How to run Number 10

Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former Policy Adviser, has set the cat amongst the pigeons by saying that only 30% of the Coalition government’s time and effort goes into doing what the Coalition and Ministers want. He tells us  40% is taken up implementing EU government directives, and 30% absorbed with what officials think they need to do. We are told by Mr Hilton that there is simply too much of this official government material  for Ministers to control or direct it all.  Steve Hilton’s comments about how government works need to be taken seriously.  It implies that Ministers are not sufficiently in charge. Parliament in consequence becomes a rubber stamp for Brussels and the civil service. He tells us that Number 10 often wakes up in the morning to hear on the radio or tv what the government is doing. Quite often what the government is doing is not to the liking of the Prime Minister.

When I was Chief Policy Adviser to Margaret Thatcher at Number 10 we knew what each department was doing. All major items of policy and new law had to be cleared through  the Cabinet and its committees. Matters within the control of individual Secretaries of State were  reviewed by the Prime Minister in a series of bilateral meetings that I recommended, so that colleagues could be assured of Prime Ministerial support for what they were doing.  Number 10 did not like surprises and made sure it was well briefed on all the main things, and the contentious things, that were going on. Prime Ministerial speeches were cleared with all departments, giving them a chance to warn us of any difficult developments. The twice weekly Prime Minister’s Questions briefings were detailed so the PM knew all the issues from each department likely to come up in the House.

In the 1980s there was some of  the same tension between the official government and the political government that Mr Hilton describes. The main disagreements were hammered out at the time of the compilation of the annual legislative programme. The official machine would trot out dozens of bills they wanted for the sake of “good government”. They always wanted a new Criminal Justice Bill, a new Companies Bill, a new Finance Bill to update and improve the law as they saw it. The political government would want various Bills to pursue its agenda – maybe a privatisation Bill or a Deregulation Bill. Some Cabinet members mainly supported the development of the political government’s agenda, others assumed the views of their departments and argued the case for the official government’s legislation. All accepted we could not do all that the original list set out, as Parliamentary time and the country’s capacity to absorb ever more laws and ever changing legislation is limited.

Those who favoured the civil service bills would argue that they were not “contentious” and were necessary for good government. Sometimes friendly Ministers argued  through for such a bill, only to find  it turned out to be very contentious with Parliament for some reason that no-one had bothered to study. The danger with the civil service bills was that they did upset some people, but had no great political advocates if they started to go wrong.  They often appeared in Cabinet and even in Parliament with insufficient political analysis and discussion. When they received their second reading in Parliament they did not have marked on them “uncontentious civil service bill” and the opposition did not necessarily let them   through easily. All Ministers did accept that the Bills became theirs, and there was a political process to adopt or reject them. Ministers were regarded as responsible for the policy and the bill, and expected to master it before appearing in the Commons with it. The Policy Unit at Number 10 was especially keen to read and draw out the consequences of the official bills, as they were political orphan bills if they started to go wrong.

Brussels legislation did not figure nearly so prominently then as now. The Margaret Thatcher government did end the veto for so called single market measures, the first crack in the dam of UK Parliamentary sovereignty over new laws. They turned down my advice to revert to the veto on all matters after an agreed group of single market directives had been approved under qualified majority voting. The Coalition government has arrived in office after the  dozens more vetoes have been surrendered in the Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon treaties signed by Labour. As a result it is very difficult now for UK energy,financial regulation, agriculture, fishing, transport, trade and industry, and environmental Ministers to pursue a UK domestic policy, given the large amounts of law that come from Brussels. Mr Hilton is quite right to recognise that Ministers simply have to put through large amounts of new law at the request of Brussels, where they may have lost the vote or failed to amend it in the way they wished when it came up for decision in the EU.

Parliament enacts large quantities of legislation by Statutory instrument. These devices usually pass after 90 minutes of debate on a take it or leave it motion. The House cannot amend them. Statutory Instruments are now widely used to implement Brussels law. This short process avoids too much public gaze of just how much of our law is EU derived, and prevents most of it ever becoming a matter of political or Parliamentary dispute. Labour is especially reluctant to oppose measures which emanate from Brussels. None of the three main parties in opposition have wished to highlight the vast array of new law that is EU based. Coalition Ministers have continued with Labour’s practice of putting this all through in Statutory Instruments, and playing it down as much as possible. The press have gone along with this, rarely bothering to report the new laws coming out from this process.

The EU has become  an important impediment  to Mr Hilton and his like minded Ministers because it now regularly stops Ministers doing what they wish in big areas of domestic policy. Let us take an apparently UK based area, that of welfare benefits. This was meant to be a national issue to be paid for by national taxpayers. Now today welfare Ministers find that the EU has considerable influence over benefit eligibility, ensuring that recently arrived migrants from the rest of the EU do receive the same benefits as people long settled here who have been paying Income Tax and National Insurance over many years. The UK government is now engaged in expensive and complex court cases to try to establish what discretion it has left over who to pay benefits to.

So what can Number 10 do to deal with the problems of policy development and enforcement which Mr Hilton describes? Some of the problems are easily fixed. The Prime Minister does need to have carefully prepared bilateral with his leading Cabinet members to ensure there will be no surprises from their departments in future. Senior Cabinet members can in turn do the same with junior Cabinet members and Ministers of State in their departments. Number 10 can use the weekly Questions briefing to ensure they know all the politically sensitive things that are going on.  The Prime Minister and Cabinet need to use their ability to settle the legislative programme and their ability to determine which Statutory Instruments should  be taken to Parliament to get a better balance between what they want to do and what has to be done.

Tackling  the problem of too much government from the EU is altogether more difficult. Mr Cameron’s forthcoming  speech is a  big opportunity to explain to the country just how much of our government now comes from Brussels. He needs to set out how he would like in future to regain more control over how we do govern our own country. If he wants a UK energy policy, a UK criminal justice policy, a UK regulatory policy, even a UK welfare policy, there does need to be a change in our relationship with the EU legislative machine.  If there is not, there will be ever more frustrated Ministers having to do things they do not wish to do, and ever less consent from Parliament and the UK voters to  how they are being governed.

(This article was commissioned yesterday by the Daily Telegraph who then decided not to run it.)


  1. lifelogic
    January 14, 2013

    Indeed – so ministers are not sufficiently in charge and parliament in consequence becomes a rubber stamp for Brussels and the civil service. Well this is hardly a surprise is it. Anyway it seems this is clearly what Cameron and the Libdums clearly want. Direct and totally undemocratic rule from the EU functionaries.

    Do anyone still think the UK is a democracy in any meaningful sense whatsoever?

    1. lifelogic
      January 14, 2013

      I see in the times that Sir Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, has said that he was increasingly frustrated by attitudes and comments made against the backdrop of the Hillsborough scandal and “plebgate”.

      The problem however is not that the middle classes do not understand policing they are beginning to understand how it works in practice rather too well and have lost confidence as a direct result. Even in the comfortable Haddenham Village, Buckinghamshire the Any Questions audience had no confidence in the police.

      Well, what do you expect if you make a deliberate, dishonest attempt, over many years (and with countless people, knowingly involved) to intentionally smear the young dead victims of police mistakes. Then blame them for the errors that led to their own deaths. Also the failure to even allow ambulances in to the ground post the disaster.

      My experience of the police is that they are not interest in taking any theft, fraud or similar crime reports, regardless of ample evidence, if they can think of any possible reason to avoid doing so. Even when they reluctantly do, they make little attempt to do anything useful beyond the victim of crime letter. They seem mainly interest in cash generative “crimes” like putting a wheel in a bus lane or going 4 miles over the speed limit or charging football clubs, grabbing peoples cars and charging to return them …. that sort of thing.

      A recent phone in on LBC showed many peoples dealings with the police were just like mine. The police often just wanted to avoid doing anything, even when the evidence was given to them on a plate. They are also rather over paid and over pensioned relative to the private sector by some margin and often deliver so very little value in return.

      Perhaps Sir Peter Fahy should address these issues first. Confidence will come with a motivated, competent and well directed police force. Not one concerned mainly with avoiding recording or investigating crimes, its PR image, cash generative crimes, PC drivel, political interference, blatant cover ups, and thought crimes.

      He seems to be taking the Cameron approach of a defective compass and lots of bluster and spin to try to cover up the disaster that results.

      Reply: these are sweeping generalisations – there are many good police people and examples of good policing. Where the police do not take sufficient interest in a crime you should have contacted your MP or now your Police Commissioner.

      1. Single Acts
        January 14, 2013

        LL does mention some cliches, but like many cliches there is much truth in his description. Pretty much everyone I know (all law-abiding tax payers) simply wish to avoid dealings with the police because it will inevitably be the wrong child seat, or minor driving or parking infraction and hefty fines. Actual crimes with victims which concern people are seemingly un-addressed short of a crime number.

        1. nicol sinclair
          January 14, 2013

          Single Acts: Hear hear.

      2. lifelogic
        January 14, 2013

        I know there are very many good police officers doing their best but the Hillsborough report and the later cover up mainly by Labour home secretaries is an appalling outrage. It is more the system and incentives I was blaming.

        In reporting crimes my general experience it that they attempt to avoid any reports if possible, make it time consuming/inconvenient to make them and rarely do anything much to follow up. Even when they do and the leads are strong still little action. It was certainly the very strong impression of many of the callers to LBC last week also.

        Things like claiming you cannot report this theft (and fraudulent use) of your credit card as it is for the car company who must report it! Or you cannot report criminal damage to a car as it is not your car even if you saw it.

        They seems to regard crime reports as an expense and inconvenience to be avoided where possible – rather like the NHS and patients.

        1. zorro
          January 14, 2013

          Well, if they don’t record your car having been stolen, there’s no crime to solve. It also helps them when your car (which has been stolen) is involved in a smash into a shop window because then they can blame you as the perpetrator even though you have reported it stolen but they found it smashed before you noticed that it had been stolen……..yes, that does happen.

          Anyone, don’t be too despondent lifelogic, the police have been uniquely successful at effectively prosecuting be-knighted suspected paedophiles who have been engaged in this behaviour for half a century, haven’t they….?

          Some police are good, but there have been too many mistakes….


      3. lifelogic
        January 14, 2013

        Clearly one has to “generalise” from my personal experience I cannot go into every example and detail. My experience was just in the central and North London areas and a few years back.

      4. Max Dunbar
        January 14, 2013

        From practical personal experience concerning thought crime, PC drivel and political interference Lifelogic is not generalising or exaggerating at all. As for contacting your MP forget it. Mine is a Libdem, need I say more?

        Reply Now you should contact your Police Commissioner. They are meant to ensure the police reflect the priorities of the public.

        1. JimF
          January 14, 2013

          reply to reply:
          I think you’re missing the point Mr Redwood- constable, sergeant, inspector, Commissioner or the “independent” police complaints commission (anybody who has to call themselves independent probably isn’t)— this is a stitched-up vertical chain of command…. the best advice I can give is to steer clear of them whether you’re a motorist who puts his foot over the line or a victim of crime….

        2. stred
          January 14, 2013

          Police Commissioners would neeed a lot of staff.

      5. Iain Gill
        January 14, 2013

        I see one Chief Constable has done an interview saying he wants to see tougher training with much higher failure rates, about time really.

        1. forthurst
          January 14, 2013

          Then the police would become less vibrant: oh dear!

          1. lifelogic
            January 16, 2013

            Vibrancy indeed.

      6. nicol sinclair
        January 14, 2013

        “Even in the comfortable Haddenham Village, Buckinghamshire the Any Questions audience had no confidence in the police.”

        Indeed, (and I listened to it in Nepal). And neither do I any more.

      7. nicol sinclair
        January 14, 2013

        Reply to reply: They may, indeed, be sweeping generalisations. However, did it ever cross your mind that these generalisations may, indeed, represent the collective views of your some of your readership?

        Reply: Yes, I do understand there are people who hold that view, and I also meet others who do not. It is my job to assess and gauge opinion as well as to represent my constituents and contribute to the public debate.

      8. Christopher Ekstrom
        January 14, 2013

        JR you know VERY WELL that crime has increased throughout the UK & in London police have a blasé, defeatist attitude about home robbery that boarders on open acceptance. Take away the right of self-defense & by a hug a hoodie. Now one must alert their MP in order to report crime. You useless politicians have reduced this to a nation of DEATH WISH victims huddling in their flats not wanting to bother the police. Well done. Hopefully the next riot will occur where YOU reside!

        Reply Recorded crime is down.

        1. lifelogic
          January 14, 2013

          Recorded crime is down due to them making it not worthwhile or inconvenient and difficult to record it.

          Rather like the NHS doctors saying can you ring back tomorrow for an appointment between 9 and 9.30 when we are usually engaged as everyone else is doing the same.

          They also quite like turning on the reporter of the crime so if you say report that someone hit you car while parked and did not stop they will make you get all your documents and take little interest beyond that.

          1. Electro-Kevin
            January 15, 2013

            Crime is also down because we have become adept at conflict avoidance.

            A Canadian comedian does a sketch on on the subject of how British people now cower in the presence of teenage yobs,

            “You gonna let him get away with that ? Let me deal with it like a Canadian does !”

            “No ! You musn’t. You’ll get stabbed.”

        2. APL
          January 14, 2013

          JR: “Recorded crime is down. ”

          Well, given the general tenor of responses it follows that not many folk have much faith in the police, it wouldn’t be a surprise if people didn’t bother reporting crime.

          My experience echo’s Life logic, reported a theft, all the police wanted to do was issue a crime reference.

          *I* had to chase them up on the matter. The reply was, ‘sorry there isn’t much we can do as your area isn’t very well covered by CCTV’!

          1. Bob
            January 14, 2013


            Did you not get a victims of crime leaflet advising you to keep your doors and windows locked?

          2. lifelogic
            January 14, 2013

            When it is covered by CCTV they just say they haven’t got the staff to look at the tapes.

          3. zorro
            January 14, 2013

            Or the CCTV isn’t working or is empty as happened on a large part of the network during the 7/7 bus and tube bombings…..


        3. stred
          January 14, 2013

          My friend and tenant was bashed on the head in Brighton last month after visiting the cash machine, then walking to a pub on the seafront. He woke up 6 hours later in the bike lane minus his money and cards with a big gash. No one helped, even though there were cameras in the area and patrols. He had to take the bus to the hospital, where no one in casualty called the police. He was dazed and , being a Spanish hotel worker, with a degree in tranlation, he did not bother to report the crime. he thinks it would be a waste of time.

        4. Christopher Ekstrom
          January 15, 2013

          I’ll let my Chelsea neighbor know that. As she just had her front door ripped off the hinges in broad daylight & jewelry & car stolen that will be most comforting. Amusingly I witnessed the police rip off another neighbors door in search of a phantom handgun. etc But the SWAT team is always there to harass & perhaps save a politician.

      9. JimF
        January 14, 2013

        There seems to be a good deal of antipathy between the “professionals” and the recently elected Commissioners– either the latter will fall into line or be ostracised, smeared and elsewhere ignored as irrelevant…
        There are I am sure many good policemen but there were also many good citizens, such as Ian Tomlinson, Charles de Menezes, many Liverpool fans and many others…., and frankly I can’t see how the appointment of Commissioners from outside the “Force” will be effective in countering these injustices against innocents in future. Really there has to be a far stronger disciplinary framework against those policemen who are prepared to ignore the law or take into into their own hands.

    2. Single Acts
      January 14, 2013

      Not me.

    3. Disaffected
      January 14, 2013

      So if we accept the premise of this blog, when Douglas Carswell properly put a question to Cameron in parliament about the Sir Humphrey syndrome and was rudely cut off in his arrogant Flashman style, Cameron actually knew that what Carswell was saying was true and his reply was disingenuous, misleading and deceitful to disguise a proper answer to the question. Furthermore, when Cameron says the UK will not leave the EU he says this when he knows the majority of law comes from there and he and his ministers can do precious little about it unless the UK leaves invoking article 50. It also makes clear that he will not be allowed to repatriate any substantive powers back from the EU as it is a guiding principle of the EU that once a power is given it cannot be taken back.

      1. Disaffected
        January 14, 2013

        JR: is this where the gay marriage idea came from ? It was not in a manifesto, Coalition agreement, Queens Speech, consultation sham ie 600,000 people signed a petition to oppose it which was duly ignored by Flashman and it did not enter the arena through any other normal constitutional route? I note large protests in Paris yesterday opposing it. Is this a socialist dictate from the EU to change culture, religion, values and beliefs to break cultural barriers so we become one meaningless EU super state?

        It was also reported that pro European Ken Clarke was working with Peter Mandelson to form some sort of Pro European lobby, is this in conflict with his ministerial role?

        1. lifelogic
          January 14, 2013

          Is this in conflict with his ministerial role?

          Well it certainly is in conflict with the interests of the electorate.

        2. APL
          January 15, 2013

          Disaffected: “It was also reported that pro European Ken Clarke was working with Peter Mandelson … ”

          It’s just like old times, a prominent member of the Conservative party consorting with Labour high command.

          Ken really should just ‘come out’ and cross the floor.

          1. lifelogic
            January 16, 2013

            Clearly being proved wrong in the past is not bar to repeating the mistakes in the future.

      2. zorro
        January 14, 2013

        ‘Now today welfare Ministers find that the EU has considerable influence over benefit eligibility’……What have they been doing and where have they been living for the past few decades?!?!

        ‘Quite often what the government is doing is not to the liking of the Prime Minister.’……..Is this comment supposed to show that he is hopeless or incompetent , or both?


