Don’t lift curbs on Romanian migrants, Tories tell Cameron

Tory MPs will challenge David Cameron over Romanian and Bulgarian migrants today – urging him not to throw open Britain’s borders from next year.

Backbench support is coalescing around a plan to extend restrictions on new arrivals from the two eastern European countries, due to expire on January 1, for a further five years.

Dozens of Tory MPs are likely to back the measure and put huge pressure on the Prime Minister to defy the European Union over its cherished free movement rules.

The proposal will be heard by a committee of MPs today and could come before a full vote in the House of Commons within weeks.

Nigel Mills, the MP for Amber Valley in Derbyshire, is spearheading the campaign. His proposed changes to the Government’s Immigration Bill currently passing through the House of Commons would extend restrictions until the end of December 2018.

Extending restrictions on migrant workers would provoke squeals of outrage – and likely legal challenge – from Brussels.

But supporters say it would prevent huge pressure being placed on public services, including the NHS, and on jobs at a time when many British workers are struggling to find employment.

It would also allow Mr Cameron to make a defiant stand over two crucial issues for his supporters – Europe and immigration – where he is seen to be leaking support to Ukip.

Last night Mr Mills warned the economy ‘cannot cope’ with another large influx of migrants.

He said: ‘The Government is putting through a very worthwhile Immigration Bill which introduces a number of measures most people concerned about immigration will welcome.

‘But what we don’t have are any measures on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, which is what people mention if you ask them about immigration.

‘Quite rightly, people want to know what will happen from January. The unofficial forecast would mean a quarter of a million people coming here over the next five years.

‘People are quite rightly concerned about whether public services can cope, about what benefits they will claim and about the number of jobs they will take.’

There is no official estimate of possible new arrivals in the UK when working restrictions are dropped for 29million Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, but migration campaigners predict it could be 50,000 a year.

Any movement of this order would decimate Mr Cameron’s pledge to cut yearly net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ by 2015.

Currently that figure stands at 176,000 which is down from more than a quarter of a million in 2010 but still short of Mr Cameron’s target.

Mr Mills pointed to 2004 when Labour ministers did not adopt temporary restrictions on migrant workers from Poland and seven other new EU countries. More than a million migrants  arrived in Britain  despite official predictions that just 13,000 would come.

A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘This government has extended transitional controls to the maximum period of December 31. There is no power to extend them further as we are bound by the terms of the Accession Treaties negotiated by the previous Government.

‘We are focusing on cutting out the abuse of free movement between EU member states and addressing the factors that drive European immigration to Britain.

‘We are working to ensure our controls on accessing benefits and services are among the tightest in Europe to protect the UK from abuse.’

Eight out of ten newly qualified Bulgarian doctors are planning to work abroad, a study has shown.

In a questionnaire put to graduates from Bulgaria’s largest medical school in Sofia, the majority said they planned to leave their country, with preferences for working in Britain and Germany.

One vascular surgeon told the BBC he could earn seven times more in the UK. But most Bulgarian doctors cite their reason for wanting to move as being due to corruption concerns within their own health service.

This article first appeared on ThE Unit and has been reproduced with the editor’s permission.

EU cap on credit card could actually cost shoppers here €100m in charges

Banks and credit card companies have been told to absorb new costs instead of passing them on to consumers.

The call came after Mastercard claimed that moves by the EU to cut the charges on credit card payments will actually end up costing shoppers here a combined €100m a year.

Fees charged by banks for processing credit and debit card transactions – known as interchange fees – are a lucrative revenue stream.

The EU commission has proposed a new cap on the charges that banks can apply for accepting Visa and Mastercard payments.

The commission believes that capping these fees will bring savings of €6bn for retailers across the EU, which will then be passed on to shoppers.

But Dr Tony Foley of Dublin City University has produced a report that says the new rules will impact on nine out of 10 credit and debit cards being used in Ireland.

