Douglas Carswell MP

9 Dec 2011 13:30:12

Tory MPs react to Cameron's EU veto (Rolling Blog)

Rosindell6.15pm Andrew Rosindell MP praised David Cameron's "bulldog spirit":

"It’s a historic sort-of shift for Britain; it does mean that we can think more freely about where we want to be in the long-term. I think the great majority of British people don’t want to be part of political union. We want free trade and co-operation, but we don’t want to be tied into a straitjacket, and that is something that we need to address in the coming years, and I’ve no doubt David Cameron will understand that and will take that forward. He’s proved, as Prime Minister, that he’s prepared to put Britain first, and that’s what he’s done ... We never had a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, so there are issues that need to be addressed, but at least we have a Prime Minister that understands what matters to Britain, and is prepared to stand up for our country, put Britain first, and show the bulldog spirit, and that’s what David Cameron did this week."

HESELTINE-MICHAEL-NN3.45pm Lord Heseltine appeared on BBC News this afternoon:

"I think that the immediate reaction is the Prime Minister secured the objectives, the two objectives that he had. One was to give encouragement to the eurozone members to sort out their problems, because he recognises the immense damage that collapse of the euro could have in this country, and the second, more complicated objective, but very important, is to protect the interests of the City of London, so he wasn’t prepared to give away any sort of negotiating position or any degree of national control in the middle of the night on Thursday."

2pm Mark Reckless MP told Sky News about his expectation of support for the Prime Minister amongst MPs:

"I think when the Prime Minister makes his statement on Monday he is going to be exceptionally well received on the Conservative benches. He kept his word. He said that if we didn't get protection for the City he would veto the treaty. He didn't get that protection so he vetoed the treaty. I think many of my colleagues will see this as an opportunity to develop a new relationship with Europe whereas a country we become independent once again, trading with Europe but governing ourselves and making our own arrangements with Europe - like the Swiss do - while the EU-26 go ahead with fiscal union with the union."

REDWOOD JOHN12.15pm John Redwood MP told Sky News:

"I am a Conservative, and it is my job to urge the Coalition Government to reflect more fully the very strong Conservative opinion on this issue where I think we are in touch with the mood of the country, where the polls show that about four out of five people agree with us that we want less Europe. They don't agree with the Liberal Democrats. ... The UK isn't afraid of Germany, and we are happy to look Germany in the eye and say we don't agree on this and we want to do something different. A lot of the smaller countries near Germany are scared and they have to go along with a German Europe."

Zahawi Nadhim11.30am Nadhim Zahawi MP told Radio 4's "The Week in Westminster":

"We are going to see the detail of what [the 17] are proposing, but I don't see this as being necessarily negative. They already have the Euro, which is something that the 17 of them agreed on that has not harmed us. They have had other things that haven't harmed us either. I don't see this as one of those seminal moments in history that we are suddenly seen to be isolated in some way. We are still an economic power and buy more from Europe than we export to it."

Fallon Michael Blue Tie11am Michael Fallon MP, Deputy Chairman of the Party, told BBC News:

"The eurozone want to move ahead now and pool their sovereignty and have decisions over tax and spending taken centrally by Brussels and so on. We don't want to be part of that. We want them to get on with it, to sort out the eurozone crisis, because it has been spreading across and slowing down economies right across Europe. We wish them well in that but we certainly don't want our tax and spending decisions taken in Brussels. We are going to protect that."

Saturday 7am:

Eustice George June 2011George Eustice MP in the FT (£):

"The truth is that today, Europe unites rather than divides Tories and they will all support the stance Mr Cameron adopted at this summit. They will judge him favourably because of how hard he has tried rather than what was achieved. There is a pragmatism within the new parliamentary party but underlying that patience is a steely resolve to see a new relationship between Britain and the EU: one in which, as Mr Cameron said in his Mansion House speech, powers ebb back to Britain rather than flow away."

John Redwood MP on his blog:

"The numbers of Conservative rebels will doubtless wax and wane, but there is now a hard core of at least 45 who are likely to vote against unsuitable EU measures, meaning the Coalition needs some Labour support or help should they want to put through more EU decisions."

HALFON-robertRobert Halfon MP on his blog:

"Britain's veto was of huge importance. It is the first shift away from the ratchet effect of European integration for many years. It shows that the UK will no longer accept the unacceptable transfer of powers away from our nation state. It also opens up a real possibility of a fundamental renegotiation of our relationship with the EU: as part of a co-operative free-trading bloc within a European Economic Community - rather than being an inexorable part of a federal superstate."

***

Reckless Mark5.45pm Mark Reckless MP has recorded a video-blog, in which he says

"Our Prime Minister has shown that he is a man of his word... David Cameron said that unless he got a protocol to protect the City from European regulation that he would veto the European treaty. He didn't get that protocol...and he vetoed the treaty as he promised he would, and I just think restoring faith in politics is so important, and I think the Prime Minister has helped do that."

5.45pm The Daily Express reports on Boris' praise for the PM:

"The Mayor of London said: "David Cameron has done the only thing that it was really open to him to do. He has played a blinder.""

PRITCHARD5.15pm Mark Pritchard MP issued the following statement:

"I welcome the Prime Minister's stand. He is to be given credit. However it is now clear that the United Kingdom's relationship with the EU will significantly change given the emergence of a new inner EU-bloc, a dominant bloc. This new bloc is a major power shift, and establishes a new paradigm in the way the Eurozone and the wider EU will do future business. The UK has the full legal rights of all the other EU members. If these rights are abused then the UK should use its considerable budget contribution to the EU as leverage in its interests. The unintended consequence of these negotiations is that it seems more, not less likely that there will be an EU referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU within this Parliament, which is something our Coalition partners have also agreed upon in their last election manifesto. Today is a good day for British sovereignty"

4.30pm VIDEO Cameron has created path to "full renegotiation" of UK's EU relationship, claims Bill Cash MP

CARSWELL DOUGLAS3pm Douglas Carswell told PoliticsHome

"The events in Brussels show that we have changed direction. We have got a long way to go, but I think people will be supportive of David Cameron for doing the right thing. What we need to do is make absolutely clear that there is no scope for changing the small print of the deal. ... The idea of a new architecture of the EU that we are not part of is incredibly, incredibly exciting, and has the possibility of giving us a better relationship with the EU. We must make sure that we actually deliver the change."

Tebbit22.30pm Lord Tebbit has just blogged for the Telegraph

"At last! When all other options had been exhausted, David Cameron has done the right thing. By refusing to sign up to changes in the Treaty of Rome (which is now, after amendments, really the Treaty of Lisbon) the Prime Minister has adopted the policy which, in a conversation with Giscard d'Estaing, I described as “getting the British dog out of the European federal manger”. ... Whether Cameron's decision was made out of conviction and understanding of these great issues, out of fear that his party would split with a majority led by dissident Cabinet colleagues against him, or out of fear that demands for a referendum would become irresistible, we cannot know. We should just be grateful that he made it."

Continue reading "Tory MPs react to Cameron's EU veto (Rolling Blog)" »

5 Dec 2011 17:41:54

Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty

Friday 8.45am John Redwood MP blogs:

"Orderly but rapid break up would be the least cost option. It would liberate the countries allowed out, and permit them to adjust their competitiveness by a devaluation which would be swift and easier to sell than large wage cuts. There is  no foundation to the proposition that the EU would lose 10-50% of its output if they changed currencies. To my knowledge 87 countries have left currency unions since 1945. In most cases they have prospered more after exit. The successful break up of the 16 member rouble bloc could be the model."

8.30pm Philip Hollobone told Sky News:

Hollobone_phillip"...we need to have a disorderly breakup so that the whole of Europe and the rest of the world economy can get back to significant economic growth in the future. This idea that we can prop up the eurozone in the next ten years with constant austerity is just not going to work."

6.45pm The leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan MEP said: 

CALLANAN MARTIN"If there is any treaty change which creates European fiscal union then clearly that will radically effect the UK and that should be put to a referendum. That is what democracy demands, because we would be creating a fundamental change to the EU and our relationship with it. However, that could take years to complete. It might be a way to solve the next crisis - but not this one. That is why the focus should be on measures to address the issues at the heart of this crisis."

He said these would include "The casual one-size-fits-all approach that had undermined the euro from its foundations", "The massive economic imbalance between its prosperous and economically-disciplined members and those which were debt-ridden and financially dysfunctional", "The over-regulation which hampered wealth-creation and innovation and encouraged a dependency culture in struggling states."

5.30pm Paul Waugh reports that Edward Leigh said the following in a Westminster Hall debate this afternoon:

LEIGH edward MP"We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years in the days preceding a summit that 'they will stand up for the British national interest' and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, 'I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests'."

Update: Paul Waugh tweets

"No.10 hits back at Edward Leigh's Chamberlain remarks. PM's spokeswoman: "It was offensive and ridiculous.""

5.15pm Nadine Dorries blogged

DORRIES-Nadine"I have no doubt that the PM will return with some form of a guarantee for Britain as the last thing Merkel wants is a referendum in Britain. If Britain succumbs, other countries may follow suit and the effect such an event would have on the markets would be damaging for Germany. After all, it’s all about Germany. A fiscal union of 17 EU members forming one new country and in effect a new trading block will have huge implications for Britain and British business. It's time we gave the British people their say via a referendum. The next two days will test the Prime Ministers courage and skills. If he misses this opportunity to grasp the nettle and give the British People their say, they may eventually make him pay with the one vote they will have."

