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Mr. Ian Taylor: I am chairman of the European Movement, which Sir Winston Churchill set up with the precise objective of ensuring that we tied ourselves more closely to the continent. As Lord Jenkin pointed out in a letter to The Times, Sir Winston was emphatically in favour of our applying to join the European Economic Community—for exactly the political and economic reasons for which we eventually did join.

Mr. Ancram: I do not think there is any difference between our arguments. We are talking about a partnership of sovereign nations, which is what the European Economic Community was. One of its basic principles was that power flowed from the national Parliaments towards the centre. The Convention proposes something very different—that power should flow from the top down towards the national Parliaments.

Ann Winterton : Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Ancram: I will give way once more; then I must make progress.

Ann Winterton: I was somewhat confused by the intervention concerning what Winston Churchill aspired to. If I recall rightly, he once said, "If Britain has to choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea." I do not think that Winston Churchill would have been in favour of the European Union.

Mr. Ancram: I say this with a great deal of diffidence, but I like to think that if that great statesman were standing at this Dispatch Box and were asked if he approved of what was emerging from the Convention now, with Giscard d'Estaing, he would give the same answer—because that is precisely what the choice could be.

Enlargement requires decentralisation and flexibility—what has sometimes been called flexible geometry, within which the very different interests and requirements of the accession countries can be better recognised and met. In a European Union with new members as diverse as Estonia and Cyprus, not only is conformity ludicrous; it makes flexibility essential. The Europe of the Convention and the constitution is anything but flexible. We are seeing the building of the new superpower to which the Prime Minister referred in his speech in Poland in October 2000. [Interruption.] The word "superpower" was used by the Prime Minister, not me. The Foreign Secretary must

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understand that the Opposition are very puzzled by the different descriptions of what is happening that we hear from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Wales. It is time they got their act together and decided what they are trying to achieve in Europe.

We are talking about a Europe in which fundamental rights will be centrally enforced, asylum laws will no longer be made nationally but will be made at European level, large swathes of international policy will be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, the intergovernmental concept that gives nation states their voice and their moment of leadership in the Council will be weakened, and foreign policy will no longer be a matter for individual members but, ultimately, will be imposed centrally. It is a Europe that will have increasingly crossed the line between the Europe of sovereign nations and the sovereign nation of Europe.

This centralised and bureaucratised Europe is precisely what enlargement does not need. Many of the accession countries to which the Bill refers have only comparatively recently freed themselves from centralised Soviet domination. They are new democracies with national democratic institutions that are still young and finding their way. The last thing they want or need is to find themselves once again under stifling centralised domination. They want to see their national Parliaments strengthened, not weakened, and they want to have their own voice in Europe.

Those countries had a taste of post-Giscard Europe during the Iraq crisis, when nearly all of them joined Great Britain and Spain in supporting the US line against the stance being taken by Germany and France. President Chirac's arrogant and intemperate response, chiding them for being "ill brought up" and threatening them with consequences if they did not dance to France's tune, was a salutary warning of the way in which a unified foreign policy would operate: it would be centralised, insensitive and bullying.

Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ancram: I have given way a lot, and I am not going to do so again for the moment.

That is what is likely to be enshrined in the Convention's recommendations. The proposed constitution states that there must be a

with a duty incumbent on member states

that policy

Whatever the Foreign Secretary may say about what is meant by a unified foreign policy, that is what the Convention is trying to achieve.

Different European countries, including the accession countries, will rightly have different ideas about the future direction of international affairs, different historical relationships and different interests. In a healthy, enlarged Europe those should be not

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constrained but encouraged. It would have been unthinkable to impose the French view about Iraq on all the accession countries, with all their close ties to the United States.

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Denis MacShane): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ancram: I will give way when I have made further progress.

The Maastricht treaty said that member states should co-ordinate economic policy. The new constitution says that

which is completely the other way around. If that is not centralisation—if that is not drawing power away from nation states—I do not know what is.

We do not yet know for certain every detail of what will emerge from the Convention, but we do know that it will be a lot more than the "tidying up" referred to by the Secretary of State for Wales. We do know that it will be a lot more than was implied by the Foreign Secretary's famous "golf club constitution" analogy. And we do know that it will mean seeking to centralise rather than devolve, and institutionalise rather than leaving things to national Parliaments. With a single five-year presidency, it will break the concept of intergovernmental leadership—a point made by a number of my hon. Friends in interventions. I believe that that is the antithesis of what enlargement and accession need to succeed.

There is another aspect, mentioned earlier, which has a bearing on enlargement, arising from the constitution. The constitution will abolish and replace previous treaties. The accession countries will find themselves in a European Union fundamentally different from the one that they are about to join. It is not clear whether they will have equal rights of participation in the forthcoming IGC. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that they must not be treated as second-class members? Their future as well as ours is being determined in the debate on Europe's future. Would it not be better, therefore, for the IGC to take place after 1 May next year, when the accession countries will be full members and will be able to exercise their rights as such, including rights of veto?

Mr. MacShane: The right hon. Gentleman has alleged twice that the accession states will not participate in the IGC. They will be full participants, and will take part in all debates. The treaty will be signed after 1 May, and at that point all 25 members will vote for or against. They will have full veto rights, along with the United Kingdom and every existing member state. The right hon. Gentleman must not raise false hares, and must rely on reading documents to know what is the case.

Mr. Ancram: I did not learn that from reading documents; I learned it from the accession countries themselves. They know that while they may be able to participate, they will not have the same voting rights as other EU members while the treaty is being negotiated. I

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am merely advancing the sensible proposition that if the negotiation were left until after 1 May 2004, they could play a full and democratic part in it.

Angus Robertson: I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had an opportunity last week to meet the high-powered delegation from the Hungarian Parliament. They all wanted the Convention's conclusions to be ratified after their country and others had fully joined. What would be wrong with ratifying the constitution after enlargement?

Mr. Ancram: That is a fair point. I have gone further by suggesting that the IGC itself should take place after 1 May, when those countries are full members. I think that that is a constructive proposal, and am surprised that the Government have dismissed it out of hand. That too shows the view that the Government take of the democratic process in relation to the negotiations.

I believe that both current and accession members of the EU can and should benefit from enlargement. It will increase our trade and theirs. It will encourage stability and prosperity. However, it is deeply disappointing that, in its rush to build the European superpower, the EU has failed to tackle the areas most in need of reform if enlargement is truly to succeed: reform of the common agricultural policy, of regional subsidies and of EU finances. It is also disappointing that more progress has not been made towards deregulation and decentralisation, which offer most to an enlarged EU and to the countries joining.

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