Speech by Gerard Batten MEP
I am very pleased to have been invited by the Bruges Group to present my findings on the costs of British membership of the European Union to their annual conference.
How much does membership of the European Union costs Britain? That is not an unreasonable question given that British politicians in favour of membership have usually presented it as a purely economic project to promote trade and prosperity.
If that is the case then it is perfectly reasonable to ask how much does it cost, how much do we get back, and does it represent value for money? Indeed since 1973 parliamentarians from all parties, from both Houses of Parliament, have called for an independent cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the benefits if there are any. These calls have of course been consistently denied by Conservative and Labour governments.
When I became a Member of the European Parliament in 2004 I thought it would be a good idea for someone to try and quantify the total costs of British membership and present it in a form that was easily understandable and which could be updated and expanded on an annual basis.
This is the third year running I have produced this report, and it has been a quest for knowledge, not easily obtainable. I have tried to be as fair as possible. I have used official figures from the Office of National Statistics, and where not possible to do that, with estimates from respected and reliable sources economic sources. It sets out the costs as best I can identify them with the information available.
I have only sought to indentify the costs of membership and I would be more that happy to see the task taken on by an independent body commissioned by the Government to carry out a genuinely independent cost-benefit analysis.
This month, for the fourteenth year running, the European Court of Auditors was unable to fully sign-off the accounts for the European Union. They voiced concerns about areas of spending that amount to 92% of the EU budget spent by member states and EU agencies. Overall they cannot fully account for just over 5% of the budget, about €6 billion, or at current exchange rates about £4.7 billion.
This huge sum is more than the UK’s direct annual net contribution to the EU budget of £4.3 billion. It is not unreasonable to say that a sum of money exceeding the net contribution of British taxpayers to the EU budget is quite possibly finding its way into the pockets of fraudsters.
As I said in a speech in the European Parliament on Thursday: a complete and utter total waste of money!
That said, what then are the total costs of membership? I break these down into direct costs to the EU Budget and indirect costs on the economy. There is also the ‘opportunity cost’ of membership, i.e. what has it cost us to be members compared to not being members. And I will say something about that at the end.
Britain’s direct gross contribution to the EU budget for 2007 was over £13 billion gross. After the UK Rebate and EU money spent in the UK (i.e. our own money) we are left with a net contribution of £4.3 billion. By the end of the current budget period in 2013 our contribution will have risen to £14.5 billion gross and £6.8 billion net per annum.
In 2005 Tony Blair surrendered part of the UK Rebate, and it will decrease as more countries join the EU. If we look at the total contributions for all EU member states for the 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 budget periods we find that the UK is the second biggest net contributor, with Germany coming top. Government figures show that Britain’s net contributions for 2007 to 2013 will have increased by almost 89% over the previous budget period.
If we look at the budget contributions since 1973 to 2008 we see that they come to a total of £230.4 billion gross, and £68.2 billion net; the net figure is after the UK rebate and EU money spent in the UK, is deducted from the gross amount.
By the end of the current budget period in 2013 that will have risen to £315.4 billion gross and £101.4 billion net.
In addition to this there is what I have called 'Hidden Costs'. These were first identified by John Mills of the Labour Euro-Safeguards Campaign in 2006. The Office of National Statistics Pink Book shows net contributions to the EU budget but other payments to the EU and related European projects are shown separately, although not individually indentified.
AS far as I can tell these amounts include additional payments to the Common Agricultural Budget, Overseas Aid, the European Space Agency, the Galileo satellite system and suchlike projects. From 1997 to 2004 these payments totalled £9.1 billion or an average of £1.8 billion per annum.
Since 2005 these amounts have totalled £8.3 billion. The figure for 2007 was just over £3 billion. These figures show an upward trend and I have used the figure of £3 billion for 2008. One of my new tasks for next year's edition is to identify what these payments are made up of in detail.
Then we have the indirect costs of membership. I have shown these as: the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, and EU Over-Regulation on business.
The Common Agricultural Policy was of course a deal cooked up between France and German. In return for gaining a market for its industrial goods in France, Germany agreed to support high agricultural costs in France.
One of the reasons that the French opposed British entry to the European Economic Community in the 1960s was to prevent us having any influence on the CAP until the deal was done and so that we would have to bear much of the cost when we were eventually admitted.
The CAP of course forces European consumers to buy food produced at inflated prices by continental farmers rather than at lower prices on the world market. There are various estimates for the costs and I have used the very conservative estimate of 1.2% of Gross Domestic Product. This amounts to £16.8 billion per annum.
The Common Fisheries Policy has almost destroyed the UK fishing industry by opening up former British territorial waters to the industrialised fishing fleets of Spain and Portugal.
Amazingly when I contacted the Marine and Fishing Authority in 2007 to enquire about statistics regarding the catch in UK waters I was told that, "we cannot identify UK waters: they are now identified as part of EC waters". So the British Government has no knowledge of or interest in the cost of the Common Fisheries Policy to the British economy and people. And if they do they are certainly not telling.
On the information available about the total EU catch I have calculated that the CFP costs Britain at the very least £3.275 billion per annum in lost catch alone. This takes no account of the cumulative cost of lost jobs and lost ancillary industries. This must amount to many billions of pounds.
Then we have the old favourite, EU Over-Regulation. No one would suggest of course that business should go unregulated but there is a never ending avalanche of unnecessary and incompetent new laws from the EU that place an ever increasing burden on business.
In 2006 Commissioner Gunter Verhuegen, Vice President for Industry and Enterprise said that the cost of EU regulation was 5.5% of GDP or €600 billion, while the benefits of the Single Market amounted to only €160 billion. Therefore the costs exceeded the benefits by €440 billion.
In 2007 he revised his figures based on research by a Dutch think-tank to an average of 3.5% of GDP for all EU member states. He gives the figures for Germany, France and Holland as 3.7%, but strangely he gives the figure for Britain as only 1.5% of GDP. This seems unduly low.
The former Vice Prime Minister of Holland, Gerrit Zalm stated that the cost of EU over-regulation on Holland was 2% of GDP. At least the same figure must be true for the UK.
A former President of the Germany, Roman Hertzog estimated in 2007 in an official study for the Germany Parliament that over 80% of new laws now came from the European Union. He questioned whether Germany could actually be described as a democracy on that basis any more. A similar figure for EU legislation must also be true for the UK.
Although only about 10% of the UK economy is concerned with exporting to EU countries; nevertheless 100% of businesses have to comply with EU regulations. Reputable economists estimate that this over-regulation costs Britain about 2% of GDP, which equates to at least £28 billion per annum.
When we add up all these amounts of money we get a gross estimated cost of EU membership for 2008 as £65.6 billion gross or £55.7 billion net per annum.
Looked at another way the net amount alone equates to: £915 per annum for every man, woman and child in the UK, or £1,799 per annum for every UK taxpayer.
But surely we benefit economically from being in the European Union, don’t we? Surely the benefits in jobs and trade justify the expense don't they? That is what the Europhiles would like us to believe.
What about all those jobs and trade? Well Britain’s balance of payments from 1997 to 2007 show that we have a massive trading deficit with EU countries of -£215 billion, they sell us far more than we sell them.
Compare the figures for the same period with trade with the USA we have a hefty surplus of £117 billion for trade with the USA. It is obvious that our trading and economic interests lie with the USA and the English speaking world rather than the European Union.
Of course we want continued trade, co-operation and friendship with our European neighbours, as indeed with the rest of the world. But we do not need to be part of economic and political union with the countries of European to achieve that.
The European Union is one of the slowest growing areas of the world economy, held back by over-regulation, restrictive practices and the subsidising of continental agriculture. Economists estimate that this has a negative impact on the UK economy of at least 0.5% of GDP per annum. Put another way, if we left the EU tomorrow we could boost the UK economy by more than £7 billion without doing anything in particular.
We are now facing what looks like the most serious economic crisis since 1929. No one knows how bad it is going to get. The G20 has agreed "to use fiscal measures to stimulate domestic demand to rapid effect."
Meanwhile the IMF is talking about a £30 billion fiscal stimulus for the UK. The Government is rumoured to be considering a £15 billion stimulus to the economy but has yet to decide how it will be funded: by more borrowing and or reducing Government spending.
Well there is an obvious way of producing such a fiscal stimulus without it costing the tax-payer any money at all. The solution is for Britain to leave the European Union.
We would immediately save £13 billion to £14 billion in gross contributions. We could free ourselves from the Common Agricultural Policy the Common Fisheries Policy and the over-regulation on business and return to money to the economy accordingly. Overall by my conservative estimate we could achieve savings of up to £65.7 billion per annum.
Outside the stagnating Euro-zone economy we could achieve at least a 0.5% boost to the economy worth at least £7 billion per annum, and probably very much more.
The European Union has always been an ideological project to create a centralised European political state: a United States of Europe. There is nothing of practical advantage that it claims to deliver that could not be achieved by simple co-operation between independent nation states working together under intergovernmental agreements.
It looks as though the economic situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The British people are going to ask why we are wasting these colossal amounts of money as a consequence of EU membership.
A majority of the British people realise that membership of the European Union is an irrelevant ideological luxury that they simply do not want and cannot afford. The question is: when is our Governing political class going to wake up and realise that too? And do something about it.
That is why I am proud to be a member of the UK Independence Party. The founding principle and core policy of which is Britain's unconditional withdrawal from the European Union.
Speech by Marta Andreasen
Ladies and Gentlemen,
(I) EUROPEAN FUNDS OUT OF CONTROL
As you know I was the Chief Accountant of the EU who was suspended and dismissed for alerting the EU hierarchy as to the vulnerability of the EU accounting system and for requesting support to implement urgent changes.
I am not coming today to tell you about the sad story of little red riding Marta who went into the EU forest and was swallowed by Wolfe Kinnock.
I want to tell you today about the lack of improvement on the controls over the billions of Euros of taxpayers’ money that go unaccounted year after year.
I want to tell you in layman words what the last EU Audit report published 2 weeks ago is expressing.
(II) CHIEF ACCOUNTING OFFICER- HIGHEST FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY
Even if not recognized by my hierarchy the treaty puts on the chief accountant highest responsibility on the EU assets, treasury and accounts. Some six weeks after I joined the EC back in 2002 I was presented with the EU accounts for 2001 and was asked to sign them. The first thing that I noted was that 150 million pounds had disappeared from the assets of the EU. I asked for explanation and was told that these corresponded to loans that had been written off but never got to know why or who had authorized them. But what I concluded was that writing off loans – which means making them disappear from the accounts as if the money had never existed and been lent -was one way in which abuse on EU taxpayers money was taking place.
(III) MY CONCERNS AS CHIEF ACCOUNTANT
By that time I had already been asked to authorize payments or signatories on behalf of the EU for which I could not succeed in confirming that I was approving the right beneficiary, the right purpose and the right amount.
By that time I had also been asked to sign accounts which I could see clearly could not reflect the true financial position of the EU budget. It was clear that the information was at least not exhaustive and inaccurate as my example on the 150 million assets missing illustrates.
(IV) A VULNERABLE SYSTEM = STRUCTURAL FRAUD
It was clear to me that the system could be abused and that this was of common knowledge. Worse, I could see that unauthorized changes could be made to the accounts and payment orders without leaving trace of who and when had made them.
(V) MY REQUESTS FOR CHANGE
As Chief Accountant I felt the EU funds were not under control and I requested urgent changes: an integrated computer system and an independent Treasury audit. And you all know what happened to me after that.
(VI) THEIR LAST ANNUAL REPORT: THE PARADOX
Since then nothing has effectively changed. During the last 14 years the European Court of Auditors have refused to clear the accounts of the EU without exception.
In their report for 2007 the Auditors say that for the first time they give an UNQUALIFIED OPINION for the accounts but and ADVERSE OPINION on the regularity and legality of the “ underlying transactions”.
Basically what this means is that in their view the Accounts reflect fairly the illegal and irregular payments made out of the Budget.
No other organisation in the world would present this absurd distinction between the reliability of the Accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions, because YOU DO NOT ACCOUNT FOR ILEGAL AND IRREGULAR TRANSACTIONS BECAUSE YOU DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN THOSE. THE FIRST RESPONSIBILITY OF A CHIEF ACCOUNTANT IS TO ENSURE THE LEGALITY AND REGULARITY OF THE TRANSACTIONS THAT ARE BEING RECORDED.
(VII) “UNQUALIFIED” OPINION ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE ACCOUNTS
The Auditors begin by saying that the ‘Annual Accounts of the European Communities’ present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Communities as of 31 December 2007, and the results of their operations and cash flows for the year then ended. However in the following paragraph they go on to say that “that weaknesses in the accounting systems… still put at risk the quality of financial information of certain Directorates-General of the Commission (in particular for pre-financing). These weaknesses led to a number of corrections after the presentation of the provisional accounts”.
(VIII) AREAS OF EU EXPENDITURE
Click here to view Marta’s power point presentation
(IX) 92% OF BUDGET AFFECTED BY MATERIAL LEVEL OF ERROR
In ‘Agriculture and natural resources’= 51 BILL, the Court found that the transactions underlying the expenditure declared for this policy group, taken as a whole, are affected by a material level of error of legality and/or regularity.
In ‘Cohesion’= 42 BILL , the Court found that the reimbursement of expenditure to Cohesion policies projects is affected by a material level of error of legality and/or regularity.
In ‘Research, energy and transport’= 4.5 BILL, the Court found that payments for the policy group are affected by a material level of error of legality and/or regularity.
In ‘External aid, development and enlargement= 6 BILL’, the Court found that transactions underlying the expenditure in the policy group are affected by a material level of error of legality and/or regularity,
In ‘Education and citizenship’, the Court found that payments for the policy group are affected by a material level of error of legality and/or regularity.
(X) WHAT ARE THE ERRORS
Most of the errors relate to:
Overdeclaration of money spent
Breach of procurement rules
Entitlements wrongly calculated
These errors are reiterated over and over because beneficiaries are aware of the lack of controls.
(XI) IS THIS FRAUD OR ABUSE?
COHESION FUNDS = 11%. The Auditors establish that AT LEAST €4.6 billion should not have been paid.
AGRICULTURAL FUNDS = 3%. In average between FEOGA and Rural Development. The Auditors are saying that €1.5 billion AT LEAST should not have been paid.
So we have AT LEAST €6 billion THAT HAVE BEEN WASTED IN 2007. But the auditors say that these errors do not mean there is FRAUD because for fraud to occur there needs to exist CRIMINAL INTENT. Do the auditors investigate if there is criminal intent? NO they do not. They send to OLAF only those that they suspect of. So what is this then? ABUSE? In any case it is a misappropriation of taxpayers’ money.
(XII) THE ARGUMENTS OVER THE YEARS
It is the Member Countries fault.
WRONG – It is easy for the European institutions to put the blame on the member countries because effectively the payments are made to beneficiaries in those countries and it is those beneficiaries who fail to comply with the requirements or incur in abuses. But the institution responsible for avoiding these situations is the European Commission who fails to control that the beneficiaries provide the documentation to ensure the payment is legal and regular, in the same way that we look to the banks who gave the mortgages and not its beneficiaries to answer on their responsibilities in the credit crunch crisis. Because this control is lacking there is no way to prevent fraud and even detect fraud. Moreover the fact that the beneficiaries are aware of this lack of control, abuse is more likely to occur. The taxpayers put their money in the EC the same as the investors put the money in the banks, with the sole difference that investors can at least decide where they put their money whereas taxpayers cannot.
The Audit system is inadequate and gives and inaccurate and negative impression.
I will tell you that with several years of auditing experience on my back I can confirm there is only one auditing system all throughout the world and this is based on internal control evaluation and sample tests. If the internal control, that is the pre-established flow of approvals and checks, is found to be effective and properly implemented, then the sample is smaller than if the internal control is deficient.
You will hear that UK government bodies have not had their accounts cleared for many years and that this does not necessarily represent fraud. Clearly the definition of fraud can be as elastic as anybody wants to make it. The EU auditors define fraud as an irregularity where criminal intention can be detected. This means that we should bring in detectives and inspectors to determine if all these “ abuses” would constitute fraud. So… rest assured… as long as we cannot prove criminal intent EU funds can be used for whatever purpose! In respect of the British government not having its accounts cleared…. well… we do not need yet another layer of corruption on top!
(XIII) STRUCTURAL FRAUD: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE
So who is to blame for this ? No other than the Members of the European Parliament who, as representatives of the European taxpayers have been giving discharge to the European Commission on the administration of the European Union Budget, for the last 14 years while the Auditors have refused to clear the legality and regularity of most of the payments made out of this budget. Most of them are comfortable enjoying the “gravy train” and this is precisely their Achylles heel: when the Brussels bureaucracy wants to ensure their “loyalty” they publish and audit report on their expenses!
Speech by Christopher Booker
Thank you Mr Chairman Barry for that very kindly introduction and to the very kindly reception that it met with from the audience. Its good to see a good many old friends here today and its always an honour to address the Bruges Group in memory of possibly the best speech ever made about Europe by a British politician 20 years ago this year, and all the implied predictions that we heard or read in that speech have of course come wonderfully and horribly true. So far with one or two minor wobbles before the end of that great lady’s premiership we have been, as far as Britain and Europe are concerned, on a steadily descending spiral path ever since.
However, it is not that in particular I want to talk about today, although it’s not unrelated. As Barry has said and as you will be aware that snow is falling in various parts of this country today, it is of course quite natural that I would want to talk to you this afternoon about global warming.
There is, I will have to maintain, ever more evidence to suggest that global warming is leading us towards a quite extraordinary catastrophe but not the one which has been so widely and noisily predicted by the likes of Al Gore. The real disaster that we are facing through global warming is not that technicolor apocalypse of rising sea levels, melting ice sheets, floods, hurricanes, droughts etc, the poor old Polar Bears and so forth, the real disaster is, as we are just beginning to see now, the consequences of all those measures which are being put forward by the world’s politicians in a belief that they can somehow stave off that great imagined disaster. And nowhere is this more relevant than here in Britain, here in the European Union although I fear that over in the United States under President Elect Obama they are doing their level best to catch up.
Nowhere more than in the European Union has so much political capital been invested in recent years in such breathe takingly ambitious plans designed to combat climate change as they call it by cutting carbon dioxide emissions within 40 years by 60% or even 80%. How easy that is to say. Thousands of miles of countryside and sea to be covered by giant wind turbines churning away, millions of acres of farmland to be switched from growing food to something far more important, to growing bio-fuels to drive our cars and trucks; cap and trade or carbon trading/emissions trading schemes to make it a tradable commodity, the right to emit carbon dioxide, which of course I’m doing at this very moment as indeed all of you are, although I’m doing slightly more of it than you are.
But what we’re looking at here, there’s been an estimate by a thing called the International Energy Council for what that’s worth, but its quite an important body, it represents not just the EU, it represents countries across the world and they did an estimate some months ago as to the cost of all these various schemes which are being proposed, not just in the EU but elsewhere, to cope with this imagined disaster that is looming of global warming. The figure they came up with, which is of course totally meaningless, but it is quite interesting to know that they came up with the figure of $45 trillion over the next 40 years. Now even these days even Gordon Brown would have to admit that’s quite a lot of money, but of course we can borrow it.
So what we’re looking at here, and this is why it is actually an important question politically, what we’re looking at, what they’re all talking about adds up to by far the most expensive political project ever envisaged by the human race. Can you think of anything that remotely competes with it? And remember we’ve only just begun to see this; all we’re talking about now is projections into the future like global warming itself. Yet the chances of all these grandiose schemes actually changing the world’s climate are, as many people would believe and if one looks into the details of what they imply, the chances of them changing the climate, lowering temperatures are virtually zero. And I only say virtually because scientists are very loathe to ever say that something is zero, they say well it’s virtually zero.
Indeed in terms of current technology the only way we could hope to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 80%, which is what the British Government has now committed this country to by the Climate Change Bill, 80% reduction within 40 years, the only way we could do that is basically by closing down almost all our economic activity and huddling over candles, just one or two candles, not too many primarily to keep warm.
In fact just as potentially damaging in the short term is the way that this visionary zeal for alternative energy sources has taken the eyes of western politicians, both particularly in the UK and in America, off the increasingly powerless state of those more conventional sources of energy on which we rely for a very great deal of our current way of life. At this point I was going to suggest that someone might switch the lights off so that we could get a little taster of what we’re talking about, but I think you all know what a room with the lights turned out looks like.
But we are talking about something incredibly serious here and very urgent. In Britain, as some of you will have read in my column recently, while Gordon Brown talks blithely of spending £100 billion on renewable energy sources to provide only a fraction of the electricity we need to run our economy and keep our lights on, 40% of our existing electricity generating capacity in this country is due within a few years to disappear without any realistic plans as yet for replacing that which we are losing. In America where half of the electricity is provided by coal, every attempt to build new conventional power stations these days, as I discovered when I was over there in August, is already being fiercely opposed by environmentalists and by local politicians on the grounds that whatever it is, coal, nuclear or whatever, it will harm the planet.
So the likelihood is, and it seems very odd, you know the lights are still on, London looks quite normal outside, we’ve got a financial crisis, the whole western economy is in meltdown, but the one thing which we’re not really being told a huge amount about, although slightly more than we used to be, is that within a few years several western nations, very much including Britain, will be facing a massive energy crisis and all this frenzy of doom talk and wishful thinking that surrounds the subject that we’re talking about here has rested on three core assumptions.
The first is that global temperatures are rising at a speed which computer models predict will end in disaster. Second is that this is being caused by a similar rise in man made emissions of CO2, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and thirdly that only be taking very drastic action of the kind that we’ve been hinting at, that it might still be possible to reduce those emissions and thus halt the rise in temperatures.
Now this is what our politicians have almost to a man, been led to believe and a woman of course. Yet in the past year or two, the evidence to support each of these assumptions has been called very seriously into question. Firstly, global temperatures are no longer rising as they did during the last 20 years of the 20th century, since the start of the 21st century, since 2001 the rise in global temperatures has flattened out and since 2007 has dropped quite sharply. Now that’s a short period, we cannot draw too much of a conclusion from such a brief period, but the point is that that shape of global temperatures was in no way predicted by those computer models, which are what the whole of this global warming thing rests on.
And this in itself has called into question the fundamental proposition on which the entire global warming thesis was based. The fact is CO2 levels have continued to rise, models predicted that temperatures must follow suit and they have not done so. So we are at a very interesting point in history in terms of the importance of this subject.
Now this makes it even less plausible than ever that all those efforts we’re talking about to cut back on carbon emissions could have any significant effect on the climate of the earth over the next 100 years, yet it is on this basis that our politicians are committing us to a package of measures which, if they are carried through, will change our way of life totally out of recognition. Fortunately there are quite a few of us in this room who, as I look around, will not be here to see the worst consequences of these policies, but there are a few who might well be and most of us have children, grandchildren etc, and so we are talking about a huge shadow over the future of western economy, global economy and the future of mankind.
Now what we’re looking at we have to ask is is this one of the greatest political gambles ever taken in history. I first began seriously to look at this question of global warming a year or two back, when with my colleague, Richard North, I was writing a book on what we call the scare phenomenon. For years we’d been following and reporting on the unfolding one scare after another, BSE, eggs, Millennium Bug, Asian flu, lead in petrol, different kinds of asbestos, the confusion between them. We had observed how all these scares follow a certain regular pattern. Firstly they begin with a basic misreading of the basic scientific evidence, this is usually because one thing has been blamed, as it turns out eventually wrongly, on another. That is the key to the scare phenomenon.
This is then taken up by the media, my colleagues, my esteemed colleagues, who whip the whole thing up without doing any homework, into some great apocalyptic threat using the convenient scientists to deck out their pieces with apparent authority. These are the terrible things that are going to happen; these are the Polar Bears that are going to drown. The politicians then step firmly into the picture by wildly overreacting and producing a deluge of completely disproportionate and often totally mad laws in order to cope with a threat which may be and in many cases is imaginary. Finally, after a certain period of time the truth struggles out from under all this hysteria, but by this time it’s too late, the damage has been done.
Now there were above all three things which convinced us that the history of global warming fitted into this scare pattern and the first of these was the truly bizarre methods which have been used to promote the cause of global warming. For 20 years the central role in this story has been played by that UN sponsored body known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. It was set up in 1988 just after a certain NASA scientist, Dr James Hansen and his ally, Senator Al Gore, the young Senator for Tennessee as he then was, how these two really more than anyone else, launched the scare over global warming into the world’s headlines.
Now rarely can any organisation have been so mis-sold to the public as the IPCC. How often we’re told that the IPCC consists of 1500 of the world’s top climate scientists or even 2500 of the world’s top climate scientists and they are all agreed this consensus. In fact the IPCC is nothing of the kind. The vast majority of those who are involved in the IPCC process, who help write the reports are not climate scientists at all, they are economists, sociologists, environmental activists – far too many of them – Government bureaucrats – far too many of them – even politicians who get a chance to put their oar in. Only a comparatively tiny part of these massive reports produced by the IPCC are concerned with climate science directly at all and they involve not more than a few dozen academics, almost all of whom actually know each other, are professionally interrelated, they review each other’s papers, they are what Harold Wilson once famously described as a tightly knit group of politically motivated men.
And the reason why they’ve been appointed to this very important and influential role is that they have all, since time in memorial in their own lives, accepted the orthodox view of manmade global warming, CO2 equals rise in temperatures. So the IPCC actually, the more you look at it is not a scientific body it’s a political body set up right from the start to promote the orthodox belief that one thing led to the other.
