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Monday, 28 October 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session Oct 21st - 24th 2013

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary Session Oct 21st - 24th 2013

Tuesday - The vote on In vitro devices included over 250 amendments. The whole thing is nonsense with simple stuff like sticking plaster being mixed up with implants which only a surgeon would use. See my speech about this where one minute was insufficient to cover the topic properly http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_732_Medical-Devices-Its-all-about-the-big-companies.html

The report was approved by 525 to 25 votes but the legislative resolution was returned to committee for further work. Likewise the following vote on Medical Devices which had over 300 amendments.

The Estrela report on “Sexual and reproductive health and rights” was very contentious so the temperature rose considerably when a motion to postpone it passed by 351 to 319. Rapporteur most upset and continued complaining loudly in the lift lobby.

Apparently Education needs “Re-thinking”, well a vote of 556 to 105 against says so.

Wednesday - The Cadec report on the Fisheries Fund had attracted over 600 amendments, many of which were taken as one block vote, which passed in spite of our “No”! The report was adopted but legislation was postponed. Good, since it adopted provision for the subsidising of new vessels. The pictures circulated are of many subsidised new boats, such as British fishermen can only dream of, but all done with their money!

Do not be surprised to hear that the findings of the UN Climate Change Conference were well received, adopted by 524 to 120 votes.

Thursday - Included the Ulmer report on the Dangers of Ionising Radiation. All very well but this lot know nothing. When this came to the Employment Committee several different permitted levels of exposure were mooted, depending on the body part exposed, most of which ignored the UN recommendations, settling on several levels well above UN guidelines. Now we had this report of 150 amendments which was, of course, adopted, 455 to 102.

In the Brok report on Security Policy they voted for more EU involvement in the Balkans, I thought this region had caused enough trouble over the years. They also want Britain and France to abandon their nuclear weapons, apparently, this will persuade Iran to follow suit!

Most importantly was the La Via report, adopted by 428 to 44, on the shortfall of EU funds where I can do no better than to reproduce here the Europarl Press Release,-

So, back to Wednesday for voting on the budget, as usual in Oct or Nov. Very confusing this year. Up to now we have been presented with a comprehensive list of proposed expenditure set out line by line, each line showing the purpose of payment, with comment as to whether each was an increase or a decrease. With some 30 lines per page on 10 pages it gave clear identification of over 300 items of EU expenditure and we could cast informed vote. Not so now.

I should explain that all reports are an amending exercise. At each Employment Committee I am usually presented with a pile of 4 booklets, each of about 50 A4 pages, ie 100 sides. Number one starts with the original report, the rapporteur’s comments and then amendments, continued in the remaining booklets. I do not get this before the committee starts so John Tennant does the hard bit ready for me to vote. He reads all amendments, recommends which I should support, and which not, and converts this to a voting list. This is very tedious because, whereas the amendments are listed in the books in numerical order, on the voting lists the amendments appear in random order. These voting lists are not available until the evening prior to the vote! We sit down on the morning before the votes and discuss John’s decisions. That is quick because we of UKIP vote, normally, against everything and all I have to do is to check out any “Yes” John recommends. Votes in plenary follow a similar path.

By the way, before I had my own assistant to do this I had to do it myself. So I sat in committee all day, reading each report with its amendments, as debate continued. In between making an occasional intervention I marked up the booklets and hoped to get through them all by the time the voting lists came through at about 7.30pm. I took it all to my hotel and worked through before and after dinner, transferring my markings to the voting lists. You will realise that it is impossible to vote without a marked-up voting list. I did once try to vote from the amendment booklets, absolutely impossible. In any case changes come in overnight.

For the budget this year detail was expanded on several lines for each expenditure, so that there were 8 books of over 50 sheets each, making a pile some 5 inches thick. Impossible to use in the vote situation so the Budget Committee had collapsed all these lines into about 5 blocks per page, with minimal outline, on to voting lists of 10 pages of A4. For example “Block 1” was, ‘production levies, sugar storage, production charges, surpluses, financing the general budget’, all lumped together as one vote, with about 5 or 6 more blocks on each page. We were only able to vote by recommendation of our assistants and the fact that our senior assistant had copy of all 8 books of amendments.

Hence my comments above about how the voting takes place. The budget voting lists were just like all the others, as detailed above, but with over 1000 amendments! Our senior assistant, Aurelie Laloux, worked for two solid days on the voting lists for the budget.

To make matters worse the rapporteur addressed MEPs as the budget vote was about to start. She explained that six or seven amendments had alterations for us to note. Problem, plenary vote lists are just like committee lists and, instead of taking them one at a time as we got to it, she did it all together, identified by amendment number. So it was impossible to follow instructions. Hence my “Point of Order”, as per the link below, and please note the Presidential response! http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_741_Voting-on-unknown-alterations-to-amendments.html

Did somebody say that the EU needs to be transparent, especially when spending billions of Pounds of taxpayers money?

This video, with extra footage, and further notes, will be going out on You Tube for all the world to see!

Lastly, if you have seen Nigel’s recent speech to the House you will notice that he remarked that when the Euro Anthem was played everyone stood to “Ramrod” attention. No they did not. I was just coming back in as the anthem began so I promptly departed and waited for it to stop. This is not my Anthem, I have a perfectly good one already. In any case, it is a dreadful way to treat Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg Oct 24th 2013


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