4.15pm Nick Boles appeared on the Daily Politics show this afternoon, and argued:

Jenkin Campbell Boles"Today is the moment of maximum economic danger for Britain. Our retail sales are falling, manufacturing output is collapsing, Brazil has stalled, China has stalled. The entire global economy is sitting on the edge of an abyss and the urgent priority for the British people is to protect our economy and their jobs by getting this Eurozone crisis fixed. We need to repatriate powers but we need to come to that after we've saved our economy, not before. ... What I want David Cameron to do is to protect our economy, protect our jobs - mainly, because that's the thing that's under most threat from the Eurozone - protect the City of London, but he needs to help them get a solution to the Eurozone crisis so that the entire European economy doesn't fall apart. ... We are going to work out an entirely new kind of outer-tier relationship, and that is a big exercise, it's a very important exercise, and it offers big opportunities for Britain, but it's probably going to take two or three years - it's not the work of a weekend when the global economy is on the precipice."

3.30pm Sir Peter Tapsell told Radio 4:

Tapsel Peter"The fact is the French and German leaders have been meeting for weeks and weeks. I have very little doubt that they will not be able to solve the eurocrisis on Friday but it is very much in the British national interests that it should be solved. As we argued at the time of the Maastricht Treaty to think that you can have a single a interest rate for a whole variety of countries at different stages in their development. And that remains true today and although we opted out of the euro right from the beginning and very sensibly so, but we are affected by the euro and I feel really sceptical that they can solve to eurocrisis, I don’t expect it to survive. ... The reason why Europe is in crisis has to be traced back to the Maastricht Treaty. They then introduced a whole series of measures which weakened the European economy by comparison with those of the Far East and America and so on."

Continue reading "Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty" »

8 Nov 2011 17:33:57

Eurosceptic Tory MPs grill Cameron following G20 statement

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday afternoon, David Cameron made a statement to the House on his recent G20 meetings. Given that the Prime Minister described the main topic of debate as "instability in the eurozone", one could have predicted Eurosceptic members would turn up in force - as indeed they did. Douglas Carswell, Bill Cash, and Peter Bone were amongst the MPs asking questions. 

Bill Cash posed the first challenging question of the session:

CASH WILLIAM"Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): Given that the single market, including the City of London, is governed by qualified majority voting, how does the Prime Minister propose to achieve a majority to protect our interests in the context of the fiscal union that he advocates?

The Prime Minister: First, we need to disconnect the issues that my hon. Friend raises. The issue of the single market and the threat to the City of London and Britain’s financial services is a real threat. We have to work extremely hard to build alliances in the single market and in the European Council to stop directives that would damage our interests. I think it is extremely important that we do that work. Financial services matter hugely to this country, and this is one of the areas that I want to ensure we can better safeguard in future."

Continue reading "Eurosceptic Tory MPs grill Cameron following G20 statement" »

7 Sep 2011 07:27:57

Douglas Carswell introduces his bill to make different currencies legal tender

By Paul Goodman
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The Osborne/Balls exchanges during yesterday's Treasury oral questions are well worth reading, but in the wake of Steve Baker's piece yesterday I've decided instead to put up Douglas Carswell's speech on his Currency Banknotes (Amendment) Bill.  The Labour MP John Mann spoke against the bill, but didn't seek to force a division.  It therefore now proceeds for the time being - though it certainly won't make the statute book. 

"Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Currency and Banknotes Act 1954 to allow banknotes in addition to those issued by the Bank of England to be legal tender; and for connected purposes.

Continue reading "Douglas Carswell introduces his bill to make different currencies legal tender" »

12 Jul 2011 08:32:49

29 32 Tory MPs rebel against Britain's £9.3 billion EXTRA contribution to IMF bailouts

By Tim Montgomerie
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Last night at least 32 Tory MPs (listed below) voted with Labour against an 88% hike in Britain's contribution to the IMF. The hike is to partly fund the IMF's ability to fund bailouts. I write "at least" because I've only quickly scanned the voting list. Please email [email protected] if I've missed anyone off the list.

  1. Steve Baker
  2. Brian Binley
  3. Peter Bone
  4. Douglas Carswell
  5. Bill Cash
  6. Chris Chope
  7. James Clappison
  8. Philip Davies
  9. David Davis
  10. Zac Goldsmith
  11. James Gray (added at 9.30am)
  12. Gordon Henderson (added at 9.30am)
  13. Chris Kelly
  14. Edward Leigh
  15. Julian Lewis
  16. Anne Main
  17. Karl McCartney
  18. Nigel Mills (added at 11.30am)
  19. David Nuttall
  20. Matthew Offord
  21. Andrew Percy
  22. Mark Reckless
  23. John Redwood
  24. Simon Reevell
  25. Richard Shepherd
  26. Henry Smith
  27. Graham Stuart
  28. Peter Tapsell
  29. Andrew Turner
  30. Martin Vickers
  31. Charles Walker
  32. John Whittingdale

The Government won the vote to increase Britain's contribution from £10.7 billion to £20.15 billion by 274 votes to 246. This is the first time that the Labour frontbench has voted with Tory Eurosceptics. Labour was voting against an increase in the IMF subscription that was largely agreed during Gordon brown's time in office.

