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The word protection is no longer taboo.
He also described competition as a dogma.
Mr. Gauke: I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me for not giving way. I need to complete one or two remarks.
President Sarkozy has said that a competition policy could emerge
that will favour the emergence of European champions.
He is cutting something of a dash on the world scene at the moment, and is emerging as a dominant figure in European politics. I am afraid that he is showing no enthusiasm for the Anglo-Saxon modeldespite a lot of enthusiasm for a Franco-Italian model. His view is wrong in terms of the best interests of the European Union, and it is certainly wrong in terms of the benefit of the United Kingdom.
If the treaty had been in our interests and if it had been achieving our objectives, what would it have looked like? Such a treaty would have included provisions to bolster competition, not weaken it. Where are the Lisbon treatys provisions to enable member states, not just the Commission, to propose the scrapping of unnecessary regulation? Such provisions do not exist. The treaty moves us away from the Anglo-Saxon model towards a more interventionist model. Its framework encourages more regulation, not less. Its objectives encourage more protectionism, not less. It is a reorientation of the EU away from the economic policies that create jobs and wealth, and towards the short-term protectionism that most people in this House oppose.
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Jim Murphy):
I am delighted to fulfil my regular slot winding up our short debate. [Hon. Members: Too short] I hear from a sedentary position that it is too short, but what we have done today is take advice from the Conservative
Oppositions amendment to the programme motion. We thus allowed three hours for the themed debated and three hours in which to consider amendments. The format of our debate is therefore exactly as the Conservative Opposition wished.
May I also bring to the Houses attention the fact that since I last had the opportunity to fill this slot, Slovenia, Romania and Malta have ratified the Lisbon treaty? I ask the House to celebrate that. The news will doubtless cause great rejoicing throughout this Chamber and across this nation.
I also welcome the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Gauke) to the debate. He had his first opportunity to speak in one of the themed debates in this European treaty process. I think the House would accept that he made his case in a thoughtful and occasionally humorous way. I look forward to hearing from him again as the Bill goes through the House.
We also had the opportunity to hear from several of my right hon. and hon. Friends, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson) and my hon. Friends the Members for Llanelli (Nia Griffith), for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) and for Middlesbrough (Sir Stuart Bell). If time allows, I will respond to the points that they made.
It has been said before, and I shall say so again clearly today, that the European Union helps to make the United Kingdom stronger, safer and better off. However, as I said last night, while the single market has been a remarkable success for the European Union and the United Kingdom, there are still too many people who are not benefiting from the economic growth and prosperity that the single market has brought us. There are 15 million Europeans without the basic literacy skills that they need to compete with the rising global economies. When we conclude the process on the Lisbon treaty, we should apply our political attention and determination to the Lisbon agenda for jobs and growth.
Mr. Cash: We have not heard one word about China or India in the course of the debate so far. How can we compete, and reverse the decline in our market share internationally, if we have a European Union that is locked into the over-regulation and increasing protectionism that will prevent us from competing and engaging in the globalised economy?
Mr. Murphy: I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not mind my saying that I agree with the basic premise of some of his comments. There is an old stereotype of China and India that claims that their role in the global market is to compete at the bottom end. That is the old economic reality and is no longer relevant. Research spending in China is set to catch up with the EU by 2010 and is growing by 20 per cent. a year. When it comes to economic growth, it has taken China 10 years to achieve what Japan took 35 years to achieve. While we agree on some of the analysis underpinning the debate, we often come to different conclusions. The conclusion of the Government is that the evidence makes the case for being more effective through the European Union, as a group of 27 sovereign nations working together where they can in the largest rules-based market in human history.
Chris Ruane: My hon. Friend mentioned that there are parts of Europe that have not benefited as much as they should from being a member of the EU. The Government introduced objective 1 funding for Wales and other areas of the UK. Why does my hon. Friend think that the Conservatives, when they were in government, failed to apply for objective 1 funding, especially given that they had a pit closure programme, they were running down steel mills, and seaside towns were left to dangle in the wind?
Mr. Murphy: My hon. Friend talks with great experience in such matters and the issue of the previous Governments record on objective 1 deserves greater focus on another occasion. In recent years, the growth in the labour market in the UK has been in areas that have previously seen endemic and generational unemployment. There is still much more to do, but the improvement has been seen in the most difficult, disadvantaged parts of the UK, many of them represented by my right hon. and hon. Friends. Many of our constituents now compete in a genuine global labour market, and this is the first generation for whom that is the case.
Ms Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): My hon. Friend will have listened to the debate and will be aware of the concerns that have been raised by some hon. Members about the impact of the single market on public services. He will have heard reference to the protocol on services of general interest that was negotiated. In my constituency, we have lifeline ferry services provided by CalMacCaledonian MacBrayne. The previous Scottish Executive spent more than £17 million on a tendering exercise that resulted in CalMac keeping the tender. Will that exercise now be required, in his view, under the protocol?
Mr. Murphy: I am well aware of the ferries in my hon. Friends constituency. I look forward to travelling on one to the Isle of Arran this Sunday with my family. I shall discuss that matter with the ferry crew and others this Sunday. The protocol makes it clear for the first time that the provisions of the treaty do not affect in any way the competence of member states to provide, commission and organise non-economic services of general interest. I look forward to continuing that conversation with my hon. Friend.
Let me turn to the point on health made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras. Maastricht introduced competence on public health, of course, and the treaty makes it clearer than ever before that member states remain solely responsible for organising, delivering, and making decisions about the allocation of resources to their health systems. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with my right hon. Friend. Article 2 says that individual states should organise and deliver the health systems that I have mentioned. The words used are new in the Lisbon treaty and helpfully clarify that the allocation of resources in public health systems is for member states to decide.
Let me turn to the subject of competition, which exercised Conservative Members at great length.
Frank Dobson: Is the Minister telling us that the Lisbon treaty sets aside the ECJs Watts decision? If it does, I would welcome it.
Mr. Murphy: The Lisbon treaty makes a stronger, clearer statement than ever before about the role of national Governments in organising the resources and funding of their national health services. We will discuss the issues in greater detail as the Bill goes through Parliament.
On competition, the protocol has the same legal weight as other treaty texts. The Law Society, of which the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire is a member, said that
a Protocol records that the EUs internal market includes a system which ensures that competition is undistorted. This does not change the current legal position.
The hon. Gentleman is a member of the Law Society; I suggest that he should pay more attention to his own organisations reflections on the issues.
This afternoon, the statements from the Opposition have made the situation very clear. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North said that they have only one ally across Europe. Unusually, he is wrong. I met the Deputy Prime Minister from the ODS in the Czech Republic, Mr. Vondra, and he is strongly supportive of the Lisbon treaty. Conservative Members have had two weeks to name a single conservative party anywhere in Europe that supports their rejection of the treaty, and so far they have been unable to do so.
Question put, That the amendment be made:
It being more than three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith t he Main Question, pursuant to Order [28 January]:
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