|Previous Section||Home Page|
Column 927introduced to defeat its effects. That formula would be based on an assessment of the size and extraction rate of coal reserves. I seek leave to bring in the Bill, the exact drafting of which I am still prepared to discuss with the President of the Board of Trade, given that I have now beaten him to the task.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Harry Barnes, Mr. Eric Clarke, Mr. Bill Etherington, Mr. Dennis Skinner, Mrs. Alice Mahon, Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe, Mr. Tony Benn, Mr. Ronnie Campbell, Mr. Martin Redmond, Mrs. Helen Jackson, Mr. Alan Meale and Mr. Bob Cryer.
Mr. Harry Barnes accordingly presented a Bill to eliminate unfair competition in the import, production and sale of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, electricity and other primary and secondary energy sources : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 22 January and to be printed. [Bill 114.]
European Communities (Amendment) Bill
Considered in Committee [Progress, 2 December]
in the Chair ]
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. You will be aware that when, in Committee, there arises a problem relating to a matter outside the Committee--particularly if it has arisen since the Committee last met--it is within the power of the Chair to accept a motion for the adjournment of debate so that matters may be clarified. I understand that the equivalent procedure on the Floor of the House follows virtually the same criteria, but that a Member moves that the Chairman report progress. I ask you, Sir, to allow me to move that motion.
Since we last met, there have been events that I suggest require clarification and a response from the Government before proper consideration of the Bill can be continued. We are glad to see the Minister of State here, and I emphasise that the prospect of his disappearance is not the reason for my request. Nor is it the failure of the Attorney- General, who owes me a letter, to put in an appearance. The reason for my request is the decision, taken at the Edinburgh summit meeting, in relation to Denmark and the statement about it that the Prime Minister made in the House on 14 December. There is some doubt about the status of this decision. Some people say that it is a treaty ; some say that it is not. Some say that, in practice, it amends the treaty that we are discussing ; some say that it does nothing of the sort, that it affects only Denmark. Some say that it can be justiciable in international law--as, indeed, the Prime Minister has claimed ; others are presenting papers, which I believe are well known to hon. Members, indicating that it cannot. Some say that it can be binding on the parties ; others say that it cannot, as only seven members of the European Communities are actually bound by the rules of the International Court of Justice.
The Chairman : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, to whose comments I have been listening attentively. He is seeking clarification on a number of political points, and I understand his desire for such clarification. He keeps using the words "there is some doubt". I am sure that, as he did not manage to catch my eye on either of the previous two days of debate, he will wish to do so today. He may well wish to weave into his speech some of the doubts and points of clarification to which he has been referring. However, I cannot at this stage accept a debate on political points. In case any hon. Member may have forgotten over the Christmas recess, I must emphasise that this Bill does not ratify the treaty ; it makes changes in
Column 929domestic law consequential upon the treaty. I therefore regret that I am unable to accept the hon. Gentleman's proposition for a dilatory motion.
Sir Peter Tapsell (East Lindsey) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I wish to seek clarification on two procedural points. First, shall we, during this Committee stage, follow the normal procedure whereby hon. Members are entitled to speak more than once on any amendment? Secondly, bearing in mind the fact that our proceedings are likely to last for many weeks and that we have other duties, which cannot be completely abandoned, will it be acceptable for hon. Members to leave the Chamber during the discussion and return still hoping to catch your eye?
Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. A problem will arise in the debate that we are about to have, which covers titles II to IV. I remind you and the House of the words used to define titles II to IV in the Bill :
"Titles II, III and IV of the Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht on 7th February 1992, together with the other provisions of the Treaty so far as they relate to those Titles, and the Protocols adopted at Maastricht on that date".
Twice in those words reference is made to the date of 7 February 1992, but, since that date and particularly in December, additional points were made on issues that fall within titles II and IV. For example, within title II, the issue and definition of citizenship arise. However, at the December summit, Ministers made a further decision on refining, or at least stating and supplementing, the provisions in the treaty on the question of citizenship. It is section A of the citizenship provision in the Danish decision. That is part and parcel of the provisional articles which will fall within the compass of this debate yet will be additional to it.
Reference is also made, in section B of the Danish decision, to economic and monetary union, which again falls within the scope of today's debate, within titles II to IV. They, too, are a supplement to the treaty.
The Chairman : Order. I have the gist of what the hon. Gentleman is trying to say. He must accept that I have done a little preparation for this afternoon's debate. The issues under titles II to IV are very broad, and I expect--although I do not encourage--hon. Members to hold a broad debate. They will want to seek clarification of various issues. I think that allusions to the two points that the hon. Gentleman raised would be in order this afternoon if he can catch my eye.
Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Varioius decisions have come about fairly recently in Europe. One has to do with the cohesion or slush fund in terms of the contribution which this country will have to make following the Edinburgh summit. Another is to do with the special provisions made for Denmark. With regard to Denmark, there is a question about whether this is justiciable. A further question relates to how subsidiarity will be incorporated into law.
On all those issues, points will be made during the debate, and we shall no doubt get answers from the Government. They will give their best answers as a result of their best endeavours, but decisions on all those issues
Column 930are made by bodies outside the House, outside the Government and outside the country. Decisions on the budget will be made by the Commission--
Mr. Stuart Randall (Kingston upon Hull, West) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I wish to know how you intend to proceed with today's business. The treaty that we are debating is about the provisions that we should use to advance European integration. That was all agreed by the member states and put in the treaty document. Title II is at the heart of the treaty and it would not be unreasonable to conclude that amendment No. 40, which is the lead amendment today, is nothing short of a wrecking amendment. My point of order does not challenge--
Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Is it in order for a representative of the Treasury to comment on the expected date of the Third Reading? The matchless negotiating skills of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss) secured that Third Reading would take place after the Danish referendum. That assumption, I think, has generally held. It is now quite clear that there is a fragile political situation in Denmark, and no one would like to postulate whether the Prime Minister or the Government will survive. In those circumstances, should the referendum then be postponed owing to the Danish domestic situation, I wonder whether we might have confirmation from the Treasury Bench that the commitment to hold the Third Reading after the referendum date still stands.
Mr. Biffen rose --
The Chairman : Order. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, but it is not a matter for the Chair. It will have been heard on the Treasury Bench. It seems to me that business questions tomorrow would be a more appropriate occasion on which to ask that sort of question.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. May I draw to the attention of the House the statements on the tape attributed to Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger, to the effect that American forces may well attack Iraq? May I, through you, Mr. Morris, ask Ministers whether, if British forces are involved in military action and there is any American attack on Iraq, a statement will be made to the House forthwith?
Mr. William Cash (Stafford) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. With respect to a submission made last time we were sitting and the invitation that we hoped to extend to the Attorney-General to take part in our proceedings, serious questions have been raised about the validity of the decisions arrived at in Edinburgh, and they could have a bearing on the scope and title of this particular Bill. As the hon. Member for Methyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) has just said, the Bill states that the treaty is the treaty signed on 7 February. If there were any serious doubts about whether or not the changes made in Edinburgh were legally binding and had effect within the framework of the treaty, we would not now be considering the same treaty as that which was signed on 7 February. I should therefore be grateful, Mr. Moris, if you could consider whether the
Attorney-General might give us a clear indication on that.
Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. You said earlier that this Bill was not a Bill to ratify the treaty but was merely to deal with the internal consequences in British domestic law of the treaty. You also suggested that it might be possible in a wide-ranging debate to deal with the decision taken at Edinburgh which was outside the framework of the European Community--taken by Heads of Government quite separately--to do with Denmark. But since the view from the Treasury Bench appears to be that the decision is outdside the treaty, that it is not an amendment of the treaty but something quite separate, do I take it that, if it is in order to refer to that decision in the present debate, it will also be in order to seek to amend the Bill to incorporate that decision?
The Chairman : The right hon. Gentleman well knows from the previous two days of debate that I must ask hon. Members on both sides, if they wish me to consider amendments, to put them in writing. When they are received in writing, I will give the amendments detailed consideration and will hope very much to draw a conclusion on them. I also make it clear to the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) that I did say that the points that were raised could be alluded to and passing references made to them. I think that that is what is appropriate at the present point.
Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Have you had an opportunity to discuss with the Select Committee on Procedure ways in which we can make as rapid progress with the Bill as possible, in order that it can move swiftly to ratification in this country's interests? There is in general debate in the Chamber an opportunity for the Speaker to apply the 10-minute rule. Is there any way in which we can give as many hon. Members as possible the opportunity to speak in Committee? It is not normally done, I understand, but it would give an opportunity to many hon. Members.
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Like many other hon. Members, I am worried about the status of the decision taken at Edinburgh and how it will affect Denmark. I think that you described the issue as a political one which could be raised and discussed in the ordinary course of events, but is it a political matter? Is it not a legal and constitutional matter, and therefore one on which, before we can proceed with a Bill that could be profoundly altered by the answer to the question, we should have a statement from the Attorney- General?
The Chairman : Hon. Members will have their own views on all such matters. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), who first raised a point of order, sought clarification on a number of issues. He was perfectly right to do so, but the Chair cannot provide the answer to any of his doubts.
