Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What EU referendum bill?

Just a few weeks ago we were told by James Wharton that his bill to guarantee a referendum on the UK's EU membership was 'making good progress'. At the time this seemed to be fair comment and, indeed, the bill has passed through the House of Commons.

Then this week we are told that it is unlikely that it will ever become law thanks to the House of Lords.

In a report on the bill, the Lords Constitution Committee said that parliamentary rules and timetables could cause the legislation to fail. If the Lords make amendments to the Bill, those changes would have to be considered again by the Commons. There is only limited Commons time available for such consideration, with the last possible day for MPs to look at the Lords’ changes falling next month.

House of Lords rules “may make it unlikely that the bill would finish the Lords in time for any amendments passed by the Lords to be considered by the Commons on Friday 28 February 2014,” the committee warned.

James Wharton commented "It is ultimately up to members of the House of Lords whether this bill will be successful. But it would be very difficult to justify if the unelected House of Lords blocked a bill that has already passed every stage in the elected House of Commons and the purpose of which is to let the people decide on our membership of the EU."

So here we go again - the will of the people being carried out by the Commons and blocked by an unelected upper house. Can it ever be right that the government of this country can be held to ransom by a load of unelected bureaucrats?

Oh! Hang on though! It already is - it's called the European Union.


  1. Referendum will never happen. Re-negotiation would require treaty change. This would require an Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) and given the process would not be finalised in time for a 2017 referendum. Cameron would have nothing to put in front of the British people by 2017.

    Also, the agenda for IGC is controlled by President of European Commission. This is currently Barroso who has said that re-negotiation not possible. This has been repeated by his likely successor, Martin Schulz. So, no renegotiation even if there is a treaty change process for banking union. Also, all 28 countries have to agree any treaty change. Won't happen.

  2. "......So here we go again - the will of the people being carried out by the Commons and blocked by an unelected upper house......"

    Oh come on, Dioclese, you can't be that naive.

    The three truisms inherent in all Western democracies:

    1) If a Government can get the people asking all the wrong questions, it does not have to provide answers to the correct ones.

    2) How fortunate it is for Governments that the people just do not think.

    3) The people are, collectively speaking, deeply, deeply stupid. And, therefore, so is their will.

    The Commons is elected by the "99%". The House of Lords is 'elected' by the "1%". It could be far worse though. In the Revolted Colonies, all levels of Government are elected by the "1%". The West used to laugh at the 'Democracy' in Soviet Russia where the people did have a choice of candidate, it's just they were all from the Communist Party. Well, now, in the West, the candidates available, regardless of their political party affiliation, will all serve the "1%".

    I'm just the cynical messenger here, so don't scream at me for the above bollocks.

  3. There is of course also the problem of the 'safe seat'. I used to live in Wokingham which is one of the most affluent constituencies in the UK. My local MP was John Redwood.

    I once remarked that if you put a blue rosette on a chimp here it would get a 10,000 majority. Someone replied "They did didn't they?"

    I laughed - but what this actually means is that the government is decided by a very small number of marginal seats. With our first past the post system many of us are disenfranchised by living places where they only vote overwhelmingly for one party.

    In my view, this is far from democratic.

  4. Democracy exists only in the mind of the electorate.


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