Clause 1 — United Kingdom loans to Ireland

Part of Loans to Ireland Bill (Allocation of Time) – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 15th December 2010.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 4:28 pm, 15th December 2010

Yes I am. Treasury civil servants are exceedingly clever and may know of pitfalls, but they might not fully explain them to Ministers. Of course, the Minister takes ultimate responsibility, but the question is: what is the effect on the daily lives of the people whom we represent? That is the issue on which we have to concentrate.

Under the circumstances, I am extremely dubious about the way in which the whole thing has been put together. In particular, I would mention what I will call the mechanism, as compared with the facility. I had an exchange earlier about the mechanism with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Darling, who said, "This is all going to be done by qualified majority voting." However, that is not the case. Within the mechanism as it is set out, the request comes from the member state; it is only the final arrangement that requires qualified majority voting. Indeed, the EU sent in the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in flagrant contradiction of the provisions of article 3 of the regulation in question.

In fact, the EU was operating the provision as if it were already law, when it was not. That it is typical of the European Union. It keeps on telling us about the rule of law, but when it suits, it completely ignores the law. What happened was unlawful. I also believe that it was unlawful in respect of article 122, which was the legal basis used to create the mechanism. I do not need to go into detail, but article 122 concerns natural disasters, energy supply and things of that kind. Anyone who looks at article 3, article 122 and the others provisions that they mention would reasonably conclude that they should not be used for the purposes of sorting out an unmitigated mess that was created by banks, as well as by the Government of Ireland and other parts of the European Union. Therefore, I am afraid that the answer that I received from the former Chancellor-that there really was no alternative to what was done, because such decisions are reached by qualified majority voting-does not stack up. If what happened was unlawful, it should have been resisted and, because of the consequences, it should, if necessary, have been taken to the European Court.