Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Friday, 30 July 2010
The UK Independence Party does not have to forfeit all of a £367,697 "impermissible donation", the Supreme Court has ruled.Lord Pearson greeted the news by reminding everyone what UKIP's task is: to get Britain out of the EU.
UKIP received the money from a donor who was not on the electoral register.
The party was initially told to forfeit £14,481 but that was increased after the Electoral Commission took the case to the Appeal Court.
UKIP's victory at the Supreme Court lifts the threat of financial ruin that was hanging over the party.
But it represents a defeat for the Electoral Commission which was pressing UKIP to return the full amount donated by retired bookmaker Alan Bown.
Iain Dale posted his support for the decision and his worries about the Electoral Commission and the way it makes decisions.
For those who are interested, here is a link to both the judgement and the press summary.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 12 July (WA 97), which European Union countries support their position on reform of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries policies; and what voting power those countries have in the Council of Ministers.There is a reason for that careful phrasing: as decisions are taken on qualified majority voting (QMV), a highly complicated system, which countries and how many votes they have in the Council of Ministers is of vital importance. Can reforms be carried through? Will there be enough votes for it?
HMG decided to ignore the question and produce irrelevant and well-meaning waffle:
There is broad agreement across the EU about the case for reform of the common fisheries policy, including the need to decentralise and simplify the current complex regulations. Few, if any, member states support the status quo, though views vary as to the changes needed. A draft legislative proposal will be published in 2011 and the UK is fully engaged in dialogue with other member states, the European Commission, industry, environmental NGOs and scientists to establish common ground for reform.This tells us nothing about the countries and their voting power should any question of reform arise.
The UK's aim of a competitive, thriving and sustainable agriculture sector is supported by all member states. The Government are starting to consider their detailed position on reform of the common agricultural policy beyond 2013. Individual member states' positions will become clear in their responses to the European Commission's communication on CAP reform later this year.
As for there being broad agreement in favour of reform either of the CFP or the CAP, one cannot help wondering why, if that is so, there has been such a singular lack of it in the last three and a half decades.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
A Bill to make provision for establishing a committee of inquiry into the economic implications for the United Kingdom of membership of the European Union.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take under Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to ensure that neither the European Union nor any member state shall be liable for or assume commitments of another member state.Lord Sassoon's reply was:
My Lords, at the emergency ECOFIN meeting on 9 May, EU Finance Ministers agreed that up to €60 billion of emergency finance can be provided to any EU member state in accordance with Article 122(2) of the EU treaty. At the same time, euro-area Finance Ministers agreed a €440-billion package of assistance to be provided through a special purpose vehicle. Both these actions are consistent with Article 125 of the treaty.Before we go any further, let us sort out what these Articles actually say. They are in the Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Article 125 seems clear on the subject:
The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project. A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of another Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project.Article 122(2) is equally clear but is not entirely in agreement:
Where a Member State is in difficulties or is seriously threatened with severe difficulties caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences beyond its control, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, may grant, under certain conditions, Union financial assistance to the Member State concerned. The President of the Council shall inform the European Parliament of the decision taken.Whether the difficulties Greece is experiencing are caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences is a moot point but that is the way this is being read and Lord Pearson does have a point when he says that the EU is breaking its own rules.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply, which does not square with the Government's Answer of 14 June when they agreed that no member state should be allowed to bail out another. Are not the proposed bailouts yet another example in a long line of examples of Brussels riding roughshod over its own legislation? Going slightly deeper, does not history teach us that trouble lies ahead when a regime feels free to break its own laws with impunity, when it is supported by a puppet court, and when its people are powerless to get rid of it? Is that not exactly what we now have with the European Union?Ah, says Lord Sassoon, this is not a bail-out, it is a loan.
The one thing I agree with him on is that Article 125 does indeed rule out any bailout. However, no bailout has been proposed or implemented under Article 122(2) or any other article because what have been proposed are loans, which are fully permitted under Article 125.The trouble is that Article 125 does not talk of bail-outs but of commitments and a loan is a commitment, except, presumably when it is not.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
Lord Pearson put down a Written Question on what must be a relatively non-contentious issue though the lack of clear response makes one wonder what is being hidden:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the value for money of their funding of £1.5 million to the Sarsen Housing Association in Cornwall for 20 affordable homes.The response was a little odd in that it stated the obvious without replying to the question:
Grant funding to Sarsen Housing Association to provide 20 affordable homes was provided through the Home and Communities Agency's (HCA) National Affordable Housing Programme.So what assessment has been made?
Funding was made available through a competitive bidding basis where bids were assessed against four main criteria, value for money-in terms of total public subsidy per home and per person housed, design and quality standards, deliverability and local and regional priorities.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Lord James of Blackheath had a Starred Question on Monday:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assess the assurances given by the previous Administration on the completion date and costs of the renewable energy programme required to meet the European Union target of a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.The target is unattainable and one must pity any government that is stuck with it. Or one would pity it if one did not know that they would sign up to the same agreements.
My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord is referring to the European Union's obligation under the renewable energy directive to source 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, of which the UK share is to achieve 15 per cent renewable energy consumption by 2020. We are committed to meeting the UK's target for renewable energy by 2020, but we want to go further and have asked the Committee on Climate Change to provide independent advice on the level of ambition for renewables across the UK.Admittedly, that reply does not exactly tell one what the government is going to do apart from consulting and asking for reports (which will not be all that healthy for the deficit) but the tone of the response does not suggest that anybody has actually thought at all seriously about the subject.
As part of the package of challenging energy and climate change measures, the UK has also signed up to the target of a reduction in new EU greenhouse emissions of at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Actual costs will depend on how the market responds to incentives, on barriers to deployment and on how technology costs evolve between now and 2020. We will continue to monitor and review the uptake of financial incentives and costs.
Interestingly, the noble Minister, Lord Marland, a Conservative Party apparatchik, as well as a businessman and what used to be known as a sportsman seems to have annoyed the House with the long-windedness of his replies. He must try harder. Nevertheless, he did manage to come out with an extraordinary number. According to the agreement, as mentioned above, this country is supposed to source 20 per cent of its energy from renewables (which does not include nuclear) by 2020.
The most recent statistics for 2009 show that the level of renewable energy consumed in the UK has reached 3 per cent. This puts us on a trajectory to meet our first interim target under the renewable energy directive, which is 4 per cent by 2012.That 20 per cent may turn out to be rather hard to achieve at this rate.
Lord Pearson asked:
My Lords, are the Government wise to have committed £18 billion per annum for the next 40 years to combat climate change when the science underpinning it has collapsed? How many British people will suffer fuel poverty as a result of this discredited initiative?Unfortunately, it would appear that the government is now not in agreement with UKIP and there is more than a cigarette paper difference between them. Then again, it is not prepared to answer questions on the subject of money, fuel poverty or the dubiousness of the climate change science.
