Tag Archives: European Union

VIDEO: Backing the Bill for an EU referendum

I’m delighted to be supporting James Wharton’s EU Referendum Bill which will be debated later today in Parliament.

It’s a Bill to give people the first say on Europe since 1975. A referendum to decide once and for all – in or out? Do we want to be part of a closer union in Europe forever more, or do we want to be an independent country, trading with Europe but governing ourselves?

For more information and to show your support for the I Support A Referendum campaign – Click Here

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Mark Reckless calls on France to take on migrant responsibility

Speaking on this evening’s BBC South East news programme item, Mark Reckless MP called for France to take greater responsibility in shouldering the burden of non-EU migrants seeking a better life in Europe:

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Blog: Remember Heath’s Power Cuts?

Edward-Heath-TV-007I do, just. I was about three and I got very excited when the lights would go out, because I knew it meant Mummy and Daddy had to stop whatever they were doing ‘to play candles’ with me. They were less impressed.

The three day week and rolling power cuts left Heath as a one-term Prime Minister. If David Cameron is not to go the same way we need (amongst other things!) to keep the lights on.

Yet today, the energy regulator Ofgem reports that there will be below 4% spare electricity generation capacity by 2015 on its central view and perhaps as little as 1.5% if demand for electricity does not fall through greater energy efficiency as the government projects.

Controlled disconnection of customers

Because things can go wrong, and plants may have to unexpectedly shut down for technical or safety reasons, even with electricity interconnectors such small margins of spare capacity mean the chance of black-outs. Ofgem advises that as well as “an increase in wholesale prices”:

“the probability of a large shortfall requiring the controlled disconnection of customers increases from around 1 in 47 years in winter 2013/14 to 1 in 12 years in 2015/16. This increases significantly to around 1 in 4 years if the demand reductions fail to materialise”

Ofgem does not consider what might happen if electricity demand rises, say if the economy properly picks up and, so far, official response has been limited to suggestions of some technical changes and enhanced powers for National Grid.

This is woefully inadequate. Since this government came to power, and for many years under the previous government, no new power stations have been built – just wind turbines. At the same time several large power stations, mainly coal-fired but some oil-fired, have been forced to close by the EU Large Combustion Plants Directive.

Restart EU-closed power stations

Some are officially closed, but could, with limited warning and remedial works, be re-started for 2-3 years so as to meet the energy crunch through 2015/16 and prevent the risk of black-outs.

For instance, Kingsnorth in my constituency last generated electricity just before Christmas last year and officially came off the grid on 31st March 2013. Currently a team of around twenty are removing stored energy from various parts of the plant to make it safe before demolition. This is scheduled to start in early 2014.

Any decision to ask plants shutting under the EU Directive to keep going therefore now needs to be made very quickly. The EU Directive actually provides for member states to ask for a derogation if they need it, stating at article 3(4):

“If a substantial and unexpected change… in the availability of certain… generating installations creates serious technical difficulties for the implementation by a Member State of its programme … the Commission shall, at the request of the Member State concerned… take a decision to modify, for that Member State, the emission ceilings and/or the dates”

So, come on Mr Cameron, make that request, and let’s keep the light on and prices down.

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Let Britain Decide

It has been nearly 40 years since the British people last had their say on Europe. In that time, so much has changed. People feel that the EU is heading in a direction they never signed up to.

We need a better deal for Britain, including putting the key question to the British people through an In/Out referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest. Currently, only one of the main three political parties are supporting this: the Conservatives.

That’s why the party has launched a new campaign website, www.LetBritainDecide.com, which makes it simple for people to back the Bill, help build public pressure, give people a voice, and urge MPs from other parties to listen to their constituents.

Please visit www.LetBritainDecide.com if you would like to get involved.

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VIDEO: Special BBC Report on Romanian migration Pt.2

Part two of a special BBC South East Today report which follows Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, to Bucharest on the Home Affairs Select Committee’s fact finding visit to Romania to assess the potential impact of open migration to the UK once EU restrictions on free movement are removed this coming January.

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VIDEO: Special BBC Report on Romanian migration Pt.1

BBC South East Today follows Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, to Bucharest to report on the Home Affairs Select Committee’s fact finding visit to Romania to assess the potential impact of open migration to the UK once EU restrictions on free movement are removed this coming January.

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Dealing with Romanian Immigration

Today I am travelling to Romania to see what we can do to limit the flow of immigrants from Romania to the UK once EU restrictions on free movement are removed this coming January.

