My speech during the debate on Section 5 of The European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): I share the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) about page 19 and that is the main reason I have entered this debate. It is an unfair exposition on the opportunities and risks linked to our membership of the European Union and I do not think it accurately reflects what the OBR has been saying. I am pleased that the OBR has now spoken for itself and put on the record the important point that it does not believe that in the five-year forecast period, were we to leave, there would be a decline in economic output or activity. Like many forecasters, the OBR believes that the net impact would be quite small. Of course, in line with others it has said that there could be volatility in currency and asset price markets. All I would add is that there has been massive volatility in those markets in the years we have been a member of the EU, so it would be somewhat outrageous to claim that that would suddenly stop were we to leave the EU, but I cannot see that it is a particularly damning point.

My hon. Friend has gone on at some profound length about what is wrong with page 19. I hope Ministers will look again and realise that it is not a fair exposition of the OBR’s position. Linking the OBR’s position with Christine Lagarde’s comment, which is obviously a comment made for the “stay inside” campaign trail rather than for normal commentary purposes, gives a misleading impression.

I wish to make some more fundamental points about the figures and the document before us this evening. Let us start with why we are doing this at all. It is a completely pointless exercise, but it is legally required by the treaty and the framework of law under which we live. It is a great pity that in the renegotiation this, along with dozens of other things, was not sorted out because if, as the Minister says, the Government can ignore the advice and the policy laid down by the European Union to control the deficit and get the debt down, what is the point of the Government having to table 300 pages of carefully selected documentation, go through the surveillance procedure, on some occasions receive a report saying that their policy is not good enough or they are not converging in the way that the European Union wishes, and the Government then saying, “Well, fortunately, there is no penalty on us so we will ignore that”?

It is strange to belong to a club, accept the rules and then, when we do not like the rules, say, “Of course, we didn’t really want any of that and fortunately we have been opted out of the penalty bit of it.” It is a strange exercise. I suspect that the official machine of the Government, which goes on whoever is in office, is quite guided by all this. There is probably a wish on the part of officials to get the British Government policy and the figures closer to the convergence requirements. It is high time the European Union itself had an honest debate about the most pressing and most difficult target it has set—the target that all member states should keep their stock of debt to 60% of their national income.

Practically every member state is way above that, and some of them violate the target by having more than double the level set down by the European Union. Why does that body think it is sensible to persevere with a target that none of the member states wish to keep and none of them are trying to reach?

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP): May I add that the rule that sets the 60% target also states that member states in breach must have a rectification programme and bring their debt level, whatever it is, down by five percentage points a year, which this Government have significantly failed to do and significantly will fail to do for a long, long time?

John Redwood: All the Governments are failing to do that, and it is even more pressing and difficult for a country such as Greece, where the penalties do apply because it is in the euro scheme. Despite all the best efforts of the European leadership, the European Central Bank and others, and very cruel and difficult expenditure cuts that Members in this House would not have accepted for the United Kingdom, Greece is still miles off getting anywhere near the stock-of-debt target and it has struggled until recently to get down to the deficit target.

We need to ask fundamental questions of our European partners about why we go through this routine and what malign influence it has on some economies and some economic performances around the European Union, which should be a matter of common concern all the time we remain in that body. The Minister says this is not a new exercise and it is not much of a burden on the British state; it is just one of those things, and we send in figures that we produce for other purposes. That is not quite true. The introduction to the document clearly has to be written, the selection has to be made, it is clear throughout the document that it is written for domestic purposes and for the purpose of forwarding it to the European Union, and we try to produce figures that we would not otherwise produce in order to conform with the workings of the European Union.

Next, I would like to highlight the figure for the convergence criteria and the so-called treaty deficit on page 186 of the report. That shows that in 2016-17, if all goes well and these figures work out, for the first time in many years we will get below the 3% target to 2.9%. That makes my point: we would not have to calculate that treaty deficit, think that it was significant or use it as part of the guidance for the British economy if we were not signed up to this surveillance and management system within the European Union. The Minister has to bear it in mind that there is actually some subtle guidance in the European policy. I think that many of my constituents would find it quite surprising that we have to table 300 pages of detailed financial and economic information in order to comply, and that that is then put through a scrutiny and surveillance process.

The next figure that I would like to highlight is on page 156, which shows how much in “expenditure transfers” we have to make to the European Union institutions—in other words, how much money we send that we do not get back. We see that the November forecast for 2016-17 was £10.7 billion, which is a very considerable sum, and that the March forecast, just four months later, has gone up to £11.8 billion. Between the autumn statement and the current Budget there is an increase of £1.1 billion in next year’s expenditure transfers to the EU institutions.

That figure of £1.1 billion is very close to the figure that the Government had pencilled in for disability cuts. I do not know about you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I would rather not have the disability cuts and not pay £1.1 billion extra to the European Union. Why can we not make those kinds of choices? The reason, of course, is that we are signed up to membership of an organisation that thinks it knows better than we do how to spend our own money. I think that people in the United Kingdom are getting very frustrated at being told that we have to be very careful about our priorities, only to discover, if they get guidance from these complex figures, that the European Union can take £1.1 billion extra off us for next year without a by-your-leave. That leaves us struggling to find that money when we try to make the Budget add up, ending up with options and choices that I am sure Ministers did not really want to make, and which Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided should not be made.

