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we reiterate our earlier comment that the process could not have been better designed to marginalise the role of national parliaments and to curtail public debate, until it has become too late for such debate to have any effect on the agreements which have been reached.
Our suspicions on this matter go back to before last June, because we know that a plan was set out for the Government in the questionnaire that came from the German presidency, when exactly the course that we have seen being followed was being suggested to the Government, even though they denied having received the questionnaire. The questionnaire talked about using terminology and presentational change to disguise the fact that the former constitution was being enacted. It even went so far as to ask:
How do you assess the proposal made by some Member States concerning possible improvements/clarifications on issues related to new challenges facing the EU, for instance in the fields of energy/climate change or illegal immigration?
Was it a coincidence, Mrs. Heal, that we spent a whole day debating the subject of climate change, which is a very important subject in itself, when there was not even a proposal about climate change in the original constitution? We find that this was put forward by the German presidency as a way of tarting up the constitution to make it more acceptable to public opinion, disguising what was really going on. The process was tainted, as I said, from beginning to end and it is a disgrace to the House in every conceivable way, as we have had no proper scrutiny on matters of such substantial importance. We cannot allow any part of this to go unchallenged, because the Government simply do not deserve our trust.
We heard quite a number of contributions from my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I hope that they will forgive me if, for the sake of time, I do not comment on every speech. I must say that I was particularly struck by the passionatethat is the appropriate wordcontribution of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith). He spoke very forcefully on these matters and I see the Minister nodding in agreement. My hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) also spoke passionately about the threat posed by clause 3. My hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) was not to be outdone by the fact that the defence amendments had not been debated. In my view, he kept just on the right side of order, Mrs. Heal, introducing a number of concerns
through that methodology. We have thus heard quite a few speeches explaining why clause 3 should not stand part of the Bill.
At the risk of really dropping him in it, I must also refer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee. The reason for doing so is that he asked a very important question of the Minister, when he pressed him on whether we could be fined under the treaty in certain circumstances. In a sense, he gave the Minister an excuse for not answering that question tonight, because he said that it was a complicated matter that officials were looking into, so it might not be possible to produce an immediate answer. I hope that, for the sake of the hon. Gentlemans career, the Government Whip took notice of that point. However, the Government have had months to prepare for debates on that subject. They have been negotiating through the European Convention for years, so they should by now be able to tell us definitively whether or not we could be fined and under what circumstances a fine would apply. I press the Minister to answer that question tonight, because we are not prepared to accept the get-out that he was given by the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee. We would like to have that question, so helpfully raised by the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, answered. With that, I hope that I have not completely wrecked the hon. Gentlemans further advancement!
If I may say so, Mrs. Heal, the Governments argument on clause 3 basically boiled down to Trust us. The provisions are technical and tidying, we were told, so there is nothing to worry about. In a sense, that has been the Governments argument all the way through our debate on the treatythat it is a tidying and amending treaty, in respect of which there is really nothing to worry about. Well, there are three reasons for not taking their word for it.
First, the Government said, Trust us, and you can have a referendum, but they broke that commitment. Secondly, they said that the House of Commons could have 20 days to debate the provisions in detail, but they broke that commitment. Thirdly, they promised line-by-line scrutiny of the treaty, but they broke that commitment, too. When we debated climate change, we spent the best part of a day on it, yet as my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) said, only six words in the treaty related to that subject and no new powers whatever were proposed that were not already provided for in the existing treaty base. It is a sign of how bad the Governments argument was that day that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who moved the Governments motion, attempted to argue that
You are absolutely right, Mrs. Heal. My point was about clause 3 and scrutiny, and I was simply about to say that the argument of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was that an amendment proposed by Conservative Front Benchers deleted the words from the treaty, when in
fact it did not. That amendment was proposed by a Back Bencher and we did not support it. Not only did the Government fail to scrutinise the Bill; they did not even scrutinise the Order Paper properly, which is even more embarrassing. Therefore, I have given three reasons that the clause should not stand part of the Bill. There is another.
Earlier, we tabled amendments that would have made the clause less dangerous. In particular, amendment No. 39, ably introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), would have made all the changes subject to the affirmative, rather than the negative, procedure. Had the Government been prepared to accept that amendment, we would have had greater reassurance about how clause 3 would have worked in practice. As they resisted that amendment, and the related amendments Nos. 55, 56 and 57 tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash), and did not allow the House to improve the clause, the Opposition are not prepared to trust the Government on the basis of their record to date. We continue to oppose the clause standing part of the Bill.
Mr. Jim Murphy: Some time ago, when I moved that clause 3 should stand part of the Bill, I had not expected to have the opportunity and privilege to respond to such a wide-ranging debate. Some parts of the debate have referred to clause 3 more obviously than others, but all have, of course, been in order, as you, Mrs. Heal, and Sir Michael have guided.
We have heard contributions from the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale), the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty). All that I would say to the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) is that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk does not need the hon. Gentleman to get him into trouble; he is more than capable, as he is well aware, of doing it of his own accord, and sometimes he does it intentionally. I shall try to make relatively short responses, as I have already spoken on clause 3, and am mindful of your strictures to remain in order, Mrs. Heal.
