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3 Mar 2008 : Column 1552

3 Mar 2008 : Column 1553

3 Mar 2008 : Column 1554

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

Clause 4

Increase of powers of European Parliament

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Jim Murphy: I am delighted to rise in support of clause 4. It does not so much

but it does secure increased powers for the European Parliament. Although that may be one and the same thing. [ Laughter. ]

Clause 4 fulfils the statutory requirement that any increases in the powers of the European Parliament must be approved by Act of Parliament. I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to this clause and to pay tribute to the work undertaken by the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) and the close attention that he has paid to the issue over recent months.

The European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002, which amended the original 1978 Act, requires that:

Clause 4 therefore meets the requirements of the 2002 Act.

3 Mar 2008 : Column 1555

Mr. Redwood: Will the Minister remind the House how the powers are being strengthened?

Mr. Murphy: The powers of the European Parliament are being strengthened in a positive way. There are 40 extensions to co-decision in the European Parliament, 30 of which apply to the UK. The other 10 will apply to the UK should we choose for them to do so. It is an important set of reforms that enshrines additional responsibilities on the European Parliament, although some of the debates in this House suggest a collective denial of the fact that European parliamentarians, including those from this nation, are elected by a democratic process. It is a step in the direction of improving the co-decision making of the European Parliament.

It is right that we make provision in primary legislation recognising that the Lisbon Treaty increases the powers of the European Parliament. These changes are intended to strengthen the co-decision extensions. Experience suggests that co-decision leads to better legislation—the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals regulation, or REACH, is a good example. The co-decision powers will not be extended everywhere, and will not apply to key strategic policy areas—such as foreign and defence policy.

Of course, some Conservative Members will oppose clause 4 and the extension of co-decision, but I am sure that in private, reflective moments they will recall that the principle was introduced by the Maastricht treaty, which made the European Parliament a true joint decision-making body for the first time. The Maastricht treaty introduced co-decision procedures in 15 separate articles, on issues such as the free movement of workers, services, internal market, education, public health, consumer protection and environmental policy. All those co-decision arrangements were introduced by the Maastricht treaty.

Of course, the Lisbon treaty also caps the number of Members of the European Parliament at 751—down from 785 at present—and we welcome that smaller European Parliament as well. The European Parliament will elect the president of the Commission. Under new article 9d, the European Council will have to take account of the political complexion of the European Parliament when nominating a new Commission president, and MEPs will gain separate votes on the Commission president and on the college of Commissioners. Of course, that is not a new change in substance. The European Parliament’s approval, which it delivers by a vote, is required now to appoint a new Commission. The new wording reflects the procedure followed during the appointment of the Barroso Commission in 2004.

I sense from the mood of the House that hon. Members would like me to bring my comments to a conclusion— [ Interruption ]—but we still have nine minutes or so of the debate left before hon. Members perhaps seek to divide the House. I wish to give the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) the opportunity to respond. I think that it is fair for me to conclude my remarks, except to say that we believe that these extensions of co-decision to the democratically elected European Parliament are an important reform. These reforms are supported by political parties across the EU. They are supported by the Governments and the main Opposition parties in all 27 countries of the EU. It would be a shame if, in the UK alone, one major political party opposed these extensions as they are
3 Mar 2008 : Column 1556
now proposed as a consequence of the Lisbon treaty. With those comments, I suggest that clause 4 remain part of the Bill. [ Interruption. ]

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. Far too many private conversations are going on in the Chamber. The Committee must come to order.

Mr. Francois: To mirror the Minister, I am equally delighted to propose that clause 4 should be deleted from the Bill. This clause 4 allows the increases in power given to the European Parliament that result from the treaty of Lisbon to be approved for the purposes of section 12 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002. Section 12 of that Act specifically states:

Before deciding whether to approve those clauses that increase the power of the European Parliament and in the seven minutes that I now have left, I want first to set out very briefly what powers the treaty gives to the European Parliament and, secondly, to make at least a few remarks on the Parliament itself and whether any improvement should be made to its functioning before it is granted these additional powers. It makes sense that, before increasing the powers of an institution, its ability to use those new powers should be analysed.

