All Debates between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg

Thu 4th March 2021
3 interactions (387 words)
Mon 6th July 2015
32 interactions (2,656 words)
Tue 16th June 2015
9 interactions (643 words)
Tue 11th February 2014
21 interactions (2,951 words)
Tue 22nd January 2013
5 interactions (734 words)
Tue 22nd January 2013
3 interactions (301 words)
Fri 20th January 2012
32 interactions (2,361 words)
Tue 15th March 2011
7 interactions (713 words)
Tue 18th January 2011
2 interactions (1,058 words)
Fri 3rd December 2010
3 interactions (502 words)
Thu 10th December 2020
2 interactions (352 words)
Mon 16th November 2020
3 interactions (492 words)
Thu 9th July 2020
3 interactions (327 words)
Thu 24th October 2019
3 interactions (217 words)
Thu 17th October 2019
7 interactions (525 words)
Tue 15th October 2019
5 interactions (274 words)
Thu 26th September 2019
7 interactions (290 words)
Tue 3rd September 2019
5 interactions (285 words)

Business of the House

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 4th March 2021

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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May I begin by thanking my hon. Friend for giving me my Union Jack face mask? He sports a similar one.

I am delighted that a motion to allow a sitting Friday on 12 March is on the Order Paper today. This is intended to allow remaining stages of those private Members’ Bills listed in the motion, including my hon. Friend’s Bill, to take place and I hope that the House will support the motion. There have been a significant number of representations, including from my own constituents, but from MPs as well, to bring these Bills back, so I hope that the motion, the solution, will be welcomed by the House. If the House were to make good progress next Friday, it is my intention to offer a further sitting Friday in order to finalise any of the outstanding Bills listed on the Order Paper and then move forward with Second Readings, if any are put forward. I hope that the Lords will find time to pass these Bills if they pass their Commons stages, but that is, of course, a matter for their Lordships.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP) [V]
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The Leader of the House will agree that democracy is very important, if not a quasi-sacred thing, and that when it is violated by the likes of Lukashenko in Ukraine, and, indeed, Donald Trump in America, we are all rightly repulsed. With that in mind, may I ask the Leader of the House a very simple question: if the Scottish people—or indeed the Welsh people, given the polling in Wales this morning—were to vote for independence at the ballot box, would he respect that choice of the Scottish or, indeed, the Welsh people?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I agree, as I do on many matters actually, with the hon. Gentleman. He is much missed in this Chamber and we hope to see him back physically in the not-too-distant future. It is a duller and quieter place without his regular sedentary interventions. He may have forgotten, but there was a referendum in 2014 in Scotland, which settled the issue. It seems to me that, in the midst of sorting out a pandemic, getting the economy back on its feet and resolving some little local difficulties going on with the leadership of the Scottish National party, it would be reckless to be proposing a referendum at this point.

Scotland Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Monday 6th July 2015

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Scotland Office
Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I know what they wanted, but it is clear from that answer that the right hon. Gentleman did not take their advice. He had no influence on that Government, but he is now telling us to take their advice. He has a very different agenda. If he had accepted our amendment four years ago, we would already have had control, because the Scottish Government would have given it to us. In fact, he was a blocking force and an obstacle to progress for Scotland four years ago, as he still is. As for his colleagues who were here at the time, as a result of that very attitude, they are gone. Instead, I am one of 56 Scottish National party Members, rather than the mere five last time. I should thank the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland for his intransigence four years ago, because it was that very intransigence that led to this raft of colleagues beside me, together debating the Scotland Bill.

The Crown Estate has tremendous control over areas of life in Scotland. It takes millions out of salmon farming each year, and we want more control over what we are doing there. We could stimulate growth and activity in different areas. If we control the taxes, we can do what we feel like. We could do something about revenues from marine renewable energy going south and ensure that they stay within Scotland. We could also ensure that no development is hampered because of the money demanded by the Crown Estate—rentiers’ money that it is lucky to be getting. Years ago, it got nothing from the seabed, but a lucky windfall has now come its way in the shape of offshore renewables.

What is required is for the powers to go to the Government in Edinburgh and for that Government to decide what happens with the community of the realm in Scotland. That is where power and sovereignty rests—with the community of the realm and the people of Scotland. It is for them to decide exactly what they want. Yes, the powers should be devolved. As the Secretary of State said four years ago, the idea of the SNP was to devolve at any cost. He did not listen then, but by goodness, he is listening now.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
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Thank you, Mr Crausby—[Interruption.] I did not hear that interruption by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), which is always a great loss because his interventions are some of the most amusing that we ever hear. On this occasion, however, I am going to disagree with him. I do not like clause 31 at all; I think it is fundamentally misconceived. I have tabled a number of amendments, which I hope will improve it—if it is possible to make a silk purse out of sow’s ear.

Let me start by explaining why I do not like the clause in principle. I think there is a danger that it is attempting to give away something that does not actually belong to the state. The Crown Estates belong to the sovereign and are given in trust to the Government at the beginning of every reign. This started at the beginning of the reign of George III and has been recommitted by every monarch subsequently. However, the Crown Estates must return entire to a new sovereign at the beginning of a new reign. It is not possible—it is not right; it is not proper—for the Government to give away the Crown Estates or to put them in such a state that an incoming sovereign could not take them back in their entirety. I therefore have concerns about the underlying principle of clause 31 in that it is seeking to divide the Crown Estates, which ought not to be divisible because of the unity they are required to have at the beginning of each reign.

I also do not like it symbolically because, although I am very sympathetic to the demands of the SNP for more government in Scotland and for more rights for the Scottish Parliament, I think the Crown is more important than the union of Parliaments.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am very grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s characteristically helpful intervention. What was so wonderful about that bait was the outpouring of patriotic royal fervour that it elicited from my friends in the Scottish National party. I must confess that I was thrilled and surprised when a party that I had thought to have republican leanings turned out, to a man and woman, to contain some of the staunchest monarchists in the land. That is desperately reassuring—

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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And it is, of course, an even greater honour to give way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I am also grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has described giving way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar as a greater honour than giving way to the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond). I wanted to repeat that for the purpose of my own amusement.

May I return to the hon. Gentleman to the quip that I made at the beginning of his speech? I said that he had contributed to this debate four years ago, on 15 March 2011. Times have changed since then, but it clear that, in another sense, times have not really changed, because the argument that he was advancing then—the argument that the Crown Estate was the property of the monarch—is the argument that he is advancing now. Indeed, in many respects it is an argument that has been advanced for hundreds of years. It is time to move on. It is time for the royal windfall to end, and for royalty to end its control of local people. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows—because we have been friends for a number of years—I say that as a staunch monarchist myself.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Gentleman really cannot have it both ways. He teased the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) for being inconsistent, because four years ago he had been against the devolution of the Crown Estate and today he was in favour of it. Now he has objected to my being consistent, in that I opposed it four years ago and continue to oppose it today. Either the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland is right to have changed his mind, or I am right not to have changed mine. Both cannot be true.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his consistency, and, similarly, I congratulate myself on mine. I want this power to be moved to Scotland so that the most democratic forum in Scotland—the Scottish Parliament—can decide, in consultation with the people of Scotland, exactly what happens to the Crown Estate.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The problem with that view is that it does not respect the rights of property. The Crown is entitled to protection of the rights of property as much as—indeed, some might say more than—anyone else in this country. If even Her Majesty’s property, the property of the sovereign herself, is not sacrosanct and protected, but can be taken for the benefit of the people—whatever that means—no one’s land is safe.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) for having a word in my ear.

In Scotland, the people are sovereign, whereas here, as the hon. Gentleman will of course know, the Treasury already controls the vast majority of the revenues of the Crown Estate, and gives pocket money—albeit a tremendously large amount of pocket money—to the monarch.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I find the concept of sovereignty coming from the people very attractive. I do not dispute the concept of sovereignty rising from the people to this Parliament, with our sovereign Lady the epitome of it, the symbol of it, the very pinnacle of our society and of our nation. Within that concept, however, all subjects, and Her Majesty herself, have rights of property, and those rights should not be arbitrarily taken away. It worries me that clause 31 is going in that direction in deciding that Parliament can allocate a property right without having established that that property right belongs to Parliament, and that it is for Parliament to dispose of it in the first place.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. He is being very generous, as are you, Mr Crausby.

