PCC’s economic development scrutiny committee has been considering the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

And, according to the Herald’s headline, it concluded that: “Wales would lose out over Brexit”.

Reading the report that went before the committee you could be forgiven for concluding that PCC is sponsoring the “Remain” campaign.

And that impression is strengthened by the glossy booklet published by the council’s European Officer which details all the good things that have happened because of EU funding.

These include, I should point out, the commercial property grant scheme in Pembroke Dock which has been under investigation by Dyfed Powys Police for the past 22 months, and counting.

Cabinet member for the economy Cllr Keith Lewis is reported as saying that without European money there is hardly any scope for economic development.

This is an example of what Friedrich Hayek labelled “The fatal conceit”: the idea that government in its various guises can control the economy.

This European money that is supposed to drive economic development is actually taken from successful businesses that might themselves have invested it to create more jobs.

And, in the case of Pembrokeshire, almost all the Objective 1 money went to those thrusting public sector entrepreneurs PCC, Pembrokeshire College and MHPA while the private companies that qualified for handouts were those in the know (Dragon LNG (£5 million) and Slebech Park (£1 million)) the last of which went into liquidation soon after the deadline for repaying the grants had passed.

For more information try this link or Google Pembrokeshire Partnership Management Board.

The other main input of European money into Pembrokeshire comes in the form of farm subsidies.

According to this website J S Allen-Mirehouse (of whom more later) received almost £400,000 in the period 2003-2009 though figures for later years are not easy to come by.

Something to do with the Data Protection Act, I believe.

Not the sort of redistribution of wealth one always assumed the tax system was designed to achieve.

And it gets worse because, as classical economic theory predicts, these subsidies for owning land drive up its value with the result that new entrants have difficulty getting a foot on the farming ladder.

So it is no surprise to find Cllr Allen-Mirehouse telling the committee: “I certainly agree with the principle that Wales, as a predominantly rural area, would lose out if the UK left”.

Of course, what has to be remembered is that much of this EU cash cow’s high-energy rations are provided by UK taxpayers.

According to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) we pay approximately £14.5 billion into the EU and get £4-5 billion back in farm subsidies and other grants leaving a net deficit of £9-10 billion.

And any talk of Wales losing out is based on the assumption that the UK government wouldn’t use some of this spare cash to fund activities in the Principality.

However cabinet member Cllr Lewis had been to Brussels as a member of a WLGA delegation and he told the committee that, after speaking to MEPs, he had come to the conclusion that, as far as Wales is concerned, “there was no option” but to stay in the EU.

On the time-honoured principle that turkeys cannot be expected to vote for Christmas, Cllr Lewis might have asked himself if MEPs were the most reliable authority on this subject.

Cllr Ken Rowlands observed that the report by the council’s European Office stated that Welsh lamb exports had increased by £76 million between 2003 and 2013 and concluded “that says it all”.

Now £76 million amounts to about 25 quid for every inhabitant of the Principality which is hardly the game-changer the Voice of Johnston would have us believe.

But pride of place must go to Johnny Allen-Mirehouse who is quoted as saying:

“We don’t know what the European referendum is going to be. Is it going to be do we stay in or go out? We don’t know what we’re being asked yet.”

Regular readers may recall the Laird of Angle’s contribution to the debate on the Pembroke Dock grants fiasco at the famous meeting in December 2013 during which Cllr David Pugh accused me of being someone who didn’t have the truth on his agenda.

Squirehouse weighed in with:

“But I do say he [Old Grumpy] should not continue with his policy of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.”

The facts about the referendum that get in the way of Johnny’s good story are contained in the European Referendum Act 2015, Sections 4 and 5 which provide:

(4) The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is –

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

(5) The alternative answers to that question that are to appear on the ballot papers are –

“Remain a member of the European Union

Leave the European Union”.

That seems clear enough to me!

This is not the first time he has been caught sounding off about things he knows nothing about.

Indeed, it might well have been some earlier incarnation of Johnny that inspired George Orwell to remark: “Political language is designed to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

However, as the council’s European Officer, Gwyn Evans, pointed out, membership of the EU “is about more than money”

“It is also important for facilitating training, for example”he told the committee.

That must have come in handy when all the members of his team were made to attend a course in fraud detection and prevention after I revealed the serious flaws in its administration of the Pembroke Dock grant scheme.

Though you could be forgiven for thinking that this sort of training would have been better done before the European Office was let loose with millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.