Tag Archive: Bill Cash

European Scrutiny Committee vs David Lidington & Gisela Stuart vs Lidington

Yesterday David Lidington, Minister for Europe, appeared before the European Scrutiny Committee; and for those interested it is well worth watching those proceedings, which while lasting just over an hour are a prime example of the deficiencies within the system of representative democracy and the practice of politics.

The session began with Bill Cash making the point that while a written statement had been produced, it was lamentable that an oral statement had not been made by David Cameron which would have allowed him to be questioned on the floor of the House – this point being later rejected by David Lidington.

Questioning began with James Clappison querying the apparent wish of the Government to prevent debate on Syria and the country’s relationship with the European Union. This was, in effect swatted aside by Lidington who pleaded that there were time constraints, bearing in mind other business and that in any event it was the responsibility of party business managers to allocate time for debate. In regard to the first point made by Lidington, perhaps if Parliament sat for longer than it does, time constraints would not be such an issue. On the second point, it is obvious that none of the three main parties in Parliament wish to discuss matters EU, consequently it is hardly surprising that left to party business managers – who after all only do their master’s bidding – matters EU do not feature as regularly as they undoubtedly should.

The first half-hour was taken up very much on the question of who did what when, viz-a-viz requests from the ESC to the Government and the response by the latter. Lidington countered by stating that responses and papers were provided as and when possible, but cited the fact that some information and documents were subject to classification of confidentiality by the EU which caused delay in the release of said information. Clappison raised the point that surely the HoC should be involved prior to any meeting of Heads of State and Ministers, rather than what happens whereby by the time the HoC and the ESC are involved it is very much a ‘done-deal’.

Towards the end of the session Jacob Rees-Mogg returned to the question of the Government and the delay in their response, pointing out that in the 13th ESC report specific questions were raised in respect of Syria and which went unanswered, accusing Ministers of therefore not having read the report. At this Andrew Morrison from the MoD was most indignant complaining that if the ESC wished for a response on any matter then it would be courteous at the very least for such responses to be called for by means of a letter.

Reference was made by Bill Cash to an urgent question on the December Heads of State Council meeting which had been granted. This was one raised by Gisela Stuart and which can be viewed here - starts at 12:35:43; and containing extremely pertinent questions in response to Cameron’s written statement which she considered ‘tawdry’. In his opening statement Lidington was a tad disingenuous – as was Clappison during the ESC session when he mentioned that Cameron had negated any increased contributions to the EU (something in fact he did not) – by stating that Cameron had ensured the UK would not be liable for any further underwriting of eurozone debt when in fact I believe it correct that this country is still liable under IMF obligations.

Lidington’s response to Stuart was, I feel, patronising in the extreme. I fail to see the difference between the EU assuming competence in an area and the EU requiring Member States to ‘voluntarily’ co-operate in order to achieve that which the EU wants and is determined to have. Bill Cash then highlighted the two conflicting statements of Cameron and Van Rompuy, following the December Council meeting which only served to underline the content of the preceding sentence.

When considering democracy per se and the fact that the HoC’s role is so obviously diminished by our membership of the EU, it cannot have escaped the notice of readers that such statements, whether written or oral, coupled with the work of the European Scrutiny Committee are but another charade, one of many that we have to endure.

Setting to one side the ‘handbags at dawn’ adversarial content of the aforesaid ESC session, it is worth noting that when the ESC produced its 24th report calling for reform of the European Scrutiny System within the HoC, it ran to 3 volumes – the fact that it was necessary for this report to run to 3 volumes can but demonstrate that there is much wrong with our present system of democracy and the mechanisms involved in our membership of the European Union.

If Parliament is sovereign – which we are repeatedly informed it is – then surely there should be pre-EU Council meetings debate and any minister attending such would be constrained as to that which he can agree by the will of Parliament. That such debates now no longer take place only serves to demonstrate that we do indeed live under a democratised dictatorship whereby Ministers can take decisions and ‘come to agreements’ with no oversight whatsoever. While it is admirable of Stuart to attempt to hold the Government to account it is but a forlorn effort due to (a) the lack of separation of power that currently exists twixt the Executive and the Legislature; coupled with (b) the stranglehold party leaders have on their MPs through the whipping system; and (c) as stated earlier, Parliament does not sit long enough for any ‘holding to account’ to occur on any matter, particularly matters EU.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that where our politicians are concerned, in virtually everything they say, it is possible to levy a charge of misrepresentation or being economical with the actualité – apply whatever term you like; personally I prefer to rely on basic Anglo-Saxon and use the word ‘lying’.