The hon. Gentleman speaks of the personality of the sovereign. He says that the sovereign cannot choose to whom to give the estate, and that it will go to the next sovereign. The important difference between England and Scotland is that in Scotland the people are sovereign. As the hon. Gentleman knows from his history books, there was Mary Queen of Scots and there was Elizabeth of England. There were the people, there was the country, and there were two different nations.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am well aware of the difference of terminology in relation to Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, the “English Queen”.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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The Queen of England.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The Queen of England. The two were different, in a sense, and there is a conception of popular sovereignty in Scotland that may differ from that in England—although it is perfectly possible that the reference to “Mary Queen of Scots” may have been due to concern about having a woman as monarch, and to the fact that in earlier times people were happier to have a King of Scotland than to have a King of the Scots. I am not entirely sure that the hon. Gentleman might not be more in tune with the late John Knox and his “blast of the trumpet”. I myself am not sure that I want that particular trumpet to be blown, because I think that it is a trumpet that sounds a rather wrong note. For once I am sounding more modern than the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar! I think that the issue of property rights is fundamental, and I also think that the Crown is indivisible.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, who I think is absolutely spot on. The indivisibility of the Crown within the United Kingdom is central to the Unionist case, and I think that if a Unionist Government are willing to divide the Crown, that is a very dangerous step. I would rather give the Scottish Parliament other powers—some of which are the subject of other amendments—than give it this very important power relating to the Crown, which, as has already been pointed out, has been indivisible for longer than the Parliaments have been united. It brought the two countries together, and that was then established firmly in law.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Of course I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his incredible generosity. He said that the Crown property was indivisible, but of course the United Kingdom itself was not indivisible, given that it was divided in 1922. Although most people do not realise it, the United Kingdom is not yet 100 years old. I think that Doris Day is older than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, the question that is puzzling me is not that of Doris Day’s age, but what happened to the Crown properties that were once held and are now in the Republic of Ireland.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My assumption is that they were devolved to the Government of the Republic of Ireland, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when one is abolishing the monarchy. If SNP Members were, in fact, closet republicans—which, given the other arguments that we have heard recently, I do not think they are—it would be perfectly rational for them to argue that the estate should be confiscated from the Crown and should go to an independent Scotland. However, that is not the argument that we are having today. Today, there seems to be broad acceptance in the House that the monarchy should remain part of the Scottish settlement—as well as the settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom—come what may, even if Scotland were to become independent.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I think that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. What today’s debate is about is whether the monarch’s estate—the Crown Estate—should be controlled by Her Majesty’s Government here, or by Her Majesty’s Government in Scotland. My colleagues and I are suggesting that Her Majesty’s Government in Scotland would be a far better Government to control Her Majesty’s estate.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I do not think that the hon. Gentleman —I was about to say “my hon. Friend”—is bold enough. What he should say, and what I, in logic, would be bound to accept, is that if that is to be determined by one Government, it could be argued that it should be determined only by the Scottish Government in relation to the whole Crown Estate. However, that would not be my argument.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Hon. Members may have got the impression that I am a monarchist; I think there are few things more important in this nation than the monarchical system that we have. None the less I am consistent in my capitalist views; I do not want even my sovereign to benefit from subsidies that are paid by the Government and fall on the backs of hard-pressed people in North East Somerset who cannot afford their energy bills. I am not that much of a monarchist.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is more of a monarchist than I am.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I certainly am, it would seem, and I can hear the timbers in Buckingham palace quivering as we speak: we have now found limits to the hon. Gentleman’s loyalty. We are talking here about the Queen and everyone else in the country getting the benefits of onshore wind. If the monarch still had the power to shout, “Off with his head,” I would fear for the hon. Gentleman tomorrow morning.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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One has to be careful of onshore wind turbines if one is at risk of losing one’s head; I believe the heads of bats get regularly cut off by the turbines.

Subsidies are a different point, but I would certainly not want the sovereign grant to benefit from state subsidies. I think that is a very bad method of funding almost anything. The Government picking winners tends not to work and tends to increase costs.

Amendment 126 would merely ensure that the pro rata amount would remain the same, and amendment 125 would mean the scheme agreed by the Treasury and the Scottish Parliament could not be altered to the disadvantage of the Sovereign Grant Act.

As I have said, the Sovereign Grant Act is an extraordinarily good way of funding the monarchy. It means Her Majesty is the highest marginal tax rate payer in the country. The Queen pays a tax rate of 85% whereas nobody else pays more than 45%. The Crown Estates are taken from the Queen at the beginning of the reign and the revenue is then taken to the Government. So the Queen subsidises her own Government throughout her reign. That is not an unreasonable situation, but the Sovereign Grant Act returns it, and that should be protected in any development of devolution.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Everybody subsidises the Government through their taxes, and we in Scotland particularly subsidise the Government having paid more tax per capita every year for the last 31 years.

Incidentally, the hon. Gentleman might be pleased to know that Doris Day’s birthday is 3 April 1922; I thank the ever-vigilant SNP press officer Stuart Easton for that piece of information.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I wish Doris Day many happy returns, albeit somewhat belatedly, but the hon. Gentleman is not right that all these Scottish taxpayers have paid more tax for 31 years, because some—very distinguished—SNP Members of Parliament are not 31 years old, so certainly have not been paying tax for that long.

European Union Referendum Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 16th June 2015

(6 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in today’s debate, Mr Howarth, and to welcome the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), as the Minister responding. The constitution is always in safe hands when it is in the hands of Somerset, so it is reassuring that he is here to respond.

I want to follow on from what my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) said about amendment 10, on EU funding, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), and to which I have added my name. The appearance of fairness within the referendum is at the heart of what the Government must try to do. The Government, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. It would be wrong if there was any feeling that the referendum was being held improperly, that undue pressure was being brought to bear, or that funding was directed to one side rather than the other—I say that as somebody who supports the Government’s position—but it would be most wrong if British taxpayers’ money funnelled by the European Union ended up being used to campaign for us to remain subject to the European Union.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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It is a delight to give way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil).

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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The hon. Gentleman’s pronunciation is as impeccable in this Parliament as it was in the last one. I congratulate him once again.

The hon. Gentleman mentions the nonsense and unacceptability of British taxpayers’ money going through the European Union and back again. He will be aware, and perhaps bemused and baffled, that there is much amusement in Scotland that Scottish taxpayers’ money funnelled through the UK Government was used in our referendum to campaign succinctly and definitely on one side. I am thinking of Sir Nicholas Macpherson and many others along with him.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Gentleman had the opportunity to listen to an excellent debate on that very subject yesterday, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), but I think I would be in trouble if I went through the question of full fiscal autonomy for Scotland in relation to amendment 10 to the European Union Referendum Bill, so I want to stick to the subject at hand.

The European Union has a budget for this. Indeed, we passed a Bill in 2013 that allows for the European Union to engage in political activity and the promotion of the cause and objectives of the European Union. That money flows to institutions within the United Kingdom and that money comes with strings attached. It is money that is given on the basis that the institutions receiving that money support the objectives of the European Union.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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No, we co-operate in far too many areas already. I have a lot of sympathy with the SNP’s position in many ways, because it is not entirely different from mine. I want my country, which I view as the UK, to govern herself, and SNP Members want a smaller part of the UK—Scotland, which they view as their country —to govern herself too. It puzzles me that, having got self-government, they want to hand it over to Brussels, but that is a question for them.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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My first quibble—the first mistake the hon. Gentleman has made—is that the British Union is not a country, but a union. Secondly, he fails to realise that we only want to change our relationship with London. Our relationship with Brussels would stay the same, under the SNP’s proposals for Scottish independence, which might come very soon.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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That is a moot point that was discussed at length during the Scottish referendum campaign and to which I had better not revert.

I want to concentrate on the power, influence and resources of Governments.

Fairness and Inequality

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 11th February 2014

(7 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Wales Office
Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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It is quite simple—if we start to create jobs and opportunities for people, we will reduce inequality. I would certainly not be in the position of one of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues who said last week:

“If the Scottish people are going to be better off economically and so on, I would still be against breaking away from the Union.”—[Official Report, 6 February 2014; Vol. 575, c. 467.]

It does not seem to matter whether we can cure poverty—Labour Members would still be against independence because they have made careers talking about it, and handsome careers at that.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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I am interested in the hon. Gentleman’s call for lower tax rates. Has he now become a tartan Tory?

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Devil the fear, as my old Irish mother would have said, devil the fear—no chance at all. I think the hon. Gentleman will see, as he pays more attention to the words to come, that the only Tories on this side of the House are probably the red Tories.

I listed the books I mentioned earlier for a reason. We must be aware that we do not have to reinvent the wheel to get people more opportunities and chances in life. Much of the research and science has been done, and the information has been gathered. Perhaps if we stopped, looked and learned from what is around us we would stop falling into the same traps that different generations have fallen into. Why should inequality matter—why is it important? Is it merely because a number of influential professors with Nobel prizes have written books? I would contend that they have put intellectual bones on our instinctive emotions of sympathy and empathy for our fellow people when we see them in situations that disturb us and we think are wrong. This is why nations have international aid budgets and why we give to charity. Sometimes it can be argued that the money is not always best directed, but nevertheless it is useful in the main. It shows an underlying striving for fairness and is a reproach against inequality within the broad set of people.

