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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Northampton Commentary

Northampton Commentary                                                                         31st Dec 2012
As you know I try to send a Commentary after every Brussels or Strasbourg sitting but that became impossible after that of Dec 2nd. I did attend Employment Committee, Dec 6th and again on Dec 18th but had to miss the Strasbourg week of Dec 10th to 13th . This was due to a family funeral in Devon, which had to come first, with several visits there over that period.
Those two Brussels Employment committee sittings were just a half day each and I cannot write a commentary while in committee. With appointments to see other people time ran short, leaving me no chance to write a commentary while still in Brussels.
Dec 6th was dominated by a long voting session where I opposed, they adopted, 3 reports. First, “European Mutual Societies”, which is intended to apply to all Mortgage providers. So watch out if you have a mortgage, be even more watchful if you intend to take that particular plunge. Remember, this is the EU which cannot even audit their accounts properly.
Second, votes on “Active and Healthy Ageing” (tell me about it!), then 18 pages with over 230 amendments on Electro-Magnetic Fields (which they persist in calling the “Physical Agents Directive”; there are many more Physical Agents than E-M Fields).
Dec 18th  Nine items for debate, plus a” Public Hearing on ‘Social Housing’, a Way Out of the Crisis”, and a voting session too, all in a half day, 3.00pm to 6.30pm. The 9 debates included one on Asbestos and on my web site you will find video of my contribution. Note that the President gives me the hurry up. I ploughed on because of a farcical situation which had arisen.
There is a timetable of debates in Committee and, unlike plenary, members just indicate if they wish to speak as each one comes up. They are taken in sequence of asking, with no formal time limit. However, on Dec18th the debate previous to Asbestos went at least 15 minutes over time due to a protracted legal argument. In the end what should have been done in the first place was decided, get the lawyers to sort it out. The President then tried to limit each speaker to 2 minutes, I was not happy with that, hence her attitude when I spoke.
Suffice it to say that I was alone in my assertion that white asbestos is harmless. I hope to speak to this in plenary when it arises there, where speaking is by prior arrangement.
For Plenary sittings a time table listing the speakers, showing precise speaking times, is produced. But early speakers often extend their allocated time which ruins the schedule. To get back on track, following speakers are asked to keep to their time, even though earlier speakers generally have a greater time allowance! The President then often threatens to cut a speaker off, which has happened. That is why a video of any of us can show us glancing up as we speak. This might make us look a bit “swivel eyed” , but we are looking at the count-up clock over the presidential desk to keep within the time allowed.
No prizes for guessing which MEPs are most likely to be cut off when straying over time.
Sorry to miss wishing you all a Merry Christmas, so have a Happy New year,- and make sure you see Nigel’s New Year Message on the Party web site.
Derek Clark   MEP                                           Northampton  Dec 31st 2012

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