A report written by Dr Foley said that over a five-year period Irish consumers will end up shelling out an extra €500m for using debit and credit cards because of the EU changes.

PROFITABLE

This will amount to €42 a year for a typical credit card user, the economics lecturer calculated.

And for holders of debit or Laser cards, which can only be used if there is money in the bank account, there will be a cost of €4.60 per card.

He claims the new EU rules will actually increase costs to consumers and small firms.

“The ultimate likely effect is that consumers and small business will end up shouldering the shortfall,” he said.

Commission officials are recommending a limit on fees charged by banks to just 0.2pc on the value of a debit card transaction and 0.3pc on credit cards. Currently, the fee can be as high as 1.7pc.

Consumers’ Association chief Dermott Jewell called on banks and card companies to absorb the cut in fees.

“The credit card business is highly profitable and it is about time charges were driven down,” Mr Jewell said.

Meanwhile, savvy consumers are making sure they have the funds to pay for Christmas without resorting to credit cards.

New research shows that one in four people have been saving all year to fund the festive spending.

Just one in 14 people will use their credit card to cover the bills for Christmas, the research carried out for the bank by Millward Brown shows.

 

This article first appeared on ThE Unit and has been reproduced with the editor’s permission.

Europe for Citizens programme

Report on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing for the period 2014-2020 the programme “Europe for Citizens”

(COM(2011)0884 – C7-0000/2011 – 2011/0436(APP))

This report by Hannu TAKKULA (ADLE, FI) was written for and adopted by the Committee on Culture and Education. The opinions were sought from the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Petitions. Only the latter committee declined. The report is concerned with the proposal for a Council regulation establishing for the period 2014-2020 the programme “Europe for Citizens”. This follows the current programme (2007-2013).

The aim of the Commission’s proposal for Europe for Citizens (2014-2020) is to “strengthen remembrance and enhance capacity for civic participation at the Union level”. It is the only programme devoted to the promotion of these goals at the Union level. The report perceives its budget of EUR 229 million to be modest and yet supporting one of the most visible programmes currently under consideration by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

The report laments the fact that the Commission has adjusted its proposal so that Article 352 TFEU is the programme’s sole legal base. Such an approach means that the European Parliament only has the choice of accepting or rejecting the text, but not amending it. Nonetheless, the committee will only adopt the text subject to the following amendments:

  •  amend the legal base to reflect the European Parliament’s views, i.e. dual legal base: Articles 352 and 167 TFEU. This is appropriate for a programme with two objectives regarded as equal in importance but distinctly covered by different Articles of the TFEU, namely Articles 167 and 352.
  •  strengthen the remembrance part of the programme, including common history, cultural heritage, and identity, by highlighting this in the general objectives;
  •  emphasise the importance of small grass-roots and bottom-up initiatives and issues identified by citizens as being of major interest to them; consider the future potential of projects equally, not just their short-term high-impact;
  •  minimise budget allocation to the Commission’s own ‘corporate communication’ activities, so that funds are spent where they matter most;
  •  ensure that the role of sport organisations is highlighted in the proposal;
  •  ensure, as far as possible, a geographical balance in the distribution of funds.

The European Parliament voted to approve this report on 19th November 2013 with 565 for, 84 against and 36 abstentions.

To read the report, click the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2012-0424&language=EN

This article first appeared on ThE Unit and has been reproduced with the editor’s permission.

What is to come from the EU? by Anne Palmer.

European Arrest Warrants.  OPT Ins and other things

1) I find it difficult to understand why any British Government, British Political Party or Organisation should even ask the question whether this Country with its unique and much envied long standing Common Law Constitution, would even think about abandoning our unique Justice System based on Magna Carta, that far braver people fought and died so that we could continue with out British way of life with our unique Justice System which has indeed been the envy of the World.