My first engagement with the idea of inequality was in the religious education class in Craigston primary school at the age of seven or eight, or perhaps even six, with Mrs MacCormick, God bless her. Looking back, I often think that we were really doing philosophy classes rather than RE classes. The example given was this: “If you’re given a box of chocolates at home would it be best to eat them all yourself or share them with your brothers and sisters who have not been given any chocolates?” I have to say that this scenario created a tension in my mind given my great love of chocolates. As you can see, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not have so much a sweet tooth as a whole set of sweet teeth. I was caught in the tension between doing what was manifestly right and what I really wanted to do on another level. The consensus quickly grew in the class that it was best to share—even among six, seven or eight-year-olds. I am pleased to see you nodding in agreement, Mr Deputy Speaker.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
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I am glad, as an Englishman, finally to be allowed to enter into this debate, because the motion refers to the United Kingdom. It is a great honour to speak in this debate, because the nationalists appear to have a very clever plot, whereby they send their best and brightest people down to Westminster to make us realise how much we would miss them if they went independent. Since entering this House in 2010, I have become more and more pro-Union, simply because of the fantastic speeches we hear from nationalist Members.

Today was a model of its kind. The hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) gave an absolutely brilliant speech that started with the ancient history of Wales and had the House gripped by his every word. I was sorry that I could not hear the whole speech by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), as I had to go to European Committee A for a moment, but I was relieved that he was not too brief because there was so much to be said, and he was almost still speaking by the time the Committee ended.

The motion itself, however, though presented with panache and oratory, is fundamentally misplaced. It goes completely the wrong way about tackling issues of inequality because it argues fundamentally that we should all be impoverished. It is an argument that says that inequality is the important issue, not how prosperous people ought to be. It mentions the

“underlying trend of rising income inequality”

but the problem is that the point at which income inequality has been reduced has coincided with the recession. Yes, it is easy to reduce income inequality if we ruin the economy. If we make everybody poorer, we can all be poor—and perhaps happy—together. Actually, I think the British people will not be happy if they get poorer; they will be happier if they get richer. It is of no pleasure to me that during the recession, the income of the top decile of income receivers in the United Kingdom fell by 9%, and that of the bottom decile by 2.4%. Although it could be argued that the better off are making a bigger contribution than the worse off, I do not want to see anybody’s income decline. I want everybody’s income to increase, and that requires the economic policies that this Government have followed.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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As our state is getting wealthier and productivity is growing, does the hon. Gentleman agree that all should share in that, and that the rent seekers at the top end should not abuse their positions as CEOs or hedge fund managers and see their wealth grow by 60% to 80%, while over a decade the equivalent bottom 90% will see their wealth grow by only 17%?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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Where I disagree with the hon. Gentleman is when he fails to recognise what those very wealthy people do. By and large, hedge fund managers and corporate tycoons spend their money, and if they do not spend it they save it.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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They spend it on wine!

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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If they spent it on wine, that would help the French, rather more perhaps than the English, but that is slightly beside the point. They might spend it on whisky, which will help the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. If they spend money, they create employment and economic activity, and if they save it and put it in a bank, they provide the deposits against which banks can lend. One of the great problems of the banking crisis was that the loan-to-deposit ratio went way above 100%—I think the Royal Bank of Scotland got up to 135%. It is not practical for banks to lend when they are not taking in deposits, because they then become dependent on overnight money, which can be withdrawn much more easily, and has a tendency to be withdrawn more quickly than long-term stable deposits. When the income of the wealthy is saved, it is an economic good.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Is the hon. Gentleman saying that before the crash the wealthy were not saving enough of their money and were perhaps squandering it in various ways, and that one of the main reasons for the crash was that the banks did not have enough deposits from the wealthy? Surely if it had been in everybody’s hands, it would have been in the banks.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Gentleman has taken one bit of what I have said and applied it incorrectly. It is uncharacteristic of him not to listen more carefully, and I will come on to the issue of spending cuts.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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The IMF is not full of well-known leftists, but it does seem to be run, by and large, by the French, who have a very different understanding of economics, an absolutely rotten economy, and are the last people from whom I would take lessons. We will not in this Chamber go into the behaviour of the previous managing director—it would shock the viewers of the Parliament channel if they were to consider how Monsieur Strauss-Kahn had behaved. Anyway, I will not be told what to do by people who cannot behave.

I want to come back to the economic benefits of the spending and saving of the wealthy. That is what provides the employment and investment that leads to economic growth, and leads to the rising of living standards for the poorest in society. That is not done by the state. The state can indeed pass money around—it can reallocate money from pot A to pot B—but that does not increase the fundamental size of the pot. It merely reallocates what is already there, whereas the expenditure, saving and investment of individuals in the private sector grows the total amount that is available and therefore leads to cascading wealth.

This is where I must come on to the specific point in the motion calling on the Government

“to halt its further spending and welfare cuts”.

The spending cuts have been essential. The Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have been a model to other countries in how they have behaved. In a cross-partisan moment, I thank the Liberal Democrats for the role they have played. It must have been particularly difficult for them to take these tough decisions, having not been in government for so many generations and facing up to more serious responsibilities than parties in opposition sometimes have to deal with. I think they deserve a huge amount of credit for the support they have given to the Conservatives. Lots of economists, some of them quoted by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, were saying that it was the wrong thing to do. Even the IMF had to eat its words a year after saying that austerity was not the right thing to do. The IMF was wrong and the Government were right. Why was that?

First, when the Government came into office there was a risk that there would be a funding crisis. There was a risk that the Government would simply not be able to raise the money in the gilt market that they needed to pay for the services that the British people wished to receive. That was the first problem. The second problem was that Government expenditure and very high debt crowd out private sector activity. If the Government had not reduced spending, businesses would not have been able to have access to the capital they needed to begin the recovery. The third problem was that by taking money out of the economy, there was a general depression of economic activity as individuals and their families had less to spend throughout the economic spectrum. It was being taken out of productive capacity and used unproductively merely on a money merry-go-round of the state.

This is, again, where I like the fact that the coalition has raised the basic threshold of income tax. I share the ambition of my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Lorely Burt) that this should be increased. It is absolutely barmy to tax people on low incomes and then give them their own money back in benefits. Not only do we want to get it to £10,000, we want to get it to the point where people on the minimum wage are neither paying national insurance nor income tax.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

The hon. Gentleman is mainly making points about redistribution and I disagree with him on that. In one of the longest parts of my speech, I made a point on the living wage and the number of people who are now working poor. He mentioned the billionaires and rich people that we have in apparent abundance around the place. Should we not be seeing people at least earning a wage that means that they do not need to benefit from state welfare to top up the lack in their wages?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The wages that people are paid in this country are set on an economically competitive basis, not just against what goes on in this country but on what goes on in the rest of the world. As a nation, we need to produce goods and services that people will buy. Then, when we have profitability and successful businesses that grow, there will be money to pay people more. We want more billionaires, because billionaires spend money. Who do we think are buying all these Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Jaguars? In Portugal, the people buying them might be quite poor, because it has a special scheme where one can win a car if one buys a cup of coffee and makes the person selling the cup of coffee promise to pay tax, but outside Portugal—in China, India, America and the United Kingdom itself—the people who buy these luxury goods are those who are well off. We need those people to provide the good jobs.

I want to move on to the dead hand of welfare, as it appears that the feeling expressed by those on the Opposition Benches—particularly by the nationalists, although Labour is not a million miles away—is that if a Government take money and dish it out that helps people. I fundamentally disagree. I do not think that it is fair that people who do not work should be better off than people who do. Indeed, I think that is wrong. I do not think that it is fair that people should be trapped in poverty by decisions that the state makes.

One of the noblest things that this Government are doing is the reform of the welfare state. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb) that if people are lifted out of state dependency, they can take charge of their lives and become prosperous. They can then contribute to the overall economy. If benefits are set too high and the percentage of its withdrawal is so high that there is no incentive to work, people are trapped.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of yesterday’s report on working poverty by the Archbishop of York. It showed that most of the people in receipt of benefits are working and the efforts people are making to earn a decent wage are not having an effect because they are not being paid properly. Let me ask the hon. Gentleman again: does he support efforts to ensure that people are paid properly so that companies are not subsidised by the state? In the United States of America, one of the biggest recipients of welfare is Walmart and we have different examples in this country.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Once again, I am sorry to say that I disagree with the hon. Gentleman on that specific point. It is much preferable that the state should pay benefits to people who are working and being paid the economic rate for their job.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend makes a good point. There must be fears that if the Bank of England goes on printing money, the printing presses will eventually wear out in an inflationary burst.

There is hope from the Opposition Benches. We heard that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar supported the reduction in corporation tax in Scotland because he thought that it would produce more revenue, more business and more prosperity for Scotland. That is the vision of fairness and of reducing inequality that we should have. It is a vision in which people succeed through their own efforts rather than being trapped by the state; in which people prosper through their own efforts, rather than being held down by the state; and in which people contribute through their own efforts to the growth of the rest of society and the economy, rather than being prevented from doing so by the state and being left unproductive .

