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Mr. Cash: I am very interested in the right hon. Gentleman's line. In the United States, questions of treaties are dealt with by the Senate. We have just had some interesting debates on the power of this Parliament in respect of Select Committees, so perhaps there are some lessons in that.
Denzil Davies: Indeed, although I believe that the United States has a fast-track system which it tries to apply to treaties such as the GATT. However, although I do not want to revisit yesterday's Select Committee debate, I have to point out a fundamental difference. The British Executive sit in the legislature, whereas the United States Executive do not. We do not have separation of powers, whereas the United States does.
Even though they may not change internal law, international treaties such as the GATT increasingly impinge. The forthcoming treaty on services, which is likely to be hugely controversial, will come before the House as a single document which there will be no opportunity to amend.
I see you looking at me, Sir Alan; perhaps you are wondering whether the right hon. Member for Llanelli is straying a little, even though, as I am sure you are aware, he never does. However, to return to the treaty on European Union, I am surprised that debate on it has been allowed. I see you frown, Sir Alan, but I should be interested to learn from the Ministerif he can tell uswhich domestic rights and obligations are affected by the treaty on European Union. If none are affected, what on earth are we debating the treaty for? However, if we are debating it, presumably some rights and obligations are incorporated in English, British or United Kingdom law by the 1972 Act. The House should be told what the treaty on European Union puts into internal law.
I hope I do not stray too far, but I should like to say a word or two about treaties and the royal prerogative. The treaty on European Union is called a treaty, but it is not a treaty for the purposes of the Vienna convention definition, which states clearly that a treaty must be governed by international law. Well, perish the thoughtthe European treaties are not governed by international law.
If someone were to turn up at the European Court of Justice and say that one of the provisions of the European treaties was contrary to fundamental principles of international law, he would get short shrift from the Court. The Court might look at the principles of international law when interpreting the treaty, but the treaties we are debating are certainly not Vienna convention treaties. I do not know whether, ultimately, they come within the scope of the prerogative. The argument will probably lead me up a cul-de-sac.
Mr. Redwood: The right hon. Gentleman makes the interesting and, I fear, accurate comment that we are setting forth on a course that leads towards a European army that we will not directly control. Will he say how long he thinks it will be before a British soldier is sent into battle or a dangerous situation against the will of the British people and there is nothing that we can do about it?
Denzil Davies: I do not think that I can prophesy on that subject, even though I was a Labour party defence spokesmanperhaps ingloriouslyin the 1980s. At least in the 1980s we knew that we had an enemy. These days, I listen to debates about defence and armaments and I wonder where the enemy is. I would not like to be a shadow defence spokesman these days, because that is a difficult job when there is no enemy. I might answer the right hon. Gentleman's question if he tells me who the enemy is. No doubt, the military bureaucracy has made attempts to find enemies everywhere.
Mr. Redwood: Let us suppose that the European rapid reaction force was sent to dangerous territory in the Balkans, and the British people were not happy about the side in the conflict on whose behalf we were engaged.
Denzil Davies: While I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on many matters, I would be surprised if, at the end of the day, British forces, whatever the legal position on treaties, were sent into battle without a debate and a vote in the House. I would be worried if we were moving towards arrangements whereby that was likely to happen; I hope that we are not and that, whatever the position on legal sovereignty, the will of the House would allow or prevent such action.
Returning to my rather esoteric pointwe are debating esoteric matters in these European treatiesit is not satisfactory to debate and amend treaties merely because they affect our internal law. We are now in a difficult area because we do not know how far internal law is affected by the treaty on European Union or what rights and obligations are being created. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will tell me. I know that he has sent me a few letters but, on this occasion, I should like a short, clear, pithy statement about the rights and obligations which, if we allow the measure to go through
Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe): For the second time in a fortnight, I have the great good fortune to follow the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Denzil Davies), who represents my home town in Parliament, in a debate on the Bill. As usual, his speech was marked by intellectual rigour and distinction; its logic was compelling. I am sure that we all await with great anticipation the appropriately detailed reply that the Minister will doubtless give at the end of our debate.
I begin by congratulating the Minister on the speech, "Plain Speaking on Europe", that we understand he will give elsewhere later today and is directly relevant to the subjects that we are debating. I am not entirely sure whether I have the final version because my copy still includes the annotation from the now famous J. B.:
When the Minister explained the speech on "Today" this morning, he said that it had been cleared by No. 10; I am sure that we were all gratified to hear that, but I wonder whether it is quite enough. It seems not so much that the speech should be cleared by No. 10 but that that address should be its primary, perhaps only, destination. No one is more guilty of the spin, hype and pejorative prejudice that have been introduced to the debate than the Prime Minister. Whenever an Opposition Member makes a point that is mildly critical of any developments that are directly relevant to those that we are debating, the right hon. Gentleman promptly accuses the person making it, from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition down, of wanting to leave the European Union altogether. That is his stock response to any criticism of any such development. I hope that the Minister's speech, which I warmly welcome, was cleared by No. 10 and was read with care by the Prime Minister. I hope also that it may influence his conduct on these matters henceforth.
Mr. Redwood: I am slightly worried in case my right hon. and learned Friend has been uncharacteristically over-generous to the Minister. I wonder whether the Minister is flying under false colours. He is a Minister who wishes to give away all the vetoes in the treaty. He is a Minister who wishes to scrap the pound. He wishes to increase the stranglehold of Brussels on many aspects of our life. How can he possibly say that he is anything other than a Euro-enthusiast?