In the first of today’s letters Mike Hookem MEP addresses the extraordinary questionnaire from the HoC Select Committee on The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs sent to all who signed his Petition on the post-Brexit CFP:

Sir,

pressure from UKIP members and myself has forced the Government to finally engage with fishing communities and the public over their plans to keep the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) using Theresa May’s so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’.

My petition, which called for the UK fishing industry to be made a stand-alone entity in the post-Brexit era, reached 36,000 signatories this week.

However, in an unusual move, the Government sent out a questionnaire to signatories asking for their views on how the UK fishing industry should look in the post-Brexit age.

This questionnaire came the day after I criticised the Government’s contradictory response to my petition, which stated that we would ‘regain our rights to manage our fisheries’, but would maintain the status quo by adopting EU fisheries legislation.

Having signed many Parliamentary petitions over the years, I know it is highly unusual for the Government to send out a questionnaire to respondents after they have already replied.

The fact that the Government have done this signals to me that they are starting to understand the depth of negative feeling out there regarding a second betrayal of our fishing industry.

With Brexit, we have a golden opportunity to not only reclaim an industry that has formed a part of our heritage for over 2000 years, but which will also be worth over £6 billion pounds a year to our economy.

So, I would encourage anyone who has signed my petition to hammer home these point to Government:  We want the establishment of our 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ); the return of the 70% of fish currently taken from our waters by EU vessels; and the establishment of a sufficient fisheries protection force.

Implementing these measures will give a huge boost to struggling coastal communities that have been devastated by over 40 years of the CFP.

The simple fact is, the people of Britain did not vote during the referendum to keep the EU through other means, and especially did not vote to continue handing over the majority of our fishing wealth to Brussels.

The fishing industry does not want ‘continuity’, they want change!

Respectfully, Mike Hookem MEP

Please do take the time and answer that questionnaire – this is our opportunity to influence the government’s decision, and it’s a near unprecedented opportunity. Don’t let it go to waste!

The next letter is from our contributor Julian Flood. He reports another fine example of burying ‘news’ the government wishes we didn’t pay attention to. To me it’s also another example that Whitehall still seems to cleave to the pattern introduced by that former Chancellor and PM Gordon Brown with his ‘PFI’, according to which we, the taxpayer, are made to pay through the nose for decades for the use of hospitals:

Sir,

It can be no coincidence that Budget Day saw the release of a report by the Public Accounts Committee on the contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. By the terms of that contract the British consumer will be paying over the odds for electricity for the next 35 years.

HMG proudly boasts about in a press release on 29 Sept 2016:

“During a signing ceremony in London, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, the Chairman and CEO of EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy and the Chairman of CGN, He Yu signed the final documentation to enable Hinkley Point C to go-ahead. “

This sets the price of electricity from the plant at £92.50 at 2012 prices: already inflation has boosted that to over £100 per megawatt hour. For 35 years the British consumer will be paying between two and three times the international going rate for electricity, the money being siphoned off from the British economy for the benefit of the French and Chinese governments.

Those who use disproportionate amounts of power, the old, the poor and the sick, will, in effect be paying a major part of their income as tax to a foreign power. As wholesale electricity becomes cheaper in a world awash with cheap, easily accessible and secure supplies of natural gas – a low carbon fuel – we will be locked into a contract of breathtaking stupidity. Voters are up in arms about the proposed “divorce bill” for Brexit – peanuts compared to this energy rip-off.

How did we get here? We can’t blame the engineers: for years our energy future has been in the hands of those who are ignorant of the realities of science and engineering, has been run by those who would rather be seen as virtuous on the world stage than safeguard our people. While Germany builds coal fired power stations, while China and India use their reliance on cheap coal to tear the heart out of our energy-intensive industries, these men and women have signalled their climate-change credentials, confident that for themselves and their comfortably-off supporters the costs will be affordable. Let’s put their names forward, let’s make sure those who oversaw this disaster are not forgotten:

  • Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 2012 – 2015, The Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP attended Jesus College, Oxford where he was awarded a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1988.
  • Minister of State for Energy The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP obtained a degree in Philosophy Politics and Economics having studied at Exeter College Oxford.
  • The Rt Hon Greg Clark, appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 14 July 2016, studied economics at Cambridge before earning his PhD from the London School of Economics.

There is a solution and a precedent. When Chancellor Gordon Brown decided that North Sea oil companies were exploiting the market he imposed a windfall tax. The UK should let it be known that they will not allow the British consumer to be exploited by those who have taken advantage of the stupidity, gullibility and short-sightedness of Cameron and May’s energy planners. Tax the new nuclear power stations, tax the windfarms, tax the solar arrays and use the takings to bring relief to those who are being impoverished by the incompetence of government ministers.

Otherwise, to paraphrase the words of Neil Kinnock, I warn you not to be poor, I warn you not to be old and I warn you not to be sick.

Respectfully, Julian Flood

Finally, our correspondent Roger Arthur asks a question to which we’d all like to get an answer from government:

Sir,

DT Business recently reported that EU annual income will be reduced by 16% as a result of Brexit. Since the EU operating budget is €145bn  pa, or around £132bn pa, that equates to £21bn pa.Now the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) said that our annual gross membership payment is around £19.5bn pa, but that we get around £8.5 pa back, ie £11bn net.

So if the EU has been receiving £11bn pa from us, why will they need £21bn pa extra from other members, after we leave? Where has the other £10bn pa been going?

Respectfully, Roger J. Arthur

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