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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The hon. Gentleman talks about the state as a malign influence, but does he accept that markets have their flaws and do not work properly? Influences and biases in the markets can conspire so that the CEO gets far more, in ratio with the pay at the bottom end, than at one time he used to whereas the people at the bottom end cannot even make a living wage. There are huge iniquities in the private sector and it is not all “State bad”. The hon. Gentleman should realise that the state can be good as well and there can be big problems in the private sector.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman and I are co-religionists, and if we are not careful we will start talking about original sin and the imperfectability of mankind. It is true, of course, that there is no perfect man-made system, and that would be an interesting debate for another day, but by and large the markets work better than state direction, which essentially re-circulates money that is created in the private sector. We need a flourishing private sector if we are to help people to improve their standard of living, their lives and their livelihoods, and if we are to take them out of this awful poverty trap. There is great nobility in what the Government are doing. They do not want unfairness; they want fairness for those people and families doing their bit for society, working hard and getting on, and they want to take away the clamping down, the closing down, the almost bankrupting of the country that was being done before.

For those reasons, I oppose the motion. It is fundamentally wrong-headed in all it seeks to do, and I hope the Government stick to their guns and carry on with economic and welfare policies that enable people to become better off through their own efforts.

Succession to the Crown Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 22nd January 2013

(8 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I beg to move amendment 4, page 1, line 9, after ‘person’, insert

‘who married a person of the Roman Catholic faith’.

Thank you for calling me to speak, Mr Deputy Speaker—I am sorry, Mr Hoyle. I will get it right in the end. It is so difficult when people have so many titles, like Her Majesty. It causes confusion, even for those of us who try to specialise in such important aspects.

My amendment is a minor one that is intended to clarify which person clause 2(2) refers to, because we do not want to refer to the wrong person. The amendment refers to a person

“who married a person of the Roman Catholic faith”,

because I am concerned that the part of clause 2(2) that reads,

“where the person concerned is alive”,

could be taken to mean not the person who married the Catholic, but the person who was the subject of that marriage, or indeed the person who was its product.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

It occurs to me that, together with the need to style Queen Elizabeth as Queen Elizabeth II, the obsession with whether or not the monarch is Catholic only really applies in England—it does not seem to apply to Wales or Scotland, and it certainly does not apply to the other realms. It is so important at the moment because the monarchy resides within England, which colours or clouds the rest of the debate. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman agrees.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That is an interesting point. I am sure that Her Majesty’s other realms will consider whether or not the whole of clause 2 is a matter of great concern to them, because Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the other realms do not have established Churches and so need not worry whether or not the sovereign is married to a Catholic. I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point that it is essentially a matter of concern in so far as Her Majesty is the Queen of England, rather than Queen of the other territories.

My amendment is very narrow. Clause 2(2) reads as follows:

“Subsection (1) applies in relation to marriages occurring before the time of the coming into force of this section where the person concerned is alive at that time”.

Who does that mean? It could mean a person who was excluded from the succession many years ago as a result of marrying a Catholic and who happens to be alive at the time the Act comes into force. Therefore, we might find that we will need to rearrange the whole succession because the clause is not clear about who that person is. I think that the Government’s intention is that that is the person who contracted the marriage to a Catholic. To put a name to it, we are talking about someone such as His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Once it has been established who is first, second and third in line to the throne, the line of succession is in many ways academic. I am sure that whoever was 10th or 20th in line was not considered much in the time of Robert the Bruce, Edward I or whoever happened to be the monarch in these islands at the time. It is purely an academic matter to be discussed at many dinner tables across the land. I wonder what the hon. Gentleman’s opinion is.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That is an interesting thought, but I think that it is important that the line of succession should be clear and in no doubt. I think that legislation relating to the succession to the Crown needs to be unambiguous and not allow potential risks to come in because of a mistake in the drafting. We want to know who our sovereign will be, to whom we owe loyalty and all such things, and that might not be possible if we do not know the line of succession.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the succession can leap about. We have been fortunate enough in recent generations to have had a very clear succession and large royal families, but we can sometimes get down to a very small number of heirs, and we see that ordinary hereditary titles can sometimes go to very remote cousins, so who is in line to the throne is very important.

Obviously, there are other amendments that I have tabled. I have concerns about the clause as a whole and whether it should stand part of the Bill—

Succession to the Crown Bill (Allocation of Time)

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 22nd January 2013

(8 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Once again, I am in agreement with the hon. Gentleman. That is why it is so important that we should have proper time for this debate and to debate the full ramifications of what the Government are trying to do. The argument that the measure has been agreed by Her Majesty’s other realms is not sufficient. It needs to have been thought through properly in one of her realms first, before we see whether the other realms will accept it. Yes, there might be a child—a happy event for Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—and let us hope that that is the case, but there would be no harm in allowing the legislation to be dated from today, even if that birth were to take place. There is no urgency. The succession is apparently very secure: the heir apparent is a youngish man and so is his son.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Hansard -

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that we would surely hope that no other realm would spend any less time discussing the measure than it looks like we will spend on it this afternoon?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Of course, the sovereign is also King or Queen of Scotland, which is a very important title.

I do not wish to detain the House any longer, but I think that this is a matter of fundamental importance. We are changing that part of our constitution that is most precious in a rush, as if it is anti-terrorist legislation, and we are not allowing ourselves proper time to consider all the ramifications of what is entailed by Her Majesty’s Government’s position. I therefore hope that the House will consider accepting my amendment to make some improvement to the Bill, although I fear that it still will not allow sufficient time for all one might wish to discuss.

European Union (Croatian Accession and Irish Protocol) Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 6th November 2012

(8 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

May I say what a particular pleasure it is to see that the Prime Minister, in his wisdom, has tabled a motion for 7 pm so that this debate may continue “until any hour”? It is always reassuring when European debates are not limited by an unnecessary constraint on time, although I note that having done that, the Prime Minister has left the country. Perhaps he does not want to hear hon. Members’ full ruminations on this subject.

I begin by commiserating with Croatia, which has decided that it wishes to join the European Union—an organisation that others may be looking to get out of if they possibly can. One always has a certain sympathy with nations that gained their freedom not so long ago and now wish to hand it over to another body and organisation.

I refer hon. Members to the report by the European Scrutiny Committee, which the Minister touched on. It concerns me that, once again, the European Union is not learning from experience. It always thinks that countries may be ready for something, yet it comes as a nasty shock when those self-same countries are not ready. We saw that with monetary union, which the EU pushed on member states that were not conceivably ready to join. It said that there was an efficient system afterwards to ensure that countries would be brought into line, and that everything would be made to work ex post facto, but that is precisely what did not happen. We see the same with Romania and Bulgaria, which are constantly found to be in breach of their commitments. The European Scrutiny Committee has highlighted various issues, some of which go beyond the Minister’s remarks, while others reiterate his points about the difficulties of Croatia’s membership of the EU.

I would highlight Croatia’s 2,000 mile border. My concern is not Croatia’s 4 million population, but that lots of people can get through a border, as we have seen in Greece. Unless a country has a rigorous system of citizenship in the first place, people can establish rights to be members of it, or pretend to have done so. Once they are inside the EU, they can come waltzing into England without so much as a by-your-leave, as they can into Scotland—I am pleased to see so many of our friends from the Scottish nationalist party in the Chamber for the debate.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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Not nationalist? I do apologise.

If a country has weak borders, it undermines the free movement of people within Europe.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who is as flattering and charming as always, but it is good enough for the Irish, who got some serious concessions. The concession on taxation is a very important one. It establishes that taxation is not to be set at the European level. In fact, it is clever of the Irish to have got it, because Lisbon is bringing in an awful lot of things by the back door and the Irish have managed to close that back door, or the stable door as one may like to call it.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

Is the hon. Gentleman telling the House that the Irish have been more adept and a bit more clever than the UK in playing their hand in Europe?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I know it is implausible that the Irish could have been more adept than people living in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, but they did indeed manage to get something by virtue of having a proper democracy that required a referendum on the treaty of Lisbon, to which the Irish people had the sense in the first instance to say no, but then they were bullied by Europe into saying yes at a later stage, with some guarantees. If we had had a referendum, I think that the British Government might have been able to get some pretty serious guarantees.

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) asked whether I really believe that the Government could have negotiated concessions for the United Kingdom. Yes, I absolutely do, because the European Union wants the Lisbon treaty to function fully; the Lisbon treaty only functions fully with the Irish agreement, because it had to be agreed by unanimity; the Irish agreement was conditional on the protocols given in the Croatian accession treaty; and therefore it follows that if the United Kingdom had insisted on concessions to us that would have let the Lisbon treaty carry on for everybody else, we would have been in a very strong negotiating position to achieve them. That is probably still the case.

