Monday, 28 March 2011

Misleading Parliament?

This afternoon David Cameron "reported" to the House of Commons on his attendance at the European Council meeting that took place at the end of last week. His statement to the House on economic matters contained just 604 words (Economy: 79; Eurozone: 256; Growth: 269) and to say it was lacking in detail would be the understatement of the year. Cameron began by stating (provisional Hansard transcript):
"Britain had two goals at this Summit. …first, to support the euro area’s efforts to bring stability to the eurozone, while fully protecting Britain’s sovereignty… …and second, following our Budget for growth last week, to win support for a similarly ambitious pro-growth, pro-market agenda for Europe as a whole."
From John Redwood it is possible to see that what Cameron did not report to the House was that the European Council agreed:
"priorities for fiscal consolidation and structural reform.
priority to restoring sound budgets and fiscal sustainability, reducing unemployment through labour market reforms and making new efforts to enhance growth. All Member States will translate these priorities into concrete measures to be included in their Stability or Convergence Programmes and National Reform Programmes. On this basis, the Commission will present its proposals for country-specific opinions and recommendations in good time for their adoption before the June European Council.
In particular, Member States will present a multi-annual consolidation plan including specific deficit, revenue and expenditure targets, the strategy envisaged to reach these targets and a timeline for its implementation. Fiscal policies for 2012 should aim to restore confidence by bringing debt trends back on a sustainable path and ensuring that deficits are brought back below 3 % of GDP in the timeframe agreed upon by the Council. This requires in most cases an annual structural adjustment well above 0.5% of GDP. Consolidation should be frontloaded in Member States facing very large structural deficits or vey high or rapidly increasing levels of public debt.
Member States will set out the main measures required to move towards the Europe 2020 headline targets as agreed in June 2010. They will also present policy measures to correct harmful and persistent macroeconomic imbalances and improve competitiveness.
The package of six legislative proposals on economic governance is key to ensuring enhanced fiscal discipline and avoiding excessive macroeconomic imbalances. It includes a reform of the Stability and Growth Pact aimed at enhancing the surveillance of fiscal policies and applying enforcement measures more consistently and at an earlier stage, new provisions on national fiscal frameworks and a new surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances."
As Redwood states, in other words, progress towards common economic government was marked. The Euroland states also signed up to a super pact for them. The measures above apply to all member states. In other words, as the title to Redwood's post states, what was agreed amounts to common EU economic governance.

Much has been written about the period between the general election and the start of the Coalition government, especially in relation to the UK agreeing to bail-outs. From the report:
"Mr Alistair Darling (Edinburgh South West) (Lab): Does the Prime Minister accept that when he referred to the discussions that took place last May on the eurozone fund he gave a somewhat incomplete account of my conversation with the now Chancellor? We did indeed agree that we should do everything we could to keep Britain out of the main part of the rescue fund, but in relation to the smaller element to which the Prime Minister refers, what we discussed was not voting against, but abstention, recognising that Britain could have been outvoted—that is exactly the same thing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to when dealing with Ireland. So when the Prime Minister next refers to this issue, perhaps he would give the whole account, not a partial account, of what happened.

