John Redwood MP sings, ‘I like to be in America’

How disappointing to see a seasoned MP such as John Redwood, not content with just falling over himself to kiss the collective backsides of the good ol’ US of A, despite their major involvement in the world wide recession and the crap we inherit from them, such as gang culture, reality TV shows, skyscrapers, fast food – the list goes on and on, he then adopts the practices of the playground, by ignoring the comparisons being made between the UK and Germany and saying, ‘well Norway and Switzerland are better than all of them, so there!’.
I didn’t find it to be a wholesale endorsement of the German way of doing things, just a reasonable comparison of the differences between the two countries, both good and bad. Yes, the Germans are more productive, but they haven’t had any pay increases above inflation for 20 years. Excellent child care facilities cost a fraction of the cost of lower quality facilities here, but German women feel obliged to be stay at home mums, with little or no career prospects. Workers are more committed to their company and its success, because they share in the profits and work as a team – there’s no but to that one!
The Germans don’t seem to have a problem with private rented properties as being the most effective way to house the masses, rather than encouraging people to saddle themselves with a lifetime of debt.
Hands up all those who’d like to be American… Can you hold them up a bit higher, I can’t see any hands from here.

£2bn cost to British businesses of European red tape

So now we have the evidence, what are our leaders going to actually do about it? Especially the bit about our own civil servants ‘gold plating’, that can be fixed immediately.

By Robert Watts – Sunday Telegraph – 21st July 2013

COMPLYING with European Union regulations is costing Britain billions of pounds a year, the first official audit of the cost of membership is to disclose.
The burden on British businesses will be laid bare in a series of reports which will be published tomorrow by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary.
The audit is made up of six reports – called “Balance of Competences” – which civil servants have spent months preparing.
Senior Conservatives hope the reports will form the bedrock of a renegotiation with Brussels, if David Cameron wins the 2015 general election.
Evidence published alongside the reports will show:
• More than 400 new laws have been passed by the European Parliament since the Coalition was formed three years ago, with legislation costing British business £676 million a year;
• Complying with the EU Agency Workers’ Directive costs British firms as much as £1.5 billion a year;
• Less than half of foreign aid money paid by EU institutions goes to help the world’s poorest people.
The initial documents will look at how the EU affects British taxation, health, overseas aid, foreign policy, animal welfare and food safety.
One of the reports will also provide an overview of how the single market affects British businesses.
A further 26 reports will be published in coming months, in a boost to the Euro-sceptic wing of the Conservatives.
However, Tory Government sources indicated that Lib Dem elements of the Government had “sexed down” some of the more critical evidence of EU waste and bureaucracy.
“These are sober documents that provide evidence and analysis about Britain’s relationship with Europe – they do not set out future Government policy,” said a senior Foreign Office source.

It is understood one of the key themes of the reports will be that civil servants in Whitehall often “goldplate” EU regulations unnecessarily to make such laws more onerous than necessary.

