Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Angus Robertson: The Minister talks about the gap between the leaders and the led. Everyone recognises that a lot of valuable work goes on in the European Parliament. One issue that I have not heard mentioned is the knock-on effect of the reduction in the number of MEPs for the United Kingdom. I asked the Library today whether the Government had at any time clarified what number of MEPs will represent Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, post ratification. There has been no such clarification from the Government. I know that that is a matter of great concern for Northern Irish colleagues, as well as those in Scotland and Wales. Will the Minister clarify how many MEPs Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have after the ratification of the Nice treaty?

Peter Hain: That matter has still to be addressed. I am being absolutely frank with the hon. Gentleman when I tell him that the reduction from, I think, 87 to 72 MEPs is a long way into the future. We cannot have enlargement on a sensible basis without addressing that matter. I see that the hon. Gentleman is nodding in agreement.

There is a further serious problem that cannot be solved by a referendum. In the Irish referendum, the slogan seemed to be, "If you don't know, vote no." Account needs to be taken of that. The gap between the institutions of Europe and the people of Europe is an issue that must be confronted and resolved.

The argument by the Conservative party that the Nice treaty is so important, and makes so many changes of constitutional significance, that we must hold a referendum on it before we ratify it, seems absolutely wrong. In the majority of member states, the traditional constitutional process for ratifying EU treaties is by parliamentary procedure, just as it is in Britain, just as it was for our own accession treaty when we joined, just as it was for the Amsterdam treaty, and, significantly, just as it was for the Single European Act and the Maastricht treaty. Both those measures introduced far more fundamental changes than Nice does, and both were negotiated by the Conservative party, which saw no need to trouble the people with a referendum on either.

It is worth taking a look at some of the constitutional issues in the Maastricht treaty, which the Conservatives agreed. Maastricht established the European Union; it established citizenship of the Union; and it set up the pillar structure, with common foreign and security policy and justice and home affairs joining the European Community. It extended qualified majority voting to

18 Jul 2001 : Column 381

30 substantial new articles. The iron lady might not have been for turning, but today's Conservative party appears to be spinning like a top.

9.30 pm

What was the Conservative party's argument for the sudden change of heart? The right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) told John Humphrys that it had not held a referendum on Maastricht because

That is not a serious argument and I am surprised that he even tried it with John Humphrys. The right hon. Gentleman has also complained that the Government held referendums on all manner of what he implied were trivial issues, such as Scottish and Welsh devolution and the system of government for London. That is the attitude that won the Conservative party precisely no seats in Wales or Scotland in 1997 and caused it to fare little better a few weeks ago.

Those were very important constitutional issues. So too is whether we join the euro, but on that—arguably the defining issue of our generation—the Conservatives would also deny the people the chance to voice their opinion, although they would have a referendum on apparently vital issues in the treaty of Nice, such as whether to extend QMV for the pension arrangements of the registrar of the Court of First Instance, encouraging the EU's institutions to reply to letters from members of the public in a reasonable time frame, and changing the name of the Official Journal of the EC to the Official Journal of the EU, which of course would do nothing more than reflect reality.

The Conservatives have put themselves in an incredible position—opposition for opposition's sake. They oppose a referendum on an important constitutional issue such as the euro, but want to break with established constitutional procedure and hold one on the treaty. However, the hon. Member for West Suffolk has made his case just in time and I congratulate him on that. What has the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), the front-runner in the Conservative leadership election, to say about a referendum on the Nice treaty? He is opposed to one, saying:

The old agenda, which will disappear in a few weeks, has been put from the Opposition Front Bench tonight.

Notwithstanding the thoughtful comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead, who made serious points that need to be taken on board, we must keep our eye on the ball. The Nice treaty is about a huge prize—reuniting Europe and healing the divisions of the second world war and the cold war. It must be endorsed as speedily as possible and ratified, as we intend to do through Parliament, to achieve European unity and to bring prosperity, stability, peace and security to all the other nations that want to join us in the EU.

18 Jul 2001 : Column 382

Those countries are desperate to join, as I discovered when I spoke recently to the Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Jan Kavan, with whom I worked in the 1970s and 1980s in the anti-apartheid movement here in Britain. He wants to join the EU and we should not stand in his way—nor in that of our many other friends, such as Cyprus, Malta and Poland. I urge the Committee to reject the new clause, endorse the proposition put by the Government and ensure that the treaty of Nice is ratified.

Mr. Spring: From the time when the Minister was active in the Young Liberals in his youth, he will remember a song called "Let The Sun Shine In". That is exactly what we have attempted with the murky areas of the Nice treaty. This is complicated legislation and the Government have covered themselves in confusion. As we have heard consistently, they did not think out the implications of what they signed up to, and that has been transparently obvious during three days of Committee debate.

The Minister talked about Eurobabble, and for all his honeyed words, Eurobabble is what we have heard from him. There is a terrible danger that the elites of the European Union will acquire an echo of Marie Antoinette. The truth of the matter is that if we go on disconnecting the people of Europe from the institutions of the European Union, it will not survive and prosper.

This is an opportunity to re-engage the people of Britain with the process in the European Union by offering them a referendum. I am extremely disappointed that the Minister has not given even one constructive reason why there should not be a referendum. I have listened carefully to his hon. Friends, and agree substantially with what they have said.

We want to breathe the fresh air of democracy into this process. Unhesitatingly, we will press the new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 129, Noes 377.

Division No. 34
[9.36 pm


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Greg
Baron, John
Beggs, Roy
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cran, James
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Duncan, Alan
Duncan, Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Dr Robert
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. James Gray and
Mr. John Randall.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Barnes, Harry
Barrett, John
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis–Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doughty, Sue
Dowd, Jim
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Annabelle
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Holmes, Paul
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Joyce, Eric
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr John
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Salmond, Alex
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simon, Siôn
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Weir, Michael
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Dan Norris and
Mr. John Heppell.

Question accordingly negatived.

18 Jul 2001 : Column 386

New Clause 38

Effects of Nice Treaty

'Within three months of the ratification by Her Majesty's Government of the Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, the Government shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a White Paper on the economic, political and constitutional developments arising therefrom.'.—[Mr. Cash.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Next Section

IndexHome Page