2) I firstly mention the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for noted that, “Under Protocol 36 the Framework Decision  on the EAW will continue to apply after Dec 2014, but it will be subject to the enforcement powers of the Commission and the Jurisdiction of the Court of Justice.  If it is amended before then and the UK adopts it in its amended form under article 9 of protocol 36, it will automatically become a directive subject to the powers of the Commission and the Jurisdiction of the Court.” What indeed will the UK Government choose to do, especially if this Country remains in the EU and this will apply for all time coming.

3) However, noted that if the UK gives notice that it does NOT accept these powers and the extension of the Court’s jurisdiction, the EAW framework decision and all other un-amended JHA measures will no longer apply to the UK.

4) A brief mention regarding the European Arrest Warrant in which we have witnessed for ourselves is incompatible with our system and which, if I remember correctly the Conservative Party once opposed it.  I also raise this important point re an Arrest Warrant for this new Committee that on reading the Verbatim Report of the proceedings in the European Parliament in the sitting of Tuesday 3rd June 2003 Re “EU-USA Judicial Cooperation Agreement”, in which Commissioner Vitorino, was thanking in particular Mr Hernández Mollar the Chairman of the Committee on Citizens Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs,  on a bilateral agreement between Member States and the United States of America.   “This assessment has to be made taking due account of the fact that this is, as the resident mentioned, the very first Union agreement in the field of Justice and Home Affairs, and it will be an historical precedent”.  Well it certainly was, and as far as I can tell, there was no debate in this Country BEFORE this action took place on behalf of the United Kingdom Government.

5) To the best of my knowledge, this EU-USA Agreement between the EU-USA was not debated in the United Kingdom Parliament before this agreement was made.   It is however recorded in the House of Lords “European Arrest Warrant: EUC Report 23rd April 2002” see columns 219-236.  The EU making decisions for this great Country without the people (or Government?) of this Country knowing what they are doing in our name.  Did our Government know? Could we  “opt out” of this had we have known about it?  Could we “opt out” of it now? How is it that foreigners can make these very sensitive and important decisions on our behalf without us knowing?

6) I understand the Death Penalty is still operating in the USA, so are we, in having to comply with the EU-USA Agreement which was made for us by the EU, sending people to their deaths? The decisions the United Kingdom make on the EAW and all 133 OPT out’s will affect the people of this Country –for all time- especially if they decide to opt “IN” to anything for the European Union will have control over policing and criminal law for all time coming.

 7) I now turn to the “Opt Ins” or “Opt Outs” and I really do find it difficult to accept that a British Government and/or Parliament would even contemplate “Opting IN” to any one of them.  Firstly, and because “No British Parliament can, under the British Constitution, bind a later Parliament.”   Plus, the people have never been allowed one say before any EEC/EC/EU Treaty was ratified.  Edward Heath told the people before the REFERENDUM in June 1975,  “There is no question of eroding any national sovereignty; there is no blueprint for a federal Europe. There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say are completely unjustified”.  A lie that was admitted many years afterwards on TV.   Noted also however, the United Kingdom has no Constitutional referendum process for they are actually plebiscites as they are not binding and are at the discretion of the Parliament.  The only clear “referendum” for the people is a General Election.

8) Having worked my way down the “Third Pillar” OPT IN or OPT OUT Measures subject to the 2014 Decision”,  I note that the ones crossed off the list have been replaced by EU Directives, so it seems to be a “lose,”  “you lose again” situation.

9) Number 2 in the (OPT IN) list, “an exchange of liaison Magistrates to improve judicial cooperation between the Member States of the European Union”.  Why? To sit in and observe the great difference between the two systems?   Most observers certainly cannot take any part in the role of Magistrate or even to observe in the Magistrates retiring room where they make their decision. Magistrates go through a certain amount of training plus, they also so swear yet another special Judicial Oath to the Oath they have already made to the British Crown.

10) There is absolutely no point at all unless there is a proposals to do away with our long standing Common Law Constitution and Judiciary?  That may even fall under one of the Treason Acts protecting our Constitution?

