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There must also be a new strategy on Russia. The current approach is clearly insufficient. We in Britain are currently rightly concerned about the events surrounding the death of Mr. Litvinenko. We welcome the statements of the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary that diplomatic protocols will not be a bar to a full and thorough investigation, but there must be some concern following Russian statements that there will be no extradition of any suspects to the United Kingdom and severe limitations on the work carried out by Scotland Yard detectives in Russia. We must of course be careful not to point the finger of blame at Russia itself, but the Russian authorities must also recognise Britains legitimate need to investigate Mr. Litvinenkos death without hindrance.
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): It sounds a bit like the hon. Gentleman is adopting a moral position on this issue. There is no extradition rule between Britain and Russia, and Britain has refused a large number of requests for extradition of people who do not wish to return to Russia. Therefore, the Russians are just adopting the current protocol.
Mr. Moore: Let me reassure the hon. Gentleman that I was seeking to make neither a moral nor an institutional observation. However, an apparently friendly Government ought to be willing to go the extra mile in a set of circumstances where there are legitimate concerns here in Britain to find out what has gone on in relation to that death.
There are valid concerns about many of the policies that Russia is following. Sadly, in recent times, criticism has been at best muted and at timesthe worst casenon-existent. Such an approach allows the Russian authorities to divide and conquer in negotiations with Europe. That is clearly disadvantaging us, and it is particularly unacceptable as Europe ought to be in a strong position.
Recently, there has been much focus on the energy relationship. Europe does indeed need Russian oil and gas supplies, but Russia is also very dependent on a European market that is willing to pay what remain high prices for those supplies. It is dependent on Europe in many other ways toonot that that is always obvious from the way that the EU reacts.
The EU is undertaking negotiations with Russia on a successor agreement to the partnership and co-operation agreement. The original statement included strong references to the need to respect political and economic freedoms. Any successor agreement must also include strong commitments to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, but, more than that, Europe must be willing to hold Russia to those commitments. It must also be made clear that its actions in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldovato name but a few placesare totally unacceptable. Moreover, if Russia wants European support for its aim of accession to the World Trade Organisation it should be made explicit that that support depends on its abiding by the international rule of law. The future of Russia is in the balance, and the people of Russia and those in European Union will be ill-served by Europe remaining divided in its handling of Russias affairs at home and abroad.
There are many different visions of, and for, Europe, and when the Heads of State and Government gather next week they will no doubt reflect that Europe remains in a state of flux. They represent a Europe that is still coming to terms with the dramatic enlargement of two and a half years ago, that is still to equip itself with the tools to do its job efficiently and effectively, and that has still to undertake essential, and possibly painful, reforms.
For all the difficulties facing them, the leaders will be meeting at a significant moment. As the 50th anniversary of the treaty of Rome approaches, the EU has never been more important to the lives of people in the UK. The challenges might have changed, but the founding principles remain as relevant as ever.
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Moore). In some ways, listening to, and taking part in, this debate is a bit like being at a meeting of the European Council: many issues are placed on the agenda, and rightly so, and everybody wants to have their say about all the various issues that are on the agenda, but only a limited number of issues ever come off the agenda with any decision having been made. It is another axiom of Council meetings that if someone wants something to be on the agenda in 24 months, they must raise it now or there will be no chance of it ever becoming an issue that is treated as a priority. It is therefore right that Members of this House are raising many issues that affect our future in Europe.
In debates such as ours, it is often said that the usual suspects take partoften by making the usual suspects speeches. Our debate today is not particularly different from those of other occasions, although I notice and welcome that a number of newer Conservative Members are quickly learning the tricks of usual suspicion. We look forward to their contributions.
Inevitably, and as the Foreign Secretary said in her introductory speech, the main issue on the agenda, which will be taken off it following the decisions that will hopefully be taken next week, will be how we proceed with enlargement. Matters relating to Bulgaria and Romania, and to some of the other countries that have been mentioned today, will be discussed. It is very important to ensure that we get the Turkey situation right, and that we continue to argue a positive case. The very complicated position in the Balkans also needs to be sorted out over time.
