Tuesday, 21 January 2014

House of Lords and the European Union

The House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union today (20 Jan) held an 'evidence session' in the European Parliament on the subject of youth unemployment.

This was a 'confidential' meeting, and so I hope that you will understand that I am unable to discuss exactly what was said, or by whom.

I can only assure you that those peers who attended presented themselves as we would expect, and that their questions were concise and intelligent. I wish that I could say the same of the European Parliament delegates, who seemed unable to directly answer any question asked of them by the Lords. They, and their staff, appeared to be more interested in texting each other, and picking cat hairs off of their clothes.

Youth unemployment is one of the greatest societal problems faced, not just in our country, but across Europe. It is a terrible problem that is likely to have a long lasting 'knock-on' effect for several generations to come. Her Majesty's Government is to be commended for engaging with, and attempting to address, this blight at European level. I wish that the problem could be more adequately addressed at UK level, of course.

Having said that, in the UK, we are seeing a small but significant decrease in youth unemployment levels. This is a very promising sign, and one that is bucking the general EU trend. My work on the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee has given me an insight into the problems faced by youth across Europe. I am very proud of my own working class roots, and I know only too well the problems associated with these social and employment issues. In the UK, while we may have our problems, I do strongly believe that we can best tackle these issues ourselves, and that this is not something that should be left to the EU. After all, do we want our youth to suffer the deprivations of the Eurozone countries such as Greece? I think that we would be better off out of the EU. But that, of course, is for the people to decide!