The Romanian Ambassador recently told us at the Home Affairs Select Committee that he expected 15-20 thousand Romanians to move to the UK annually once restrictions were removed. His Bulgarian counterpart estimated that the annual movement from Bulgaria would be 8-10 thousand. Others such as the respected think tank Migration Watch have estimated higher.

Along with Keith Vaz MP, our Chairman, and fellow Conservative James Clappison MP I will, over the next couple of days, be seeking to understand the extent of poverty and unemployment and other factors which might ‘push’ people to leave Romania, and see what can be done in the UK to discourage substantial immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

The government is bringing in a new Immigration Bill which may help in some areas, although I wish some actions had been taken earlier – and suspect these were previously vetoed by the Liberal Democrats.

One key problem we have in the UK is the interaction between immigration and our welfare system. Unlike other EU countries, except Ireland and Denmark, we have a means tested rather than contributory system which pays over quite substantial tax credits to people with low and some middling incomes who have children. This may be quite a draw to Romanians and Bulgarians even when they want to work.

Of course my preferred solution is to leave the EU as soon as possible and take back control of our own borders to decide ourselves whom we allow into our country.

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VIDEO: Euroscepticism “alive and well in Kent”

Watch Mark Reckless debate the European Union with Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder and Labour peer Lord Bassam on BBC’s Sunday Politics South East:

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Video: Tribute to Baroness Thatcher

Mark Reckless offers his tribute to Baroness Thatcher during the Parliamentary debate on 10th April 2013.

Text from Hansard:

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood, Conservative)

It is a privilege to make the last Back-Bench speech in this debate. I had decided not to speak, but I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to do so now.

I came to the debate before Prayers and found that there was nowhere to sit on the Benches, so I sat just to my right on the floor. Just above me to the right was my hon. Friend Conor Burns. He told me—I was not aware of this—that that was the seat on which Margaret Thatcher sat after she stopped being Prime Minister. I felt that it would be a privilege to sit through the seven and a half hours of debate and tributes, and that I would not seek to speak, but I wish to address one area.

The day before yesterday, the noble Lord Bell said that Margaret Thatcher believed in principles, which perhaps set her apart from virtually any politician of today. I am not sure that that is fair and I believe that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and many who sit behind him, were inspired by Margaret Thatcher, and that much of the politics in which she believed has found its way into our Government. In different ways, I believe that we are taking forward her legacy.

When I was at school, perhaps my oldest friend was Daniel Hannan, who is now an MEP. Together we observed the progress of the Thatcher Government, and we took a greater and greater interest, particularly in Europe. At the time, I was beginning to take an interest in economics and seeking to understand the interface of politics and economics. At the time, Margaret Thatcher and the now noble Lord Lawson were involved in a disagreement about shadowing the Deutschmark, and on that issue I believe that Margaret Thatcher was simply right. Even at the time, it seemed to me that it was just too good; we had had a consumer-led recovery, but as a teenager in my naive way I thought it was getting out of control. Nevertheless, I heard that there could not be a problem because the pound was at the same level against the Deutschmark and we had cut interest rates to keep it below three Deutschmarks. There was a disagreement between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister that I think was resolved terribly unfortunately for our country, but it was the Prime Minister who was right.

Towards the end of Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, Europe became the central driving issue. There is too much of a trend to say that in the last days of her premiership she had somehow lost her touch or that the man-management was not there. The issue of Europe did not develop afterwards; it was there in the central disagreement on economic policy in her Government.

I do not believe that Margaret Thatcher’s personal split with Geoffrey Howe was about personality. On 25 June 1989, Geoffrey Howe with the noble Lord Lawson said to Margaret Thatcher that unless she set a timetable to join the exchange rate mechanism, they would resign. She believed that Geoffrey Howe was behind that, and a month later she removed him from his post as Foreign Secretary. Eighteen months later she made a statement when she came back from the Rome summit, which we recall for “No. No. No.”, and which led to Geoffrey Howe’s resignation and his later speech that set in train the events leading to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall. Listening to that debate again this morning, what struck me was how she answered Tony Benn when he said to her, “You now say this, but how do we know that this is any more than you seeking partisan short-term advantage by wrapping yourself in the flag? It was you who took us into the ERM without consulting the British people, you who signed the Single European Act, and you who sat in a Cabinet that took us into the Common Market without a referendum.”