I would normally dwell on enlargement, as I have before in such debates, but today I want to be different. I want to put on the agenda an issue that, although it will not be top of the bill next week, will probably rise up the order of priorities come the June Council meeting and will become increasingly important in subsequent meetings: climate change. The European Union is often criticised on all sorts of grounds. Some of that criticism is friendly, and some of it not so. Whatever one thinks of the EU, I cannot imagine that any other body will hold together international talks on climate change. The United Nations will try and, in a sense, it will set the tone of what might be achievable, but to judge by history, it will not achieve it. Such aims
will be achieved through negotiations between different interest blocs, who will sit down in a multilateral decision-making forum, whatever form that forum might take.
That is exactly what happened at the Kyoto talks some years ago. The UN was unable to resolve the situation on its own, so there were talks among the different blocs and different commitments were made. It is not just a question of outlining a particular position; it is about being able to deliver on it. If the EU was not taking a very active role in climate change, how on earth would we deliver what we want to deliver in a European context? It would be extremely difficult, and I doubt whether we could. As the emissions trading scheme shows, even with the EUs involvement, it is not all plain sailing; there are many difficulties that we have to face up to. Without the EUs involvement, the situation would be almost impossible.
Emissions trading is playing a key role in tackling the carbon reduction aims that are increasingly being pursued throughout the world. This is not an original EU ideait evolved following inter-state agreements within the United Statesbut the EU has driven it forward in a positive way. Some 18 months into the scheme, we are already seeing the progress that is being made. It is not perfect, however. As the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood)he is no longer in his placepointed out in an intervention, there have been many somewhat dubious definitions of permits under the existing permit scheme. Such aspects of the scheme have to be tightened up, but essentially, it is sound. It sets carbon emission levels for different European nations and within different industries, and it provides a forum for examining what is happening and what needs to be done not only by nation states, but by the industrial and commercial sector. I cannot envisage a better forum for achieving that aim, which is why we must focus on it and build on what has already been achieved.
A measure of marketisation is also the right approach. It is better if people have an incentive to do something sensible, rather than their being forced to do something that others believe to be sensible. That is why the incentive scheme is a good one. It encourages those who can make bigger gains than they are required to make to do so, and to trade them on. It also encourages those who find it extremely difficult in the shorter term to make such gains to buy the permit cover that they need to meet the European guidelines, if the other parts of their business allow them to do so. I think that the scheme is a good one, but the rules need to be examined and there must be a monitoring system, with the EU looking closely at what is happening in member states. If we start to wander from our commitment and targets, so will everyone else, and the scheme will fall to bits.
However, the main challenge has to do with the future. The current emissions deals take us through to 2012. There is a European commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 8 per cent in that period, but whether we achieve those targets remains to be seen. How do we take things forward? How does the EU play its post-Kyoto role, looking forward to 2020 and beyond?
Those key questions cover much of the territory covered by the recent Stern report. I know that the December Council meeting will not resolve them, but the Germans in particular are interested and there will be a lot of pressure to make real progress next May and in the Council meetings that follow.
Another matter that needs to be reviewed on a regular basis is the scope of the emissions trading scheme. Which greenhouse gases should it cover? That question needs to be discussed in depth. Any EU agreement must be consistent with Kyoto, but nitrous oxide, for instance, is not included at the moment, even though it accounts for a significant amount of emissions. In addition, should gases emitted from coal, such as methane, be covered by a new emissions trading scheme? Other greenhouse gases are emitted from aluminium production plants. Their names are so complicated that I will not try to pronounce them, but should they be included in future?
The UK has adopted a very radical approach to aviation. Our population accrues more air miles per person than just about any other in Europe, so any agreement is likely to hurt us a little. However, there would be a big gap in the new emissions trading scheme if it did not include aviation. I had thought that total emissions from aviation amounted to 2 or 3 per cent. of the European total, but my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said in his statement earlier that the proportion is now calculated at 6 per cent.
