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3.45 pm

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): My hon. Friend may have missed hearing the Minister for Europe say on television earlier today that the European Union had already brought to an end the cold war and ensured that there had been no war in western Europe since 1945. If it could do all that without an army, why does it conceivably need one now?

Mr. Cash: It is a case of a great deal of hot air. It is extremely difficult. We are moving from a cold war to a hot war, at any rate in so far as a vast amount of hot air is being generated. With rotation, the so-called military command structure is even more frightening. The amount of apparent capability supposedly generated will be as many as 240,000 troops, not the 60,000 that have been mentioned. The target date for readiness is 2003. So we have an exponential rise in expectations, a decreasing amount of money and resources to be made available, and no evidence that the force will be able to perform any useful function.

The United Kingdom will contribute 24,000 troops to the new force, who will come from the United Kingdom's NATO reaction force. Eighteen warships and a quarter of the Royal Air Force and the Army will be allocated to it. My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford

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Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) is engaged in some rather important leadership business at the moment, but I wish that he were here today, because he has led the exposure in the House of Commons, the United States and elsewhere of this absolutely ridiculous situation. We remember only too well all the correspondence and articles in the newspapers demonstrating the incredible weakness of our capacity, whether one refers to our nuclear submarines or inadequate equipment and naval provision.

There is a range of reasons why we need to be deeply worried that, rather than concentrating on an effective force within the United Kingdom for the use of the Alliance, we are merging our thinking into a strategic black hole—a force that is incapable of performance and has not got the money to back it up. There will be a 100-strong military staff committee, which will effectively end NATO's monopoly. That is highly dangerous.

There are contradictions in control and command. If one looks at the nightmare of the legal framework that has been created, one wonders how on earth—as I wrote in a book called "Europe: The Crunch" about eight years ago—it will conceivably be possible to have any control and command in the middle of the night when something crops up. In the case of the enlarged Community, 27 countries with their military staff, generals and the rest of it will all be trying to work out what provisions apply, whether the force will operate under a degree of qualified majority voting or whether there is a direct control and command system. If I was a potential enemy—thank God, if I may say so, that I am exactly the opposite—I would say to myself, "Heavens above, we have really got these people where we want them because they will never be able to deliver any kind of strategic or tactical position." We know that not a single military unit is to be created.

On article 17 of the treaty on European Union, the current moves towards the rapid reaction force require no treaty modifications. They followed the summits at Feira, St. Malo and Cologne, but I believe that Maastricht and Amsterdam together provide a perfectly adequate treaty base, and that is where the problems lie. The declaration, next to the final act of the intergovernmental conference regarding European security and defence policy, makes that abundantly clear. As I have repeatedly argued, the issue of the rapid reaction force is entirely separate from that of Nice. Member states are forced to ride roughshod over their constitutional arrangements. In my judgment, they are forced to act anti-constitutionally.

With regard to article 25 of the treaty on European Union, the Political Committee introduced at Amsterdam with the stated purpose of monitoring international affairs is now renamed the Political and Security Committee. Its power is substantially increased as it takes on a number of strategic and management tasks relating to military operations. In fact, it is intended that it will direct Euro-soldiers in combat.

The declaration added to the end of the article is crucial because it basically states that the existing treaty base is enough to enable the European Union to launch military operations. That has to be taken in the context of the single autonomous structure in which NATO as a whole is not engaged. Indeed, the declaration refers to the lengthy presidency conclusions on military affairs which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt the reality of an

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autonomous European army, drawing on national armies' personnel, with an independent control centre separate from NATO.

In conclusion, the lesson for this century is not that Europe is, or can in the foreseeable future ever be, the guarantor of Britain's security. The true guarantor of Britain's defence has, rather, lain in her close co-operation with the United States through NATO. As Churchill put it, the supreme fact of the 20th century was that Britain and America marched together. A common European defence would lead Britain to dissolve her national interests into those of others. As Churchill said, we should be associated but not absorbed. For that reason, we must resist common European defence and instead turn our attention to strengthening our own woefully underfunded armed forces.

Denzil Davies (Llanelli): I will be brief, and I will not follow the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) in his analysis of what happened at the various conferences that have set up this European defence arrangement, to use a neutral expression.

Some of us may not remember the Werner report in the 1970s which led to the exchange rate mechanism, which then led to the single currency. I suggest that whatever the defects of this arrangement are, its purpose is quite clear. It will take some time but, just as the Euro-area has a single currency, the purpose of this arrangement is eventually to create a European army. The attempts by the Euro-enthusiasts to mask this are not very different from those that have been made with regard to other steps towards integration.

One of the reasons why the population of Europe are so concerned about the European Union is that they have not been told that and are beginning to understand that the European elite has been pretending to them all along. The best course for the Euro-enthusiasts to take would be to admit these things. There is no shame in it—if that is what they want, they should say so. That would be a much better way of opening a clear and informed debate about the European Union and the direction in which it should go.

I should like to return to the more esoteric matters in these treaties. I apologise for doing this after the Minister for Europe wrote in a very interesting article in The Independent that language must be much clearer when considering these matters. I quite agree with him.

I am not questioning the selection of amendments, but I was surprised that we were to debate amendments to the treaty on European Union. The only amendments in the Nice treaty to the treaty on European Union are in article 1. Whereas the long title of the Bill refers to making

that is stating merely what the Nice treaty did— clause 1, which incorporates the provisions of the treaty of Nice into UK law, refers to the treaties on European Communities and to articles 2 to 10 of the Nice treaty.

None of those articles refers directly to the treaty on European Union—only article 1 does so. I deduce from that—I am not questioning whether we should have a debate—that the treaty on European Union did not create rights and obligations for the purposes of the European

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Communities Act 1972 in the UK. Perhaps I should not try to make the Minister's speech for him; perhaps he will not say that.

Clause 1(1)(ii) refers to

articles 2 to 10, which relate to the treaties establishing the European Communities. There may be something in article 1, especially in relation to enhanced co-operation, that follows on from the treaty on European Communities, but perhaps that does not give rise to any rights and obligations on questions of defence under the European Communities Act 1972. It is right that such matters should be debated—although I am not questioning that.

We have a haphazard way in this House—these points have been made in the past—of debating and amending treaties. We cannot amend treaties, but we can pretend to do so only when their provisions affect internal law. I cannot remember what happened in the case of the treaty on European Union. Presumably, it was debated in this House under the Ponsonby rules, which are in some way supposed to ameliorate the effects of the royal prerogative, whereby the Crown does not need to debate such treaties in the House.

I have not looked it up, but I suppose that the treaty on European Union was debated as a treaty. I know that there was no legislation. Presumably, it was not needed because it was felt that the treaty did not affect internal law. I am not even sure whether it is a treaty in international law, but perhaps I will return to that. If it is, notice must be given under the Ponsonby rules and the House must debate it—although it cannot, of course, amend such treaties.

World Trade Organisation agreements and general agreements on tariffs and trade, which are so important but may not have a direct effect on internal law, are not amendable by the House either. Perhaps the Modernisation Committee, which is modernising everything, could look at that.

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