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In respect of the post-constitution and post-referendum period, at COSAC and Future of Europe meetings or
even in face-to face meetings with Franco Frattini, I have saidI believe I said it in Hansardthat the constitution is dead. The constitution was dead, because that arrangement would never have got through under the barrier. Even by taking 5 per cent. out, the treaty was acceptable to the French Government, who took two daysone and a half days in the Chamber of Deputies and half a day in the Senateto get it through, but I did not see an uprising in the streets of France. I am sure that the French referendum had as much to do with the disquiet and the problems in the streets and arrondissements of Paris as it had to do with the constitution itself.
I would like to suggest that people should take the trouble of reading our Committees reports. They have been quoted bit by bit, piece by piecebut not line by line in the sense of every line, just the line that people like. We expressed our concerns on many issues in our reports. I am not claiming that this is a perfect deal for the UK. It amounts to a hard-won alteration to the conditions that we will have to apply when the Lisbon treaty comes into force, but we have to accept that that is what negotiations are about. How the negotiation took place is a mystery, and we said that. We said 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 a debate to have any effect on the agreements which they have reached.
That was in our 3rd report of Session 2007-08, paragraph 8, page 5. It is true. It was a mysterious process, but it did come up with a number of important decisions that safeguarded the UK and, indeed, other countries, on common security and foreign policy, on defence, on tax, on social security and so forth. We were leading that argument, by whatever means it was going on. In the final intergovernmental conference, we obviously came out with something different and better than what had been proposed before in the treaty for a constitution. We had some doubts about it and we put them on the record.
Let me refer to the paragraphs in our reports. I will not read them out, as we do not have enough time, but I will mention the paragraphs where we expressed a doubt paragraph 6 on page 7; paragraph 21, page 8; paragraph 24, page 8 and paragraph 25, page 9. We went on to express further doubt about other elements of the same treaty. That will not surprise the Minister, who has heard all those doubts argued. In paragraph 60, we said:
We were less concerned by the provision relating to measures which build on the so-called Schengen aquis.
the UK needed to establish an absolute right to choose whether to participate in Schengen building measures.
It did, in protocol 10 to article 10, which gave us an opt-in or opt-out decision every time that an advance along the Schengen lines is proposed, which obviously concerns the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). We expressed further concerns in paragraph 64 on page 18 and paragraph 67 on page 19 and we drew our conclusions on page 20. In paragraph 72, we stated:
We remain concerned that the provisions on the role of national parliaments are still cast in terms in which a legal obligation can be inferred.
We draw attention to the provisions relating to the opt-in on amendments to existing EU measures, where we consider a stronger position could have been achieved.
We are concerned that the interpretation of the red line to protect UK civil and criminal justice as only requiring control of the decision to opt in or not does recognise the loss of protection that will occur every time jurisdiction is transferred from UK courts to jurisdiction by the European Court of Justice and the Commission.
Throughout the debates, I have read into the record parts of the actual treatyin particular, the consolidated treaty numbers and what they saybecause I believe that there are many reasons to support them. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Ms Hewitt) spoke of some of those. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) spoke fluently and in a reasoned way, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) also gave lucid reasons for positive support.
The economic and social balance has been switched back slightly towards the social and away from the problem that people have with unabated free market economics. On human rights, the charter of fundamental rights has been opposed. I cannot understand how anyone can oppose what is in it, because most of it is in our own Human Rights Act 1998. That is the way it should be, but we seem to have got upset in a way that makes no sense to me. What is wrong with having human rights throughout the whole of Europe?
The rights of children throughout Europe are in the treaty for the first time, which is very positive. The rights of the elderlyintergenerational solidarityare in the treaty. There are employment laws and rightsnot just in the charter of fundamental rights, but in the treaty. The protocol on services of general interest will protect not only the ferries to the islands of Scotland, but many social services, if they are designed specifically for the needs of the people for whom they are provided. There are links, on the basis of economic and social welfare, to education and skills, and an education White Paper is being considered in Europe at the moment. None of that is compulsory; it is advisory and it is good practice. That is how we should try to transfer good practice across the EU.