I draw the House’s attention to some very important figures on page 205 that the Government are sending to our European partners and masters about projected net migration into the United Kingdom. I was very happy to campaign with my right hon. and hon. Friends at the previous general election on a sensible and sensitive policy of controlled migration, wishing to get it down to the tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament. It was a very popular policy, because I think that people liked the idea that there would be a fair system offering sensible rules so that people could understand it before deciding whether or not to come to our country. Interestingly, the forecast that we are sending to the European Union shows that the level of migration will stay much higher than the Government’s target—it shows 256,000 in 2016, declining to 185,000 in 2021. There is also a further projection in which net migration stays considerably higher, actually above 250,000 in every year.

I think that matters, because the Government’s intentions are very clear: they would like to get net migration well below these forecast figures. Why, then, is the forecast so high? I think that it is very simple: the forecast is that high because the European continental economies, particularly in the south of our continent, are performing very badly and have created mass unemployment on an extremely worrying scale, so the UK, which has a more successful economic policy that is generating a lot of jobs, is acting as a magnet for people who are otherwise without hope of employment.

That policy is making it very difficult for the United Kingdom Government to hit their very popular target on migration. I hope that when this document is submitted Ministers will follow it up by pointing that out to the European Union and saying that they have a solemn promise to keep to the United Kingdom electors, who helped elect them to government, and that this set of EU policies, creating joblessness and therefore triggering a lot of foot-loose migration around the European Union, is making it very difficult to honour that promise.

It also leads us to worry about the quality of some of these forecasts, because I am sure that the Government wish to get the level down, but there is a great danger that the variant of a much higher level has been put in, because actually that is what they are afraid will happen. I hope the Minister will consider that when he replies and that if we are going to go through the process of submitting our homework on economic matters to the European Union to be marked—by sending it 300 pages of figures—we will also say to it, “You are making it impossible for us to meet our legitimate wish to create more jobs to mop up unemployment in our country and to get wages up, as we would like to, because your failing economic policies in many parts of the euro area are bringing a number of migrants into our country that makes it impossible for us to meet our targets.”

Those are just a few brief comments on an extremely complex set of documents and numbers, which show that, while we stay in this body, we need to engage much more and to get some change so that there is honesty in the targeting and an understanding of the damage that some of the targets and policies are creating. However, it will not be a surprise to hon. Members to learn that I think that the simplest thing would be for us to leave the European Union so that this is the last one of these documents we ever have to produce. We can then take control of our own money, banish austerity, spend the £10 billion on things that we want and leave the European Union free to get on with its political union, which is clearly what it will need to do to try to deal with the mass unemployment, the lack of cash transfers and the inadequacy of its regional policies.

I hope tonight’s debate will be of use to the general public and that they will understand that we can take back control, spend our own money, and have prosperity, not austerity. That is what we will get if we leave the European Union.

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71 Comments

  1. Yosarion
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    So Heir to Brown’s accounting methods in no 11 finds an extra Twenty Seven Billion down the back of the sofa in the Autumn, and the EUSSR say’s we will have 1.1 Billion of that thank you very much.

    • Hope
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      The Eau commissioner. For immigration made it clear when he was interviewed that nation states would do what Brussels instructed them to do. No hiding or carefully crafting his words, unusually direct and to the point. I am not sure why JR is debating these in parliament when the decision is made and the U.K. Govt will do as it is told. A clue Cameron told us we have a “rock solid” exemption to the EU asylum policy, yet he is giving hundreds of millions away of our taxes while cutting disability payments for his own citizens! He has still not been held to account by Tory MPs why he has not ruled anything out when he failed to achieve his stated objectives in his alleged renegotiations! This charade, like so many others is essentially a spoof to keep the notion that parliament, and it’s greedy self serving MPs, have some purpose to our country.

      Time Alan Duncan MP had the decency to resign after his position on the EU referendum.

      More power going back to the whips to keep MP under control by hiding their details when arrested or for any wrong doing. Time to stop MPs policing themselves, how many others will resign from their alleged standards committee?

    • Hope
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      The numbers quoted are accurate nor true. The numbers are estimates as there is no system in place to count people in or out the country. Home Office demonstrated in the wake of the terrorist attack in Brussels that it is not fit for purpose. 57 people jumped from a lorry and it took 96 hours to realease them while their applications are being processed against the back drop 30000 recently “lost” applications would be too demanding on resources to find them! NI numbers demonstrate the estimated numbers being used do not match reality and from a security perspective should scare everyone. We also now know how useless Belgium intelligence is with sharing their information with France or every country in the EU! Now being reported it was because it might have offended Muslim sensibilities! Fraser Nelson points out in his article it is dishonest to say the UK is safer in the EU.

      Cameron needs to be sacked along with May for systemic failure to keep us safe. Osborne should realise he is simply not up to the job of adding up nor his emotional intelligence for putting British disabledbcitizens first with the use of UK taxes.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    All very good points.

    Prosperity and not austerity is indeed what we will get when we leave. Providing, that is, we can get a sensible, smaller state, cheaper energy, deregulation, quality only immigration and lower and simpler tax government in place rather than the current Libdems. We will clearly be safer too being in control or whom we allow in and whom we deport.

    I see that Osborne’s absurdly thought through and very damaging sugar tax is likely to face a legal challenge. I assume using EU laws.

    The tax will do nothing to reduce sugar consumption, it will cost the industry millions to administer and will make the economy less efficient. Still more pointless work for lawyers, bureaucrats and tax experts I suppose. The pointless sugar tax is as daft as his indefensible attacks on landlords and tenants and his absurd IHT ratting & complex fudge.

    Post Brexit, can we have a sensible chancellor please? One who wants to establish a sensible, simpler, “real job”, creating, tax system rather than play silly political games with it.

    Sugar tax legal challenge: George Osborne says ‘bring it on’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35889587

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Simon Jenkins is surely exactly right on politicians and media reactions to these appalling acts of terrorism. They surely just encourage more such acts.

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/24/scariest-brussels-reactoin-paranoid-politicians-isis-atrocity-belgium

    • eeyore
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      “Prosperity Not Austerity” – a slogan so excellent that the Leave campaign would be mad not to find some good use for it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        Prosperity and Democracy not Austerity and Serfdom please.

      • Graham Wood
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Well spotted! Agree this is a superb campaigning slogan with the addition –
        “Prosperity, not austerity – let’s leave the EU.
        I understand from some ‘leave’ activists that there are members of the public who are still totally unaware of the sheer scale of financial contribution we make to the EU. In effect a hidden tax on everybody.
        Why is it that the mass of Tory MPs are so complacent about this outrageous imposition on their constituents, but wax delirious about the Chancellor’s original proposals for reducing disability benefits?
        Important and callous though that is, it pales into insignificance in comparison with the £19 Billion we pay the EU, and which as you often point out, could be so beneficial for
        The far more urgent needs within the British economy.

      • Jerry
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        @eeyore; ““Prosperity Not Austerity”

        Something the members of the ‘Labour Leave’ group have been saying for at least the last 6 years…

        • eeyore
          Posted March 25, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 25, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            @eeyore; Yes but which clock has stopped…

            Those wanting a Brexit need to realise that we need significant votes from the eurosceptic left to be certain of success in our goal, what we do not need are slogans that make good sound-bites but than do nothing but put the ball in the back of our own net!

    • Bazman
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Indefensible attacks on landlords? That somehow they share the same interests you are telling us. Get real. No mention again I see of massive costs to the taxpayer by subsidy to landlords via housing benefit and how do you justify an increase in tax paid by relatives of the dead on free money often from subsidised housing and state benefits such as subsidy to landlords and do nothing housing policies, whilst reducing disability benefits and tax increases for the poor as well as cutting vital services and infrastructure? Well? Answer this very simple and sensible point please or stop trying to put forward a deluded scrounging manifesto bleating poverty for the rich who are envious of the supper rich in this rigged economy.
      The sugar tax was nothing of the sort just a tax on some sugary drinks a real tax would be an increase in the cost of sugar and per gram in food. How this slows the economy down you do not say. The tobacco industry is indeedy slowed down by tax so must be true.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Now, on top of Osborne’s idiotic tax grabs on landlords/tenants it seems there are to be more buy to let mortgage restrictions from the BoE.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/bank-of-england/12056891/Bank-of-England-set-to-be-ahnded-new-buy-to-let-powers.html

      What has this dreadful Chancellor got against people who rent their properties? It is an entirely sensible thing to do (certainly for the short term) and many simply have no choice. Landlords are a very important part of the economy and provide a vital service. Workers do need places to live and not all can buy.

      Back in Mrs Thatcher’s day we even had tax relief for people investing (through companies) in residential properties for rent through the Business Expansion Scheme. She, very sensibly, recognised the need for properties to rent. It improved labour mobility and helped the economy hugely.

      Osborne, for some reason best know to himself, clearly thinks very differently. He seems to thing tenants and Landlords are just there to be mugged or pushed out of their homes and the properties sold off.

      He is as usually totally misguided. It is hugely damaging and grossly unfair to tenants, who are usually rather poorer than the people who are buying.

      His 3% extra stamp duty and the changes to interest deductions etc. might already put 15% or so on to the tenants rents. Hugely decreasing the supply of rented accommodation, pushing up landlords costs and removing their incentives to invest further.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        From memory BES only applied to student accommodation, and it made an excellent tax-free return. Those were the days. But yes a good carrot rather than another of Osborne’s “sticks”.

