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There are five areas in which the UK and other EU countries have agreed that the EU alone may pass new laws. None of these is new to the Treaty of Lisbon.
Qualified majority voting was mentioned by the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) and others. In principle, the Government are in favour of its extension. I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman about some of his points about the handling of the Bill, but I understand why he made them. However, he was correct about the important dynamic that qualified majority voting creates for the United Kingdom in its negotiations with the EU. As the Committee is aware, the proposed move from qualified majority voting to double majority voting will increase the UKs share of the vote by 50 per cent. The change will improve the position of the UK and strengthen our bargaining position, as was pointed out by the author of a report by the London School of Economics.
Mr. Cash: The Minister is going through the points made in the debate, and I understand the formality of that, but I asked a number of substantive questions and I hope that he will come to them. Does he deny that the new arrangements will effectively give power to modify Acts of Parliament, and does he think that that is the right thing to do?
Mr. Clappison: The Minister will know that in the White Paper leading up to the 2003 negotiation, the Government vehemently opposed the extension of qualified majority voting, because they said it would undermine the role of national Parliaments. So that we can scrutinise how much name changing will happen, will the Minister tell us why he thinks the Union is so keen to have qualified majority voting on, for example, foreign affairs? Under those provisions, apart from what we might do ourselves, such matters would not come before the national Parliaments of member states. Why is the Union so keen to move to qualified majority voting that it has a special
The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I reminded the hon. Gentleman during his own contribution that the debate on qualified majority voting is tomorrow. I know that the Minister has made some reference to it. I hope that he will make a brief comment at most, and then we can move on.
Amendment No. 39, which stands in the name of the right hon. Member for Wells and is supported by the hon. Members for Stone and for Rayleigh, among others, is intended to make it more difficult for the Government to make changes to terminology or numbering in other UK laws that result from the Lisbon treaty. The Bill contains a power for the Government to update terminology and numbering in existing legislation. That is a power to make purely technical changes. For example, the article numbers in the treaties will change on the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, and the co-decision procedure is renamed as the ordinary legislative procedure. Those are not changes in substance, but UK law may need to be updated to reflect such changes in terminology.
Again, I disagree with the conclusions reached by the hon. Member for Stone, but the Committee would generally agree that he made a thoughtful contribution. I hope that he will not mind my saying that his assertion was a criticism of section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. It is commonly acknowledged that subsections (2)(a) and (2)(b) contain relatively wide-ranging powers.
Mr. Cash: There are one or two points to make on that. First, it is clear from the authority that I cited that, despite what was said in February 1970 during the passage of that Bill, people did not expect the provisions to be used as they have been. Secondly, they had not anticipated the question of trying to exclude judicial review. Lastly, do not these provisions contain deeming arrangements that would be retrospective?
This reflects the powers and definitions in the general provisions in section 1(2) of the 1972 Act, contrary to the hon. Gentlemans assertion, which was a criticism of the much wider power that relates to the general implementation of treaties under section 2(2).
Mr. Cash: Surely, if a mistake was made in the 1972 Act that was apparently not expected at the time, as I have explained, this is the time to put it right, not to compound the problem, when all the treaties are amalgamated into the Lisbon treaty.
I hope, rather than expect, to reassure the hon. Gentleman that a much narrower, more clearly defined power is being sought, and it relates to section 1(2) of the 1972 Act, rather than the more widely drawn section 2(2). The changes that we envisage will not involve any change of substance in existing UK legislation. This is purely a technical, updating exercise.
Clause 3(4) makes it clear that the powers to update references in existing legislation is limited to reflecting
changes in terminology or numbering arising out of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Rob Marris: My hon. Friend will have heard me remark that clause 3 would be better drafted if the word definition were included in its title and if the word terminology were removed from subsection (3). That would lead to greater understanding of subsection (4), on which the amendment has a direct bearing. Does my hon. Friend agree? If so, will such amendments be tabled in another place? If he does not agree, perhaps he will briefly explain why?
Mr. Murphy: Of course, I will happily do so. My hon. Friend has paid assiduous attention to every twist and turn of the Bill almost every day, and the Committee should give him the credit that he is fully entitled to. I listened with great care to the points that he made, and my view is that it would be unnecessary to make the changes that he suggests. Clause 3 will amend section 1(2) of the 1972 Act, which, of course, as the Committee will be aware, lists the definitions contained in that Act. Amendment of the 1972 Act is required only to reflect changes of terminology, which is what clause 3 is all about.
Let me make some progress on the argument. The Government need to ensure that all existing references to the European Community are updated and that other technical changes are madefor instance, reference to the numbers of treaty articles or the names of instruments and procedures. We need to be sure that that is done thoroughly, to ensure legal certainty.
There is no point in progressing along the lines suggested by the right hon. Member for Wells in respect of the affirmative procedure. The Government have referred in the Bill to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Subsection (5)(c) contains the words:
subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
That is the better way to progress. Under amendment No. 39, we would have to return to the House for each and every minor change of terminology, on the many hundreds of occasions that that may be necessary. The Bill will avoid that exercise, and it is clearly provided that any order will be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution. If the treaty is ratified and we do not update the terminology in our legislation, confusion and uncertainty could arise.
Finally, the powers are very closely defined in clause 3(4), and those narrow powers are reflected in the schedule. With those words, I hope that I have persuaded the Committee to oppose amendment No. 39.
I am grateful for the support for my amendment expressed in several quarters, particularly by my hon. Friends the Members for Stone (Mr. Cash) and for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) and, slightly unexpectedly, by the Liberal Democrats, who support my amendment, although, as usual, for the wrong reasons. I must also mention the contribution of my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer).
Although we disagree about the substance of the treaty, his contribution to the debate certainly helped to analyse the issue, and his point was a good one: this is one of the very few occasions in these debates when we have been able to devote sufficient attention to one aspect of the Bill. The line-by-line scrutiny that we were promised has been comprehensively forgotten and that promise broken, but today at least we have been able to ventilate these issues at some length.
The key point in my amendment is simply that clause 3(4) and (5) will give a power to the Secretary of State or the Treasury to make amendments to existing United Kingdom laws and statutory instruments, and some of those laws have been on the statute book for many years. That is supposedly to reflect changes in terminology, but it is quite clear from the way the clause has been drafted that it is not limiting. It does not strictly confine such amendments to the making of technical name changes, as suggested by the Minister. If such changes were strictly confined to making differences of name or number, that would have been stated in the Bill. However, those amendments simply have to reflect changes in terminology.
At the start of the debate, I gave examples of where apparent changes in terminology in fact make substantive changes. The change from EC to EU is not simply a technical change, because the EU will include not simply all those matters in the existing EC treaty, but all the intergovernmental matters in foreign and security policy and in justice and home affairs. I gave some other examples, to which the Minister has completely failed to respond.
I instanced specific statutory modifications that we know the Government want to make because they are listed in the previous Bill, which was introduced in 2005 to give effect to the constitutional treaty. Those modifications include amendments to the Export Control Act 2002 that will bring into British law provisions and obligations in the common foreign policy that prevent people from exporting goods and making technology transfers. The modifications also include alterations to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that completely change it by including reference not to the intergovernmental method of deciding criminal justice matters, but to the new measures in the treaty of Lisbon, which collapse the intergovernmental pillar and make criminal justice matters subject to the European Court of Justice and normal decision making through majority voting.
The Minister owed us an explanation and a response to the detailed questions that I asked him about the amendments to British and UK law that we know the Government want to makeamendments that are not simply technical, but involve matters of substance. In view of the Ministers poor response, I shall press my amendment to a Division.
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