        1. Disaffected
          January 15, 2013

          Absolutely. After all when he was a young adviser to Major/Lamont you would have thought he would have learnt the ropes. Is he slow on the uptake?

          1. lifelogic
            January 16, 2013

            Either that or just interested in his personal (EU?) career and not the UK electorate.

    4. Monty
      January 14, 2013

      Posted January 14, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink
      Indeed – so ministers are not sufficiently in charge…
      It’s worse than that LL.
      Not only do ministers not have control, they don’t even realise that upfront. Their lack of authority is taking them by surprise. The EU, and the civil servants, are running rings around them.

    5. walter b
      January 14, 2013

      If we stay in EU we will not need 630 MP’s

      1. APL
        January 15, 2013

        walter b: “If we stay in EU we will not need 630 MP’s”

        Walter, we’ve been in the EU for forty years, they haven’t abolished themselves yet!

        In fact the role of an MP has become ever more superficial – it isn’t a coincidence that the expense abuse many engage in has become ever more outrageous. And now they are demanding more, 30% more pay – they do not even scrutinize the EU originated laws that are passed by statutory instrument!

        My old school teacher would say, (as she was administering a sound thumping ) ‘the devil finds work for idle hands’.

        1. lifelogic
          January 15, 2013

          Indeed but sections of the state sector never abolish themselves they just invest new parts and find new ways to justify their existence.

    6. stred
      January 14, 2013

      Very interesting programme on BBC2 tonight on why the UK once lead the Industrial Revolution, including a piece on the construction of the Trent Mersey canal by one of my ancestors, James Brindley. A key point was that science and research was not elitist and controlled by the monarchist elites. In France it was. The Ecoles were established and then ruined innovation. This is exactly the policy which the Coalition has been persuaded is right for the UK. The many groups of researchers who have found freedom in the UK and were exploring interesting areas are fighting for their jobs, while the money is being spent on elitist Centres of Exellence.

  2. Brian Taylor
    January 14, 2013

    This is clarification of how we are governed,so unless the PM include some of the above,then brace yourselves for a kicking in the EU election’s.
    Is there any wonder that the electorate are fed up and don’t bother to vote.
    How much of the EU regulation’s would be relevant if we were just member’s of the EEA And EFTA?
    Everybody Email,Tweet and put out on Facebook lets get this Out There!!!

    1. uanime5
      January 14, 2013

      The EEA is made up of Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. The EFTA is made up of the EEA and Switzerland. So there’s no much difference between the two of them.

      Regarding EU laws they have to do the following:

      1) Allow the “four freedoms” of the European Community: the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital.

      2) Enact legislation similar to that passed in the EU in the areas of social policy, consumer protection, environment, company law, and statistics.

      So if the UK joined the EEA we’d still be implementing most of the laws the EU makes, though we wouldn’t have any influence over these laws.

      Reply We need not impose any of the EU laws on domestic and non EU trade, merely on producing goods and services for export to the rest of the EU.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 14, 2013

        Repeated from a few days ago:

        “14 Dec 2012 : Column WA263

        EU: Trade Agreements


        Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

        To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 6 December (WS 76-7) on the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, whether the outcome of the negotiations with Japan, Canada, Singapore and Morocco will require those countries to adopt all the legislation and regulations that apply to countries in the single market.[HL4061]

        The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint):

        It is not the case that as a result of these trade negotiations the countries concerned will have to adopt all the legislation and regulations that apply to EU member states.

        The aim of these negotiations is to eliminate, as far as possible, duties applied to trade in goods and to address non-tariff barriers that affect trade in goods in services – ie rules, regulations and practices that affect market access. Non-tariff barriers can be overcome through a variety of methods. These include the adoption of international rules, mutual recognition of approaches to testing, standards, et cetera, and commitments to end discriminatory practices.”

      2. Mark B
        January 14, 2013

        uanime5 said;

        “The EEA is made up of Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. The EFTA is made up of the EEA and Switzerland. So there’s no much difference between the two of them.”

        That’s not quite correct. The EEA does indeed have those three non-EU countries, but it also has the other 27 member states of the EU in it. And that is by EU law. (see link)


        “So if the UK joined the EEA we’d still be implementing most of the laws the EU makes, though we wouldn’t have any influence over these laws.”

        Not so. (see link below plus excerpt from web page)

        “Decision shaping is the phase of preparatory work undertaken by the European Commission to draw up new legislative proposals. The EEA Agreement contains provisions for input from the EEA EFTA side at various stages before new legislation is adopted. Read more about desicion shaping in this section.”

        When you read this site, and take in so much knowledge that is FACT based, the case for staying in the EU becomes ever more spurious.

      3. David Price
        January 15, 2013

        The underlying basis of the EEA is of equal treatment.

        Reading Norway’s perspective on your point 2 suggests you offer a very one-sided interpretation. The EEA Agreement calls for cooperation on those policy areas not the unquestioning obedience of Norway to EU dikctats which you imply.

        BTW, I believe we already trade with Japan, Singapore and Canada prior to this trade agreement so, I expect the existing arrangements would continue if we did convert, for example, to EEA/EFTA.

  3. alan jutson
    January 14, 2013

    Yes John, read the same report.

    No wonder Mr Hilton Quit with frustration (the reason I believe he gave).

    If Mr Hiltons account is true, and it seems to fit the bill, it confirms what many of us have suspected for years.
    It is the faceless people of the Civil Service who really run the Country.

    13 years of cosy sofa government by Blair and Brown with seemingly little or no control of the civil service (I think Mr Blair admitted to such) had probably given them the opportunity to practise their art.
    I doubt Mr Major had his hand on the pulse either.

    Once again we have failure, because of politicians failure to manage.
    Anyone who has run a business, has employed people, or who manage subcontractors or any sizable project, will know that just telling people what you want is almost pointless, you need to check, and check ,and check again that your instructions are being carried out.
    If you cannot supervise yourself, then you get someone who can, and wqho you trust, to report to you, but you still on occassion go to see how the project is running for yourself.

    So know we know, Mr Cameron has not got a clue (recent statements made on the EU) when it comes to negotiation skills, and seems not to have a clue on how to manage people, no wonder we are in a mess.

    Even a so called PR expert cannot cover the cracks.

    As for Clegg and Miliband as alternatives, words fail me.

    As I posted a couple of years ago, that the government needed an enforcer, I guess they thought Mr Pickles may be the man, but clearly it seems they may need an army of them if the above account is true.

    What a shambles.

    1. lifelogic
      January 14, 2013

      Mr Pickles on the potential new immigration numbers from Bulgaria and Romania said roughly (on BBC tv yesterday) – I have seen some government figures but I am not sure they are right – so I will not tell you what they were. So much for freedom of information.

      My Cameron on today, on the EU this morning was totally pathetic (as was the oversoft BBC interviewer we have come to expect). He has written the speech but said nothing of substance – if he is that mode he might as sell forget his speech, anyway he will not be in power after 2015. He does seem to prefer Norway now to Switzerland for negative comparisons – both are much richer than the UK but fewer have been to Norway to see how much richer for themselves I assume.

      Anything that does not give the UK full control of its borders, its laws, its employment practices, its insurance rules, its banks, its health and safety, its trade round the world, its democracy and countless other things is just pointless. Just leave and negotiate from outside on the very few aspects we do need.

      His doubtless vacuous, evasive, long grass, EU speech will just make it worse. He will surely be beaten by the UKIP in the MEP elections.

      Cameron’s – We really want to stay in the EU but want some powers back – this will negotiate him nothing of any substance at all he clearly is just looking for a PR fig leaf nothing more.

  4. colliemum
    January 14, 2013

    I can see full well why the Daily Telegraph did not want to run your outstanding essay, John, which is a tour-de-force about how our government works and ought to work.

    The take-home message from this is for me – sadly – that change would demand some serious work on the part of Cameron and his Cabinet, and their junior ministers, and it would demand hard work to challenge their civil servants.
    It is of course far easier to say ‘the EU syas you cannot/must do this’ and leave it at that than challenge this premise.
    One wonders how come the French administration is able to disregard or circumvent the EU diktats so easily – and how come our lot is so flaccid about this.
    One wonders why the spirit of Churchill has left so many, so that they actually do give up where the EU is concerned.

    Thank you again for this essay – it’s bookmarked for further reference.

    1. uanime5
      January 14, 2013

      Do you have any examples of the French disregarding or circumventing EU directives? Examples where the ECJ fined France for this and forced them to change their laws don’t count.

      1. stred
        January 14, 2013

        Have you ever lived for a while in France or spoken their language? They take a pride in ignoring stupid laws. So do I.

      2. colliemum
        January 15, 2013

        uanime5 – I respectfully suggest you do your own research, as I am not your research assistant.

    2. Excalibur
      January 15, 2013

      Did ‘The Telegraph’ give a reason for not running the article ?