Reputedly the IPCC and its supporters, such as James Hansen, as I was observing yet again in my column last Sunday, had been caught out distorting, fudging and manipulating the scientific data to promote their cause. The most glaring example of all, which I’m sure will be familiar to some of you in this room, is that notorious ‘hockey stick’. This was the graph that tried to re-write the climate history of the past 1000 years by showing that temperatures had gone like this and then suddenly in the last few years, they’ve shot up like that in the last few decades to quite unprecedented levels.
Now the ‘hockey stick’ emerged from nowhere, it was just what they needed and they put it right all the way through from page 1 of the 2001 IPCC report. It was then over the next few years subjected to detailed analysis by a bevy of different experts in different disciplines and they all came in their different ways and for different reasons, to the same conclusion, that this thing was nothing more than a blatant fraud. But this did not prevent the great Al Gore using a version of the hockey stick in his famous Oscar winning film, the one that helped to win him the Nobel Peace Prize, bless as they say. Just as the BBC was using it again the other day in that absolutely disgraceful series of films about climate change they had on BBC2.
The hockey stick is arguably the most discredited artefact in the history of science and the very fact that the IPCC should have used it in the way they did without checking, without looking at all the background, without checking out the computer programs, the very fact that it should have been given such prominence quite on its own should lead us to ask very big questions in our minds about the way in which this cause, this holy cause has been promoted.
The key, the Holy Grail at every point has been to create the impression that global warming is totally accepted by that wonderful mystical consensus of scientists, this belief has had to be defended fanatically at all costs and anyone who dares contradict it, any scientist at least who dares contradict it has to be scorned and marginalised as a pariah, a non-believer, a heretic, a holocaust denier who is probably in the pay of big oil.
Now all this need not concern us hugely, it’s a sorry, sorry story, its one of the sorriest stories, probably the sorriest story in the whole history of science, but it need not concern us if it wasn’t for the wider considerations. Firstly, the media have fallen for this IPCC narrative all along hook, line and sinker. To give one example of the fathomless credulity of my colleagues in the media, only a week or two back The Daily Telegraph and the BBC in the same week described Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who is an Indian, who is the current Chairman of the IPCC, as the world’s top climate scientist.
Now had they spent 30 seconds on the internet, the journalists would have found that Dr. Pachauri isn’t a climate scientist at all, he got his PhD at an American university for his studies into railway engineering, that is his sole qualification as it were scientifically for being the world’s top climate scientist. He is in fact a rather dim little academic who was only given his job as head of the IPCC because they wanted the Indians to be onside in terms of persuading developing countries to join in with this great rush to cut carbon emissions.
But rather more seriously than the follies of the media, which are absolutely legion, has been the way that the politicians of all parties have fallen lock, stock and barrel for this nonsense, particularly or nowhere more obviously than here in the EU. It was of course the IPCC which was responsible for the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997, which was the thing which set a lot of this carbon emissions stuff in train and who was right there ready to implement it before anyone else but the European Union. And this culminated in March 2007, when the leaders of the European Union, the European Council met, including Tony Blair of course just before he disappeared if he has disappeared – alas he hasn’t – these 27 leaders agreed to adopt the most ambitious climate change combating package ever agreed by any group of politicians so it was this which committed us to generating 20% of our energy by 2020 from renewable sources, replacing 10% of our transport fuel by bio-fuels by the same date, a new more expensive version of the world’s first emissions trading scheme.
On the same occasion these guys sitting around the table, they all agreed on a whole range of other matters including the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and actually already they had agreed, in fact they’d passed a directive requiring the energy performance certificates which are of course the heart of those wonderful, much admired home improvement packs, which have been such a huge success and kept the housing market in such a stable state.
Now if we look at each of these measures in detail and in practical terms, they are each one of them complete pie in the sky. However many thousands of subsidised wind turbines the Government hopes to see built all over our countryside and sea, they are, as I’m sure a lot of you know or are learning fast, this way of generating electricity is so ludicrously inefficient that the turbines are never going to generate more than a derisory fraction of the electricity we need. I never tire of saying because I think it’s the most important single fact one can remember about these bloody wind turbines, is the fact that we’ve got 2,033 of them so far built in the UK. All the electricity they produce in a year between them is less than that produced by one medium sized conventional power station. That is how batty this whole system is, at about 10-15 times the cost.
Now bio-fuels, they only produce 70% - well some of them do, I mean it varies according to which bio-fuel you’re talking about – but if you’re talking about ethanol, we’d get 70% back from putting 100% in. In other words a complete waste of space and indeed huge waste of food growing, crop growing farmland.
The EU’s emissions trading scheme, and I’m not going to go into detail because I think some of my colleagues are going to talk in more detail about these things, but it is really one of the most colossal money-making scams ever invented, it makes the South Sea Bubble, it makes Swift’s Academy of Lagado... you can’t find a parallel for the insanity of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, it is going to cost hundreds of billions of pounds before its finished across the whole of the EU.
Then of course they’ve got that thing called carbon capture, which is how they’re going to take all the carbon dioxide out when they’re generating electricity and they’re going to stuff it into holes in the ground. They don’t actually know how they’re going to do it yet but they’re already talking about we will not allow anymore coal fired power stations unless they have carbon capture. Sorry can you tell me where we get the carbon capture from? We’re working on it. We need more money to find out how it can be done, buried in holes under the North Sea. Two companies have already pulled out because they realise the thing is completely absurd and it’s never going to happen.
How many of our politicians, who are responsible for endorsing and abetting all this lunacy, actually have the slightest idea what it is they’re putting their hand to. I will tell you there is one active politician and he’s sitting on my right here and you’re going to hear him in a minute, and he is the only one I’ve found anywhere in this country certainly and the same is true elsewhere, who actually has done even the most basic homework about how fantastically mad all this is.
Sir David King, who is not someone I hugely admire, the former Chief Scientific Advisor to this country, surface chemist was his qualification, he sounded off about climate change in a big way, he of course thinks its absolutely terrible and we’ve got to do all these terrible things, we’ve got to make these huge sacrifices to stop it. But to be fair to him, Sir David King does occasionally talk sense and he did on one occasion, that meeting I was talking about where 27 leaders sat around agreeing this fantastic great EU climate package, he said I must admit that when I saw what they’d agreed to I realised that none of them could have been properly briefed, none of them had any idea what they were actually agreeing to. And that’s the man who was Blair’s Chief Scientific Advisor at the very time when he was doing that. So I don’t think they actually called in any advisors, I think the 27 politicians sat round and said now we have the chance to keep the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees. Yes King Canute you’re quite right, that will be very easy to do, all we have to do is to spend several trillion trillion trillion euros and pounds and I’m sure you’re right that it will happen. I’m not being unfair to King Canute by the way, as we know King Canute was the guy that realised that there are certain things that governments can’t do.
So as I said, there were three reasons why we saw global warming as a classic scare. One was the nature of the scientific confusion which lay at the heart of it and then the way the green lobby groups and the media hyped it all up.
The second has been this massive overreaction by the politicians, spewing out their feel good laws without any regard for the consequences.
And the third in the past couple of years has been the way in which falling global temperatures have made a mockery of the theory on which the whole of this rests because as with previous scares, the truth is beginning to emerge. The temperature decline of the last few years at a time when CO2 levels have continued to rise was not predicted as I say, by any of those computer models on which the IPCC bases all its alarmist predictions of what’s going to happen in the future and to which our politicians continue to pay blind homage as if they are dancing around some ritual fetish in a jungle clearing.
But worse still, their collective infatuation with the quasi-religious incantations of the so-called green lobby groups like WWF and the Friends of the Earth, both subsidised incidentally by the EU every lavishly, has blinded the politicians to the reality of this fast approaching energy crisis, which I’ve been talking about, which within a few years all the evidence suggests is going to put our lights out. But they’re not interested in that, all they’re interested in is all this talk about climate change and passing the Climate Change Bill.
When a German company proposed to build a new coal fired power station in Kings North, Kent recently, this provoked a huge howl of rage from the greenies supported by Dr James Hansen, who flew over from America to appear in court in support of the Greenpeace activists who were on trial for criminal damage. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, went out of his way to express sympathy and to see James Hansen. His brother Ed is the new Minister, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change – wonderful – and the Chief Scientific Advisor in that ministry, i.e. a man who now probably plays a very key role in deciding the future energy policy of Britain, is a fanatically bearded character called Bob Watson. Now Bob Watson was Dr. Pachauri’s predecessor as head of the IPCC and Al Gore hailed Bob Watson as the ‘hero of the planet’. That is the man we’ve now got virtually in charge of the energy policy of this country – cue for lights to go out.
So at least if your lights go out at home you will know who to thank and it was all in the cause of saving the planet even if your local Tesco has to shut down at the same time and you can no longer turn on your television set or your computer to find out what’s going on.
If there was one recent image which summed all this up as neatly as any it was that debate in the House of Commons last month when our MPs were discussing the third reading of the Government’s Climate Change Bill, potentially the most expensive piece of legislation ever put before the Parliament of this country. Members of all parties eagerly queued up to speak in favour of the Bill, which commits Britain by law to cutting her carbon emissions within 40 years by 80%, more than any other country in the world although the saintly President Elect Obama has said America is going to do the same.
Not a single MP in the house could have had the slightest idea how these goals could be achieved. All they knew was that it was vital to save the planet by holding at bay this terrifying menace of global warming.
Just towards the end of the debate, one MP, Peter Lilley, asked the speaker to note that outside the Palace of Westminster snow was falling. It was the first October snow recorded in London since 1934, before even I was born. Quite oblivious to this message from on high, which I’m sure was very carefully planned; the MPs proceeded to approve the Bill by 463 votes to 3. As I have more than once recently asked in my column, has there ever in history been such a collective flight from reality and we all ought to be incredibly worried about it.
As I say, there is only one politician I know in any of these Houses, different bits of Government that now represent us, who actually has got a clued up understanding of what the basic issues are. He is your next speaker.
Speech by Roger Helmer MEP
Thank you for that very kind and generous introduction and thank your Christopher for your kind words as well. It’s a great pleasure to be here, but I must start with a confession. I take a view of the European Union which is counter-consensual; at least it’s counter-consensual in Brussels, although I suspect it may not be counter-consensual here. And to sum up my view of the European Union I can do no better than to quote my good friend and colleague Mr Daniel Hannan, whom I would point out is the second Conservative MEP who has also left the EPP and now sits with me in the nonaligned.
Dan says, and I agree with him, that the European Union is making us poorer and less democratic and less free and I can’t think of a better way of summing it up than that so I have been quoting that just about every day since I heard him say it.
If you have any doubts at all about the way it is making us less democratic, I need only point you in the direction of the European Constitution. You know about the European Constitution, it was rejected by a significant majority in France in 2005 and by a slightly larger majority in Holland, God bless the Dutch, also in June 2005. I have to tell you that when I heard the French had voted no I think that was my happiest day in politics, it was a fantastic result.
But did the European Union listen to the verdict of the people and go away and change its mind? No it did not, it did what it always does, which is to say how can we get round this obstacle. So having declared a period for reflection and having had a very long period of anxiety, because that French decision really did shake the foundations and really did embarrass them, it came back with something called the Lisbon Treaty, which I have to tell you is for all practical purposes the same as the Constitution. It did omit the symbols, the flag and the anthem, but I don’t want you to worry about that because about three months ago the European Parliament voted to put them back in again.
That is the way they treat democracy and they tried to avoid another vote. President Sarkozy has admitted that if the Lisbon Treaty were put to the Referendum in France as the Constitution was, the French would vote the same way. They only had little Ireland and everybody knows how well Ireland has done out of the EU don’t they, so there wouldn’t be a problem there would there? And of course the Irish voted no, did they listen then? Of course not, the Irish had got the wrong answer and in European referenda, if you get the wrong answer you’re just told to go away and vote again until you get the right answer. They’re contempt for democracy is an outrage and one of my greatest pleasures in the European Parliament is to stand up and tell them so.
Now not only do we have a situation where the EU is undermining democracy, it is also undermining prosperity because quite simply the costs of membership exceed the benefits. There are some benefits in the European Union, there are some trade benefits in the single market, although I have to say we could have those benefits if we were to leave and have a simple free trade agreement, so we’re not even being asked to lose the benefits. But the costs, which are estimated to be 5.5% in terms of regulatory costs greatly exceed the trade benefits, which are estimated to be about 1.8% of GDP and I have to tell you those are not my estimates, those are the European Commission’s estimates. The European Union is costing us a great deal of money, it was too much to pay in the good times, now we are facing the bad times it is simply unaffordable. And I stress we could have the benefits without the costs if we were to renegotiate our relationship with the European Union.
But now I have to tell you about the ambition of the bureaucrats in Brussels and the people who are driving the project forward. They are attached to a very interesting concept, they realise there is no enthusiasm for European integration, they realise that big steps are difficult to carry through – indeed they’ve been reminded of that once or twice – so they are attached to the idea of a beneficial crisis as they see it. They are waiting for some disaster to happen so they can say look you need the European Union to help you or look you need to give the European Union more powers so that we can protect you against this disaster.