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. The Bill is about changing United Kingdom domestic law. You will be aware that a unitary Parliament--set up by the Act of Union of 1707 between Scotland and England--was created to devise United Kingdom domestic law. That Act produced, among many other things, the British citizen. I trust that it will be in order to explore the implications of the effect that changes in United Kingdom law will have north of the border. Those changes will affect the original Act of 1707, which has since been amended by agreement.
The Chairman : The hon. Gentleman is right to raise that issue. However, I think that he will have a busy time tracking the changes that have taken place between 1707 and 1992. I wish him good luck on his journey.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I seek to follow up in a different way the issue raised by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). You said that hon. Members could consult widely and seek legal assistance. I am not sure that that is always the case. You, Sir, as the Chairman of the Committee seeking to safeguard the interests of the House--and within the House, of individual Members--have recourse to considerable legal expertise. Have you, in your role as representative of Back Benchers' interests, asked your legal advisers whether the changes that took place in Edinburgh have a major bearing on the Bill?
If so, it will be totally inappropriate for the House to continue to consider a Bill that was signed on 7 February last year, despite the fact that we began discussions in Committee in December--before the Edinburgh summit. As a member of your panel, I believe that we are discussing an important constitutional, not political, issue.
The Chairman : Every point of order that is in order is important. I have made it clear that no hon. Member has precedence over another hon. Member. I do not disclose the source of my advice. As all hon. Members who have spoken so far have said, they seek clarification because they have doubts. They may have their own opinions but, with the greatest respect, the opinion of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) may not be shared by all
Column 933other hon. Members. I imagine that the hon. Gentleman will seek to catch my eye, raise his questions and see what answer he receives.
The Chairman : Order. I have not invented any cluster arrangement. I am here to assist the Committee, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel that I am doing so. I have told every hon. Member that my door is open. The hon. Gentleman did not come to see me during the recess, nor has he done so since I have been back. I hope that he finds nothing to criticise in the organisation of the amendments.
Mr. Spicer : I hastily withdraw any implication of criticism in my use of the word "invention", Sir. I used it in a favourable sense, because I thought that it was an imaginative way to debate these issues. Other hon. Members may not feel the same, but I am left in some confusion about how we are to proceed with the detailed voting. My question is factual. Am I right in thinking that, typically on each cluster, we shall vote perhaps for the closure, and then for the lead amendment, and vote on the other amendments when we reach the appropriate point in the Bill? If that is right, and as this is a short Bill, how will we know the exact point at which votes on the other amendments will occur?
The Chairman : The hon. Gentleman is right to say that it is up to hon. Members to decide whether to have a vote on each lead amendment. That is not a matter for me, but I imagine that there will be votes on some lead amendments. The hon. Gentleman has been in the House for the same time as I have. He will have to do some homework on when the other votes fall.
Mr. Rowlands rose--
Mr. Shore rose--
Mr. Marlow rose--
The Chairman : Order. The three hon. Members who are on their feet are seeking to catch my eye again, but I suggest that it is now time to make progress on the Bill. We are anxious to hear again the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) speaking to this amendment ; perhaps, later, other amendments will be moved.
Mr. Skinner : I have been listening carefully. You told the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), who is your constituency neighbour, that he had had a heavy lunch, which implied that he had come here semi-drunk or whatever. You have just told a Tory ex-Minister--
The Chairman : Order. I have made no allegation, nor can it be inferred from what I said that any hon. Member has come in here drunk one way or the other. I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that. The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) is an old friend, a good colleague and a close neighbour, and he knows jolly well what I meant. I am sure that he accepted the spirit in which I spoke.
Mr. Skinner : The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer), who is an ex-Minister, is another hon. Friend of yours, and you have just told him to go and do his homework. I am not upset by Tories falling out like Kilkenny cats, and if you want to continue to do that, get on with it. The important issue is that you are in the Chair and have a duty to ensure that the debate is properly conducted. You should not make remarks for which you would pull up a Back Bencher. You are inciting us to say such things on many other occasions. Mind your language. You have told me to mind mine many times.
Mr. Rowlands rose --
Mr. Denzil Davies rose --
Mr. Shore rose --
Mr. Marlow rose --
Mr. Shore : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. As you will be aware, because I wrote to you about the matter, new clause 10 is to be considered in a group of amendments although it is different in style and content from all the amendments in that group. It would be helpful to the Committee and certainly to me if you were able at the appropriate time to call a separate vote on the new clause.
Mr. Rowlands : I seek clarification of your ruling, Mr. Morris. You said that we could make a passing reference to the Danish decision, because there will be a wide-ranging debate. Does that mean that, when issues of citizenship and monetary union come to be considered in greater detail, we shall not be able to discuss the Danish decision and the decision made at the Edinburgh summit?
Mr. Denzil Davies : I, too, seek clarification, Mr. Morris. You have said that a passing reference to the Danish decision will be allowed. I put it to you, with respect, that the Chair should decide whether the Danish decision is within the confines of the Bill--strictly, that decision falls outside the Maastricht treaty--or outside them. If the decision is without the confines of the Bill, we know that your natural generosity will allow a passing reference to it, but the matter should be clarified for the sake of speeches that are made at a later stage in our consideration of the Bill and on later amendments. Does the Danish decision fall within or without the Bill?
Mr. Davies : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I seek clarification of what you have just said. I think you said, "Therefore, it does not fall within the scope of the Bill." Is it your ruling that the Danish decision does not fall within the scope of the Bill?
Mr. Marlow : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Unlike the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), with whom I may make common cause later in the debate, I did not see the implication to which he referred in our previous conversation. To clarify the matter, I had lunch in the Members' Dining Room, and the only beverage that I had was coffee. It was a very good lunch.
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) with regard to the relevance of the Denmark decision and whether it comes within the Bill, you referred, Mr. Morris, to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench listening, and to their ability to comment. May I suggest that these matters are decided not by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench but by the European Court of Justice, which will make the final interpretations and decisions?
In the interests of the House, knowing what is happening and knowing what we are debating, and knowing what is in store if we pass the Bill, which is the ratification of the treaty, is it not appropriate that the House, yourself, Mr. Morris, somebody, or even the Government, should get in touch with the European Court of Justice and put the matter to them so that we know what the facts are?
(except Article 2 on page 9 of Cm. 1934)'.
No. 17, in page 1, line 9, after II', insert
(except Article 138a on page 41 of Cm. 1934)'.
No. 116, in page 1, line 9, after II', insert
Column 936(other than the following provisions set out under Article G Paragraph A (1)
Paragraph B (2)
Paragraph B (3)
Paragraph B (4)
Paragraph B (5)
Paragraph B (7)
Paragraph D (10), (11), (12), (14), (15), (16), (17), (19), (20), (22), (23), (25), (26), (27), (28), (29), (30), (31), (32), (33), (34), (35), (37), (38--except Articles 130, 130r, 130s and Title XVII), (39), (40), (41 --except Article 138e), (45), (47), (48), (49), (50), (56), (57), (60), (61), (62), (63), (67), (69), (70), (71), (79), (80), (81), (83) and (84).'.
No. 124, in page 1, line 9, after II', insert
(excluding Article G B on page 9 to 11 of Cm 1934.)'.
No. 234, in page 1, line 9, after II', insert except Article 138a'.
No. 91, in page 1, line 9, leave out III'.
No. 20, in page 1, line 9, after III', insert
(except Article H on page 60 of Cm 1934).'.
No. 92, in page 1, line 9, leave out IV'.
No. 146, in page 1, line 10, after 1992', insert
but not Article 1 in Title IV thereof'.
No. 183, in page 1, line 10, after 1992', insert
but not Article Q in Title VII thereof'.
No. 122, in page 1, line 10, leave out from 1992' to and' in line 11.
No. 117, in page 1, line 12, after Protocols', insert
(a) The Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank
(b) The Protocol on the Excessive Deficit Procedure
(c) The Protocol on the Convergence Criteria referred to in Article 109 of the Treaty establishing the European Community
(d) The Protocol amending the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunity of the European Community
(e) The Protocol on the Transition to the Third Stage of Economic and Monetary Union
(f) The Protocol on Certain Provisions relating to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
(g) The Protocol on Social Policy
(h) The Protocol on Economic and Social Cohesion.'.
New Clause 10-- Report of European Council--
.--After the European Council has submitted its report after each of its meetings, Her Majesty's Government shall publish and lay such reports, and those annual reports in writing, as required by Title 1, Article D of the Treaty on European Union before Parliament, together with a statement as to their policy and performance in respect of the activities of the Union and their policies for its future.'.
Mr. Cash : In moving amendment No. 40 on title II, I wish to refer briefly to the implications of having a referendum. We have not had a free vote in the House, nor a White Paper. I wish to put it on the record that this is an historic decision, but not to pursue that matter until we come to the question of a referendum. It is important for people to note that there will be an opportunity for a campaign for a referendum throughout the country, which will begin on Sunday at 11.30 am in Hyde park. Having got that point across--