Much has been written of late about our loss of ‘Englishness’ – it is becoming apparent that those in power have lost their Englishness due to the fact they have cast aside two important characteristics – namely that of principle and honour.

But we should worry not as do we not live in a democracy and are thus able to hold our elected representatives to account? 

 


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‘Cashing’ in on prevailing sentiment?

In January 2010 Bill Cash presented a Private Members Bill entitled: United Kingdom Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill, which due to the prorogation of Parliament as a result of the General Election being called consequently made no progress.  As can be seen from the parliamentary website this Bill sought to confirm the sovereignty of the UK Parliament by prohibiting the Government from signing, ratifying or implementing a treaty or law which increased the powers of the European Union over the United Kingdom, unless it has first been approved in a UK referendum and iff enacted, the Bill would have overridden the requirements of the European Communities Act 1972, the rule of prerogative, the rule of international law, and any other Act of Parliament, unless the latter expressly stated to the contrary.  According to the parliamentary website the requirement for the Queen to withhold Assent from a Bill without a referendum first having been won would seem to interfere with a constitutional personal prerogative of the Crown. Hansard records the proceedings at the time.

On 29th November Cash presented another Private Members Bill, this time entitled: United Kingdom Parliament (Sovereignty) Bill, the content of which can be read here. It would seem that with the current make-up of the incumbents on the green benches the chances of this latest Private Members Bill succeeding must be zilch.

Reverting to Cash’s speech in 2010 it is interesting to note his first words: The fundamental issue that lies at the heart of this debate is the democratic freedom of choice at the ballot box-the free choice of the voters of the United Kingdom to decide the laws under which they are to be governed……..“. It has to be pointed out that the electorate get no freedom of choice – we are presented with lists from each party informing us what each would allow us, coupled with the fact that we do not even get to choose who may stand to represent us as they are imposed by each parties HQ or chosen by an association. For Cash to also maintain that we get a free choice in the decision of what laws under which we are to be governed is not only disingenuous but laughable.

It is obvious that Cash, in common with other ‘Eurosceptic’ MPs, is no more interested in our democratic freedom – what he and they are interested in is regaining the unfettered power to rule us that they so foolishly ceded. He talks about ‘the safety valve of democracy‘ yet there is no safety valve because the people have been effectively neutered by the imposition of representative democracy; and it is the people that are actually sovereign, not Parliament.

It is about time that Cash – and the rest of the so-called parliamentarians – realised that we are not here to do their bidding but they are there to do our bidding.

A forlorn hope, I know – but one day, maybe not in my lifetime, direct democracy will be the norm. At which time I shall ask the Devil for a ‘day-release’ to come back and celebrate!


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We might as well not be here

On 16th of this month the European Select Committee quizzed three other Chairs of committees (Alan Beith, Keith Vaz, David Davies) on various matters EU (video here), including how to obtain advance information on European Legislation prior to it becoming law. The first question related to a statement by David Lidington that departmental select committees need to take more seriously their strategic responsibility in scrutiny of european matters.

Alan Beith was of the opinion that while the UK Representative at Brussels (UKREP) and his staff were helpful, they could do more in the area of advance notification of matters that are in the pipeline. On this point it was made known that Select Committees are deliberately excluded from advance notification on the basis that the Government and UKREP feel it would tie their hands in negotiations. Keith Vaz made the point that, When Europe Minister, he invariably only received notice of measures right at the last minute, while making the point that Select Committees had not done the amount of detailed examination within their own fields of responsibility on matters EU that was necessary.

Michael Connarty made the admission that as a Parliament, they had disengaged themselves from Europe under the last government, making the point that with enacting the Lisbon Treaty, power now lies with the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament and that the UK is “left out of it”. David Davies, in answer to the question whether there is anything better could be done to engage with “Europe”, replied that what was needed was an “Idiots Guide” explaining very simply how legislation is developed within the EU.

Chris Heaton-Harris queried whether better use of MEPs could be made, with Alan Beith responding it was farcical (my word) that MPs on committees and MEPs in Brussels were, at times, “moving in different directions”. Keith Vaz made the point that he spends more time liaising with his equivalent in France and Germany rather than his equivalent in the EU/Europe as he does not consider Europe to be a country.

