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European Scrutiny Committee Launches Inquiry

 The European Scrutiny Committee, of which Bill Cash is Chairman, has announced that it will conduct an inquiry into the European Union Bill which was presented to Parliament on 11 November. The press release for this announcement is copied below.

 
12/11/2010
For Immediate Release: 
 
ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY
 
European Union Bill
 
The European Union Bill, which was presented to Parliament on 11 November, sets out the circumstances under which further transfers of competence and/or power to the EU will be subject to a referendum or will require an Act of Parliament or a Resolution of both Houses. The Bill also seeks to place on a statutory footing the common law principle of parliamentary sovereignty with respect to directly applicable or directly effective EU law. 
 
The European Scrutiny Committee will conduct an inquiry into the Bill. The timescale for the inquiry is extremely tight, since it is expected that the Bill will have its second reading in approximately one month’s time. The Committee therefore intends to report on part 3, the Bill’s parliamentary sovereignty clause, before second reading and on the Bill’s other provisions before the Bill begins its committee stage. The Committee invites written submissions which address the following questions:
 
Part 3, Status of EU law, the parliamentary sovereignty Clause:
What is the basis for concerns that parliamentary sovereignty “may in the future be eroded by decisions of the courts” (paragraph 106 of the explanatory notes), given the differences of opinion on this issue?
 
How far does Clause 18 address those concerns? In particular:
 
What (if any) is the likely effect of putting the principle of parliamentary sovereignty with respect to directly applicable or directly effective EU law on a statutory footing on the constitution of the UK? What additional protection does a statutory provision, which can be repealed, confer on the principle and practice of parliamentary sovereignty beyond the common law?
 
What (if any) is the likely effect of putting the principle of parliamentary sovereignty on a statutory footing on the interpretation of the European Communities Act 1972, particularly sections 2(4) and 3(1)? Does this Clause apply to future as well as present and past Acts of Parliament?
 
 
What (if any) is the likely effect of putting the principle of parliamentary sovereignty with respect to directly applicable or directly effective EU law on a statutory footing on UK judges reviewing the acts of public authorities and/or national legislation for consistency with EU law? Paragraph 106 of the explanatory notes says that this Clause “will provide clear authority which can be relied upon to counter arguments that EU law constitutes a new higher autonomous legal order derived from EU Treaties or international law and principles which has become an integral part of the UK’s legal system independent of statute”. Relied upon by whom? And in what circumstances? 
 
Is Clause 18 consistent with Declaration 17 to the Lisbon Treaty on the primacy of EU law, and the case of law of the Court of Justice that supports it? 
 
 
Part 1, Restrictions on Treaties and Decisions relating to the EU:
What is the meaning of, and difference between, the terms “competence” and “power” as used in the Bill? Are “competence “and “power” as used in the Bill terms that are already recognised under national law?
 
Are the conditions on which the Minister decides that a Treaty change or decision amounts to the transfer/extension of an area of competence or power from the UK to the EU sufficiently clear?
 
Are the distinctions in the Bill between national approval by referendum, Act of Parliament or Resolutions of both Houses consistent with the nature of the competence or power being transferred/extended?
 
Are there areas of extension of competence and/or conferral of power which are not covered in the Bill? 
 
Is it clear what a Minister must take into account when deciding whether “in his opinion” a proposal under Clause 4(1)(i) and (j) is “significant”? How far in practice would such a decision be amenable to judicial review?
 
How far is a decision whether or not to hold a referendum a legal question, amenable to judicial review, and how far a political question?
 
What might be the effect of Part 1 of the Bill on the UK’s future relationship with the EU?
 
 
The Committee is expected to begin taking oral evidence for its inquiry on Monday 22 November, and continue on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 November.
 
 


Bill Cash – European economic government will apply to United Kingdom
Bill Cash asked the following urgent question on European Economic Governance in the House of Commons on 27 October 2010:
 
Bill Cash: "I have an urgent question for the Prime Minister, which is being answered in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as to what negotiating position the Government intend to adopt on the conclusion of the taskforce on strengthening economic governance in the European Union that was presented to the European Council on 21 October with the claim that the endorsement-" [ Interruption. ]
 
