Monday, 1 July 2013

MPs fear gap between rhetoric & action..

Good morning. The pledge to guarantee a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU might not be all that it seems. An official Commons analysis says Parliamentary votes after the next election will be required to enshrine a future referendum in law. 
The Commons has effectively highlighted what many Tory MPs fear, namely the gap between Cameron's rhetoric and his actions. He has paraded the referendum bill as as a clincher that guarantees a vote, but it's clearly just a declaration of intent. The Government will argue that, if returned, Mr Cameron will be unable to ignore it and so the bill carries weight. But what it doesn't do is ensure that there will be a vote come what may. Whoever is in power after the election will have to bring forward legislation to make the referendum happen. Which is far less certain. 
Still, Mr Cameron is not missing the chance to gain political points from it all. His words in the Mail - "I would say to all MPs, turn up and vote" - are quite clearly aimed at Labour and the Lib Dems and their plans to stay away from the Commons on Friday, the day of the EU referendum bill vote. The same is true of his urge to MPs to "get off the fence" - a clear reference to the Lib Dems, who backed an in-out referendum at the last election. To Labour donor John Mills, writing in The Guardian, the bill is nothing more than a "blue referendum" and Mr Cameron has done nothing to build up cross-party support.
There are also developments on tax breaks for married couples. Tim Loughton seems to be ready to withdraw his amendment today after Dave's pledge but the key point seems to me that there remains a considerable gap between words and deeds. As Commons authorities argue about the EU bill, one Parliament can't bind another. MPs will want to take a hard look at Dave's paving legislation to work out whether it amounts to a hill of beans.
Mark Carney warmed up for his first day as Governor of the Bank of England in a quintessentially English manner - by watching his predecessor play a cricket match. But unfortunately, Mr Carney has rather more to get to grips with than the lbw law. On Thursday, the MPC will announce its interest rate decision for the month and then, as Chris Giles writes in the FT (£), "focus will turn to two big issues likely to dominate his first 100 days in office: the appointment of a new deputy-governor and moves to revolutionise the setting of monetary policy in Britain." Wider questions include whether to pursue the strategy of quantitative easing. But it's worth remembering the limits of Mr Carney's power: Sir Mervyn King was often outvoted in the MPC. 
Expectations are such that The Times (£) suggests a priority of Mr Carney's should be "to try to reduce the absurdly high expectations that surround him." He must also avoid the temptation  to attempt to do too much too soon. This would be unwise. As Norman Lamont writes, "His role is not to find a monetary silver bullet, but to deliver some hard messages that a debt work-out is exactly that – tough, unremitting, but the only way to get the economy back into better shape."
The intervention of former Labour minister Kim Howells yesterday was a reminder of Ed Miliband's problems: "If he can’t lead his own party, how could he ever lead the country?", as Grant Shapps put it. The ongoing mess over the selection of Labour's candidate for the Falkirk by-election, and the claims that Unite have recruited and paid for new members to secure the nomination of its favoured candidate, show the unions often exert an unhealthy influence over the party. The Guardian argues that, "As a matter of democratic principle it is extremely questionable whether unions (or anyone else) should be allowed to pay for people to join the Labour party at all." 
To Boris Johnson, writing for us, Mr Miliband "has reduced Labour to its old role as a party of protest, complaint, and public-sector special interest groups" and is more Neil Kinnock than Tony Blair. Against this backdrop, it's little wonder there is rising confidence in the Tory camp: MPs in marginal seats who expected defeat a year ago are now quietly optimistic about what 2015 might hold.
Mr Cameron's pursuit of victory in the "global race" has taken him to Kazakhstan, where he hopes to agree a series of business deals worth up to £85bn over the next decade, as The Guardian reports. Accompanied by a 33-strong business delegation, Mr Cameron opened a new oil plant and admitted that he would only raise human rights with the president as a subsidiary issue. 
Lib Dems are still eyeing up a cheaper alternative to the Trident nuclear deterrent. Danny Alexander yesterday said that a Government review had identified cheaper "alternatives" to the £20 billion cost of replacing Trident, reports the Mail. The review, due out in August, is expected to argue that there is no serious alternative to Trident if Britain wants to maintain a continuous deterrent.
MPs are likely to be recommended a pay rise of at least £10,000 after the next election by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. The government has no say over the recommendations - a legacy of the expenses scandal - but is scrambling to find ways to block them. As we note, it seems that MPs can't do anything right: we could even have the bizarre prospect of MPs reclaiming remuneration powers from IPSA in order to vote down a pay rise for themselves, although a solid majority of MPs do support rises. 
Stewart Jackson welcomes the news on marriage tax breaks:
@SJacksonMP: Pleased to hear that campaign for marriage tax breaks for which I've argued for 2 years & was in our 2010 manifesto looks close to fruition
In the Telegraph
Best of the rest
Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£) - By the time HS2 arrives, we’ll no longer need it
Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun - Press must withdraw from panto stitch-up
John Mills in The Guardian - EU vote is a blue referendum

1200 London: Government host a payday lending summit. 1 Victoria Street.