26th April 2012: In his third AFCO contribution of the morning, Andrew Brons spoke during a debate on whether or not Written Declarations* should be limited or even abolished.
Andrew told his fellow Committee members:
"There are, of course, other methods of initiating a proposal for change but the beauty of a Written Declaration is that you can start one as a minority of one and even remain a minority of one.
"The costs do not have to be prohibitive if it is communicated only electronically.
"The question is whether proposals for change need to have a chance of success before they are allowed to see the light of day. Minority opinions sometimes become majority opinions and even consensus opinions.
"Calls for the death penalty** to be abolished - something dear to the hearts of many in this Parliament - in member states were seen in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s to be minority opinions (in Parliament let alone the populations of countries) and even eccentric or crank opinions. Abolitionist MPs in the UK and other countries used devices such as the 10 minute rule to introduce Bills that had no chance of success. However, they rehearsed the arguments and they led eventually to legislation being passed.
* A Written Declaration is a sort of petition that is publicised by e-mail and exists in paper form that can be started by just one person. Other MEPs are invited to sign it within three months.
** I did not of course get into the substantive question of capital punishment but I knew that it would be an issue that would appeal to many of them as an example of one that started as a minority issue in Parliament but became a majority issue in Parliament if not in the country.