11) Quite frankly, if we continue to “Opt in” to these measures, I see absolutely no point in electing a British Government or Parliament especially now that our Governments has set up the Regions of the European Union throughout the United Kingdom.  (See the [EU’s] Localism Act set up by Mr Cameron)

12) Without doubt I believe any “OPT IN” places our own unique legal system into a situation of constitutional crisis, our sovereignty, our Rule of Law. And most certainly our fundamental liberties in jeopardy.  I cannot and never will understand how a British Government could even contemplate ‘opting in’ to any of these proposals. To cede sovereignty (Authority) in this area is to me, basically accepting that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) as the Supreme Court over all Courts in the United Kingdom including the recent new UK Supreme  Court.  I therefore look upon these measures as treason.  To destroy our Constitution is indeed treason.

13) It is not appropriate to have EU wide harmonised Criminal Procedural Laws. Too many have given their lives to keep our own traditions and we cannot knowingly fail or betray them now surely? They gave their lives so that this Country would always be free from foreign rule. For all the people in this land to be free to govern themselves by their own long standing Common Law Constitution and, in the words that MP’s end with having made their Oath of Allegiance before they may take their seats in the House of Commons even though some people may have freely elected them,  they say and “ACCORDING TO LAW”.

 14) This brings me to a 422  page article, “The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice”  already in preparation for training to the EU way of Justice.   At least look at it and see what is in store for you. Does the EU know something we don’t know, for on page 12 Scotland is already separated from the rest of the UK.  Is it a case of Scotland will break away from the rest of the United Kingdom thus destroying it completely? Will the other two parts want to break away?  Is it all part of “the Plan”? This article is not very easy to get but try.

15) On practical matters we would lose Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury and possibly Magistrates Courts?  I note the EU Commission paper “Brussels, 20.9.2011. COM (2011) 573 final COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE    EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC   AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS Towards an EU Criminal Policy: Ensuring the effective implementation of EU   policies through criminal law.  It is to THAT we are travelling here in the UK if we do not get out of the EU soon and before 2014.

16) To go along with EU Justice there is a report on European Judicial Training Dated 2011.   “ For EU law to be effective, it has to be applied properly in practice and that starts with the judges, lawyers, prosecutors and notaries working throughout the European Union.  With this in mind, in 2011, the European Commission set the objective of training 700000 legal practitioners – half of all those in the EU – in European Law or the law of another member state, by 2020.   So it really looks guys, that if we do not get out of the EU at the latest by 2015 and by using that General Election as the REFERENDUM and vote anyone into Office other than any one of the major THREE Political Parties that have indeed brought us to the place we are in at present.

17) Finally, it was noted that nine separate changes made recently, to certain parts of our Constitution allegedly for the then forthcoming birth of the new Royal Baby. Nine changes to nine separate parts of our Constitution that many gave their lives for in the saving of it for all of us including all in that Houses of Parliament. I wrote three letters to the Prime Minister one each in each of the three months previous to the Succession to the Crown Bill was made and Act. I received a letter after the Bill became an ACT. Our Bill of Rights has two codicils at the end which forbids any changes to it and it is there for all the people of this Country to remain in full for all time coming.  Noted the changes that have allegedly been made is now in keeping with the EU’s Equality Act and the ECHR etc.  However, the question remains, “How could the people’s Common Law Constitution be changed without the consent of the people? Certainly not by Governments for the Common Law was and is still a protection from the Monarchy and Governments.   To destroy the Constitution is indeed an Act of Treason, The Treason Acts of course cannot be repealed for they are there (unless we lose a war) to protect our Constitution for all time.  It is the Common Law Constitution for all the people, our Constitution therefore does I suggest, remain in full.  Charges of Treason have been tried over many years, all without success. Deliberately so. Our Constitution FORBIDS us to encourage in any way-even and perhaps especially financially- foreigners Governing us- THAT IS WHY WE HAVE FOUGHT IN TWO WORLD WARS. Why are we electing anyone from the three major Political Parties?  Why are we paying them?  “…all usurped and foreign power and authority…may forever be clearly extinguished, and never used or obeyed in this realm. …no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate…shall at any time after the last day of this session of Parliament, use, enjoy or exercise any manner of power, jurisdiction, superiority, authority, preeminence or privilege…within this realm, but that henceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out of this realm, for ever.”