Redwood-on-NewsnightS On his blog John Redwood suggests that the 29 rebels are only one sign of Tory discontent. Given that there are more than 300 Tory MPs he calculates that AT LEAST 80 Conservatives were unavailable, abstained or voted against the government. He writes:

"Some of us want the UK government to use the influence it says it has at the IMF to halt the futile bail outs of Eurozone members. The debt markets show the markets do not believe that Greece can repay all its debts in full and on time. Yesterday was a day when market worries spread beyond Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Italy. Those in  charge of the Euro scheme need to get a grip. It is doing a great deal of financial and economic damage, and they no longer seem to be in control of their project. The IMF should decline to bail out rich countries that have shackled themselves to a currency scheme that was badly put together and needs a thorough re think."

Carswell Douglas Central Lobby 10.30am Douglas Carswell has just blogged this:

"The decision to raise our IMF subscriptions by 88 percent was first mooted when Gordon Brown was in charge – but was okayed by the current government last October.  While Canada, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium all managed to keep the increase in their subs low, whoever negotiated the deal on our behalf seems to have preferred to have UK taxpayers assume greater debt liabilities so that they could sit on a bigger chair at the various international summits they attend on our behalf. Alongside fiscal policy and monetary policy, our approach towards the bailouts and the IMF shows that there has been remarkably little change in economic policy at the Treasury since Gordon Brown was in charge." 

More from Douglas Carswell.

6 Jul 2011 08:06:30

Tory MP Rob Wilson puts his head above the parapet with attack on "partisan" and "divisive" Bercow

By Tim Montgomerie
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Bercow Smiling

Conservative MP Rob Wilson has launched a direct attack on the Speaker, John Bercow. He hasn't done it on the floor of the House but on the pages of The Daily Telegraph.

He writes that Bercow "has emerged as a partisan, divisive figure, and one far too full of his own importance."

As evidence of partrisanship Mr Wilson argues that "he constantly interrupts and chastises Conservative MPs, while giving generous leeway to Labour opponents." He also cites last week's PMQs when, twice, the Speaker cut Cameron off in midflow.

Continue reading "Tory MP Rob Wilson puts his head above the parapet with attack on "partisan" and "divisive" Bercow" »

21 Jun 2011 07:20:30

Conservative MPs urge Greece to leave the €uro but Treasury minister Mark Hoban declines to agree

By Tim Montgomerie
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In the late 1990s the Tories became the anti-€uro party but in the Commons yesterday a Tory Treasury minister would not echo Boris Johnson's comments and say that it was time for Greece to leave the single currency and pursue an export-led recovery. The frontbench's reluctance contrasted with the anger of Jack Straw and a host of Tory backbenchers, who all called for Greece to quit the currency zone.

It was the Eurosceptic Labour MP, Gisela Stewart, who yesterday forced an emergency statement from the Treasury. Ms Stewart wanted to know what were the Treasury’s contingency plans in the event of a Greek default.

Screen shot 2011-06-20 at 16.08.10

George Osborne was attending a finance ministers meeting and it was left to Mark Hoban, the Financial Secretary, to answer on behalf of the Treasury. He declined to detail any contingency plans but did assure the House that the UK would not participate in any European bailout of Greece:

"We did not participate directly in the May 2010 package of support for Greece, and there has been no formal suggestion of UK bilateral loans or use of the EFSM, which is backed by the EU budget. The UK participated in the May 2010 package for Greece only through its membership of the IMF. So the burden of providing finance to Greece is shared between the IMF and euro area member states, and we fully expect this to continue. Our position on that is well understood across the euro area."

Der-spiegel-euro Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, was unimpressed by Mr Hoban's reticence and, enjoying his own backbench freedom, urged the Government to declare that the €uro was dead in its current form (video here):

"Will the Minister not recognise that there is now a mood change in Europe? Der Spiegel, the German magazine has had a cover story [image on right declaring "Sudden and Unexpected"] contemplating the end of the euro as we now know it, and Mr Charles Grant, the well known europhile, has done the same in The Times today. Instead of sheltering behind complacent language and weasel words that we should not speculate, the Government should recognise that this eurozone cannot last. It is the responsibility of the British Government to be open with the British people now about the alternative prospects. Since the euro in its current form is going to collapse, is it not better that that happens quickly rather than it dying a slow death?"

Mr Hoban responded by noting that Mr Straw once wanted to take Britain into the €uro but refused to join him in stating that the current arrangement was over. "We have a strong interest, though, in the continued stability of the eurozone, as it is our major trading partner," said Mr Hoban, "Continued instability in the eurozone could be a factor in holding back the recovery of the British economy."

Continue reading "Conservative MPs urge Greece to leave the €uro but Treasury minister Mark Hoban declines to agree" »

25 May 2011 07:28:32

Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts

By Jonathan Isaby
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We have already highlighted the result of the vote of yesterday's debate on the future use of the European Financial Stability Mechanism to bail out eurozone countries, which saw a rebellion by thirty Conservative MPs.

As I explained yesterday afternoon, Mark Reckless MP proposed a motion that would have required the Government to place the EFSM on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and effectively mandated British ministers to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement relieving the UK of liability had been agreed. Reckless wrote about it for ConHome on Monday.

However, Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris - at the behest of Tory whips, according to a variety of sources - tabled an amendment signed by a large number of fellow backbenchers which watered down the original motion, instead merely urging the Government to raise the issue and expressing support for "any measures which would lead to an agreement for a Eurozone-only arrangement".

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, a signatory to the Reckless motion, was incandescent.

Continue reading "Chris Heaton-Harris explains why he watered down Mark Reckless's motion on Eurozone bailouts" »

16 Mar 2011 11:47:37

Four Conservative MPs signal concerns about the Health Bill

By Jonathan Isaby

Sarah Wollaston This afternoon sees two opposition day debates initiated by the Labour Party, on fuel prices and the NHS.

The Lib Dems' objections to the current NHS Bill are well documented, but four Tory MPs have popped their heads above the parapet to indicate they have concerns too.

An amendment to this afternoon's Labour motion on the NHS reorganisation has been submitted which would instruct the Government "to listen to the concerns of patient groups, professional bodies and independent experts and work with them to achieve a strengthened NHS".

This has been tabled by Tory MP and former GP Sarah Wollaston (pictured), and co-signed by Charles Walker, Douglas Carswell and Anne Main (along with six Lib Dems).

The amendment is unlikley to be called to be voted upon, but some of those individuals may seek to catch the Speaker's eye during the debate and expand upon their concerns...

9 Feb 2011 07:17:04

Three sharp questions for George Osborne from his backbenches

by Paul Goodman

George Osborne bested Ed Balls yesterday.  But the Treasury team also faced three sharp questions from its own side, which the sketchwriters have duly picked up this morning.  Here they are in full, together with the answers.

First -

"Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): There is a lot of public disquiet about alleged enormous sweetheart deals done with major public companies-Vodafone and others-in the last five years. Three or four months ago, I tabled a question asking how many of these deals had been done, costing more than £100 million at a time. The answer I received was that the information requested was "not readily available" and could be provided "only at disproportionate cost". I received a similar blocking answer this morning. When is the Minister going to tell the House what HMRC has been up to?

Mr Gauke: The National Audit Office has investigated and examined that as a matter of course. There is no question of sweetheart deals. The reality is that HMRC is seeking to recover as much tax as is due. That is what it has done in a number of cases. I am not going to comment on individual cases. That is a matter of confidentiality; I do not get to see the details. None the less, I think wild allegations have been made against HMRC, for which there is little or no evidence."

Second -

"Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): The Chancellor is entirely right to emphasise the need to be careful with public money. Will he therefore please explain his role in approving the deal to make the UK taxpayer liable for billions of pounds to bail out the euro under the European stabilisation mechanism? Will he respond to my freedom of information request, and publish the advice that he was given on the agreement on assuming office?

Mr Osborne: First, I will look at my hon. Friend's FOI request, because I have not seen it. The broader point that I would make is that my predecessor as Chancellor, in the weekend between the general election and the creation of the new Government, agreed to the creation of the European stability facility. That involves a UK commitment which takes place on the basis of qualified majority voting; we do not have a veto. I made it clear to the previous Chancellor at the time that I did not support what he had done. However, it has happened and we have to live with the consequences."

Third -

"Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle) (Con): Do Treasury Ministers agree that the real problem with bankers' bonuses is that they are paid not out of profits, but out of revenues? Taxing banks after the bonuses have been paid merely depresses dividends, particularly for pension funds. Why are bankers' bonuses not paid out of profits, as they always were by my very efficient stockbroking firm?

Mr Hoban: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Of course, under the old regime, there was no clawback when bonuses were paid out in cash, and no lock-up. The new code on remuneration introduced by the Financial Services Authority, which is ahead of international practice, has clear rules on deferral, requires that bonuses be clawed back for poor performance, and requires that bonuses for significantly highly paid members of staff-those who take risks-be paid out principally in shares, not in cash. That will ensure that the interests of bankers are aligned with those of shareholders."

28 Dec 2010 13:58:36

What would you and 99,999 friends like MPs to debate?

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-12-28 at 13.57.33 Jonathan Isaby reported the fact on 2nd December but this morning's Guardian, in a Christmas stocking filler, revisited the Coalition's intention to press ahead with plans to give voters the right to demand debates on certain hot topics. It is expected that MPs will be required to debate issues if approximately 100,000 voters sign an online petition.

Dan Hannan wants MPs to vote on whether Britain should stay a member of the EU.

Guido Fawkes wants MPs to be put on record for supporting or opposing "capital punishment for child and cop killers".

No doubt the NUS will want to force MPs to vote on their preferred alternative to tuition fees.

Archbishop Cranmer lists other Bills he expects popular petitions to force MPs to debate:

  • "An Immediate Cessation of Immigration Bill
  • An Introduction of Sharia Law Bill
  • A Scotland Indepedence Bill (with a very easy million signatures)
  • A United Ireland Bill (again, with a very easy million signatures)
  • A Disestablish the Church of England Bill
  • A Removal of the Vote from Guests of Her Majesty Bill
  • A Ban on Mosque-building Bill."

Cranmer predicts that disaffection with MPs will become greater as they repeatedly reject motions that they are forced to debate.