A sector that accounts for so much in the way of emissions cannot be ignored, and that raises serious questions about how the EU will introduce controls on aviation. The matter could be dealt with relatively easily at a European level through fiscal measures, although I know that some Opposition Members might find that difficult. However, what is the positive alternative to air travel? How do we invest in a Europe-wide rail system whose emissions levels per passenger mile would be about one seventh of what is produced by aviation?
I asked that question in my contribution to the Queens Speech debate, but other questions are also important. For instance: how do we link up rail systems so that people can travel cheaply from any part of the EU to any other on fast trains? That would contribute to improving the environment but it would be a big, costly and challenging decision. Do Ministers accept that tackling the problems of aviation or vehicle travel in general raises questions to do with how we transfer the emphasis onto public transport in the European context? That is a difficult problem that cannot be resolved by single states acting alone.
Kelvin Hopkins: I strongly agree with my hon. Friend about the need to build a Europe-wide rail network. That is happening already, for freight in particular but for passengers as well, as a result of the initiative taken by our noble Friend Lord Kinnock when he was Transport Commissioner. However, does my hon. Friend agree that the lack of investment in this countrys rail network, especially for freight, has always been a problem? As a result of it, the channel tunnel is almost bankrupt because so little traffic is going through.
Mr. Henderson: I may not agree with everything that my hon. Friend says about European issues, but I agree with him on that point. He is right: we have not spent enough on rail investment and we need to spend more. Our system should connect with European networks and there should be a minimum investment figure for all EU countries.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: The hon. Gentleman has obviously thought about aviation sector emissions. Does he agree that if we are not careful and the EU imposes a duty on aviation fuel, there could be a huge distorting effect? We could suddenly find that Ryanair uses Moscow or Istanbul as its major refuelling depot. How could that result be overcome? Is it the best way to deal with the problem or would levying a further passenger duty be a better solution?
Mr. Henderson: I fully accept the hon. Gentlemans point. Transport experts need to look into the problem. A diplomatic issue would be involved, too. If there was a bilateral agreement between Russia and the EU that any tax that applied in the EU would apply in Russia if an EU plane refuelled there, it would resolve the problem, although I realise that is a lot easier said than done. On the other hand, Ryanair might not find it viable to fuel up in Moscow to fly from Newcastle to Dublin. However, the problem needs to be tackled, as does competitiveness with the United States and north America. Should flights from that area be dealt with differently from flights within the EU? Those issues are all part of a package and they have to be resolved.
I want to make two more points. First, the proposal to hold auctions for carbon limits is interesting and should be examined. I am not convinced that auctions would necessarily be better than the permit system, but it would be worth hearing the Governments view about whether they would be more effective, although if things were left completely to the market it would be harder for countries to define permits differently. I would not instinctively travel in that direction, but I shall be interested in the Governments view. Perhaps there could be a reference to that in the wind-up.
Secondly, under the current system of emissions control permits, if an EU-based business invests in a carbon-saving scheme outside the EUfor example, in a developing country or in Chinatheir contribution counts in calculations under the EU rules. Although that provision is mildly imperialist, it has a lot of merit, because it reduces emissions worldwide. If, rather than emissions targets being reached only in a European context, they are reached both in Europe and beyond, there is an overall gain, and that is desirable.
Earlier today, the Chancellor said that Britain had signed a partnership agreement on the development of biofuels with Brazil, Mozambique and South Africa, and that we are working on the preservation of rain forests with Latin America and Asian countries, on clean coal with China and India and on carbon storage with Norway. If EU businesses, particularly British businesses, currently invest in such projects, would that count against any limits set in the post-2012 agreements? The rules would obviously have to be EU rules, so can the EU make a forward agreement and would the British Government support it? If so, it would provide an incentive to go further towards
meeting existing limits than is absolutely necessary from a statutory point of view. It could also be good business for many British companies that could make a contribution in that regard.
I am sure that the meetings to be held next week will be similar to others that have taken place over many years. I understand that enlargement will be at the top of the agenda, and I welcome and support that, but I hope that the Government will feel able to push the climate change agenda. In the wind-up, it would be interesting if we could hear to what extent the Government accept the Commissions new proposals on emissions trading. Do the proposals go as far as the Government want, given that we were instrumental in pushing many of the issues?
