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Tony Worthington: Perhaps the Minister can say where else in that lengthy document the issue is mentioned. The point is that it contains a token reference to overseas development, but the rest of the document is devoted to other purposes of foreign policy. Obviously a reference had to be made in the Foreign Office paper to matters such as sustainable development, the poorest countries, and the millennium development goals, but if the paper that I have in mind is the one that he cites, it contains little elsewhere about development goals.
Let us consider EU enlargement. That in itself is welcome, but it must be clear that the new 10 member states will come in with their own claims for assistance and for agricultural and military support. The focus of attention in the Community will swing inwards. As the new members join the EU, a new group of neighbours who want EU assistance will come closer. I do not oppose that, but we must not call the provision of such assistance international development.
Our aim in our Budget is to devote 0.7 per cent. of our income to development assistance. It must be made clear that that money is for the poorest in the world in pursuit of the millennium development goals. That funding must not be damaged by foreign policy expenditure robbing the development bank. If assistance is to be givenas it will need to beto neighbours or those now inside the EU tent, it must not come from the British allocation that we intend to go towards helping the world's poorest people.
Lady Hermon: Great play has been made of the fact that the European constitution gives the European Community the capacity to enter into international treaties but, if my memory serves me well, it could do so before the constitution was drafted. In fact, it signed up to the Lomé convention to help poorer nations. Would the hon. Gentleman's concerns be answered if, following the introduction of the new constitution, the enlarged European community entered into more international treaties such as the Lomé convention to help the world's poor?
Tony Worthington: That is a different ball game. Funding for the Lomé convention, which was replaced by the Cotonou agreement, was not included in the EU's general budget, and was not subject to scrutiny by the European Parliament. The Minister may wish to tell us whether, in the light of what the hon. Lady said about the Lomé convention, he favours the budgetisation of the Cotonou agreement. Those special agreements will lose value over time if the Doha rounds come to a successful conclusion because they provide a privileged position for some poor countries, but not others. Doha, if it is ever successful, would bring about an agreement on a principled basis rather than on the basis of previous association with European states. That is another interesting matter that deserves consideration.
There are concerns about humanitarian assistance under the constitution. I do not mean all development assistance, but the narrow area concerned with emergency relief because of hunger, flooding, war and so on. It is important that humanitarian relief is independent and not subservient to foreign policy. The EU has strengthened that priority over the years, having established ECHO, a distinctive and, to some extent, independent body. The 1996 regulation establishing its legal status says that humanitarian aid
During the Iraq war, there was severe criticism of the US practice of providing humanitarian relief through the Pentagon. Hon. Members will remember the establishment of General Garner's operation, about which there was widespread apprehension. If humanitarian relief was seen to be associated with people on the side of the combatants, that would remove a precious principle. Bodies such as non-governmental organisations, the Red Cross and the United Nations were not on anyone's side. There have been tragic outcomes in Iraq, and the people responsible for the attacks on the United Nations and the Red Cross are reprehensible in their despicable behaviour. If we are to have satisfactory humanitarian relief operations, we must ensure that the independent approach to humanitarian affairs established by ECHO remains. Parts of the proposed constitutional treaty make it look as if humanitarian aid is part of the foreign policy remit of the European Union. I would welcome assurances from the Minister that the independence of ECHO and other humanitarian efforts will be maintained and not subsumed in foreign policy.
I hope to receive assurances that the huge gains brought about by the establishment of DFID will not be lost. A great deal of our assistance goes through the EU. It is important that the recent relatively modest improvement in European development assistance is maintained. What will replace the post currently held by Commissioner Poul Nielson? What guarantee can the Minister give me that development principles will determine the use of the money given for development policy? We must maintain the improvement that has taken place, which to some extent is taking money away from the neighbours on political grounds, and make sure that it goes towards the millennium development goals. I look forward to the Minister's response.
Mr. William Cash (Stone): This morning we saw the Euro-barometer showing that only 48 per cent. of the people of Europe now support the European Union. Listening to the Foreign Secretary, as I have done on many occasions over the past few months, I do not think he would see an elephant in the room, even if it sat on him. It is crystal clear that there are numerous dangers inherent in what is proposed under the constitution, as I explained in a letter in The Daily Telegraph on 1 December and in a pamphlet entitled "The European Constitutiona Political Time-Bomb" published by the
I shall briefly point to the big issues that need to be faced this weekend. The entire process has been characterised by mendacity. When people say one thing, they mean another. Shared competence was mentioned, for example. When EU supporters say shared competence, that is not what they mean at all. When they speak of subsidiarity, they mean hierarchy. When they refer to proportionality, they mean disproportionality. When they speak of variable geometry, it is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as variable geometry. Either it is geometry or it is not geometry.
The worst example is that relating to defence. Enhanced co-operation is not co-operation at all. It is the creation of a hard-core Europe dominated by France and Germany. In the words of Thomas Mann, who postulated either a European Germany or a German Europe, it will be a German Europe. The French will not be able to hold out. They are engaged in the modern version of the Maginot line, yet President Chirac is quoted in The Irish Times today as saying:
When those involved refer to structured co-operation, they mean destructive co-operation. When they refer to sustainable growth or a social market economy, they mean an economy with low growth or none, and high unemployment. When they speak of democracy, they mean bureaucracy. That is the problem: the bottom line is that the whole process is about as honest as the accounts of the European Union, which the European Court of Auditors has not discharged for nine years.
We have dealt at some length with the principle of the constitution. It is crystal clear that the words of article I-10, in relation to which I have previously asked the Minister an extensive series of questions, have now arrived at a certain point. The Minister has said that, whether or not there is an Act subsequent to the constitution Act, the wording will be interpreted in accordance with the rules of the European Court of Justice. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will say that that means that the European Court of Justice ruling in the 1964 case of Costa v. ENEL, to which the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) referred, will be displaced as far as the British courts are concerned. It would be very interesting to hear him say that, though, as in doing so he would be contradicting almost everything that the Government have said in the past couple of years.
On the fundamental questions, those of us who have generously been described as Europhobes, little Englanders or whatever can point to a number of modestly reasonable predictions that we have got right. We were right on the exchange rate mechanism and the
In conclusion, I return to a point that I made in a speech in Yeovil as long ago as 1995, in which I called for associated status. The argument about being in or out is not about withdrawal but about having a sensible European Union where we can co-operate but into which we will not be absorbed. I suggest that we must move to a new parallel treaty arrangement involving on the one hand a treaty of associated status with the European Union, allowing us to maintain all the best elements of what the European Community could offer, and on the other, a new treaty arrangement ensuring that there was associated status with the United States as well. That would be a true bridge that would depend on the notion of a proper and workable relationship in which we would maintain our sovereignty and independence in relation to the levers of government, but co-operate by treaty on a bilateral basis with the European Union and the United States.