Douglas Carswell MP welcomes the initiative (one he and Dan Hannan proposed in their 'Plan' manifesto). He rejects the idea that voters can't be trusted with direct democracy:

"What direct democracy would not do is lead to mob rule.  If you give adults responsibility, they tend to behave not only responsibly, but in a fair-minded, liberal way.  It is worth reflecting that the death penalty has more often been abolished by plebiscite, than it has been introduced."

> On a poor phone line I had a ninety second slot on this morning's Today programme to welcome the petitions idea. Labour MP Paul Flynn responded by predicting that the mechanism would be "dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward.” Such respect for voters!

16 Dec 2010 06:32:41

27 Tory rebels back Douglas Carswell's attempt to amend the Loans to Ireland Bill

By Jonathan Isaby

Steve Baker has written elsewhere on the site this morning about the Loans to Ireland Bill, which went through all its Commons stages in one day yesterday.

14 MPs rebelled on the timetable motion (13 opposing and 1 registering a positive abstention by voting in both lobbies) which provided for its rapid passage through the Commons and 7 defied the whip to vote against the Bill's Second Reading.

CARSWELL DOUGLAS But the biggest rebellion yesterday was on an amendment tabled by Douglas Carswell, to give Parliament the final say on the interest rate on the Irish loan. He told the Commons:

"Amendment 6 seeks to ensure that the interest on this £3.2 billion overdraft extension is kept low. The small print is certainly not definitive on the subject. The summary of terms states: “The rate of interest payable on a loan will be at a fixed rate per annum equal to the aggregate of: (a) the Margin; and (b) the Sterling 7.5 year swap rate at the date of disbursement.”

"We are told by the Chancellor that, at the moment, that would be 5.9% and the document suggests that figure, but it is not definitive. We need to give the House of Commons the final say on the rate, and we need a formal means to allow the House to ratify the rate of interest.

"Hon. Members will have heard some discussion about how Iceland got a significantly lower rate. Why is that? Is Iceland a better friend? It is for public debate, public concern and the legislature, not technocrats in the Treasury and watery eyed officials, to decide the rate of interest that we charge our friend."

"Over the past seven months, we have seen what happens when the House takes its eye off the small print. We have seen what happens when we leave it to Ministers, officials and Treasury negotiators to handle the small print. For example, we have seen how non-euro member countries, such as Britain, become liable through the small print for open-ended eurozone bail-outs until 2013. That is the price we pay as a House for taking our eyes off the small print. It would be quite wrong, incidentally, to blame the previous Government for that. The deal took effect after the coalition Government came to office.

"When this House took its eye off the small print on Treasury negotiations on matters European, the Government managed somehow to sign us up to a European Council document that established a common legal framework for pan-EU economic governance. I suggest that this House should not form a habit of deferring the small print to the Treasury and its officials. It is prudent to require the Government to gain the approval of this House over the interest rate.

"The amendment goes to the heart of why we are here and why we have a House of Commons in the first place. It is the purpose of us as MPs—and it has been for many hundreds of years—to oversee what Ministers do with our money. That should include the terms under which they lend our money and the terms under which they make taxpayers liable for debts incurred through such financial arrangements. The amendment is reasonable and in line with what the Government are seeking to do—or claim that they are seeking to do—in the explanatory notes drafted by officials.

"The amendment would ensure that Ministers thought very carefully and wisely when they entered negotiations and finalised arrangements. It would also help to restore purpose to the House, which some of us would suggest has been in the past rather supine, submissive and spineless. Ultimately, it would ensure a fairer deal for our closest friend and our closest neighbour."

Continue reading "27 Tory rebels back Douglas Carswell's attempt to amend the Loans to Ireland Bill" »

11 Nov 2010 07:05:50

25 backbenchers - including several first-time rebels - defy the whip in latest Europe rebellion

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday afternoon saw the Commons approving a variety of documents on "European Union Economic Governance".

Picture 14 Treasury minister Mark Hoban insisted that none of the conclusions of the EU Economic Governance Task Force chaired by Herman Van Rompuy "encroaches on Parliament’s economic sovereignty" and as regard to the plans for macro-economic surveillance, no sanctions will apply to the UK. He continued:

"Will we have to present our Budget to Europe before we present it to the House? No. Will we have to give Europe access to information for budgetary surveillance that is not similarly shared with organisations such as the IMF, or that is not publicly available on the internet? Again, the answer is no. Will powers over our Budget be transferred from Westminster to Brussels? Again, the answer is no."

"We need to recognise that there are lessons to be learned from the economic crisis, but one lesson that stands out that is relevant to the debate this evening and to the documents is that in an open, global economy, no economy exists in isolation. The failures of economic policy in one country can be exported to other nations, and the imbalances in one economy can have an impact on others. Imbalances such as excessive domestic demand and growth can lead to asset bubbles, an over-reliance on exports or divergence in competition across countries. It is in all our interests to improve co-ordination and co-operation in policy making, to tackle those imbalances and increase the resilience and strength of the global economy.