On intergenerational solidarity, I recommend that people get hold of the report and read it. The analysis is that, by 2030, there will be 30 million fewer people of employment ageof work force agein the EU. We have to face up to that and think about how we can extend peoples work life and make work life more accessiblefor example, perhaps for those with disabilities. We must also consider how to draw into Europe people who can give us the work force that we require.
The ongoing processes on climate change, energy use and energy generation can be done only on a European level. There is no way they can be done country by
country any more. We have to think seriously about how we deal with those matters. The latest book by Professor James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia, says that we are already over the tipping point and heading beyond 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphereheading for 600, which would mean parts of London being under water. A lot of south-east Asia will be under water if we do not do something about that.
I think that the EU did not try to direct; it fudged the issue. It did not say what it should have said about the need for different types of energy. It said, We want more renewables. There was a kind of wish list, which said, Were going to have 15 per cent. renewables; thats our target. But how do we get there? The EU is afraid to say some important things. The one I think that it needs to say is that nuclear, with reprocessing using mixed oxideor MOXfuel, is a renewable resource, as well as any other.
Michael Connarty: For some people, the SNP is the bogeyman, but not for others. The European Court of Justicethat is the bogeyman, an organisation that is going to come along and somehow do bad things in the name of justice. Because it is European justice is it bad? Is that the equation? If it is British justice, is it all right? Go and ask people how we treated them within our empire. Ask people now, who are denied justicefor example, children are locked up in Dungavel in Scotland and in other places. That is British justice. British justice is opted out of the UN convention on the rights of the child so that we can lock up asylum seekers children. That is British justice.
The EU, I hope, will come along and say that that is not acceptable, and that we cannot do it. In fact, the latest Commission report says that we are in breach of the rights of the child across Europe, so we have to think about whether our justice system is better than any other.
What is wrong with justice? Two weeks ago, I spoke with Professor Sir David Edward, who, being an ECJ judge, is a leading figure in jurisprudence in Scotland. Nothing that he said about justice, his view of justice and Europes view of justice made me afraid of this organisation, the ECJ. The idea of justice is for everyone within the EU. That is what we can contribute. Why should positive parts of the UKs perception of justice, as put forward earlier, not be available to everyone throughout the EU? Why should it not be available to an enlarged EU, which we have at the moment, or to Turkey, Croatia or any other country that wants to come and join us? I do not think that there is anything wrong with that.
The ordinary legislative procedure shall consist in the joint adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of a regulation, directive or decision on a proposal from the Commission.
The European Parliament and the Council are involved. The European Parliament is a democratic organisation. If it is not good enough for purpose, make it better. That is our job as parliamentarians and as citizens. The article goes on to say in paragraph 4:
In the specific cases provided for by the Treaties, legislative acts may be adopted on the initiative of a group of Member States or of the European Parliament.
So, it gives elements of the generation of law not just to the Commission, but to member states. If we think something should be done as a collective, we should be able to put that suggestion forward, take it to the Council and the European Parliament, and bring it in as legislation. Not only the Commission is involved, so that is an advance on the idea of the plutocrats running everything.
I want the House to pass the Bill and implement the treaty. I want the people of the UK to participate through this Parliament and through their representatives in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. I want them to participate in any other way that they can. That is not a one-way system; I see it as a resolution of forces.
There is a new forcethe European Parliament. The Commission, the Council, the European Parliament, the devolved Parliaments and the Parliament of the United Kingdom are all involved, as are all the other Parliaments of Europe, and there is a resolution of political forces for us to work on. That is what the treaty gives us the chance to do. It is for our constituents, for the future of Europe and for the families that we represent.
Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): I imagine that at the end of tonights debate I will probably be on the losing side after going through the Lobby with those who, as has been the case many times during these debates, find themselves on the right side of the argument but on the wrong side of the vote. That is sad. I believe that the vote this Parliament took last week on the referendum, and that which I suspect will be taken tonight on the treaty itself, will do irreparable damage to our own image, the powers of this Parliament and our country.
It is clear that there is a distance between a large number of Members of this Parliament and the electorate, to whom Members promised there would be a referendum when this constitution was finally arranged. I know that many arguments have been made to the effect that this is not a constitution, but simply a treaty. However, as late as June last year, when the negotiations had been going on for some timeI suspect that the Government were aware of what was likely to be agreed and what was notthe Prime Minister was still saying:
The manifesto is what we put to the public. Weve got to honour that manifesto. That is an issue of trust for me with the electorate.
