussels.
The package of support for the motor industry had been well discussed, heralded and downsized in the press in the days leading up to the Statement. The Secretary of State correctly said it was “no bail out”. He should have gone on to explain that a bail out would be illegal under EU rules. He is permitted to offer some support for green technology, to help the industry adjust to tougher emissions targets imposed by the EU, which is what he did.
We need a system where the Commission has to send a senior representative to Parliament to defend and explain what they are doing. I would like to have asked such a person why they allow state aids to banks who pay their senior staff too much and who run huge risks in financial instruments for no good reason, but not to companies making things. I would also like to know why the EU competition authorities allowed the Lloyds takeover of HBOS, which has greatly increased the problems of Lloyds management. Stopping subsidies is a good policy, but it should be applied to all commercial organisations.