        The problem with post-Thatcher politicians are that they are corporate. Brown propped up banks, Osborne propped up housebuilders directly through Help to Sell and indirectly through housing benefit. It’s all about giving keeping the corporates and the have-nots comfortable at the cost of active workers and investors these days. To do that you need sticks to beat the workers and middle classes. Obama-Cameron-Osborne… all playing the same tune. So now we see Trump trying to restore the balance. It could get interesting.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          No it did not only apply to student accommodation. There were some restrictions on the types of lease though and you had to hold the shares for five years.

          What is clearly needed is more properties or fewer people. Osborne’s attack will mean fewer properties and especially far fewer to rent. But unless you are staying in the same place for several year buying rarely makes much sense.

          Especially with the absurdly high levels of stamp duty he has.

          • Bazman
            Posted March 27, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Maybe you could tell us about the less stringent checks and lower interest rates available to landlords as compared to the private buyer fuelling this buy to let market?
            Thus less housing is available to the first time buyer. Square that one off and stop telling us how much of a ‘service’ landlords are providing putting any extra costs they have to pay on the tenant, because in this ‘free market’ these entrepreneurs can. What does that tell even someone as myopic as yourself.
            The renting being the most sensible option is for the birds in the terms of housing ownership when prices are rising five times as fast as wages. You need a house even if you rent elsewhere due to work. A drain on all workers by your own measures in your glib collection of thoughts.

      • hefner
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        “His 3% extra stamp duty and the changes … might put 15% or so on to the tenants rents”: Indeed, simply because landlords are in the enviable position of being able to pass any increase to the tenants. Tenants just have to pay.

        Compared to continental European countries, where there might be some kind of rent control (linked to inflation) or of at least properly balanced 3, 5 or 10-year contracts between landlords and tenants, the British landlords are “bleating” foxes among chickens.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        He is trying to save landlords from themselves in fact. They are in the main older more wealthy people buying up property and then renting it out pushing out the first time buyer and if this carries on the market will crash.
        They are no producing anuything or as you claim doing anyone much service just stoking up a market in a fixed number of houses supported by government subsidy in the form of not enough house building and hosing benefit.
        As soon as the landlord sees the rise in price he puts the rent up even if the property has deteriorated with the threat that if the tenant does not want to pay he can leave and some other sap can pay more as there is nowhere else to live. Except at the top of the rented market I suppose, but that is not the problem. Its the bottom where landlords are squeezing every penny out of their tenants.
        The rented sector is out of control ripping all and sundry off and at least this is some attempt to slow it down.
        As you point out the landlord just puts any increases on the tenants. Demonstrating exactly what I am talking about Rigsby.

      • hefner
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        “His 3% extra stamp duty and the changes to interest deductions … might already put 15% or so on to the tenants’ rents”. Indeed, as landlords have all latitude to do just this, and not be much out of pocket and the tenants just have the choice to pay the additional costs or leave. In which case the landlord is very likely to hike the rent for the next tenant.

        So I am afraid there are some crocodile tears here from the landlords.

        Compare that to other European countries where the rents are either “encouraged” to follow inflation and the renting contracts are established for much longer periods (3, 5 or 10 years) than in the UK, and where various taxes on sale/purchase of apartments and houses are often around 5 to 7 % (independently of possible CGT for the seller: it depends on country).

        Is the situation of a UK landlord with a portfolio of renting accommodations really so bad?

  3. Chris S
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Congratulations for picking out the most important points from this massive document and asking the questions in such a clear and concise manner.

    I very much doubt whether you will ever get answers in a similarly clear and concise manner. The two issues of our rapidly increasing net contribution and the persistently high level of net migration are crucial to the referendum campaign.

    One can only hope that whe they vote, the British public will make the link between membership of the EU and the level of net migration which, by the Government’as own admission is not going to be reduced in line with two successive general election committment.

    Turning to the Net contribution, an increase of more than £1bn in just one year is a matter of real concer, considering all of that money has got to be borrowed, interest paid on it and then the repayments made by our children and probably grandchildren.

    As I have said here recently, the Eurosceptic campaign should be highlighting what our money is actually being spent on in the recipient countries which, as we know, are in the majority amongst the 28.

    As an example of the potential effectiveness of this argument, I would again point out the amount of our money that has been put into new arts facilties in Poland rather than into projects that will increase the GDP of that country. It seems to me that the likely reason for this is that Poland has been in receipt of more money than they can realistically spend on sensible infrastructure projects.

    This is highly reminiscent of our bloated aid budget………

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      If governments and the EU are spending the money you can be fairly sure it will be being spend very inefficiently. Far less efficiently than it would be had it been left with the people they took the money off in the fist place.

      Probably with about 20% or their efficiency, after all the costs of collection, administration, politics, distribution costs, corruption, inefficiency and misdirection.

      They care not what they spend not what value they get. This as it is not their money, nor they who will benefit from the projects completed. Other perhaps than have a large funded by the EU flag & sign on them.

