By Jonathan Isaby
The Comprehensive Spending Review has naturally dominated the news agenda and the ConHome threads today, so I only got the chance earlier to post a quick link to a blog post by Daniel Hannan MEP about the latest outrageous activities of the European Parliament. He reported that MEPs had spent the morning pushing through what he reckoned was an increase in EU spending that will cost Britain £880 million.
I have now noticed the blog post by his colleague, Vicky Ford MEP, who enlarges upon the details of what has been going on during a Strasbourg sitting of the 736 MEPs:
Today in Strasbourg, I (and my Conservative colleagues) voted for a freeze in the EU budget because it is unacceptable for EU institutions to keep spending more taxpayers´ money when national governments are having to rein back spending at home. We voted to reduce the expenses of MEPs and to reduce the costs of Parliament. We also voted against increasing maternity pay to 20 weeks because I believe that this sort of decision should be taken by national governments not international parliaments (especially given the dire economic times).
Sadly colleagues from other countries and other groups did not agree. The Parliament voted to increase the EU budget by 5.9% (£843 million gross contribution for the UK). The vote on maternity leave was lost by just 7 votes (327 to 320)- this is predicted to add costs of £2.5 billion a year to UK businesses and government.
These are not yet final decisions as national governments will now get their say. Let's hope some sense prevails.
Amen to that.
I hope to establish tomorrow whether Labour and Lib Dem MEPs joined the Conservatives in doing the right thing…