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Mr. Cash: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Michael Lord): Order. I would rather the Minister did not give way on that point. We are getting far off the track.

Mr. Cash: On a point of order, Sir Michael. My intervention concerns a defence matter, which is the issue that we are debating.

The Second Deputy Chairman: It is entirely up to the Minister whether he chooses to give way, but we are moving well away from the subject.

Peter Hain: I shall happily give way to the hon. Gentleman later.

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The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell) spoke confidently. I am sure that the town of Romford will be proud that one of its sons has spoken so strongly and movingly about his constituency. He engagingly gave us an electoral tour de force, taking in Glasgow, Provan, where he succeeded in getting the lowest Tory vote in the country, and going right the way through to his present constituency and home town of Romford, where his party saw its largest swing. He spoke about the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) having provided him with many formative political experiences, which will have given him a unique insight into the world. I am sure that he will benefit from that. At that point perhaps I should give way to the hon. Member for Stone.

Mr. Cash: Further to the Minister's earlier comments, the shadow Minister for Defence is one of the final two in the ballot for the leadership of the Conservative party and I have no doubt that he wishes he was here in order to demolish the Minister's arguments.

Peter Hain: If and when the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green wins the leadership of the Conservative party, as the hon. Gentleman, who is a fervent fan, wishes, he will see his arguments on this issue, as on many others, demolished day after day in the House, and we look forward to that.

I thank the hon. Member for Romford for paying tribute to his immediate predecessor, Eileen Gordon, who was indeed, as he said, a campaigner for the NHS.

I have rarely seen a new Member speak with such confidence and poise in a maiden speech as my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell). He spoke almost without a note in the best traditions of the House, exemplified by the more senior right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard). He appropriately paid tribute to his predecessor, Tom Pendry, and his boxing prowess, which seems to be catching these days. He spoke poignantly about Hugh Gaitskell's speech and displaying unity of purpose, and promised to fight, fight and fight again for his constituents. I was pleased that he called himself a socialist in his maiden speech, which, as a Labour Minister, I am also proud to do.

I do not want to detain the House too long because there are many issues to cover before 10 o'clock. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Denzil Davies) required me to seek enlightenment from officials—I always have to do so when he speaks—on a series of points about the treaty and the question of rights and obligations under the EU treaties that need to be given effect in UK law. The amendments to the EU treaty made by the treaty of Nice are, as he says, set out in article 1. They are not referred to in clause 1 as they do not give rise to community rights and obligations. As my right hon. Friend says, they amount to rights and obligations in international law. They are intergovernmental rather than Community in nature.

5.45 pm

Clause 1 refers not only to provisions in the Nice treaty that do not amend the Community treaties but to matters with which they deal, including amendments to the treaty on European Union. The provisions relate to matters covered by the Community—for example, the

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amendments to the provisions on enhanced co-operation. They are subject to the Ponsonby rule; accordingly, an explanatory memorandum has been provided to Parliament. The submission of the treaty to Parliament as a Command Paper and the debates on the Bill cover the requirement to give Parliament an opportunity to debate treaties before their ratification.

I do not want to be uncharitable to the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe, but his congratulations on my excellent speech make me wonder whether I should have got J. B. to redraft it or give me further advice. Whoever J. B. may be, he is an estimable member of the Foreign Office staff. My full speech is available on www.fco., but I do not believe that J. B.'s comments are on the Foreign Office website for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to inspect.

If I have time, I shall be happy to deal with the points made by the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe in more detail, but they were Exoceted by my hon. Friends the Members for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) and for Preston (Mr. Hendrick). His speech bore little resemblance to the reality of the common security and defence policy in the European Union or the Bill.

The comments of the hon. Member for Stone on Javier Solana were badly informed and misdirected. Javier Solana is a respected representative of the EU. On the EU's behalf, he played an important role, which was welcomed by the Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, in the middle east peace process and in many other areas, not least the Balkans. The hon. Gentleman should inform himself better.

The first group of amendments deals with the second and third pillars of the Maastricht treaty, or the treaty on European Union. They are: foreign affairs, defence, justice and home affairs. There is much confusion about defence and the Nice treaty; that was evident from the debates this afternoon and last week. Much misinformation has been circulated. As my hon. Friend the Member for Preston said, a great deal of rubbish is talked. Some of it has been talked in large doses by Conservative Members. Let me set out the position once more in plain, ministerial English.

The arrangements for the European security and defence policy are not in the Nice treaty. A declaration that is attached to the treaty makes it clear that it does not need to be effected for defence arrangements that have been agreed by EU member states to become operational.

Mr. Cash: The Minister will remember that I made that precise point. The treaty basis is in the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties. One of the problems with our debates is that we cannot specifically discuss the declaration.

Peter Hain: I shall continue to explain the position. I clearly need to do that for the hon. Gentleman.

Before doing that, I shall respond to the points made by the hon. Members for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) about Turkey. They search in vain for a false alibi from the USA when they oppose the modest EU initiative on developing a capability for peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention.

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Turkey has supported the development of the European security and defence policy. At the NATO ministerial meeting in December 2000, Turkey and other allies reaffirmed NATO's readiness to support ESDP and EU operations. Turkey also supported that policy at NATO's Foreign Ministers' meeting in Budapest two months ago in May. With other NATO allies, Turkey reaffirmed its commitment to a genuine strategic partnership between NATO and the EU on crisis management.

Of course, Turkey has concerns about the policy, but the European Union's openness to the involvement of non-EU European NATO members such as Turkey is an important step towards addressing those concerns, some of which are legitimate. We shall continue to engage with Turkey to demonstrate that developing a strong EU-NATO relationship will strengthen the alliance and ensure that Turkish security interests are fully respected.

The hon. Members for West Suffolk and for Stone asked about references to the Western European Union being removed from the treaty. The relationship with WEU has changed since the Maastricht treaty was agreed, and the deletion of references to WEU simply reflects reality. The hon. Member for West Suffolk will note that the reference in paragraph 4 of article 17 has been retained because it refers to political frameworks in which WEU is still involved, as opposed to operational issues in which it is not.

The other new element in the treaty is a reference to the new Political and Security Committee, which is already up and running and to which the Council will now be able to delegate the running of a crisis management operation on instructions from capitals. I say to the hon. Member for West Suffolk that that does not—to use his term—duplicate NATO structures at all; the contrary is the case.

It is hard to imagine from all the hot air that has been spoken that there is not an article somewhere in the treaty setting up a permanent Euro-army under the control of foreign generals who will frog-march our armed forces into campaigns of which neither we nor NATO want to be part. That is absolutely not the case. As my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) so convincingly argued, the European security and defence policy is about improving the military capabilities of European nations to conduct certain EU-led military operations—humanitarian, peacekeeping, crisis management—where NATO chooses not to be engaged. That answers virtually all the points made by the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe.

My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe was also correct about the lessons of the Balkans. To be fair, Conservative Members have referred to that matter as well. The Balkans provide many insights into why this capability is needed.

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