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, replied: "I am very grateful for the opportunity to update the House on the conclusion of the taskforce on strengthening the economic governance of the European Union, and to report on the UK's position on the taskforce. In particular, I wish to restate that the UK is exempt from the current and future sanctions regime.
Heads of State and Heads of Government commissioned the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, to produce a report on EU economic governance and report back to the October Economic Council. Mr Van Rompuy chaired a taskforce meeting consisting of EU Finance Ministers, and the Chancellor represented the UK on the taskforce. The report has been agreed by the taskforce, and the European Council is expected to endorse it tomorrow. Copies of the report, along with the Chancellor's submission to the taskforce, have been placed in the Library of the House this morning.
The report concludes that the EU should take steps to reinforce fiscal discipline and that the euro area in particular must face tougher surveillance of its fiscal policies, with sanctions for non-compliance with the pact where appropriate. It also recommends measures to improve EU-level co-ordination of macro-economic policies. That will ensure that any harmful macro-economic imbalances between member states can be identified and corrective action taken. Finally, the report notes that there should be a permanent crisis resolution mechanism for the euro area. The UK supports its conclusions.
A strong and stable euro area is firmly in the UK's own economic interests, given the high level of UK exports to those countries and our close economic ties. In the years before the crisis, fiscal discipline was absent, and not just in states in the eurozone. High levels of debt have exacerbated the problems that some member states face during the economic downturn. The taskforce recommends that there should be greater focus on member states' public debt levels in future, and the Government agree with that approach.
I am pleased to note that the report explicitly states that sanctions cannot be applied to the UK under the stability and growth pact. Domestic fiscal frameworks play a crucial role in ensuring that member states act responsibly. EU surveillance is useful, but as the House knows, national Parliaments and national institutions must hold Governments to account for their economic and budgetary policies.
Let us be absolutely clear: yes, we want to see a strong and stable eurozone. That is in our interests just as much as those of our neighbours. The UK has led the way on economic governance. Multi-year budgets and independent statistics and forecasting have already been introduced, and we have a clear fiscal mandate to eliminate our structural deficit. We are leading the eurozone, and our high standards have already received international endorsement. We will examine any proposals to help the eurozone overcome its problems.
However, as the Prime Minister has just said, we will not agree to any changes to EU treaties that move more powers from this country to the EU. The UK's exemption from the sanctions proposal will be explicit, and there will be no shift of sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels. The report makes that clear, agreeing that
"strengthened enforcement measures need to be implemented for all EU Member States, except the UK as a consequence of Protocol 15 of the Treaty".
While we are looking at problems in the EU, I should like to say that we have serious concerns about the proposed size of the 2011 EU budget. I was shocked to see that on the day of the spending review, the vast majority of Labour MEPs voted against a freeze in the EU budget. When countries across Europe are taking tough decisions to put their public finances in order, it would be wrong-unjust, even-to have a 6% rise in next year's EU budget, as has been suggested. We cannot accept that and will fight it hard. We are protecting British interests in the EU and doing what is right for our country and our people, and the Prime Minister will update the House next week."
 
Bill Cash replied: "I am most grateful. Unfortunately, the explanation that we have just heard from the Minister does not answer all the questions that arise in this matter. In particular, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was on the taskforce, and the Council's recommendation is that these moves should strengthen economic governance
"in the EU and the euro area",
in other words not excluding the UK,
"and can be implemented within the existing Treaties."
I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing, as I suggested, that he should place in the Library a copy of the taskforce report and the Chancellor's submission to the taskforce on 9 July, so that everybody can read them.
The point remains that the six regulations and directives that the European Scrutiny Committee will consider this afternoon are still on the table. Mr Van Rompuy indicated yesterday at a meeting of COSAC-the chairmen of European scrutiny committees-which I attended, that there are uncertainties about the legal position. I think I am getting his words correct and that he said that the situation did not totally respect all the traditional rules of the European Union. Mr Van Rompuy also called for agreement because, he said, people are our citizens and not just voters.
Given that there are now six legislative proposals-it is claimed that they are based on the existing treaty, but we cannot assume that they are-and that the ESC will consider them today, and that they appear to carry forward in part the Van Rompuy recommendations, what requires a new treaty?
The treaty will affect the UK and our sovereign Parliament in respect of its control over UK fiscal policy, tax and economic governance, including the question of the rebate. We are glad to hear that the Government reject the increase proposed by the European Parliament, but will the Minister reply to this simple question: will the Government veto the treaty, and if not, will they guarantee that, in accordance with the wishes of the voters in the United Kingdom, we have a referendum on that issue?
 
Mark Hoban replied: "I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising those points. May I just advise him that the final meeting of the taskforce took place on 18 October? I attended that taskforce, as did my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. We ensured that the language in the taskforce report guaranteed that sanctions would not apply to the UK. Paragraph 18 of the taskforce report refers
"to the specific situation of the UK in relation to Protocol 15 of the Treaties."
In addition, paragraph 4 states that the measures set out in the taskforce report can be implemented through
"EU secondary legislation...within the existing legal framework of the European Union",
so nothing in the report requires a treaty change. I am aware that France and Germany have suggested that there may be treaty changes, but we have yet to see the details of such proposals, which would be made to the European Council at the weekend."
 

