Tuesday, 25 May 2010

State Opening of Parliament in England: Let's Hope that it's Value for Money

So six months before we were due to do it all again, this morning Her Majesty the Queen made her way in procession in a coach to the House of Lords (she is the Duke of Lancaster after all, so maybe that earns her a place there) and reads a speech prepared for her by Prime Ministers David Cameron, Nick Clegg and their teams.

For the second time in 12 months the show of fabulous wealth, of a crown whose sale would go a fair way to clearing our debts and save millions of people suffering deprivation, is given to the people from all over the world. The best we can hope for is that, as it’s happening at this time of the year, thousands of tourists in the London will be treated to a real live view of the Queen in her finery, as she rides to Westminster.

How much will all this cost? It seems ironic that this Queen’s Speech which is all about austerity; all about cutting to pay back the unimaginable debt that the last government and its mates, the City, got us into, should be flanked at both ends by this display of grand wealth. Doubtless millions of people catching snatches of it on tonight’s tv news will be warmed by that memory when they are shivering next winter, out of a job and with less social security money to keep them from hunger and cold.

The Queen will introduce the theme of David Cameron’s Big Society, according to
The Times, saying that the measures will herald a stronger and fairer society that encourages individual and social responsibility. Small government is good of course, but the fear is always there that those less fortunate are left unprotected, while the rich pay for the services that the state would have provided.

The Queen will highlight the Government’s priority to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth and to accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit,
with five Bills from the Treasury. It’s bad news then that the last quarter’s figures actually showed even smaller growth than the one before.

There will be measures to block the rise in employers’ national insurance contributions; return supervisory powers over the City to the Bank of England; and set up an Office of Budget Responsibility, all of which sounds sensible to me.

Another theme is expected to be “freedom, fairness and responsibility”, with Nick Clegg’s Bill to get rid of Labour legislation opposed by the Tories and Liberals over the last years, including the rolling back of the “surveillance state”, scrapping ID cards and regulation of CCTV cameras and DNA. Again, I can’t argue with any of that. I just hope that where the cameras are removed, there will be suitable policing, as cameras were often a cheap method of crime control.

Legislation requiring referenda on future treaties of the EU is
also anticipated and, in my opinion will mean that the UK will end up blocking all future movement on the union for good or bad.

A pensions and savings Bill is thought likely to restore the link between pensions and average earnings, which, nearly 40 years after Thatcher removed it, is welcomed. The misery and poverty that that measure has caused over the years is incalculable, but of course none of it ever hit the millionaire Thatcher.

According to The Times we can also expect legislation to provide compensation for victims of the collapse of Equitable Life and to provide support for armed forces families along with, very rightly, much domestic English legislation. It’s a pity that the parliament will not bring forward legislation to create an English parliament.


  1. Your last sentence says it all Tris. Personally I couldn't care less if the English want to keep the pomp because that's their choice. Some of the events are rather delightful I may say and I do think tradition is important.

    Would we have no pomp in an independent Scotland? We need a little tradition or we'll become like communist countries.

  2. Afternoon SR,

    I have no problem with tradition, as long as it is good tradition.

    But pomp isn't my style. People wearing costumes which cost more than the entire earnings of a family for 10 years is not my cup of tea. Crowns belong in museums where we can all see them, not on the heads of people in parliament.

    The whole English parliament, 1600s carry on is far too expensive for today's UK. The money spent today on security and organisation, not to mention the drinks and food we'll have to provide would have saved a few wards in hospitals for a few years. Maybe not much in the grand scheme, but a lot if you're ill.

    I don't know what we would have in an independent Scotland, but I hope it wouldn't be crowns and speeches from a nice old lady who has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the speech and is being rather crudely used to read it out.

    Some unemployed person could have that job. No, OK, I joke there.

    Tradition yes, pomp no, and I'd like our own tradition, not theirs. A Scots song, a bit of Burns to mark the ceremony, a modern poet, a funny story from a scots writer....but all done wearing today's clothes so that people can connect with it. The business. Total cost, virtually nil. They can all come on the bus!

