Today in the House of Commons I asked the Prime Minister the following question:
Mark Reckless: “Would the Prime Minister explain what it is that he’s vetoed?”
To which the Prime Minister responded:
Prime Minister: “I vetoed Britain’s involvement in a Treaty so as a result it is not an EU Treaty. We had in front of this House, we had the Maastricht EU Treaty, we had the Lisbon EU Treaty, we had Amsterdam, we had Nice. All of those were Treaties Britain was involved in as a member of the EU and they were EU Treaties with full force of law. This is not like that. This is outside the European Union. It is an arrangement come to by 25 other countries and we’re not involved, so as a result we’ve safeguarded Britain’s interest which could have been put at risk by a new EU Treaty.”
After all the huffing and puffing of December the make-up of the front-bench today – Nick Clegg smirking next to the PM with IDS staying away – said it all:
- We have not vetoed anything and at best have an opt-out;
- EU institutions are used by this treaty as with any other EU treaty; and
- We have no safeguards and the City is left wide open to EU regulation by majority vote.
It is time for a referendum to let the people decide if we stay in the EU or become independent. Add your voice by signing up at www.peoplespledge.org
Last night I went on Newsnight to discuss tensions in the coalition.
I made the point that we will not allow the LibDems to block the historic opportunity which the Euro zone crisis gives us to take powers back from Europe. Beyond that though, I had a very friendly discussion with Norman Lamb, Nick Clegg’s chief of staff.
We agreed that the coalition needed to learn from the health bill, where the Department of Health just ploughed on, using backbenchers hand-picked by the whips, to push through Committee provisions about which many Conservatives as well as LibDems had serious concerns.
Very often ‘the LibDems won’t wear it’ is just Sir Humphrey’s latest excuse for inaction.
This has been most obvious to me on policing, where Whitehall is trying to retain central control of police budgets, despite our agreement with the LibDems that we would set up Police and Crime Panels specifically to oversee Police and Crime Commissioners and their budgets.
Civil servants claim in the legislation that the Panels will be able ‘to veto’ Commissioners’ precepts, but the reality is that Commissioners must only ‘have regard’ to what the Panels say. The substantive power in the event of a dispute, to hold a local referendum on the level of the police precept, is given to the Secretary of State.
The Conservatives and LibDems both want to make the police democratically accountable locally. We have two of our most impressive ministers involved in Nick Herbert and Greg Clark, with whom I co-authored a 2005 book ‘Direct Democracy’.
Yet, despite this, the current position in the legislation, although I hope that we may yet agree an amendment to the Localism Bill to correct this, is that Whitehall civil servants will still sit on top, hoarding power. Their judgment on whether a local police precept may be excessive would trump that of both the democratically elected Commissioners and the oversight Panels which are meant to be restoring local democracy to policing. Sir Humphrey would be proud.
Posted in bbc, conservatives, direct democracy, greg clark, lib dems, localism bill, Mark In Westminster, mark reckless, nick herbert, police, Policing, rochester and strood
Speaking yesterday (1st February 2011) in the House of Commons during the debate on the European Union Bill, Mark Reckless MP puts forward the case for a straight In/Out Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.
Posted in budget, conservatives, daniel hannan, direct democracy, douglas carswell, economy, europe, Mark In Westminster, mark reckless, medway, residents, rochester, rochester and strood, speeches, strood, youtube
A country is at its best when the bonds between people are strong and when the sense of national purpose is clear. Today the challenges facing Britain are immense. Our economy is overwhelmed by debt, our social fabric is frayed and our political system has betrayed the people. But these problems can be overcome if we pull together and work together. If we remember that we are all in this together.
Some politicians say: ‘give us your vote and we will sort out all your problems’. We say: real change comes not from government alone. Real change comes when the people are inspired and mobilised, when millions of us are fired up to play a part in the nation’s future.
Yes this is ambitious. Yes it is optimistic. But in the end all the Acts of Parliament, all the new measures, all the new policy initiatives, are just politicians’ words without you and your involvement.
How will we deal with the debt crisis unless we understand that we are all in this together? How will we raise responsible children unless every adult plays their part? How will we revitalise communities unless people stop asking ‘who will fix this?’ and start asking ‘what can I do?’ Britain will change for the better when we all elect to take part, to take responsibility – if we all come together. Collective strength will overpower our problems.
Only together can we can get rid of this government and, eventually, its debt. Only together can we get the economy moving. Only together can we protect the NHS. Improve our schools. Mend our broken society. Together we can even make politics and politicians work better. And if we can do that, we can do anything. Yes, together we can do anything.
So my invitation today is this: join us, to form a new kind of government for Britain.
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