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The Prime Minister: The truth is that there is none, so what would be the policy of the Leader of the Opposition? Supposing that we can, as no doubt in time we will, overcome the difference between Poland and Spain on one hand and France and Germany on the other and that we actually have a European constitution, the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that he would renegotiate the whole of itnot one other country supports that position. What would that leave us with? He quoted to me what my representative on the Convention said. Let me quote to him what his representative on the Convention said, which is that in those circumstances, we should renegotiate our membership and retire to an "associate membership" of the European Union.
That is the worst that would happen, but what is the best? The Leader of the Opposition mentioned Maastricht and the European social chapter. Does he still think that it was of great benefit to Britain to have an opt-out from the social chapter? Well, now that we have signed up to the social chapter, what has it meant? For the first time, British workers had the right to paid holidays. That is what he is against. He is the person
The truth is that Britain should carry on playing a leading role in Europe in areas such as defence. It is important that Britain is part of European defence. Britain is blessed with two great alliances: one is our transatlantic alliance with America; the other, as a result of our membership of the European Union, is a European alliancepart of the most powerful union in the world. I say that we should give up neither; we should carry on working, as we have in the last year, for the transatlantic alliance, and we should continue to be a leading constructive, engaged member of the EU. To return to the margins, which is where we were six years ago when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in charge, would not be to the satisfaction of our national interest; it would be a betrayal of that national interest.
On Iraq, I begin by expressing unqualified congratulations on the skill, professionalism and bravery of those forces who apprehended Saddam Hussein. That is a most welcome development. Does the Prime Minister agree that it could send an important signal, both inside Iraq and globally, to those misguided enough to be adherents to Saddam's particular form of brutalised fanaticism that their time is over and that the emphasis must now be on the internationalisation of the position in Iraq and hastening that country towards stability and democracy?
Does the Prime Minister agree, given that Saddam's captivity has been achieved, that he must be tried according to internationally reputable standards of justice and in public, and that the process itself must be rooted in legitimacy in the eyes of those who will be judging, not least in Iraq and the rest of the middle east? Does he agree therefore that a significant international presence in the shape of the United Nations is required for a tribunal, or whatever method of legal procedure is arrived at, to have sufficient legitimacy?
If we want to internationalise the situation, does the Prime Minister agree that the best way to establish credibility for any war crimes trial would be for the Iraqi governing council to suggest setting up an international tribunal, perhaps along the lines of the one that was pursued in the context of Sierra Leone? If that IGC requested the setting up of such a tribunal, would the British Government give their support?
Yesterday, Sir Jeremy Greenstock ruled out British participation in any process that results in administering the death penalty. The statute of the existing special tribunal that was agreed last week, of course, includes the death penalty, so if the special tribunal that has been established for Iraq by the coalition forces tries Saddam Hussein as presently proposed, will the UK participate?
I shall now turn to the extremely disappointing events of the weekend in respect of the intergovernmental conferenceit was disappointing for all of us across the political spectrum with a broadly pro-European mindset in the national discussions that are taking place.
May I stress to the Prime Minister that the Liberal Democrats remain firmly of the view that there remains the need for a constitutiona codification of European operating proceduresnot least because of the welcome enlargement that is now in front of us and that those who seek some comfort from the difficulties of the weekend overlook the much bigger picture? Those of us who were Members of Parliament at the time remember the Monday after the weekend when the Berlin wall came down and all those countries of central and eastern Europe that had been under the tyranny of the communist regime in the Soviet Union suddenly began to experience liberation. That was the big picture and the big prize for Europe, and we must not lose sight of the fact that, despite the political difficulties that were encountered at the weekend, the constitution will give effect to an enlarged Europe. That is a pivotal point, which those of us who are of a pro-European slant are correct to emphasise.
Does the Prime Minister agree that the spectre that has been raised during the weekend of a two-speed Europea two-tier Europeis not in Europe's interests and is certainly not in British interests? That being the case, will the Prime Minister tell us how that sense of two-tierism will prejudice his ambitions on behalf of the Government for our country to remain at the heart of Europe? Finally, will he confirm that it remains the Government's intention to secure a decent and deliberative outcome to the Convention process, arriving at a workable constitution for an enlarged EU? That is in British interests, and it is profoundly in European interests as well.
The Prime Minister: On Iraq, I can do no more than repeat what I have said. I think that any trial of Saddam should be for the Iraqi Government and people and that it is for them to determine the penalties that might arise from that. It is important to recognise that it is only in circumstances where a country is incapable of mounting a proper tribunal that we have recourse to international tribunals. If Iraq has that capability, it would be wrong to mount such a tribunal. The governing council has already indicated that it wants a special tribunal to try those who are guilty of serious war crimes, so it is important to allow it to do that because it is part of Iraq's prerogative as a country. Of course, that would be done on the basis that such a special tribunal could be constituted.
On Europe, the truth is that we need to make changes if we are to have an effective Europe of 25. There is no way in which it will work as effectively as it should unless we make changes, which is why it is perfectly sensible to have the debate on the constitution and to try to resolve it. I do not believe that anyone wants a two-tier Europe, although there will no doubt be issues on which people will move ahead and enhance co-operationthat is already provided for by what was agreed at Nice. For example, we would want to be part of any movement forward on defence, but perhaps we would not on other
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): I totally support the stance that my right hon. Friend has taken at the European Council, which is realistic in difficult circumstances and will carry the full support of the British people. Does he agree that although the capture of Saddam Hussein is welcome, it will not necessarily lead to stability in Iraq, and that the crucial factor in establishing stability is building bridges with the whole of the Iraqi community to prevent degeneration into three separate countries? In that context, does he agree that it would be desirable to broaden the basis of the Iraqi governing council?
The Prime Minister: I agree with both points made by my hon. Friend. I thank him for his support on the European negotiations. On Iraq, he is absolutely right; the capture of Saddam is a momentous and important event, but it will still be necessary to defeat Saddam's supporters and the assorted foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent the progress that is being made. It is important that we give every power and strength to the Iraqi governing council and keep to the political timetable set out. In the end, the situation must be seen for what it is: the coalition forces and the Iraqi people against those who want to hold back the process.