  3. It achieved it's aim though. Making people think that there's actually a real democracy in the UK. Ignoring the fact that most legislation is controlled by Brussels. Oh and it gave the BBC another chance to undermine the coalition. Sleazy David Blunkett, Alastair Eyebrows and Tessa Jowell giving us their pearls of wisdom on ID cards and the economy etc.
    I notice the £6Bn in savings announced yesterday by George have already been negated by our 60% increase in net contributions to the EU this year. And Europe continues to slide into the abyss... oops I will stop now in case Dean is lurking about ; )

  4. LOL Anon:

    Dean will sort you for sure.

    I'm surprised to hear of a 60% increase in contributions to the EU though. That seems highly unlikely, unless of course Mr Cameron is a complete balloon when it comes to negociating! You didn't read it in the Daily Mail, did you?

    It is dangerous to blame all our misfortunes on foreigners though.....one day we'll get something right and we'll have to credit them....

    eeeeeek! ;-)

  5. tris

    I read about the 60% last year in The Torygraph. It was Blair who negotiated it when he was trying to buy the EU Presidency. He scrapped Maggies rebate in order to try and climb on the gravy train....


  6. Ah Daniel Hannan.

  7. Actually, you would have thought that he had enough of a job representing his constituents and filling in his expense forms not to have time to write for the papers.

    Maybe it's just a part time job, but to hear some of these people, it's so busy that they have to work themselves and their staff to all the hours just to get through the workload.

    I trust he gives his income to a charity.

  8. tris

    As most of what goes on in the EU is behind closed doors or decided by an unelected central politburo ( sorry Commission )it's good to have a little light shed on the place by the likes of Hannan. The BBC etc are fully paid up admirers of the EU programme so only give us their version which is a tad one sided. Not surprising considering the £100m they have recieved so far from the EU to pay for programmes on the dangers of global warming and independent thought by nation states etc.
    I doubt if Hannan gets paid for his blog but I'll find out. If he does I'll be writing to Eckie to send you a few bob for your valiant efforts on his behalf ; )

  9. LOL @ anon...

    That's good of you mate, but my blog isn't published by the best selling broadsheet in England...

    I do it for amusement and I doubt Eck would pay me a penny piece, as I'm not always in 100% support of him..... (20 seats my backside!!)

    I would have more respect for Mr Hannan, had he had the good manners to answer a very simple email that I sent him asking him if he felt sooooooo strongly about the evils of Bruxelles running of England, could he just outline how he felt about Scotland being run from London.

    I did it in a quiet and respectful way. It was a request for information about his philosophy on other peoples interfering in the running of states.

    I believe that my friend Subrosa made a similar request. Neither was couched in inflamatory language. We could have been constituents, but neither of us received an acknowledgement never mind an answer.

    Perhaps the good Mr H was too busy writing his column.

  10. tris,

    If Salmond paid you what you're worth they'd have to abolish the House of Lords. Now, why didn't he think of that?

    Perhaps Fergie has pawned the Crown Jewels and what Queenie is wearing were replicas? She made a fortune on the Queen Mum's empties.

  11. Och Brownlie matey, you're kindness itself.... I'll suggest it to him sometime....:-)

    I wish I'd had first dibs on the old lady's empties... that and Margaret's. .... could start a bottle bank of massive proportions.

    Btw, told Mum about your new post

    >>>>>> get over to Brownlie's lads, it's as funny as...well, as....well.... it's funnier than, well loads of stuff.... joke.... great post mate<<<<<<<<<<<<<.

    Anyway mum agreed.... she loved it too.

  12. tris

    I'll give Hannan a phone and see what he's playing . He's not normally that rude !

  13. ....playing at...

  14. Thank you... I'd be interested to know how he feels about it.... It was some time ago that the emails were sent though. He may have difficulty finding them by now. I've probably not got them in my sent box any more. But maybe Subrosa remembers when they were sent.

  15. I'll see what he says anyway. Probably busy though with southern Europe about to collapse with £2trillion of debt. Don't tell Dean..


  16. There is a heck of a lot of nonsense talked about vis-a-vis the EU.

    For example UKIP claim that 80% of our laws are "made in Brussels", while others claim its 60%.

    My point is this: we have no way of knowing the real number. So speculation and 'numbers' like 60% is all just a mix of nonsense and wishful thinking frankly.

    I could show you stats from eurosceptic think tanks who calculate that between 50-75% of our laws may originate in Brussels, and anther which claims nothing less than 75%. There is so much agenda-riven stats floating about.

    As for Hannan let me be polite and restrained: I have nothing less than contempt for him. Thats the long and short of it tbh.

  17. And the eurozone isn't going to collapse, and Greek exiting is unacceptable as it conflicts with our European ideal.

  18. Dean said...

    " My point is this: we have no way of knowing the real number."

    Game set and match to Mr Hannan.

  19. tris,

    Thanks for the plug but I'm very selective regarding visitors to my blog. Only the very intelligent, and Niko, are allowed to comment!

  20. ...Aye Brownlie, and who but the very intelligent and Niko do you think are going to see an bit of publicity on Munguin's Republic?

  21. I listened to a programme on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago which completely rubbished any of these figures.

    It may be, according to this programme, around 9%. The ability for those who wish to make it look more is that each "law" from Bruxelles contains many small clauses with different particulars. If each one of these is counted separately then it can look like an enormous number.

    If it were anything like the figures that are quoted elsewhere, there would be absolutley nothing for the MPs or the Lords to do, and whilst they are not over worked, and never were, they certainly don't appear to do appreciably less when compared with pre EU.

    However, I'm sure that when Mr Camclegg introduces their Bill on reducing the number of MPs, all of them, from left and right, Europhobes and philes alike, will be keen to play down the numbers, otherwise they may find themsleves constituencyless.... Certainly constituents like me will be saying, if all the laws are made in Europe, why are we paying you?

    Seriously if 3/4 of our laws come from Belgium, why do we need 5 houses of parliament on these islands?

    In the Westminster Houses we should be able to get rid of 75% of the MPs and 75% of the Lords. That'd repay half the deficit in a few years.

    But I'm sure they will suddenly discover that the figures "misspoke" and that only about 2% of our laws are made in Foreignland.

  22. Anon,

    What do you mean set and man? All that proves is that it isnt a big issue as there is no evidence that "most" of our laws originate in Brussels.

    How can Hannan swannie about the place complaining about EU control over British legislative agendas without the evidence?

    He is a damn fool I think. Nothing worse than being a fool.

  23. Dean

    I suspect you are being slightly tongue in cheek. The following are all controlled by laws from the EU which overrule any UK legislation.

    Our fishing , farming, human rights, CO2 output ( about to be reduced again at eye watering expense I notice ), health and safety, workers rights, chemical safety, road safety, EU immigration, aircraft maintenance, aircraft flying ( note the recent balls up over the ash cloud due to 'eurocentral' incompetence), HGV and LGV regulations, motorbike legislation, imports from outside the EU, exports from outside the EU, cross border procedures within the EU, trade withing the EU, domestic electrical regulations, building regulations, crop spraying regulations, doctors regulations, water quality ( open sea and domestic), food packaging procedures, food processing procedures, fruit and veg handling and storage procedures.

    Getting bored but could go on if you like ?
    I notice Rumpey pumpy now wants to look at our budget books to make sure they're ok before letting us be taxed. The EU has a prudent record on budget control so this is to be welcomed ( tongue in cheek by me this time )

  24. Anon,

    There has never been an investigation to establish how many of our statute laws originate in Brussels. Thus you cannot claim with authority that "the majority" derives from EU origins.

    No established facts are available. Now that is a reason to want such an investigation I grant you- but until then it is frankly whistling in the wind to make claims like Hannan frequently does.

    As for your claim that these policy areas are "controlled" by Brussels, I think your being deliberately disingenuous.