I want to return to the general rejoicing at the socialists having become a new Eurosceptic party, as, of course, they were, rather less successfully, under Michael Foot not so many years ago. As a Eurosceptic party, they voted last week to stop spending more money in the European Union. It occurs to me that the Bill could be amended to say that it will come into effect only at the point at which our full rebate—which was given away by our Labour friends when they were last in government—is restored. Now that the Labour party is so committed to cutting expenditure in the European Union, it would almost certainly be willing to support such an amendment, so we can use this Bill on the Floor of the House to achieve the reduction in spending that so many Members of this House showed that they wanted last week. Indeed, I think it is the united will of the Conservative party that less money should go to Europe.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. He makes a crucial point, which we will discuss further in our second debate, in which we will see that eurozone votes, as a qualified majority, are able to outvote everybody else, which seriously diminishes the UK’s voting power, as does this Bill. By adding another member state, we will go from 17 to 18 recipient, mendicant countries and 10 that pay in. It also means that one more part of the qualified majority will be against us and for more spending and for the ratchet of Europe.

We need to be very cautious about what we do when we do not get anything in return—that is my main point. I am quite happy to welcome other nations to the European Union, if they really want to join. I understand that the Scottish nationalists might want to rejoin. I thought that the great argument for Scottish nationalism was that they would be free from Europe as well, but that is not the way they are going. We are not getting anything in return.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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To clarify for the hon. Gentleman, the point of the 2014 referendum will be to transfer political power pertaining to Scotland from Westminster to Edinburgh.

Daylight Saving Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Friday 20th January 2012

(9 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I wish to speak to my amendments 3 and 5, and to speak more broadly to some of the other amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope). However, I hope that I do not do so at such length that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) decides to move a motion to get me to shut up—the Commons equivalent of the Lords procedure to move that

“the noble Lord be no longer heard”.

We have just heard from the Minister, and I listened to him with great interest.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I am impressed that the hon. Gentleman listened to the Minister. Was he able to understand, or even catch, some of the words that he enunciated?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question; it is always good to have an intervention from him. I did manage to understand the Minister—or at least, I think I did—but I was shocked by what I heard. Once again, we heard that this House must be craven in front of the great power that is the European Union. We cannot even set our own time any more without the say-so of our friends in Brussels, and that is a pretty sorry state to have got into.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

On the point about harmonisation with Europe, many people have mentioned the costs for businesses. Surely, however, that argument should apply in reverse. If the gains are so great, would not the Eurocrats want to change so as to be in the same time zone as the world financial centre that is London? Perhaps this reveals the lie in the argument: there is no gain. The gain would be greater for those on the other side of the English channel than for those on the north side.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point, as he so often does. Na h-Eileanan an Iar is enormously well represented in the House, and it is one of the great arguments for maintaining the Union that he should continue to have an audience here for his wise words. I wanted to propose the introduction of Somerset time, a new time zone for the world, which the Europeans could come over to. Sadly, however, my amendment was not selected, for reasons that I fail to understand. The mysteries of this place to a relatively new Member remain manifold.

I should like to speak briefly to amendment 59 before I come to my own amendments. It is a wonderfully wise amendment, because it understands that in the winter there is a shortage of daylight and that Greenwich mean time has the great advantage—a somewhat old-fashioned one, perhaps—of the sun being at its highest point at noon. This gives us an even balance of sunlight during the course of the day.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. Surely midday is not called midday by accident. It is called midday because it is in the middle of the day.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

As always, my hon. Friend makes a wise and pertinent intervention.

There has been one occasion in history on which daylight was extended. Those hon. Members who are up on their Bible will remember their studies from their student days. They will recall the book of Joshua, chapter 10, verse 13:

“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hastened not to go down about a whole day.”

That is really what amendment 59 is all about. It is about accepting what verse 14 goes on to say, which is that that happened only once; it was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. God allowed the sun to stand still in the heavens on that day only, and never again.

There is absolutely nothing that we can do about that. No great Act of Parliament or—dare I say it—regulation from the European Union can create more daylight. We are therefore faced with a simple choice in the winter. Do we get up in the dark and have teatime when it is a bit brighter, or do we have murky, dank, dark mornings—I am sorry, I meant that the other way round. Do we instead get up with a spring in our step and go to work with enthusiasm, full of beans and ready to face the world, and sacrifice a little bit of daylight at teatime?

In seeking to leave us on summer time, my hon. Friend’s amendment would allow all the supposed advantages to be investigated, including having an extra hour of daylight in the evenings so that people could have their barbecues and all that sort of thing, but it would not upset the mornings. That is particularly important for our friends in Scotland, which is why I want to mention amendment 23.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend makes an extraordinarily good and wise point. People sometimes see things happen and figures change, and then claim that A led to B. Somerset county council switched off all its speed cameras and the number of accidents fell dramatically, but, much as I dislike speed cameras, it seems unlikely that in that instance A led directly to B. We should be enormously careful about advancing arguments based on theoretical statistics relating to what might happen when there is a strong general trend.

The key issue—I now return to the subject of amendment 59—is that of what people like. Why do we not learn the lessons of history? We have tried this before. We tried it during the war, but people did not like it, and as soon as the war ended we got rid of it. If it had been such a fantabulous idea, we would have retained it in the later 1940s, and in the 1970s.

Let us consider Portugal, our oldest ally and our ally since the treaty of Windsor in 1386. Portugal made this mistake. The Portuguese erred: they decided to abandon the proper time, as set by the sun, and get closer to Europe. That failed, and they reversed their decision.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

The hon. Gentleman mentions Portugal. Only yesterday, I discovered that according to Mr João Grancho, president of the national association of teachers in that country, the time change had

“generated irritability and inattention among the youngest and many fell asleep in class”.

Of course they fell asleep: they had been woken in the middle of the night to go to school. That is exactly what would happen here if we were so foolish as to forget the lessons of 30 or 40 years ago.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am grateful for that invaluable intervention. I am sorry to say that I think that merely discussing this issue causes irritability among some hon. Members.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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That brings me to amendment 23, which requires the consultation to include representatives from England—in brackets, Somerset—Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

As the hon. Gentleman may know, Na h-Eileanan an Iar—which he pronounces so well—is 7.5 degrees, or a full half hour, west of the United Kingdom. We are penalised for that as well as being to the north of the UK. We have a problem of both latitude and longitude.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That is an extremely important point. If one is a Unionist—if one believes that this is one great country consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and that we should be united as a single people—one has to maintain that if the poorest crofter in Na h-Eileanan an Iar is inconvenienced for a ha’porth of extra business in Cornwall, that is most unreasonable, because it has a disproportionate effect on our friends and allies in Scotland.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend has already heard me say that China is very big. It must be acknowledged that the United States is also quite big, although not as big as China. For a huge country to operate different time zones is one thing, but when I proposed that Somerset should have its own time zone—because it struck me as perfectly rational that time should be set from the centre of the universe—my proposal was considered slightly eccentric. It was felt that the United Kingdom should not be divided in that way. I do not see why, if this is not considered appropriate for Somerset, we should suddenly do it to Scotland.

I also think it hugely important symbolically to our standing as one country for there to be no difference in time in different parts of that country. The Bill, as it stands, seeks to ignore the Union for the sake of some rather narrow and selfish benefits that are, in fact, trivial in comparison with the great history and breadth of our country’s tradition.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I am concerned by the suggestion that a shared time zone enables us to live happily together in one country. We can live happily in many countries together. I believe that the Republic of Ireland proves that point. I hope that we are not seeing any hint of a return of 19th-century imperialism, or any wish for the Republic of Ireland to be ruled directly from the House of Commons.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

As it happens, I think that it would be good manners to consult the Republic of Ireland as well, because the Irish economy is very dependent on the UK economy. I should like to see that covered in the Bill, although it is not mentioned in the amendment. As I have said, a rather selfish approach has been taken .

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I am speaking to amendment 17, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think it important to set the context of the amendment, and that is what I am doing. Claims are made on one side and claims are made on the other, but I am a reasonable, generous and conciliatory man—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I thank my colleagues for that. I am prepared to inconvenience myself and give a little. I do not have an “all or nothing” mindset, and I have warned the Lighter Later supporters from the outset that if they take an “all or nothing” approach, they are likely to end up getting nothing. The olive branch is still extended.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I wonder whether my hon. Friend has considered fully the problem of the European Union’s not allowing us to proceed with the amendment under its directive. Does he feel that a “notwithstanding” clause might have been helpful to overrule the European Communities Act 1972?