Margaret Thatcher answered him and said that she would have used different words. In essence, however, she agreed with him. There was a mea culpa. On those issues, he had been right and she regretted the stance that she had taken. She said those things while she was Prime Minister, and I believe that it set in train the process that led to her fall. However, she also inspired a new generation of politicians. There is the question

whether we will ultimately be part of an ever-closer union in Europe or again be an independent country. Margaret Thatcher at least kept open that possibility by restoring our national strength, so that it could once again be resolved in favour of independence.

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Interview with DeHavilland

25062011476Conservative MP Mark Reckless speaks to DeHavilland about Parliament, politics, the Coalition, immigration and Europe.

Speaking in Portcullis House, Mr Reckless outlined what his achievements had been over the course of this Parliament.

Eurosceptic, and widely perceived to be on the right of his party, Mr Reckless singled out  Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to an in-out referendum on EU membership.

He also highlighted the recently negotiated reduction in the EU Budget as another success, recalling his role in marshalling a major rebellion of Conservative MPs in October 2012 which inflicted the first serious Parliamentary defeat on the Coalition.

Closer to home, the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) was a source of immense pride for the Rochester and Strood MP, who oversaw the development of the policy during tenure as a member of the Policy Unit at Conservative Central Office.

However, Mr Reckless’ involvement with PCCs did not end there; he was a powerful advocate for the Policing Protocol Order during its passage through Parliament.

Reflecting on the impact of the Coalition Government, Mr Reckless felt that politics as a whole had “opened up” since the 2010 general election.

Mark RecklessElaborating, he said the introduction of elections to Select Committees and the Backbench Business Committee, as well as measures to strengthen the power of backbench MPs to hold the executive to account had been integral to improving Parliamentary scrutiny.

An avid blogger, Mr Reckless also extolled the virtues of the internet and social media in providing Members with a new forum for their views.

However, he was highly critical of power being focused within Whitehall, blaming the influence of “Sir Humphrey” and the Quad of senior Coalition Ministers.

Pressed on a Parliamentary reform he would most like to see, Mr Reckless said he would prefer to see the membership of the Committee of Selection elected from among all backbenchers, as opposed to just Whips.

The Committee makes appointments to general committees, including public bill committees, and is therefore highly influential at this stage of legislative scrutiny.

Turning to his work as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, DeHavilland inquired about the MP’s recent visit to Qatar, where he had praised the work of UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff in the Abu Dhabi operation.

However, Mr Reckless was unwilling to extend such praise to the UKBA back home, in light of the organisation’s recent failings.

Despite being complimentary of Committee Chair and Labour MP Keith Vaz, Mr Reckless did not hesitate to distinguish himself from Mr Vaz on the key issue of immigration.

Asked if he agreed with Mr Vaz and the Chairs of four other Select Committees that overseas students should be excluded from the target for the Government’s migration target, the Conservative MP said no.

Indeed, he held up the fall in net migration revealed in recent figures as a success, and dismissed a recent speech by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper on the grounds that Labour had “no clear policy” on immigration.

A former City Economist, Mr Reckless has firm views on the financial services reform and Parliament’s role in delivering it.

In particular, he didn’t feel the work of Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards had enjoyed as high a profile as it should have done.

Moreover, he believes that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS should have been allowed to fail in 2008.

010220133960Mr Reckless has been particularly vocal in his opposition to a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, an opposition he described as being based on “economic” reasons.

Whilst insisting that he retained an “open mind” on the future of the UK’s aviation needs and Heathrow, the Conservative MP emphasised his pleasure that Gatwick Airport had begun to campaign for expansion.

He hinted towards a preference for the development of multiple hubs in the South East, and in particular of Gatwick and Stansted.

In particular, Mr Reckless championed the case for a Crossrail spur to Stansted Airport, pointing to his work on this issue with fellow Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.

On the issue of energy, he confirmed that he would not be supporting the decarbonisation amendment to the Energy Bill brought forward by Conservative Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee Tim Yeo.

Asked to single out a single measure for the forthcoming Budget statement, Mr Reckless called for Whitehall department budgets to be subject to approval by the relevant departmental Select Committee.

Finally, questioned on the rhetoric of Home Secretary Theresa May, Mr Reckless pointed to a blog he had written in response to her recent ConservativeHome conference speech.

In the piece, he argues: “All we need do to rein in our domestic courts’ exorbitant rulings in this area is pass primary legislation to remove Article 8 as a grounds on which courts can prevent deportation of foreign prisoners sentenced to a year or more in prison.”

Mike Indian, Parliamentary Analyst

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