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Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, may I extend our warmest good wishes to the Prime Minister for a complete recovery?

On Iran, I hope that, whatever is said in Washington, the Foreign Secretary will continue with his policy of measured engagement with the Iranian Government, which clearly has support on both sides of the House.

In relation to the middle east, the Foreign Secretary told the House that the meeting of Heads of Government had condemned both the building of the security fence and the continued expansion of settlements, as it has done before. Does he understand, however, that when people throughout the middle east hear of such condemnation, some of them ask what the European Union is prepared to do about either the security fence or the expanding settlements?

No one can take comfort from the crossed wires in recent days over European defence. I was pleased that, in his statement, the Foreign Secretary returned to first principles, but may I suggest for his consideration some

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other components of such a policy? Surely, it must be right that there should always be complete transparency with NATO if Europe decides to act on its own. Should we not also have a formal right of first refusal for NATO? Should not planning for any European operation be from within NATO by officials with twin responsibilities—double-hatted, in the jargon? Must we not also go to considerable lengths to avoid the duplication and decoupling foreshadowed by Madeleine Albright several years ago? Is not there a risk that, however well intentioned alternative structures may be, once they come into existence they may engender rivalries?

In the course of the happy times that the Foreign Secretary enjoyed in Brussels, did he have discussions with Heads of Government who were intending to hold a referendum in their countries even though they were not constitutionally obliged to do so? If our Government are so confident that they will have a good case, why not put the IGC proposals to a referendum so that the Foreign Secretary and I, and many other Members, can make a reinvigorated case for Europe throughout the whole of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Straw: On the right hon. and learned Gentleman's last point, I detect a certain amount of variation in the Liberals' approach. Sometimes they say that they are wholly in favour of a referendum; sometimes they say that they may or may not have one, depending on whether it would represent a fundamental shift in the balance of power between ourselves and the EU. With respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it is important even for the Liberal Democrats to have a principle, and to follow it, for referendums as for other issues.

It is rather difficult to define that principle at present, given the fact that certainly neither we nor—as far as I can remember—the Liberals called for a referendum on the Single European Act. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, we do not dispute the case for a referendum in certain circumstances; indeed, we have provided for a referendum in certain circumstances, compared with the Conservative party which has always set itself against that. In our judgment, we should provide a referendum where the issue is whether to join or leave a completely new institution, or where a major constitutional issue is at stake, for example, in respect of the euro.

I am grateful for what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about Iran. On the middle east, there is a fair amount of concern not only about the situation but also about the lack of power that the European Union or any individual actor, including the United States, has over that desperate situation, which will continue as long as the rejectionist terrorist groups continue to try to blow up the peace process. The EU is a major player in the Quartet, along with the United States, the United Nations and the Russian Federation. Back in June, there was great hope, but not at present. There are many reasons for that, but the key reason is the rejectionist terrorist groups which set about killing innocent Israelis and which, in doing so, are blowing up the whole prospect of the road map for the time being.

On defence, I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman about the need for transparency. That is why we welcome the debate that is taking place in

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NATO this afternoon. There is a hierarchy in military planning. It is not formally established in treaty but it has been followed and we want it to continue to be followed: NATO first, then the Berlin-plus arrangements, which are operated by EU member states or others, making use of NATO assets, and thirdly, wholly autonomous operations. It is not the case that military planning is currently done only in NATO: for some time, EU military staff based in Cortenberg have carried out strategic planning. That should continue—it is fine by us—but the issue for us is that there is no case for having operational planning and the running of operations per se in an EU headquarters, separate either from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, SHAPE, or from national headquarters. We are pursuing that point, and nothing that we have done so far, or will do, is in any sense inconsistent with that approach.

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly): I thank the Foreign Secretary for his very positive statement, but in his future negotiations with our partners in Europe will he stress the need to uphold the principle of subsidiarity? In particular, will he argue for a stronger role for national Parliaments in the European decision-making structure?

Mr. Straw: Yes. My hon. Friend may be aware that, thanks to the good work of our hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) in chairing the working party on national Parliaments, on page 150 of Command Paper 5897, as every hon. Member will recall, a protocol on the role of national Parliaments provides that any draft legislation—the protocol on subsidiarity and proportionality is on page 152—has to be referred to national Parliaments and that, if more than a third of the parliamentary Chambers take an opposite view to the draft legislation, it will be referred back to the Commission. We should like that provision to be strengthened, but I am very clear that this is the first time that any EU constitution has had a mechanism to deliver on subsidiarity. Again, that is contrary to the protestations of those in the Conservative party. They called for it; we have delivered it. We will try to strengthen it, but it is far, far better than what has gone before.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): I very much welcome the Secretary of State's willingness to co-operate in the deputation to Iran, where I think he will find great willingness to co-operate, but does he agree that the one encouraging feature of this very worrying Convention is in title IX, where for the first time in any European treaty we have proposals for the right of voluntary withdrawal? However, it seems that that is, in fact, subject to the majority of the Ministers and the majority of the European Parliament agreeing. Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to try to establish the EU as a democratic organisation by saying that, if the majority of the people of any member state and the majority of the democratic Parliament ask to withdraw they should be allowed to do so?

Mr. Straw: One of the good features of all this is that, for the first time, there is provision for member states to withdraw from the EU. The hon. Gentleman is a man

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whose integrity and honesty has always gone before him, and I assume from what he says that he is tempted to make use of that provision. That is fine; it is his democratic right to propose that we leave the EU. That is a clear position. Costs will follow from it, but he is entitled to his view. However, a credible Opposition—or the current incredible Opposition—are not entitled to say that they want to stay in the EU and to make proposals that are wholly inconsistent with that position.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Since the level of ministerial responsibility matters nowhere on the planet more than in Tehran, may I express delight that the Foreign Secretary himself is going to Tehran at this critical moment? But would it not be wise to take with him a couple of scientists from BNFL Sellafield or Risley to consider the matter of the suspension, as he puts it in his statement,

which would cause some difficulty, because determining whether there is weapons use or legitimate civil use is a very technical matter? Will he also bear in mind what my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield said on "The World Tonight" last night about the feeling in Tehran about Argentine extradition? Might it not be wise to take some silver-tongued lawyer who could explain the difficulties?

Mr. Straw: I am not sure whether the new Member for Chesterfield is yet on the Privy Council. I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to our close friend the former Member for Chesterfield, Tony Benn.

Mr. Dalyell: No, Eric Illsley.

Mr. Straw: Oh, my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley)—Barnsley, my father's birthplace, is somewhere different. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are out in Tehran at the moment, and I look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

On the last point that my hon. Friend made, which I think was a reference to the Soleimanpour case, he will understand that I cannot get involved in discussing that because it is currently before my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary as an extradition matter.

On the wider issues, I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support for this mission, which will be my fifth trip to Tehran in the last two and a half years. Although I will not have with me nuclear scientists from the United Kingdom, we and the Iranians have access to the great expertise of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and France, Germany and ourselves, in co-operation with our other international partners, have been anxious to complement the IAEA's assessment and not to get in the way of it in any sense. I am pleased to say that as a result of our co-operation with Dr. El-Baradei of the IAEA our trip has his full support.

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