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Hugh Bayley: The Conservative party says that it supports the Government policy that aid should be targeted at poverty alleviation, and the treaty requires all 27 member states to follow that policy. If the Tories vote it down tonight, they will be voting against a policy that they tell the public that they support.
David Miliband: My hon. Friend makes exactly the right point. Conservative Members say that they want to will the ends of a constructive, engaged and forward-looking Europe, but at every opportunityat Amsterdam, at Nice and now with the Lisbon treatythey vote against it.
It is also worth explaining how the treaty will improve the accountability and transparency of EU business. A full-time Council president, appointed by the member states and answerable to them, will bring greater continuity and drive to delivering the agenda. Elected MEPs in the European Parliament have to approve EU legislation in more policy areas and, as was mentioned earlier, for the first time, national Parliaments get a direct say in making EU laws. If a majority of national Parliaments oppose a proposal and national Governments or MEPs agree, it falls.
Again for the first time, the treaty defines the EUs competences, setting out where the EU can and cannot act and it underlines that the EU has only such competences as are expressly conferred on it by the member states through the treaties. Those are good things [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) says from a sedentary position that there is hardly any power left in the nation state, but I do not know where he has been in the past 10 years. Actually, on further reflection, I do know where he has beengoing through the Division Lobby voting against the things that the Government wanted to do.
As I was saying, the measures I have described are good things and they are capped by the agreement at the last European Council that institutional reform would be put on ice for the foreseeable future. No wonder that 27 Governments and 26 Oppositions have united to say that the treaty represents a valuable step forward and, above all
David Miliband: Well, I am in the middle of a sentence, so I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would at least let me finish it. The treaty represents a valuable step forward and, above all, a fair resting place for the institutional reform of the EU. The 26 Oppositions I mentioned excludes only onethe Conservative party opposite, stuck in the past and obsessed with myths about the EU.
Mr. Stuart: The Foreign Secretary is speaking eloquently as usual, so can he explain why he has failed so spectacularly to convince the British people that pushing the treaty through the House is the appropriate way to move forward?
David Miliband: I was coming to the obsession with the myths about the EU. Last week, we heard one that I thought had been buried for good. At Prime Ministers questions, the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron), announced that the treaty will bring in a united states of Europe. A united states of Europe means one country, one Government, one currency and every single country of the EU reduced to the status of a county council. Under no circumstances could that be a true description of the Lisbon treaty, which is why no one among the opponents of the treaty believes itnot even the Dutch Party for the Animals, with which the Conservative party is now allied on the issue.
If the right hon. Member for Witney really believes that the treaty means a united states of Europe, he is honour bound to recommend that we leave the EU if the treaty is ratified. I hope that when the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks responds on behalf of the Opposition, he will either disown his leaders comment or say how he can foresee living in such an EU, because many Labour Members have doubts about what the Conservative partys real agenda is in respect of the EU.
Mr. Harper: I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for giving way. I want to take him back to the point that he made a few moments ago, because he cannot be allowed to get away with it. At the last election, the Labour party put the issue on one side by pledging a referendum on a European constitution. The public believe, rightly, that the constitution is pretty much the same as the treaty. They have rumbled the Foreign Secretary and he cannot pretend that he has a democratic mandate to push these measures through.
will in time not merely supplement Members States voices in foreign affairs, but replace them.
the largely intergovernmental nature of the CFSP and ESDP will be maintained, with no significant departures from the arrangements which currently apply.
European integration threatens to tear the....NATO alliance apart,
no one today would still seriously assert that NATO and the EU are rivals whose aim is to drive each other out of business.
A gas dispute in Bavaria could ultimately lead to gas rationing in Birmingham.
If there is an interruption in the supplies from the Gulf, the Commission can override our contracts. It can cut off our supplies from Milford Haven and send them to Ingolstadt, or divert our liquefied natural gas from the Isle of Grain to Novo Mesto.[ Official Report, 30 January 2008; Vol. 471, c. 347.]
As for the issue of qualified majority voting, the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks has talked about our national veto being abolished in sixty areas, but he glosses over the fact that 16 of the 51 changes do not apply to the UK or apply only if we agree, while 15 are purely procedural. Furthermore, 20 changes will speed up or unblock decision making in areas not just where we want progress, but where the Conservative party says that it wants progress too.
The critics of Maastricht...
foretold the imminent death of British self-government. They are no doubt surprised....to find the Queen safe on her throne, British forces occupying Iraq because of a British decision, the Bank of England in charge of interest rates.