      • agricola
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Sounds just like the UK government , but to the power of twenty-eight.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Well, I’ve calculated that even after 12 years in the EU it will still take Poland another 18 years to get its per capita GDP up to 80% of that of the UK, when the economic driving force for mass migration might have weakened enough for the unrestricted free movement of persons from Poland to the UK not to cause us too many problems, and while arts facilities are no doubt nice to have I doubt that they will do very much to accelerate that process of economic convergence.

      Letting Turkey into the EU on the basis of the same totally inadequate period for transitional controls, 7 years at most, would be insane, unless of course the UK government actually wanted huge numbers of cheap and biddable Turkish workers to come here.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    “an extremely complex set of documents and numbers”
    Well done for wading through this mess of stats and nonsense! It must have taken hours of useless and unproductive work. And then congratulations for standing up and speaking about it in a House where your views are seen as dangerous by everyone and which will make you “a swivel eyed loon” in the eyes of a lot of very important people.

  5. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    It simply comes back to their own accounts really. Thats apart from those points made on the EU southern states of whom I see no hope for and is due to the mismanagement of the EU itself.

    Would anybody invest in such an organisation? If I answered that I don’t think moderation would accept it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Cameron even says he would join the EU now, on the current “renegotiated” terms, were we not a member already? How can anyone sensible think that?

      I suppose such politicians simply hate democracy and the idea that voters should have a say in anything. Even though the evidence shows that, so often, they know far better than the politicians what is the best thing to do.

      With better democratic controls we would perhaps have avoided Blair’s counterproductive wars on a lie, the ERM, expensive green energy, absurdly high tax levels, the Millennium Dome, HS2/3, Hinkley C, pointless expensive energy lagoons in Wales, open door immigration, deterrents in the criminal justice system and many pointless arms of interfering and expensive government all over the place.

  6. Chris S
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Figures from the EU website:

    Breakdown of Poland’s finances with the EU in 2014:

    Total EU spending in Poland – € 17.436 billion
    Total EU spending as % of Polish GNI – 4.40 %
    Total Polish contribution to the EU budget – € 3.526 billion
    Polish contribution to the EU budget as % of its GNI – 0.89 %

    In 2014 the net EU subsidy for Poland was therefore €13.91bn !
    When considering this huge subsidy, we should bear in mind that Poland is one of the better-off accession countries.

    • Know Dice
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      That’s how socialism works, take from those that have and give to those that don’t, until everybody is equal. Just like “Animal Farm”…

      Unfortunately history shows that this is a race to the bottom and does no one any favours, let alone in our [UK] case we are borrowing money to give away. How does that square with Osborne and Cameron’s apparent concerns about future generations in this country and the massive debt that we are going to leave.?

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Frankly, I can’t see the thanks we get for that.
      Then you need to add the child benefit sent there as well. The one that Mr Cameron promised he would put a stop to in his manifesto.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      We must also not forget that many Polish people who live and work here send money home. Money that is not used in the UK economy to create more wealth and jobs.

      We must also factor in all the fines the UK get, like for just being successful.

      • John C.
        Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        A good point. Has anyone been able to calculate the amount of money sent “home” by migrant workers that would otherwise be spent in the local, British economy? It must be an astronomical sum, and it never seems to enter the calculations.
        And those who point to British pensioners living in Spain are surely not going to claim that they take from the local economy and send it back to U.K.? Another example of money leaving this country, in reality.

    • stred
      Posted March 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      And this does not count remitted earnings.

  7. agricola
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    You ask all the right questions, but are unlikely to get sensible answers because our government, politicians and civil service are all hell bent on praying at the altar of the EU.

    Your analysis of this aspect of our EU membership, when combined with the myriad deficiencies of the EU, and it’s democratic deficit make our Brexit decision vital to the future of the UK and it’s people.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Well hopefully the answer will be in the referendum, which Cameron must be regretting right now. Presumably he’s away thinking about how to head-off this promise into one he won’t keep, like the others. Finally tripped-up by UKIP, perhaps!

  8. oldtimer
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Thank you for setting out the OBR’s actual position on the likely effect of Brexit, unlike Mr Osborne’s clumsy spin in his budget statement. The government sounds more desperate by the day, but aided and abetted by the BBC it is certainly getting a majority share of the air waves.

  9. acorn
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Firstly, please could we have a Commencement Order for the Easter Act 1928. With a little luck, the Sunday after the second Saturday in April, it is less likely to be raining.

    Secondly, that debate on the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993; must have brought back some memories JR? The Section 7 trick; the Social Chapter and the “1993 vote of confidence in the government of John Major” (see Wiki). They don’t make ’em like that anymore; but it would make a terrific mini series for TV.

    Will 2016 turn out to be a repeat of 1993?

