28 November 2012

What the PM Did Not Tell MPs

We already know that the PM can make free with the facts.

This is what David Cameron told the House of Commons following the summit last week:

For example, when it came to the bureaucratic costs of the European commission not a single euro in administrative savings was offered.
Not one Euro.
This is what the European commission actually proposes for EU staff:
  • a 5% cut in staff numbers;
  • an increase working hours (37.5 to 40 per week) without increasing salary;
  • a 6% "solidarity levy" on top of taxes paid by EU officials;
  • raising the retirement age to reduce pension costs;
  • limiting options for early retirement;
  • a reduction to the value of allowances related to staff returning home.
Would you think that these cuts - already negotiated with the unions - were in the commission's financial proposals if all you had to go on was the PM's statement? In fact they are and Mr Cameron's complaint is that he wants more cuts to staff numbers, benefits and pensions and a higher levy.

A lawyer's argument might be that he was talking about the final proposal made by the council president and so he meant "not a single euro in administrative savings was offered in addition to those already on offer". He didn't say that and so most listeners would conclude that no savings on administration had been offered at all.

Whatever you think of the idea of cutting the EU budget and whatever you believe about the good fortune of people who work in Brussels, we can agree that the PM should tell the whole truth when he speaks in parliament.

UPDATE I've seen some figures now that show the commission's proposal would cut £1Bn from the administration budget. The final plan offered a bit less due to provision for Croatia joining next year. It seems hard to ovoid the conclusion that MPs were not told the truth.

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