Addition to the above.  A Letter received today 4.10.2013 from an MP representative of our Government. That as all Commonwealth Countries have given their consent to these changes, all is indeed well.  However, I believe the Commonwealth Countries have their own unique Constitutions.  The people of this Country have not been asked if the present temporary Government can indeed change our long standing Common Law Constitution that so many gave their lives for in two World Wars in order to keep not only our way of life, but our own Constitution rather than the Constitutions of foreigners or indeed change our Constitution just to suit foreigners. (Still an ongoing argument)

The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice

This has 422 pages. At least look at it and see what is in store for you. Does the EU know something we don’t know, for on page 12 Scotland is already separated from the rest of the UK.  It has a questionnaire at the end! See how you go.  http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/evaluation/2012/Rapport_en.pdf

Date: 17/07/2013 Commission proposes European Public Prosecutor’s Office and reform of Eurojust to protect the financial interests of the EU. Once opened this has 8 more leads. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/criminal/news/130717_en.htm

Report on Official Training google in  Report on European judicial training 2011.

And http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/european-judicial-training/index_en.htm

And http://www.encj.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149%3Aecpubli shesreporttraining&catid=22%3Anews&lang=en

European judicial systems Edition 2006 (2004 data) European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

Google in the above.

NOTICES FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS, BODIES, OFFICES AND AGENCIES. Council conclusions of 27 October 2011 on European judicial training  (2011/C 361/03) Official Journal of the European Union C361   Volume 54   10 December 2011.

European Prosecutors Office

EU Banking Union    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-

18409175 http://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2012/html/sp120907.en.html

Towards a banking union

At the European Council of 28/29 June, EU leaders agreed to deepen economic and monetary union as one of the remedies of the current crisis. At that meeting, the leaders discussed the report entitled ‘Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union‘1, prepared by the President of the European Council in close collaboration with the President of the European Commission, the Chair of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank. This report set out the main building blocks towards deeper economic and monetary integration, including banking union.  http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12- 656_en.htm

EUROPEAN DATA PROTECTION SUPERVISOR

Executive summary of the Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Commission proposals for a directive amending Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audit of annual accounts and consolidated accounts, and for a regulation on specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public-interest entities (The full text of this Opinion can be found in English, French and German on the EDPS

website:  http://www.edps.europa.eu)

Towards an EU Criminal Policy: Ensuring the effective implementation of EU policies through criminal law (2012/C 336/04) Google in this below

Brussels, 20.9.2011 COM(2011) 573 final UK Convergence Programme   http://www.comunitanext.org/2011/03/convergence-

programmes-of-hungarysweden-and-the-united-kingdom/

AND https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-convergence-programme-2012-13

European Prosecutor’s Office   http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/judicial- cooperation/public-prosecutor/index_en.htm

EU Banking Union   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18409175 http://www.ft.com/indepth/european-banking-union

Schengen   http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/justice_freedom_security/free_movement_

of_persons_asylum_immigration/l33020_en.htm

Tribute to the Life of Sir Robin Williams Bt by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Sir Robin Williams Bt

I first met Robin in 1962 when we were both speaking at an Anti Common Market meeting in Woolhampton organised by Marie Endean. I was, at that time, the Labour candidate for the Newbury Constituency and I remember being very impressed but also very nervous at being on the same platform as a baronet with a formidable educational background and a Lloyds Underwriter.  When he spoke it was clear that he was master of his subject and made an unanswerable case for Britain not joining the EEC (Common Market) and he made it in his usual direct, no nonsense, matter of fact manner.