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I think that European directives and rules are often perceived as guidelines by the continental and the Celtic mind, and—if I may be so bold—as commandments by the Anglo-Saxon mind. If we really intend to investigate the safety issues, a European directive should not be seen as a commandment that can override all such considerations.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I wonder further whether my hon. Friend thinks that if we did have a big fight with Brussels over this, it would increase the happiness of the nation.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

That is a very interesting question. Debate, discussion and arguments can of course be invigorating, and can cause serotonin and other useful hormones to flow through the body. The hon. Gentleman may be on to something. I am sure that a considerable constituency in the country would be greatly cheered by a fight with Europe—myself included, certainly when it comes to fishing issues.

Let me return to the amendment, Mr Deputy Speaker. One of my main complaints is that most of the data used by the campaigns are based on simulations and estimates. Dr Elizabeth Garnsey, author of the report on daylight saving that has been used by Lighter Later, has said:

“the data that are being used in the BRE report are simulated data. They are illustrative data—that is, invented data. When you do a simulation of that kind your outputs are going to represent the input assumptions that you made.”

In many senses, those data might not be real. However, I shall try to use only empirical data to prove my point.

The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) was very concerned with the issue of happiness, as, indeed, was the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg). I hope that I have pronounced his constituency correctly, as he pronounces mine so well: I hope that I have used the correct Somerset intonations.

On the issue of depression and sunlight, those leading the change campaign have said that more light in the evening can help to abate seasonal affective disorder and depression, using a 1993 study to prove their case. However, Professor Michael Terman, a PhD who works in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University in America, conducted a study this year that proved the exact opposite, and his findings were supported by Dr Malcolm von Schantz of the University of Surrey. Dr Terman found that darker mornings lead to increased depression, because the body’s natural clock needs morning sunlight in order to operate properly.

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

Many people would welcome the study for a number of reasons, and that organisation would welcome it because it would enable it to get the data. I am just saying that it looks as if the period for getting the data would itself be dangerous.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Is not the obvious answer to the Minister that the Government could carry out a study any day of the week they felt like and do not need an Act of Parliament to do so?

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for a good point, well made.

Although some organisations might want the data to be gathered, the unfortunate side of gathering it is that the rest of us would be living in a laboratory.

Having seen, from looking at the graph in front of me, the line go down less steeply during the experiment than it did afterwards, and the significant change just afterwards, I cannot commit to an entire 15-month period. Being a reasonable man, however, I have looked on the ROSPA website, and the most dangerous month is November, so we should change the clocks, as my amendment seeks, from the end of October to the end of November.

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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Well, if the hon. Gentleman—

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Will you rule on whether the word—if I may utter it myself—“flipping” is parliamentary?

Scotland Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 15th March 2011

(10 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Scotland Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Had I been a Member of Parliament at the time, I would have opposed leasehold reform. I thought that it was an outrageous attack on property rights, and I would have taken the same view had I been a Member of the Scottish Parliament. I think that property rights are of overwhelming importance, and that the new clause is genuinely dangerous in seeking to undermine them.

As I was saying, my three reasons for opposing the new clause are the attack on property rights, the attack on the Crown—that mystical union of Crowns that we have had since 1603—and the loss of revenue for the English. I feel that I must stand up for the people of North East Somerset. They do not benefit from as much spending per capita on the health service, the police or education as those north of the border. I accept that, because I believe in the Union and I think it a price worth paying, but the price must be fair. The revenues that are ultimately the revenues of the state must come centrally, and must be shared out proportionately. When the Scots start asking “Why do we not have Crown Estate revenue for the territory and the sea around Scotland?”, I may respond by asking why people living in London do not say “We will have the revenues from the Crown Estate in London, and we will not allow any subsidy to be given to Scotland.” That, I think, would make the Scots rather upset. A good deal more money comes from places such as Pall Mall, which is owned by the Crown, than from the seashore.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I had not taken the hon. Gentleman to be a fan of Scottish independence. I will clearly have to review that, given his latest utterances.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I said earlier that I was against Scottish independence, because if we had it we would not benefit from such helpful and informative interventions as the one that we have just heard from the hon. Gentleman.

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
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I noted that the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr Reid) said that coastal communities should benefit, but I was told earlier by a Liberal Democrat that they would look to mess about with a pretended technicality. Unfortunately, that is the usual stance of the Liberal Democrats: on the one hand it is not enough, yet on the other hand it is too much, and the upshot is that they want to leave it all with London. They will be judged in Scotland, so at least we will probably all be saved from having to listen to their pious words for years to come. In short, their position is that London is best, helping local communities is not on their agenda, and they will be voting for the status quo. Highlanders will know what to do at the May elections: sweep the Liberal Democrats away at the ballot box. Both the hon. Gentleman and Labour talk about local communities, but do nothing about that.

The hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg), whom I have great respect for and like personally, pronounces Na h-Eileanan an Iar very well. He did so not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but five times. All I can say is he must have had a very good teacher. I should tell him, however, that Crown rights in Scotland long predate George III.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

For the benefit of the Committee, I should say that the hon. Gentleman himself was my teacher.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I accept any accolades coming my way.

I should also point out to the hon. Gentleman that this new clause contains no republican agenda whatever. In fact, ideas of republicanism were not anywhere near the front, let alone the back, of my mind when I was framing it and making my speech. The new clause addresses the difficulties facing local communities; it is not an attack on property rights in Scotland, and the issue addressed here extends further than the Union of the Crowns, as I have said. Those property rights could be abolished by the Scottish Parliament. It has the powers to do that, although it would be what has been described as the nuclear option. These property rights are controlled by the Scottish Parliament, and they could be gone.

Fixed-term Parliaments Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 18th January 2011

(10 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Hansard -

Does the hon. Gentleman imagine that the Government would be on such strong ground in trying to railroad things through without the support of both Houses if they had reformed the upper House before starting to tinker with this place?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The reform of the other place will be a matter of great interest, although it is worth bearing in mind that the 1911 Act specifically states that it is to be in place only until the other place is reformed. When that time comes, this House will no doubt want to bear in mind how that Act can be reformed in response to the reform, depending on what is done to the other House. Some hon. and right hon. Members, and indeed some hon. and right hon. Friends, might be concerned about the powers that this House would lose if the 1911 Act were reformed wholesale.

New clause 3 has another important purpose. Lord Justice Laws, in the Thoburn case, which was well known in the popular press as the metric martyrs case, developed a doctrine of constitutional laws, in which he included devolution to Scotland. He would no doubt also regard an independence Act, too, as a constitutional law, which will be of interest to the hon. Gentleman who represents the Western Isles—I am afraid that I must still pronounce it as such, but I hope to learn. The European Communities Act 1972 is viewed as a constitutional Act, as is the Bill of Rights. Lord Justice Laws argued that those have a special place in the legal hierarchy and cannot be amended by implication. That means that they cannot be impliedly repealed, but only specifically repealed. That was quite a constitutional leap and a novel concept, but one that I think Governments have found useful, because it eases their path when changing other laws.

If we have developed this new view of constitutional laws that are superior laws—a sort of law greater than the ordinary Bills that this House and the other place pass—it seems to me that it would be better if that were decided by Parliament, rather than by the courts at a later date. That is one thing that the new clause would at least indicate. It would say that a Bill is so important and relevant, because it will determine how elections will be carried out, that it cannot be amended except with specific approval. Clearly, it would therefore be difficult for it to be impliedly repealed.

That brings me to the nub of the matter, and of the new clause. Constitutional change is the most important duty of this House, because when we change the cycle of election we change it in a way that means that we could have very different Governments. Just think what might have happened if we had had a general election in 2007. Who might have won if that had been the electoral cycle?

The right to an election is the fundamental right of the British people, with their democratic ability to decide who forms the Government, so can it possibly be right for one Government to come in and say of a Parliament, “It’ll be five years,” the next to come in and say, “Oh, actually, four years would be better,” and the one after that to say “Six,” which would still be covered by the exemption from the Parliament Acts, and to play around with the constitution—with the democratic rights of the British people—in a way that involves no checks on them and no ability to say that that is now the settled will of Parliament and of the British people?

I think that in the House of Lords, as it currently is or in any reform of it, we have absolutely the right body to say, as the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty) suggested, “Hold on. You did not have this in a manifesto. This is an inappropriate way of changing our constitution, without the consent of the British people and without a referendum, which might be a better way of doing it, so we are blocking you until you have had a referendum—until some big constitutional result has been found.” The Lords have done that before.

The House of Lords has been a block on constitutional reform, and that is a good thing. Some hon. Members might think that a peculiar thing to say, but it means that reform is properly thought through and developed. I am not going to go back to the exclusion crisis and Lord Halifax’s wonderful speech to prevent the Exclusion Bill going through, but that was a very early example of the House of Lords taking a strong constitutional stance, protecting the rights of an hereditary monarchy to follow the correct path and—the bonus from my point of view—being very pro-Catholic. Certainly, however, before 1832 the House of Lords blocked every reform, and it did so until it was clear that the whole of the British people wanted such reform to take place. Indeed, the Duke of Wellington realised that for the King’s Government to carry on, reform had to take place. After he put metal shutters in Apsley house because of the riots that had occurred, he knew that reform had to take place.