What new powers will the European Parliament gain? Under the treaty, the power of the European Parliament will be increased by a move to co-decision with the Council in up to 40 new areas, including such controversial things as financial regulation, the laws on police co-operation, Eurojust’s structure and operation, laws that relate to the implementation of the common agricultural policy and laws on the mutual recognition of criminal judgments, to name but a few.

As the Committee will know, co-decision, which is sometimes known as the article 251 procedure, is a method of decision making between the European Council and Parliament that requires those two institutions to agree. If I had more time, I would develop that further, but suffice it to say that the Lisbon treaty represents a major transfer of power by extending co-decision in the direction of the European Parliament.

Mr. Redwood: Did my hon. Friend notice that when I asked the Minister to name a single one of the 40 powers being transferred, he would not do so because there is not enough time to discuss those wide-ranging matters? I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning a few of them. Is it not a disgrace that we do not have time to talk about all the ones that we want to discuss?

10.30 pm

Mr. Francois: My right hon. Friend refers to the disgrace of the timing; we have five minutes left in which to debate clause 4, and we will have no time at all to debate clause 5. We will not even reach it because of the way in which the Government have rigged the debate on the treaty, time and again.

3 Mar 2008 : Column 1557

I want to make some quick points about the need for better regulation on the part of the European Parliament. It is a problem that the European Parliament’s structure and machinery are entirely dedicated to processing new legislation. Conservatives have long pressed for that Parliament to have instead mechanisms to monitor implementation of existing legislation, and to be able to propose the repeal of legislation, but those proposals have never been actively taken up by the Government. The European Parliament has a string of legislative committees, but no deregulation committee. I ask the Minister—when I have his attention—to consider that proposal in the context of tonight’s debate, and any avenues that there might be for pressing it forward.

There is one other matter that I have to mention: the farce of the two seats. The European Parliament spends £120 million annually commuting, for one week a month, to Strasbourg from Brussels. In 2006, more than 1 million people signed an online petition calling for an end to Parliament meetings in Strasbourg. Independent studies have calculated that the Strasbourg commute, as it is known, generates 20,000 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide emissions a year, yet far from acknowledging that the situation is clearly unsustainable, the European Parliament is currently negotiating to buy its buildings in Strasbourg from the French Government at a cost to the taxpayer of many hundreds of millions of euros.

The decision to abandon Strasbourg can be taken only by EU Governments, but the UK Government have repeatedly refused to raise the issue proactively at European Union meetings. It cannot be right that the European Parliament continues to commute from Strasbourg to Brussels, and Brussels to Strasbourg, at a massive cost to the taxpayer, and a great cost to the environment. That should have been put right many years ago. We are debating the European Parliament now, but why have the Government remained so completely silent on the matter? They have been in power for 10 years; why have they not done something about it?

Let me conclude by saying that it is a shame that more Members of the House will not be able to air their views on clause 4 and on the operation of the European Parliament. In fairness, that is not the fault of the European Parliament or the UK Parliament, but of the Government, who have rigged the debate so that such issues cannot adequately be discussed. They have timetabled debate on the treaty in a way that does not give us the line-by-line scrutiny that we were promised. In lieu of that, they should be held accountable by the British people, and should give them the referendum that they promised.

Mr. Davey: The Liberal Democrats totally support clause 4, mainly for a reason that the Conservatives have not touched on: increasing democracy in the European Union has to be a good thing. It seems quite extraordinary—

It being six hours after the commencement of proceedings in Committee, The Chairman put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order s [28 January and this day].

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

3 Mar 2008 : Column 1558

The Committee divided: Ayes 324, Noes 152.
Division No. 111]
[10.34 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David

Hill, rh Keith
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra

Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Steve McCabe

Afriyie, Adam
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy

Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Baron and
Mr. Nick Hurd
Question accordingly agreed to.
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