I am not sure I thank the noble Lord for his question, but his party's views are well known and, I am afraid, do not coincide with ours. We think that climate change is one of the biggest issues to confront the nation. We are putting green awareness on the front of our agenda. We are going to be the greenest Government who have existed and we intend to deliver policies to show so.They will do such things, what they are they know not, but they shall be the greening of the earth.
Lord Marland also refused to answer a question about nuclear generated electricity as it is, in his opinion, irrelevant to the question and was a little muddled in his response to Lord Lawson of Blaby, whose question was:
Is my noble friend aware that only a couple of days ago, Mr Bob Wigley, the chairman of the previous Government's Green Investment Bank Commission, stated that meeting the requirements of the absurd Climate Change Act will cost the United Kingdom £50 billion a year, every year, for the next 40 years. How-above all in this age of austerity-can this possibly be justified?In his reply Lord Marland was short on definite investment figures and long on vague promises about those green jobs.
I am very grateful to noble Lords for fighting over a question for me; it is quite rare in this job. However, I must correct my noble friend; the Green Investment Bank was an initiative set up by our own party and one must not rule out the phenomenal business opportunities that it offers for this country. We must have 2 million heat pumps by 2020. We must have bioenergy, which will create 100,000 jobs at a value of £116 million. Wind alone should create 130,000 jobs at a value of £36 billion. At a time when the country needs investment, these are heartening numbers.Since they are purely imaginary numbers they cannot really be called heartening.
Friday, 2 July 2010
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the mean annual per-capita cost to the Exchequer, in total and broken down by salary, pension provision, expenses, staff salaries, staff pension provision and staff expenses, of each member of (a) the House of Commons, (b) the House of Lords, (c) the European Parliament, (d) the Scottish Parliament, (e) the National Assembly for Wales, (f) the Northern Ireland Assembly, and (g) the Greater London Authority.The answers to both should be instructive.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 29 June (WA 264), which other European Union countries support their proposed reform of the Common Fisheries Policy; which are opposed to it; and what system of voting would apply to proposals for reform.
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the United Kingdom's gross financial contribution in sterling in 2009 to (a) the European Union, (b) the Commonwealth, (c) the World Trade Organisation, (d) the United Nations, (e) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (f) the International Monetary Fund, and (g) the World Bank.The response is long with figures given from the different departments that deal with the different organizations. Readers will probably want to read them all for themselves. However, it is sufficient for the moment to point out that
The Government's latest estimate of the UK's gross contribution to the European Union, after taking account of the UK abatement, was published in Table 3, page 62, of the 2009 European Community Finances White Paper (Cm 7640). This was published on 20 July 2009 and is available in the Library of the House. The figure for 2008 is £7,791 million and the estimate for 2009 is £7,770 million.That is a lot of money and when one adds to it the money that goes to the IMF, the WTO, the OECD, the UN (£75.6 million) that deficit begins to look a little more comprehensible.
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
My Lords, the Government have announced savings in the current financial year of £6.2 billion, of which £360 million will be made in the administration budgets of central government departments, and £400 million will be made in the administrative costs of quangos. The Government have also announced in the Budget £3.3 billion of savings from freezing public sector pay for two years from 2011-12 for those earning above £21,000. A portion of these savings will be made within administration budgets. The Government are committed to reducing the administrative costs of Whitehall and of arm's-length bodies by at least one-third. Further details and spending plans will be set out at the spending review on 20 October.These measures will not be sufficient and there seems to be no mention of the newly instituted quangos such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, whose creation was so egregious that even Direct Democracy has been unhappy about it.
Scrolling down the Hansard page on can find Lord Pearson's question:
My Lords, did the noble Lord see the recent article in the Daily Telegraph which estimates that up to 2,000 Eurocrats are paid more than the Prime Minister? Why do we go on sending some £8 billion in cash every year to support these people, who then go on to inflict such ruinous over-regulation on our economy?To which Lord Sassoon replied:
I thank the noble Lord for his concern about the costs of bureaucracy in Brussels, about which we, too, are of course very concerned. The Government will be taking steps to make sure that the budget contribution to Europe fully reflects the need for Europe to restrain its costs. So far as concerns Eurocrats, we want to make sure that the best-quality British officials play their part as senior officials in Brussels.Translated into every-day language, this says that HMG will make lots of noises about the need for Europe to restrain its costs but nothing much will come of that. However, we are going to make very sure that our people can get as much from the trough as all others do.
Friday, 25 June 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to protect and strengthen the United Kingdom's international competitiveness.The reply by Baroness Wilcox was also very general:
My Lords, we are committed to maintaining and improving our international competitiveness by restoring macroeconomic stability, helping provide infrastructure, science and research and better linking higher and further education into the economy. We will ensure that regulation is proportionate and will work towards having the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20.Then there were other general questions and answers. Towards the end of the allotted 7 minutes Lord Pearson asked:
My Lords, does the noble Baroness recall the estimates made by the EU enterprise and industry commissioner, Mr Gunter Verheugen, that EU overregulation was costing us some 6.4 per cent of GDP per annum-around £84 billion today? Why do Her Majesty's Government insist on staying on the "Titanic" when the iceberg of international competition is staring us in the face?To this Baroness Wilcox gave a very curious reply:
The noble Lord will be very pleased to know that we have already said that we will look seriously at the gold plating that we have been doing to European Union regulations. I am sure that he will support us in that.Very nice, too, except that this was a reply to a completely different question, one that had not been asked.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to members of the European Union to protect the British economy from the financial situation in the eurozone.The answer was bland, to put it mildly:
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Treasury Ministers attend regular meetings of EU Ministers, including the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers-ECOFIN. These discussions cover a wide range of issues, including the ongoing situation in sovereign debt markets.Understandably, Lord Trimble was not satisfied and pursued the matter through two supplementary questions:
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his Answer, and I draw attention to my entry in the register of interests. I have two points to raise with him. Funds have been established to try and help countries in the EU that are in difficulties, but one of the underlying causes of those difficulties is the loss of competitiveness. Is that likely to be solved before the money and time run out? If it is not solved by then, what then happens?Lord Sassoon's response, especially to the second point was not very reassuring.
Secondly, I draw my noble friend's attention to the alternative investment fund managers directive that is currently being imposed on us. The European Parliament estimated that that directive would cost the European Union as a whole roughly 0.2 per cent of its GDP, but, as most of the alternative investment funds are in the United Kingdom, the potential cost to us is much greater. Have the Government managed to draw any of this directive's teeth? If not, how much is it likely to cost the United Kingdom?