"However, in our view, increasing co-ordination and co-operation has to be consistent with national sovereignty and the accountability of Parliament. It is those principles that frame our response to the documents and our response to the global economic crisis." 

"The information that we provide to assist with the surveillance will always be information that has been made available to this House before it is passed to the Commission. Everything that the Commission gets will have been in the public domain, to the extent that a member of the public will have been able to unearth the same data using Google, albeit with less efficiency."

But not all MPs were prepared to accept that there was no further transfer of power to Brussels involved in the arrangements proposed by the Van Rompuy Task Force. Douglas Carswell summed up that position thus:

Continue reading "25 backbenchers - including several first-time rebels - defy the whip in latest Europe rebellion" »

9 Nov 2010 11:40:30

Douglas Carswell and John Redwood pile pressure on Cameron over EU Economic Governance

By Tim Montgomerie

Who has the real power in UK-EU relations? Douglas Carswell, noting that policy towards the EU seems to more or less stay the same whichever party is in power, argues that the UK's Permanent Representative at the EU holds significant power. It reminds me of that Yes, Minister sketch when Sir Humphrey Appleby says that it is much better that civil servants and teacher unions decide education policy because ministers are always changing.

Acting on his instincts Douglas Carswell has teamed up with a few other Eurosceptic Tories - Steve Baker, Philip Davies, David Davis, Richard Drax, Zac Goldsmith, Chris Heaton-Harris, Philip Hollobone, Mark Reckless and Charles Walker - to table a motion on today's Commons Order Paper calling for the UK Permant Representative to answer questions at the bar of the House.

It won't happen, of course, but the UK's Permanent Rep should be accountable to MPs.

John Redwood is also on the warpath. He has been looking at the detail of the new economic surveillance powers that Brussels and Angela Merkel want. He concludes they are unacceptable and blogs:

"The UK is exempted from the sanctions and enforcement measures, but is still part of this big increase in economic surveillance and common policy making. If it is all as harmless and unimportant as the governemnt says, why don’t we just exempt ourselves from the whole thing, and demand powers back in return for any assent to a new Treaty?"

Meanwhile, on Planet European Parliament, MEPs are insisting that they want more than a 2.9% increase in their annual budget. Unacceptable as a further budget increase is, it must not distract us from the real issue. Cameron wants us all focused on the budget debate. The real issues are the new economic surveillance powers and the failure of the Coalition to use Merkel's Treaty amendment to negotiate repatriation of some powers (as the Tory manifesto promised to do). Nick Clegg, in an interview with Friday's FT, made it clear that repatriation was not acceptable to him. The Tory Mainstream must make it clear that the economic surveillance powers are unacceptable to them.

14 Oct 2010 08:49:39

Despite massive whipping operation, 37 Conservative MPs vote to cut UK contribution to EU

By Tim Montgomerie

Yesterday I highlighted an attempt, led by Douglas Carswell, to reduce Britain's contribution to the EU.

The following Tory MPs voted for his amendment*:

  1. Baker, Steve
  2. Baron, Mr John
  3. Bebb, Guto
  4. Bingham, Andrew (not on yesterday's list)
  5. Binley, Mr Brian
  6. Blackman, Bob (not on yesterday's list)
  7. Bone, Peter
  8. Carswell, Mr Douglas
  9. Chope, Mr Christopher
  10. Clappison, Mr James
  11. Cox, Mr Geoffrey
  12. Davis, rh Mr David
  13. de Bois, Nick (not on yesterday's list)
  14. Dinenage, Caroline (not on yesterday's list)
  15. Eustice, George (not on yesterday's list)
  16. Goldsmith, Zac
  17. Halfon, Robert
  18. Heaton-Harris, Chris
  19. Henderson, Gordon
  20. Hollobone, Philip
  21. Latham, Pauline (not on yesterday's list)
  22. Lewis, Dr Julian
  23. Main, Mrs Anne
  24. McCartney, Jason (not on yesterday's list)
  25. McCartney, Karl (not on yesterday's list)
  26. Mosley, Stephen (not on yesterday's list)
  27. Nuttall, Mr David
  28. Percy, Andrew
  29. Reckless, Mark
  30. Redwood, rh Mr John (not on yesterday's list)
  31. Reevell, Simon (not on yesterday's list)
  32. Stephenson, Andrew (not on yesterday's list)
  33. Stewart, Bob
  34. Stuart, Mr Graham
  35. Turner, Mr Andrew
  36. Vickers, Martin (not on yesterday's list)
  37. Walker, Mr Charles

Congratulations to all 37. The whips mounted a massive operation to minimise the rebellion and urged support for an amendment put down by Bill Cash which, more meekly, "call[ed] on the Government to reject European Parliament proposals to increase the budget". That later was passed.

The following Tory MPs did not vote for the Carswell amendment despite signing it:

  1. Philip Davies
  2. David T C Davies
  3. Jackie Doyle-Price
  4. Richard Drax
  5. Chris Kelly
  6. Kwasi Kwarteng
  7. Andrea Leadsom
  8. Stephen McPartland
  9. Patrick Mercer
  10. Priti Patel
  11. Andrew Rosindell
  12. Richard Shepherd

Some might have bowed to the whips' pressure but that won't be the explanation for all. Philip Davies and Richard Shepherd, to name just two, are serial rebels and may simply have had prior, immovable engagements.