      Reply “a change in the paper”

  5. Jon
    January 14, 2013

    It is noticeable that the two pro EU parties object to reducing the size of Parliament. The two parties that want to make national government obsolete should be the ones driving that cause.

    Its odd that their leadership is not made up of their MEPs.

    I understand that media companies, papers can get large sums from the EU if they are pro EU.

    1. A different Simon
      January 14, 2013

      Jon ,

      Are you implying that one of the major parties is no pro EU ?

      If so what draws you to that conclusion ?

    2. Manof Kent
      January 14, 2013

      Yes,BBC accounts for last year showed a £50 m loan from the EIB ‘part of the EU family’.

      Now repaid .But I don’t know why they needed it in the first place given their income.

      Watch out for any BBC referendum coverage in the future !

      1. Vanessa
        January 14, 2013

        They get this and more most years from the EU. If you type into Google BBC and EU funding it comes up. Most are called “loans” but as long as the BBC is a good little boy and says nothing against the EU, it does not have to repay them. Nice, if you can get it, though totally ILLEGAL and against their ROYAL CHARTER.

        1. lifelogic
          January 14, 2013

          Is there not a new recent bribery law that might apply here – or a some anti-subversion of democracy laws?

          1. zorro
            January 14, 2013
        2. Manof Kent
          January 14, 2013

          Vanessa-thanks for the link !

        3. Excalibur
          January 15, 2013

          I have a suspicion that the Telegraph has been similarly ‘bought’.

  6. Andyvan
    January 14, 2013

    Weak leadership is the core problem. If Dave wants to run the government then he needs to crack the whip. If he wants to stop the flow of Brussels regulation there is a very easy way to do it, call a referendum and campaign for an “Out” vote. He could announce a date in the autumn and if the Lib Dems and EU drones in the Tory party object call an election and run the campaign on the issue. He’s get a big majority and the problem would be solved – no more EU law.
    Grow a pair Dave.

    1. uanime5
      January 14, 2013

      At a time when the economy is doing badly no one will vote for a politician who campaigns on an issue which will not fix the economy, will increase uncertainty, and will reduce investment by companies.

    2. Bazman
      January 14, 2013

      Pools seem to say that if an in out referendum was held then we would stay in. What would you do then to have us leave the EU?

  7. Mike Stallard
    January 14, 2013

    I want to thank you for taking the time to prepare all this.
    Actually it confirms what we knew – but never talked about – already.
    Silly old Telegraph (being an OAP I read it….)

    1. Manof Kent
      January 14, 2013

      Quite agree-excellent article .

      I can think of at least two other articles I would have deleted in favour of JR.

      As for Mary Riddell on Wed- what’s the point of her ?

      1. Mike Stallard
        January 14, 2013

        And they pinched the idea for their leader too!
        I am so glad I am not in politics!

        1. APL
          January 14, 2013

          Mike Stallard: “I am so glad I am not in politics!”

          If you were, Mike, you probably wouldn’t find it necessary to ‘tighten your belt’, as your very handsome tax funded pension would be index linked.

          I also noted it was reported recently a majority of MPs thought they are underpaid, and Tory MPs seemed to think they were underpaid by £30,000 pa!

          Talk about chutzpa! Or perhaps hubris?

      2. lifelogic
        January 14, 2013

        Or Boris’s article pushing for yet more hugely expensive, tax payer subsidised and loss making railway lines in the DT today. Any excuse to waste others money disrupt or steal their properties and make life more convenient for politicians on expense accounts.

  8. A different Simon
    January 14, 2013

    The EU itself is essentially government by civil service ; unelected professionals .

    I’d like to know how much “cooperation” there is between UK civil servants and their counterparts on the continent .

    1. uanime5
      January 14, 2013

      The EU is run by elected MEPs, not civil servants.

      Also the UK is also run by an unelected House of Lords; unelected wealthy.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 14, 2013

        Oh dear.

      2. lifelogic
        January 14, 2013

        If you believe that you will believe anything.

        1. APL
          January 14, 2013

          lifelogic: “If you believe that you will believe anything.”

          You shouldn’t be surprised LL, uanime5 also worships at the AGW shrine.

      3. A.Sedgwick
        January 14, 2013


      4. libertarian
        January 14, 2013

        Ha ha ha run by elected MEP’s…right oh

      5. Bob
        January 14, 2013


        The EU Parliament is just a rubber stamping operation, and the legislation is ushered through virtually without scrutiny in batches by a bunch of payroll button pushers the majority of which would not dare challenge anything emanating from the commissars.

  9. A different Simon
    January 14, 2013

    The Conservative party won’t survive the imminent arrival of 4 million Bulgarians and Romanians .

    It will be banished to irrelevance for eternity .

    There is no obligation under law to let them in if they are unable to provide for themselves financially , is there ?

    Time Parliament started to put the interests of the people it is elected and paid to represent first .

    Reply: I will write about this tomorrow. Unlikely to be 4 million.

    1. A different Simon
      January 14, 2013

      John , thanks , look forward to tomorrows installment .

      Given the populations of those countries I accept that 4 million is most likely a childish exaggeration on my part .

      I think I detect an attitude within the HOC that there are not that many more countries of the EU (or joining the EU) left whose citizens will acquire rights of settlement in the UK .

      I get the impression that parliament thinks it is easier to just brazen through these last remaining countries and hope that the problem of mass immigration eventually tails off of it’s own accord than to confront the issue .

      Yet again the representatives we have elected have overestimated the countries and indigenous populations carrying capacity .

      The lifeboats really are full .

    2. Bob
      January 14, 2013

      “Unlikely to be 4 million. “

      Do you mean it’s going to be more than 4 million?

      1. Bazman
        January 14, 2013

        All that cheap labour Bob. I bet you can’t wait? Abolish the minimum wage drastically cut benefits and let the UK low grade workers battle it out to live like a Romanian. Job done. Except they won’t and nor should they.

    3. Sue
      January 14, 2013

      The amount won’t really matter. Immigration is a very sensitive subject amongst the existing English population. You will almost certainly lose the election because of it.

      1. Iain Gill
        January 14, 2013


        1. Deborah
          January 14, 2013

          Unfair though it may be because “labour started it”, if the Tories don’t limit the influx from Bulgaria and Romania they will pay dearly at the next election. Voters are tightening their belts and they absolutely do NOT want to see more jobs and welfare payments going to another wave of immigrants.

          1. Electro-Kevin
            January 15, 2013

            Labour didn’t start it. The Tories did under Major.

    4. zorro
      January 14, 2013

      Don’t forget about all the Moldovans who are acquiring Romanian citizenship…..


  10. Liz
    January 14, 2013

    A great puzzle is why, if those who consider the EU such a wonderful thing, they go to such lengths to disguise the fact that most of our laws are imposed by Brussels. This ultimately means the demise of British democracy – just why do they wish to destroy this and why do those who have power want to give it away to unelected foreign nationals? It is something that has never been fully discussed and you would think if it was something they fully supported they would shout it from the rooftops instead of this hole in the corner deceit. I am very surprised that the Daily Telegraph seems to support this and even more surpised that they did not run this article. I am glad I am able to read it here.

    1. uanime5
      January 14, 2013

      The purpose of the EU is to make it easier to live and work throughout the EU by harmonising all the legal systems. Something that won’t destroy democracy because the new legal system is decided by democracy.

      Your hatred of the EU doesn’t change the fact that MEPs are elected.

      1. Henry
        January 14, 2013

        Oh dear! The frightening thing is that unanime5 actuallly believes what he is saying!

        Of course the MEPs are elected, so are MPs, but as has been stated, they still don’t run their respective governments, do they?

      2. lifelogic
        January 14, 2013

        MEPs are indeed elected but –

        1. They have no Demos with common interests, languages, understandings and cultures.
        2 They have no real power anyway.

        They are an expensive fake democratic veneer, kept in line by high pay, pensions and special tax rules.

      3. Martyn
        January 14, 2013

        Elected to do what? Mainly, from what I have observed is simply rubber-stamp the directives of the EU commission. If the EU parliament had any wits, real authority, power, call it what you will it would long ago have created a firestorm over the sclerotic functioning of the so-called democratic systems by insisting that proper account procedures and certified audits were implemented.
        Those honest people who have tried to do just that by highlighting corruption, dishonesty and sheer waste of our money have been hounded out of office or threatened with criminal prosecution. On the one occasion when the EU parliament showed any backbone and in effect sacked the EU commissioners, they all stayed in place and carried on as before. Democratic or what? I do not hate, as you suggest, the EU as a whole but object very strongly to the way it has removed democracy from our governance becuse of the ineptitude and complacency of our own Parliament. In short, I blame us for what has and what will happen and not, per se the EU.

      4. stred
        January 14, 2013

        By about 10% of the electorate.

  11. Bill
    January 14, 2013

    Thanks for this, John.

