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Mr. Miller: I am listening carefully and it seems that the hon. Gentleman's argument underlines what I said about it being wrong to rule out in principle an extension of QMV in the circumstances. Although we are at different ends of the telescope in terms of the development of the EU, he makes a powerful case on this subject.
Mr. Cash: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the temperate way in which he phrased his intervention. I object to QMV in many arenas for the reasons that I gave. We must make a decision: do we want a European Union or not? That is the difference between my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) and me.
By that, I do not mean that I do not want a European Union; it is just whether I want this one. The principle of renegotiation comes into that. To say that in principle we are against QMV hardly sits well with the fact that we passed the Single European Act. Incidentally, I wrote to the Prime Minister a few days ago and ended the letter by explaining, a little cheekily, that I voted for the Single European Act and he voted against it. We must remember that issues of principle are extremely important when applied in particular circumstances.
Other issues also concern me. Amendment No. 3 deals with anti-discrimination and article 251 as it applies to the new provision. It is the usual combination of QMV in the Council and co-decision with the European Parliament. We should attack the implicit argument that member states will be racist in the absence of EU-wide anti-discrimination laws. We have seen what is going on in Bradford and Burnley. I am chairman of the all-party committee for the reduction of third world debt and am devoted to ensuring that there is no racism in this country. However, we are talking about a quasi-constitutional way to deal with an extremely sensitive issue. To assume that member states will be racist in the absence of EU-wide anti-discrimination laws is a difficult and dangerous route to take.
Mr. Cash: The answer to that probably lies in the Race Relations Act 1976. In fact, I was one of the first people to sign the equality declaration because I believe that we must ensure that there is no discrimination, but that should be achieved in a national context. My prime concern is with quasi-constitutional issues that apply to the EU as a whole. Race is a matter for nation states and is a good example of subsidiarity. Indeed, I could go into the problem of the Turks in Germany and similar issues, but I would probably take up too much time. Cross-border abductions are another matter.
I recommend an interesting article by Professor Roberto de Matei on the charter of fundamental rights and the totalitarian spirit. No doubt you will pull me up sharply, Mrs. Heal, if I dwell on that, much as I should like to. I cannot understand why we are not allowed to debate the charter because it is a monumental shift in the juridical and jurisdictional nature of the EU and thus of this country.
Amendment No. 4 deals with freedom of movement. Frankly, it boils down to my objection to the fact that decisions will be taken by QMV because of the move towards an arrangement that we would do best to avoid at this juncture.
Amendment No. 5 covers article 100 on Community financial assistance, which deals with emergency relief for accidents, disasters and supply problems. Aid can now be given to member states in the event of "natural disasters", rather than solely in connection with "exceptional occurrences". I believe that that increases the probability of misinterpretation and what I call EU functional creep. Again, QMV is extended and the veto abolished. The attached non-binding declaration restricts the subsidies available for the next few years, but I regard the article as highly dangerous because it opens the door to extensive intra-EU redistribution of wealth.
Amendment No. 6 deals with social provisions. The remit of the EU is being expanded to encompass the combating of social exclusion. I cannot imagine why that effort should be carried out on a European scale. The provision opens a book of blank cheques that will increase the sums of money made available on European scale, but does not answer the question of how those sums are to be provided. The modernisation of social protection systems is mentioned, but who knows what such vague terms mean? Again, everything is subject to QMV with the exception of four matters: protection of sacked workers, representation and collective defence of workers and the conditions of employment of third-country nationals, which remain subject to unanimity for the time being.
In the final analysis, it is likely that the EU will use QMV in that context to meddle extensively with national security systems, which will threaten British interests. We noticed that during the general election the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear that he does not believe that the EU would start to play around with our national security system, but I regard the provision as an open
Roger Casale: Will the hon. Gentleman explain how it is possible for the EU to spend as much money as it wants on anything when its member states have just agreed that there should be an absolute ceiling on EU spending of 1.27 per cent. of European gross national product?
Mr. Cash: Skilful characters are trying to tempt me down all sorts of routes that would not meet with the Chairman's approval, but let me give an example by way of a quick response. Creating functions inevitably takes us closer to a tax regime, as Mr. Hans Eichel suggests. Romano Prodi calls for 60 billion euros. There is the problem. A gun is put to people's head: they are told that they have created the functions, so they must now pay for them. That equals taxation. I should like to refer to an article that I wrote, "The Paradox"
Amendment No. 7 relates to QMV and codetermination with the European Parliament, which is now introduced for industrial policy. A necessary consequence of that is a further increase as socialist policies are imposed on countries such as the United Kingdom, or those with right-of-centre Governments. I object to the provision on those grounds.
Amendment No. 8 relates to social cohesion and structural funds. After a massive fight at Nice in which the rearguard action was led by Spain, it was decided that structural funds are to be determined by QMV only from 2007. The problem for countries such as Spain, and the cause of the battle, is that enlargement reduces their relative degree of poverty and so deprives them of handouts, with the money going instead to eastern European countries. I have no doubt that they are truly poor and need the money, but the bottom line is that the eastern European elites have, in effect, been blackmailed and that is one of the reasons why they agreed to the extension of QMV. The problem is a serious one.
Amendment No. 10 relates to environmental policy. QMV is introduced for recycling and waste management and a non-binding declaration adds that the EU is to take the lead in environmental issues, including sustainable development. That will, of course, not be accompanied by the necessary abolition of the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy.
Amendment No. 11 relates to economic, financial and technical co-operation with third countries, which raises serious problems. Again, QMV is attached, as are measures that allegedly reinforce democracy and the rule of law, which strikes one with my interest in third-world countries as a bit rich, considering the EU's record. That record causes me to doubt that the provision is liable to achieve its objective.
Amendment No. 13 relates to article 191, which deals with "political parties at European level". The implication appears to be that restrictions will be placed on the way in which political parties are funded, which jeopardises free speechan issue that affects us all. The article on regulations governing political parties could be interpreted as giving the Council powers to ban political parties that it dislikes. That must be watched extremely carefully. In my view, it should not be in the treaty.
The original article was purely declaratory and quite vague about what was meant by "European political parties", but the article now gives the Council a role, a regulation and funding from EU funds. Decisions are to be taken by QMV with European Parliament co-decision. All in all, the article represents an important and unacceptable extension of EU power. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Parties in the European Parliament should be funded by national parties.
Article 191 is followed by so-called declaration 11. It is intended to soothe Eurosceptic fears, but is legally non-binding. In addition, its first paragraph is factually incorrect. The whole point of the provisions added at Nice is to give more powers to the European Union.
Amendment No. 14 relates to the appointment of the Secretary-General of the Council, which is to be made by a qualified majority vote. I could spend some time exploring that, but it is not necessary to do so. Suffice it to say that I disagree with it.
Amendment No. 7 relates to the European Court of Justice. Member states are to appoint judges and advocates by common accord. The replacement of judges is to be determined by the statute of the ECJ, and a new provision is included to determine the ECJ's rules of procedure by QMV. That is extremely dangerous, given that body's increasing importance.
Amendment No. 18 relates to article 224 of the treaty, which deals with the Court of First Instance. Again, QMV is introduced. I do not agree with that. Amendment No. 22 deals with the Economic and Social Committee, whose numbers are to increase from 222 to 350.
Amendment No. 24 deals with financial controls. Arguments have been advanced to show that from 2007 accounting procedures will be determined by QMV; it seems incredible that they should be dealt with in that way.