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I depart from the Government on another point and would counsel them to listen to me for once, because during my years in this place I have noticed that things I have said that were dismissed from the Dispatch Box have come to pass on more than one occasion, although I will not list them now. The Government should reflect
on the teasing of Turkey. There is no such word as never in politics, but Turkey will not be able to join the EU in the proposed time scale. It is wrong to tease Turkey; candour would be much friendlier and better for international politics in the long term. It would be much better if we said Turkey could not come in.
My reasons for saying that are not those that have been canvassed elsewhere. I do not care which religious faith is practised in a country. I do not lie awake at night worrying about the geographical composition of Europe; after all, Hawaii is not part of the American land mass. Those things are not important. We need to consider two things with regard to Turkish membership of the EU.
First, does Turkey meet the Copenhagen criteria? It is nowhere near them, so we should not be advancing its candidacy for that reason alone. Candidates should demonstrably meet the criteria: a robust parliamentary democracy, an independent judiciary, due regard for minorities in their constitution and practices and so on. Those criteria do not prevail in Turkey, so its candidate status should not be advanced.
In fairness, Turkey can do nothing about the second objection to its membership, but when people join a club, they have to be accepted in their totality. Turkey is a large land mass, which has common borders with Armenia, Iraq, Iran and other friendly countries.
Andrew Mackinlay: Indeed. If Turkey joined the EU, its borders with those friendly states would be our borders, too. It is impossible for Turkey to police those borders robustly, with controls of the standard we require from Poland and will require from Romania and Bulgariaour new neighbours. That situation is unfortunate, but we must be realistic about the fact that Turkey is a large country and has borders with the states to which I referred. I find it incredible that we should advance the candidacy of a country that actually occupies part of EU territory. That is a matter of legal fact, as northern Cyprus is the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but also territory of the EU, so I find it inconceivable that we should be negotiating membership of a country whose occupation of another country still endures.
Finally, I want to pick up on a point about Malta, which was raised by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) a little while ago. Malta is currently enduring great problems as a result of mass migration from north Africa, with immigrants coming in particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. It is unfair that Malta has to cope with this growing and disproportionate influx of illegal immigration, and it is demonstrably a European problem that the Council of Ministers needs to deal with urgently. I hope that the Minister will announce a revisiting of the Dublin convention, as there needs to be a comprehensive discussion among European member states of how to share the burden of the illegal immigration that is unfairly hitting Malta. The need for dispersal should be recognised and there should be a common policy for dealing with the problem.
One of the reasons why those immigrants are going to Malta is that the country is in the EU, so it is a stepping stone. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate
that that is part of the problem. The fact that Malta is part of the EU makes it a stepping stone to other parts of the EU. As I say, that is part of the problem. I have just been there.
Andrew Mackinlay: Actually, I know where Malta is as I sometimes look at maps. What the hon. Gentleman says is demonstrably so. Malta is part of the EU and the EU should recognise it as a problem to be shared. For that reason, I invite the Minister to confirm that the Dublin treaty, which relates to the problem, will be revisited expeditiously.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): Ithas been an excellent debate, in which we have heard13 speeches. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) was the unlucky 13th, but he delivered an excellent, witty, off-the-cuff speech. The House was privileged to hear it; it was well worth waiting for. I should apologise for the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) is not in his place. He is currently visiting Pakistan, as the Minister knows, so he is unable to be here this evening.
I am delighted to see the Minister for Europe in his place. A month ago at Foreign Office questions, we were all slightly worried that he had taken the vows of a Trappist monk, not being allowed to speak on Europe. So worried did I get that I took up the matter further with the Prime Minister at Prime Ministers Question Time. On 1 November, the Prime Minister said:
What my right hon. Friend is doing on behalf of this country in Europe is absolutely excellent.[ Official Report, 1 November 2006; Vol. 451, c. 295.]
Obviously, relations have been repaired, as he went off to Riga and is in his place tonight answering this debate. We are delighted to see him and even more delighted than usual as I gather it is his birthday [Interruption.] No, I am not going to say how old he is; he would not want me to do so.
counter-terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation, jobs and growth in a globalised world, organised crime, drugs, securing the energy we need to power our economies.
The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) spoke at length about the carbon emissions trading scheme. I totally agree that we want to make that scheme work. We want to ensure that it works fairly towards British companies and that other companies, as my right hon. Friend the Memberfor Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) said in a timely intervention, do not issue too many permits, thereby forcing our companies to purchase them at an excess price. I also wholly agree with the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North about the need for a forward-looking EU policy on biofuels and clean-coal technology, which will be vital in future if we are to reduce our carbon emissions.