The Prime Minister: Fortunately, I have had a full discussion with the Chancellor about that issue and he was absolutely clear that it was something to which Britain should not agree; nor should we. The problem is that we are stuck with this mechanism, which I have managed to get rid of once the new mechanism is introduced. That is the sort of action, frankly, that we have needed in Europe these past few years.
A little later comes this exchange:
"Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Further to the question asked by the former Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling), I am sure that there will have been an official note of the conversations between the former Chancellor and the present Chancellor. Will the Prime Minister publish that note so that we can decide for ourselves whether he or the former Chancellor is providing the more accurate report?
The Prime Minister: I will certainly look at the suggestion because I am absolutely clear about what the conversation was and that the current Chancellor did not support the action being taken by the previous Chancellor."
On this subject Douglas Carswell has, on more than one occasion, attempted to solicit information as to what exactly transpired and what briefings were given to George Osborne on the occasion of his being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. Today, Carswell had another try:
"Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): The Prime Minister has suggested that we are liable for the bail-out mechanism entirely thanks to the former Chancellor. In that case, will he be happy for the current Chancellor to respond to my freedom of information request and publish the advice that he received on this matter on assuming office to demonstrate that we are not liable for the bail-out billions because of any failure to grasp the small print in those first few halcyon days in office?
The Prime Minister: I can go into even more detail if my hon. Friend wants: article 122 was turned into qualified majority voting via the Nice treaty. My right hon. and learned Friend, Michael Howard, who is now in another place, said, as a Back Bencher, “You are making a terrible mistake here: this could be used for future bail-outs,” and the then Europe Minister, the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), said in reply:
“The use of QMV…does not undermine the no-bail-out rule set out in article 103.”—[Official Report, 4 July 2001; Vol. 371, c. 359.]
What is worrying is that the Nice treaty made the situation worse and the previous Government were warned about it but they did not pay any attention."
It cannot fail to be noticed that Cameron did not answer Carswells question (not that any prime minister ever answers a direct question) - and reverting to the matter of what transpired during the days when the country was 'government-less', courtesy of Calling England and Politics Home, lo and behold it would appear that there was cross-party consensus on signing up to Eurozone bail-outs! If the word "not" has been omitted due to a typing error it might just save the present Economic Secretary to the Treasury from a 'roasting' - 'justine' time!

Further evidence of misleading Parliament comes from Carswell's blog in which he reiterates that Coalition ministers say that they were opposed to the last minute deal outgoing Chancellor, Alistair Darling, did to make Britain liable for the Euro 60 Billion bailout Mechanism. Someone is not telling the truth here! One also has to ask why Carswell's FOI request remains unanswered when there is a statutory time limit imposed on such responses to an FOI request.

As an aside, and as with both Cameron and Clegg, it should be noted that Labour has confirmed that they too are more than happy with economic governance - witness in Ed Miliband's response, he says:
"On economic policy, I welcome the Europe 2020 conclusions, the proposals on economic governance......."
In conclusion, for David Cameron to proclaim:
"The right hon. Gentleman asked that we keep the House up to date and I certainly intend to do that......."
when he has done anything but that really does beggar belief and lends further credence that our politicians are not to be trusted!


William said...

Does anyone have Gadaffi's number?

TomTom said...

I am afraid Mr Puffy is not very honest but he did get 70% Conservative members to vote for him. Governments since 1945 have a block of lies which have shaped policy on a)nuclear power b) secret agreements made during WWII c) the EU d) Pensions and Public Finance

These areas have been wholly deceitful and now it is clear the whole political structure is rotten and prone to slick salesmen selling gift vouchers paid for by shortchanging voters

Conspiracy is what the EU is about - read North/ was a League of Nations construct designed to imprison nations within Plato's Republic with unelected Guardians to preserve the Republic from change or revolution.

Cameron is a member of the European Council - that is The Court of Guardians. Do read Plato's Republic

Tufty said...


Good point about Plato. I hadn't looked at it from that angle, but yes, they see themselves as Guardians, don't they?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

W: Unfortunately not - but I do have Putin's.......

TT: Yup I know, I know...... Yes, a great disciple of North/Booker. And yes as Tufty says, good point about Plato.

graham wood said...

Whatever happened to the "sovereignty of Parliament" concept, and more specific the article of faith up to now accepted by all parties that
"No Parliament can bind its successors"?

There is a simple answer therefore for Osborn in relation to Eurozone bail-outs. It is simply to say on behalf of us the British taxpayers he is supposed to represent:
The EU can then get stuffed.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

gw: A little bird tells me of a strong rumour that the govt are intending to do just that with the Working Time directive - ie pay the fine and tell the EU to get stuffed as it will be cheaper than implementing the Directive.

TomTom said...

"No Parliament can bind its successors"?

That is one of those old mantras from Dicey or whatever which belonged to the era of the annual renewal of The Mutiny Act as a means of guaranteeing annual parliaments.

Thatcher used commercial contracts as a means of circumventing such constraints and refused to have them discussed in Parliament on grounds of "commercial confidentiality".

Parliament is a shell. Most of those doctrines were based on a) Civil War 1642-49 or b) fear of civil war 1688

Nowadays The People has been tamed and feeding the occasional banana through the bars of the cage keeps the electorate quite quiescent

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: Your first three paras whichever, whatever. Either way you last para is most certainly true.