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): As we approach the 50th anniversary of the treaty of Rome, I would like to take the opportunity of adopting a landscape view, sketching out some of the implications to reflect the situation as we now find it. First, I am bound to say that disarray among member states is apparent not just in respect of Iraq a few years ago when the situation became terminal for foreign policy and defence, but in respect of institutional changes as promulgated by proposals for a European constitution. We have had the referendums in France and the Netherlands, which went against the constitution, and a series of other rejected referendums in Denmark and Ireland, for example, that have been reorganisedwith a lot of threats and blackmailin order to get the right result. Of course, one cannot do that with a country like France. I am certain that it would not happen in this country either, as it would be so alien to the British tradition that serious problems would be caused.
Just from sketching out those indicative problems, it is quite clear that the European Union is not working. I am interested in which way the future Prime Ministerthe present Chancellor of the Exchequeris likely to go on this subject. Above all else, he is a pragmatist. It is possible to make inferences from the people intimately around him, from his first statement on the Bank of England, from the economic tests, from the direction in which he has pitched his economic policies towards a more transatlantic approach and from the views of commentators such as Robert Peston and Tom Bower. They all provide some indication that under the presidency [Interruption.] That was a Freudian slip, as I meant the prime ministership of the current Chancellor. As I have made clear on several occasions, Conservative Members need to be aware that the Chancellor might do a mini-Peter Shore. My old friend, now Lord Shore, was a strong opponent of further integration. It would not be quite the same thing, but I believe that the direction is likely to be sceptical.
I remember challenging the current Chancellor when he was the shadow Chancellor, accusing him of being in favour in principle of economic and monetary union. He said, Yes, I am, but then he said, and I
happen to agree with your Chancellor of the Exchequernamely, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke). Well, I think things have changed considerably since then and we need to be conscious of that change. I mention that because, fundamentally, any responsible Government have to look at the situation as it really isand it is not working: Europe is not working.
We also need to reflect on what Europe affects. Despite the desire of many people to shove some of this under the carpet, the reality is that, the EU affects a vast amount of what goes on for our constituents. I challenge anyone to try to tell me anything that it does not affect. That is all driven by a harmonised legal system and majority voting.
As I said in an intervention, the European Court of Justice carries with it a contradiction: in most cases people do not get what they would voluntarily want if they exercised their freedom of choice in the ballot box, by virtue of which they choose representatives in this Parliament, which legislates on their behalf. Yet we know perfectly well that, if hon. Members vote against a directive or a regulation in the European Standing Committee, which has happened on occasion, the decision is automatically overturned on the Floor of the House. The scrutiny process is wanting in many respects, and it is better than in most other member states.
As I said in an intervention on the Foreign Secretary, the EU is undemocratic and unaccountable. There are ways to remedy that, and I need not rehearse my arguments on the supremacy of Parliament provisions that I proposed to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. I am very glad to say that Conservative Front Benchers and Whips agreed to support those provisions and went so far as to provide Tellers for what was a Back-Bench amendment, even though50 hon. Members had signed up to it on the amendment paper.
My amendment was pursued as an anchor in that Bill, which ranges widely across a raft of measures and many Departments, and it was followed up in the House of Lords by a whipped vote, when the Chief Whip and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lords went through the Lobby with many of our noble Friends. Although we did not win the vote in either House, the anchor that those provisions representin sustaining the democratic principles on which Parliament is based is a matter for congratulation and applause for not only the Whips Office but the current leadershipprovided, of course, that that anchor remains firmly fixed where it was in June. I should not like to see it dragged in any direction, and I would strongly advise the leadership to include it in the manifesto, when it comes.
I have taken this overall position both on the landscape and on the principle of parliamentary supremacy, which is an essential issue not only for the House but for Europe as a whole. In fact, I would go further and extend the landscape across the whole globe. Given that many people have an aspiration for the EU to operate on the scale of 450 million peoplein sophisticated, industrialised countries, with new countries coming in because of enlargement, it is clearly a matter of vast importance that the system is truly democratic and truly accountable, and it is not.
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