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Mr. John Taylor (Solihull) (Con): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way during his very impressive speech. On the other side of the account, will he bear in mind the fact that Turkey has made a worthy contribution to NATO for a number of years?
Andrew Mackinlay: Yes, of course. Turkey has made such a contribution. That is a matter of fact, but it is also a reason why the United States is interfering in European affairs, doing all it can to put leverage on the United Kingdom Government and other EU Governments to admit Turkey before it has reached the Copenhagen criteria, and we cannot ignore a matter of geography. When someone seeks to join a club of which any hon. Member might be a member, irrespective of whether we like him or herthe person may have great appeal in many respectsit is legitimate that other criteria often must be taken into account. One of the problems is Turkey's geographical situation, the scale of its landmass and the fact that we would have difficulties with many of the countries that it borders, and we are rushing ahead without thinking through the consequences.
We must not ignore the fact that, at present, Turkey occupies some EU territory. I am sympathetic to some of the history of the Turkish minority in Cyprus and I am not saying that the Turkish army should withdraw this weekend, but we cannot have serious negotiations while a foreign power is occupying our EU territory.
Mr. Hopkins: My hon. Friend is making very impressive points. I think that he referred in passing to Kurdistan, which does not technically exist at the moment and I understand that Turkey would resist the establishment of a Kurdish state, although many hon. Members would think the creation of such a state beneficial and appropriate. Will he say whether the acceptance of a Kurdish state would be part of his conditions for Turkey joining the EU?
I believe in national self-determination, which goes back to Wilson's 14 points. In my view, that should always be our objective, but we are constrained by other treaties and by the realities of
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history, and so on. However, when national entities exist, every attempt should be made to try to accommodate nationalities in political structures. That could lead to the growth of federalisation in the region and a place in which the Kurdish people may feel that they have a political identity. It is not for me to redraw the map this afternoon, but our foreign policy should be sensitive to national self-determination and try to find ways of reflecting that in state structures and the European Union. The European Union is important because it has developed the policy of a Europe of the regions. One factor that has driven Poland and even the United Kingdom to have local legislatures is the fact that the EU works in such ways. The Kurdish nationality could well be accommodated.
It is time that we talked up the European Union. I do not lie awake at night worrying about the treaty itself. It might be defeated in the referendum, but I shall campaign with vigour because it is a totem of the concept and movement of Europe, about which I feel passionately, as I hope I have demonstrated. If the treaty were to go down, as the hon. Member for Stone indicated, we will still have the existing arrangements, which work. I am also keen for compromise and accommodation. The European Union should be proclaimed by Labour Membersand, I hope, Opposition Membersas a great achievement.
The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady), who is sitting on the Conservative Front Bench, has been kind enough to nod on a couple of occasions, which I took as an indication that he might agree with me. I hate to spoil that, but I must say something to Conservative MembersI do so with the utmost charity. Do they remember that in the weeks before Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other countries came into the European Union, the press, bolstered by Conservative Members, tried to indicate that half of Poland would be in London by the following weekend? They said that we would not be able to move for Poles, but that has not happened. We have a lot of attractive, exciting and intelligent young men and women from the accession countries in London, which I welcome, but that has not presented one problem whatsoever. We in the United Kingdom will benefit greatly, both immediately and in the long term, from the fact that our Prime Minister had the bold courage to say, "I'm not going to have a transitional period on this. They can come." I am proud of him.
Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West) (Con): The hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) was kind enough to say that I nodded at one or two points in his speech, but he did not say which ones. I am happy to say that I agreed with some of what he said. I should point out that in the past few weeks, Café Lech has opened at the end of my road in Altrincham. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the establishment, it is welcome as the first Polish restaurant in Altrincham. I am sure that it will be a splendid institution.
We have had a good-natured and honest debate in which we heard several excellent and thought-provoking contributions. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) accused the Minister for Europe of shifting his position and attacking the euro, but he
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missed the real beauty of the Minister's position. In only the past few days, the Minister has attacked the Chancellor for being anti-European Union, while himself denouncing the euro as an economic irrelevance. He is managing to take both sides simultaneously, which is a marvellous achievement.