  10. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Third paragraph from the end, you write that alongside the 300 pages we send to the EU we also “say to it” that “You are making it impossible for us to meet our legitimate wish to create more jobs to mop up unemployment in our country and to get wages up, as we would like to, because your failing economic policies in many parts of the euro area are bringing in a number of migrants into our country which makes it impossible for us to meet our targets.”
    Of course you were conveying oratorically/rhetorically to a real audience within Parliament and via TV, important points. But the sad truth is that the EU is not an “it” perhaps like an intelligent machine nor are there self-motivated beings immediately and later receiving the 300 pages. Just a rubber-stamping machine operated by the equivalent of a librarian stamping-in a returned book. Worse, do the 300 pages have a barcode? Then they are probably scanned without even looking so much at the introduction and title.
    The 27 nation-leaders of the EU in addition to Mr Cameron, can be addressed as “You” but their leadership of their own nations is transitory and they do not have dictatorial decision-making,-they need to report and take instructions from their own regimes miles away from any free lunches in Leader Meetings in Brussels.
    Much of Mr Cameron’s Prime Ministerial duties appear to be on the stuff of state that everyone imagined MEPs were elected to sort out. It doesn’t work does it? All meaningful decisions have to be made face-to-face at Prime Ministerial nation-state level. No need for an EU

  11. Antisthenes
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    We give the EU money they then spend it how they choose. What they choose to spend it on and what the UK would have them spend it on may and probably is very often not one and the same.

    We can compare the contributions the UK makes to the EU and foreign aid they are not dissimilar. In fact it could be argued that we have two foreign aid budgets one for some European countries and one for the rest of the world. The latter the UK decides what it is spent on the former we have no say in or not very much. We have trading links, enter into treaties and cooperate with both groups. Once the EU has finished with us we wont have much of a say or control over the latter either.

    The latter we do not have to pay for the privilege of any of those things or have to surrender any of our sovereignty in the process. The former we have to do all those things and more. Why? I can see no advantage only considerable disadvantage by doing so.

    Both contributions are a burden on the UK taxpayer as their tax money is being given to foreigners and not used directly to improve their standard of living. Indirectly there are some benefits. Foreign aid is targeted by the UK to extract the maximum benefit from it for her citizens. The fact the return is not equivalent to the aid given is bearable because it is given for what is considered a good cause. Although free trade would be a better way of helping poorer counties than foreign aid but that is not a matter for now. As it is for the poorer countries in the EU.

    The UK contribution to the EU is targeted by Brussels a foreign power that extracts a huge sum for itself in the process. It also decides the fate of every UK citizen and decides how the UK interacts with the rest of the world. We may act that way towards animals and serfs but do we wish others to act that way towards us. Serf we thought we had done away with but the EU has decided we have not and we are them.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I see it is reported that most of the 56 Illegal Immigrants who smuggled themselves into the UK in two lorries about 48 hours ago (press Photographs) have now been given refugee status, and told simply to report to the authorities from time-time.

    Hardly the way to treat people who have broken the law, when an official route/system is available.
    56 reasons why thousands more will try and break the law.

    • Lucy Locket
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      absolutely right

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Alan. God, this is sickening and so predictable. Once they are in the UK there is no getting rid of them. Now wonder they gave the victory sign when caught. They knew they would not be deported. The lorry, goods inside and the driver should have been sent straight back on the next ferry and deported. When are the authorities going to get real on this issue or does the Brussels human rights act taken precedence??? Another good reason to leave. I cannot believe that people have been told the next country to take advantage of our good will, will be Turkey. Etc ed

  13. The Active Citizen
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Excellent points as usual JR. The House may have been empty but you got these things on the record.

    How galling that we have to prepare 300 pages to send to our masters in the EU, for their approval/comment.

    One thing though. In reply to you, the Minister said “My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham mentioned the contributions we make to the EU. It is worth pointing out that, thanks to the deal secured by the Prime Minister, our net contributions—whether in cash terms, in real terms or as a proportion of GDP—are in fact falling.”

    I was under the impression that it’s a serious offence for Ministers to lie to the House?

    It’s quite obvious from the government-prepared document you were discussing that our net contributions are in fact rising. You couldn’t have made it plainer in your speech.

    Following the Easter recess I assume the Minister will be forced back to the House to apologise…..?

  14. formula57
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Aside from use of the word “strange” when “habitual” is needed, you sum up the French approach to EU membership perfectly with the words: – “It is strange to belong to a club, accept the rules and then, when we do not like the rules, say, “Of course, we didn’t really want any of that and fortunately we have been opted out of the penalty bit of it.””

    You did a fine job in tutoring the government: thank you. What a pity it was necessary though.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Johns’ comments were lucid , penetrating and forceful . His control on economic matters is without equal in the House and I would be surprised if they were not taken into further consideration . Perhaps his comments gave rise to Cameron’s admission ” that he needed time to think” , I hope so , because under his leadership he has wrought havoc with his Party and created a division that is going to take a monumental effort to repair it .

    It is quite ridiculous what we go through in answering the Brussels dictat ; it must have taken many hours of the Treasury’s staff putting the 300 page document together – this at a time when economies are required and the Civil Service trimmed down to size . We should simply disregard such demands and point the finger at other malingering EU countries . On the migrant issue , it was interesting that the truck importing the illegals came from Romania driven by Romanians .

