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Mr. Foulkes: The right hon. and learned Gentleman is making a good, logical and well argued case, but is he not worried that his approach will not get over to the British public, because of the media? For example, The Sun would have us believe that 2 million people would be unemployed, that we could not have acted in the Falklands or the Gulf without President Chirac's approval, and that we would lose our seat on the UN Security Council. How can we counteract the myths, lies and rubbish peddled by The Sun and by people such as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson)?
Sir Menzies Campbell: The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson) and I disagree, but I have never yet heard him compared to The Sun newspaper. If I may say so, the comparison is rather a brave one.
However, the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) is right to say that there is a case to be made. As the Foreign Secretary will know, I have been critical of the Government in this matter. Since 1997, they have missed too many opportunities to make the European case. It has sometimes been said of the Prime Ministerperhaps a little slightinglythat he thinks that being at the heart of Europe means making a speech in Warsaw every two or three years. The Government could have done more since they have been in office, but I still believe that the referendum campaign can be won, so long as those in this House and outside it who believe that the EU project is worth while and that the constitution is in our
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interest fully engage in the argument. The campaign can be won, but it will require a great deal of application. We have not seen that application so far.
On the question of myths, we should take our lead from the right hon. Member for Livingston. Earlier, he underlined the importance of the EU in terms of prosperity, economic advantage and inward investment. That approach is more hard-headed than the historical case that I was trying to make earlier, but the two are not mutually inconsistent. Both approaches can march robustly side by side in the campaign for the constitution.
People are able to work, study, live and go on holiday in the EU. More than 750,000 Britons live abroad in EU member states, and at least 100,000 of them work in the EU. People understand the opportunity that the EU gives them, but the case for Europe cannot stand without an openness to reform. Europe has to enhance its democratic accountability, streamline the EU's powers and achieve political stability. The constitution is a necessary part of that.
Since we joined in 1973, there have been four treaties and four further waves of enlargement, from six founder members to 25 members today. That may rise to 27 with Bulgaria and Romania on the doorstep and other countries, such as Croatia and Turkey, knocking on the door.
The EU has more than 20 per cent. of world GDP, a powerful currency, of which the United Kingdom is not a member, and potentially a strong foreign policy role with the opportunity to promote freedom, stability and prosperity beyond its borders. The project is certainly worth while. I hope that we will not conduct our discussion on these matters as if we are engaged in some grand ideological contest, or a form of political combat in which victory is always equated with the successful defence of sovereignty in what is essentially a 19th-century concept, or even older.
In a modern and connected world, sovereignty is not preserved by disengagement. It is undermined by isolation and enhanced by co-operation. In trade, economics, crime, the environment, security, immigration and the campaign against terrorism co-operation is not merely beneficial; it is imperative. As the recent United Nations high-level panel report observes, there has been globalisation not just of opportunities, but of threats and challenges, and only co-operative action will equip us to meet those challenges. Some sayperhaps portentously, but there may be some truth in itthat those challenges have the capacity to damage the very values upon which our nation is based.
I believe that the treaty will provide institutional clarity. As I said, the competences are those conferred by a union of nation states upon the European Union, and those powers and competences now seem to be more clearly defined than before.
On primacy, the Foreign Secretary referred to international law. Going back to 1973, it is clear that under the instrument of accession passed by Parliament, European law has primacy, but to extrapolate from that the notion that somehow our criminal law will now be subjugated to Brussels is wholly contrary to principle and makes no sense whatever. On subsidiarityI wish that the treaty had gone furtherthe so-called yellow
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card principle is worth while, but there would have been a lot to be said for a red card. I have heard the Foreign Secretary's answer to that point, but if we are considering the matter from the point of view of the extent to which domestic Parliaments are controlling what happens in Brussels, a provision that provided for prohibition rather than delay would have greatly enhanced the credibility of the idea that domestic Parliaments can exercise control over what is happening in Brussels.
Mr. Davidson: The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he would have liked national Parliaments to have a red card. Surely that is equivalent to a veto. One of the objections to the constitution is that Britain has given up its red cardits vetoin so many areas.
Sir Menzies Campbell: I pause to think, but I cannot immediately bring to mind areas in which the veto has been given up. My understanding is that we have retained it for foreign policy, defence, taxation, social security and own resources. The so-called red lines seem to be eloquent examples of where the veto has not been taken away.
Mr. Straw: May I take the right hon. and learned Gentleman back to the issue of the yellow card? We have had this debate before, and if one third of national Parliamentseffectively, one third of national Governmentstell the Commission that they do not like a proposal, it will have to be reviewed. Moreover, if 45 per cent. of national Parliamentsnational Governmentstell the European Union that they do not like a proposal, there is a veto. However, we cannot have the system of yellow cards replacing the system of qualified majority voting.
Sir Menzies Campbell: I understand the constitutional point and I see Labour Members nodding, but I am considering the matter from the point of view of politics, and telling people in the United Kingdom that this is not an irreversible escalator. It would have had some advantage in that regard.
Mr. Allen: In support of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point, may I add that had we involved this House in more detail with certain areas in which there was a red card, pro-Europeans would have liked that because it would have removed many of the problemssome of which are justified and some of which are merely found by Conservative Membersand undercut the argument against a written constitution. My fundamental point is that we would have been trying to sell the constitution on the basis of an overarching common law instead of going for a referendum on the basis of political expediency.
In answering the point made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok about vetoes, I did not acknowledge the fact that we have accepted qualified majority voting in a number of areas, but that was when it was in our interests to do so. As the Foreign Secretary pointed out effectively, the possibility of reform of the common agricultural policy depends on the exercise of qualified majority voting. If every country possessed a veto in that area, the prospect of making progress with reform would be remote.
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory: May I assist the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the point about majority voting? I have a list of 63 new areas, which the Library has confirmed, that have been transferred to majority voting. They include the whole area of criminal justice, including criminal procedures, rules of evidence and rights of the accused. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not think that that is a significant advance into a new area by the EU, particularly as such matters will be decided by majority voting, perhaps in defiance of this House? [Interruption.]
Sir Menzies Campbell: Well, as the Foreign Secretary saysnot sotto voce, but magna voce from the Treasury Benchwe have either the right of veto or the opt-out. Let us suppose that the House decided to abolish jury trial. None of the provisions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred would prevent it from doing so. I hope that it is highly unlikely that the House would want to do that[Interruption.] I hope that the Home Secretary is not listening to that. In such areas, the process and principle on which our criminal law systems are based, north and south of the border, are not being attacked by the provisions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
As for the presidency of the Council, continuity and coherence in the Council can only be enhanced by the proposals to be made for that office. The Commission is much maligned, sometimes justifiably, but it is worth reminding ourselves that it is half the size of Birmingham city council and has a budget of just over 1 per cent. of European Union income. It is not the monolith as which it is sometimes characterised.
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