The right hon. Member for Chingford and Wood Green[Hon. Members: Woodford.] I am sorry. The right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford[Hon. Members: Green.] I am sorry. The right hon. Member for Chingford was generousI am not sure that he wishes to be so nowin his observations of the tone that I have tried to adopt for the debate. Although we continue to disagree about the substance, it is important that the debate is conducted in a certain tone, and I have sought to do that. By all accounts, from both sides of the House, he made a remarkably impassioned speech in respect of the role of opposition, particularly with regard to the European Union. I am used to his tough tackling on the football pitch, to which he alluded, but he has been as passionate in this evenings debate as he is a tough tackler on the football field.
My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk reflected on pillar collapses in justice and home affairs issues. I will seek to stay within the terms of the perhaps more narrowly defined clause 3, Mrs. Heal. He is right to assert, however, that our negotiated position has ensured the right to opt in or out on any amending
measure, Schengen-building measures and transitional measures. Whenever there is a transition from former pillar three to the new pillar one Community method, in the new democratic architecture, we have a chance to opt in on each proposal. At the end of the five-year transitionary period, we have the right to opt out en bloc, en masse, and can then apply to opt back in to each and every new measure.
My hon. Friend is right that if our decision had financial consequences, for example, if there were a common IT system to support some of the mechanisms currently in pillar three, or if UK staff were deployed in the management and support of such a mechanism, it would be appropriate for us to meet the costs of making those staff redundant and returning them to the UK if they were based elsewhere, geographically, in the EU. That is the type of issue that is being discussed, but we cannot take a view on the structure of the arrangement until we have taken a view on each and every proposal. However, I give my hon. Friend the assurance that I have given to him before: we will take a view on the financial consequences in detail as we examine the details of each individual measure.
Mr. Francois: Was not the point made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) that the decision on the amount of any such payment could be made at a meeting from which the United Kingdom was excluded?
Mr. Murphy: If we have left the governance of an area of justice and home affairs, we have left it, and when decisions about costs are made we will no longer be part of the process. I have made that clear before, and I make it clear again now.
the simplification of the nomenclature for Common Foreign and Security Policy decisions introduced by the Lisbon Treaty represents an improvement on the current situation.
Permanent structured co-operation is clearly in the United Kingdoms interest, and is sensitive to and supportive of NATOs capacity and ambitions within the European Union. We are strongly in favour of it.
Article 275 makes absolutely clear the definitions relating to common foreign and security policy and the jurisdiction of the courts. The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) asked about the complication presented by the consolidated treaty texts. The fact is that they were produced after a request from the European Union Committee in the House of Lords. Incidentally, a similar request was made at the time of the passing of the Maastricht Bill, and the Government of the day did no such thing. We thought that producing the texts was a way of informing the debate, and I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not find it as helpful as the Committee expected it to be.
The decision on common foreign and security policy and permanent structured co-operation was a deliberate decision in line with United Kingdom objectives to make PSC easier to set up, easier for member states to join, and easier for them to be suspended from if they no longer fulfil the requirements.
Mr. Murphy: In the interim there was a period of discussion, negotiation and agreement, confirming the participation of a member state that subsequently wishes to participate in qualified majority voting among members of the Council that are already participating in permanent structured co-operation. That was made very clear.
Mr. Murphy: We strongly support permanent structured co-operation, whose genesis lies in a United Kingdom-French initiative. We and the French have strongly supported it in the past because of its capacity to deliver in such places as the Congo. [Hon. Members: Yes or no?] I have made it very clear that we strongly support permanent structured co-operation. I cannot make it any clearer.
The provisions in subsections (1) to (6) are also very clear. They establish a power to make purely technical changes. For example, the article numbers in the treaties will change when the Lisbon treaty comes into force. The co-decision procedure will be renamed the ordinary legislative procedure. There will be no change in substance in the United Kingdom as a consequence of clause 3, because, as subsection (4) makes clear, it concerns
changes in terminology or numbering arising out of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Does the Minister agree that the terminology is changing because there is a big further transfer of power to the EU? Is that not why the names and the way in which the clauses in the treaty are numbered are being changed? He should come clean with the British public, who want a vote on this issue, that he is giving power away.
Mr. Murphy: That is just not the case at all. It is legitimate for the right hon. Gentleman to oppose the policies and the content of the Lisbon treaty. But to seek, as he does, to prevent Parliament in the future effectively from making terminological changes and changes in numbering arising from the Lisbon treaty is nothing short of ludicrous. I remind the House that we are speaking of the issues set out in the schedule. The terminological and numbering changes apply to regulations such as the Potatoes Originating in Egypt (England) Regulations 2004 and the Food (Peanuts from China) (Emergency Control) (England) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2003. To suggest that changes in the terminology and numbering of such regulations necessary as a consequence of the introduction of the Lisbon treaty into law cannot be made is nothing short of ludicrous.
These amendments are about frustrating the passage of the Bill and, as the hon. Member for Stone said earlier, about wrecking the Bill and preventing the Lisbon treaty from entering into force in the UK. I urge my hon. Friends to support clause 3 stand part.
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