In 1911 even Lord Curzon eventually decided that the reform Bill had to go through, rather than having the House of Lords flooded with a whole new batch of peers who would have pushed it through—[Interruption.] They were Liberal peers. Most of them, however, become Conservative over the generations; it is the great advantage of the hereditary system. The Bill was deeply opposed. Lord Willoughby de Broke was one of the great leaders of the opposition to that reform, and the House of Lords has had that job and done it extraordinarily well, making sure that our constitution changes not as it has done in recent years—which is a grave error—according to the will of a small clique in Downing street, but because within it there has been some important flaw that, with the support of the whole British nation, has needed improving.

I do not think that my new clause will make this Bill perfect, because one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it would at least make this sow’s ear one that could not be chopped up into sausages.

Daylight Saving Bill

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Friday 3rd December 2010

(10 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

The hon. Gentleman has neatly completed a picture of which we had probably been given only half. The other half is very interesting.

I agree with the hon. Member for Castle Point about the need for an analysis. I have given facts relating to Paris, Berlin and London. However, I do not want any analysis that would involve changing our clocks and making us undergo three years of misery before the clocks were inevitably changed back again. It seems that once the memory of 40 years ago has dimmed, a new generation must learn painfully and slowly over three miserable winters that this is the wrong thing to do.

I am trying to proceed with my speech reasonably quickly, Mr Deputy Speaker.

According to a 2005 survey by Ipsos MORI, Scots are in favour of lighter evenings. That is true: we are in favour of lighter evenings. However, only 19% of Scots who were polled want the clocks to move back permanently. Of course, some people might be in favour of Christmas every week, but they realise that that cannot happen. Similarly, we might want lighter evenings, but we know that the earth tilts. We know that we will have cold and frost.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I have been enjoying the hon. Gentleman’s speech enormously. I think that he has identified the nub of the problem, which is simply that there is not enough daylight in the winter, and there is remarkably little that Government—or even a sovereign Parliament—can do about it.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Mr MacNeil
- Hansard -

I welcome that sensible point from a new Member whom I admire enormously. I want to put on record the fact that I have really enjoyed his contributions. I think that I detected some agitation among Labour Members when I paid the hon. Gentleman that compliment! As I was saying, people might be in favour of x, y or z, but they know exactly how things pan out in reality.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland has discussed the issue. Incidentally, when Donald Stewart spoke about the issue, he said that he presumed “NFU” to refer to the National Farmers Union of England and Wales—which, for some reason, does not brand itself properly—rather than the National Farmers Union of Scotland. Anyway, if we are to believe newspaper reports, it seems that every farmer in Scotland is in favour of change. One newspaper stated:

“Scott Walker, NFU Scotland policy director, said today that the organisation had softened its stance towards the move, which would see clocks shunted forward by an hour throughout the year while retaining the changing of clocks forward in March and back in October.

‘If people can put a good argument forward to us as to why there should be change, we’re not going to be the ones who stand in the way of that change, if it’s for everyone else’s benefit’”.

That is not a resounding “yes” to change; it is only a “yes” to listening. I, too, am willing to listen, but I ask those on the other side not to indulge in a kamikaze leap—

Business of the House

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 10th December 2020

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, I would like to pay tribute this morning to a valued member of staff of the House, my former Clerk of the International Trade Committee, Lydia Menzies, who sadly passed away last week at the age of just 38. Lydia was a fantastic Clerk—knowledgeable, helpful to Committee members, and a friend and mentor to her colleagues as well. Lydia’s wonderful sense of humour and wit made working with her enjoyable for everyone. In fact, the tie I am wearing this morning was a present from Lydia, of her own tartan, when she left the Committee. Such was her nature: she gave presents at moments like that. It was indeed a privilege to work with Lydia, and I understand that the Leader of the House worked with her, too. Doubtless he will join this morning in paying tribute to Lydia. My thoughts and those of the tremendous ITC staff and colleagues from across this House are with her husband, Greg, her 18-month-old daughter, Orla, and her wider family.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for paying tribute to Lydia Menzies, who was a very valued member of the House staff and a distinguished Clerk. She served on several Committees, including his, and was in the Table Office for a period, and many Members will have come across her there. I have always found that the Table Office provides a wonderful service in helping Members to avoid mistakes and to enable them to craft their questions in a way that will be orderly, and she was very helpful to me when I was visiting the Table Office. She was seconded for a period to the Department for International Trade, so also had some experience of Government, and she was also a great teacher and source of inspiration to colleagues. Her early death is a great loss to the House service, and I pass on my condolences to her husband, Greg, and to her daughter, Orla.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Participation in Debates

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Monday 16th November 2020

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Madam Deputy Speaker—I got it right this time and actually noticed that there had been a change of Chair—I am grateful to the hon. Lady for the point that she raises. It is important to have a degree of certainty, so I reiterate that it is proposed that the measures would be in place until 30 March. I think that is the right approach to take. I do not want to pre-empt the decision that will be made in March, because—who knows?—we could be in a very different position by then, but I assume that if other virtual participation continues at that point, if we are still in the midst of the pandemic, it would be reasonable to continue with such proposals as are likely to be brought forward in the near future.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP) [V]
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 Nov 2020, 2:30 p.m.

With UK productivity at a staggering 22% lower than that of France, Parliament is hardly helping when I can vote faster, when enabled, in a byre on a croft in the Outer Hebrides than I have ever managed to at the Palace of Westminster. Recently, while chairing the Select Committee on International Trade in 21st century fashion, I had to suspend so that Members could go back to 18th century fashion and vote in a Division in the House of Commons. Those who were interested in the Japan trade deal watched the Secretary of State for International Trade having to leave for the indignity of such time wasting. Surely, productivity and the involvement in the democratic process could now be improved by having a sensible system again during the pandemic. We did it before; can we not do it again? The main job of parliamentarians is to vote and to speak. Are those things not curtailed by the Leader of the House?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 Nov 2020, 4:30 p.m.

It is nice to see the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar back and smiling at us. We missed him greatly in the debate last week on parliamentary boundaries. As he was not there, I do not know if he noticed that I proposed that his seat should be made permanently in his honour, as such a fine representative of his good constituents. However, as regards to whether we are in the 18th century or the 21st century, it is important that Members of Parliament have the opportunity to meet Ministers, speak to Ministers, lobby Ministers, speak to each other, lobby each other and raise their complaints. I think we need to be physically present to do that. The hon. Gentleman makes an enormous contribution, normally on a daily basis, to this House, when he sits in his usual place and lobs in little grenades of wit and wisdom that keep Ministers on their toes and Opposition spokesmen paying attention, so the sooner he is back here the better. [Interruption.] I am being heckled by his own Front Benchers. I am not sure they are as keen to have his wit and wisdom as I am.

Business of the House

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 9th July 2020

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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9 Jul 2020, 12:12 p.m.

Indeed. What is being done is ensuring that things open up in a progressed way so that the lowest risk activities open first and the higher risk ones open later to ensure that it is safe to do so. The programme being followed is being followed very safely and seems to be working. I said earlier that some further openings will happen in mid-July and that is now not very far off, so there is good news coming. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right to be championing those businesses. They want to get back to business. The Government want them to be able to get back to business, but it has to be safe.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - -

9 Jul 2020, 12:13 p.m.

Feasgar math, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is good to see you. UK productivity is at the best of times 15.1% lower than the G7 average. When methods of improving productivity are found, it is always foolish to go backwards. Parliament should surely set an example to businesses and workers, so instead of me taking two flights to London to a Chamber which, as we can see behind the Leader of the House, has pandemic restrictions, we should continue with a safer, inclusive and more productive hybrid Parliament where votes can happen on an island Hebridean croft with exemplar efficiency compared with the overseas Westminster conga lines.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

9 Jul 2020, 12:14 p.m.

The hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar makes his own argument for bringing Parliament back. May I say how much we miss him? Normally, we have some entertainment and forthright debate. We have the people of Na h-Eileanan an Iar beautifully and brilliantly represented. Whether the subject has anything to do with the hon. Gentleman or not, there is always a cat call or a few words of wisdom coming forth. Now, what do we have? We have some silent mutterings. He is on mute and we miss his dulcet tones. We want him back. He is the great argument for Parliament coming back physically.

Business of the House

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 24th October 2019

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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24 Oct 2019, 6 p.m.

No. I must confess that the logic of that point defeats me, and it seems that it defeats most Members of this House. This will be the third time that the Government have offered a general election, so we are clearly willing to have one. We are willing to take our case to the British people. Why? Because we are confident that our case is strong, just and right. The reason why the Opposition are so afraid of an election is because their case is weak, wobbly and futile.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Is it not a fact that, halfway through a parliamentary term, Parliament has got a dangerous Prime Minister in a cage and that Parliament would be wise to keep that dangerous Prime Minister in a cage at least until we remove some of his teeth, if not all of them?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

24 Oct 2019, 6:01 p.m.

I am afraid that that reminds me of the joke about the time that one should go and visit the dentist, which is, of course, at two thirty. But the hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] Somebody laughed. Thank you so much. These sort of jokes amuse my children. We cannot possibly want to remove the teeth of Prime Ministers unless they are rotten, but the Prime Minister has a fine set of gnashers with which to bite through these difficult problems.

Business of the House (Saturday 19 October)

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 17th October 2019

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees- Mogg)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

17 Oct 2019, 11:09 a.m.

I beg to move,

That this House shall sit at 9.30am on Saturday 19 October and at that sitting:

(1) the first business shall be any statements to be made by Ministers; and

(2) the provisions of Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings), with the exception of paragraph (4), shall apply as if that day were a Friday.

The good news is that I do not intend to detain the House for long. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil) seems delighted that I will be brief.

As Members will be aware, 19 October is a day of jubilee and song, because it is the anniversary of the birth of my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), who, on a very rare occasion, is not in his place. Other than wishing him a happy birthday, we have to deal with the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, in which Parliament has given the day additional meaning. It has set down a series of requirements that, if we are to leave the EU on 31 October, need to be fulfilled by this House and can only be fulfilled on Saturday, because the European Council will not have finished until the day before. I am sure that many Members can think of other things to be doing on a Saturday rather than coming here, but I admire their diligence in accepting that the basic principle is right. As I have said before, to meet three times in 70 years on a Saturday is not unduly onerous.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

17 Oct 2019, 12:45 p.m.

I’m only 49!

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17 Oct 2019, 11:09 a.m.

I meant the whole House.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Lady raises an interesting question. There are any number of impact assessments that people have made, but let me give her my assessment of what will happen when we leave the European Union: it will be a golden age for the United Kingdom when we are free of the heavy yoke of the European Union, which has bowed us down for generations and made us less competitive, less efficient and higher-cost. All of that will be gone, and we will be singing hallelujahs.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
- Hansard - -

17 Oct 2019, 11:09 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman boasts that the backstop has gone. Of course, there is no need for the backstop now, given that the UK Government have capitulated on the customs union and the single market. Will they do the same for Scotland and keep us in the customs union and the single market? If it is good enough for Northern Ireland, it is good enough for Scotland.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17 Oct 2019, 11:09 a.m.

I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman, who I thought was a feisty highlander, calls for capitulation. [Interruption.] All right, the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) is even higher. Her Majesty’s Government have not capitulated, in the same way as the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar would be the last person to capitulate. The Government have, in fact, succeeded. We will be out of the customs union and out of the single market, and Northern Ireland will be in a single customs union area with the United Kingdom as a whole. This is fantastically exciting and a very important development.

Business Statement

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 15th October 2019

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

15 Oct 2019, 2:18 p.m.

I am not entirely sure about the counting ability of Liberal Democrats, but it is always a right of members of the public to lobby MPs when the House is sitting. It is one we should be very proud of.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The UK Parliament has an international reputation for hardly being able to run a bath as run a Brexit. Today is Tuesday and the UK Parliament cannot tell us if we are sitting on Saturday. This will be Brexit Saturday if we sit. Brexit Saturday will be in the company of world war two Saturday, Suez Saturday and Falklands Saturday. This calamity that the Leader of the House wants to visit on the country is not in the best of company. What will happen between now and Thursday that might be able to clear his mind up as to whether we are sitting on Saturday? Decide, man! Decide!

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

15 Oct 2019, 2:19 p.m.

I always thought one was in the habit of drawing a bath, rather than running a bath, and I am sure that the House would be most capable of drawing a bath. To come to the hon. Gentleman’s main point, we are waiting upon events. There is a European Council taking place on Thursday and Friday upon which the events on Saturday will depend. It seems to be relatively—

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

15 Oct 2019, 2:19 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman heckles, elegantly and loudly as always, saying that today is Tuesday— I know today is Tuesday, and it will be followed by Wednesday and a European Council on Thursday and Friday. Things will be decided at that Council that will allow us to decide whether we need to meet on Saturday.

Business of the House

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 26th September 2019

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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26 Sep 2019, 2:41 p.m.

The principle that constituencies should have the same number of electors is a very good and important one.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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26 Sep 2019, 2:41 p.m.

I make an exception for the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, which, for geographical reasons, has slightly fewer constituents, but they are some of the finest people in this country. I would not quite say they count double, but they are heading in that direction. When this matter was being debated some years, I thought we should create a rotten borough for him, because he brings so much levity and pleasure to the House through his interjections.

--- Later in debate ---
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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26 Sep 2019, 2:42 p.m.

I am very sympathetic to what my hon. Friend says. The statutory instrument is prepared but is being considered and will be introduced if there is a suitable opportunity.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
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26 Sep 2019, 2:42 p.m.

God bless you, Mr Speaker.

I add my voice to that of the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening) and make a plea for the Refugees (Family Reunion) (No. 2) Bill, which is among those private Members’ Bills that should see some progress.

May I add, Mr Speaker, that the Chamber today has been a model of civility all afternoon compared with last night? Parliament is back to what it was. May I suggest that to get rid of the toxicity and disorder last night that Acts of Parliament be referred to by their proper names as assented to by the Queen, so that we do not get these tabloid monikers and pejorative titles? The Leader of the House is one of the sticklers and I am sure would like this to happen. Perhaps the Speaker might rule it disorderly. It was the references to an Act that stoked the fires of toxicity and disorder last night.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Stickler though I am—[Interruption.] Pardon? [Interruption.]

European Union (Withdrawal)

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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3 Sep 2019, 7:32 p.m.

I am sorry to say that the most obvious understanding of the ordinary use of the English language, which normally the hon. and learned Lady is pretty good at, makes it quite clear that the two statements are entirely compatible. The Prorogation is the normal Prorogation to have a new Session; it is not to stop debate on matters related to the European Union.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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3 Sep 2019, 7:33 p.m.

It is, of course, a pleasure to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
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3 Sep 2019, 7:34 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He spoke earlier about candour. The need for candour means that he has to accept that, when it comes to WTO, all countries bar about three in the world are in regional trade associations—the three that are not are South Sudan, Somalia and East Timor, and they will probably soon be joined by the UK if we have a hard Brexit. The fact that all these countries, bar three, are in regional trade associations means that they do not exclusively trade on WTO terms. Therefore, when he talks about taking the UK to a place where we exclusively trade on WTO terms, he is talking about moving us away from free trade with 500 million people, making trade more expensive. That is his policy. The other question is this: did he know about the Prorogation on 16 August?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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3 Sep 2019, 7:34 p.m.

On 16 August, I was at Lords watching a game of cricket, unless it was one of the days when it rained. On the WTO issue, our trade with the United States on WTO terms—I know that the hon. Gentleman is expert in these matters—has grown faster since the creation of the single market than our trade with European Union.

Military Action Overseas: Parliamentary Approval

Debate between Angus Brendan MacNeil and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 17th April 2018

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
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17 Apr 2018, 2:29 p.m.

Parliament has done its correct duty—admittedly assisted by you, Mr Speaker—in ensuring that there were six hours of debate yesterday and a further three hours of debate today, but these constitutional issues are not new. Indeed, this matter is at the heart of the Glorious Revolution, and one of the clauses of the Bill of Rights, which is still our law, states that

“the raising or keeping a standing Army within the Kingdome in time of Peace unlesse it be with Consent of Parlyament is against Law.”

That is why every five years an Armed Forces Bill is passed—to ensure that the armed forces that are available to the Executive are approved by Parliament.

This last happened in 2016 when the Armed Forces Act was renewed. On that occasion, the Bill passed Second Reading without a Division, and it passed Third Reading without a Division. There was uniform consent in this House that the armed services should exist on a similar basis to that on which they have existed since 1689. The Leader of the Opposition did not choose to put down an amendment to put any limits on how the armed services could operate. He did not choose to put down an amendment to say that the Government could not act without the specific consent of Parliament. At every stage, the Bill was passed, and it recognised the proper constitutional settlement and the separation of powers. An Executive and a legislature are different things and have different responsibilities.

As hon. Members know, I have the highest respect for the leader of the Scottish National party in this House—the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford)—but I think that he made an error in his speech when he suggested that this House ought to give pre-approval, because the job of the House is to hold the Executive to account, not to try to run the Executive by remote control.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
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17 Apr 2018, 12:24 p.m.

If it is the Executive’s idea to go to war or engage in military action, should not this House hold the Executive to account for their thoughts, ideas and policies?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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17 Apr 2018, 2:30 p.m.

The Executive are being held to account today. The Prime Minister spent six hours yesterday being held to account in this House and a further hour today.