    You know very well that the EU leads in the legislation in particular areas with the consent[!] of domestic parliament. Thus, the British parliament remains sovereign, and allows the EU to take the lead- until a point when Westminster choose not to.

    There is all the difference in the world between saying the EU overrules British parliamentary authority, and realising that the EU is only the primary legislative mover in these key areas with UK parliamentary permission.

    The former suggests a loss of fundamental sovereignty, the latter makes clear the continued sovereignty of Britains parliamentary institutions.

  25. I'm inclined to agree with Dean here.

    Scotland has its own Farming and Rural Affairs Minister; As for health and Safety, I'm aware that many of the directives come from Europe, but then you have to remember that Health and Safety prior to someone else taking the lead was limited to say the least. Which is why so many people are in hospital now, with lung cancers cause by asbestos, which of course employers knew to be dangerous in the 1930s, but about which they did nothing on the basis that it would have eaten into their profits and what did it matter anyway, it was only working class people who would die.

    I'm not going to go through your list Anon (I wish you had a name), but I agree with Dean. All of that stuff is overridable by the British government, or the Scottish government, if they could be bothered to do anything about it instead of letting it through with a nod!

    Let's remember when foreigner bashing, that a great deal of good comes out of the EU as well, shall we?

  26. I would like to echo Tris sentiments about the common good the EU does.

    I'd like to cite an example if I may, workers welfare and employment justice. The EU has been instrumental in creating a pan-European basic standard of rights for those in employment. It is vital that we can talk about Europe's successes, rather than just some of its less salubrious moments.

  27. Dean / tris

    I'm not sure where you got the idea that EU law could be ' overidable' by the Scottish or UK government tris. Have you got a link to this legislation ? I've only got the latest EU Treaty that Gordon signed and there's no mention of this fact. It says that only 8 countries are now required to change EU wide legislation rather than the previous unanimous vote from all countries.

    It's strange that you mentioned employment rights Dean. This is actually where the EU could do some good with it's equal rights for agency workers directive. Against the norm the UK actually defied this ruling and is being pursued by the EU to give agency workers equal pay and conditions for doing the same job as permanent staff.

    Pick any item from my list tris and I'll quote you the part of EU law relevant to the subject.

  28. Anon.

    Any state government can over ride the EU directives by simply not enacting them into law. At present in England, and probably in Scotland, they go through on a nod, and they don't have to. As MPs seem to have nothing to do, now that filling in expenses forms won't take them most of the week, they could refuse to implement them.

    What would the EU do? Throw England out?

    Don't tell me that France implements every directive. It doesn't.

    Do you really think that Romania does?

    What does the EU do?


  29. tris

    Yes it would be good if we could just ignore EU directives if we didn't like them. Unfortunately this isn't possible as they would just give us a fine. Oh and you can't ignore the fine because it's taken off the money that we've already paid into the EU in our annual contribution. How perfect a system of control is that ? I'd not thought about that aspect of EU Law before. You pay upfront and money will be given back depending on whether or not you follow the rules of the EU. The SNP aren't happy with the latest fine. But heck what can they do about it ?


  30. I still maintain that many countries don't observe all EU regulations.

    I also admit that the gross incompetence of British governments is often blamed on the EU.

    Anyone with any wit at all can get round regulations.

    However Anon, you and I are not going to agree on the subject of the EU so I suggest that we give up the tit for tat comments and accept that different people have different views on the subject.

    Some see mainly advantages; some see mainly disadvantages.

    Way back I laid out my views on the EU. I don't particularly like it, but as Mrs Thatcher said it brought socialism by the back door. Not the kind of socialism that was harmful to ordinary people though.

    Anything that Thatcher hated was bound to have a deal of good about it.

    I'd rather we were in a looser arrangement of European states, and hopefully an independent Scotland would be able to decide by referendum to be involved like Iceland, Norway Switzerland and Liechtenstein to be in the EEA.

  31. tris

    Yes I'm a bit bored with the EU subject aswell so will return to my bunker and won't comment about it again : )
    Thankfully the whole EUSSR thing is unravelling in a spiral of debt that will never be paid off.