Letters: Cameron’s scrutiny of Europe is sadly lacking

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One of Mr Cameron’s key issues he is seeking to renegotiate in the run-up to the EU referendum is greater influence for national parliaments in Brussels.

However, in reality the House of Commons is failing to use the influence it has. Scrutiny of EU rules should be a serious responsibility. Instead, MPs have relegated the job to the Commons European scrutiny committee, frequently ignored by the government.

Each year the committee sifts through more than 1000 EU documents, some very complex. EU rules, whether on the environment or financial services, have significant effects on British families and companies. MPs ought to see service on the scrutiny committee as an important duty.

However, the overall attendance rate for the European scrutiny committee in the last parliamentary session was 48.7 per cent. Some members did not attend a single meeting.

We deserve a better system to enable frank debate of the EU in parliament.

If the government and MPs really want parliament’s voice to be heard in Brussels, Commons departmental select committees should examine EU draft legislation in their areas of responsibility rather than being largely left to the European scrutiny committee

In addition, the prestige of the EU scrutiny committee should be raised with a chair elected by the whole house.

If the UK votes to stay in the EU, MPs should look again at how Westminster handles EU business. The need for the Commons to examine what ministers agree to in Brussels will not 
disappear after a referendum.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Briefing against Keir is ugly face of politics

Your political editor is much concerned with the goings-on in the Edinburgh Western constituency branch of the SNP (‘Keir faces an Eck of a fight as Salmond backs rival’, News, July 21).

Tony Giugliano, one of six hopefuls in the running to be chosen as candidate to represent the party in next May’s election, seems to have especially caught his eye.

But on July 21, when Mr Swanson wrote that Colin Keir faces a fight as Alex Salmond backs his rival, he was clearly unaware that Mr Salmond does no such thing.

Mr Salmond confirms that under no circumstances does he back one nominee over another. Mr Salmond thinks much of Colin Keir. He describes him as “hard working, dedicated to his constituents and an asset to the parliamentary group”. And as leader and colleague for four years, who could know better?

But all is not well in the constituency branch. How could it be so when the much respected Colin, refreshingly a former Lothian bus driver and not just another “career politician”, is described by one anonymous “activist” as “lazy”? Another claims that his parliamentary performance is “dire”.

Clearly there are those who do not wish Colin Keir to be their nominee. That is acceptable.

But it is dangerously imprudent to adopt the tactics long associated with the worst shenanigans of Scottish Labour, currently in the throes of a near-death experience – something which seems not to concern those who plot and brief in an identical manner.

Archie Davidson, Caroline Terrace, Edinburgh

Time renewable energy subsidies came to end

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other SNP members in the Scottish Government have already angrily spoken out against the UK government’s decision to end wind subsidy payments a year ahead of schedule.

The renewables industry is now panicking as realisation dawns that their lucrative subsidised existence is in jeopardy, with one wind subsidy being axed in April 2016 and another two likely to follow. The subsidy tide is turning. Spain, Portugal, Japan and Germany have already reduced or axed subsidies.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has announced that there will be no more government-funded subsidies in renewable energy schemes and no more cheap, state-supplied financing for its projects.

To add fuel to the fire (pun intended) there are now 2177 coal plants being proposed, developed or built worldwide to add to the existing 2300.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Human rights ruling should be challenged

A murderer commits a heinous crime yet is able to claim in respect to European privacy laws that his human rights have been breached.

This has cost the taxpayers a fortune in legal aid claims and has won him a £5000 pay-out.

As most of our political parties are pro-European minded, I can’t see anything being done that can change this situation.

The only positive thing I can think about is to ask any politician in the future if they agree with this happening again? Then you will know for sure that he/she will not be getting your vote.

John Connor, David Henderson Court, Dunfermline, Fife

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