    Does the same kind of process occur in other European countries? Do Germany or France end up implementing legislation from Brussels by putting it through their own machinery or do they have other methods that allow them to pick and choose or to kick stuff they don’t want into the long grass? It seems crazy that we now have a kind of zombie parliament running at the behest of the grey-suited men in Brussels.

    Reply: they all have to “transpose” Directives into domestic law.

    1. nicol sinclair
      January 14, 2013

      JR: “Reply: they all have to “transpose” Directives into domestic law.”

      But do they? I have the view that the French simply ignore what they do not agree with…

  12. stred
    January 14, 2013

    There was a large protest in Paris yesterday against their proposed law for gay marriage and adoption. Is it possible that this too is an EU directive?

    The current obsession with sexuality with regard to religion, women bishops, marriage, and celibate married gay bishops may all be EU inspired and settled at a high level of the elite at meetings in posh places. Who knows?

    etc etc

  13. matthu
    January 14, 2013

    And now we hear about ruinous contracts for off-shore wind farms that guarantee returns of 10-11% for 20 years to power companies even if no power is actually delivered to households.

    “Under the terms of the contracts the companies are guaranteed an RPI inflation linked income for 20 years regardless of how much the infrastructure is used.

    The estimated returns of 10-11 per cent on the initial licences “look extremely generous given the limited risks”, the MPs said.”

    the deal was apparently agreed by labour but implemented by the Coalition government, so nobody can pass the buck here.

    Did this deal receive proper scrutiny in parliament? Would the same deal be passed today? Because I can’t remember any MPs raising concerns in parliament about the generosity of this scheme.

    Is this corruption or incompetence? Asleep at the wheel or finger in the pie?

  14. backofanenvelope
    January 14, 2013

    I worked in Whitehall for 7 years. The civil servants are addicted to lethargy. And the leadership at lower levels is non-existant.

    Apparently, both Cameron and Blair have said that “Yes Minister” is a documentary. Why then, when they came into office, did they not take precautions? The only man who seems prepared to take them on is Michael Gove.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    January 14, 2013

    Today the Prime Minister said on ITV’s Daybreak: “There’s too much interference, too much bossiness from Brussels and we need to deal with that”. What hope is there, given Hilton’s revelations? As usual, your excellent comments are constructive but will be ignored. I have said before that the calibre of the two frontbenches is poorer than any I can remember; perhaps that is why they are so happy to allow the EU to take over the government of our country – they are just incapable. Yet there are capable and talented people langushing on the backbenches. I don’t expect anything to change, as Cameron has shown that he is neither a leader nor a manager but enjoys a good sound bite, just like his mentor Blair.

  16. stred
    January 14, 2013

    Listening to the PRM interviewed on Today earlier, he kicked any possibility of a referendum on the EU way down the road, while trying to sound as though he favoured the idea. Then he extolled the virtues of the proposed increase in the state pension without having to qualify through means tests. He said he did not want to “pull the wool” for existing pensioners or those age 63+ (with any savings or home owners), as they will not be getting it and will stay on the basic pension- the lowest in Europe. Peter Hitchens recently told Question Time viewers that David Cameron “hates” traditional conservative voters. I have come to the conclusion that he is right. Most of them certainly hate him by now.

  17. Deborah
    January 14, 2013

    An excellent article.

    I gave up buying the Telegraph because it now seems to fill its pages with pap rather than include incisive and informative articles.

    Similarly I have given up voting Conservative because the leadership seems to focus on obscure issues and social engineering and insists on treating the electorate like mushrooms.

    Although you rightly say “Mr Cameron’s forthcoming speech is a big opportunity to explain to the country just how much of our government now comes from Brussels.” we all know he is unlikely to do so.

    Sadly, we do not have a government anymore – just a bunch of people who sit in meetings and appear on TV, pretending to be important.

  18. Mike Wilson
    January 14, 2013

    Why are we being treated with such complete contempt by Cameron? Prior to the 2010 election he promised us a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. It had already been signed by the shadow (Gordon Brown) by the time Cameron and the Coalition came to power.

    He should have given us a referendum THEN on the Lisbon treaty. If the UK people had said ‘No’, he would have had a strong negotiating hand in saying to the EU ‘the British people are not up for this any more, we need to renegotiate our relationship with the EU’.

    But, no, he backed down as soon as he was in power.

    And now, his own supporters clamour for a referendum. People are deserting the Conservative party in droves and into the loving embrace of Nigel Farage.

    The consequence will be a Labour victory in 2015 which will give them the chance to finish the country off.

    I think it is highly likely an in/out referendum will result in an ‘in’ vote. If it doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying by the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties.

    It is time for LEADERSHIP. Cameron needs to announce an in/out referendum. An ‘in’ majority but with a significant ‘out’ minority will strengthen his hand and, finally, lay this issue to rest. If he does that, the drift to UKIP will stop. Eurosceptics will have to admit we are staying in and return to the Conservative party.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am no fan of the Conservative party. But in our inane political system, the Conservative party is marginally better than Labour or the Liberals.

    Reply: Conservatives promised a referendum on Lisbon prior to its ratification, and voted for one in the Commons. There was no offer of a referendum after Lisbon came into effect, no offer of one in the 2010 Manifesto.

    1. JimF
      January 14, 2013

      Reply to reply
      Your Libdem cousins offered an in-out referendum and any serious-minded Conservative PM going into coalition with them could have taken that at face value and put it into the coalition agreement. The fact that this didn’t happen is evidence of a conspiracy of coalition between the Libdems who can blow with the wind anyway and Crew Cameron who says/implies one thing pre-election and then does another afterwards.

  19. Peter van Leeuwen
    January 14, 2013

    As a foreigner, I won’t claim to completely understand British politics, but as I see it Cameron’s position is weakening.
    Why doesn’t he call UKIP’s bluff by announcing a straight IN/OUT referendum before the 2015 elections? He will have to win it of course, but he has powerful friends and faced with a straight in/out choice, people don’t tend to vote for change. After establishing who is the boss, also in his own party (and making good on his cast iron – becomes jelly promise), then, after the referendum he may side with the “fresh start” group and work for a new relationship with the EU, which has to be defined anyway because of changes to come within the EU/eurozone. If that doesn’t lead to a satisfactory solution over time, there is still the article 50 procedure, for which doesn’t require a referendum but just a vote in parliament.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 14, 2013

      It’s an interesting theoretical constitutional question whether or not the UK government would require Parliamentary approval before it gave notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU under Article 50 TEU.

      Brown slunk off to Lisbon and signed a new EU treaty as an exercise of Royal Prerogative, without first seeking Parliamentary approval; it was only later that Parliamentary approval was needed before the UK could finally ratify that treaty.

      Arguably by the same token Cameron could put in the Article 50 notice as an exercise of Royal Prerogative, without even telling Parliament before he did it.

      Then anybody who wanted to impede and delay our withdrawal could arrange for a complaint to the ECJ that the UK’s decision to withdraw had not been taken “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, and even if in the end their case was dismissed as lacking any substance they could succeed in getting the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal agreement suspended for months while their legitimacy was sub judice, in the hope that there’d be a change of UK government before the withdrawal process could be completed …

      But it is only a theoretical question, and will remain so if Cameron gets his way.

      Reply Of course a PM doing this needs the actual or implied consent of Parliament. If he decided to do it without Parliamentary approval in a vote, the Opposition could table a motion and force a vote, or backbenchers could manage to force a vote if they thought a majority was against the PM.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 14, 2013

        But once the government has done it under Royal Prerogative it’s done, even if MPs vote against it after it’s been done, and even if they bring down the government; and Article 50 is silent on what would happen if either the same or a new government tried to rescind the notice.

        However I don’t expect it to happen, with or without the actual or implied consent of Parliament, unless Cameron finds himself cornered and left with no possible alternative.

    2. ian wragg
      January 14, 2013

      My friend Naffi van Driver commences his blog with …as a foreigner ( foreigner to which country may I ask?).
      Is this the new insider thinking, get an in/out referendum before the election so all and sundry can bombard the electorate with scare stories before (many) Romanis and Bulgars sign on for benefits.
      I would be very interested to find out just who Peter realloy was.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        January 14, 2013

        @ian wragg: I’ve given lots of personal details some blogs ago. Feel free to take your turn.

  20. Atlas
    January 14, 2013

    … Ah, what you say, John, is all too true. I think the most important part for us the voters, is to know what can we effectively do about it – given the pro EU stance of many of the MPs (in safe seats), which you advise us is the situation.

  21. oldtimer
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you for a really valuable insight into the workings of HMG at the top. The contrast between the Thatcher government and the coalition is all too obvious. Cameron, and presumably to a lesser extent Clegg, must take responsibility for this. It suggests either ignorance of how, or simple inability, to control a really large organisation where it is all too easy to be controlled by events or by agendas set by others. In your opinion, does the fact of a coalition government make the task harder? If so why, given the detailed agenda that was negotiated at the start? As an outside observer, it seems to me that some Ministers have a grip on their departments and others do not. Is this a fair comment? In my own past contacts with civil servants one once confided that they quickly spotted Ministers who indeed had grip and those they could manipulate.

    The other aspect you mention is the extensive use of statutory instruments. This seems to be the ideal instrument of control for the elective dictorship, as Quentin Hogg once described our political system many years ago. I cannot recall if SIs were used in those days. Their use to pass EU directives into law must be a dream come true for the EUrocracy, our Civil Service as well as for Ministers – it saves so much trouble. From time to time there have been murmurings about Parliamentary review of EU laws before their implementation. Has this got anywhere or is it going anywhere?

    The state of affairs you describe makes a compelling, irresistable case for the review of our EU relationships we are promised and for a referendum on the outcome of any negotiations that may ensue – if indeed they do.

  22. Neil Craig
    January 14, 2013

    The purpose of the maqinstream media seems to be to cocoon the public from news rather than provide it> I could easily name a dozen major news stories the MSM simply will not print. I can see why they didn’t want to do yours which, without rancour, shows Mr Cameron is a PR man simply not up to government.

  23. Bazman
    January 14, 2013

    I would not take anything this (former adviser) says seriously.
    One Whitehall source said: “When Hilton was at Downing Street he stopped coming to grid meetings, so that may be why he didn’t know what was happening. an undermining of the central planning process by the people who should have led it.”
    Google ‘Steve Hilton Policy Generator’ It ain’t far from the truth.

  24. Wilko
    January 14, 2013

    ‘Run’ seems an action unsuited to describing No 10 performance. Limp with the dragging weight of nonsense may be more apt.

    Maybe even the fascia needs cleaning up. Decades ago, buildings in the City, such as the Bank of England, appeared black, owing to the constant build-up of grime. The colour difference after cleaning revealed a stark transformation. Downing Street was fairly recently maintained, although stone cleaning might have been omitted.

    Perhaps, under the surface, a much cleaner, fresher image of No 10 may be hiding, such as yellow London Brick. If it is, and grime is removed, the clear fresh image could be a spur to transformation & brighter things happening inside.

  25. Rebecca Hanson
    January 14, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this article John.

    I agree – this government needs be clear about which powers it does not want Brussels to have and which it does.

    I also agree that we should be able to scrutinise everything and appreciate your description of the challenges in achieving understanding of the potential impact of policy.

    For those interested in policy reforms during the 1980s and in particular in reforms to the unions and employment policy, I strongly recommend this book which is a clear and enjoyable read. Too many current politicians have worryingly little understanding of our recent history.

  26. forthurst
    January 14, 2013

    So 70% of the time, Parliament is enacting legislation concocted by civil ‘servants’.

    What do we know about the civil servants in Brussels? Who are they? What nationalities do they belong to? Do they have a particular bias against certain countries, e.g. the UK? Do they have an overriding agenda promulgated through a ‘Common Purpose’ type network? How many are purely interested in their own national interest? How many are hostile to any national interest because they belong to an international group without any national loyalty in Europe?
    Why are they constantly pushing concepts like ‘gay marriage’, the ‘global warming hoax’ etc, which are designed to undermine us economically and culturally?

    (I have posted your article on the DT in their own leading article comments no the same inssue and will of course take down if instructed).

  27. David Saunders
    January 14, 2013

    Overheard during a heated discsssion between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary.

    David Cameron: Who is running this country?
    Sir Jeremy Heywood: I am.
    Cameron: Thank goodness for that. I thought it was my job.

  28. Bob
    January 14, 2013

    “Now today welfare Ministers find that the EU has considerable influence over benefit eligibility, ensuring that recently arrived migrants from the rest of the EU do receive the same benefits as people long settled here who have been paying Income Tax and National Insurance over many years.”

    So this is why the British are having their property confiscated to pay for care of the elderly. It amounts to nothing less than an EU raid on our savings, to bring the country to it’s knees and make it ripe for subjugation.

    The British only have themselves to blame, they voted for the very people that brought it about, the Tories and Labour.

  29. Muddyman
    January 14, 2013

    Whilst sympathising with your, and your other MP’s , with similar views, I still do not understand why you do not actively work to remove this obnoxious PM. The Conservative Party will wither away if you do not ACT!.

  30. Bob
    January 14, 2013

    “Statutory Instruments are now widely used to implement Brussels law. This short process avoids too much public gaze of just how much of our law is EU derived, and prevents most of it ever becoming a matter of political or Parliamentary dispute. Labour is especially reluctant to oppose measures which emanate from Brussels. None of the three main parties in opposition have wished to highlight the vast array of new law that is EU based. Coalition Ministers have continued with Labour’s practice of putting this all through in Statutory Instruments, and playing it down as much as possible. The press have gone along with this, rarely bothering to report the new laws coming out from this process.”

    And why do you think that they like to “play it down” Mr Redwood?

  31. Pleb
    January 14, 2013

    The EU is a forth richt.

    1. Dave Bush
      January 14, 2013

      Is this some sort of Scottish thing?

      1. Wonky Moral Compass
        January 15, 2013

        Doubt it. Calling the EU the fourth reich might be seen, by some, as offensive though.

  32. Terry
    January 14, 2013

    Spoken like a proper Minister. However, in your day, we had a proper leader and a proper Prime Minister. Very unlike the recent batch who lack the knowledge, experience and British spirit to take charge or our destiny.

    If Cameron does not let the British people decide their destiny then he definitely is not fit for our purpose.

  33. Leslie Singleton
    January 14, 2013

    Why we should have given up any political control to Brussels is beyond the ken of a majority of us now and as for the ridiculously OTT 40% you mention that is simply preposterous. The whole EU deserves to collapse under its own self-regard and over-reactive idiocy.

    Tell me again, someone, why it is unreasonable of us to maintain our independence off the coast of a (inchoate) new country called the Continent under something like Nafta.

    Why are we and Europe held to be so different from other continents? Apparently, in all seriousness, the answer (because there is nothing else) seems to be that it is solely because of the large number of countries on the Continent but I do not follow the logic. Why should our dealing with Brussels now be any different from dealing with the capital (also Brussels?) of the new country. It will not be long before the new country is a reality and even the EUphiliacs must surely understand that the UK will not be joining it so let’s pre-empt all that and get out now. I liked Roger Bootle’s article today, especially his asking why Latin American countries aren’t clamouring for political amalgamation. As he correctly says, many of us have come to loathe the EU.

    And I did like Unanime5’s bit the other day in response to my little effort on Assets and (bigger) Liabilities meaning the EU has a Negative Net Worth. I was of course referring to Assets and Liabilities as they affect the UK so her assertion that the Assets must outweigh the Liabilities “because otherwise they [on the Continent) wouldn’t be keeping the Euro” was way off target.

  34. Alan Wheatley
    January 14, 2013

    Having nodded in agreement point by point, the surprise came in the last line! But then, I suppose, why the surprise; its the media. So their loss is our gain.

  35. Vanessa
    January 14, 2013

    Well, what a surprise! Sometime ago MPs had full-time jobs and only “ran” this country in the evening and some weekends. Now the EU “runs” this country they are full-time MPs and are incapable of getting anything valuable done except implement the EU’s Directives.
    Their time, as we know, is spent sending nasty little emails to each other, to the media and to the police or should that be entertaining or “getting into bed” with other institutions. Is this honestly what we pay you £63,000 a year for?

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      January 14, 2013

      Haven’t you heard? They want a 32% pay rise on their current £65,738 to take them to £86,250, as they don’t think we pay them enough!

      1. Electro-Kevin
        January 15, 2013

        Brian – No. It isn’t enough. Not in a functional democracy.

        Though if we’re going to be ruled from Brussels and outsource MPs work then why shouldn’t the political class go the same way as the miners or steel workers ?

        We are continually told there need to be savings after all.

        1. APL
          January 16, 2013

          Electro-Kevin: “No. It isn’t enough. Not in a functional democracy. ”

          We are not a functional democracy.

          £90K might be justified if we were to discontinue all the other perks; expenses, communications allowance, short money and devolve the salary obligation to the local constituency – to show up on the council tax – just like the police precept.

          Finally, if the politicians had driven us to eternal prosperity and full employment – then, I’d consider rewarding them with a pay rise – now, just as employment is falling, the economy is bankrupt, the public finances are still in a shambles. Not a cat’s chance in hell do any one of ’em deserve a pay rise.

  36. uanime5
    January 14, 2013

    I’d say the problem with politics is that MPs are chosen because they will vote for their party, not because they have useful skills; and are promoted to ministers based on internal politics, rather than skill. As a result you have inept minister who are simply not capable of running their departments. So in these cases having Brussels or Civil Servants running these departments is more effective than having them run by MPs who have no idea what they’re doing.

