EU: Financial Stability and Economic Growth — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:56 pm on 3rd November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch UKIP 3:56 pm, 3rd November 2011

My Lords, I welcome the debate, if only because it allows me to point out why no British Government can do anything useful to support either financial stability or economic growth in the European Union. At root this is because the big idea that gave birth to the whole project of European integration has failed. The longer the political class tries to prop it up the more painful the result will be to the peoples of Europe.

Let me remind your Lordships once again what that big idea was. It was that the national democracies of Europe had been responsible for two world wars. They therefore had to be emasculated and diluted into a new form of supranational government run by technocrats, with their national Governments and Parliaments largely powerless. The euro, about which we hear so much today but which is not the deeper point, was never an economic project. It was supposed to be the cement that would hold the emerging corporatist state together. Those who designed it in the 1980s knew perfectly well that a currency zone cannot survive for long without a federal budget and without the ability to tax and send money from richer and poorer parts of the zone. Anyone who doubts this should read that great book by Mr Bernard Connolly, The Rotten Heart of Europe.

So the euro was to complete the project of European integration by handing the essential power of taxation to Brussels. All the other powers would have been put in place by a sly and a steady succession of treaty changes ending with the grand, overriding constitution which has come to be known, thanks to the French and Dutch people who turned it down in referendums, as the Lisbon treaty. Now, all according to plan, a British Government have some 8 per cent of the votes in the secret law-making process in Brussels, which interferes in almost every aspect of our daily lives-a process in which your Lordships' House and the House of Commons are entirely irrelevant. The more the people understand this, the less they like it.

That, very briefly, is why I say there is not much any British Government can do about financial stability or economic growth in the European Union. But there are deeper reasons, even further beyond the reach of any British Government. As to financial stability, in the time available it is perhaps best to let events caused by the euro speak for themselves. It remains to be seen whether the people of first Greece and then elsewhere will go along with the austerity required by the grand euro plan that has been imposed on them without their informed consent. In the mean time, I hope that I can be forgiven for saying: some cement, this euro.

As to economic growth, the position is equally hopeless. Here I draw your Lordships' attention to a short new publication from Civitas called Time To Say No, written by my colleague at Global Britain, Mr Ian Milne, with a foreword by the noble Lord, Lord Vinson, of Roddam Dene. It draws heavily on a number of Mr Milne's one-page briefing notes to be found at Global, which are a very underused resource in our national debate about the facts of our EU membership-particularly the economic facts. I have time now to draw your Lordships' attention to only a few. Briefing note number 69 is entitled, "The Coming EU Demographic Winter". Between now and 2050 the USA will gain some 36 million in working-age population while the EU will lose 55 million or 16 per cent. The UK will go against that trend, increasing our working age population by 3 million or 7 per cent. This scleroticism, or whatever you want to call it, is guaranteed by the European Union's incurable propensity to overregulate, thus dragging all its economies down in the face of rising competition elsewhere in the world. As the world's fourth largest exporter, this hits us particularly hard.

The booklet also explains how customs unions have become redundant; how our trade, both ways, with the EU has been declining for some time while expanding with the rest of the world; and why you do not need to be part of the single market to export to it, underlined by the fact that Switzerland exports three times more per capita to the EU than we do and Norway five times.

In conclusion, if this debate does nothing else, I hope it will stop the Government and Europhiles constantly pretending that we need to stay in the EU in order to maintain our exports to clients in it and the jobs that depend on them. If the Minister does not want to take my word for this, Channel 4's "Fact Check" section on 1 November reveals that the academics who originally found that 3 million of our jobs depend on the sale of goods and services to clients in the EU have never said that any of these would be lost if we left the EU. Of course they would not, and the sooner we do it, the better.