  16. Tad Davison
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Well said!

    Tad

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I’m looking at Article 4 in the UK’s euro opt-out protocol, Protocol (No 15) attached to the EU treaties, and that says:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:12012E/TXT

    “4. Articles 119, second paragraph, 126(1), (9) and (11), 127(1) to (5), 128, 130, 131, 132, 133, 138, 140(3), 219, 282(2), with the exception of the first and last sentences thereof, 282(5), and 283 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union shall not apply to the United Kingdom. The same applies to Article 121(2) of this Treaty as regards the adoption of the parts of the broad economic policy guidelines which concern the euro area generally. In these provisions references to the Union or the Member States shall not include the United Kingdom and references to national central banks shall not include the Bank of England.”

    That’s quite complicated insofar as the UK has agreed to be bound by all of the treaty provisions relevant to Economic and Monetary Union other than those from which it has an express exemption, and the exemption from Article 121(2) only extends to those parts which “concern the euro area generally”; and why “generally” rather than “only”?

    Is it one aspect of the UK’s “special status” within the “reformed” EU that it’s difficult to decide whether EU institutions should even be including the UK among the “Member States”, and in the “Union”, when they draw up “the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Union” under Article 121(2)?

    Of course when this complex and virtually incomprehensible situation was created through the Maastricht Treaty on European Union – the 1993 Act was to approve that treaty agreed by John Major, “game set and match for Britain”, of course no referendum and rammed through the Commons on a confidence vote, in other words with Tory MPs voting under the threat of an early general election in which many could expect to lose their seats – it was hoped that this would just be a temporary expedient, it wasn’t widely expected that the UK would still be outside the euro more than two decades later.

    And nor is it now expected that the UK will always remain outside the euro, if it stays in the EU; when Merkel said “Our goal must be that all EU member States join the euro one day” she made no exception for the UK, or for Denmark.

  18. Tad Davison
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t usually copy and paste e-mails, but I thought I would share this one with you:

    Dear Sir Alan,

    Open Europe says:

    In The Daily Telegraph, Sir Alan Duncan MP writes, “The lure of Brexit is that it would deliver for the UK a tidy alternative to EU membership, and that restored self-government would empower our economic prospects and help insulate the UK from global difficulties…The trouble is: I don’t think this is true.” He adds, “Whereas I used to think that our membership of the EU signified a loss of confidence in ourselves, I now think that leaving it would be an unforgivable expression of no confidence in our ability to affect the course of Europe’s future.”

    I and many others would like to know why anyone would, or even could, be so confident that the UK could change the course of the European Union were the UK to remain a member, when we don’t seem to have achieved that in the last forty-odd years.

    Clearly, the EU has been an abysmal failure for many millions of people who constantly suffer because of it, yet the answer from the EU’s supporters always seems to be more of the very thing that made the patient ill in the first place. So I respectfully ask, are there significant grounds for thinking that in future, we might be able to bring them to their senses, and to adopt policies we favour in the United Kingdom?

    Any evidence to that effect would be extremely welcome.

    Regards

    Tad

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      One does wonder what made somebody now called “Sir Alan” change their minds.

  19. Bazman
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Should migration be stopped what will then be done about the increasing costs to business due to wage inflation keep down by migrants acceptance of low wages and poor housing? This is draining the economy of taxes by low wages whist being unfairly kept at an artificial low-high by the minimum wage laws, housing benefits and living five to a room.
    A solution may well be to abolish minimum wages and drastically cut benefits as well as abolishing housing benefits after leaving the EU to allow the British person to benefit the opportunities from the lack of young fit mobile middle class migrants who represent unfair competition and advantage to business and the UK population.
    Lets let business flourish using a stimulated and incentivised UK population not held back by minimum wage laws, free housing and healthcare and be more like the EU migrants ready to leave home in flourish in a free market economy also allowing the migrants to stay and build their own economies or those of other countries foolish enough to take them. The costs saved in benefits and housing could be allowed to give tax cuts to companies and individuals giving a massive boost to the economy thus providing the necessary jobs that can pay for housing and healthcare. Those truly unable to work could be helped by voluntary organisations free from EU interference who expertise will be able to sort out the shirkers and workers who could then be incentivised by cash payments to go and live on countries with lower living costs such as the former colonies where it is possible to live for pennies a day.
    Radical thinking is needed post EU.

  20. Mark B
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I have not much more to add, except to thank our kind host for his efforts.

  21. Shieldsman
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Who could fault your figures and the logic for leaving the European Union? Only the political blockheads in the Lib/Lab/Con parties at Westminster.

    Three years ago, starting with his Bloomburg speech Cameron set about listing the faults with the EU. On 15 Mar 2014 he wrote in the Telegraph “The EU is not working and we will change it”
    The EU is not working must be the most logical, sensible and compelling reason for leaving the European Union.