The audience lapped it up and went away convinced that the EEC was not for us.  Little did I know then that we would sharing many more platforms and fighting shoulder to shoulder against the burgeoning power of the European project.

Robin’s contribution to the Eurorealist movement was massive and enduring and his belief that Britain was a great country that should be independent and self governing. He understood perfectly that joining the EEC would eventually mean the loss of British independence and self government.

He established and chaired the Anti Common Market League and was active in the National Referendum Campaign.  He worked at national level with a wide circle of people including Enoch Powell, Peter Shore, Richard Body, Charles Frere-Smith , Ron Leighton,Charles Starkey and many others to support the parliamentarians opposing the European Communities Bill which only scraped through by eight votes after the Heath Government had misrepresented the intentions of the Treaty of Rome and misled Parliament into believing that joining the EEC would not result in any loss of British Sovereignty.

Robin continued his opposition to joining and he was a leading light of the “NO” Campaign in the 1975 Referendum Campaign which resulted in a Yes vote after the then Labour Government fooled the voters into believing that they had secured significant concessions which, of course, they had not. 

The “NO” campaign was opposed by the Government and Opposition, by big business, the press and media (including the BBC) was out–financed by at least 20-1, yet in spite of that pro Common Market onslaught, 33% of the electorate voted to come out.  Robin’s part in that unequal contest was a vital one and kept the flag of resistance flying. 

And that was very important. Robin was convinced that the fight for independence should continue and that the issue of Britain’s membership should be kept alive and his leadership of Get Britain Out and the Anti Common Market Campaign  did just that. His determination to fight the forces dedicated to ever closer European Union has eventually borne fruit in that the demand for radical reform or complete withdrawal is now mainstream policy. 

It needed courage and determination to continue and be among the leaders of the Eurosceptic movement, especially for Robin who mixed in circles, including the Conservative Party, which were committed to Europe and considered anyone who disagreed with them as dotty, left wing and economically and financially illiterate.  But he ploughed on for years and it was in 1986 that I became closely associated with him when I became chairman of the Anti Common Market Campaign in 1986.  The Campaign was then made up of a number of individuals and affiliates but this was to change dramatically and would pose a challenge to Robin who was its Hon. Secretary – a challenge which he accepted loyally but I rather think with some trepidation. 

The first big change was the opening of the Campaign to individual members with all that entailed financially and administratively, especially recruitment, collection of subscriptions, forming branches, arranging public meetings and an annual conference.  Robin also had to deal with an elected national committee and all that entails – including criticism.  However, he, typically, did not flinch or rebel – he simply got on with the job and turned the Campaign into the leading Eurosceptic organisation of that time.  There were further challenges to come.  The name of the Campaign was changed to The Campaign for an Independent Britain and, again, the job of introducing the change fell to Robin and the name CIB persists today.  

Robin’s administrative and organising skills were remarkable and yet, along with his work for CIB and other eurosceptic organisations, managed to fit in with his family life, holding down a responsible job and enjoy some leisure.  He certainly could not have done all this without the love and help of his wife, Wendy, who was a familiar figure at AGMs, running stalls and helping out in any other way necessary.  Our sympathy and condolences go out to her and the family. 

There is so much more that could be said about Robin’s life and achievements but there is one famous occasion which is burned on my memory – the CIB international conference against the Maastricht Treaty (which set up the European Union) that he arranged in Edinburgh. It was a huge organisational task and the conference was a great success.  However, shortly before conference was due to begin the Danish Hotel where the conference was due to take place cancelled the Booking. Just imagine the shock. Disaster loomed and the conference seemed doomed.  However, Robin didn’t panic he arranged alternative accommodation. The conference went on to its successful end and raised the profile of the eurosceptic movement in the UK and Europe. The Anti-Maastricht Alliance was launched as was the European Anti-Maastricht Alliance which is still active today and meets regularly. 