We then heard from my old friend the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash), and I agree with him that the EU affects a vast amount of our constituents livesit certainly doesand that EU policy on co-operation is being tested in a number of areas of the world, not least in Iraq, the middle east and Sudan, and we need to co-operate more closely with them on that. His amendment to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Billwhich, as he said, was supported by Conservative Front Bencherswas an innovative solution to which, I am sure, we will wish to return.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston(Ms Stuart), who, sadly, is not in her seat[Hon. Members: She is.] Oh, she is. I am very sorry. She has moved seats, and I apologise to her. Of course, she did an excellent job on the convention last year. She mentioned the very important problems of Kosovo, which the hon. Member for Thurrock has just mentioned, and the possible implications for Russia of the independence movements in the Caucasus states. We all need to concentrate carefully on that very important issue.
The hon. Lady mentioned the European Defence Agency, as did a number of other hon. Members, and I want to say something about it this evening. I do not agree with her. When NATO secured the peace all through the cold war; when NATO played a major part in Kosovo and elsewhere in the Balkans to secure the peace; when we have been invited into Afghanistan, under a United Nations resolution, to try to secure peace, infrastructure building and democracy; and when some European countries are not prepared to play their full parteven if they do play their fullpart, they do not do so with the flexibility of troops needed by the commanders on the groundI do not understand in those circumstances why we need a separate European Defence Agency. As has been mentioned, when most European countries spend less than, or about, 1 per cent. of the gross domestic product on defence, the problem is that they need to spend more on defence, so that we can share the burden of defence more equally than we do at present.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) made one of the most telling speeches in the debate. Of course, like other hon. Members, he was very supportive of EU enlargement. The Conservative party is particularly keen on enlargement, and many Members have spoken either in favour of or against Turkish membership. I want to say one or two things about Turkish membership. Turkey is, of course, a very large country, with a population of about 80 million, which is set to grow towards 100 million in the near future, and we all recognise the immigration problems that that could create. We all recognise the problems that Turkey has with different religious and political minorities.
We recognise the problem of the green line in Cyprus. I visited Cyprus earlier this year. As my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) said, we recognise the difficulty of property rights in northern Cyprus. Of course we wish to see Turkey making progress on entry into the ports and airports in the north of Cyprus. All those things are difficulties; but as I said in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk, if having encouraged Turkey
to open negotiations, the EU were to turn its back on Turkey and as a result it became an Islamic state, the whole EU would rue that day. We must be very careful about that.
The hon. Member for Luton, North (Kelvin Hopkins)I regret that I was not here when he made his speechsaid that regional PR led to risky euro-enthusiastic MEPs. That may well be the case, and it may well be that we do not like the PR system and the open list system for elections to the European Parliament and we wish that the European Parliament had better scrutiny of the Commissions affairs, but the European Parliament is nevertheless some form of democratically elected body.
I totally agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Adam Afriyie): we want the EU to be an open, trading non-bureaucratic body. We want it to succeed in world trade. As the Chancellor said today in his pre-Budget statement, we must look outwards to the rest of the world. We must look at what is going on in China and India and in the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations. I attended the ASEAN gala dinner on Monday, and it is delightful to know that Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation is getting together in VietnamVietnam of all countries, one of the most suppressed countries in the world emerging on to the world stage. Those are the challenges that the EU must face.
My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) made his traditional call for withdrawal from the EU. I have to say to him, in the gentlest and nicest termshe is a good chapthat that is not official Opposition policy. We want to work within the EU. We want to see a reformed EU; but we do not wish to leave the EU. Let me tell him why. The EU has been amazing in embracing some of the most oppressed countries in the worldsome of the former Commonwealth of Independent States countries. The whole EU, including this country, has benefited from the enlargement of the membership of the EU. NATO has benefited from the increased membership of the Baltic states, Ukraine and others.
My hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Mr. Walker) was also sceptical about the European experiment. We all have reservations about the European experiment. He talked about mission creep, and meddling and interfering. I have that fear about the new human rights body in Vienna. Human rights should be a matter that each individual state is proud to uphold and to have an excellent record on. We do not need an overarching body to tell us what to do in that respect.
