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Mr. MacShane: The hon. Gentleman has been in the Chamber throughout the debate but has not spoken, so I shall give way. I do not, however, want to take many interventions because I want to answer the points made in the debate.
Angus Robertson: I want to pick up on a point that has not been covered so far. Part of the Bill that I very much welcome is the innovation that, should the treaty go through, any future amendment must go through the House. As the Scottish Parliament will be involved in that, under the yellow card arrangements, will the Minister tell us what thought has gone into the involvement of devolved institutions in aspects where sovereignty is shared between them and the European Union, and not the House?
Mr. MacShane: The yellow card issue is for national Parliaments. As the hon. Gentleman will know, there is a procedure known as a Sewel motion that allows the Scottish Parliament to take forward relevant matters under the treaty. I hope that we can have a full discussion of that.
I have some good news for the Conservatives. Yesterday, the Conservativebelieve me, it is very conservativeparty in Denmark won a thumping victory in their national elections. The new Prime Minister, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen, who is a very conservative European gentleman, said that the first priority for his new Government was to get the constitutional treaty through in Denmark. I am sure that all Conservatives in the House will join us in wishing him full speed.
There are three broad questions we have to consider. This has been a wide-ranging debate, but, my goodness, it has not actually been on the Bill itself. We have been up and down the highways and byways of the problems of Europe: how Europe is run, the economies of Europe, and the fraud and mismanagement of accounts in Europe. Those are all important issues, but they are not remotely relevant to what we shall have to vote on shortly.
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The second part of the Bill relates to the referendum, while the first part gives effect to the part of the treaty that requires a change in our domestic law. That is normal in treaties. The question of "the question" has been raised. I am glad that, in a statement to the Press Association on 26 January, the Leader of the Opposition said:
Mr. Ancram: I have written to the Foreign Secretary to ask about the terminology that describes the treaty. Why does the treaty refer to the establishment of a constitution for Europe, when the question refers to the establishment of a treaty for the European Union? I am sure that there is a very simple explanationit would be nice to have it.
"The Commission welcomes the brevity of the proposed question . . . The Commission is content that the question is structured in such a way that it prompts an immediate response and encourages each voter to interpret it in the same way . . . The Commission is satisfied that the referendum question makes it . . . clear what decision the voter is being asked to make."
The third point is that this is a treaty under international law. Winston Churchill notably said that jaw-jaw was better than war-war, but in a sense what we have been developing in the United Kingdom, particularly since 1945, between the parties is the idea that there is obviously one thing better than war-warjaw-jawand that there is one thing better than jaw-jaw, and it is law-law: we can shape the rule of law that governs many of our international relations. Churchill himself signed 162 multilateral treaties. Lady Thatcher signed 316 multilateral treatiesshe really was a treaty queenand the present Prime Minister has signed only 153 multilateral treaties, but he has a number of years in office to continue, and that 153, of course, includes the new treaty of Rome.
Let me now turn to what is actually on the Order Paper. Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker, if I refer to what we must vote on tonight. The Conservative party in the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition says that the treaty
Mr. MacShane: Other colleagues have referred to directives under the Single European Act. The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) made a powerful point, but he was talking about what is contained in the Single European Act. As other hon. Members noted in the speeches that they made after he left the Chamber, the thrust of his speech was very much against the Single European Act. That shows the huge danger that we now face.
The Conservative party is embarked on saying no not just to this treaty, but to the treaty before it, the treaty before that and, above all, the crowning jewel of Lady Thatcher's achievement under the Single European Act, which was to make market economic relations the norm in the European Union. That is buttressed by the social chapter, and in a powerful speech that set the tone for our debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) cited the treaty at length and showed the extent to which it contains references to what citizens want to hear: the guarantee of their social rights and the guarantee of full employment.
What a surprise! That has been in every treaty since Maastricht. The whole idea of a common foreign and security policy was first put forward by Lady Thatcher
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in a famous speech in 1984. Here we are, 21 years later, and the Conservative party finds that the new treaty refers to a common foreign and security policy.
May I especially pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Joyce Quin), who will be leaving us after the election? In a characteristically calm, measured and steady speech, she showed just how much she has contributed to the House for a number of years on Europewe will miss what she has to say. Similarly, my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) will not be coming back to the House after the election. He spoke by representing his trade union, Amicusit used to be known as the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Unionwhich has always taken a constructive and positive position on Europe. We have heard the opening shots of the giant campaign on whether we say yes or no to Europe through the referendum, and I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will play a part in it.