Patel The overall debate was a festival of Euroscepticism with particularly strong contributions from younger, newer Tory MPs. One got the sense that the baton of opposition to the European superstate was passing to a new generation. Priti Patel, in particular, was on great form. Here is one extract from her contribution:

"When the Lisbon treaty was passed, we heard claim after claim that it would make the EU decision-making process more efficient and democratic. How can it have led to more efficiency, when the EU budget is due to increase by 5.8% in payment appropriations? Even the Opposition, with their astonishing record on spending and waste, would struggle to justify an annual increase in spending on that scale. I very much doubt that, in the current economic climate, any Department calling for such an increase in its budget would be given any consideration.

The Government's position is to keep cash levels at the same rate as last year, but, at a time when most domestic Departments are looking to make efficiencies and cuts ranging from 25% to 40%, why is the EU not being pushed further? With a total budget exceeding €130 billion, it is not unreasonable for the Government and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in her negotiations, to pursue the Commission and other member states to make deeper cuts in order to bring down the cost of the EU and to protect the British taxpayer.

My constituents in Witham and the majority of the British public now understand that the Government are dealing with spending, and that spending must come down. As decisions affecting my constituents are taken, however, they will be furious to see that, although they cannot have their new school buildings or road improvements for now, more and more of their hard-earned money is being handed over to Europe."

Credit also to Justine Greening, Treasury minister. She was robust in her statements to the House and was later compared to Margaret Thatcher by John Redwood:

"The last time we had a good battling female Minister who stood up for Britain she was armed only with a handbag, yet with that one piece of equipment she came back with the biggest rebate we ever got: the rebate the Labour party stupidly gave away, and the rebate we need back. That rebate would give us twice as much money as the amount the Government are hoping to save from the cut in child benefit. We know the Minister has the right equipment. She assures me that she has an excellent handbag, so we wish her every success in putting that argument."

Highlights from Ms Greening's contribution:

  • The EU should not be immune from spending cuts: "I will not hide from the House the Government's frustration that some of our partners-and those in EU institutions-do not seem to understand how bizarre it is, when national budgets are under such extraordinary pressure, that the EU should be immune from that."
  • All over Europe nations are cutting costs, but not the EU itself: "If we look at the size of the EU budget, we see that there is a marked disparity between the Commission's proposed budget increase and the substantial reductions in public spending that countries across the EU are having to make. The Governments of, among others, France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Romania, as well as our own, have all announced sizeable austerity measures¸ and the EU as a whole has taken unprecedented action to secure economic stability. Yet the Commission has proposed that the EU budget should increase by nearly 6% in 2011. The Commission's draft budget explains that the proposed increase is driven primarily by pre-planned rises in the financial framework, and by large spending programmes such as the research framework programme. As we have heard, however, it is impossible to ignore other elements, such as the startling 4.4% increase in the cost of running the EU institutions themselves."
  • EU budget priorities, as well as the total spend is wrong: "The Government will not only focus on the size of the EU budget. We also want to focus on its priorities for spending, because it is clear that certain areas of the EU budget simply do not offer the best possible value for money that we should be able to expect. The common agricultural policy, citizenship spending in some areas and spending on the EU's own administration are foremost among them. There is also, of course, the perennial question of why the EU is based in both Brussels and Strasbourg. Critically, we want an EU budget that prioritises economic growth and recovery across the EU and worldwide, just as we are doing with our fiscal consolidation measures here in the UK. We want a budget that is focused on prioritising poverty reduction, promoting stability and addressing the challenges of climate change."
  • The Carswell amendment cannot be supported: "We want to see the 2011 budget cut. The problem with the amendment is that if we withdrew our money from the EU, under its terms that would be illegal. We cannot support an amendment that would make our action illegal, so we will have to reject it, but I can tell my hon. Friend that if he had worded the provision slightly differently, we might well have been able to support both amendments. It is with regret that we have to reject his amendment, despite agreeing with its sentiments."
  • Up until now we don't have venough votes in the EU to freeze the budget: "I should remind the House that when we had the opportunity in the European Parliament to vote against the rise in the Parliament's 2010 budget, we took it. Although the Council had battened down the rise proposed by the Commission, the Government could not accept the proposed level of budget increase and we therefore voted against the Council's first reading. In fact, six other member states joined us: our Nordic partners-Finland, Sweden and Denmark; and the great brewing nations of Austria, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The Council's position was, however, adopted by a qualified majority, although I just remind the House that we were very close to achieving a blocking minority on that vote; we were just three votes away from doing so-we got 29 votes when we needed 32. That is why we have been working so hard with our European partners to put our case, because we want, at the minimum, to be in a position to have a blocking minority. We really want to aim for a majority, and that is what we are working towards."

* Five non-Tories also supported the amendment.