My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin graphically described some of the problems of Turkish membership. I have mentioned that. He also looked forward and considered what might have been in relation to the European constitution. With the advent of the French and the Dutch referendums, let us hope that the constitution is well and truly buried. I hope that, when the Minister for Europe sums up, he will tell us something about that. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend: we do not wish to see an external diplomatic service. We want to see the Government keeping British embassies open throughout the world and having the
highest standards of ethics, morals and effectiveness. The British diplomatic service has been renowned for that in this and the last century.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Mr. Carswell), in the sort of robust speech that he is renowned for, pointed to the fact that there are much higher tariff barriers for some African countries. That is a real worry. It is a real concern in terms of the failure of the WTO Doha round of trade talks. We all want to see progress on the Doha round. The Government could do more to press their friend the Trade Commissioner to make sure that we are not continually protecting agricultural subsidies and farmers who are not competing in the real world. I say that as a farmer myselfI have declared that in the Register of Members Interests.
It is shameful that the APEC countries that met in Vietnam last week said that they were prepared to break the deadlock on the WTO round provided that others did the same. The European Union could have done more. A successful Doha round, as my hon. Friend said, would be of enormous benefit to some of the poorest countries in the world. We should not shut them out from our markets. That is what is happening in far too many casesby means not just of tariff barriers, but of non-tariff barriers and a whole range of other bureaucratic mechanisms for keeping them out of our market.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood) made a typically robust speech. He, too, mentioned the problems of NATO and a separate European defence agency. I thoroughly agree with him.
It has been a great privilege to sum up in this debate. The EU has expanded from the original six members when we joined it in 1973, to nine as it was then, to27 nowlooking forward to 30 with the advent of Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey. It is a very different Union from the one that existed in the original days of the European Economic Community. We need to look for continual reform. We look for inspired leadership. When the Prime Minister came to office, he said that he would give us that inspired leadership as far as Europe is concerned. We are still waiting. We very much hope that, at next weeks summit, he will show some of that inspired leadership and make sure that the European Union is pointed in the direction that we want to see it go ina full, open, non-bureaucratic, trading organisation that creates employment and wealth for its citizens.
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): May I begin by expressing my appreciation to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) for his good wishes? I clearly could not think of a better,more satisfying way of spending the first day of my 54th year. The debate was obviously specially arranged for me by the Whips Office. It reminds me a little of those childhood treats, such as going to the cinema or the zooactually, I should not dwell on going to the zoo.
We have had a valuable debate. The focus, quite rightly, has been overwhelmingly on how all member states can get the most from their contribution to the European Union, how we in the United Kingdom can
ensure that the EU is working for the people of Britain, and how we can play our part, with others, in steering the EU in the right direction. Above all, that flows from a recognition that the European Union is central to much of what we in this country want to achieve on a wide range of policies, including environmental protection, climate change, energy security and development. The Government are playing a leading role in the European Union to ensure that we can respond effectively to the political challenges of the 21st century.
Cross-border problems cannot be solved by little Englanders pretending to be able to act in isolation from the rest of Europe, as too many Conservative Members would have us believe. The Leader of the Oppositions rhetoric on the importance of tackling climate change is hopelessly inconsistent with his approach to Europe. Indeed, I am curious to know whether the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) could at any time enlighten us about his actual policy on Europe, or even tell us whether his party has a policy on Europe. It is a shame that the hon. Gentleman is not an English batsman because he is able to talk at great length without giving anything away. At no point during the course of his rather long speech did he reveal any aspect of what is positively his policy. Again, as far as I could detect, his policy appears to be something of splendid isolation. Perhaps we should reflect on the fact that one of his colleagues described him as a good negotiator, although there was no evidence that he wanted to discuss anything. As far as I could detect from his speech, Conservative party policy on Europe is just say no.
I can reveal to the House, perhaps exclusively,that the Leader of the Opposition, after more than12 months in that position, has decided to make his very first visit to Brussels. The right hon. Gentleman might need some assistance as he wanders the corridors of the European Parliament. It would be a shame if he got lost and found himself in a meeting with his natural political ally, the United Kingdom Independence party. It would be interesting to know whether he plans to meet his actual political allies from the European Peoples party, whose mission is to work for the
realisation of the United States of Europe.
The right hon. Gentlemans programme includes a meeting with the European Commission President, Mr. Barroso. During a recent trip to this country, Mr. Barroso praised the Government for their achievements during the UK presidency last year and stated:
Britain is a lead player in Europe.
Does the UK want to continue to drive from the centre; or return to sulking from the periphery,
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