Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session 21st – 24th May 2012
I try to complete my commentaries before I leave Strasbourg on Thursday, fresh in the mind. But flight times are such that I sometimes need to leave immediately after voting on Thursday, preventing write-up in the afternoon. Too late by the time I get back and Friday is catching up with the emails that have come in, hence the delay on this one.
In fact it was a rather odd week with not much serious business. Debates on, for example, Civil Liberties, Euro coins, Gender equality, Bluefin Tuna, EU and China Trade, The Ukraine, Youth Opportunities, Homophobia, and, calling for quotas on permits for EU people going to reside in Switzerland. What business of the EU is that? It makes one wonder if the EU machine is grinding to a halt, or working up to a deluge of intrusive measures.
Among all that were Debates/ votes on some real issues,-
Another raid on the fisheries of emerging nations, this time granting licences to plunder the waters of Mozambique, was carried by 566 – 89 votes.
A report to beef up EU powers to investigate UK affairs, like summoning witnesses, was defeated. It will come again.
However, be alarmed at the Podimata report, establishing the Financial Transaction Tax which will destroy the City of London. We supported a Tory amendment to reject, lost by 112 – 557 votes. The report was then passed by 487 – 152. You may have picked up adverse comments about Godfrey Bloom and Marta Andreason about this. Vicky Ford, Tory MEP Eastern, speaking in the House, slated them both for being absent from committee when this was adopted, prior to plenary. She was completely out of order. First she said that the final vote in committee was 22 all, in which case the report fails and it would not have come to plenary. But Marta had sent in a substitute (commonly done) to vote for her and, in any case, the final committee vote was 32 – 10, so our two MEPs made no difference anyway. The 22-all vote referred to an amendment debated in an earlier meeting. Was this an error on Ms Ford’s part, or did she think we were not listening ?
Finally, a letter of mine which has appeared in several regional papers and quoted in the London Press Summaries which appears in the EU emails every day, this one 20th May
Remploy workplaces- 'Closure of Remploy will drive people out of work' (Letter from Derek Clark MEP to Derby Evening Telegraph, p. 14): "I hope that many people are as appalled as I am at the recent comments by Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary. He proposes to close a number of Remploy workplaces and thus drive disabled people out of employment. His scathing comments about the work ethic of these people is beneath contempt. Disabled people at Remploy have the dignity of going to work, rather than calling on the benefits system - an example to us all. If that was not bad enough the Foreign Secretary William Hague now tells us we all have to work harder (...). In any case, many British people cannot work any harder. Does the Foreign Secretary of all people not know that we are in the EU? We are subject to the 'Working Time Directive' which limits employees to 48 hours per week. How then, can they work harder?"
I enclose this one following our very good day in Chesterfield, Sat 26th, to promote the UKIP candidate in a council by-election, July 5th . Our candidate is ex-Lib-Dem Councillor, Keith Lomas, one of four Lib-Dems in that branch to have joined us. A fine candidate, he deserves to do well and I was very pleased to see the support of local branch members, including the recent recruits. Just down the pavement from our stall was the Socialist Workers Party, fixing placards to lamp posts denouncing the Remploy closures! I tried to engage the placard-fixer-in-chief in conversation saying how much I agreed with him over that, if on nothing else. No reply! They packed up an hour before we did!
Derek Clark MEP Northampton, in lieu of Strasbourg, June 3rd 2012