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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I will give another example, then. This document says that the European Foreign Minister would not replace Foreign Ministers of the member countries, but article III-206 of the constitution clearly says that in the United Nations Security Council, the European Foreign Minister will replace the British Foreign Secretary when he is describing or defending a European position. So at the request of the European Foreign Minister, he has the right to replace the British Foreign Secretary. That is in the constitution.
Mr. MacShane: Again, the European Union cannot be a member of the UN Security Councilonly its sovereign member states can. That is why Germany is seeking its own independent permanent seat on the Security Council. The existing practice in general UN bodies and discussions where the European Union has a common policy as represented by one of its functionaries is what is stipulated in the treatyit carries on existing practice. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the EU cannot become a member of the United Nations. With respect, he should notI suppose that he has todescribe this procedure in a way that does not correspond to the reality of what is in the treaty or is the legal basis of how the UN can operate.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I am not saying that the European Union would become a member of the United NationsI am saying that the British Foreign Secretary would be replaced by the European Foreign Minister at the request of that European Foreign Minister. That is what it says in the European constitution. It is interesting that the Minister did not dispute that.
That is an unqualified guarantee that a scientist conducting experiments will not be able to be constrained by ethical considerations or considerations of animal welfare, so when the Union starts to legislate in the area of research and developmentagain, that is provided for in the constitutiona scientist who is constrained may well appeal under article 13 of the charter. There is nothing whatever about that in the existing treaties, nor in the separate European convention on human rights. It is a new right that clearly and explicitly extends rights into wholly new areas. It is therefore factually incorrect for the Foreign Office to claim the opposite.
Tony Baldry: My right hon. Friend is making some powerful pointsalthough spiritually we may be slightly at odds in our approach to the European Union. During the referendum campaign on our accession to the European Union, the Government of the day did not publish any such documents. This document is clearly intended to influence public opinion on the referendum. If it is not accurate, surely it should be referred to the Electoral Commission, because there must come a point when it is partial electioneering as opposed to independent, objective advice given by the Government of the day.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: My hon. Friend makes an extremely powerful point. We already know that the Electoral Commission has complained to the Government about the privileged position that the Government have given themselves in the run-up to the referendum. We await the Government's response on that point. My hon. Friend correctly says that the commission should widen its inquiries and start to look very carefully at what is in this propagandist, one-sided and partial documentation that the Government are printing and publishing with taxpayers' money and may send to every household. If they send it to public libraries, it will immediately be filed in the fiction department. I would be worried if it were sent to everybody as a basis on which they can make up their minds about the future of the constitution.
I rather thought that since Galileo and Newton that was a fundamental position of British freedom. If the right hon. Gentleman is now saying the oppositethat we should not write this in as a common rule that we want other EU member states to respect, this is not the Conservative party but a return to some mediaeval rejection of freedom for arts and scientific research and, above all, the freedom of academe to do their work as they think best. The right hon. Gentleman is on very odd ground.
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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The Minister for Europe has missed the point again. I am not saying that the right is good or bad; I am disputing the Foreign Office's assertion that it is not new. It is clear from the explanations to article 13 that it is a new right. They state:
I am not considering thought and expression but the possibility of countervailing laws to circumscribe and restrict the right of a scientist to undertake procedures and experiments being deemed illegal under the charter. We can debate whether that is good or bad on another occasion. I am keen on animal welfare and I believe that scientists should be constrained by law in what they can do to animals. However, a scientist would claim that, under the article, his right to research is entirely unrestricted. That is new. There is nothing about that in the European convention on human rights or the existing treaty. It is therefore factually incorrect to claim that the right is not new. I should like the Minister for Europe, at the end of the debate and after taking advice, to correct the contents of this taxpayer-funded document.
