Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session March 12- 15 2012
I can do no better than start with Nigel's speech in the style of "Carry on up the Khyber". It does in fact mirror the atmosphere here.
Tuesday We voted on two Gender Equality reports, all 70 amendments in one, 30 in the other. Basic idea worthy enough you may think but really, paragraph 7, " Political Parties across Europe to introduce a quota system for Candidate lists- women candidates alternate with men at the top of the list". Adopted by 573 - 101, and the whole report passed by 508 - 124.
Wednesday Vote on the Fisheries Fund, to which I spoke on Tuesday night, text and video on web site. This passed with a huge majority. If you burrow into the EU web site you can find the result of recorded votes, this being one of them. It lists who voted Yes, or No, or Abstained, by Political group. Activists look these up to find out how we, and others, voted on their particular interest. Quite right too but there are errors. In this case you would find that I did not vote at all on the Fisheries Fund report; you are entitled to know why.
We hold our voting meeting immediately prior to each voting session and bells sound to call us down, 10 minutes before, and again at the start. Problem, the lifts are heavily in use then, often with assistants going some where else, so it's slow. I got into the chamber, with quite a few other MEPs just in time, but not quite. There was a minute's silence being held for the Belgian children killed in the bus crash in Switzerland, so I stood still in the approach to my row. The president did not wait but got straight on with voting before several of us could get to our seats and put our vote cards into the machine. The Fisheries vote was first, so I missed it. All an alert president had to do was to realise members were observing due respect and wait a minute, but that's too much for any one in charge in this place.
I give you this account to show how completely hopeless this place is, common sense is at a premium. And yes, you can do something about a voting error. We can go to the web site and enter a "Vote Correction", specifying the exact vote and the way one wished to vote. This is noted but the vote as first recorded is not altered.
Thursday Votes are of little interest to any of us and business generally is of limited value.
I will therefore close at this point, Weds evening, especially as my flight is soon after voting ends, leaving me no time to write anything further. I look forward (!) to my lunch with the assembled lawyers of Northampton on Friday.
Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg March 14th 2012