I cannot let the speech made by the shadow Foreign Secretary go by. Most of it was a kind of Lord Rothermere rant. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would have been a perfect Chamberlain-ite during the 1930s with his obscure conversion to isolation, because we know that he is a pro-European and a one-nation Tory. Although the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) might have to toe the party line today and say no, the Marquis of Lothian will say yes when the referendum comes.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman prayed in aid Ben Bot. I agree with Mr. Bot because I think that we need more power for Parliamentsthere is a way forward for that in the constitution. However, Mr. Ben Bot, the Dutch Foreign Minister, of course signed the constitution. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also prayed in aid Mrs. Thatcher's sturdy work to secure the abatement, but she achieved that only because she won a majority set of votes in the then Council of Ministers and the measure was not written into the treaty. That shows exactly why we have to keep negotiating on the many great interests that we must defend in Europe, but we would not be able to do that if we followed the advice of the Conservative party and isolated ourselves permanently from it.
I pay tribute to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell). He located the debate in history and recalled why the European Coal and Steel Community was founded. Some dismiss the question of peace, stability and democracy as irrelevant, but is it not interesting that Lithuania, Slovenia and Hungary, the three member states that have already ratified the treaty, are all countries that know the effect of the absence of the European Union, the rule of law and democracy?
The House must make a decision tonight. I am grateful for the measured tone of much of the debate, although I cannot address all the issues raised by hon. Members. I am especially grateful for the tone of those who said that we should vote for the referendum tonight and perhaps leave debate on the constitutional treaty itself for another day. Tonight the House must fundamentally decide whether it wants to move Britain
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forward, not back. Forty years ago, a Labour leader announced that entering Europe would mean the end of 1,000 years of English history.
Rab Butler, a Conservative leader, said that while he respected the reference to 1,000 years of history[Interruption.] He was the best Prime Minister the Conservatives never had. He said that while he respected the reference to 1,000 years of English history, the Conservatives believed in the future. That was then; today they do not. Like the fantasy island where all the asylum seekers will be placed, they believe in a fantasy Europea Europe to which they can say no, and then the rest of Europe will quietly say yes to the demands of the Conservative party. To read the Conservatives' language and to listen to some of their contributions today is to enter a world of make-believe.
Reference has been made to the length of the treaty. I have it here in a reduced form. It is about 150 pages long and quite readable. It is half the length in words of the excellent biography of William Pitt by the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks and a lot shorter than the latest book by the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), "Singing the Blues", in which he discusses the view that, in negotiating with Europe, the threat of withdrawal should be used only as a last resort. He writes:
What a remarkable metaphor. His friend and fellow European, the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), who has taken part in this debate, goes a step further. Speaking at the Conservative party conference, he said:
Dictate to the rest of the EU? Even if there is a no vote, it still leaves us with the existing constitution of Europe, a mishmash of treaties, so we could repatriate the fisheries or other policies only by being in breach of existing treaty obligations. But I leave that for a later debate.
What an amazing language this is: the nuclear option from the right hon. Member for Wokingham and the world at the feet of the right hon. Member for Wells: pressing the nuclear button and dictating to Europe. Wokingham and Wells, the Ant and Dec of the anti-European movement. At least Robert Kilroy-Silk, our former colleague, was honest when he described[Hon. Members: "What?"]when he described the people that he worked with in the United Kingdom Independence party as a bunch of right-wing fascist nutters. UKIP responded by putting out an immediate statement saying that it was true that UKIP had a right-wing fascist nutter element, but Robert Kilroy-Silk had now left the party.
What, alas, we have heard today in too many speeches from the main Opposition party is language to appease UKIP and not promote Britain. I would say to the Conservative party, appeasement and isolation is never the way forward. Every other mainstream Conservative party in Europe understands the need to support this new treaty. I have to say, on the day after President Bush sends his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to open, as she put it, a
What a message to send to the worldto the investors who want to come here and to those who have already ratified the new treaty. The Conservative party wants to plunge Britain into a feast of hostility to Europe over the next few months and the next year. Little wonder that the Leader of the Opposition is totally unwelcome in Washington, just as he is unwanted in Europe and unelectable in Britain. This party, this Government, and I believe a majority of us in the House and the nation, will not allow the Tories to turn the clock back to their vision of Europea Europe of conflict instead of co-operation, of beef wars and empty chairs, of rejecting partnership.
This treaty is good for Britain. We will defeat the isolationists. We will move forward with Britain and not back to the anti-European isolationism of the Conservatives. I commend the Bill to the House.
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