Ms Stuart: I realise that we are now in danger of making anyone who may still be listening to the debate switch off completely. However, although the right hon. Gentleman makes a legitimate point, which he is right to raise, does not article 51, which deals with the field of application at the end of the charter of fundamental rights, cover it? The British Government have gone to extraordinary lengths to get what are called horizontal clauses included to ensure that the provisions of the charter apply to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union. The provisions therefore relate only to the Union's agencies, not to member states.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I hesitate to correct the hon. Lady, but she knows that the charter covers not only EU institutions but member states when they implement EU directives or regulations. As I said earlier, the constitution states that the EU will be able to legislate on research and development. It is therefore entirely plausible that the EU will pass laws on scientific research that member states have to implement. A scientist could therefore easily appeal to the European Court of Justice if he were restricted in any way. Even the hon. Lady's comments do not undermine my point that the right is new. Nothing like it exists, and that contradicts the assertion in the document to which I have alluded.
If Government literature is inaccurate and the original text, which I have in my hand, is ludicrously long, how will people make up their minds about the European constitution? I suspect that they will do that by asking themselves some simple questions: do they want more powers to be transferred to the EU? How have the existing EU institutions discharged their current powers?
On transfer, there can be no doubt. The Union advances into new areascompetencies, as they are calledsuch as criminal justice. Sixty-three new matters will be subjected to majority voting for the first time. The excuse for that is that it will make the EU more efficient. By efficiency, the ability to pass more EU
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legislation is meant. Last year, the European Scrutiny Committee, of which I am a member, examined 1,080 new proposals from the EU. We do not therefore suffer from lack of EU legislation. The Foreign Secretary said in his opening remarks that the Commission was girding itself to repeal possibly up to 100 items of legislation. That is a tiny percentage of even one year's output from the current EU under the existing treaties.
Thanks very much. We shall have the power to request changes. We have that at the moment, but we do not have the power to do anything about the avalanche of new regulations. The Government regularly mention the need for fewer business regulationsI have lost count of the times I have heard Ministers claiming that it will all be different in future. They say that the EU has turned over a new leaf and often point to conclusions at the end of European summits, where it is solemnly agreed that the EU will regulate in future only when absolutely necessary. I shall give only one example to the contrary.
In the new Session, we must transpose into British law the art resale levy, known in French as the droit de suite directive. It insists that when a work of art by a living artist is resold, a small percentage has to be collected and paid to the artist. It applies in France and Germany, with the result that works of art of any value are sold not in France or Germany but in London. Under majority votingwith the British Government, I am glad to say, voting against itthe new directive will be imposed on the British art market. American art dealers cannot believe their luck. Expensive and valuable works of art will be taken from the London art market, flown across the Atlantic and sold in New York where, of course, the levy will not be paid.
Yet the EU and the Government signed up to the Lisbon process, which is supposed to be about competitiveness and making us a high growth zone in the new global business environment. It would be comic if it were not so tragic. Of course, the constitution contains nothing that will do anything about the matter. Indeed, it will make matters worse because the Union is now advancing into new areas such as energy. New majority voting will overwhelm us in the remaining matters where we continue to have a veto.
Let us consider the point about whether existing institutions discharge even their current budgetary powers efficiently or effectively. I can add little to the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) on the subject. He mentioned Marta Andreasen, whom I met last week when she came to London to give a speech. I had dinner with her and others afterwards and it was sad to hear her recount her lonely struggle to bring some sense into the European accounting system. She described how European accounts do not even have double entry bookkeeping. That was invented 500 years ago in Venice but it has not yet reached Brussels. We are considering not a small amount of money but a budget of 100 billion euros a year. Mrs. Andreasen, who was the first qualified accountant to be made chief accountant, did what any
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accountant would do. When she discovered the mess, she started to complain about it and see her superiors. She was eventually sacked for disloyalty, and it is particularly shameful that the European Parliament, which is supposed to stand up for the rights of taxpayers, refused to give her a hearing. During the whole messy business of her dismissal, another scandal arose in EUROSTAT, the agency that draws up official statistics for the European Union. It was found to be riddled with fraud and error, and slush funds and hidden accounts were discovered. Once again, no one lost their job. The only people who lose their jobs in the EU are the whistleblower who draw attention to the problems in the first place.
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