I hate to say this, but when the Twin Towers tragedy occurred in New York, there were those in Brussels who were saying, well it was a dreadful thing but it enables us to take forward our plans for European security, European policing, Corpus Juris all those things, now you need the European Union to help us to oppose terrorism.
What have we got at the moment but the credit crunch and of course this is a terrible thing for Europe as a whole, for Britain, it is a very serious matter and it will get worse. What are they saying in Brussels? They are saying ah, now thank heavens we have the Euro to protect us in these circumstances, now we need more economic integration, now we need fiscal integration, we need to give Brussels responsibility for raising taxes and governing public expenditure. We must have European taxes. This is a beneficial crisis that they will try to use to take forward the European project.
But my word, if we’re talking about crises, never mind the Twin Towers, never mind the credit crunch, as we’ve already heard from Christopher, the biggest crisis in their minds is the issue of global warming. Now it’s fascinating to hear them talk about the environment and about pollution. They will say pollution is no respecter of national boundaries and my word they’re right aren’t they? It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that pollution doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the EU either and the smoke which is emitted today in Beijing can well be in Birmingham next week. Pollution is a global issue if it is any issue at all and to use it as an excuse for European integration is frankly just a little bit bizarre.
Clearly pollution doesn’t respect national boundaries but what the EU is doing, and if we had time I could take half an hour giving you examples, is passing laws that are actually forcing jobs and investment and business out of the European Union into overseas jurisdictions with lower environmental standards and the list of industries: the cement industry, the tobacco industry, even the egg industry for heaven’s sake – they are making it so expensive to make eggs in Europe that people are moving to India and Taiwan and Ukraine and places like that. They are actually increasing pollution by forcing many polluting processes to go out of the European Union altogether.
Now you’ve already heard from Christopher about his concerns about the issue of climate change and you will hear more I’m sure from Ian in a little while. So let me be rather brief on this. My belief is that there is a well-established cyclical natural pattern of climate change, which can be identified over at least the last 10,000 years and the small increase in temperature, which we’ve seen, its been unsteady but there has been a small increase in temperature since about 1850, that small increase in temperature is entirely consistent with these long-term natural cycles.
If you go back many thousands of years we had the Holocene Maximum, coming to more recent times we had the Roman Optimum, later on we had the Medieval Warm Period, interspersed between these periods were cooler periods, most recently the Little Ice Age where they used to roast oxon on the Thames, now we are moving into a new natural cyclical 21st century maximum. And the idea that it is caused by human activity or can be altered by some other kind of human activity is frankly slightly absurd.
Christopher has talked at some length about the IPCC and I will give you my little vignette on the IPCC if I may, because on their panel of 1,500 or is it 2,500 scientists are two gentlemen called Prof. Fred Singer and Mr Hans Labohm. Now one of those gentlemen, Hans Labohm, is a Dutch economist, so he certainly isn’t a climate scientist, but Prof. Fred Singer from the University of Virginia is in fact a working atmospheric physicist or climatologist, he knows what he’s talking about. I’ve done a lot of work with him, I’ve organised a couple of seminars in Brussels and the European Parliament with both of these guys and one thing that Fred Singer said at one of these seminars has stuck in my mind and is worth quoting. He said ‘the IPCC accepts my corrections when I correct their spelling, they just don’t accept my corrections when I correct their science.’
And I have to tell you that both of these gentlemen are on that panel, they actually have would you believe, the Nobel Prize badges because the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Prize and they were given lapel pins all of them on the panel. They profoundly disagree with the conclusions, and incidentally I recommend Fred Singer’s excellent book, Unstoppable Global Warming every 1500 Years.
Now one of the methods which of course the European Union is using to oppose climate change and to resist CO2 emissions is the Emissions Trading Scheme, which again Christopher has referred to, so I won’t go into it in any depth. I will just mention that there are a couple of excellent studies by Open Europe of the Emissions Trading Scheme. The main conclusions are that the Emissions Trading Scheme has added hugely to the cost of doing business in this country, it has resulted in very large transfers of funds from Britain to France and Germany and other continental countries. That was to do with the initial allocations because our Government played the game and I’m afraid some of the continental Governments were a little more generous with their initial allocations.
Its also rather interestingly involved quite large fund transfers from hospital Trusts in the NHS to big oil companies, which I’m sure wasn’t quite the intention of the people who designed it. What it has not done is reduced emissions, so typical of a European initiative, it has failed to achieve the objectives it set out to achieve but it has very considerably added to the costs of doing business in Britain.
Now we are dealing with something called the European Climate and Energy Package, and can I say that the European Climate and Energy Package is rather typical of EU regulation. The EU doesn’t regulate by setting broad objectives, the EU regulates by going into detailed, intrusive, prescriptive rules it says exactly how things must be done.
Now I would quote here from my good colleague, Syed Kamall, one of your London MEPs and he said, ‘I have only two problems with harmonised regulation, one of them is harmonisation and the other one is regulation’. And I agree with him. The effect of this kind of regulation is very clear, it stifles competition, it sets in stone current practice, it prevents innovation and it makes the economies that are subjected to it much less efficient. There is only one way of doing things, it’s the way they do it so there’s no point in trying to do any better.
In this particular case, lets for a moment accept their objective. I don’t accept the objective of reducing CO2, I don’t think it’s important but they do, so let’s accept what they’re saying, it’s important to reduce CO2. The best way they could do that would be to set targets for CO2 emissions and say to Member States of the European Union, right find the best way of hitting those targets, that is what you are tasked with doing. Do they do that? No they don’t. They come in with all sorts of details about what sort of energy sources you should use, about how much renewables you should use and so on.
The effect of this is to create huge distortions in the market. First of all they favour wind power against other forms of renewables, secondly they favour renewables which are supposed not to emit carbon – we could debate that as well but let’s say renewables don’t emit carbon – against nuclear power which also does not emit carbon. Now if you’re trying to reduce CO2 emissions you should have nuclear power at the heart of that process. And actually to give people incentives to do renewables when you’re not giving them incentives to do nuclear is madness. I hear people saying, well we’re not really against nuclear in principle but we will not have any Government subsidy for it. And I say that’s fine, just so long as you agree not to have any Government subsidies of renewables as well because of course we all know that wind power would not exist without Government subsidies or Renewable Obligation Certificates which amount to much the same thing.
The effect of the EU’s targets, their so called 20-20-20 plan, they want 20% of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. Now that 20% target has been allocated to different Member States, they don’t all get the same and we’ve been lucky or maybe we’ve negotiated cleverly because we’re only being hit with 15%. However, that 15% is not 15% of our electricity generation, its 15% of total energy and because realistically the great majority of it can only be achieved through electricity generation we are looking at something like 35-40% of electricity generation which is going to have to come from renewables, which for all practical purposes means wind farms. And that is why the Government has just passed this Climate Change Bill.
The fact is that we are now being committed by our Government at the behest of Brussels, and let’s be very clear where it comes from, it doesn’t really come from Westminster, it comes from Brussels, we are being committed to these targets for wind power by 2020, which I am sorry to have to tell you are wholly unachievable.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I am not worried about climate change but I am very, very worried about energy security and I’m very, very worried about our dependence on imported oil from very unstable political areas, I’m worried about imported gas from Russia and President Putin with his blackmailing hand on the gas tap there. These are things I am concerned about. So in principle I have no problem with renewables, but we must remember renewables are the icing they are not the cake and unless we have the cake on which to put the icing then we are in terrible, terrible trouble. So renewables are not wrong in principle.
However, I have to tell you that there are serious problems with wind power specifically. I’m pretty relaxed about solar although its still expensive, biomass, geothermal, tidal, hydroelectric, a lot of these things are very well worth pursuing and we would be wise to pursue them. I do not believe that wind power is a wise thing to pursue because I don’t think it can be justified; it is not as they love to say, sustainable in terms either of economics or in terms of the environment. The amount of embedded energy, in other words the amount of CO2 emitted in order to fabricate, assemble, transport, erect these wind turbines and then to provide the infrastructure, the roads for maintenance, the lines to connect them to the National Grid, extensive changes needed to the National Grid, all these things use energy and therefore emit CO2 that is not accounted for when they tell you that wind turbines save CO2.
But it gets worse than that because wind, now this may come as a surprise to you, but wind is variable and is not predictable and I’ll tell you what, sometimes it doesn’t blow. Now you cannot run an economy based on the energy might be there or it might not be there. And people will say well if it’s windy in Scotland then maybe its not windy somewhere else and it’ll all balance out, no it wont because the trickle of power you get cannot be distributed over very long distances through the Grid. So there are serious problems with wind, you must keep conventional backup.
And what’s more you can’t just have a coal fired power station sitting there and then the wind drops and you think oh Lord the lights are going down a bit, we’ll fire up the coal fired power station. Oh no, it has to be running and therefore it has to be running at a sub-optimal capacity in order that you can ramp it up the moment the wind drops. And that means that you are running that power station less efficiently both in terms of the cost and in terms of the environment than you would otherwise do and you are emitting more CO2 from that backup power than you would otherwise do. Factor in all those things and you are not saving very much CO2 at all. The whole thing is extraordinarily impractical.
There is one area in which it actually gets worse because many of these wind turbines being erected in places like Wales and Scotland because funnily enough most of the wind in the UK seems to come in from the Atlantic and therefore those west coast sites are a great place for it. Unfortunately, they are also mountainous and peaty. Now if you want to plant a wind farm on peat, a big turbine, you have to make a hole almost the size of a pair of semi-detached houses, dig out the peat and fill it with concrete. Now all that peat you’ve dug out is effectively carbon, CO2 that has been sequestered in the soil for tens of thousands of years, you dig it up and leave it there beside your wind turbine and all that carbon that was in there will be emitted in no time. Even if you can make a case that wind turbines on ordinary ground may save some CO2, and personally I doubt it, it is absolutely clear – my Scottish colleague Struan Stevenson has done a great deal of work on this – that the amount of CO2 emitted by digging up peat to plant wind farms in most of the sites in Scotland and Wales releases more CO2 than you’ll ever save in the lifetime of the wind turbine.
Now Christopher has remarked on the cost of this process. There was a House of Commons report recently that said that our domestic electric bills today are about 14% higher than they need to be because of Renewable Obligations Certificates on wind and the figure is higher for commercial electricity. We are making ourselves less efficient, less competitive and less productive.
Now we’re looking however at these wind farms which I hope I’ve established will not do very much for CO2 emissions and will do great damage in cost terms, but it does indeed get worse than that. And the reason it gets worse than that is because we’re dealing here with a National Grid that distributes electricity. If you have a significant proportion of variable and unpredictable power as we’ll certainly have if we have wind power, if you had 2% of your electricity supply coming from this source, not a problem. 5% okay, 10% sort of probably alright, 15% getting quite dodgy. If you have 35%, which is what they’re talking about, you simply cannot operate the Grid and you cannot guarantee security of supply. It is simply absurd.
It is also absurd to think you can install that many wind turbines between now and then. We can’t build that many, the Government’s looking at 8,000 I think it is, we can’t build that many, we can’t install that many, we can’t connect that many to the Grid, many of them are offshore. Its very difficult to plant wind farms offshore, there are only about 60 days a year on average when the weather is benign enough to plant wind turbines offshore and the number of specialised vessels available to go out and plant very large wind turbines in offshore locations is extremely limited, they are in great demand. In other words what the Government is saying its going to do it cannot do, if it does do it then it cannot use that electricity in the Grid. That is the problem we are facing.
Two excellent reports recently, one of them by Prof. Ian Fells of Newcastle University, he’s a professor energy economics, an excellent report, well worth reading. Its one of those things that’s technical enough to be reassuring but accessible enough actually to sit down and read. And he says essentially what I’ve been telling you, that the Government’s plans for wind farms cannot possibly be achieved and if we rely on those plans for wind farms then we will find that the lights are indeed going out.
The second report from the House of Lords from a Committee chaired by Lord Roger Freeman that was, used to be an MP in my East Midlands patch says essentially the same things. It’s less technical but it makes the same point, that the Government’s plan for wind simply cannot be achieved. The result may well be in a matter of a few years time that we are in deep and serious trouble.
And there is one further killer directive from the European Union because we have on the statute book something called the Large Combustion Plant Directive. Now I’m sure you’re all familiar with this, it’s obviously the kind of thing that you would chat about over breakfast when there’s nothing else much to talk about, the Large Combustion Plant Directive. Basically they don’t like coal and they don’t like coal because it emits all this nasty CO2 and therefore they’ve put very strict limits on coal fired power stations that were built more than about 20 years ago because obviously standards have improved in the meantime. They’ve placed limits on the number of hours you can operate these coal fired power stations up until 2015 and they want them all closed by then. And that means that about half a dozen large generating stations in Britain are supposed to be closed by 2015.
I have to tell you that our energy supply situation is parlous anyway. We might just manage, touch and go, to get through if we keep all our current capacity on-stream and if we build nuclear power plants as fast as we can, but frankly, if we follow this European directive and we go away and shut down existing large combustion plants, which may be 20 years old but have another 20 years of useful life in the normal course of events, then we have no hope. And I just don’t think, I agree very much with Christopher here, politicians are simply not taking onboard the enormous threat to our economy if this happens.