    It may be helpful if every Government department has a minister who’s role is to understand the EU and International laws relevant to this department so they can advice the secretary regarding which areas they have discretion over.

    If Cameron is going to ask for new relationship let’s hope that it’s a realistic one, rather than a fantasy where the UK has full access to the single market without having to obey EU laws. I expect the EU will respond to any demand made by Cameron and let the UK know where a referendum on this issue will be pointless.

    Also those who are unemployed are more unhappy than those in minimum wage jobs and there are very few households where several generations don’t work, even in the poorest areas of the UK. By I don’t expect that reality will change the Conservatives condemnation of “scroungers”.

  37. Alan Wheatley
    January 14, 2013

    One of the problems of employing civil servants to legislate is that they inevitably like legislation, and the more of it the better. After all their careers depend on it.

    The political situation is different. In this case there is underlying desire to be seen to be doing something. Would it be possible for a Minister to survive by not introducing any legislation on the grounds that things are just fine as they are?

    The politics are distorted by the word “radical”, so much so that it has lost any useful meaning. There may be occasions when something new does need to be radical, but the presentation is now such that the adverb “radical” is seen as equivalent to “best”; the reverse can be the case.

    I think we have long passed the situation where the public can absorb all the new legislation and all the consequences that stem from it. It must be a lot worse for small businesses.

    Legislation is definitely a case of better not more.

  38. Denis Cooper
    January 14, 2013

    Apart from EU Directives there are the much more numerous Regulations, many of which by-pass Parliament altogether, and Decisions plus non-binding Recommendations and Opinions.

    That’s explained in Article 288 TFEU starting on page 171 here:

    “To exercise the Union’s competences, the institutions shall adopt regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions.

    A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

    A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.

    A decision shall be binding in its entirety. A decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed shall be binding only on them.

    Recommendations and opinions shall have no binding force.”

    As to how these EU laws take effect in the UK, here’s a useful, carefully worded, answer from 2002:.

    “Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many legislative measures have been enacted in the UK to implement European Union legislation in each year since 1992. [86478]

    Mr. MacShane: It would entail disproportionate cost to research and compile the number of legislative measures enacted each year in the UK directly implementing EC legislation.

    17 Dec 2002 : Column 756W

    The picture is complicated. Some EC measures are directly applicable in the member states. Others require incorporation into national law. This is sometimes done by legislation, but on other occasions by administrative means. In yet other situations, domestic legislation which is being amended for other purposes, may also incorporate changes to reflect EU directives. This makes it extremely difficult to determine how many legislative measures have been introduced in the UK as a result of EC measures.”

    As to the proportion of our new laws that are imposed by the EU, in October 2010 the House of Commons Library produced a Research Paper entitled “How much legislation comes from Europe?”, which can be downloaded here:

    From that report it would appear that the average is about 47%, but I doubt that they’ve captured the full impact of ECJ case law, and it should also be recognised that even where the EU does not yet have control over our laws it can still have considerable influence.

    1. oldtimer
      January 14, 2013

      Thank you for that description of the differences between binding regulations, directives and decisions and the non binding recommendations and opinions. I was quite unaware of the significance of these several categories of the EU`s competencies awarded by treaties over the years. It surely covers more than 50% of laws and regulations in the UK.

  39. Andy
    January 14, 2013

    Is it just me? I have voted Tory all my life , however since Cameron became our leader there appears to be a lot of talking and promises but very little action. More and more I hear ‘ we believe in this, we believe in that , we will do this. I make note of this , but on most occasions Cameron does nothing and then moves on to another gimmicky speech. I am afraid like many of my friends, I am beginning to to tire of all this hot air and am seriously considering a voting for UKIP at the next election.

    1. Jon Burgess
      January 14, 2013

      Don’t consider any longer. Leave to sinking ship and move on to a party that actually supports conservative principles.
      They lost me at Maastrict.

    2. APL
      January 15, 2013

      Andy: “however since Cameron became our leader there appears to be a lot of talking and promises but very little action. ”

      To be fair to Cameron, while he supports the EU – and he has announced just a day or so ago that he does – he really has no other course of action. As Redwood says much of the legislation that passes through Parliament is really only endorsing and transposing EU directives into UK law – it isn’t even optional while we are a member of the EU.

      Add to that, much if not the majority of legislative areas are ‘occupied fields’ that is policy areas where it has been conceded that the EU has the authority to legislate.

      In short, our MPs are sitting there demanding a 30% pay rise but twiddling their thumbs.

      Personally, I don’t think that is acceptable!

  40. nicol sinclair
    January 14, 2013

    “The EU has become an important impediment to Mr Hilton and his like minded Ministers because it now regularly stops Ministers doing what they wish in big areas of domestic policy.”

    So. Let’s just tell Brussels to bugger off. Moderate me if you will…

  41. Demetrius
    January 14, 2013

    Printing/publishing your article. Hooray for the web, it was both interesting and informative. Given that in effect the previous government abolished and replaced the old Civil Service we should no longer assume that Civil Service legislation has much to do with good government.

  42. Bert Young
    January 14, 2013

    Your article clearly points out the futility of letting someone else run your affairs . Any Chief Executive answerable to his Board and Shareholders would take matters in hand and put an action programme in place to correct things and to say clearly what he is doing . In desperation he could act first without bothering to explain what his intentions are ( like the French expelling the Romas from Lyon ). If DC had worldly experience under his belt , he would not have allowed the present situation to have happened ; as it is he now has the embarrassing task of making a speech about it and then embarking on a campaign of persuasion . I don’t see how he can achieve this without a follow up “In Out” referendum .

  43. Alan Wheatley
    January 14, 2013

    As to the implementation of EU Law, take eggs. The situation, as I understand it, is as follows.

    The EU introduced new regulations for how egg-laying hens were to be kept in cages that came into force at the beginning of 2012. UK egg producers swallowed the capital costs of converting to the better welfare cages, as reported, for instance, on BBC Countryfile.

    Come 2102 other countries in the EU who were still producing eggs in the now illegal conditions, and therefore at lower cost, continued to export them to the UK. The UK were told they had no powers to stop these illegal imports under threat of action by the Commission.

  44. Gwen Tanner
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you so much for allowing us to read the article ‘How to run number 10’. I am astounded at all the information contained therein, but can’t say I am that surprised at the laissez faire way they run our government of the day. Perhaps we should put it on DC’s desk, so that he knows many thousands (hopefully millions) have read it and also let the Daily Telegraph know that where they failed you came up trumps!

    Thank you again John Redwood!

  45. peter davies
    January 14, 2013

    Its along what I suspected but its good to hear from the horses mouth. Basically Westminster has become a ‘Vichy’ govt. Do as your told and even the PM doesn’t know what is going on.

    If we have Milliband were in trouble, Cameron needs to get this referendum out there.

  46. margaret brandreth-j
    January 14, 2013

    A few things which I am not clear on. If more EU laws are bing made, surely as a new law arises a new veto is allowed( as democracy needs to take into consideration future developments) or has an all- laws clause been signed which denies us a right to forbid ssubservience to new legislation?
    I actually was not in awe of Mrs Thatchers changes as I could forsee our national power being weakened as individuals and private companies tend to fight for themselves , the state should fight for its nation. I was also a casualty of how the private firms could be swept off their feet by illegal means without recompense. The criminals won! But who are the criminals John ? the ones who execute the law? The ones who are a law unto themselves because they have legal power? or the ones who with a bias towards a certain set of circumstances can pass bills.?
    Many of us watched the ‘House of Cards’ and thought yes it could be based on reality ..even that was naive..corruption is even deeper set and open to the influences of wider churches.

  47. Denis Cooper
    January 14, 2013

    “Mr Cameron’s forthcoming speech is a big opportunity to explain to the country just how much of our government now comes from Brussels.”

    I feel sure that he’s done that before, years ago, and moreover promised that he’d do something about it.

    “He needs to set out how he would like in future to regain more control over how we do govern our own country.”

    I feel sure that he’s also done that before, years ago, but without ever explaining how he can possibly reconcile a solemn treaty commitment to a process of “ever closer union”, which he firmly supports, with a desire to move in the opposite direction by taking back control, or how he is going to persuade all the governments of the other EU member states to agree with the EU treaty changes that he claims to want.

    I’d say that on January 22nd when Mr Cameron gives his speech to a foreign audience in the Netherlands that would be an opportunity to tell them that he’s decided we back home must have a referendum on the fundamental, in fact existential, question, of whether we want to continue further with that process of “ever closer union”, and that therefore he intends to ask Parliament to order just such a referendum to provide him with a clear mandate BEFORE he embarks on any negotiations with the governments of the other EU countries.