On the matter of liaison between the European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) and other departmental committees, Bill Cash made it known that in the year 2011-2012 it had requested 11 “opinions” on matters affecting departmental committees and during 2012-2013 (so far) requested 2 “opinions”. Of the 11 requests, 2 were still outstanding and neither of the 2 requests for 2012-2013 had received a response. Also making the point that the ESC could hardly be accused of asking too many questions, he queried whether in fact they should be making more requests.

Michael Connarty raised the matter that all Select Committee Chairs receive a document called the “Brussels Bulletin” and that Clerks to Select Committee chairs should perhaps, as a matter of course, “scan” this bulletin and bring to the attention of their chairs matters which appear to be gaining traction within Brussels. Keith Vaz responded that his Clerk did do that but that he would in future include that document in his “required reading” each day.

Keith Vaz also pointed out that matters EU are not of interest to everyone and that they should be as, because of that disinterest, Parliament has become a kind of sideshow to what is happening elsewhere due to the fact that matters EU is not publicised sufficiently.

In a supplementary question Penny Mordaunt asked the three wise men appearing before the ESC whether they thought the new family-friendly hours of the House were one of the reasons for matters EU not being discussed, not only in the House, but also by Select Committees. Keith Vaz responded that he vote against the change as now there was little time for debate in either place and if proper debate is not possible he queried why MPs were there.

So we have now discovered that MPs admit they have not been as diligent as they should have been on matters EU; don’t really understand the legislative process of the EU and feel that an “Idiots Guide” would help; have no idea how – and/or from whom – information can be extracted from Brussels about matters EU; that Parliament has become a bit of a side-show; and that where the governance of this country is concerned, power now lies elsewhere.

Indeed, Mr. Vaz: why are MPs there?

H/T: Fausty


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I wonder

Bill Cash has an article on Conservative Home and a letter in today’s Daily Telegraph, both of which appear to be a ‘Big-up Cameron’ piece and in both of which he makes the call for a return to Conservative principles and values and also points out that the Liberal Democrats are preventing Cameron repatriating powers from the European Union; the latter which is completely impossible for reasons explained many times on this blog and others.

Bearing in mind he is presented as the voice of Eurosceptism, might both article and letter be the precursor, when the “Old Bill” retires, to “Cash for Honours”?

Just asking………

 


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The penny has dropped for one Conservative MP

With the news that the United Kingdom risks being fined by the European Court of Justice as the European Commission have judged that current rules, which disbar unemployed EU citizens from staying in the UK for more than three months unless they have their own health insurance, is a breach of the freedom of movement within the Union. The Commission issued a ‘reasoned opinion’ which can be read here.

Politics Home reports on this story with a link to a Daily Express article and quotes Douglas Carswell; he of renowned ‘eurosceptic’ fame, author of “The Plan”, the bête noir (or should that be bête bleu) of David Cameron:

“Another week, another outrage from Brussels. I thought we elected a government to run Britain but it seems we are governed by Europe.”

But it seems we are governed by Europe? But it seems? Er, Harwich, we have a problem…….

Not that Douglas Carswell is alone in not having realised exactly what membership of the European Union means where governance of this country is concerned. Bill Cash, the doyen of the ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservatives and never one to miss an opportunity to get his name in print, opines:

“We need to have a demonstration of what it is that we’ve been breaching. I don’t know the basis on which they’re doing this…….”

If Cash the Great doesn’t know what is happening, then heaven help David Cameron who currently doesn’t appear to know even what day of the week it is – let alone knowing how much it takes to set up a CCS plant.

Both Carswell and Cash campaigned during the 2010 General Election under the Conservative Party  ’Flag’ – and consequently on the Conservative Party Manifesto. On page 114 of that document it states:

“A Conservative government will negotiate for three specific guarantees – on the Charter of fundamental rights, on criminal justice, and on social and employment legislation – with our european [sic] partners to return powers that we believe should reside with the UK, not the EU. We seek a mandate to negotiate the return of these powers from the EU to the UK.”

It is now well known that repatriation of powers is not an achievable objective for reasons that I have explained previously. It cannot happen because if one power were returned by the European Union to one nation state it would result in a queue of Member States all requesting similar concessions and would result in the collapse of the ‘programme’.

Not long ago I accused David Cameron of mis-leading Parliament, following this post by Richard North. It is well known that mis-leading Parliament is a heinous crime, but is not misleading the electorate by a candidate, during an election, similarly a heinous crime – because that is what every Conservative candidate did who campaigned on that manifesto.

Just saying………………….

 


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