Day 70 in the House of Commons and still no debate. However now the MPs have noticed!

 On the 4th of September the European Scrutiny Committee formally recommended that the draft TPD be debated in full by European Committee C.  Last week we raised the question of why this debate has not taken place yet.  Well it is now 70 days since the initial recommendation and still no debate! However, it does seem that we are being listened too.  Today we received the following statement from the European Scrutiny Committee Chairman:

 “In our Report of 4 September, we recommended a debate on the Directive in European Committee.  We asked that, prior to the debate, the Minister write to the Committee with the key changes sought by the European Parliament and the Government’s views on them. Today’s Report scrutinises the Minister’s response, notes that trilogue negotiations may be concluded by the end of the year and presses the Government to hold the debate as soon as possible.

 We hear that a number of MPs will also be asking questions in Parliament about this lack of formal debate.  As soon as we hear more we will let you all know.

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One thought on “Day 70 in the House of Commons and still no debate. However now the MPs have noticed!

  1. I’ve also been following this situation closely and I wrote the following letter to the Chairman on the 24th Oct:

    “On October 8th the EU parliament voted on the TPD and in particular amendments that were contrary to the Government’s original stated position. The Government’s as I write has already started triologue discussions in relation to the EU TPD following the EU plenary vote, however the EU scrutiny committee is still no wiser to the Government’s position on the matters that the Committee requested from the minister. It would appear unusual that the Government is entering triologue negotiations and discussions prior to the EU Scrutiny debate that has been recommended and on matters that the EU Scrutiny committee have still not been made aware of via the summary that the Minister has been asked to provide..

    EU Scrutiny has already been bypassed once when Mrs Soubry reached agreement in the Council and is it not the case that the Government may be repeating this breach of protocol by entering into further negotiations and discussions before the requested EU Scrutiny Committee summary document and debate has in fact taken place so that adequate scrutiny may in fact be accomplished?

    I would apprecaite your comments on this matter, in light of the speed that the Government and the EU appear to be pushing forward with this legislation. My deep concerns arise from the fact that the Government’s position regarding the appropriate regulation of the e-cigarette market is not universally accepted as being in the best interests of health, by the fast approaching 2 million users of e-cigarettes myself included.” .

    I got fobbed off with an EU Scrutiny guide and a statement that said that the Government actually selects the date and time for any debate so I duly replied with this letter on the 31st Oct:

    “Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your reply from your Clerk Sarah Davies, it is much appreciated, but it sadly does not truly answer my concerns.

    Having already read your guide to the scrutiny system I do wonder though if perhaps you could enlighten me further with regard to a a couple of simple questions and please excuse my ignorance. Having been in business for over 30 years I do understand that my concerns may not have been adequately explained.

    To a lay person “scrutiny” implies that the Government’s actions are scrutinised before any actions are taken that will have a bearing on UK legislation that affects UK citizens. This is especially important with regard to EU legislation as so much EU legislation actually bypasses the House and our elected Members of Parliament.

    Based on the existing documentation that the scrutiny committee has seen with regard to the EU TPD it has recommended a course of action which is stated in the committee’s report in September. In essence the Government had agreed proposals at EU level that haven’t been given the all clear by the EU scrutiny committee and they have concerns and strongly feel that a debate should take place.

    You state that it is the Government that will set the date and time for this debate. Considering that UK MEPs that I have spoken to are telling me that there is genuine desire to ensure that this legislation is passed before the Greek Presidency of the EU Council starts in Jan 2014 and that EU Ministers have already started EU Council deliberations, what safeguards are in place to ensure that any Government does not override scrutiny yet again by allowing EU Trilogue negotiations to be completed before any debate that they themselves select the date and time of?

    It appears that the EU scrutiny committee are in fact waiting for the Government to take the next step, which it can choose to simply ignore (after all Mrs. Soubry excuse at her hearing was that “time was of the essence”) and there is no UK democratic process to ensure that this doesn’t happen, so EU legislation can, if a Government chooses, be agreed at EU level without any prior EU scrutiny approval.

    Is the above description a true reflection of what is possible, should the Government decide that EU scrutiny is deemed to be avoided or at least delayed until they have completed their EU negotiations, by which time it can be argued the “horse has already bolted”?

    I look forward to hearing your reply.

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