There was nothing gentle about returning to Parliament this week: straight back into the various Select Committees that I serve upon. The Exiting the EU Select Committee took seven hours to reach agreement on our first official report. Apparently the record across the history of Parliament is fourteen hours, so we did quite well. With the most mixed membership of any committee – two SNP members, one Plaid Cymru, a nationalist and a unionist amongst the Northern Ireland members, five Labour members and ten Conservatives with different views within our own group on the process of exiting the EU, it was never going to be easy to reach consensus.
In my view, perhaps simplistically, there need be nothing complicated about leaving the EU. We ideally want reciprocal free-trade but have nothing to fear from ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status under WTO rules, we’d like co-operation on security but cannot submit in the future to the control by the European Court of Justice and must have our own rules to control trade and our own borders. All asks are mutually beneficial to both parties and simply a normal state of affairs that most countries enjoy.
Next stop in a whirlwind week was Birmingham University, where I studied, in the late 1980’s, Zoology and Comparative Physiology of all things, for a Work and Pensions Select Committee evidence taking session on Universal Basic Income. This is a concept that has been around for many years, and now being trialled in various parts of the world. In summary it proposes that all citizens, no matter if they are employed or unemployed receive the same amount from the state, reducing the complexity of other benefits, form-filling, means-testing and all that goes with it. An interesting concept, however we were not fully persuaded with the obvious encouragement to lifelong economic inactivity and penal levels of tax rates that would need to underpin such a system too serious as impediments to make it work.
There are numerous local issues that residents should be aware of - Vattenfall are proposing an extension to their windfarm which would see new, larger turbines closer to shore and could cause impediment to inshore shipping lanes. Thanet District Council will be launching their consultation period on the Local Plan from this week. This plan will be with us until 2031 and will cover land use, development policy and housing strategies. Rarely popular when presented by any council, Thanet’s proposes the final death knell of Manston and more of the same for the Port of Ramsgate. You can feed in your own thoughts via my website www.craigmackinlay.com. All contributions will be sent to TDC.