    1. Deborah
      January 14, 2013

      I’d agree

    2. Peter van Leeuwen
      January 14, 2013

      @Denis Cooper: On Dutch sites there is a message that Cameron will give his speech this Friday (18/1) in the Hague (my birth town).
      Of course he’s very welcome. Is this going to be open to the public? Can we ask questions? Are you coming over Denis? (your prime-minister may need your support 🙂 )

      1. Jon Burgess
        January 14, 2013

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s closed to the public – can’t have any plebs getting that close to our glorious leader, after all.

        If you do get in, by all means ask him how he can square Denis’ circle of ever closer union with the repatriation of powers and see if you can see a spark of an independent and intelligent thought behind his eyes.

        My guess is you won’t.

    3. Alan Wheatley
      January 14, 2013

      Denis, you do not say what choices the voters would have in the referendum. But in any event I do not see anything other than IN/OUT being of any benefit.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 15, 2013

        As I’ve said before, a referendum with something like this printed on the ballot paper:

        “”Under the present treaties of the European Union the United Kingdom is committed to a process of “ever closer union” with the other countries in the European Union.

        Do you wish the United Kingdom to continue further with this process of “ever closer union”?”

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 15, 2013

          To be clear, that would be for the pre-negotiation mandate referendum, which should be held as soon as possible, eg this autumn.

  48. David John Wilson
    January 14, 2013

    This is a very strong argument for less ministeral involvement in European Legislatio except in its actual mplementation. Once Europe has passed the legislation there is no reason why the UK parliament and its ministers needs to get further involved trying to modify it unless the are options in the legislation that need to be expanded upon.

    It is time that the UK government accepted that it is subservient to Europe on many matters and stopped trying exert further influence and changes after the legislation has been passed. The European government is OUR government and should be accepted as such, not questioned and second guessed on everything it agrees to implement.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 14, 2013

      Very funny.

      But I don’t remember ever being asked whether I wanted my country to be run by a “European government” in the future, maybe the time is overdue for some kind of referendum on that?

    2. Brian Tomkinson
      January 14, 2013

      David John Wilson,
      I don’t suppose you think there is much point in us electing members of parliament either.

    3. P O Pensioner
      January 14, 2013

      David John Wilson
      Posted January 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      David – Is this a serious contribution to the debate or are you trying to wind us all up?

    4. Jon Burgess
      January 14, 2013

      Maybe none of your family fought for Britain during the last century, but if they did, they are well and truly spinning in their graves.

      I’m hoping that’s a wind up, otherwise things really do look bleak.

  49. Electro-Kevin
    January 14, 2013

    I don’t like his use of the term ‘Mr Slippery’ but otherwise …

    On a personal level I think Tories are far more likeable people than Labourites – it’s their wide-eyed lies and hypocrisy that I can’t stand.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      January 14, 2013

      The impending influx of Romanians and Bulgarians – in time for 2015 – could well be the end of the Tory party.

      1. JimF
        January 14, 2013

        and the making of UKIP 🙂

      2. Jon Burgess
        January 14, 2013

        Let’s bl**dy well hope so.

  50. Rebecca Hanson
    January 14, 2013

    If MPs want to run the country, why are they letting Michael Gove appoint his non-elected friends to ministerial positions in the DFE?

    Reply Most Ministers in the DFE are elected MPs when I last looked.

    1. Rebecca Hanson
      January 14, 2013

      It was reported that John Nash was appointed to be a minister last week.

      He’s a director at the Centre for Policy Studies. Their ‘expert’ work in education is ludicrously bad.

  51. a-tracy
    January 14, 2013

    Which EU countries have much more generous state pensions than ours? Are EU citizens freely able to move and claim the most generous benefits wherever they choose to settle without homes or jobs?

    I thought our state pensions came after a 44 year contribution record. I thought people without any contributions didn’t generate a state pension, unless they were in the married couple agreement where the female got half from her husbands contributions but this was stopped years ago.

    Or do we just pay pension credits to everyone else at a similar rate?

  52. The PrangWizard
    January 14, 2013

    “In Office, but not in Power”. I can’t remember who this was originally said by, or of whom, but it applies just as well to the present government in the circumstances described.
    We need a major constitutional revolution. The present arrangements are clearly unmanageble and unreformable with bureacrats acting above their powers in their own interests and that of a foreign power, and not on behalf of our people.
    It may not seem appropriate or relevant at first to suggest, but given that major change is the only solution, the creation of Parliament for England will give a good opportunity, not only to right a grave constitutional wrong, but to dismantle the British Elitist Administration, which will be a natural and essential consequence. We can all see it acts against the interests of the English in particular, but the other nations as well. It would be replaced with new arrangements and new people who do not have the British Elites mindset.
    There can be no industrial, economic or moral renaissance without major change and an English parliament may be the unexpected way to do it. The people of all the nations will benefit, not just the English.

    1. Jon Burgess
      January 14, 2013

      It was Norman Lamont describing John Major, if memory serves.

  53. Barbara
    January 14, 2013

    Thank Mr R for the good explanation about laws within the EU, and how it reflects within our own country. I am however, disappointed with the Telegraph for not running the article. Was it, that it exposed the full extent of the EU hands within our country, I would say it does. Not running it really says it all. It appears one of the most influential papers in this country have let us down badly.
    I’m angry and hurt that we have allowed such a take over of this country, and during the last 13 years I would say Labour have been to blame for that. However, what Mr Cameron is proposing is not good enough. He might not win the nex election so what he proposes may never happen, but what will happen is he will leave this country exposed to Labour again and we all know what that means. The Conservative party will never be forgiven if they allow this to happen. Cameron’s stance on not holding a referendum till the next election is over is flawed, it will cause more problems than he thinks. If we could have one during the last 6mths of the coalition, I believe that would be the best so we have our answer once and for all, and settled for who ever takes over. I cannot understand why, if so many Conservatives are against the EU, you are allowing Cameron to continue this way of thinking, he should be challenged. UKIP are gaining every day, surely this attitude will enhance them further, to the detriment of the Conservatives. If this goes on you’ll have no party at all left. We need this question answered, Cameron may not win, what then? The EU may not cede any powers back, indeed, they are not in the mood to do so, what then? If Cameron wants a good hand beside him, a referendum would enhance his arguement with the British people giving their answer loud and clear. Its time this was settled, what he’s proposing is NOT acceptable.

  54. P O Pensioner
    January 14, 2013

    I cannot understand why the Daily Telegraph decided not to run your excellent article. Perhaps the editor was “nobbled” by dark forces within Government?

    1. peter davies
      January 14, 2013

      or they are “lent” money by the EU in BBC fashion…..

    2. M.A.N
      January 15, 2013

      Common purpose shills all the way through the civil service, paid for by us, these people just by account of thier numbers must be pulling levers. Can’t remember the formation of CP ever being in any manifesto though?. The BBC have definitely borrowed from the EU, it is not clear if any other media outlet has.

  55. Mark B
    January 14, 2013

    Mr. Redwood MP said;

    “If there is not, there will be ever more frustrated Ministers having to do things they do not wish to do, and ever less consent from Parliament and the UK voters to how they are being governed.”

    And that is what Jean Monnet, a Diplomat, Economist and a Founding Father of the European Union envisioned. Get the people and the politicians out of the way, and let the Bearucrates, like himself, have all the power.

    Well, their is no use complaining about it is there.

    I guess turkey’s can be persuaded to vote for Christmas after all.

    Simple question to this. If you do not get those areas of government back, what are you going to do about it ?

    The EU know the answer. I know the answer, and so do most of the people who read your ‘diary’ know the answer.


  56. mike
    January 15, 2013

    Good article John.

    It seems we shall soon see whether your assertion that Eurosceptic Tory MPs are driving the pace of change rather than UKIP’s poll ratings.

    Not so much in the announcement of a possible referendum should the electorate return a majority Tory government next term, but in the ferocity which Cameron fights to re-negotiate.

    The former will be laughed at, it is in the latter where he absolutely has to convince the electorate.

    If your little band of Tory MPs really is driving the debate then we should see fireworks. Who knows, possibly even leadership…

    For the record I expect nothing but empty promises and rhetoric without any real change. The EU does not give power back and we have re-iterated our commitment to ‘ever closer union’ relatively recently.

    On another note UKIP membership in my area increased 20% over the holidays. Increased turnout in the local meetings too, where the new members appeared, from their dialogue, to be ex-union or old style Labour supporters. I suspect Miliband’s recent pronouncements rejecting the possibility of a referendum may have some role to play though you do tend to find that left wing types can be a bit coy at first. Indeed I suspect some even first turn up thinking they will be double agents, faithfully reporting back on the quality of biscuits served. 🙂

    If our Nige can appeal further to such people, especially those who have campaigned before, then I think we’ll see a steady drip of labour support weakening. I suspect our Bulgarian and Romanian friends will help the cause somewhat too.

    Cameron has left his options open, the Milipede has not. Hence it will be interesting to see how much influence your lot can exert. The forthcoming speech should be the opening salvo.

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