Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Accountability... in the European Parliament. You must be joking

Yesterday (23rd October) the Klass report on the Pesticides Drective was voted through in the Strasbourg Parliament. With around 700 amendments in the plenary session, it was always going to be difficult. In fact it was a farce. Here is a letter from Graham Booth the South West Counties UKIP MEP which he sent to the President of Parliament after possibly the worst voting session the Parliament has ever seen.

Mr. Poettering
President of the European Parliament.

Oct. 23rd,

Dear Mr. Poettering,

I regret having to take up your time on the subject of voting once again, but I have just had to sit through the most ridiculous voting session yet, under the chairmanship of Mr. Vidal Quadras.

I am not blaming him for the numerous errors - it is the system that is clearly at

To start with the voting session was delayed from the already late starting time of 12.30pm until 12.45pm, due to the late running of the debate on the Lisbon conference - mainly caused by the over-running of most speakers' contributions to the "debate" by as much as a minute.

Because of this late start Mr. Quadras clearly thought that he must try to rush the voting through at an even greater speed than usual, so that we hardly had time to raise our arms properly.

Of the fifteen times he acknowledged the need for an electronic check, four were extremely close and six had been incorrectly called - one by a massive 499 votes to 136!

On many occasions (at least twenty) he appeared not to hear loud calls for an electronic check, so we shall never know the correct result of those votes.

On several occasions he called for a check himself as he could not tell from the raised hands which way to call it - the results of two of those self-imposed checks were 564 to 89 and 480 to 170. If he can't discern the result by show of hands when the difference is so enormous, it really does bring the whole voting system into disrepute.

On several occasions he said "I think that is approved", without calling for a check. That is simply not good enough.

I did make a point of order, explaining that the voting session had been a complete fiasco and called, from the floor, for all future voting to be done electronically.
I call on you, once again, to ask your Rules Committee to reconsider their decision - that there should be "no follow up" to the proposal by myself and Vladimir Zelezny for full electronic voting.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Booth
MEP for UKIP, South West England
The response of the acting President Vidal Quadras to Mr Booth's comments were interesting, and telling,

"We have to accept that statistically we will make some mistakes with the results of votes". Given that he is talking about a legislative report with enormous leagal and finacial consequences he is, and the system is frighteningly cavalier with due process. Indeed I would go so far to say that this is an affront to the Rule of Law.

As of yet the verbatim report of the session is not on-line so I am unable to give the exact wording for this quotation, howevert as soon as it is available I will get the exact translation.

Here is the verbatim report.

Vidal Quadras- Well, yes, alright, I'll check, since we've proved to day that the presidency isn't infallible. (Amendment) 243, votes in favour, I mean, the vote is open, 243. 243. The vote is open. (Aside: we're not infallible). The vote is closed. 637 voting (aside: what did I say? Did I say carried?) 310 in favour 312 against 15 absentions, the vote is CARRIED. (he is poked by a civil servant)
Very well.
No, hang on.

(Amendment) 269, Votes in favour? Against? Rejected".

Graham Booth –Mr President, on a point of order, this is a complete fiasco and we must go to full electronic voting. This is bloody ridiculous!

Vidal Quadras - Look here, Mr Booth, it's certainly not a fiasco! ("De fiasco nada!") We've made mistakes here which, in a vote of this size, are statistically normal. What are ridiclous are interventions like yours.
Now, (Amendment) 270, votes in favour?"

The Vice President of the European Parliament believes that in legislation "Mistakes are normal". He should be taken outside and pelted with rotten fruit.


Michel S. said...

It's intriguing that it's a UKIP member who brought this up too. The other parties' MEPs did not care about the mistakes -- or were not even paying attention?

Vindico said...

Go Graham!! Whoop, Whoop.
Was it recorded? One for youtube I think.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating if you are on in the inside in the pay but hardly of the slightest concern to anybody who is not on the gravy train.

Elaib Harvey said...

Dear Anon,

Here I have to disagree with you, and I shall provide a longer post outlining why so.
The very fact that the Parliament believes that, when challenged on the failure to count votes accurately on legislation that will effect thousands of people in their lives and livelihoods the Vice-President of the European Parliament dismissed the challenge in such an arrogant and condecending fashion should be of interest both to you and anybody who cares about accountability and the rule of law.
Or do you feel that the people should not care how they are governed?
My job is to inform people of what is happening in their name, for which I get paid. What would you have me do, behave like most on the payroll and keep quiet, hoping that no one will notice?