Robin was a decent man with exceptional organising and administrative abilities, self effacing yet effective.  He was a patriot who believed in Britain who was prepared to give a large part of his life to restoring to Britain its independence, its democracy and its ability to govern itself through its own elected government through institutions established over the centuries. His courage, commitment and hard work contributed hugely to keeping the flame of freedom alive and before his death he was able to see that the ideals he had fought for were at last being accepted by the majority and his aims now capable of achievement.  He will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

How the Bankers Who Created the Euro Helped the Nazis

  HOW THE BANKERS WHO   CREATED THE EURO HELPED THE NAZIS

There is more to the tale of Czechoslovak gold being stolen by Germany than in the Bank of England’s embarrassment – the Bank for International Settlements actually financed Hitler’s war machine, says Adam LeBor

The documents reveal a shocking story: just six months before Britain went to war with Nazi Germany, the Bank of England willingly handed over £5.6 million worth of gold to Hitler – and it belonged to another country.

The official history of the bank, written in 1950 but posted online for the first time on Tuesday, reveals how betrayed Czechoslovakia – not just with the infamous Munich agreement of September 1938, which allowed the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland, but also in London, where Montagu Norman, the eccentric but ruthless governor of the Bank of England agreed to surrender gold owned by the National Bank of Czechoslovakia.

The Czechoslovak gold was held in London in a sub-account in the name of the Bank of International Settlements, the Basel-based bank for central banks. When the Nazis marched into Prague in March 1939 they immediately sent armed soldiers to the offices of the National Bank. The Czech directors were ordered, on pain of death, to send two transfer requests.

The first instructed the BIS to transfer 23.1 metric tons of gold from the Czechoslovak BIS account, held at the Bank of England, to the Reichsbank BIS account, also held at Threadneedle Street.

The second order instructed the Bank of England to transfer almost 27 metric tons of gold held in the National Bank of Czechoslovakia’s own name to the BIS’s gold account at the Bank of England.

To outsiders, the distinction between the accounts seems obscure. Yet it proved crucial – and allowed Norman to ensure that the first order was carried out. The Czechoslovak bank officials believed that as the orders had obviously been carried out under duress neither would be allowed to go through. But they had not reckoned on the bureaucrats running the BIS and the determination of Montagu Norman to see that procedures were followed, even as his country prepared for war with Nazi Germany.

His decision caused uproar, both in the press and in the parliament. George Strauss, a Labour MP, spoke for many when he thundered in Parliament: “The Bank for International Settlements is the bank which sanctions the most notorious outrage of tis generation – the rape of Czechoslovakia.” Winston Churchill demanded to know how the government could as its citizens to enlist in the military when it was “so butter-fingered that £6 million worth of gold can be transferred to Nazi government.”

It was a good question. Thanks to Norman and the BIS, Nazi Germany had just looted 23.1 tons of gold without a shot being fired. The second transfer order, for the gold held in the National Bank of Czechoslovakia’s own name, did not go through. Sir John Simon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had instructed banks to block all Czechoslovak assets.

The documents released by the Bank of England are revealing, both for what they show and what they omit. They are a window into a world fearful deference of authority, the primacy of procedure over morality, a world where, for the bankers, the most important thing is to keep the channels of international finance open, no matter what the human cost. A world, in other words, not entirely different to today.

The BIS was founded in 1930, in effect by Montagu Norman and his close friend Hjalmar Schact, the former president of the Reichsbank, known as the father of the Nazi economic miracle. Schacht even referred to the BIS as “my” bank. The BIS is a unique hybrid: a commercial bank protected by international treaty. Its assets can never be seized, even in times of war. It pays no taxes on profits. The Czechoslovaks believed that the BIS’s legal immunities would protect them. But they were wrong.

The Bank of England’s historian argued that to refuse the transfer order would have been a breach of Britain’s treaty obligations with regard to the BIS. In fact there was a powerful counter-argument that the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia had rendered any such obligations null and void as the country no longer existed.

