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A little bit of common sense would not come amiss

Posted by Helen Wednesday, July 14, 2004

During a starred question in the House of Lords (a seven-minute debate on a subject raised by one of the peers) by Lord Harrison on the well-worn issue of the need for accuracy in giving information about the EU and the Constitution in particular, the Earl Ferrers raised an interesting point. He asked the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dene, who was replying on behalf of the Government:

Does the noble Baroness not agree that Brussels determining the size above which a rocking horse may not be built is absurd? Why does Brussels involve itself in that kind of thing? Why should we sign up to that kind of thing?
Let us recall that we have, in fact, signed up to a great deal of “that kind of thing”. Nevertheless, Lady Symons’s reply was extraordinary in its complete lack of common sense:

My Lords, I agree that some of the issues covered by the single market provisions look very silly when taken out of context. But when they are looked at as safety provisions – I am sure that the noble Earl would not wish his grandchildren to be riding on unsafe rocking horses – perhaps they look a little different.
This was the end of this particular debate, but I suspect that the noble Earl and various other peers would have pointed out that he (or the Baroness Symons or, indeed, most of us) would be able to decide whether a rocking horse was safe or not, without a long and detailed regulation put together and issued by a large number of highly paid bureaucrats.

Click here to read full debate and the one after it on the EU External Action Service.