I have listened to the arguments that have been made over the days of debate, and again today. The right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) and the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) were telling us that we had nothing to worry about because this was not a constitution. Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman said, let us see what the Dutch, the French and the Danish have said about this, but they, of course, have an interest in playing down the constitutional aspect of the document because they have populations that have made it clear that they will not tolerate a constitution.
Two of those countries have voted against it. Twelve of the other countries have no axe to grindthey have not had a referendumand seem to have no great concerns about whether it is a constitutional treaty. I am not going to put their views on the record again, because over the weeks of debate on this subject, hon. Members have put on the record what all of those other 12 countries, the original author of the constitution, the European Parliament and the European Commission have said. They are all on the record as saying, This is a constitution. This is the same as the document that we negotiated previously, with very little difference.
The second argument is that the treaty does not represent a massive transfer of powerbut let me mention some of the ways in which there is a transfer of power: the setting up of new EU institutions; the weakening of the UK power to block legislation; the reduction of national vetoes on votes in Europe; the new EU powers on health, social security and trade policy; and a legal toolbox for further changes, which is perhaps the most damaging aspect, because there can be more changes without us considering them in this form again.
We are told, and many hon. Members have put it on the record again, that the sort of language used in the document has been chosen because it is important for the content and the real intent to be hidden in some way. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg said:
Britain is different. Of course there will be a transfer of sovereignty
But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to the fact?
The other reason suggested for why the arguments against the treaty should not be listened to is that we are scaremongering. It is difficult to take lectures about scaremongering when hon. Members imply that if we do not keep faith with the EU and the treaty we will be pushed back into a world war: apparently we will be at Germanys throat, we will be fighting the French, or we will be after the Spanish. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) implied that if we do not vote for the Bill, somehow or other paedophiles will run free around Europe, guns will be all over the place, and we will not even get a European spaceship.
Let me consider just two of the so-called scare stories that have been put around. One is that the powers of the EU institutions have been exaggerated. The amazing thing is that we only have to ask the following question: if we have nothing to worry about from the setting up of an EU institution with a president, a Foreign Minister and a diplomatic corps, why did the Government oppose it in the first place?
Michael Connarty: The hon. Gentleman makes me think of the saying, You put a straw man up to knock it down. If he says that there is a president, but there is not, he can then talk about a president. If he says that there is a Foreign Secretary, but there is not, he can then talk about a Foreign Secretary. There is no president; there is a President of the Council. There is no Foreign Secretary. Why mythologise?
Sammy Wilson: The hon. Gentleman can use whatever name he wants for the Foreign Minister, the president and the diplomatic corps, but they still exist. Let me quote the Foreign Affairs Committee. It has a Labour majority, and the Labour Government are trying to sell us the idea that there is nothing to worry about. The FAC says that
the Government risks underestimating, and certainly is downplaying in public, the importance and potential of the new foreign policy institutions established by the Lisbon Treaty, namely the new High Representative
and the European External Action Service
We recommend that the Government should publicly acknowledge the significance of the foreign policy aspects of the Lisbon Treaty.
Even a Labour-dominated Committee of this House was prepared to accept that there is something in the treaty that the Government had said they did not want, but which they had got. The Government then said, It doesnt matter because were not really concerned about it, and told us that we were scaremongering.
Rob Marris: I think that the high representative and so on are significant. They are a great advantage to the UK because they give us leverage. We can either stand alone, as we could for years as the UK, or we can stand with 26 other member states. It depends on the issue. Foreign policy in the EU is decided by unanimity. It is an each-way bet. Either we stand alone if we cannot agree with the other member states, or we can agree with them and have more leverage and more power in the world. The hon. Gentleman and the Committee are right: that is significantit is of significant benefit to the UK.
Sammy Wilson: Here is the other myth that is being spread aroundthat all the decisions will be made on a basis of unanimity. There are 11 areas in which a qualified majority vote will be sufficient. Indeed, the very leverage to which the hon. Gentleman refers has been severely weakened.
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