I’m sure many of you can remember the famous three day week. Now remember how bad that was, how awful it was and how it affected our economy, it affected our daily lives, rolling blackouts, that is what we are facing and it wont stop, it wont stop just when a strike is over and we go back to work, it will take years and years of serious investment in serious generating capacity to get us off the hook unless we take these things onboard now.
Now I’d hoped to have here with me today my recent DVD on the question of climate change, but unfortunately a box of 100 DVDs got lost somewhere between me and Robert so I don’t know what he’ll do with them when they finally arrive, but I hope he’ll enjoy watching them. In the meantime what we do have is the leaflet on climate change, which we have a number of copies at the back and also you have my card which has my website on it and if you would like to see that DVD online it is available there.
I hope that I’ve made the point that we are facing a very serious problem, that that problem starts with Brussels, it carries on through Westminster and it requires very, very serious policy changes, it requires the urgent construction in my view, of coal fired power plants and nuclear power plants if we are going to have a chance of saving this energy problem.
That was my contribution ladies and gentlemen and I look forward to hearing from Ian along here, because he really understands the science and I always enjoy what he has to tell us, so I will look forward to that next. Thank you very much indeed.
Speech by Iain Murray
Good afternoon. For those of you who were expecting an American accent, I’m so sorry to disappoint you. I am in fact British as you can tell. I helped privatise Railtrack and then fled the country in 1996.
As a Fellow at an American think tank, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from Al Gore, you must have a PowerPoint these days, so here’s my contribution.
Now I’ve T’d off on a statement by my esteemed MP – yes I’m from South Shields – the wonderful David Miliband. Two years ago he said this, ‘an environmental contract has to stretch beyond each nation; we have to embed a shared willingness to tackle climate change across Europe and beyond. This is a challenge that the European Union was designed for, addressing global problems that require cooperation across borders. Europe has a strong environmental record on which to build from air pollution and water quality to recycling, but in future we should go further. Its raison d'être in the 21st century must be to prevent the exploitation of the planet, the European Union must become the environmental union’.
In saying this David Miliband was channelling my good friend Al Gore. Al Gore in his seminal tract from 1992 entitled Earth in the Balance said that environmentalism had to become the central organising principle of mankind. Now if you ever have the misfortune to read Earth in the Balance, it’s an amazing work. You can read it and then you can read the Unibomber’s Manifesto, that environmental terrorist of the early 90s, and it is so hard to tell the difference between them. Online there is a game, ‘who said this, Al Gore or the Unibomber?’ I tried it and I got everything wrong.
But the simple fact is that even if the European Union wants to become the environmental union, it has failed in all its supposed environmental ambitions. What the European Union’s environmental policy has done is impose vast costs upon the world, it has created – and I’ve got a great example of this from Spain – what can only be described as sub-prime jobs. It has actually restricted real environmental improvement by taking a command and control approach to the environment that simply does not work.
Let’s start with looking at the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is very much an EU construct. In 1997 the American Government with Al Gore as its chief negotiator was already beginning to get embroiled in something that came to be known as the Impeachment Scandal, so the EU pushed ahead with the Kyoto Protocol at the negotiations over there in Japan. Jacques Chirac, our friend, was so keen on the Kyoto Protocol he called it ‘the first authentic component of genuine global governance’, and if you want to scare an American Conservative say ‘global government’; they’re with us on that.
The ever fragrant Margot Wallström, now the Vice President of the European Union, actually blurted out the truth when she said that the Kyoto Protocol actually wasn’t about the environment, it was about levelling the playing field with the US because of the costs that they knew it would impose on the US economy.
But let’s look at how greenhouse gas emissions have gone from 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, to recent years where we have decent data. We’ll see that America, the great global villain of the environmental movement has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. The world has increased by just over 16% in general and the Kyoto nations, the nations that actually signed up to reduce their emissions, which until recently did not include Australia or the US (but the new Australian Government has signed up to Kyoto) they’ve increased them by 20%. Kyoto has failed, it just has not worked. That's because emissions reduction is just not that easy.
We can look at all these countries: Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Ireland, Australia, Turkey, Austria, New Zealand, Greece, Iceland, Canada, Italy, the United States, Switzerland, the European Community as a whole, Norway, Japan, France, Netherlands, even the United Kingdom, all have increased their emissions of greenhouse gases since 1997.
It is only Germany, the only really major economy that has reduced its emissions and the reason it has done that is because it has closed down so many of the smoke-stack industries that it inherited from the old East Germany. Sweden, Finland and Denmark have all gone into wind power in a big way and have managed to reduce their emissions considerably. But even Denmark, if you take the latest numbers, which I didn’t have time to put into this chart, even Denmark has gone back up from that minus 20% because they’ve realised that wind power just isn’t a good deal, when you actually have to give away your electricity for free to Sweden because the wind power is generating electricity late at night when you don’t actually need it. So even Denmark has gone back up from there.
And note that date 1997, it’s a very important date because that’s when Kyoto was signed. However, the Kyoto Protocol looks to reduce emissions from a benchmark date of 1990. That is why the Germans and the British Governments are able to say, oh we’ve reduced our emissions by a considerable amount. It’s not the amount you’ll see here because Britain entered into the ‘dash for gas’ in the early 90s and again Germany was closing down even more of its smoke-stack industries. They already had in the bank massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Eastern European countries, they have massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from about 1990 to 1995, again because they were closing down those old communist industries. In fact the only way that has been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a major economy is economic collapse and that’s why, with the current financial crisis, we will probably see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions this year and next year, which will of course be claimed as a great victory for environmentalists.
And let’s also look at the main European Union vehicle for reducing emissions, the Cap and Trade Scheme, which Christopher and Roger have already talked about. The European Emission Trading Scheme is supposed to be a Cap and Trade, but there is no meaningful cap. Nobody that I’ve talked to can actually tell me what emissions will be in the European Union next year, and that’s because the cap is meaningless. And the trade part simply means higher costs for households, schools and hospitals and windfall profits for utilities.
Now it looks like we are actually living in the age of Enron given what’s happened recently. Enron and Lehman Brothers were actually the two biggest pushers of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Schemes across the world. You just have to look and see what happened to those two companies to realise that there might actually be a significant problem with Cap and Trade Schemes. For those of you who know your Kipling, ‘The Gods of the market tumbled’ and the ‘Gods of the copybook headings’ reasserted themselves’. The real rules on which an economy rests for example, they will reassert themselves when the Gods of the market, the artificial rules that are promoted by Enron and Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs and the rest, when those rules disappear, the Gods of the copybook headings come back. I do recommend you look out the particular Kipling poem, it’s excellent.
And let’s also look at the real costs of global warming; its not global warming that imposes costs upon us, its global warming policies. Let’s take it as read that Jim Hansen and all these other frauds are actually right and that global warming will impose costs on the world.
The American economist from Yale, William Nordhaus, calculates those costs, taking it all as read, taking the increase in global warming over this year to be around something like 3 degrees centigrade. That will cost the world $22 trillion he thinks. Then he looks at what Stern and Al Gore want us to do. He calculates that Stern would certainly reduce the costs of global warming, reduce them to $9 trillion, but at a cost of $26 trillion for a total cost to the world of $35 trillion, one and a half times as much as unabated global warming.
Al Gore is even worse, his hodgepodge of measures, which it looks as if President-Elect Obama is going to impose on the United States with the help of a Congress where the newly elected Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman, believes in neither energy nor commerce, so it looks like that’s going to go through that package of measures will reduce the costs of global warming to $10 trillion but at a cost of $34 trillion, total cost $44 trillion, twice the cost of unabated global warming. If global warming is going to be a disaster for the world, what are Al Gore’s policies? This is the sort of thing that the European Union and the new President’s Administration will impose on the world.
We now have an example from my good friend, Gabriel Calzada who runs the Instituto Juan de Mariana in Madrid. He has looked in detail at how European Union subsidies and policies work when it comes to the supposed aim of creating employment, the green jobs that we’re all told will save us. Well the European Union wants 12% renewable energy from Spain in 2010 and 20% in 2020. Spain has gone ahead and promoted renewable energy to the extent that it’s become a world leader, but the only way you can promote renewable energy is by giving massive subsidies. Wind subsidies have been 90% over the market price for 15 years and then the policy will change to 80% over, so in ten years time we recognise that there will be a slight increase in the efficiency of wind power but you know it’s not that much really.
Solar subsidies: solar is so economically inefficient that the subsidy has to be 575% over market price. Nobody sensible would install solar or try to power their economy through it, but the European Union wants to do this and is basically guaranteeing a 12-20% return on the investment so that people will actually go ahead and do this. This has created a renewable bubble; Spanish companies have indeed become world leaders in this, they have installed almost 26,000 megawatts in their special regime for renewable energy. Wind energy has by far the largest share of that, about 15,000 megawatts, 10% of the Spanish electricity requirements. Solar energy has 1,000 megawatts when the target was only 371 megawatts, which shows you that that 575% subsidy on market price has actually directed people to go ahead and install solar, which as I said is a crazy thing to do.
This has produced jobs yes, 27,000 in the solar sector alone since 2004, while renewable subsidies are a massive Є2.6 billion. So is this a success story? Well not really, Miguel Sebastian who is the personal economic adviser to Prime Minister Zapatero, the Industry Minister and also a member of the Socialist Workers Party, which should tell you something, he declared that renewable energies were green and clean, but very costly. Last year premiums paid to a sum up to €2,000 millions – I love the Spanish way of saying that – while this year it will be €3,000 millions. Because of this massive cost, the Government had to reduce by 30% the subsidy to solar energy and placed a cap of 300 new solar megawatts. As I said the target was only 371 but the subsidy was such that they’d already got 1,000.
The Spanish green industry as a result has started to fall, its going abroad to find other Governments who are much more willing to give away their taxpayers’ money to subsidise this utterly uneconomic activity. The result has been green job losses. When they softened that renewable support in 2007, 10,000 jobs were lost. This years softening threatens to result in 40,000 new green unemployees.
So these are basically sub-prime jobs. The renewable energy industry in Spain is probably going to have to fire over 40% of its workers. The sector generates almost no stable jobs, most of the jobs are in installation and construction; once the new power plant has been installed, there is no need for these people to continue on and this is why when Barack Obama talks about five million new green jobs in the US, he never tells you how long those jobs will last. The only way to generate jobs in this field is by creating artificially produced expectations. Again that should sound familiar given the latest credit crunch.
So what are the European Union promises on climate? It will reduce warming: no, as we’ve seen, warming isn’t actually occurring so that’s not the case. It will reduce CO2 emissions: no, as we’ve seen, the European Union has increased its CO2 emissions. It will be done at low cost: no, it’s a very, very high cost. It will create jobs: no, you’re losing them.
Is there an alternative? Well yes there is, but it involves a free market, it will be a benefit to the economy whatever happens, it will reduce bureaucracy, it will help the developing world - and it therefore has no chance of ever being adopted by the European Union.
And what I’m about to outline, even if you believe anthropogenic global warming is a complete hoax, like my good friend Senator Jim Inhofe, who I think alongside Roger is the leading politician in the world on these issues, even if you believe global warming is a hoax, then you could actually get behind this sort of policy.
The Greens talk about mitigation of global warming but they never talk about adaptation. In other words, if something is going to happen which is negative, then can we adapt to it rather than trying to prevent it? Is there another way of dealing with global warming if it happens that doesn’t involve trying to change the composition of the atmosphere in 80 years time?
So let’s look at what the risks of global warming are if it does happen. They are hunger, disease, sea level rise, water stress and a reduction in biodiversity. Halting global warming is probably the single most expensive thing you can do to tackle these problems. My friend Indur Goklany wrote a marvellous study in 2008, where he looked at the figures produced by DEFRA here and found that yes, halting global warming by changing the composition of the atmosphere would indeed reduce hunger, disease and sea level rise by 4-10% in 2085, but it would actually increase water stress and biodiversity problems at a cost of much more than $165 billion annually each year for many years.
We should instead look at each of these problems and tackle them directly -, you know, lets eradicate malaria for instance by use of DDT and other proven effective chemicals rather than worrying about what the atmosphere will do to the spread of malaria in 80 years time. “Focussed adaptation” will reduce each of these problems by 50-75% by 2015, not 2085, and at a cost of less than $34 billion annually. And it would also provide side benefits in terms of decreased child mortality, increased literacy and so on.
Then there’s looking at resiliency of a society. Wealthier societies simply manage disasters better. In 1955 Hurricane Janet, a category 5 hurricane, hit the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It killed 600 people; it was a genuine natural disaster. In 2007, Hurricane Dean, also a category 5, hit Mexico in the exact same place with the exact same strength and intensity and no one was killed. The reason why there is such a disparity is because Mexico had become wealthier in the meantime. It had actually grown its economy by free trade and done all the sorts of things that we know builds the wealth of a society and therefore its resiliency. Similarly, the disastrous Hurricane Katrina that hit the most vulnerable place in America, the City of New Orleans, which was sitting there below a bowl of water that was just waiting to slosh over into the city. Louisiana is also the most corrupt state in the American Union. My friend and boss, Fred Smith who comes from Louisiana points out that, “in Louisiana we don’t tolerate corruption, we insist on it.”
Hurricane Katrina hit the most vulnerable place in America and tragically killed almost 2,000 people. But Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in 2008, earlier this year, only category 4. Because Burma is so much poorer than Louisiana it killed at least 84,000 and those are the figures that the Burmese regime releases, goodness knows what the actual death toll was.
So therefore if we focus on building the resiliency of societies by increasing global development, then we can make the risks of global warming so much the lesser. But this isn’t the policy that anybody is following; it’s certainly not the policy that even the Conservative Party here is following. You’d think that they had never heard that there was such a thing as free market environmentalism; somebody needs to tell them about it.
So let’s sum up what the EU climate policy is and this actually comes from The Guardian, a writer called Catherine Bennett in 2004. ‘In short if we can rise to the challenge, the permanent abolition of the wheel would have the marvellously synergistic effect of creating thousands of new jobs such as blacksmiths, farriers, grooms and so on, at the same time as it conserved energy and saved the planet from otherwise inevitable destruction’. That’s what the EU climate policy is: let’s get rid of something that provides massive benefits, energy from fossil fuels, and replace it with something that imposes massive costs.
And just a quick plug at the end here for some more sources of information on this. As Barry mentioned, I have written a book, The Really Inconvenient Truths, which you can get on Amazon.co.uk. My friend, Chris Horner has written The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, which is basically a one-stop shop for everything you want to know about this issue.
If you have access to the internet then globalwarming.org and cei.org are good places to go. And if you want news on the subject, Planet Gore, from the excellent Conservative magazine National Review, planetgore.nationalreview.com is a good place.
And finally I should also mention a book by the third good politician on this subject, President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic, who has just written an excellent, excellent book called Blue Planet in Green Shackles. It hasn’t been published in England yet but you can get an American-English version from cei.org if you go there.
Thank you for your attention this afternoon and I hope you’ve enjoyed this presentation.
Speech by Tim Aker
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Two weeks ago at Prime Minister’s Questions, Gordon Brown was asked whether his government will leave office like every other Labour government – with rising unemployment, recession and for all intents and purposes a broken economy. To add insult to injury, Brown’s spending spree will only make matters worse. Jim Callaghan – of all people - was right in saying you can’t spend your way out of a recession, and he should know.
It makes no sense to increase the size of government when big government itself has caused the economic crisis. Half measures, tax credits and handouts are not the solution to our problems. The symptom to our economic crisis is a big, cumbersome government that has thrown your money at problems, crossed its fingers and hoped they would go away.
It’s no wonder then that Britain has the largest tax code in the Western world. Private sector job cuts have led some to warn that unemployment will reach three million by 2010. Public spending has doubled under Labour with little improvement on the front line. Alistair Darling therefore wasn’t wrong when he speculated that we potentially have the worst economy for 60 years. Remember that’s worse than devaluation, worse than the winter of discontent and worse than the ERM fiasco.
Yet as we look at the politicians for answers, we see few solutions. Government spending will continue to rise, plugging the bureaucracy with more apparatchiks and non-jobbers. Greedy local councils will still fleece local taxpayers with irresponsible and indefensible council tax demands. The government will squander and waste your money on databases to monitor every phone call, log every email and spy on every text message we send.
Is it no wonder that we hear tragic stories of our fellow countrymen emigrating because they are simply just fed up with the government’s taxes, regulations, rules and diktats?
Who could feel comfortable living under a government that doubled the income tax rate on Britain’s lowest paid?
What does it say about a government when they spend £2.3 billion refurbishing the MoD offices in London and yet send our troops to Iraq and Afghanistan without the proper kit?
Conference, the TaxPayers’ Alliance is here to defend the British taxpayer’s interest. Our aim is to see our taxes cut and that we get value for money from public services. We want to set this country free from high taxes and big government, producing the ideas and solutions for the politicians so they can reduce our taxes, streamline government and provide a bigger role for civil society in service provision.
From all parties and none, taxpayers angry at the injustices meted out by this government are joining our ranks. Our membership has grown so fast this year that we have recently leapfrogged the Green Party. If you agree with our aims, then please fill in the recruitment ‘wish you were here’ postcard on your seats and join the campaign for free. This year we beat the Greens. With your help, the Lib Dems are next.
As an independent, grassroots campaign, we’re here to hold all our politicians to account over how they spend and waste our money because it’s our money and not the government’s.
When any politician wastes our money, we name and shame them. I log the contact details of any councillor who votes for higher taxes and wasteful spending so you, the taxpayer, can hold them directly to account. As we grow, I can’t wait to see the day when our over-spending councillors log into their email accounts to see literally thousands of emails from TPA supporters demanding to know why they’ve wasted public money.
It’s because government is taking so much of our money that there is room to waste it. The government spends 45% of what we earn. It directs education, health and welfare policy and yet our children leave school unable to read, the NHS has the worst mortality amendable to healthcare in Western Europe and individuals find it easier to claim benefit than seek work.
Simply put, our case is that the British people know how to spend their money better than the government does!
But the point is we have two governments, one in Westminster and the authority in Brussels. Over 80% of our laws come from that unaccountable, unelected, undemocratic super state called the EU. To grasp the true scale of the EU and how it wants to control, micro-manage and bureaucratise our lives, look at this example.
It took only 125 words to write the Ten Commandments, yet the EU used 26,000 words to draft regulations on the export of duck eggs.
The EU regulation machine doesn’t rest. Since 1998 has imposed 9,500 new laws on us, an average of 942 a year. Last year alone over 3,000 EU laws went onto the statute book, many through statutory instruments without receiving proper scrutiny in parliament, let alone a vote. There are currently 16,980 EU acts in force on this country right now. With all this regulation and direction from Brussels, let no one, not even the most jaded Europhile get away with the argument that the EU is just a trading bloc.
What sort of trading bloc needs thousands of new laws every year? Certainly not a free-trading blog. We’re supposed to be in a single market, but that single market is strangling businesses and affecting jobs with red tape.
Just because Brussels oversees a single market doesn’t mean it’s a single free market.
Our government has added to the burden by blindly implementing every piece of EU law, whether or not it harms our economy. For example no one, not even estate agents, house builders and home buyers, welcomed Home Information Packs. But the EU found them necessary and the government implemented the regulations.
The long term effects of the government not standing up for Britain have changed the face of communities up and down the country. Go to any old British fishing community and you’ll see the devastating effects of a governing generation’s unquestioning adherence to EU fishing laws. It was and never has been in the British interest to sign up to the Common Fisheries Policy. If anything when you leave here, you’ve got to tell your politicians to scrap the CFP, kill it and make the it as dead as the surplus fish our fishermen are forced to chuck overboard.
In October we published a report that looked at the financial cost of EU regulation. Taking an average of estimates, we found that direct EU regulation imposes a financial burden of £30 billion a year. Incidentally, the IMF recently called for £30 billion of tax cuts to fight the recession. That comparison alone exemplifies the damage EU regulations have had on the economy.
Add on our contributions to the EU and you’ll find we’re paying too much to an authority so riddled with mismanagement, waste and corruption that it hasn’t even had its accounts signed off for 14 consecutive years. That’s not because the EU’s had a run of bad luck. No, it’s because the EU auditors have only existed for 14 years. It’s not luck that’s run out for the EU – it’s their argument to be a higher authority over this country that’s run out.
We pay for lavish EU pensions for the failed politicians who have lied to us about the true nature of the EU. Peter Mandelson, that embodiment of integrity, will receive an EU pension of up to £1 million. What has little been said in the press, however, is that his pension has a condition. To continue to receive it, he must maintain, and I quote: “a duty of loyalty to the communities”. We have in effect a government minister, who swears an oath to the crown, now bound to tow the EU line. So, you can bet Mandleson and the crop of other EU bureaucrats will continue to defend the indefensible, even when it’s your money paying their wages and it’s your money being wasted.
Some of the ridiculous schemes from this year’s EU accounts you’ve involuntary paid for include:
The thousands of pounds flushed away in Hull on an award winning toilet
£80,000 for an Estonian Puppet Theatre. And that’s not the EU parliament
And finally a Spanish brothel cost taxpayers £40,000. Talk about being screwed by the EU
That the EU is riddled with so much waste and corruption makes it so open to gross abuses of your money. Research has shown that 11% of the money we give to the EU for regional and structural funds is wasted. That’s almost £4 billion up in smoke due to the EU’s incompetence and openness to fraud.
While the EU thinks it can spend your money better than you can, we in the TPA think you could spend that money better than the Eurocrats can.
The culture of waste filters down to the next tier of government. The EU’s programme for the regionalisation of the UK is fraught with white elephants that the facts prove they have contributed little to the UK. Our paper on Regional Development Agencies has exposed the costly wastefulness of top-down regional development, an agenda pushed by the European Union of the Regions. Costing each British taxpayer £600 since their creation, these bodies have done little to increase economic growth in the regions. Employment statistics have shown that in the period before their implementation, employment in the regions grew faster than under the eye of RDA planning.
From 1995 to 2000, job growth grew by 9.5%. From 2000 to 2005 job growth fell to 3%. The facts prove their redundancy. That is why we’re for the complete abolition of Regional Assemblies and Development Agencies.
And we want to replace them all with a 4% cut in small business corporation tax.
In these tough economic times, it makes no sense to avoid tax cuts designed to boost business activity. It’s the economics of the madhouse to have these bodies, whose chief executives earn six figure salaries, to continue to soak up scarce resources and taxpayers’ money. It’s morally wrong to sit by and allow the waste to continue, one such instance being the £53,000 transport expenses bill the Chief Executive of the South East England Development Agency handed the taxpayer.
The gravy train doesn’t terminate at central government level, it rolls into local government. Whole bureaucracies are set up in local councils to spy and monitor our everyday activity. Who would have thought councils would have used anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on taxpayers taking their children to school?
Bit by bit, through dictatorial charges and their own regulations, councils are using every opportunity to curtail our freedom. In Hull, a mother was fined when her daughter dropped a few sausage roll crumbs that were then eaten by a seagull. Guildford council threatens burger vans with closure if they don’t offer people yoghurts and salads. Peterborough council pays fine wardens commission based on the number of fines they hand out.
Even though taxpayers are losing jobs in the private sector, the number of town hall bureaucrats and meddlers is growing day by day. Every week I have the privilege to go through the Guardian’s jobs pages – to see exactly what non-jobs councils are advertising for. Some of the jobs that range from the bizarre to the ridiculous and self-defeating include:
A job as a ‘Family Intervention Project Keyworker’ at Southwark council earning £27,000 a year to, and I quote, “intensively support families at risk of losing their housing tenancies through anti-social behaviour”. It’s my understanding that councils are meant to evict problem families, not support them. It’s as if Southwark council’s left hand doesn’t know what its far-left hand is doing!
At Moray council you can apply to be a ‘Street Football Coordinator’, earning £20,000 a year. Who ever needed a local government officer to set up jumpers for goalposts?
Braintree Council – a Conservative council – used your money to advertise for a climate change officer by taking out a blank advert just to show how green they are.
The statist ratchet is turning all of itself in local government. Our council tax has doubled in ten years and yet councils cut back on bin collections and other frontline services. Where – you might ask – is your money going aside from non-jobbers and bureaucrats? Here are just a few examples of the council officers themselves arbitrarily squandering your money:
Thurrock Council resolved this year to trim down their health and safety department. This angered the politically correct Chief Executive who commissioned her own report which found the health and safety department needed four more members of staff, costing taxpayers almost £200,000 in total.
This next example really is madness in local government. The Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council recently took 400 council staff on a course for psychological testing, costing taxpayers £400,000. It would be funny but Suffolk’s taxpayers are paying their chief executive almost a quarter of a million pounds for the privilege to have her waste their money.
These officers are free to manipulate the system and squander our money and councillors are either complicit or powerless to stop it. The structure of big government itself, with its monolithic bureaucratic army, taking billions more every year in tax, is bound to end up throwing your money on the bonfire.
But the political class doesn’t like criticism. In the EU, as Marta Andreasen’s experience testifies, if you speak out on waste, if you oppose the EU’s line of ever-closer union or stand up to the fraud, the full force of the bureaucracy comes down on you like a ton of bricks. We’ve got them rattled. They’ve hidden behind their desks for too long. They’ve been remote from the people for too long. Now is time to turf them out and see that we keep more of our taxes over here in taxpayers’ pockets rather than in the EU coffers.
And in Westminster, our very own parliament, just look back to a few months ago and recall how difficult it was for MPs expenses to become open and transparent to the public.
Remember the hundreds of thousands of pounds Michael Martin took straight from the taxpayer’s pocket to prevent the public knowing where their MPs were spending public funds.
