Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our Parliament. Whipped into whingeing worthlessness!

The debate in the House of Commons this afternoon was not distinguished by any great speeches, riveting repartee nor apt argument. It was pedantic and predictable to those of us who have made a point, down the years, of watching these occasions, when Parliament is steadily ground into irrelevance, by the corrupted payroll vote of those who support the evil european project.

The initial Hansard record is linked here.

Mark Reckless MP who proposed the motion, hit the right note on the importance of the matter, with this middle portion of his introduction:

Ever since the civil war, and perhaps back to the Plantagenet era, the primary duty of this House has been to control supply, to hold the purse strings and to decide what the Executive may or may not spend on behalf of our constituents. It is not for Her Majesty’s Treasury to decide what unknowable liabilities to sign our constituents up for. It is for us, as their elected representatives, to make that decision. I ask every Member to consider that point when they cast their vote later. It is our decision, and only we stand between our constituents and the ability of others to spend their money on their behalf.

There were several worthy, but predictable contributions from the usual culprits of the Conservative anti-Maastricht wing, as one of their female colleagues described them, but for me, Kate Hoey from the Labour benches put the pointlessness of it all most succinctly:

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I want to contribute to the debate because it is often implied in the media and elsewhere that very few Labour Members are against what is happening in Europe. It is important to point out that millions of Labour voters would support the motion, and would like to see my party take an even stronger view on this issue.

I do not know the details of who signed up to what and when, but I am clear that if it was our Chancellor who did so, we should not have signed up to these arrangements. The new Government coming in should certainly have made it clear that they were a new Government and that they would look at the matter again. I appreciate that they are a coalition, but this should have had a high priority in the coalition agreement.

Even in the House today, we are going to end up being unable to have a clear vote on this issue because of the way in which the procedure works and because of the way in which the Government—like previous Governments—are in a nice, cosy little group with all the pro-Europeans to ensure that we never have a real vote on these matters. I am not sure whether all those Members who have signed up to the Government’s amendment knew what they were signing up to. I cannot believe that they do not support the motion tabled by the hon. Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless). Looking at the amendment, we see that they accept the motion up to and including the point that the EFSM is “legally unsound”. If something is legally unsound, the Government should automatically oppose it. I am sure that the European Union will be quivering when it hears that the Government’s amendment proposes that the Government
“raise the issue of the EFSM at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council; and supports any measures which would lead to an agreement for a Eurozone-only arrangement.” 

Douglas Carswell made a strong contribution, but I do not wish to give too many long quotes as the true victor of the day was the Shadow Treasury Spokesman, whom I have not seen in action before, who stole the day in my mind. He hit on the key to the issue which goes back to how Britain got sucked into the obligation of Britain contributing to save a currency we always knew was doomed. His name Chris Leslie representing Nottingham East and sponsored by Labour Co-op, some quotes:

We need to clarify some of the history to this issue because I get the impression that certain hon. Members are labouring under a false set of impressions about the European financial stabilisation mechanism. Of course there were the ECOFIN meetings of 9 and 10 May at which the EFSM was agreed to as part of the package of measures to maintain financial stability across Europe. It was against that backdrop that my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling), the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, consulted both the current Chancellor and the Business Secretary, and cross-party consensus had been gained. Those are not my words but those of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. The explanatory memorandum that she signed on 15 July 2010 in her own fair hand—Justine Greening, Economic Secretary—says those words:

“cross-party consensus had been gained.”

I know it is convenient for Ministers and some hon. Members to rewrite history and to give a partial account of what happened and about these important facts, but there it is in writing. [ Interruption. ] If hon. Members want to dispute the words of their honourable colleague on the Front Bench I am happy to give way to them.....

...In a letter of 18 July 2010 to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, to whom I shall give way in a moment, the Economic Secretary also said, very helpfully, that
“this Government judges”

the EFSM

“to be an appropriate response to the crisis.”

So the official voice of the Government, according to what the Economic Secretary has written in her own fair hand, was that there was a consensus approach during the transitional period following the general election and that the current Government judged the EFSM to be an appropriate response to the crisis.

Mr Cash: Does the shadow Minister accept that the date on which that particular statement was made, 15 July 2010, was four days after the expiry of the date on which a challenge to the European Court could have been made? Furthermore, does he accept that since then the Government have insisted that they oppose the proposal of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Chris Leslie: That is an extremely illuminating fact and it would be perfectly legitimate for Members on the Government side, perhaps in private meetings elsewhere, to ask a few more searching questions about what exactly their Front Benchers have been doing in their name. Either the Minister who signed the memorandum was wrong—perhaps she was misled in her understanding or she and her officials were ignorant of the facts—or perhaps she was actually speaking the truth but was subsequently slapped down by the Chancellor.

The situation has changed markedly since last May. The circumstances under which the EFSM was then agreed have altered, casting doubt on whether it is being used appropriately, as many hon. Members have said. Because of the various weaknesses shown by the current Administration in Europe, we have ended up increasingly paying more than our fair share in relation to the EFSM facility, especially as time and again the junior EFSM fund in the bail-out package has ended up shouldering up to a third of the bail-out costs, as some hon. Members have pointed out. We have found that the agreement in May regarding the EFSM sum of €60 billion would represent only 12% of the non-IMF contribution, with the remaining €440 billion being borne by the wider eurozone fund. The British liability for that was going to be only 12.5%, but the proportion contributed from the EU-wide EFSM to the Irish bail-out was greater than the eurozone proportion. The Portuguese bail-out was hardly an improvement, with one third coming from the EFSF, one third from the EFSM and another third from the IMF.

The Minister must explain to the House why the EFSM, which makes up only 12% of the non-IMF contribution, is being drawn upon to the same extent as or more than the EFSF. That forms a crucial part of the motion tabled by Back Benchers. The Minister is under an obligation at least to say why we are using the EFSM to such a high degree. That is incredibly important. It has been in the gift of Ministers to answer that question, but so far they have neglected to do so.

(Blog editor's highlighting throughout.)

Needless to say, the Minister (Mark Hoban, useless,waffling and evasive nonentity as he he quickly proved to be,) completely failed to address these points and stumbled his way to the time limit for his speech, offering nothing for either his listeners, that this neutered Parliament still presumes to pay a salary, nor any enlightenment or comfort for the taxpayers that they daily fleece.

Only 46 MPs in Parliament today, now seem worthy of their posts and the salary, pension and perks that go with it? A sad event, and pitiful spectacle indeed.

I will return to the balance beween payments from the EFSM versus the EFSF at a later date. It is clearly exactly as this blog has been suggesting for the past year!

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