During a debate on the EU funding yesterday TUV leader Jim Allister was the only member to make the case that the UK would be better off out of the European Union.
The text of Mr Allister’s speech is below:
“One, especially from outside the Executive parties, could not listen to this debate and not be struck by the internecine playground charge and countercharge of who has done most and achieved most, whether the Minister for Regional Development is the leader in calling down funding from Europe or whether it is his Committee that outshines him, or whether someone else needs some backslapping. However, the one thing that I have not heard talked about in this debate is where this money comes from. Here we are talking about pursuing some pot of gold in the European Union without ever pausing to ask this question: whose money is it in the first place? The answer to that question is that, by and large, it is our own money coming back to us.
“As I indicated in an intervention with Mr Nesbitt — you do not have to take my word for any of this — the UK Treasury document that annually produces a table of contributions to the EU demonstrates that, as far as 2013 is concerned, the UK’s gross contribution is £17·184 billion. That is then assisted in being reduced by the UK rebate, which has now diminished, thanks to Mr Blair, to only £3·3 billion. At the end of all that, what we get back in public sector receipts is £5·2 billion. So we pay in £17 billion of UK taxpayers’ money, and after all the grandiose schemes of CAP, fisheries, Peace funding, structural funding — all of that — the United Kingdom, as a net contributor, gets back £8·6 billion, which is only half of what it pays in.
Mr Nesbitt: I thank the Member for giving way. He gave us the UK figures. Will he give us the Northern Ireland breakdown, please?
Mr Allister: The Northern Ireland breakdown is not produced in that form, but if one applies a pro rata division to the UK contribution, we discover that it is something short of £500 million per annum.
“No matter how you beef up the CAP, Peace and structural fund figures, and all of that, they will struggle to rise above £400 million per annum. Therefore, for a region that does better than most regions out of the United Kingdom, even we are a net contributor to the EU. Of course, you have to add to that the colossal price placed on business by EU bureaucracy.
“The EU Commission has itself produced a report that shows that EU regulations cost business €600 billion per annum to implement. No matter what way you look at the EU, it is a horrendous deal financially for the United Kingdom. When you add to that the fact that it does great despite to national sovereignty; it treats us a region that cannot, because of EU rules, control even its own borders; it determines with whom we will have trade agreements, because those will be on an EU-wide basis only; and it means that we cannot exercise any of the functions that a free and independent country would exercise.
“To me, the EU is not a panacea. The EU is a dreadful waste of our resources and our national sovereignty and independence. There are local dimensions to add, with the abuse of EU funding administration in Northern Ireland. We have seen in the order of £14 million of Peace funding go to ex-prisoner groups, while innocent victims’ groups are left short time and time again. We have seen the waste of EU rural development funding under the Sinn Féin Minister in DARD, with funding going to promote the Tyrone GAA club. It is one of the richest clubs on this island, yet it is a huge beneficiary of rural development funding.
“I am glad, however, that some of us did play a part, even though the Chairman of the Regional Development Committee did not appreciate it. Some of us played a part in making sure that the £20 million that was to be wasted on the Maze shrine has at least been diverted to more useful expenditure.”