No, I do not think that I can, because of the time. I apologise for my voice; I lost it at a party in my garden last Saturday, which greatly pleased 400 of my constituents. We raised £4,000 clear profit for charity. My constituency faces a number of threats, not least those posed by over-development and designs on our green belt. An aggravating factor is that we get more and more houses but no new supporting infrastructure and no real extra capacity, such as doctors, schools or dentists. Our local roads suck. The ever increasing congestion hits us all, and the lack of proper, reliable access for Canvey is a growing problem for many reasons. Not least among them is the public safety issue of the possibility of having to evacuate the island because of global warming and rising sea levels, which I am watching carefully. In fact, just yesterday I had a meeting with the Environment Agency about improving Canvey's flood defences.
The loss of more Castle Point post offices, on top of those that have already had to close, is an avoidable tragedy, but it will happen. Hon. Members will find that an average of three or four additional post offices will close in every constituency in the country. Those post offices will be put to the sword because of the European Union. Article 88 of the 1997 EU treaty of Amsterdam obliges Parliament to seek the permission of Brussels if we want to subsidise our own post offices. After lengthy negotiations, we were finally permitted to subsidise them with a measly £50 million a year for three years. Another 2,500 to 3,000 post offices will be closed, hurting the fabric of our communities and vulnerable individuals. That is one reason why I became the chairman of the Campaign for an Independent Britain—to fight for British interests. More of that later.
Let me address one final local issue: Calor wants to store liquefied natural gas on Canvey Island. It would be imported to Canvey, via a boom arm on a jetty, from ships on the Thames. More than 100,000 tonnes of LNG will be held in two huge new tanks, each of them over 130 ft high. This would bring significant risk to the mainland, as well as to Canvey people.
I asked Parliament for a public inquiry, and I asked for it to be held on Canvey island. Although there was a bit of shuffling, both those requests were met. The inquiry starts on
My constant questioning of Ministers in Parliament has revealed evidence that may greatly assist our cause. I will present all that evidence at the inquiry. I wanted to present it now, but there is no time. I will do all I can to stop the Canvey LNG plans, because the human and environmental consequences are not just unacceptable; they are unthinkable.
I turn to a couple of national issues. Children's palliative care is dear to my heart, and I am sorry to say that those services are facing cuts and closures. They include children's hospices, the Diana community nursing teams, home nursing teams and a raft of other voluntary and statutory agencies. As a result, children and their families who need help—families with terminally ill children—are still not getting that help. I asked for and helped to get £27 million stop-gap funding, for which I thank the Government, and a long-term review. I had intended to elaborate, but I shall cut that part of my speech as well.
I welcome the Prime Minister's new support for changing the way honours are awarded. It is about time. People such as hard-working volunteers, doctors, nurses and teachers deserve honours. They are the real stars who make our country special and great. Those such as Joyce Long, Joan Lythgoe, Eddie Stacy and John Brennan in my constituency who, like many others, have worked selflessly for years deserve recognition. The public are sickened by awards to celebrities, who already have obscene amounts of money and adulation for doing relatively little and often setting bad examples. We must do more to reward and encourage those who do wonderful selfless work in our communities, and not insult them by giving gratuitous awards to celebs. Hug a luvvy is off the agenda.
Inevitably, I come to Europe. Seven in 10 British people want looser ties with the European Union. They want a transparent, mature and constructive relationship, but they want Britain to be put first. They want a free Britain. Enter the Campaign for an Independent Britain, the CIB. It is the UK's oldest significant Eurosceptic organisation—indeed, it invented the word Eurosceptic. It provides co-ordination and unity for the broadly Eurosceptic national organisations that represent the opinion of 70 per cent. of the British public.
The CIB has members from across the political spectrum, as the umbrella organisation serving many excellent groups such as the Campaign Against Euro Federalism, the UK Independence party, the Freedom Association, the Bruges group and many others. It is those groups, not MPs, who are truly defending Britain, trying to regain the primacy of Parliament, and trying to stop the uncontrolled EU immigration that damages race relations and is adding to our housing crisis, with up to half a million immigrants a year entering the UK from Europe. It is those Eurosceptic groups that are trying to stop the haemorrhaging of our money and jobs to Europe.
Finally, I turn to the treaty and say plainly that it is a constitution. Only 10 of the 250 proposals are different, so 96 per cent. of the text is unchanged. The articles have simply been renumbered. German Chancellor Merkel said:
"The substance of the constitution is preserved."
The Irish Prime Minister says that 90 per cent. of the constitution remains in the treaty. Giscard d'Estaing says that the figure is over 90 per cent. The former Belgian Prime Minister says that it is 95 per cent. The Spanish Foreign Minister says that it is 98 per cent. This sounds like one of my charity auctions. The man who actually wrote the constitution and who knows about it said:
"There have been few changes."
The Government's own Trade Minister said that it
"is a con to call this a treaty; it's not. It's exactly the same: it's a constitution."
The Prime Minister has said that he wants to restore trust in the Government and to listen to and involve people in decisions affecting their lives, but he has betrayed them by breaking his promise on a referendum. He is trying to commit one of the most audacious political deceptions ever attempted, but the big battle lies elsewhere. Around 70 per cent. of UK laws now originate from the EU, and as the shadow Leader of the House put it last week:
"Parliament is ignored and its decisions are overridden".
The fundamental problem lies in section 2(1) of the European Communities Act 1972, which is where the eventual solution must also lie. The provision dictates that
"All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions...created or arising by or under the Treaties...are without further enactment to be given legal effect...in the United Kingdom...and be enforced".
No hon. Member or Government should bind a future Parliament or hand over our parliamentary democracy to an unelected foreign body, but that is what the 1972 Act effectively does—it must be changed, which is my long-term aim.
Shame on the Prime Minister for his dishonesty in breaking his promise. I say to my own party that our Conservative principles made Britain great, and we should trust those principles, especially on defending our Parliament.
Copy and paste this code on your website