Wednesday, 8 December 2010

European Union Bill

"The harm done by ordinary criminals.murderers, gangster and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others - with the  abiding assurance that the end justifies the means."
Henry Grady Weaver, author of a classic book on freedom, The Mainspring of Human Progress

It will not have escaped the notice of anyone interested in politics that last night a debate was held in the House of Commons - the second reading of the European Union Bill. I watched this debate in its entirety and at best the number of MPs attending, at any one time, was approximately 12/13 on the Opposition benches and 35/40 on the Government benches.

Having 'trawled' Hansard it would appear that those attending the debate and either asking questions or speaking from the Government benches numbered just 34: William Hague, Tobias Ellwood, Bill Cash, Bernard Jenkin, John Redwood, Edward Leigh, James Clappison, Henry Smith, Mark Reckless, Charlie Elphicke, Douglas Carswell, Tim Farron, Mike Gapes, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Lidington, Neil Carmichael, Stephen Dorrell, Richard Drax, Zac Goldsmith, Anne Main, Andrew Bridgen, Nick de Bois, Christopher Pincher, Laura Sandys, Desmond Swayne, Martin Vickers, Christopher Heaton-Harris, Neil Parish, Priti Patel, Louise Bagshawe, Robert Buckland, Therese Coffey and Dominic Raab. On the Opposition benches questions, or speeches,  came from: Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey, Chris Bryant, Denis MacShane, Mark Hendrick, Graham Stringer, David Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Kelvin Hopkins, Austin Mitchell, Jonathan Reynolds, Wayne David and Thomas Docherty; numbering just 13,

For the record, the Hansard report of the debate can be read here, here, and here - the last link containing the voting record. The European Union Bill can be read here and the explanatory notes here. It is also worth reading the latest hearing, involving David Lidington (Europe Minister), at the European Union Select Committee, together with that Committee's Tenth Report (Vol 1) and (Vol 2). Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, Bill Cash, summary critique can be read here.

At this point in my post I would urge readers to use the links, especially on the debate, to see how the 'Eurosceptic' Tories condemned the bill for its shortcomings, yet stated they would vote for it. The reasons why this is so are covered in the next paragraph.

A number of factors, involving MPs and their behaviour when voting, has always intrigued me. It is a continuous source of wonder why supposedly 'Eurosceptic' MPs so willingly toe the party line, thus supporting it in votes, whilst criticising the nation's membership of the European Union - and regular readers will know that I have raised this matter in previous posts. Why is it that MPs (sheep) allow themselves to be corralled into the correct pen by the dogs (Whips)? My suspicions are now confirmed by a post from Alex Singleton. Writing that he had been informed by one Tory politician, who was on David Cameron’s A-List of priority candidates before the last election, that his chances of winning over a constituency association would increase dramatically if he joined the Better Off Out campaign, but that Conservative Campaign Headquarters would blacklist him if he did that; that another had told him he had asked Better Off Out if he could be placed on a list of “secret” members, because – although he is a committed withdrawalist – the Conservative leadership have made clear that this would cause his political career to be terminated; however the killer fact emerges when Singleton writes:
"The counterproductive nature of this policy was particularly stark when the Conservatives, under Michael Howard’s leadership, decided that UKIP’s Nigel Farage was becoming a threat and needed poaching. According to Farage's autobiography, the party dangled the safe Tory seat of Tunbridge Wells, and he was told that he could advocate Euroscepticism as much as he liked – just so long as he never mentioned withdrawal. Needless to say, he decided that Michael Howard “could go hang” – and the Tories’ opportunity to take out UKIP’s prize asset was wasted."
It is necessary that the question of principle, honour and democracy are raised yet again - on both the question of MPs and their party hierarchy. MPs owe their allegiance to their constituents and country - not their party- and should have the honour and principle to adhere to that! Political parties owe their allegiance to their nation - and to force MPs to forgo their allegiance is despicable. Witness the fact that only 34 MPs from the government benches spoke, yet another 269 magically appeared to vote against the Opposition amendment without having heard the arguments! It is appreciated that Ministers and MPs have other duties and that the LibDems had a rather taxing meeting on tuition fees; however the figures are disappointing when considering the question of democracy.

With the European Union's stated desire to have standardisation of laws, it is utterly amazing that so much fuss and noise is generated on the question of tuition fees. When will these numpties that purport to be politicians realise that within the foreseeable future their presence in Westminster will be completely irrelevant, as against partially irrelevant now?

A further point needs making - yes, during the general election the Conservative Party promised a 'Referendum Lock' bill which they assured us would mean that never again would powers be ceded to the EU; however what they did not inform the electorate is that the bill would include certain caveats. It should also be mentioned that if the Government felt this bill was so important, why is it that it was not introduced prior to ceding power on overseas embassies, the European Investigation Order - which is an extension of the European Arrest Warrant - and financial oversight of our economy?

This bill is yet another change in our constitution and as such it is the people who should be making the decision - not the House of Commons.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Better Off Out is a top-down decoy for Tory MPs to win passes to the trough. If membership can be secret so that CCHQ does't find out, how the hell are constituency associations going to know about it, and how would it be beneficial?

Its sounds like Goldstein's rebellion in 1984 to me.

Anonymous said...

Winston: Does the Brotherhood exist?

O'Brien: That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.

Anonymous said...

I thought the purpose of the bill was to ensure a referendum was triggered if further competencies were ceded to the EU. It says nothing about powers being ceded. Furthermore, it's just an act with nothing to prevent its being removed with ease.


Clearly,the intention is that powers can continue leaking away while the Tories continue to pretend to be doing something about further EU integration and is an obvious piece of trickery. I believe they imagine it's clever in the way the cast-iron promise was clever.

The upper echelons of the Conservative Party clearly see them selves as shepherds having to guide an increasingly fractious flock into the EU pen and they have no intention of doing anything but guiding it into the EU pen. Any pack of lies which keeps the flock heading for the EU pen will do.

It's my view that they would rather lose an election than win it on the basis of having a confrontation with the EU, although they are fully prepared to talk up impractical positions on EU reform and the repatriation of powers when in opposition.

See the Eurosceptic MPs as knowingly or unknowingly, being part of the Tory effort to keep false hopes of their party's Euroscepticism alive and continuing to kid their supporters.

Witterings From Witney said...

Anonymous (X3)

You (assuming not the same person) all make good points.

Anonymous said...

There surely can be no doubt now a days that all of the currently elected mp's are members of pro EU parties? They are all tarred with the stench of Sedition at best and High Treason at worst.