Sunday, 25 October 2009

Another Strasbourg Week

I have been told by some of the older MEPs that we new kids on the block have it lucky. "Just wait until the new Commission arrives, then you'll really see a Strasbourg voting list". They say.

Given that this week I have been asked to vote on everything from the death penalty in Iran - to coercive abortion - to dairy subsidies - to increased funding for EU embassies - to how many vehicles should be in the parliament car pool... I almost can't believe that it could get more varied.

The big vote of the week was to be the EU budget. I understand that every year the same charade is played out. The Commission proposes a budget, our national governments through the Council of Ministers reduce it and then the various committees of the European Parliament put it back up again. Many of the increases seem for very worthwhile causes, but at a time of economic crisis when our own workers are facing very constrained times I just could not bring myself to back the EU's bulging budget. Sadly the majority of MEPs didn't think the same way. We now go through another round of haggling before coming back to a second vote.

Just in case you want to know where my thoughts lay this week: I don't support a death penalty; I don't think women should be forced to have abortions against their will; I am very concerned about our dairy farmers (but we need to find a long term solution); I think it is shocking that the UK is reducing its embassies around the world while the EU is opening up its own (without giving the British people their vote on the Lisbon treaty); I don't think we need any more cars in the pool (the majority of MEPs agreed); I also voted to reduce MEP travel allowances by 25% (the majority disagreed).

This week constituents have been writing to me regarding shocking disclosures of how horses are treated on their way to slaughter (I agree that something must be done) and whether MEPs should have passes to the House of Commons (ideally yes, because we need to co-ordinate closely with our colleagues in the House of Commons and therefore have a great deal of business in the Palace of Westminster) but I pray that the BNP never get a vote in that parliament).

This week we have seen the UK entering its longest period of recession ever and across Europe unemployment is still rising. In the meantime the parliament is still arguing a lot about what caused the recession in the first place and spending tax payers' money like never before.

Sometimes its easy to understand why voters are disillusioned.

No comments: