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Mr. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden): The Spanish may go to court.

The Prime Minister: Yes, the Spaniards may take us to court--but, for the first time, we will have the Commission's support in defeating them. That is what is important. It is considerably better than tabling a protocol--[Hon. Members: "Dream on!"] Hon. Members may say "Dream on", but the truth is that the protocol required the unanimous support of all other countries, but not one of them supported it.

On enlargement, the reform of the common agricultural policy and the single market are mentioned in the conclusions. I should like there to be more progress on the institutional mechanisms. We tried to secure that, but it was not possible. However, we shall continue trying to secure the very best deal possible for Britain and for the process of enlargement. We believe in enlargement. It is important and it is something which we owe the emerging democracies in the east of Europe.

I say to the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) that by playing a sensible and constructive role in Europe, we have a better chance of getting enlargement on our terms.

Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil): In the Prime Minister's not unjustifiably long list of the Government's successes at Amsterdam, I was glad to note that he did not include something that was claimed by his spokesman and some of his Ministers--that the Government were responsible for the rescue of monetary union. The Financial Times has a quotation from Amsterdam:

said a member of the Government; I wonder who that could be--

    "although I would be grateful if you did not say it too loudly."

Perhaps I could say, not too loudly, that it is a little bizarre to claim to have rescued an organisation that the Government have not yet decided to join.

The right thing to say about the Amsterdam summit is that it was a modest achievement in the progress that needs to be made in Europe in tackling the challenges that lie ahead of it. Some have called the summit a failure--it was not, it was a disappointment. The Government are entitled to claim success in the things that the Prime

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Minister listed and we welcome those successes, not least because they were aims that we, too, wanted to be achieved at Amsterdam.

However, there is an exception. I think that the Government misunderstand the process now in place for the integration of European defence and foreign policy. I do not think that the Prime Minister was right to say that NATO has not previously appeared in a treaty text in the way that he described. I note that the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), is nodding. If my memory is not wrong, NATO appeared quite explicitly in the Maastricht text, which said that nothing undertaken under the treaty should prejudice the importance of NATO. No one I know in Europe wants to get rid of NATO. However, building a second European pillar--which, over time, must mean the WEU being integrated into the European Union--will not undermine NATO; it will strengthen it.

That having been said, does the Prime Minister agree that the summit is marked not by the work it did, but by the work left to be done? Is it not true that there is a great deal of work to be done, perhaps at some future intergovernmental conference--surely there must be one--to prepare the way for enlargement and to complete the process of institutional change? Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot be satisfied with the progress in, for example, the democratisation and accountability of the European institutions and in other areas that need to be dealt with before Europe can move forward. That is important, and I hope that the Prime Minister will agree.

We should dispose of the leftovers of the Maastricht treaty and move on to the new agenda of creating a people's Europe, which is less about the Europe of political elites and more about the Europe that delivers what people in Europe want. It is only through that that we can bind Europe's institution and move forward sensibly in the process of integration.

The Prime Minister: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that. On the rescue of EMU, it is not for us to rescue it or otherwise. I thought that he was a great proponent of EMU--

Mr. Ashdown: I am.

The Prime Minister: Then he should be grateful to whoever said it.

The right hon. Gentleman said that it was a summit of disappointment, but that is not entirely correct. There was progress on jobs, crime and the environment. The summit was more a staging post on the way to try to reshape the European agenda, which is important. I echo what the right hon. Gentleman said about a people's Europe and I have said that myself.

On NATO and the arguments about an EU-WEU merger, I did not say that NATO had never been mentioned in the texts. It was mentioned, but the importance was that common defence and a common defence policy was actually contemplated in the Maastricht treaty that was negotiated by the previous Government. What we have done is put into the treaty words that indicate that we see our common defence as founded on and realised through NATO. That is an

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important difference, because it defines common defence in the perspective of NATO within the context of the treaty. It is important that we have secured that.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is a lot more to do, especially on enlargement. It is important to move that agenda forward and we are better placed as a country to play a proper role in that than we were before.

Several hon. Members rose--

Madam Speaker: Order. The questions and answers from the two major Opposition party leaders have taken more than half an hour. I now seek one brisk question each from Members and I ask the Prime Minister also to make a brisk response. Otherwise, I will not be able to call many Members.

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield): Will the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that if economic and monetary union proceeds and a single currency comes on to the agenda, there will be a free vote in the House on that matter, so that the decision is made by the people here and not by a political elite?

The Prime Minister: It is more than that. We have said that if the issue of monetary union comes on to the agenda in this Parliament, it will be a matter for a referendum of the British people. We do not know whether that will be the case or not. Our position--to retain the option to join if we wish, and we have already made our statements on that--remains as is and it will not alter.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): Does the Prime Minister agree, however, that the summit was not a success on defence, because he has conceded--as the Dutch presidency has said--the principle that defence is now in the treaty in the sense that there is a common purpose and direction? In binding NATO in as a reference, the Prime Minister has provided an opportunity for others to build a common defence--albeit around NATO--that was not there before.

The Prime Minister: No, that is simply factually wrong. The first time the ideas of common defence and a common defence policy appeared in European treaties was when they were negotiated by the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major). We are under no obligation, under the text that we have negotiated, to merge the EU and WEU. Indeed, as I have said, we have the right to have our common defence founded in NATO.

Mr. Giles Radice (North Durham): Despite the mean-minded response of the previous Prime Minister, does not the successful outcome of the Amsterdam summit show that a constructive approach by Britain yields results for British interests in jobs, border controls, defence, crime and drugs, as well as providing a new hope and dynamism for Europe?

The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for that and he is correct. It is in British interests to be part of Europe. If we are part of Europe, it is in British interests to be constructive and engaged. Of course, we must protect our national interests, and all countries do. The absurdity of the foreign policy of the previous

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Government was that, in the end, the policy was directed at party and not at the interests of the country. That is what has to change.

Mr. Charles Wardle (Bexhill and Battle): Will the Prime Minister accept that the exemption on border controls will be widely welcomed because--regardless of who negotiated what, when or how they were prompted--the issue has been fudged since the introduction of the Single European Act? Does he accept that hon. Members on both sides of the House wanted that exemption? Will he tell the House whether the European Court will now have jurisdiction over all European conventions--including, once it is ratified, the external frontiers convention?

The Prime Minister: None of those matters will apply to Britain unless we wish them to do so, and that is the advantage that we have gained. On preliminary rulings of the European Court of Justice, we secured changes to the text that will mean that other states will have to opt in if the European Court is to have jurisdiction. That change is another considerable advance.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the exemption on border controls; it is important that such an exemption is actually written into the treaty. If it had not been written in the treaty, there would have been a danger that, over time, our ability to control our own borders would be eliminated.

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