Click here to read the full transcript in Hansard.



Bill Cash – EU tax powers chipping away at British sovereignty
Bill Cash was quoted in the Daily Telegraph on 14 November 2010. The newspaper's Brussels correspondent, Bruno Waterfield, reported: 
 
"Under legislation tabled by the Coalition Government last week, any such amendments, reducing Britain’s control over taxation, would trigger a British referendum that would almost certainly lead to a No vote.
 
Bill Cash, the Conservative chairman of the influential Commons European scrutiny committee, said the demands would fuel Tory backbench fears that the EU was chipping away at British sovereignty.
 
'These matters raise grave concerns about the way in which the whole European project is being handled by the Coalition Government and the continuing drift,' he said."
 


Bill Cash raises concerns in European committee debate on behalf of Staffordshire dairy farmers

Press release 17/03/11

 
In a European Committee debate at the House of Commons (European Committee A) on Tuesday 15 March 2011 relating to milk and milk products, Staffordshire MP, Bill Cash, who is also Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, raised several concerns with the Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, particularly relating to the code of practice, milk contracts, supermarkets and monopoly on behalf of Staffordshire dairy farmers.
 
In the debate, Cash made the following points:
 
Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con):  Following on from that point, and also that made by my hon. Friend—he is a friend—the hon. Member for Luton North, having many dairy farmers in my constituency I am naturally very conscious of the fact that supermarkets have many of them over a barrel. I welcome the idea that there should be this code of practice, and follow-through by the ombudsman, in the legislation that would follow. However, is it also not the case that dairy farmers are locked into contracts that compel them to send their market to one buyer, which is the monopoly problem, and that because milk is a perishable product that must be collected every day they do not have the freedom to contract that many others have? Therefore it is important, irrespective of the problems of the competition policy, to ensure that there are compulsory written contracts that mean that the British dairy farmer benefits from these proposals. 
 
... Mr Cash:  I would simply thank the Minister for concentrating on fairness or unfairness, which lies at the heart of the question of competition. May I refer to a portrait just in front of him that shows Palmerston taking a line on the commercial treaty with France, which dealt with fair competition and trade? Behind him is John Bright arguing against the iron hoof of monopoly. This is the essence of the problem in a nutshell: we must find a way of ensuring that supermarkets do not continue to have a commercial monopoly over dairy farmers, in a way that has done a great deal of damage to them over the past generation. 
 
… Mr Cash:  On the basis that price is written into the milk contract, does the Minister agree that an agreed method of price variation ought to be written into it? Many people have suggested that that would be a good idea. 
 
Click here to read the debate in Hansard. 


Bill Cash MP presents Bill for referendum on Eurozone fiscal union

Press release 07/09/11

Following Bill Cash’s cross-examination of David Cameron in the Liaison Committee session yesterday afternoon – when the Prime Minister refused a UK referendum on Eurozone fiscal union – Cash and five other Select Committee Chairman and prominent eurosceptics from the new parliamentary intake have put forward a Bill to require approval by referendum and an Act of Parliament for provisions leading to fiscal union or economic governance within the Eurozone. 
 
The European Union Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill is presented by Bill Cash MP and supported by Bernard Jenkin MP, John Whittingdale MP, John Redwood MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Greg Knight MP, Graham Stuart MP, Richard Shepherd MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Zac Goldsmith MP and Peter Bone MP.
 
Bill Cash said:
 
“Allowing Eurozone Member States to go ahead towards fiscal union and economic governance creates two Europes, to which the United Kingdom would remain bound by Treaty and law, though they are built on sand.
 
“The money required for all the bailouts is not within the economic capacity of Germany or the political will in the Eurozone countries. It must be accepted that fiscal union within the Eurozone will not work and will be unstable, damaging and not improving our own economy.
 
“It will have profound economic, political and constitutional consequences for our vital national interests. This will fundamentally change the UK‘s relationship with the whole of the European Union, not only our relationship with the Eurozone.
 
“We must have a Referendum in the light of such a profound change in our political relationship with Europe.”
 
On Monday this week, Bill Cash published a pamphlet, “It’s the EU, Stupid”. This was released on the same day as Cash spoke in a European reform debate in Westminster Hall (Grand Committee Room) between leading Eurorealists and Euro-integrationists – including speakers such as influential economist Tim Congdon, Chairman of Business for New Europe Roland Rudd, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Bernard Jenkin MP and Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Baroness Ludford MEP.





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