    We will change it turned out to be Mission Impossible. Did Cameron’s visit to Brussels and on return his triumphant claim to have reformed the EU actually achieve anything? In fact the situation has deteriorated, and Osborne is having to borrow another £500million to hand over to help solve the migrant invasion.

  22. ian wragg
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I need an explanation John.
    Autumn, Gideon finds £27 Billion behind the sofa.
    EU wants £1.1 Billion as their share.
    March, Gideon losses £27 Billion but still has to cough up £1.1 Billion.
    How come CMD and his sidekick can keep writing these cheques without Parliamentary approval?

  23. ian
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The authorities in this country are now doing away with teaching your children at home and sunday schools freedom of speech trying to do a way with gun permits all because of extremism and terrorism with view to letting lots more in and of cos the new security laws coming this year and of cos as you will see this weekend easy to get into the country but a hell of a job to get out, mission creep.

  24. ian
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Privatization of schools is a good idea for the people who will in charge of them because they will able to cut teachers pay and pension and funnel the money into their own wage packets and pensions and will able to make good living out of it.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      Ian, Better than the schools programmes in Scotland at the moment. Talk about brainwashing by the Scots SNP party. This is seriously scary stuff and I don’t know how they get away with it.

      http://www.snp.org/schools_pack

      etc ed

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 26, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      If they cut pay they will not be able to recruit good teacher, and will then have difficulty attracting pupils. It would not be in their interests.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Like rogue landlords ripping off tenants or exploitative employers? Does this include doctors working pay and conditions. Oh dear..
        You assume that everyone has the same interests.

  25. ian
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    and that will be able to be done with not have in to work at the school and just have in a few meeting now and again, nice work if you can get it like quangos.

    • hefner
      Posted March 26, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      On top of everything, the proposal in such academies to discard local parents’ representatives to replace them by top-down agents only representative of economic interests does not make much Conservative sense.

      • hefner
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        And academies are not something forced upon us by the EU.
        I would also agree with Corbyn about the potential stripping.

  26. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    This is yet another demonstration that the EU considers itself to be a SuperState. The question that is interesting is why Messrs Cameron and Osborne tolerate this nonsense. Perhaps they don’t want any more Civil Service redudancies.

  27. Phil Richmond
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    John – all excellent points made as usual. However this and tonights debate wont be fairly reported.
    The fact that the BBC controls a good 2/3 of our news information means it will be very difficult to win this referendum. I still think that you need take back your Party from the wet Social Democrat Quislings. Next step is then neutralise the BBC bias and/or shut them down. Next step hold the referendum.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, but the quislings are probably the majority of Tory MPs.

    • John C.
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      I think the BBC are less powerful than they were. They’ve overplayed their hand, and now many people recognise their bias, and are in fact angered by it, so that each example reinforces their determination to vote Leave.
      They are disgraceful, though, but perhaps less so than Cameron using his position as hirer and firer to persuade ambitious MPs to follow his lead on this vital issue, and to prevent his opponents from having the civil service at their disposition as well as his followers.

    • hefner
      Posted March 25, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      A Night of the Long Knives, maybe?

  28. Yosarion
    Posted March 26, 2016 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I see the Government have announced ten MOD sites they wish to sell of to create housing for the consistent failure of the home secretary to reduce immigration to a level that was promised.

    • Ken Moore
      Posted March 26, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Clearly a desperate measure borne of an unsustainable immigration crisis.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 26, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Not on the government failure to build houses after selling off social housing or force more houses to be built by the private sector? Immigration only a small part of the story and do you include rich foreigners buying up UK property to hide dubious wealth immigrants?

      • Ken Moore
        Posted March 26, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        ‘Immigration only a small part of the story’

        That of course is the politically correct truth.

        Not so ..’Nearly two thirds of additional households since 1997 headed by an immigrant’. Hardly a ‘small part’ of the story’ ?.

        http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/press-release/415

        House buying by rich foreigners in London is a secondary consideration.
        Migrationwatch :-
        ‘London’s huge population increase in the last two decades and resulting housing shortage has been driven solely by immigration. The UK born have remained at 5.2 million while the foreign born have doubled to 3 million.

        http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/339

        • Bazman
          Posted March 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          The selling off of social housing with no replacements being built and the rise in buy-to let presumably had no effect of the number of affordable housing available. The agenda for migration watch can be found in their name. Use Google for a wider picture if you dare.
          There are some links in this story.
          http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/jan/25/is-immigration-causing-the-uk-housing-crisis

          • Ken Moore
            Posted March 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            Whether homes are in the social or private sector…there are still too few homes for the number of people living here now and in the future!. Show me how net migration of 300,000 or the need for 75,000 new homes every year is sustainable and is only ‘a small part of the story’.

            And it is an indisputable fact that the major cause of population increase is immigration. Why wouldn’t migrationwatch have an ‘agenda’ ..so far nobody as far as I’m aware has ever contradicted Sir Andrews research–if anything he has previously underestimated the number of migrants.

            I am well aware of the Guardian’s politically correct view of the world – I only need to switch on the BBC news or listen to the Conservative front bench.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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