Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Noble Minister is stumped

During a Starred Question in the House of Lords yesterday the Noble Minister, the Lord Malloch-Brown admitted to being stumped not once but twice. Luckily his supporters, Lord Dykes (yes, him again) and Baroness Ludford (yes, her again) came to his rescue.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked
Her Majesty’s Government whether they have commissioned a recent survey of the attitudes of United Kingdom citizens to the European Union; and, if so, whether they will publish the results.
The answer is that they have not commissioned anything of the kind and have no intention of doing so; and if they did commission a survey they would never publish its results because they are unlikely to show what Lord Malloch-Brown and his cohorts would like us to think.

Then again, the FCO has been kind of busy:
My Lords, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently commissioned some focus group work which does not provide any quantitative results like a survey but has helped us better understand people’s level of knowledge about the EU and the types of EU activity they were interested in. We will publish information from the focus groups on the FCO website.
Lord Stoddart mentioned one or two recent poll results but these were pooh-poohed by the Noble Minister who was later to be stumped by questions about supply of milk to schools and, much more importantly, since that milk supply is hardly needed these days, labelling of food.

Lord Dykes thought the results were absolutely wonderful as so many people were still in favour of the project despite the fact that the government has not made a particularly good case for it. In particular the government has not reminded people that:
There are 1 million British companies now in the EU doing business; nearly 2 million Brits living in other EU countries, including Spain; 3.5 million jobs directly linked to membership of the EU; and 50 million individual journeys to EU countries, mostly on low-cost airlines, were taken last year. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is independent Labour but why is he so nervous and old-fashioned?
Setting aside the usual personal insults, and for Lord Dykes there can be no greater insult than "independent", one wonders where the noble peer has been all this time if he has not noticed the government trotting out those old canards endlessly.

Baroness Ludford informed the House that as an MEP she was fully aware of the possibility of her being voted out, though if she is top of the list in her region, that seems extremely unlikely. What she forgot to explain was how that made any difference, EU legislation not being dependent on either elections to the Toy Parliament or the choice of a new Commission. Baroness Ludford does not seem to have taken in anything Gisela Stuart said yesterday.

Good points were made by Lords Pearson of Rannoch, Howell of Guildford and Tebbit. A very stupid point was made by the Barness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde. So what else is new?