A key sentence in the Bank of England documents is found on page 1,295. It reads: “The general attitude of the Bank of England directors of the BIS during the war was governed by their anxiety to keep the BIS to play its part in the solution of post-war problems”. And here the secret history of the BIS and its strong relationship with the Bank of England becomes ever more murky.

During the war the BIS proclaimed that it was neutral, a view supported by the Bank of England. In fact the BIS was so entwined with the Nazi economy that it helped keep the Third Reich in business, It carried out foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank; it accepted looted Nazi gold; it recognised the puppet regimes installed in occupied countries, which, together with the Third Reich, soon controlled the majority of the bank’s shares.

Indeed, the BIS was so useful for the Nazis that Emil Puhl, the vice-president of the Reichsbank and BIS director, referred to the BIS as the Reichsbank’s only “foreign branch”.

The BIS’s reach and connections were vital for Germany. So much so, that all through the war, the Reichsbank continued paying interest on the monies lent by the BIS. This interest was used by the BIS to pay dividends to shareholders – which included the Bank of England. Thus, through the BIS, the Reichsbank was funding the British war economy. After the war, five BIS directors were tried for war crimes, including Schacht. “They don’t hang bankers,” Schacht supposedly said, and he was right – he was acquitted.

Buried among the typewritten pages of the Bank of England’s history is a name of whom few have ever heard, a man for whom, like Montagu Norman, the primacy of international finance reigned over mere national considerations.

Thomas McKittrick, an American banker, was president of the BIS. When the United States entered the war in December 1941, McKittrick’s position, the history notes, “became difficult”. But McKittrick managed to keep the bank in business, thanks in part to his friend Allen Dulles, the US spymaster based in Berne. McKittrick was an asset of Dulles, known as Codename 644, and frequently passed him information that he had garnered from Emil Puhl, who was a frequent visitor to Basel and often met McKittrick.

Declassified documents in the American intelligence archives reveal an even more disturbing story. Under an intelligence operation known as the “Harvard Plan”, McKittrick was in contact with Nazi industrialists, working towards what the US documents, dated February 1945, describe as a “close cooperation between the Allied and German business world”.

Thus while Allied soldiers were fighting through Europe, McKittrick was cutting deals to keep the Germany economy strong. This was happening with what the US documents describe as “the full assistance” of the State department.

The Bank of England history also makes disparaging reference to Harry Dexter White, an official in the Treasury Department, who was a close ally of Henry Morgenthau, the Treasury Secretary. Moregenthau amd White were the BIS’s most powerful enemies and lobbied hard at Bretton Woods in July 1944, where the Allies met to plan the post-war financial system for the BIS to be closed. While the Bank history notes rather sneeringly, had said of the BIS: “There is an American president doing business with the Germans while our boys are fighting the Germans.”

Aided by its powerful friends, such as Montagu Norman, Allen Dulles and much of Wall Street, the BIS survived the attempts by Morgenthau and White to close it down. The bank’s allies used precisely the argument detailed on page 1,295 of the Bank of England’s history; the BIS was needed to plan the post-war European economy.

From the 1950s to the 1990s the BIS hosted much of the planning and technical preparation for the introduction of the euro. Without the BIS the euro would probably not exist. In 1994, Alexander Lamfalussy, the former BIS manager, set up the European Monetary Institute, now knows as the European Central Bank.

The BIS remains very profitable. It has only about 140 customers (it refuses to say how many) but made a tax-free profit of about £900 million last year. Every other month it hosts the Global Economy Meetings, where 60 of the most powerful central bankers, including Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, meet. No details of meetings are released, even though the attendees are public servants, charged with managing national economies.

The BIS also hosts the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which regulates commercial banks, and the new Financial Stability Board, which coordinates national regulatory authorities. The BIS has made itself the central pillar of the global financial system.

Montagu Norman and Hjalmar Schacht would be very proud indeed.

Adam LeBor is the author of ‘Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank That Runs the World’, published by Public Affairs.

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph