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John Strafford

These are excellent proposals from Theresa May, and we should support them. However, the fundamental problem with the European Union is that is undemocratic. The Tory Party must address this problem and come up with a solution. If no solution can be found, then there is only one answer!


You can "scrutiny" as much as you like but if we no longer have the power of veto over the proposal, then it is goodbye and goodnight.
Let us get back to governing ourselves and make our own arrangements - what about a European Common Market? Has anyone given it a thought?

Frank Upton

I hadn't seen this in the media at all but at last, some policy. It all sounds a bit turgid, but this sounds like it would make a real difference if it's ever implemented.

Brown has a terrible record when it comes to parliament - we need to nail his lies about this.

Lee Rotherham

Excellent news. Many of these suggestions are ones that have long been called for, as in this policy proposal that went to Shadow Cabinet members before the last GE:


Monitoring of EU legislation has long been a sham in Parliament, despite the efforts of a handful of people in scrutiny committees in both Houses. The fact that Labour wanted the Commons cttee to sit in private tells you all you need to know.

Lindsay Jenkins

Mrs May’s comments seem to have generated total silence so far – not usual for ConservativeHome!

Could this be because most people want a simple equation – go to polls, mark X for Jo Blogs with simple first past post system, Blogs votes in parliament on electors’ behalf and within 5 years stands again to receive voters’ support or otherwise.

The weak linkages between the voter, Strasbourg and what comes back in excruciating legislative packages lead to a total turn off by 99 per cent of UK electors.

We just don’t want to know.

And if the answer to the question is the ten complex May proposals then that confirms it.

Perhaps Mrs May should draw the obvious conclusion that we would be Better Off Out.


Lot to take in for the average blog reader like me here. It seems that power must be returned to parliament for this much scrutiny to take place. How will we achieve the return of power to Westminster. Would the USER agree to this? Or would we be forced to put up a bit of determined resistance to the USER?

What about the ECJ, the fines they can raise if we don't comply. How would we get around the USER power infrastructure to be able to establish proper scrutiny?

Theresa May's proposals seem to be intelligently thought out. I am concerned that it's all just an attempt to avoid the real decision that needs to be taken - to withdraw from the USER, and reestablish democratic accountability the simple way.

Should we really be a part of the UNION OF SUBSERVIENT EUROPEAN REGIONS in the first place?

Ken Stevens

A good analysis of the situation - but the root problem arises from being in the EU, in its current format, in the first place. You mention referenda on treaties that transfer power. We first need a referendum on membership overall.Otherwise it's a bit like mugging me and then politely asking me in sequence whether I would like to hand over my wristwatch, then my ipod (whatever that is), my wallet, etc.

It seems that your proposals for scrutiny of laws passed down will require far more parliamentary manpower. Does that mean that parliamentary resources will increase in inverse proportion to parliamentary sovereignty?

You say "...But the European Parliament cannot be the sole answer, because the EU is an association of nation states, so its democratic legitimacy must come from national parliamentary democracy...".

It begs the question of why there is a European parliament at all, since it does not seem to have the same relationship to the Eurogovernment as applies in UK. For example, could it vote down proposed legislation? Could it mount a vote of no confidence, resulting in demise of the Eurogovernment and new elections?
I do not regard the EU as having any democratic legitimacy, in the absence of a referendum result that supported overall membership beyond that of trade. We have representative democracy in England (I deliberately haven't said UK, given the WLQ) but that does not extend to my democratic representatives ceding their powers to an extra-territorial body.

Btw, would a Europhile please explain to my simple intellect how we can have a European president, whilst retaining a monarchy. I suspect a post-Elizabethan plot towards a de facto republic!

I'm quite a lily-livered liberal (small "l") in most things but on EU and WLQ, I'm a swivel-eyed nutter.

Andrew Lilico

An interesting set of ideas. Nice piece.

Dick Wishart

Common sense reigns!

Deputy Editor

Sorry Lindsay, we had comment moderation on temporarily and didn't get a chance to approve them until now.

Bill Brinsmead

Theresa May’s analysis and proposals are sound and sensible but she is too lenient on MPs – ‘volume of work’ ‘Committee lacks teeth’. They are failing us in their systemic failure to properly scrutinise the works of the European Commission. There are no excuses that stand up to examination.

The Lord’s European Union Committee – and its sub committees – does an excellent job in scrutinising European Commission proposals and policy pronouncements. The Common’s Scrutiny Committee’s efforts are pitiful.

A key task is to scrutinise proposals generated by the European Commission – the Lord’s Committee does this, it meets in public and calls witness from the Commission. By the time proposals are turned into laws and regulations it is by definition too late. Theresa May’s Problem 2 rightly diagnoses the problem ‘The timing of scrutiny’ - her solution is weak. Another option is a Joint Lords and Commons Committee

John Campbell

This is the first time I've heard a serious politician address in detail the appalling lack of scrutiny of EU legislation. It's a major reason why British politicians are held in low esteem - because they are effectively powerless, having given our sovereignty (and hence their power) away to the EU or to Qangos.

So, really good so far. But:
(1) Why not say that no EU legislation will get through UNTIL it's been properly scrutinised by the processes outlined? Why the apparent eagerness in the proposed processes to match throughput to the Brussels firehose? It could only do good to slow it up anyway, and a lot more good if most of it had to be put to Parliament. Now *that* would certainly slow it up! And a good thing too.

(2) These proposals are common sense - one would say a no-brainer. Why has it taken so long for the problem to be recognised by *any* serious policitician? Have they been asleep on the job since Maastricht?

(3) Alas, like all common sense no-brainer policies, it is very unlikely that it will be taken up by any of the main political parties. Pity, but there it is.


Bill Brinsmead - you are mighty critical, have you actually read any of the reports produced by the Commons European Scrutiny Committee?

As for "early warning", perhaps you ought to examine the Committee's report on the Commission's Annual Policy Strategy, published last week.

A substantial problem with the present system is that the Commons Committee is, by the terms of its standing order, able only to report on whether a Green Paper, White Paper or legislative proposal from the Commission is "legally or politically important". (Incidentally, any Commons departmental select committee could examine any of these documents and would be under no such constraints). having decided that it is politically and/or legally important, it recommends it for debate.

This is where the system should activate, alarm bells ring and political debate should kick off. Lobby groups should contact opposition spokesmen, encourage them to turn up in Standing Committee, ask the Government tough questions.

But it doesn't seem to happen. The Scrutiny Committee gives the House all the tools it needs to do its job of scrutiny, but when the matter is left to the opposition parties to organise, it just doesn't happen. Front benchers turn up in Committee poorly briefed and with little real knowledge of what they are debating, and are often woefully unable to put Ministers under any real pressure. When was the last time the Opposition tabled a motion to amend a Government resolution in Standing Committee?

By the way, could we have a few more details about this "European Research Group" which claims to have examined the European Scrutiny Committee's output? perhaps a link to the research which Mrs May has quoted?


And, by the way, is Mrs May aware that the week before she delivered her speech the European Scrutiny Committee had Commissioner Wallstrom in for a grilling, in public?

Or did she not clear her speech with Mark Francois?


Lee Rotherham - name one other Commons select committee which deliberates in public (as opposed to taking evidence, which the European Scrutiny Committee always does in public).

Gerry Lloyd

Some cursory scrutiny of a certain "plea and sentencing agreement" in South Africa might have saved a Brit from four years of hell, and a lifetime of suspicion.: http://mbolombotongo.blogspot.co.uk/

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