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The constitution would create a single legal personality for Europe for the first time. A single legal personality is the hallmark of a state. For the first time, it will constitutionally assert the authority of European law over all national laws and constitutions. Totally contrary to the Government's pledged position, the constitution will incorporate the charter of fundamental rights, give that legal status and make it legally binding. Through the constitution, contrary to pledges made in Britain, the Government have agreed to a separate European military planning capability that will undermine NATO. It creates a five-year presidency and a Foreign Minister with his own diplomatic serviceit is called an external action service to lessen the impact of thatthat will increasingly move powers on asylum and immigration policy to the European Union. The constitution will abolish more than 30 national vetoes, and anyone who says that it is not a centralising and integrationist measure has not studied its details.
Lady Hermon (North Down) (UUP): Just to spare me from endless sleepless nights, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman clear up one little query that I have had for a considerable time after listening to Conservative Members debating the constitution? I am sure that he knows that the principle of the supremacy of Community law was established inI think1962.
Mr. Ancram: The simple answer to the hon. Lady's important question is that up until now, the primacy or supremacy of European law over national laws has flowed from treaties that were agreed by nations and could be changed by nations. We are talking about the creation of a constitution from which such authority will flow down. That is a different animal from the previous situation. We emphasise the point because we are talking about a changed animalit moves from being a Europe of nations to something much closer to being a nation of Europe.
Mr. Cash: In endorsing what my right hon. and learned Friend has said, does he accept that only a few days ago, the House of Lords European Union Committee issued a report that made it quite clear that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary are wrong to state repeatedly that there will be no fundamental change to the relationship between the European Union and its member states? In fact, the House of Lords Committee says that there is a new arrangement for competencies. It was completely wrong of the Foreign Secretary to continue to assert that outrageous statement in Foreign Office questions today.
We are considering whether the constitution is a fundamental change in the relationships between the EU and its member states. That was the test for a referendum set by the Prime Minister. My argument is that when all the various points that I have outlined are added together, it is clear that the relationship and the direction of power are changing. That is why we are pressing so hard for a referendum.
The constitution not only makes the changes that I have described, but sets out wider aspirations for the future. It does so in terms that leave little room for misunderstanding. On the economy, article I-14 states:
Mr. Straw: The wording of articles I-11 and I-14 is unacceptable. We have proposed amendments to change the wording so that it becomes consistent with the articles in part III69 or 70, or thereaboutsand makes it clear that it is the role of member states, not of the Union, to co-ordinate their economic policies. We made that position clear as long ago as September last year in the White Paper.
Mr. Ancram: I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for clearing up the question whether that remains the Government's position. May I ask him another question? Article I-15, on foreign and security policy, states:
Mr. Straw: First, the current draft makes it absolutely clear that it will not be subject to the European Court of Justice. Secondly, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to know what the words mean, he should ask himself. They are identical to those found in the Maastricht treaty, for which he voted.
Mr. Ancram: I am asking the Government, who are, as I understand it, negotiating the treaty, what their view of its meaning is. Apparently, Ministers have no view other than the one held by Opposition Front Benchers. The House has a right to know what the Government envisage will be the outturn of such articles, if they sign up to them.
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. I hope that he picks up the mistake that the Foreign Secretary just made. The right hon. Gentleman asserted that the European Court of Justice will not have jurisdiction over article I-15. In fact, the relevant article, III-282, makes it clear that the Court has no jurisdiction only in respect of articles I-39 and I-40. Therefore, article I-15the solidarity clause that imposes an obligation on member stateswill be justiciable in the European Court of Justice. That clearly contradicts what we have just been told by the Foreign Secretary, who ought by now to have read the draft treaty that he is about to negotiate.
We are constantly being told by those on the Government Front Bench that we are alone in our views. However, what about the peoples of Europe? How many of them are straining at the leash for this constitution? How many of them raised their voices in resentment or concern when agreement on the constitution was not reached in December? How many demonstrations have there ever been? We must remember that the whole idea of the constitutional convention was to try to bring Europe closer to the people. It is time that Governments began to listen more closely to what their people are telling them.