My Lords, I will deal first with the question of competitiveness. The UK Government, the European Council and the Union well recognise that competitiveness must be improved in parallel with steps that are being taken to deal with the immediate financial situation of a number of member states. I draw my noble friend's attention to the EU economic taskforce under the leadership of the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, which will report to the October Council. As well as dealing with crisis resolution matters, it has competitiveness indicators very much on its agenda. Indeed, it considers competitiveness absolutely in parallel with crisis resolution issues, as well as more broadly as part of the Europe 2020 exercise.A short window; final representations; the best deal - none of this fills anyone with any kind of certainty that the AIFM Directive will be anything but a catastrophe for the City. Indeed, those reforms that Lord Sassoon was appointed to supervise may well become unnecessary if the EU has its way - there will be no City to reform.
On the alternative investment fund managers directive, the European Council and the European Parliament have each taken positions that do not agree with each other, so the UK Government and the industry have a short window up to the end of July in which to make final representations and attempt to make sure that we get the best deal for what is a very important industry for the City of London out of this trialogue process.
Lord Pearson intervened with a question that followed up matters raised during a previous debate:
My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that a good way in which to protect the British economy would be to refuse to underwrite massive sums for Brussels, such as the £8 billion mentioned by his noble friend Lord De Mauley on 8 June, which are illegal under the treaties? How many billions are we going to be exposed to through the illegal breach of Article 125, which forbids member states to bail out others?Tut-tut, said the Minister, things are not as bad as all that. We may be handing money over but it is all completely legitimate. No rules are being broken.
I thank the noble Lord for his questions. First, to be clear, it is the view of the UK Government that no illegal action has been taken under Article 125 or any of the other relevant articles. On the UK's exposure, we have not as a country participated in the €440 billion special purpose vehicle for assistance. We do, however, participate in the €60 billion finance facility, which is available to any member state under Article 122.2 and which we think strikes an appropriate balance between the eurozone taking primary responsibility for stabilisation within the eurozone and the important part that we have to play as part of the wider EU 27. For completeness, we participate in the IMF standby facilities.Later in the afternoon came the statement about the European Council and its achievements, which, in the short term, have been minimal though the intention to strengthen economic governance will, if carried out, have a dire effect on all European economies, regardless of how they are performing at the moment.
During the subsequent debate Lord Pearson asked about the ever-present threat to make all governments submit budgets to the Commission (the decision on that will be taken in September):
Turning to the Statement, does the noble Lord agree that it really is beyond belief that the EU should presume to examine our Budgets before Parliament debates them when its own internal auditors have been unable to sign off its own accounts for the past 15 years? Can he comment on that? Will he also comment on Mr Van Rompuy saying last week that the Government's refusal to submit our Budget to Brussels is unfinished business? How will the Government react if they are outvoted on this in the autumn? Finally, and more widely, the Government's protestations of their innocence do not exactly chime with the wording of the Council's conclusions. I shall read three extremely briefly. First,It was while replying to this question that Lord Strathclyde explained that there really are no differences between Lord Pearson's views and HMG's, on some subjects, anyway.
"we fully agree on the urgent need to reinforce the coordination of our economic policies".
"All Member States are ready ... to take additional measures to accelerate fiscal consolidation".
"The crisis has revealed clear weaknesses in our economic governance, in particular as regards budgetary and broader macroecononmic surveillance. Reinforcing economic policy coordination therefore constitutes a crucial and urgent priority".
Which one is right-the Government's Statement or the Council's conclusions?
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, is right when he says it is beyond belief that the EU should wish to inspect our Budget before it is presented to Parliament. He is entirely right. In that there is not a cigarette paper of difference between him and the Prime Minister, or I suspect even the Opposition. We would all agree that the EU has no role and no place to look at our budgetary arrangements and, indeed, our parliamentary procedures. That position has been made entirely implicit in the Statement that I repeated a few minutes ago. It is not unfinished business; it is firmly finished business and we will be leaving it entirely the way that it is currently.So, have we just been given a cast-iron guarantee that the government will never allow the Budget to be vetted by the Commission before it is debated and decided by the House of Commons?
The noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, made great play of looking at the conclusions and the Statement that we made. This is an old game to play and the noble Lord does it with great skill. I assure him that again there is no difference between the conclusions and the Statement that we made. They can live together entirely side by side and there is no difficulty for the Government.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon seemed doubtful:
I want to make two points. First, with regard to the reference to budget surveillance on page 4 of the Statement, this does not go far enough. It says that,In response, Lord Strathclyde seemed to agree even with Lord Stoddart without actually saying anything much:
"the UK Budget will be shown to this House first-and not to the Commission".
It is not a question of showing the Budget to the House; it is a question of the House of Commons agreeing the Budget before the Commission has its way. Surely that is right.
Secondly, why on earth do the Government continue to harp on about 40 per cent of our trade being with the European Union? The world is a much bigger place than that these days, so would it not be better if we expanded our trade with China, South America, India and indeed the Commonwealth, instead of concentrating on the backyard of Europe?
My Lords, on the question of the Budget, the noble Lord is in danger of tilting at windmills. We are not playing any verbal gymnastics that somehow when we say that it will be presented to Parliament first it means that round at the back door we are busily presenting it to the Commission. We are not. Tomorrow there will be a British Budget which will be presented to the British Parliament first. After it has been presented it will be a matter of public record and knowledge. I dare say that the Commission may be interested; it may indeed be very interested in looking at it before it is finally agreed by Parliament. Therefore, I do not think that there is a fundamental difference between the two of us on this issue.We have not sorted out the question of who will be making decisions on the post-September Budgets; neither has the Minister admitted that he was misleading the House with that figure of 40 per cent.
Neither, incidentally, is there about what the noble Lord Stoddart of Swindon, said about trade with the rest of the world. It is an important plank of British foreign policy to expand our trade beyond Europe. That is vital to our long-term prosperity and the creation of jobs in this country. We are using all the natural advantages that this country has built up over many decades-centuries even-with countries whose economies are growing extremely quickly. To ignore them would be an enormous mistake. So I hope that I can put a smile on the face of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, by saying that I very much agree with what he said.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union can be used to require member states to provide financial support to other member states in financial difficulty; and, if so, whether it can be applied to the United Kingdom.To which Lord Howell replied on behalf of the Coalition:
Paragraph 2 of Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union offers scope for the definitions attaching to the prohibitions in Articles 123, 124 and 125 to be more clearly defined by the Council. Nevertheless, Article 125 clearly provides that the Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of any member state and that a member state shall not be liable for or assume commitments of another member state. It is our interpretation that the article cannot be used to require member states to provide financial support to other member states in financial difficulty.Well, that is good to know. However, it does not stop countries from "voluntarily" and as part of a "consensus" from offering help and if all the countries do so simultaneously, well that just will be a coincidence.