Although the argument of the Conservative party is not new, it is dangerous and deluded. The treaty means greater voting weight for the UK, a smaller Commission and additional powers for national Parliaments, yet the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks says that there is not a single thing in the treaty that he can bring himself support.
It is one thing not to support our policies, but I cannot for the life of me understand why he is afraid of supporting policies that he says are his own. He says jobs, poverty and the environment should be prioritised by the EU, but he opposed the last two treaties that got us to this point, and he now opposes this treaty to take progress further.
our sense of uniformity and unity on such central questions.[ Official Report, 26 February 2008; Vol. 472, c. 993.]
David Miliband: Excellent. So 47 Conservative MPs in other words, one quarter of the modern Conservative partysupported the hon. Gentleman in voting for an amendment that aimed to reverse 50 years of cross-party support for the EU. The amendment claimed to assert the right of Parliament over European law. In fact, it would have made a nonsense of the necessity for Community law to have the same effect in every member state if the UK, any more than any other member state, could choose by national law to override what it did not like. [Hon. Members: Ah!] Opposition Members can say Ah!, but those were the words of Sir Geoffrey Howe at the Committee stage of the Bill that legislated for Britains entry into the EU. People cannot join a club and write their own rules.
What was the position of the official Opposition last week? In the face of an amendment that would have endangered British jobs and British interests, after all the huffing and puffing about courage and convictions, and after all the attacks on the fence-sitting of the Liberal Democrats, they took the tough, principled and forward-looking decision to give Conservative Members a three-line Whip on an abstention that would have set back our national interests by 40 years. They talk about wanting to be constructive in Europe; in fact, they would wreck the national interest.
The truth is that successive Governments have faced a choice: whether to retreat from the world or to engage with the problems and opportunities beyond our borders. It is this Governments view that we must continue to look outward and to try to shape the world, building alliances to tackle the global problems that we face. That is why we are committed to playing a full role in Europe, driving the European Unions agenda and making a positive difference to the British people. That is what this treaty is about. That is why I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) (Con): I begin on a note of agreement with the Foreign Secretary. Given that there are so many disagreements, it is a happy note on which to start. He paid many warm tributes to those of us who have taken part in the debates over the past couple of months. He was very generous to meif being called antediluvian is a form of generosity; I suppose in Parliament we are grateful for small compliments. Indeed, he has shown himself to be a vigorous debater throughout all our proceedings, and one of the brightest members of the Cabinet, as he is known to be, although in the current state of the Government that may not be such an extraordinary accolade.
I certainly pay tribute to the Minister for Europe who, as the Foreign Secretary said, has always performed with great patience and humour, and will probably now become the portable lightning conductor for the Government and move from one Department to another. I also pay tribute to many Labour Members. The hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) has been quoted by all of us in almost every speech we have given. The hon. Member for Glasgow, South-West (Mr. Davidson) vied with me to persecute the Liberal Democrats and call for a referendum. The right hon. Member for Leicester, West (Ms Hewitt) spoke many times, only to meet in the final hours the tragic news that Peter Mandelson may be offered a second term.
An extraordinary number84of my right hon. and hon. Friends have taken part in these proceedings. When one of them has spoken 210 timesit feels to those of us who often talk to him in the No Lobby like 310 timesthat is a considerable debating contribution. I join the Secretary of State in the camaraderie that has infused those of us who have participated in the debate. I thought that he was going to propose an annual reunion at one stage, but perhaps we will not go that far.
The Oppositions case on the Bills Third Reading is simple: its effect is to ratify a treaty that is overwhelmingly the same in its content as the rejected EU constitution. Its scrutiny by the House has not been as extensive or as detailed as it should have been, or indeed as was promised. Amendments supported by Members in all parts of the House that would have made improvements to the future scrutiny of changes to our relations with the European Union have been rejected. Above all, it continues to be the case that the Bill would come into force without ever being submitted for the consent of the British people in either a general election or a referendum. For all those reasons, we shall have no hesitation in voting against Third Reading tonight.
We have, of course, had many exchanges across the Floor of the House about whether the Lisbon treaty, on which a referendum is being denied, is essentially the same as the EU constitution on which a referendum was promised in the House. Mr. Giscard dEstaing has probably been quoted more often in this Parliament during the last couple of months than he has been in the French Parliament in the last couple of decades. His well-known view that
all the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way
the fact that the mandate safeguards the substance of the Constitutional treaty.
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