Government has spiralled out of control. It tops off years of stealth taxes by doubling the income tax rate on Britain’s lowest paid.
We say the lowest paid should be taken out of income tax altogether.
We want to raise the personal threshold. We want to simplify the system, turning the complex, iniquitous tax system into a lower, flat tax bill you can fill out on the back of an envelope. If the TPA get their way, it won’t be taxpayers’ money thrown on the bonfire, it’ll be Gordon Brown’s 10,000 pages of tax code.
Big government poses one of the greatest challenges to our liberty and freedom. It feeds dependency. It wants monopoly. It craves control. There have been times in our darkest hours when free-marketeers have been the few fighting the elite consensus of big government.
But through it all we have fought for lower taxes because they guarantee freedom. We have fought to take power away from the politicians and give individuals, families and society more control over public services. We have fought EU waste, their laws and their regulations and we will never give up exposing it as an unnecessary burden on this country.
Whatever the difficulties and whatever talking heads may say otherwise, we must fight and we will continue the fight if not for all the reasons I’ve spelled out here today, then for this one noble truth spoken by Ronald Reagan: “Freedom, ladies and gentlemen, is never more than one generation away from extinction”.
Speech by Damon Lambert
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. If you ever feel nervous before giving a speech like this there are potentially two ways of making yourself more nervous. One is coming after a cracking speech like Tim’s there and the second is knowing that if any of your facts are wrong, Helen’s incredible memory of the EU is going to point you out.
Before I start I’m just going to ask you to do a couple of things, which I’m sure most of the audience are doing already. That is when we consider the current economic situation we do need to just distance ourselves from two factors: one the excuses made by the politicians and some of the bankers as well for why we’re in this position and the second is, the particular situation of the UK where we do have a particularly poor Government at managing our finances.
Now what I’m going to cover is effectively where is the economic crisis, what caused it, how the EU is responding and whether that’s correct and finally perhaps what we really should be doing. And I will be covering obviously a few tax points on the way.
We can’t escape the fact that the economic crisis is partly caused by bankers simply lending too much money at too low interest rates to too many people and borrowing short term to lend long term. That’s just bad financial management in a bank and some of these banks have frankly only got their Chief Execs to blame. But we do have to look at where this crisis was because there are a lot of people putting a lot of focus on the US. But let’s cast our minds back a few months ago, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown would say, this is a US crisis that’s causing a downturn, a few months on they’re now telling us it’s a global crisis.
Well I think we should look at just where this crisis is based. Now up there we have a chart of the Government bail outs which have been put down to save the banks and yes the US is the biggest one, but the next few are all the EU and I thought it would be a good idea to measure the US bail out against that for the EU against that for the rest of the world. And as you can see, the bail outs in the EU are far bigger than everywhere else. This is a crisis that is particularly focused within the European Union; the European Union is not in a good shape for this particular point.
So what has caused this? Well first off we have to look at the role of the European Central Bank. The European Central Bank is an undemocratic bank, it’s not particularly responsible to anyone, indeed this year when the European Finance leaders met to discuss the Euro and finance policy that was the first time in nine years they’ve actually met to discuss that, which is quite incredible when you consider all the meetings they had on the Lisbon Treaty.
Now here we compare the US Federal Reserve Bank against the European Central Bank to see how they reacted to financial crisis. The chart starts on the left when the credit crunch began in September 07 and you can see the darker line is the US Federal Reserve Bank cutting interest rates as everyone suggested trying to keep the economy afloat. If you look at how the European Central Bank has reacted, it actually put interest rates up as recently as three or four months ago. It is a bizarre institution that has its own particular targets and doesn’t react to the general economy.
We shouldn’t forget the role of the Euro as well in the current situation we’re in. For a start, the high interest rate is having a damaging effect on a lot of places, the Euro is overvalued and it means the export economies of the EU are particularly struggling and secondly, as we all knew, it’s a one size fits no one approach. How can you have one set of interest rates for the high-growth economies in the Euro such as Ireland and Spain and for the slow sluggish ones like Germany and Italy?
Let’s consider the country that is effectively my second home at present and that’s Ireland. Ireland obviously is a member of the Euro but in recent years it’s had very spectacular economic growth. It has low tax to GDP ratio, it has a low corporate tax rate and its Government has saved money ten out of the last 11 years. It has a well-educated workforce, a strong financial sector and yet it’s heading into recession and we have to ask ourselves why that is. And part of that is because at the moment it’s export-driven and its goods just cost too much to export because of the value of the Euro and it’s got no control over its interest rates. The ECB meant it had rates too low a few years ago and now it’s got rates too high.
I could say that same about Estonia, Estonia is not in the Euro but it has pegged its currency to the Euro and it’s gone from double digit growth to actually being in a recession despite the fact it has a Government that has no debt. Compare this though to Sweden, not as strong an economy probably as Ireland, but because Sweden has a floating exchange rate, although it has an economic downturn it looks like it will miss actually going into recession like a lot of Europe.
Now we have to ask ourselves, you’re Ireland, how do you get out of this crisis. Its very similar to the UK in the early 90s, we had a period of good Government and then it gets screwed up by European Union exchange rate mechanisms. The trouble is for Ireland, where is its ‘white Wednesday’, it can’t just come out of the Euro, there is no practical way to just come out tomorrow like we did in September 1992. Not only that, the Euro rules mean that Ireland, which has fixed the roof whilst the sun was shining in terms of its Government expenditure as George Osborne would say, now actually can’t use some of that surplus because of the Euro rules and therefore not only is it facing the problems of reducing public expenditure and higher unemployment but its Government has to tax its people even more just at a time when they don’t need it.
And we shouldn’t forget in all this, because people are already making the case that we should be in the Euro, that the UK is still a high-export economy. If we had the high exchange rates of the Euro then we would actually be in an even worse position than we are at present.
Now I’ll come to the regulatory issues later because they’re very important in this financial crisis and it’s an area where the EU is particularly duplicitous. But we have to consider the issues other than sort of the immediate banking ones in this economic crisis, we have to look at the fact that the EU economies are not as strong as they should be and if they were stronger they’d be able to withstand these sudden shocks a lot better.
Now this table here shows the average GDP growth of the major regions of the world between 2000 and 2007 and you will see that the area with the smallest growth on the far right hand side is the Euro area. And you remember when we were all told sort of like ten years ago if we weren’t members of the Euro we’d suffer economically, well it doesn’t look like it from this chart. But there’s one other particular column I want to point out to you and it’s this one, the other advanced economies. The reason why is we were told many times that if we were not members of the European Union that it would be economically disastrous for the UK. Where if we weren’t members of the European Union like Australia, like Switzerland, like New Zealand we would be in that column. As you can see they’re managing to produce economic growth 1.5% a year higher than the EU. This suggests to me that there must be some cost for European membership.
Its not the only factor in the growth regions here, there is quite a strong correlation between how much these countries tax people and how fast their economies grow, e.g. the flat tax countries on the left hand side are doing very well that is a pretty key factor.
Now one issue which Tim didn’t cover in a pretty comprehensive run through of Government waste is something called ‘missing trader inter-community’ fraud. Now what this is is a VAT scam where effectively people criminally defraud Governments in the European Union. Now according to László Kovács, who is the EU Commissioner for taxation, this is costing the European Union up to £250 billion a year. That was his figure quoted in July this year. Now if we think that £250 billion is probably what the GDP of somewhere like Denmark and you can probably chuck in Malta and Cyprus in there as well, that is an absolutely ridiculous amount of activity.
Now you would have thought if you are the Commissioner for taxation and it comes from VAT, which is the EU tax that would be your prime objective to try and close that down, that £250 billion. But no, his prime objective is the common consolidated corporate tax base, even though it’s impractical, even though it won’t ever be enacted, he’d rather focus on that than create massive savings. I mean we are talking something like £15 billion sterling a year in the UK.
Germany even came up with some solutions to change its own VAT rules to try and prevent missing trader fraud. A very sensible thing for Germany to do and quite an unusual instance of sense in the current German Government in my view, but the EU actually blocked it because they thought the measures would affect the single market because basically the Germans were going against the common harmonisation basis. A classic case, the Germans had a very good pragmatic policy and something that needed addressing and the European Union overruled it because of their own dogma.
One area we need to consider, particularly because all political parties seem to favour it at the moment in the UK is the area of free trade. What is this? Well for example if you have tariffs, tariffs are taxes. If exporters from outside the EU try and export into the UK, basically they get charged a levy and the consumer effectively picks that up in a higher bill. Not only that but UK businesses exporting overseas pick up tariffs on the way in.
Now it’s hard to test how solid the UK politicians are in favour of free trade because after all they’ve surrendered the rights to negotiate trade to the European Union. But we can consider what we could have done had we not been members of the European Union and we can look at the other English-speaking nations who are pro-free trade and see what they’ve done in the last few years.
The best ones to look at are the USA and Australia and you can see they have not stood still. Whilst the EU as per its own website, believes in ‘building markets not opening markets’, the US and Australia have gone ahead and tried to open as many markets as possible. Look at the spread of countries that are up there, they’ve got places in Central America, South America, Africa, the Far East, and Korea. Look at the Australians; this year with the Asian pact, they agree a free trade area of 570 million people. That’s a whopping opportunity the UK has to forgo because it’s a member of the European Union, it can’t enter into these free trade agreements.
And I’ll give you one aside as well, those US free trade agreements, other than with Canada, Mexico and Israel have all been agreed by the current George W. Bush Administration. So when the chattering classes of the UK tell me that Bush has destroyed America’s reputation around the world, lets remember that he’s enabled countries, businesses from all over the world to enter into the US without tariffs and build their economies based on US demand, he’s creating long economic ties that ultimately are going to benefit the US and those countries for many years to come.
Time I think to address the EU strategy for getting out of the financial crisis. And its first strategy seems to be to have more of what it calls global cooperation. This is bizarre I think because look at the examples of global cooperation in recent years: One, the European Union, as I’ve already shown, doesn’t have a great record. Two, the World Trade Organisation has not achieved anything broadly in the last decade; in fact you can see Australia and the US do a lot better by going alone.
The United Nations doesn’t really achieve anything as far as I can see. I know it’s a very contentious point but I would say NATO means nothing to the UK if it didn’t have America in it, it would just be a worthless treaty. But still the EU leaders decide its got to be done in global talking shops and when it comes to Government waste, can you imagine a bigger waste of money than last week’s G20 summit. What did that achieve? It didn’t even achieve for the leaders their key objective it seemed to me of getting a photo taken with a smiley bloke from Chicago. Then I thought, yeah I can actually imagine a bigger waste than last week’s G20 summit, it will be April’s G20 summit, which the UK taxpayer will have to pick up the tab for.
I now wish to address the issue of regulation. The European Union in its strategy makes it very clear that it believes the current financial crisis was caused by a complete lack of regulation in the banking market caused also they say by a lack of multinational bodies to look after regulation. The EU’s attitude here is frankly very devious and it’s pretty much absolute downright lying. Not least, who’s responsible for financial regulation across the European Union? It’s the European Union; the European Union sets the rules that regulate banks. People like the FSA simply implement those rules; it’s a qualified majority voting matter.
Not only that – I don’t want you to look too hard at this chart because obviously it’s a bit too much – this comes from the German regulator, the German version of the FSA’s annual report and its them actually boasting about the sheer amount of international cooperation there is on financial regulation, you know there’s probably a good 20 bodies on that diagram, its not a truth that there’s not enough multinational regulation, if anything that looks like too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
The EU will make out that the lack of regulation has caused the financial crisis. I can think of at least two instances where regulation has effectively enhanced, exacerbated the financial crisis. The European Union has rules for marketing bonds in banks and what’s happened? Well the value of these bonds has dropped in the market. However, most banks expect them to be fully repaid over time, both interest and capital. However, what happens in a downturn under these rules is that the banks have to sell these bonds. Now if you sell an asset in a bear market and you sell it in high quantities, one, you don’t get much for it, but two, you actually push the market further down so other banks then get into the problem. Not only that, you have to go from a bond to a safer asset and the only other asset is cash and that’s fixed. You actually forgo the opportunity of picking all the upside up when the economy recovers and those bonds retreat to their existing value.
The European Union has finally corrected that a year after the credit crunch, but lets not forget this wasn’t the first time its seen this. The same thing happened in insurance markets with equities in the UK in 2003. The EU is not a good regulator at responding. The current strategy looks at changes to regulation in 2012 because obviously they want them to be all across the EU, they don’t want any local regulator adopting their own sensible rules in the interim. Yet the market has already responded, already you get banks being measured by their loan to deposit ratio far more than they were. Already we know individuals, when they deposit money, look far, far closer than they did a year ago at how safe that bank is.
It doesn’t just stop there. The EU says there aren’t enough regulators across the European Union. I find that very strange because I went to the FSA’s website and they have 2,600 employees in the UK, not only that, they are paid £55,000 each on average, which is double the average salary in the UK. They say there are not enough regulations, there’s an 8,000 page handbook that the FSA uses to regulate. If 8,000 pages is not enough regulation then what is?
Germany is similar, it has 1,700 people employed at BaFin and that’s before we get to all the people industry now has to employ to meet these regulatory rules and all the other regulators like the Bank of England, the pension regulator, you know there’s numerous examples of them.
Another area where the EU’s response is wrong is it says it must regulate as part of its core strategy private equity, but why? One, its private, two, There’s no indication that private equity has actually caused this financial crisis and three, financial equity put its money in where it gets the best return, if you regulate it more its returns will frankly go down and hence it will just take the money elsewhere.
The EU wants to reduce the amount of money that bankers can be paid. The problem with this is with the best bankers, which is a pretty fluid market; if you reduce how much they get paid or can get paid they will do one of three things. They will either a) stop working because what’s the point, you’re not going to get a bonus, b) they will move to another territory, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai these days, New York, Zurich there’s many examples or c) they’ll just go independent and form their own advisors. The Government is also forgetting that when a banker gets a bonus of say £100,000 before he even spends a penny of it that £54,000 gets paid in tax, that’s tax that saves the rest of us potentially quite a lot of money. The EU doesn’t want banks to fail, but effectively all its doing there is subsidising people who take unwarranted risks and bad financial management and you know penalising people who are prudent. It’s actually taking away the role of individuals and markets and actually having to consider where they put their money, where’s safe and effectively creating regulation that way.
And perhaps most curious of all in the EU’s attitude to all this, it wants to ban banks paying dividends. Now given that banks don’t have enough share capital according to the EU at the moment, how do they expect to get more people to invest in shares when they can’t get a dividend on those shares is beyond me, it just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
If you add all these things up, what does it tell you about the European Union? I think it tells you that they think that they can simply dictate from above economic growth, that they simply make rules and growth will happen. They don’t seem to have considered that growth doesn’t come from Governments, growth comes from individuals and businesses bringing new ideas to the field, working hard and it doesn’t seen to consider that it has to create a situation where that exists, it can’t do it by simply telling people what they can’t do.
And it doesn’t stop it spending our own money. Within their own strategy it asks for £350 billion to be accelerated in payments on the EU’s financial envelope 2007-13 cohesion policy. Now I’m quite unsure as to what a financial envelope actually is, but one that costs £350 billion sounds pretty expensive and could be returned to the rest of us.
Similarly it mentions altering the effectiveness of Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Maybe a better idea might be to scrap the Globalisation Adjustment Fund, give the money back to taxpayers who could spend the money better themselves.
So all told, what should the response be to the financial crisis? Well first the economies who are out of sync with the Euro but are in the Euro need to get out, that’s pretty key. They need to have their ‘white Wednesday’ moment and that moment can’t come too soon for places like Ireland and Spain.
Secondly, the European Union needs to get over its allergy to free trade and actually start doing free trade agreements with the rest of the world. Now can anyone see this happening, I don’t think so, but until it does and realises it’s an increasingly smaller part of the world, as I’ve shown with its reducing growth, it’s going to keep being very inward.
It needs to cut down its own expenditure, it doesn’t need to spend money on big Government projects for which, as far as I’m aware, there’s no market demand. It needs to cut taxes. In this chart here the bright blue column is basically the corporate tax rate between 2000 and 2006 in the Member States concerned and basically at the far end Germany has the highest and it goes down towards the right. The darker column is the economic growth of those countries over that period and we can quite clearly see that low corporate tax rates result in very substantial growth.
The time has come for Europe to get over its high-tax GDP theories and start cutting taxes and introducing flatter, lower taxes because as we can see, they clearly work and work big time.
So what would I summarise this reaction to be? Well it seems to be there’s an awful lot of things here where the European Union gets in the way of economic growth and there’s not really a great deal the European Union gives us. Surely for the UK to be able to manage its long-term prosperity there is simply only one solution and that solution ladies and gentlemen is to withdraw from the European Union, to get control of our free trade and to reduce the public expenditure on the EU. Robert and I estimated it costs us so much tax we could reduce the basic rate of income tax by about 6p a year if we were not members of the EU. It is the time to engage in a serious policy of EU withdrawal.
Speech by Guy Herbert
Ladies and gentlemen, what I’m going to talk to you about today is something that withdrawing from the EU will not make a difference to. It is something that the EU is used for and I will explain about that towards the end of my talk. The EU is used as an excuse but this is a home grown problem.
20 years ago in 1988, a young firebrand wrote a book quite deliberately echoing a report that had been written in 1968. You will have heard of the first report, the report was called In Place of Strife. The young firebrand was attacking Margaret Thatcher’s Government and so he wrote a book called In Place of Greed. He didn’t like Mrs Thatcher very much. And in a broad-based attack by this young academic there was a chapter in particular, which I recommend to your attention, on the decline of civil liberties under the Thatcher regime, as no doubt he would have put it.
The writer was astonished to note that during the miner’s strike there has been up to 40,000 telephones tapped. He was appalled by the new suggestions, which were never carried out, for a football supporters’ identity card. He was outraged to note that there was no such thing as privacy in this country, there was no right to privacy and that the proposals for the Poll Tax would enable and require Councils to collect information from the DWP on people’s whereabouts and who they were living with. This was outrageous intrusion into the lives of the citizen.
The young writer’s name will be known to you, it was Gordon Brown.
Now Gordon Brown is presiding over an administration and was a principal part of the earlier administration of Tony Blair, which has introduced the most massive intrusions into the lives of the citizens that we have ever seen in this country and the most massive intrusions into the lives of citizens that we are ever likely to see in this country. It has been astonishingly rapid in its growth. What NO2ID calls the database state has already been alluded to today already by Tim. He spoke about what is called the Modernisation of Interception Programme.
Currently in 2007 there are not 40,000 phones tapped but 500,000 requests for interception of communications data made every year. And they are made not just by the Police investigating serious crime but they are indeed made by local authorities, they could be made by the Financial Services Authority, they could be made by the Post Office.
This goes back to a piece of legislation called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which looking back at it, was one of the very first of the database state regulations. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act provides for the information about who’ve you’ve called, who you’ve written to on the email and the duration of your calls to be collected and collated and information about the networks that you live in built up. That’s still a growing area and the identity card, which we hear so much about, is a core element of what we call the database state.
It’s not a card, it may look like a card, but the centre of the National Identity Scheme is in fact yet another database. In fact it’s a National Register, now a National Register is not a new idea, the National Register is an idea that’s been around since the very earliest days of the 20th century and its been tried twice, once in 1915, which was a failure and once in 1940 as part of the war effort, which was from an administration point of view, regarded as a success and it actually survived, many of you will recall, for more years in peace time than it did in war time because it was terrifically useful to bureaucrats. And that’s essentially the nature of what we call the database state.
We’re talking about 19th or early 20th idea of managing the citizen, enabled by the magic of computers. So we not only have the National Identity Register, draft regulations for which were issued yesterday, you may not have heard about that, 100 pages or so listing the sort of information that you will have to provide on your application for your identity card and that information that you will have to keep up to date in official records thereafter for the rest of your life. Information not just showing your name, date of birth, entitlement to remain in the country, but where you live, the number of all your official documents, your national security number, your tax references, your driving licence number and the details of every occasion on which the card or at least the database is used to verify your identity so building up a very large picture about you already. That’s just one database state idea, but it is the most prominent and it is the one that is designed to tie the others all together.
Now it may sound like a conspiracy theory, it’s really not, it’s not a conspiracy because it’s not secret and it’s not a theory because there are many, many public documents outlining all these various databases, many of which are already in operation. You may have heard of the National Health Service database, Connecting for Health. That's another vast scheme. Money spent so for approximately £30 billion. That’s a plan which is not actually in operation yet, there is £30 billion of setting up gone on so far to make electronic all the medical records of everybody in the country. These will be shared for clinical purposes but they will also be shared for bureaucratic purposes. I think at last count there were 31 Department of Health bureaucracies that wanted to have direct access to your medical records in order to manage the Health Service more efficiently, nothing necessarily to do with your medical care.
There are also plenty of databases in the Department of Education or as it now is, Department for Children’s Schools and Families. The most grievous of which you may have heard of is called Contact Point. Contact Point is a database which will, unlike identity management system which follows you from 16 in theory, the Contact Point database is designed to follow every child in the country from birth and to maintain a record, which will be available to anybody involved in any form of child protection function. The latest estimate of the number of people who will have access to those details is one million people up from 300,000 estimated a year ago. One million people in the country, one million bureaucrats, Police Officers, officials in the DSCF and officials in local authorities, teachers and members of four nominated private charities, who also have powers over the database. It will contain information about every child in the country, where they go to school, who cares for them and any flags for vulnerabilities that they may have about them. This is generally regarded by child protection experts as potentially dangerous but nobody is listening to them because databases are a fashion in Government.
There are already several databases on which your children or perhaps your grandchildren will be listed without Contact Point being in existence. There’s something called Connexions. Connexions is a scheme that was set up by the Learning and Skills Act 1998 I think, which is essentially an electronic careers service, but it is maintained in partnership with private organisations that use it for marketing purposes and your child or your grandchild can be included on that database, which contains details of all their interests, all their hobbies, all their school works and topics from the age of 13, very often without your consent or knowledge. It’s building up all over, there are schemes running nationwide.
Here’s a classic database state scheme and this is a very interesting database state scheme, this one, the Scottish National Entitlement Card emerged as a plan two weeks after the Scottish Parliament had decided that it would have nothing to do with the National Identity Register for devolved services. The then Scottish Executive, which now calls itself the Scottish Government, decided that it would use a separate database and a separate set of smart cards to run devolved services on a centralised Scottish database, which is now functioning because, as John Welford, who if you happen to have internet access you can look up. He’s produced a very interesting website about the system. John Welford is the Edinburgh coordinator of NO2ID and a retired University of Edinburgh academic.
John Welford has pointed out how this scheme has essentially been sneaked in. It’s a bus pass, that's how it’s being provided to the unemployed and the elderly of Scotland. As a replacement for your former free bus pass you now have a Scottish National Entitlement Card, which does function as a bus pass but it also does some other things.
This very clever thing is not my slide. This is from the official presentation that was given to the Scottish Government in March 2007 by the people constructing the Scottish National Entitlement Card. You see actually what the card is is just like the National Identity Card that we’re being proffered by Jackie Smith at the moment, it’s the key to a database containing lots and lots of very, very useful information about people: personal data, address data, cross-indexes for other systems and a basket of services: local authority, council tax, roads, lighting, NHS, Government gateway, DVLA, HMRC.
The glorious idea of the database state you see is that everything will be linked up. All the information will be neatly packaged together and your file will be accessible at all times so that you life can be better run for you. And of course it is a fantastic excuse for gigantic Government. In fact at the moment it is the principal way in which big Government is getting bigger. That’s because every department is essentially being encouraged to join in. There is a programme being run by the Cabinet Office called Transformational Government Enabled by Technology.
That’s also the name of a marvellous document containing a lot of jargon, which sets out in quite a lot of detail, although in impenetrable language, how joined up Government is to be joined up and the central spine of it all is the jolly old ID Card. Because if you have one number that is linked to you, that can be centrally used as a cross-reference, then in theory all the files will match, in practice, anybody who has had anything to do with databases, run a mail order system, run a small mailing list, knows that in practice the files never match.
So that’s really it in a nutshell. The database state is designed to run your life. Its designed to get ever more detail about how you live into the hands of officials and therefore its designed to screw things up on a Titanic scale and to cause more frustration, more distress, more scope for criminality, for threats, for abuse of one sort of another than any previous system of Government.
Transformational Government Enabled by Technology indeed, but we believe that it will exacerbate all the faults of big Government and it shows itself very much as a law and order driven system coming out of the Home Office, very much connected with the idea of surveying the citizen, of making sure the citizen is behaving himself and reversing essentially the relationship between the citizen and the state. No longer under transformational Government under the database state are you a discreet individual who interacts with different bits of Government and different officialdoms as you need to, as you see fit, in accordance with your sovereign right as an individual to do so or to not, you have essentially become your file, you’re under examination all the time in the database state, which brings us back to the Interception of Communications Modernisation Programme.
I haven’t got time to tell you the story of that because I’ve gone on far too long, but Jackie Smith has just launched a consultation document on the Modernisation of Interception Programme, the Electronic Communications Data Bill was due to be in the Queen’s speech and it now wont be. But look out for that but don’t look out for it very hard because actually all the hard work has already been done. It was done by persuading the European Commission to come forward with a directive called the Retention of Communications Data Directive, which has already this summer been enacted by statutory instrument. That’s a long story, but it’s a very salutary example of how a lot of this stuff is happening without us noticing. You need to keep your eyes open and to that extent you should get in touch with NO2ID.
We have a fortnightly newsletter that’s available by email and to those who are paying by post, because I’m afraid we can’t afford to send it free to people who are not members. But that will keep you up to date with developments in the database state and I very much hope that you will take notice because this is the fight of the 21st century for civil liberties. If we lose this one we are all under that microscope forever.