"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

EU Bill: 24 Jan 2011

Yesterday's debate was surprisingly tetchy in places, the rebel Conservative MPs in particular seem to be frustrated at having to repeat the same anti-EU points time and time again to people who simply dismiss them out of hand and won't listen.   It didn't really get going for an hour or so because time was taken up referring to the past - the he said/she said blame game - which wasn't relevant.  When debate did begin there were some very good speeches that centred mostly around the areas where referenda could apply (eg fiscal union, further enlargement, CAP, procedural changes etc) and under what circumstances (eg whether they would apply even in areas where the UK had an opt-out so was unlikely to be immediately directly affected).

There was a great deal of talk from both sides about the usefulness of such a Bill in the light of a Parliament not being able to bind its successors but no-one took that to its logical conclusion and asked if it wouldn't  be simpler to just repeal the ECA 1972.   Quite a few MPs also dismissed public concern about the role of the EU saying that the matter was seldom raised by constituents.

As well as the usual suspects of Cash, Jenkin, Clappison, Rees-Mogg, Mitchell et al, Claire Perry, Gisela Stuart and Anne Main also put in strong performances.  Stephen Dorrell didn't do himself any favours.

Here's an excerpt from Bill Cash's speech which alludes to an upcoming Treaty of Fiscal Union:
"I want to give an example that deals explicitly with a matter of immense importance that is coming up in the lift. In fact, it is not merely in the lift; the lift has come up and the doors are opening. Monsieur Fillon, the French Prime Minister, came over to see the Prime Minister specifically about this issue, and I have here the exclusive interview in The Times with Monsieur Fillon. I also had the opportunity to meet the French Minister for Europe and discuss the matter with him personally and privately.
There is no doubt about what they want or what they intend, which is effectively a twin-track treaty, which is a treaty entered into between us and the rest of the European Union-that is, with all 27 member states, in
24 Jan 2011 : Column 59
order to legitimise it within the framework of the treaty arrangements-so that, on the one hand, they get their treaty, and, within that treaty, an arrangement specifically designed to exclude the United Kingdom, even though we would be gravely affected by it. It would apply only to those other member states.

Clause 4(4) refers to

    "the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom".
They look like innocuous words, but what do they actually mean? That exemption condition-in other words, no referendum, to put it bluntly and simply-means that there would be no opportunity for a referendum if the other member states agreed to go down that route. They may well do that, despite all the protestations to the contrary, some of which were rather subtly indicated by the Prime Minister in his press conference, albeit without excluding the idea of any such treaty; rather, it was merely on the supposition that that might not affect us as much as we believe, or as I believe the British people would believe if they saw it in black and white. What do those provisions include? In particular, they include arrangements of that kind relating to fiscal, political, social and employment measures, not to mention other matters that would affect the relationship between us and the rest of the European Union. A massive juggernaut would be created, through a form of extremely enhanced co-operation between those member states, that would have an enormous impact on the United Kingdom."
Labour amendment 85 (essentially that if a referendum is approved in the House of Commons but refused in the House of Lords, the HoL ruling would stand) was rightly defeated (imagine the constitutional mess that would make): Ayes 220, Noes 329.
Conservative amendment 11 (that a ministerial decision on referenda should have subsequent parliamentary approval) was also defeated:  Ayes 239, Noes 310.
Labour amendment proposing a new, additional committee was defeated without a lobby vote.

There was no time for Peter Bone's amendment about triggering an in/out referendum but the debate continues today.

The four-page transcript in Hansard is well worth reading.

PS It's also worth noting that at the time of writing I couldn't find any reference in the press to the debate although I did find THIS in ConHome about the defeat of Clappison's amendment. I wonder how many people actually know what's going on?


  1. "I wonder how many people actually know what's going on?"
    Hardly anyone and their stupidity will drive them into the tax gathering arms of the EU machine ere long.

  2. Well, it's half past three and still no reporting of it in the msm so, really, we can't blame people for not being more aware. The msm follows its own, and a govt, agenda. The EC is pushing very hard for separate direct taxation at the moment and I hope they get their wish - if that doesn't wake people up, nothing will :-(


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