Friday, 11 June 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Article 122.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has been or could be used to require the United Kingdom to underwrite £9.6 billion of other European Union member states' debts.The subject has been raised before. Then it was Lord Myners who was replying, now it is Lord De Mauley and matters have moved on.
My Lords, EU finance Ministers agreed on 9 May that up to €60 billion of emergency finance can be provided to any member state in accordance with Article 122.2. Only where there are defaults on loan repayments would there be a cost to the EU budget. Member states would be liable for a share. Based on the United Kingdom's contribution to the 2010 EU budget, the UK's share would be approximately 13.6 per cent, or up to a maximum of around €8 billion. Euro-area finance Ministers have also agreed a €440 billion package of assistance to be provided through a special purpose vehicle. The United Kingdom has chosen not to participate in this, and there is therefore no question of any liability arising to the United Kingdom.So, it seems that in certain circumstances, like defaults on loan repayments, the UK will be liable for a share of the emergency finance to the tune of €8 billion, not a sum to be sneezed at.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, and I welcome him to his new position. However, I have to point out that this article can only be used legally to help with natural disasters, such as earthquakes and so on. Is he aware that the Eurocrats are also violating Article 125, which prohibits financial bailouts of any kind? If so, can he tell us what the sum of all this illegality is going to cost us?Indeed, it is illegal, as Lord De Mauley more or less admitted but there is a way round that:
I shall first answer the noble Lord's question about Article 125-the so-called bailout clause-which states:Indeed, it does not.
"The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of ... governments ... A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of ... governments ... of another Member State".
That does not rule out member states lending each other money.
Any EU legislation giving effect to the common immigration policy for non-EU migrants under Article 79 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union would be subject to opt-in arrangements. The Government will not opt into any measures that are contrary to their policies for immigration control.The trouble with that response is definition. For example, how does the noble Lady and those advising her, nay, writing her replies, feel about Council Directive 2003/86/EC, on the right to family reunification? Would this be part of a common immigration policy? Article 17 of the Preamble says that the UK is not obliged to participate in this Directive. But is it actually going to? Will it decide to opt in to individual and, apparently, humanitarian measures of this kind?
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the proposed European Public Prosecutor; and whether United Kingdom citizens may be extradited to stand trial in other European Union member states under its powers, or under those of the European arrest warrant.One cannot help describing the bland and reassuring reply as being inadequate:
The Government do not support the creation of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP) and have made it clear that they would not participate in its establishment.The noble Lady seems to have missed the status of the European Arrest Warrant. It is not an extradition treaty but EU legislation that has been implemented into British legislation through a Statutory Instrument. Are we to understand that HMG intends to review that piece of legislation?
The Government are giving careful consideration to the UK's current extradition arrangements worldwide-including the European arrest warrant (EAW)-to ensure they operate effectively and in the interests of justice. A range of options are being considered and the Government will make an announcement in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the European Gendarmerie Force; what is its purpose; and whether they plan for it to be deployed in Britain.Lord Howell's reply gives a detailed explanation of what the EGF is and assures us that:
The European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) is a police force with a military status that has full police powers in the jurisdiction of participating states, capable to respond to the full spectrum of police missions, both under civilian and military control. The UK is not part of this initiative. The Government see no circumstances in which they would consent to an EGF operation in the UK.Well, that is good to know.
The second question was one that has cropped up year after year under various governments with the same inadequate response being given by them all.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission an independent cost-benefit analysis of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.To be fair, Lord Howell's response was a little different from past ones; it did not say that the benefits of Britain's membership of the EU were incalculable. But it was clearly written by the same civil servants and delivered with the same aplomb as the noble Lord's predecessors used to do it:
The Government have no plans to commission such an analysis. We believe that membership of the EU is in the national interest of the United Kingdom. We intend to champion vigorously the interests of the UK and play an active role within the EU on areas of common interest.Lord Howell must recall similar sentiments being expressed by Mr Major's government and where that got the country.
Friday, 4 June 2010
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Article 122.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has been or could be used to require the United Kingdom to underwrite £9.6 billion of other European Union member states’ debts.It will be interesting to see whether this government's answers will be as vague as the last one's.
There are also several Written Questions [again, you need to scroll down}:
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union can be used to require member states to provide financial support to other member states in financial difficulty; and, if so, whether it can be applied to the United Kingdom. HL28We await HMG's response, especially to the last one. Will this government tell us as previous ones did that benefits are too numerous to enumerate?
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the status of the European Union’s proposed common immigration policy; and what is their stance on it. HL29
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the status of the proposed European Public Prosecutor; and whether United Kingdom citizens may be extradited to stand trial in other European Union member states under its powers, or under those of the European Arrest Warrant.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the status of the European Gendarmerie Force; what is its purpose; and whether they plan for it to be deployed in Britain. HL31
Lord Pearson of Rannoch to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will commission an independent cost-benefit analysis of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Saturday, 15 May 2010
It is worth recalling that David Cameron even while he was Leader of Opposition ruled out the idea of any referendums on the European Union and Britain's membership of it for the next five years. The Liberal-Democrats announce from time to time that they would like an in or out referendum but not one on the Lisbon Treaty, which indicates a certain lack of seriousness in their attitude.
The Conservatives promised in their manifesto (though there has not been much of talk of it recently) that there would be legislation to ensure a referendum before there is any major handing over of power to Brussels. This means, in effect, no referendum since most power seeps over under already existing treaties and agreements, which the Prime Minister has no intention of renegotiating.
In other words, a Conservative majority would have been a disaster for the country as all ideas of a referendum would have been abandoned for the foreseeable future. UKIP was right to fight for a hung Parliament.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Early in April, this blog linked to a letter by Lord Pearson in the Daily Telegraph, in which he pointed out that Britain was committed exactly to the course of action that has just taken place.
About three weeks before that we linked to a debate in the House of Lords in which HMG was asked specifically about the possibilities of Britain participating in the bail-out under Article 122.2 of the Treaty of Lisbon with Lord Myners avoiding the question.
As one of this blog's readers wrote, what would have been the vote if the electorate had fully realized this bill was due on top of all the other bills. Still, there is likely to be another election reasonably soon.
Monday, 10 May 2010
Back to those election results. It is worth remembering that UKIP is the only party that has actually achieved its stated election aim - a hung parliament. Without UKIP's intervention the number of Conservative MPs might have been higher (though David Cameron's decision not to honour his "cast-iron guarantee" to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty might well have kept the voters in question away from the polling booths anyhow) and the party would have had a majority.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch has a letter [second one down] in today's Daily Telegraph in which he explains why this is a good achievement and how it came about:
SIR – Your report "How Ukip cost Tories a clear majority" (May 8) lets David Cameron off lightly.Next time round is unlikely to be too far away in the future.
Last June, and twice since, he refused Ukip's offer to stand aside and help the Conservatives win the general election, in return for a binding referendum on our EU membership. This guarantee would have been in the open for months, would have been in the Conservative manifesto, and on its own would have given the Conservatives a comfortable majority.
In the event, we did not stand against a few Eurosceptic Conservative candidates in very marginal seats, whom we wanted also to help. Mr Cameron ordered four of them not to be seen in public with me but we helped them anyway in varying degrees, with leaflets and support in their local press. They averaged an increase of 10,000 votes each, with 50 per cent of the turnout and an eight per cent swing in their favour.
Mr Cameron threw the election away because he would not honour his promise to hold a referendum on Lisbon "whatever the outcome of the negotiations". Dare we hope that Mr Cameron has learned his lesson for next time round?
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Nigel is now in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and will be kept under observation for a couple of days. He is, as anyone who knows him would expect, talking whenever he is conscious and has, according to Lord Pearson of Rannoch, "told Ukip's Banbury candidate Dr Sebastian Fairweather, who gained access to him in hospital, to 'stop worrying about me, get back out there and get out the vote'."
Meanwhile, UKIP has put up some photos from the campaign trail, that feature, Lord Pearson, Nigel Farage and Christopher Gill, among others.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
It seems reasonable to recall what it is that UKIP stands for first and foremost and why: the issue that the three main parties carefully avoid, and that is in the most literal sense, who governs Britain.
The fact that not one of the three main parties' campaigns managed to catch fire in this campaign would indicate that a large part of the electorate has managed to understand that, strictly speaking, it makes no difference who is to be in Number 10 after tomorrow's vote.
This seems an appropriate moment to look at Lord Pearson's last speech in the last Parliament on the triple subject of "code of conduct, the scrutiny reserve on EU legislation and the scrutiny of opt-in decisions on EU legislation".
There have been certain assertions that the Lisbon Treaty gives national parliaments greater powers with regards to EU legislation, which, as it happens, still cannot be rejected by those parliaments.
I can deal even more briefly with the new rules on our scrutiny of European legislation and of opt-in decisions under Title V. Put briefly, none of these manoeuvres will make any difference to the powers already acquired by Brussels under the Lisbon treaty, nor to the steady advance of the project of European integration at the expense of our national parliamentary sovereignty. They are pure window dressing, designed to fool the people into thinking that the project has somehow become more benign and democratic.Whatever the UKIP vote will be tomorrow, the battle will go on for this election campaign has made it quite clear that the battle lines have been drawn up and whatever the outcome of the election will be they will not be altered.
On the scrutiny reserve, I remind your Lordships that the Government admit to overriding it no fewer than 435 times in the past five years. As most EU legislation is now agreed by majority voting, the Government, who have some 9 per cent of those votes, are powerless to respect this new code even if they wanted to. The best that can be achieved under the scrutiny reserve is that, after either House merely debates the legislation in question, the reserve is automatically lifted. We do not vote
on it because we have no power over it - some safeguard, that.
Nor do I take any comfort from the eight-week delay in agreeing new measures because Ministers can simply override it, and they will. The whole concept of national Parliaments being able to stop EU legislation under the Lisbon treaty is, in any case, fraudulent, because in the end Brussels can go ahead with whatever it wants to do. I give one brief, current example. The Government say that they will not opt in to the proposed new European public prosecutor, but of course the octopus has a tentacle ready to deal with such futile posturing. It will extract British citizens for trial in another European jurisdiction by using the infamous European arrest warrant. There will always be a way around any national interest.
The battle lines are now clearly drawn between the political class and the people-between those who are determined to appease the project of European integration, to its inevitable and frightening conclusion, and those of us who have decided to join the resistance. I very much regret that the Government and your Lordships' House have decided to throw in their lot with the former.The fight is about that vitally important issue.
Friday, 30 April 2010
I understand those in UKIP who want to fight all our 560 seats in the traditional way. There are however a few very marginal seats where if we do so, we will prevent a committed Eurosceptic from being elected. We will not win those seats, and we will thus send a Europhile to Parliament instead. In some of these seats, we are not fielding candidates, and are actively helping the Eurosceptics. In others, we are fielding candidates, but I would like them to support the Eurosceptics and attract the votes of the other parties.
I have never made any secret about this strategy, and stood on this platform when I ran for the leadership. Of course I regret that some of my colleagues at local level do not agree with me. UKIP is a very democratic party, and they are free to act as they see fit.
I will continue to put our Country above party politics.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Lord Pearson praised Philip Hollobone's 'brave' views on Europe, immigration and banning the burkha and promised UKIP members would campaign for his election.UKIP has withdrawn candidates and has pledged itself to back those candidates only who are definitely in favour of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, even if means a set-back in their political career.
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Party leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch has written to BBC director-general Mark Thompson arguing that the corporation is breaching its own election coverage guidelines by refusing to allow Ukip equal footing with Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.The Daily Telegraph, reporting on the SNP's legal action, adds that UKIP is supporting it and demanding the right to participate in the BBC's debate.
Lord Pearson said that if the BBC does not agree to allow him to participate in the debate by noon on Wednesday, Ukip will apply to the courts for a judicial review of the decision and injunction overturning the ruling.
UPDATE: The SNP's attempt to prevent the last debate being shown by the BBC in Scotland without the participation of Alex Salmond has failed, as the Daily Telegraph reports. How this will affect UKIP's potential challenge is at present unclear.
The Worcester News reports that Lord Pearson is going further in a few of those constituencies where he intends to campaign for the eurosceptics who have the greatest chance either to retain their seats or to get in on May 6.
It has to be made clear, however, that there needs to be a definite commitment on the part of the candidate who is not to be challenged by anyone from UKIP.
"It won't be enough for them to say airy-fairily 'I'm a better off outer' - they will have to give a commitment with which I am satisfied that they really will fight for our freedom when they get into the House of Commons in questions and debates... and if necessary they must defy the whip," he [Lord Pearson] told the Press Association.Interestingly, some Conservatives interpreted this move as to mean that UKIP will not be campaigning against any of their candidates who might be defeated by a Lib-Dem after that unexpected surge in public opinion. The truth had to be explained to them.
Alex Singleton in the Daily Telegraph goes even further. He asserts that this election is not about Europe and a vote for UKIP is, therefore, a wasted vote. So this election is not about the fact that a large proportion of our legislation comes from the EU and Parliament can do nothing about it.
Curiously enough, Mr Singleton agrees with UKIP's position in that Britain should come out of the EU. He just does not think it is of any importance at the moment because
Britain’s exit from the EU will happen, but it will take some time. Dramatic changes in public policy are caused by major crises, and – even with worries about Greek debt – we lack a big enough European crisis to force and win a referendum against our membership.Mr Singleton possibly did not notice that the collapse of the Soviet Union happened suddenly and unexpectedly, long after the crisis had emerged. The idea that miraculously the Conservative Party, if it wins the election, will take Britain out of the EU just because the time for that has come does not argue any great political acumen.
Monday, 26 April 2010
THE UK Independence Party pulled off a massive coup in Suffolk when national leader Lord Pearson came to support residents of a market town in their fight to prevent a Tesco super store being built.Lord Pearson was launching the UKIP campaign in East Anglia and supporting the Suffolk South Parliamentary candidate, David Campbell Bannerman.
In the Observer, which cannot have many Conservative voters among its readers, there is a passionate plea from Jonathan Isaby, co-editor of Conservative Home, not to vote UKIP to the Conservative Party's detriment. That will deliver exactly the opposite result to the one wished for by UKIP, that is a more euro-federalist government. Since the result UKIP wishes is an exit from the European Union, Mr Isaby's argument falls somewhat short of the mark.
His argument that
The Conservatives, on the other hand, are fighting this election with a clear policy of not only seeking repatriation of certain powers and making any future transfer of power always subject to a referendum – but also pledging to pass a Sovereignty Bill, making it clear authority remains at Westminster.merely shows that he still does not understand what being a member of the European Union means. The Conservatives do not, indeed, cannot explain how they are going to repatriate certain powers without opening up treaty negotiations. Furthermore, authority has not been at Westminster for several decades.
Melissa Kite's interview with Lord Pearson, published in the Sunday Telegraph, appeared on the web twice in slightly different formats. On Saturday evening she explained that Lord Pearson had "admitted" that UKIP was campaigning for a hung parliament. This has never been denied before and neither has UKIP's and Lord Pearson's opinion that things would have been very different if David Cameron had not reneged on his "cast-iron guarantee" to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
"If Ukip can do well enough, say a couple of million votes, then we will be in a position to show David Cameron and the failed old parties that they can't form a government unless they give the British people the referendum, in or out of the EU," Lord Pearson said.On Sunday morning the interview is in more detail, including a discussion about seats where UKIP candidates have stood aside to give real eurosceptics a free run and those where the strategy did not work out.
Mr Cameron has now promised to introduce a Bill to ensure that no further powers can be transferred to Brussels without a referendum. Lord Pearson said that was "useless" because the important powers have been transferred.
Lord Pearson also gives amusing insights into arguments his erstwhile party colleagues have been using.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
This is a good time to remind everyone that the Conservative Party did, finally, adopt a sensible fishing policy under Michael Howard that not only assumed a withdrawal from the CFP but went further and outlined various possible plans for the development of fisheries in Britain. The first thing David Cameron did on becoming leader was to ditch the policy. This was not very well known at the time and the excuse is frequently brought out that Cameron had to get rid of the "swivel-eyed europhobic image" of the party. Not that anyone outside the BBC ever noticed that. The point about the CFP is that withdrawing from it would have been popular with many people for many different reasons. The only opponents would have been the europhiliacs and eurocrats. Mr Cameron chose not to challenge them.
At 12 o'clock Lord Pearson will be talking to demonstrators outside 100 Hadleigh High Street (corner of Pound Lane and High Street).
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Saturday, 17 April 2010
News on News calls her UKIP's secret weapon but cannot get the title right and Jan Moir in the Daily Mail, who also gets the title wrong even if she supplies the family background, does her usual hatchet job with an extremely blunt instrument. All publicity is good publicity in politics, especially during an election campaign.
Friday, 16 April 2010
The journalist who reported the launch seems to have been thrilled to bits when he discovered that Lord Pearson made "a minor blunder" by not knowing that UKIP was supporting Boris Johnson's airport scheme for the Thames Estuary. As Lord Pearson admitted to not knowing it and as party leaders frequently forget details of policy, this seems to be a very minor problem.
A far bigger criticism is raised by Channel 4's so-called FactCheck blog about "the majority of Britain's national legislation coming from Brussels". Its author, Cathy Newman, seems to think it ironic that UKIP should be referring back to a statement by a former German President, which just shows that she cannot understand the difference between opposition to the EU and dislike for foreigners.
Ms Newman's arguments and various contradictory references prove the difficulty of calculating percentages of legislation. However, she seems unaware of the importance of the directly applicable EU Regulations, which she mentions only in passing, and the amount of legislation they produce. Her final verdict is that UKIP is probably wrong but nobody seems to know the answer.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
10am: Dover Town Hall, Biggin Street, CT16 1DL
Lord Pearson to meet representatives from Dover Chamber of Commerce.
10.30am: Dover College, Effingham Crescent, CT17 9RH
Lord Pearson to meet with headmaster.
11am to 1pm: Dover Sea Sports Centre, Marine Parade, CT17 9HU
Lord Pearson in roundtable discussion with Kent PPCs (around 13 currently planning to attend from across the county). Q&A session with PPCs, plus Lord P earson outlines the UKIP view on the possible sale of Dover port.
The media have been invited from 11.30am.
Time set aside for media interviews. Paul Francis, political editor of the Kent Messenger Group of papers is attending, as is Nick Ames from the Kent on Sunday Group. Any broadcast media will be confirmed nearer the time.
1pm: 45 minute boat trip around the port
Boat leaves from nearby the sports centre. PPCs may choose to join Lord P earson on the trip. This will also provide another photo opportunity.
Nevertheless, Lord Pearson will be there in the studio, though not on the panel, this evening. Campaign 2010 with Jonathan Dimbleby will be shown live this evening from 10.35 to 11.35.
So, this is a polite request: please try to sign your comments. A Google account for blogs is free and easy to acquire. If you do not wish to bother, by all means don't. It is just as easy to put up a seemingly Anonymous comment and put a name under it.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Ukip said "Sod the lot" as they launched their manifesto, telling voters it was time to ditch the three main parties.Lord Pearson also gave a list of candidates (none of them are MPs any more) whom UKIP will not oppose:
The party's new poster features the faces of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg alongside the slogan "Sod The Lot".
Ukip leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch said it was time for a new politics and argued that leaving the EU would save up to £120 billion a year - with no jobs or trade lost from Britain. It was a choice of public sector cuts from all major parties versus no cuts at all under Ukip, he said.
The party will not field candidates in constituencies held by MPs who it is satisfied are opposed to Britain's membership of the EU. Lord Pearson named the Conservative candidates Ukip would not run against as Philip Davies (Shipley), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Janice Small (Batley and Spen), Alex Story (Wakefield), and Philip Hollobone (Kettering).Tomorrow Lord Pearson will be launching the Buckingham campaign.
It will also not run against Labour's David Drew in Stroud and independent Bob Spink in Castle Point. Ukip will actively campaign to elect these candidates but Lord Pearson was at pains to say they had not asked for Ukip's help.
Monday, 12 April 2010
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, UKIP Party Leader, will talk about UKIP’s decision not to field candidates against a number of sitting Eurosceptic MPs and candidates, both Labour and Tory...breaking with the tired, old traditions of British politics.
David Campbell Bannerman will give a brief run-through the manifesto and Paul Nuttall, Party Chairman, will introduce the new poster campaign.
The following day Lord Pearson will be in Buckingham to launch, together with Christopher Booker, Nigel Farage's campaign there.
Sunday, 11 April 2010
to meet the party’s Kent candidates and outline his concerns about the possible sale of Dover port.This should be of interest to anyone in Kent who is interested in UKIP's electoral advance.
The UKIP leader will also meet local business-leaders at Dover Town Hall and representatives from Dover College.
He will then take a boat trip around Dover port to see the facilities that have been earmarked as a possible source of revenue to finance some of the national debt.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
The leader of the UK Independence Party has said David Cameron winning a working majority in the election "is certainly the end of this country".Conservative response was that if they are in government they "will change the law so that any future treaty that hands over areas of power will be put to the British people in a referendum, will never join the euro, and wants to bring back powers from Brussels to Britain". This is, of course, meaningless. A great deal of power has already been given away, not least in the Lisbon Treaty on which the Conservative leader had given "a cast-iron guarantee" that there would be a referendum. None of that is up for discussion.
Lord Pearson said this was because the Conservative leader had ruled out a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) for five years.
Much more power will be given away as a result of treaties that have already been signed and of other agreements such as the Hague and Tampere ones that deal with various judicial matters such as immigration. None of that will be up for discussion either.
As for bringing powers back to Britain, we have heard nothing from the Conservative Party that inspires one with any confidence that they even understand the process that would be required, let alone be prepared to put it into action.
On another subject, Lord Pearson announced that there will be no UKIP candidates against three well-known Conservative opponents of the EU and Britain's membership in it, Douglas Carswell, Philip Davies and Philip Hollobone, as well as at least one Labour opponent. As soon as UKIP can find a Lib-Dem supporter of Britain's withdrawal they will announce that they will not stand against him or her.
Straight Talk With Andrew Neil will be broadcast on the BBC News Channel on Sunday, 11 April at 0130BST and 2330BST, and on Tuesday 13 April at 0330BST. It can also be seen in iPlayer here (with thanks to the reader of this blog who provided this link).
Friday, 9 April 2010
On Wednesday, April 14 there will by a meeting in the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, Ferry Road, Grangetown, Cardiff CF11 OJL at 10.30 am. Speakers will be: Warwick Nicholson, John Bufton MEP and Lord Pearson.
On the same day there will be a meeting at 1.45 pm at the Marriott Royal Hotel, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TA. Speakers will be: William Dartmouth MEP, Trevor Coleman MEP and Lord Pearson.
Thursday, 8 April 2010
HMG, in the person of Lord West again, thinks no.
The UK Government do not consider that they are required to consult the European Commission before controlling mephedrone under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.It will be interesting to see if HMG's lawyers will turn out to be right on the subject.
The technical standards directive is not designed to cover action by member states to control dangerous drugs and consequently no consultation with the Commission is necessary prior to laying a draft order before Parliament to control mephedrone under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
On April 7 Hansard published the following Written Question from Lord Pearson of Rannoch:
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord West of Spithead on 19 November 2008 (WA 199) and 25 March 2010 (WA 324-5), how many British citizens have faced proceedings under the European arrest warrant; how many have been surrendered; and what accounts for any difference between the number arrested and the number deported.Lord West answered on HMG's behalf:
On 19 November 2008, the Home Office replied to the noble Lord stating that, from 1 January 2004 up to 30 September 2008, 203 British citizens had been arrested pursuant to EAWs. 101 British nationals had subsequently been surrendered to other European member states pursuant to EAWs. Due to changes in late 2008 in the way the information was recorded it is not possible to provide figures for the remainder of 2008-09 without disproportionate effort. However, a new system introduced on 1 April 2009 will allow SOCA to provide more detailed figures once these have been validated.It would appear that HMG remains ignorant of the numbers and is not over-anxious to find out.
The difference between the number of arrests compared with the number of surrenders over any period is due to the judicial processes in the UK. Once the subject has been arrested on the European arrest warrant, it can take from a matter of days to many months before the subject is surrendered to the requesting territory.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
SIR – I fear Britain can already be forced to bail out Greece under EU Treaties (report, “EU draws up plans for single 'economic government’”, March 26). The Government admitted to me in the Lords on March 15 that “any request for financial support… would be considered by the… Council, where it would be voted on by a qualified majority”.The letter was in reply to a piece by Bruno Waterfield on March 25, in which he talked of Van Rompuy's "mission ... to draw up a master-plan for the best way to oversee and enforce economic targets set in Brussels as a key part of a bail-out package for Greece". The last paragraph of the letter was edited out but was used in a speech in the House of Lords on March 30, which will be blogged next.
I also fear that the euro’s difficulties will not break up the EU itself, as many now hope. Even if Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland all fall out of the euro, it will not stop the European integration project.
Instead, it will be taken by the Eurocrats as the best “beneficial crisis” yet, to be overcome with “more Europe” under the powers granted at Lisbon.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
National strategy is overseen by the party's new leader, Lord Pearson, and the campaign director, James Pryor, who formerly advised Margaret Thatcher and John Major. No doubt it is Mr Pryor's involvement that has led Ukip to focus on Tory heartland issues such as grammar schools and clamping down on crime, as well as on its popular anti-EU message. However, the profile that Mr Farage has built for himself, through the odd outburst in Brussels and his aggressive performances on Question Time, means that he is largely left to run his own show in his quest to win the Buckingham seat. The party reckons it is his strong performance at hustings that will win him crucial Tory votes, so the strategy is simple – long days on the campaign trail.A fair wind behind UKIP?
Recent successes have buoyed party officials. They believe Ukip's strong performance in the Norwich North by-election last year went largely unreported. All the attention was on how the Greens would perform, but it was Ukip that made the biggest leap, with a swing in their favour of nine per cent. The party secured more than 4,000 votes – only 800 behind the Liberal Democrats, and enough for them to beat the Greens to fourth place. Resources have already been found to fight a high-profile campaign in Buckingham, with Stuart Wheeler, the spread-betting millionaire who has previously donated to the Tories, handing around £100,000 to Mr Farage's campaign.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
New Europe reports that the European Commission has reacted cautiously both to this and to the continuing discussions in France:
A Commission spokesperson said that they were concerned at the move, but initially it was a matter for member states, but they would be watching the issue and examining any bill put before the Belgian lawmakers very closely as it may fall foul of EU anti-discrimination policy.The same article also quotes Lord Pearson on the subject as saying:
It is good to see that the French and the Belgians are moving in our direction on this important issue.One has to overlook the routine reference to UKIP as being extreme right-wing. A media outlet like New Europe is unlikely to understand that those political definitions long ago outlived their usefulness.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Friday, 26 March 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government which United Kingdom citizens have been extradited under the European arrest warrant; for which alleged crimes; to which European countries; and how long they have spent in custody awaiting trial.HMG's response, as conveyed by Lord West of Spithead, was:
The Serious Organised Crime Agency and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (for Scotland) are the designated authorities in the UK responsible for processing European arrest warrants (EAWs). It is not possible from current systems to break down the number of EAWs received by the UK into nationality, alleged offence type and requesting EU member state. To do so would require a manual examination of all files and incur disproportionate cost. Once a person has been extradited from the UK to another jurisdiction, the designated authorities' involvement in the EAW process ceases.How nice. We have surrendered our right to examine whether that extradition request is acceptable and, apparently, we have lost all interest in what happens to the unfortunate person thus handed over. Undoubtedly, being part of the EU makes us stronger in the world.
How long a person is held on remand awaiting trial, whether in custody or on bail, is governed by the law of the requesting state and this can vary from country to country. Internationally accepted standards usually allow for a two-year period of detention before trial, depending on the circumstances of the case. While the UK is unable to interfere in the legal processes of another country, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, if appropriate, will consider making inquiries with local authorities to establish the reason for any delay in trial proceedings for any British national held on remand for more than 24 months.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
On Saturday, March 20 Week in Westminster broadcast a debate between Lord Pearson and David Heathcoat-Amory, one of the Eurosceptic Tories, who has argued the case against the Constitution for Europe and the Lisbon Treaty with great clarity and passion but, sadly, cannot quite follow through the logic of his position. Perhaps, one day he will. (Here is a similar attempt to link the MP3 file.)
This was shown on the Daily Politics Show on Friday as well.
Monday, 22 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Friday, 19 March 2010
Lord Pearson ended the conference with a highly successful speech that tackled the main issues: how to deal with criticisms of UKIP and the sort of questions candidates are likely to hear while canvassing. The full text of the speech is here.
There was a good media attendance. UKIP is now part of the main news cycle. Sky showed the speech in full; the BBC showed excerpts; there are reports in all the main newspapers and on the main media outlets. UKIP and what it says can no longer be ignored.
Tomorrow Financial Times will carry a long interview (one of their Lunch with ... series) with Lord Pearson of Ranoch. It follows his career in business and in politics. There is little point in quoting excerpts. Read the whole thing. A word of warning, however. The cartoon attached to the article is terrible.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Sadly, the main parties seem set to ignore all the issues raised. We shall see what the electorate will think.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on the reductions in support payments to asylum seekers while they are awaiting a decision on their application.Lord West of Spithead replied:
My Lords, on 5 October 2009, we removed the distinction between rates of asylum support provided to single adults aged 18 to 24 and those aged 25 and over. The new unified rate was based on the lower rate provided to 18 to 24 year-olds, uplifted by 5.2 per cent. The rates paid to children and couples were also increased by 5.2 per cent. We continue to provide the over-25 rate to those who were in receipt of it prior to 5 October 2009, so no individual saw a reduction in their rate of support.The rest of the discussion was moderately interesting and showed that some noble peers (like their brethren in the Lower House) seem unable to realize that money has to come from somewhere and there is a limit how much the government can squeeze out of the taxpayer.
There is also a problem with numbers of asylum seekers, successful or otherwise. Lord Pearson asked:
My Lords, of the figures given by the noble Lord, how many applicants are successful every year and how many applicants are returned overseas?Lord West could not, in all honesty, give an adequate reply.
My Lords, I do not have that specific figure at my fingertips, but I think around 13 per cent were being returned and around 30 per cent were successful. Any expert in mathematics can work out that that is not 100 per cent. That is because many of these cases involve dual counting, duplication, wrong names and so on. There are a huge number of those. We have to take into account all of the backlog as well as the people currently coming in. If I have a specific figure for those coming in now, I will write to the noble Lord.That may give us some idea of what is going on but it is this lack of hard information that makes the whole subject so bothersome to the electorate and so hard for the main parties to tackle.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked HMG:
whether Article 122.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union can be used to require them to provide financial assistance to another member state which is "threatened with severe difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond its control".Hmmm, said Lord Myners on behalf of HMG, maybe yes or maybe no.
Any request for financial support in accordance with Article 122.2 would need to satisfy the specific criteria set out in the treaty and would beQualified majority means that no country can block it and all countries will be liable.
considered on its individual merits by the ECOFIN Council, where it would be
voted on by qualified majority.
Lord Pearson then followed up:
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. I hope that he will forgive me if I say that illegality under the treaties has never bothered the Eurocrats. Will he give a clear guarantee that the United Kingdom will not, willingly or unwillingly, contribute to any out bail-out of the member states, including the proposed European monetary fund? Will he also confirm whether any such initiative would require a treaty change or whether it could be done by majority voting?Lord Myners moved on to another Article in the Treaty and, to be fair to the noble Minister, there is a slight contradiction between Articles 122 and 125. That is why we should like to know what HMG intends to do, though one cannot help suspecting that they do not really know themselves.
I do not propose to comment on market speculation about the possibility of a European monetary fund. This is being discussed by the eurozone nations, but the UK is not part of those discussions. However, Article 125 of the treaty is very clear in stating:The rest of the short debate was of some interest, not least Lord Dykes's attempt to move the discussion on to the subject of Nigel Farage's behaviour in the European Parliament and his censure (shock, horror) by another MEP. All one can say is that Lord Dykes's verbose contribution did not go down very well with the House.
"The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of ... governments ... A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of governments ... of another Member State".
Lord Myners was accused of equivocation by Lord Stoddart of Swindon and replied with more equivocation. Lord Anderson of Swansea expressed his sorrow that the Conservatives have not said anything positive about the European Union and Lord Tebbit acquitted the Minister of equivocation:
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that I acquit him of equivocation? Can he confirm that in his earlier answers he made a statement that would cause us to believe that, should any costs fall on the British taxpayer in respect of the bail-out of Greece, he would forthwith resign?It would appear, however, that Lord Tebbit was premature in his assumptions as Lord Myners made it clear with yet more equivocation:
We are talking about European Union support and I have been very clear in my response about that; I have been very clear in my response about what the treaty says.We can assume, therefore, that if the British taxpayer ends up bailing out Greece or any other member of the PIIGS, neither Lord Myners nor any other Minister will see fit to resign. Another dog bites man story.