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Douglas Carswell's review of the week

Douglas_carswell Douglas Carswell, MP for Harwich & Clacton, reviews the week that was in the House of Commons chamber.

And so it goes on.  Another week of Parliamentary pretence; Ministers pretend to be making the big decisions and we MPs pretend to hold them to account.

Tuesday’s performance of the European Scrutiny Committee demonstrated this rather well.  Foreign Secretary David Miliband was grilled by MPs wanting to know why people will not get a say on the EU Constitutional Treaty through a referendum.  Mr Miliband is no more able to justify this grotesque fact than you or me because it is no more his decision than it is ours.  Miliband’s biggest decisions at the Foreign Office are on the wine list.

Like a long line of MPs in the role of Foreign Secretary, he is little other than the department’s mouthpiece, expected to justify Sir Humphry’s actions in Parliament and on the Today programme.  Indeed several times during the committee session, Miliband had to turn to the Sir Humphry-types sitting beside him to clarify his lines.  Normally departmental mouthpieces (sorry, Ministers) have learnt what to say about "red lines" et al fully before going through the charade of appearing before MPs.

The phoneyness of the government position prompted the irrepressible Bill Cash to table an Early Day Motion demanding a referendum "before or after ratification".  Three cheers, Bill!

Even if this fag-end of a government signs us up to this technocratic treaty, the Conservatives must insist on a referendum. That is called consistency, and like its close relation authenticity, it is a rare and precious commodity in politics today.

Indeed, we must go further and recognise we will never get the enlightened foreign policy Britain so desperately needs as long as vile Sir Humphry at the Foreign Office remains beyond meaningful democratic accountability.  Parliament alone no longer provides that - as this week has again shown.

Peter Bone (Wellingborough) introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to make it compulsory for under 14 year olds to wear cycle helmets.  I am assuming this is only when they are on a bike?

While not a classic liberal position, Peter argued his points well.  Of course, this Bill stands little chance of becoming law.  It is not those we elect to Parliament who make our laws and more, but a myriad of quangos and officials.  If Sir Humphrey wanted this measure introduced, it would be done in ten minutes, not a Ten Minute Rule Bill.

Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) cut to the chase with excellent questions during the defence debate.  Are we spending enough on defence (and spending it the right way), given the massive tasks we have set for our armed forces?  As the debate showed, it will take more than wee Des Browne, Defence Ministry mouthpiece, to answer.

Also on the ball was Philip Davies (Shipley). He asked Parmjit Dhanda, during Local Government questions, about the impact of immigration on housing.  Mr Dhanda, despite being one of the more able Labour frontbenchers tried to brush Davies aside, as if he had been impertinent.  Always a mistake with Davies, one of the most cheerful and determined MPs in Westminster.

As MPs headed off to their constituencies on Friday, news emerges that next year MPs will sit for even fewer days.  Perhaps some might be forgiven for asking what Parliament is for. I instinctively dislike the idea of politicians sitting in Westminster looking for new ways to tax and regulate us.  Yet, so much is rotten with the way our country is run.  So much is wrong with the direction we are moving in.  But Parliament seems incapable of holding those with executive power to account for any of it.

We don't just need a change of government; we need to change how we are governed as well.

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