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Mr. Francis Maude (Horsham): I thank the Foreign Secretary for making this statement on a matter of the utmost importance. Will he confirm that the House will have an early opportunity to debate these crucial issues in Government time?

It is absolutely right that enlargement should happen, but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is equally inevitable that an enlarged European Union must undergo serious changes. The EU has today reached a fork in the road. Down one track lies flexibility, the creation of a modern and flexible Europe and a common-sense answer to the challenges of the global economy and the reality of a diverse Europe. Britain has an historic opportunity to chart such a route, and to lead Europe along it.

The second route--

Mr. Andy King (Rugby and Kenilworth): Lead or leave?

Mr. Maude: The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. King) may talk about leaving Europe, but of the Foreign Secretary and me, only one of us has ever stood for that. It was the Foreign Secretary, and he said so repeatedly. Few Members of the House have been more anti-European in their time than he has.

The second route at the fork is the familiar federalist walk, step by step, inexorably towards the single European super-state. What else did Romano Prodi mean just a few days ago, when he said that "step by step", the Commission was behaving like a "growing Government"? With the talk of a European army, a European Government, a single legal area, a European prosecutor, and no role for the national veto, there can be little doubt that, step by step, the destination is a single European super-state.

Has not the White Paper simply ducked what really matters--the fact that in a bigger European Union, within a fast-changing world, the one-size-fits-all model of inexorable integration has had its day?

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Why has the Foreign Secretary not ruled out the further extension of the loss of the veto in areas already identified by the Commission, which include measures on discrimination, transport, social policy, the environment, structural and cohesion funds, the common commercial policy, culture and industrial policy? Those are all areas in which an extension of the loss of the veto is proposed. Loss of each one of those vetoes would enable yet more laws to be imposed on Britain, with the House of Commons having no right to decide on them.

The Foreign Secretary says that he will consider such matters case by case. We know what that means. It means, step by step, the creation of the single European super-state. Does not his failure to rule out losing the veto mean that we are discussing not a White Paper, but a white flag?

Let the right hon. Gentleman answer these questions. Will he now rule out further loss of the British veto, so that further legislation cannot be imposed on Britain against our will? Will he reject the development of an EU defence identity outside NATO, which risks undermining NATO? Will he guarantee that the charter of fundamental human rights will never be incorporated in the treaty or made legally enforceable? [Hon. Members: "Why?"] I note that there is a desire to extend the ambit of the European Union yet further.

Will the Foreign Secretary tell the House whether he, like Mr. Prodi's new Commission, is aiming at

based--however incredible it may seem--on

    "Europe's model of integration"?

What a failure of vision by the Government, to give up the historic chance to lead Britain and Europe towards a braver future, where nation co-operates with nation in concord and friendship. Why are the Government so locked in the past and trapped by the dogma of rigid uniformity and relentless integration? Britain deserves better than that.

Mr. Cook: If I understood the right hon. Gentleman's opening remarks correctly, he welcomes the Government's support for enlargement, which, if I caught him aright, he described as right and inevitable. I am glad that that is common ground between those on the two Front Benches.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman for the third time: will he now ditch his party's policy of vetoing the enlargement treaty if the Opposition do not get their way in it? Three times I have given him the opportunity, and three times he has refused to do it, so we can only conclude that it is a question of not of the white flag, but of the white van, in which that policy is still alive and still a threat to the 12 countries of central and eastern Europe.

It is a piece of brass neck for the right hon. Gentleman, of all people, to demand that I should rule out any extension of majority voting. He is the man who, as a Minister, signed the Maastricht treaty--[Interruption.]--no wonder he is smiling. That treaty conceded majority voting in 30 different cases--on education, on health and safety, on public health and on freedom of movement. After that record, how does he have the nerve to posture as the champion of the veto?

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The right hon. Gentleman should be proud that he is the champion of majority voting. I will share his words with the House. He said:

He was right at that time; he should have the courage to stand by his principles. We shall look carefully, on a case-by-case basis, at where majority voting would lift a block on reform. I may disappoint the right hon. Gentleman, but I cannot hope to match his all-time record of conceding the veto 30 times with one signature.

From the right hon. Gentleman's response, it is plain that the Tory party does not welcome anything that anyone else wants to discuss in the negotiations, and that anything the Tories propose will not be welcomed by anyone else. That is a recipe for isolation.

After three years in opposition, the Tories have still not grasped how much they damaged our national interest by isolating Britain in Europe. As long as they refuse to learn that lesson, the people of Britain will give them many more years in opposition to learn it.

Mr. Giles Radice (North Durham): I welcome my right hon. Friend's support for enlargement. It will be in the interests not only of the new entrants, but of existing members, including the United Kingdom. I also welcome my right hon. Friend's support for sensible institutional reform. Does he agree that it is good that his White Paper concentrates on the real issues, rather than raising the foolish spectre of the veto, which the Conservatives say they are prepared to use to block enlargement? They said that at their last party conference.

Mr. Cook: I agree with my right hon. Friend in his welcome for the process of enlargement: I appreciate the fact that he has focused on the issues that are before the House.

The House--and perhaps people in some quarters of our press--should try to throw their minds forward to what Europe will look like 10 years from now. It will be a Europe of 27, perhaps even 28, member states. It will be the largest single market in the world. That will be an immense opportunity for Britain, but only if we are wholehearted in making the best of our membership.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): I welcome the White Paper, which builds on the joint declaration made by the Foreign Secretary and myself during the past fortnight. Let me take the three issues with which the IGC is likely to be concerned. Is it not in the interests of the UK that there should be proposals on the balance of voting in the Council that are for the benefit of the UK? Is it not also true that it will benefit the whole of the European Union if the Commission is both cohesive and effective? Finally, on voting on a case-by-case basis, is it not common sense to examine a proposal on its merits, and to determine whether to support it depending on whether or not it is in the interests of the people of the UK to do so?

The right hon. Gentleman was right to raise the question of enlargement as though it was one of obligation upon those of us who are members of the EU. It would be a tragedy for Europe, and a betrayal of the applicant countries--such as Estonia and Slovenia, which are trying

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to provide a foundation for the democracy that they have so recently won--if their applications for membership of the EU became pawns in the anti-European game currently being played by the British Conservatives.

Mr. Cook: I agree with the last point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I welcome the fact that the Joint Consultative Committee was able to produce a document setting out a joint policy on that issue. I can see from the negotiations in the EU that other countries benefit from the strength of the consensus in their nations on the commitment to Europe and to enlargement. I regret that we cannot achieve an all-party consensus in the House. However, I welcome the fact that it is not only the Labour party that is concerned with that matter and that we have allies in other parties.

I agree entirely that the three points made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman are also three issues of reform that will benefit Britain. It cannot be in Britain's interest not to go positively into an intergovernmental conference that could give Britain a greater weight of votes. It cannot be in Britain's interest not to go into that conference seeking a reformed, coherent, credible Commission. We welcome the opportunity for reform at this conference. We support Europe, we believe that Britain's place is in Europe but we want to ensure that we reform that Europe.

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