My hon. Friend sensibly advocated including EU expenditure in the UK in the remit of the Public Accounts Committee. He urged the Conservative party to go beyond the powers that we have set out to bring back from Brusselsthe common fisheries policy, the social chapter and elements of EU aid. I urge him to understand that we will go further than that. We have said that the most important thing of all is establishing the principle that powers can be returned, and that the EU must no longer be a one-way street or a conveyor belt moving only towards Brussels. Once we have established that principle, I hope that my hon. Friend will realise that it is an important change and that, instead of movement in only one direction, there can be flexibility, not just for the UK, but for other member states as well. The Dutch, for example, have expressed their views about parts of the common agricultural policy and other aspects of what the EU does.
The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) spoke tellingly about the damage that has been done to the economies of the eurozone countries. He also spoke about Turkish membership. In response to an intervention, he struggled to think of anything positive about Europe, except for his holidays and the wine.
My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) made a strong case that what we do not need in the House on the subject of Europe is group therapy. Sometimes, perhaps, we do. He made the valid point that what we do need is better debates on European matters, especially on matters on which the EU has exclusive competence. He stressed the importance of a level playing field for the developing world in matters of trade policy.
The hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) described himself as a frustrated pro-European and then listed a large number of employment and health and safety laws that could have been implemented by a British Government without EU legislation. He went on to speak about structural fund projects which, he said in response to my intervention, he believed would be funded by the Government if the EU were not doing so.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) pointed tellingly to the inaccuracies of the Foreign Office's own guide to the European Union. As he pointed out, there are some gross discrepancies between what is in the guide and what is plain to see in the treaty.
The debate was opened in magnificent style by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), the shadow Foreign Secretary, who rightly highlighted the apparent disappearance of the EU constitution and the Government's pathetic inability to introduce their own Bill on the EU
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constitution. We await the Bill, which we will happily deal with when it is available. We are deeply frustrated, as no doubt is the hon. Member for Ogmore, that we do not have the opportunity to debate the matter, which the Government apparently believe is of great importance for the United Kingdom.
The Foreign Secretary spoke about the Government's determination to keep the size of the budget limited to 1 per cent. of gross domestic product. He admitted that there may be some discussion of own resources at the weekend and said that there would be a veto on any proposed change to the rebate. That is welcome. He refused to accept that questions regarding a common foreign policy and the activities of the high representative of the EU should be answered by the Department in this country. I stress to the Minister that if the Government are committed to a common foreign policy for the EU, they must at the very least recognise the right of hon. Members in this place to ask questions about their policy and to expect answers. The Foreign Secretary went on to speak about the progress that we expect to be made with regard to the opening of accession talks for Turkey.
The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) spoke of his extreme disappointment at the lack of legislation for the constitution. He approaches the matter from a different standpoint from mine, but I commend him for his honesty in making clear his party's open commitment to greater political and economic integration in Europe. We do not share that commitment and it is not popular with the public, but we are delighted that he is so open.
We had hoped that Ministers would clarify the Government's policy on European affairs in advance of the events later in the week. Perhaps the Minister will still do so in his closing remarks. It is particularly important at a time when the Government's EU policy is being gradually deconstructed by the Minister for Europe and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is becoming increasingly difficult to know exactly where the Government are facing.
In recent weeks, we have seen the report from the royal commission on environmental pollution, which showed the abject failure of the common fisheries policy. We have also had confirmation from the Minister for Europe that the only fish stock that seems to be increasing at the moment is the red herrings found swimming in the vicinity of No. 11 Downing street. We have already been treated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes to accounts of the Minister's desire to leave the common agricultural policy, his view that the euro is an economic irrelevance and his claim to have persuaded the Foreign Secretary of the case for a referendum. I cannot quote the exact words in the interview that appeared in the New Statesman on 13 December on page 37, but I am sure that many others will go to the Library to look them up.
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