Open Europe, the Euro-sceptic think tank, described the reports as a “useful exercise that will inform the EU debate for years to come”. Stephen Booth, a researcher for Open Europe, added: “Unless this review is complemented by a more political strategy to set out the parameters of a future EU renegotiation to secure more flexible UK membership terms, it will not be sufficient.”
The Prime Minister ordered the series of reports on EU influence in July 2012. The documents focus on how each Whitehall department is influenced by the EU, as part of the Prime Minister’s plan to negotiate a new deal without forcing Britain to leave the EU entirely.
The Government also sent out a wider survey to all 26 member countries asking for their opinions on the balance of power between the EU and national parliaments. However, Mr Cameron’s aims received a setback when France and Germany declined to take part in the exercise.
A senior Lib Dem source confirmed that Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and other fellow party members had been through the Balance of Competences studies. “We have fed into and amended these documents just as we would any government reports,” the source said.
“These documents are not about providing Tory Euro-sceptic headbangers with ammunition to help Britain leave the EU. This is serious, meaty work to assess the pros and cons of what the European Union does for Britain.”
A submission by the British Chambers of Commerce will argue that though its members value the single market, firms often feel stifled by regulations.
“Many of the rules governing the Internal Market are overly complex and expensive to comply with, which has resulted in burdensome and unacceptably high regulation costs for UK business,” it reads.
“The widespread feeling among chamber members is that there have been a number of instances where they were provided with insufficient warning or advice before a new rule was introduced.”
Support for Mr Cameron has rallied on the Tory’s traditionally Euro-sceptic back benches since he set out a new policy on Europe earlier this year.
The Prime Minister said that if the Conservatives won the next general election he would seek to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe. Once the negotiation is complete, Mr Cameron would ask the British public whether it wants to remain part of the EU in an “in-out referendum”, to be held by 2017 at the latest.
So far, the Conservatives are the only party to commit to an EU referendum. However, a private member’s Bill tabled by the Tory backbencher James Wharton aims to introduce legislation that would oblige any party that won the next election to hold such a vote.
In an interview with The Telegraph this weekend Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, urged Mr Cameron to set out clearly what he hoped to achieve from a renegotiation with Europe. “We should be driving for a very profound renegotiation with Europe with very little political integration,” he said.

Rubbish recycling companies are playing dirty

An important letter to all local authorities from the Local Government Association.

Judicial review of Waste Regulation: Recent press coverage

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, there is an important judicial review case currently under way involving a challenge to the current legal basis for waste and recycling collection.

The claimants in that case – UK Recyclate and a number of other recycling contractors – want some councils to be forced to change their arrangements at significant cost. The LGA is also a party to the case and is arguing that councils are legally entitled to retain a level of discretion to choose the appropriate arrangements for their areas.

A recent article in the Municipal Journal (MJ) by the claimants contains a number of factual inaccuracies and misleading statements. It appears to be designed to spread misinformation and persuade local authorities that the judicial review has already been decided and that they are at legal risk. The case has not been decided, and the purpose of this letter is to put the record straight.

What is at issue in the judicial review (UK Recyclate v Defra) is whether EU law requires every council to impose separate source collection of waste on its householders, outlawing co-mingled collection, or whether it permits co-mingling in appropriate cases. As you know, every local area is very different, and being forced to change to a single collection approach could have significant cost implications for many councils, and may well not be appropriate in many local circumstances.

The Government has recently made amended regulations in order to put the legal position beyond any doubt. Those regulations continue to allow for co-mingled collection where appropriate for local circumstances. They are the law of the land unless a court says otherwise. The LGA’s lawyers, and the Government’s, believe this approach is correct under EU law.

In the recent MJ article, the claimants’ lawyers attempt to tell councils that a judgment has already been made by the court and that councils which use co-mingled waste collection are now in a legally dubious position. This simply isn’t so. The judicial review is ongoing, but as yet there has been no hearing before a judge, and no finding made by the court.

As you will know, it is unusual for parties to litigation to run their arguments outside the courtroom while the case is ongoing. The MJ article therefore appears to be an attempt by the claimants to stir up local authority concern before the case even gets to a hearing, and suggests that they are arguing from a position of weakness.

It is of course in the commercial interest of the claimants that councils should move away from co-mingled collection. The LGA’s strong view is that the law permits councils discretion to make their own decisions in the light of local circumstances and in accordance with the clear legal provision made by the amended regulations.

Councils should certainly not be influenced by an inaccurate and misleading article written on behalf of parties with an obvious commercial agenda.

You may be asking yourself if there is anything you can do to influence the situation. The LGA is a party to the case and if you would like to follow events more closely and contribute, should the need arise, to developing evidence further, please do put an officer in contact with

The LGA has also communicated with your officers about this case and will be happy to provide further information on the position.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Mike Jones
Chairman of the LGA Environment and Housing Board

Personal note: I trust that when the dust has settled on this issue, all local authorities will consider very carefully, whether or not the companies involved in this legal action would make good partners in any future ventures.

Cameron disappoints on the EU relationship

David Cameron happy to stay in Europe – that’s disappointing and immediately puts this country on the back foot when trying to tell the EU it’s got it wrong!

Continuing to tell us that it’s all about getting the relationship with right, totally ignores the fact that the whole EU bureaucracy is a corrupt and voracious monster. Trying to improve a relationship with something as self-serving and greedy as the EU, is like trying to reason with a boat load of gun toting Somalian pirates, as they are climbing aboard your boat.

Gold plating – what we do best!

Yet another story about EU legislation having a negative impact on the UK economy. This time it’s agency staff receiving the same employment rights as permanent employees. The legislation was apparently enthusiastically grasped to their bosom by the LibDems soon after they were invited into Government – thanks for dropping us in it yet again Mr Vince Cable.

Following the standard script, ministers claimed, ‘we had no choice because…….this time the excuse being, ‘the unions put pressure on us’. Since when has any government done anything they didn’t want to do because of a union (unless it was Labour of course)?

Read on and you get to the real reason why the UK has yet again been stitched up by it’s own government. According to the Institute of Directors, the Government has once again ‘gold-plated’ a piece of EU legislation and made it’s impact far worse than it needed to be. Either these people just love writing new regulations, or they see it as another opportunity to create more jobs for the boys, with new bunch of Whitehall bureaucrats required to police the new rules.

We’ve had it! It’s official

I’ve been having a lot of my chords struck recently and none more so than by this piece on today’s ConservativeHome website.

Cameron warns that Britain is facing a crisis of confidence with a “general feeling” that the “best days” of the country are now behind us.

“In the interview [with the Big Issue], Mr Cameron said: “Over the past few years, this country has had some real knocks and people’s confidence in our country has been shaken to the core. I’m talking about the expenses scandal, the financial crisis, this whole disgraceful and sorry episode of phone hacking. There’s a sense that the rich and the powerful – politicians, bankers, the press and the police – have been serving themselves, not each other.“Add to all that the way the world is changing, with the rise of new powers like China and India, and I think there’s a general feeling that maybe our best days as a country are behind us.””

I’m glad David Cameron has been honest about the current malaise our country seems to be suffering, but I’m somewhat concerned that he doesn’t go on to tell us how he’s going to fix it. Also, as you might expect from a Eurosceptic, I think he’s ducked the other major reason why many of us may feel that the country’s ‘had it’ – our membership of the EU and that organisation’s relentless hunger for more power.

If David Cameron thinks he’s dealt with the EU issue, by the passage of the recent Parliamentary bill requiring that a referendum be held on any proposals to increase the EU powers further, he’s wrong. The EU already has too much power over British citizens and far too much influence on what happens in our country. Until that situation changes, the British people will continue to feel powerless and to some degree, both helpless and hopeless.

So my simple message to David Cameron is, ‘Good analysis, but needs more work – now what are you going to do to change things?’.

Firm talk is not enough on EU budget proposals

Whilst I agree completely with David Cameron in his opposition to the EU budget increase, I find the wording used, ‘completely unacceptable’, feeble in the extreme.  He might as well of said, ‘I say old bean, that’s not cricket!’, for all the good it will do.  Read more on this here

Far stronger words and possibly even actions are required to make these people listen.  The tail wagging the dog is becoming the standard in the EU, with those member countries who make the largest net contributions, being completely ignored, by their money grabbing smaller and poorer partners in this corrupt and inefficient gravy train called the EU.

I supposed it should come as no surprise that Janusz Lewandowski, the EU budget commissioner who is Polish and therefore from a country that is literally raking it in along with many of his eastern european neighbours, is staunchly defending the proposed rise.

Come on Dave time for firm action not wet words.