Chris Heaton-Harris: Quite possibly, but that is the essence of democracy, and one of the reasons we were put here in the first place is to keep check if not on what our own Government are doing, at least on what institutions to which we are giving powers might be doing with

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them. I would like the Minister to reiterate the comments I have heard from his officials about the emergency brake and new clause 4 possibly not being needed.

Mr Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon) (Con): Why has my hon. Friend chosen to put a veto in the hands of the other place? I can understand why the matter might be subject to a vote of this House, but why also to a vote in the other place?

Chris Heaton-Harris: Well, that sounded better to me when I was writing it down. It seemed perfectly logical for this to be a matter for both Houses, and the other place does scrutinise European matters, as we have discussed. It has a depth of expertise on European matters, although it might be completely wrong in its conclusions.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The House of Lords has an absolute veto on statutory instruments and many other things. It is only legislation introduced in the House of Commons on which the Lords does not have a veto. It would therefore have been illogical to have excluded it.

Chris Heaton-Harris: I could not have put it better myself.

Moving swiftly on, new clause 4 addresses the post-2013 financial framework. We are about to enter into very important negotiations about how much money we give to the European institutions over the next financial framework—that for 2014 to 2020. We have had many assurances from the Government that they will seek a very tough settlement, and I thought it would be wise to encapsulate in a new clause this Parliament’s view of a tough settlement. I thought it might be a good idea to spell out the situation if we do not get a freeze on the amount of money we are spending per year in that financial framework at EU level—or indeed a cut, which I hope we might be angling for. I wanted to make it clear that if we failed miserably in our negotiations and had to accept—perhaps for reasons of diplomacy, as I am unsure whether we would have to accept this as we have a veto on these matters—a rise in the amount of money that could be spent in that financial framework, that would also become part of the Bill. In fact, I would like that to be put to a referendum so that people can vote on whether we should give a lot more money to institutions that we do not completely trust. That is the main purpose of new clause 4. I hope its being moved will give the Minister another chance to state on the record exactly what our position will be going into negotiations on the financial framework post-2013.

7.15 pm

New clause 5 addresses a concern that many people share. In September, the President of the European Commission, President Barroso, started reigniting the flame on what is called in Europe own resources decisions, but which is essentially a European tax. I strongly believe that any tax imposed at the European level should be subject to a vote of the British people. That is not only a massive transfer of sovereignty, but it changes a fundamental relationship between us and the EU.

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Does my hon. Friend not agree, however, that the fact of the situation in which we find ourselves is that the British people have no say about their EU budget contribution?

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Chris Heaton-Harris: Well, they do have a say through the Government they elect, and the Government do negotiate these things in the multi-annual packages. As I said in a debate on a previous new clause, this is one way of making sure that if the Government decided it was practical for us to have a rise in the amount of money being spent in the European institutions, the people would have a say on how much it would be. I accept that own resources is covered in some ways in the Bill, but I thought I would phrase the new clause in such a way that it would give the Minister a chance to tell the House exactly what the British Government’s views are on matters of taxation coming in at the European level. My new clause would at least introduce the principle of referendums on own resources decisions bringing about substantial changes in EU taxation, and require future Governments to go through a more exacting process to agree to such changes, which would expend significant political capital if they were proposing something clearly out of line with what the British people want.

The new clauses address the crux of the debate, which is the scrutiny of European matters. We in this place do not do scrutiny half as well as we should. On Third Reading, I hope to speak about how we might improve scrutiny and what the Government should do.

Michael Connarty: I want to speak briefly in support of new clauses 3, 4 and 5. They get to the meat of the discussion we should have been having with the Government before they introduced this silly Bill. It is silly because it is never likely to be used, as there are so many ways that a Government Minister of any political complexion who wishes to continue with the European project can get measures through Parliament, such as by saying that they are insignificant or that it is not necessary to have an Act of Parliament. Therefore, I do not think that the Bill’s measures will be used a great deal. It is based on the premise that the Government want to put in place the measures they introduce, and presumably a Government of any complexion will know that they need a majority in the House in order to introduce any measure that they might decide is significant enough to be dealt with by a referendum or an Act of Parliament.

In reality, therefore, the Bill is a bit of a public relations exercise. But the new clauses are not. They would address the things that are wrong at the moment with the process of dealing with the emergency brake. It should be in place and it should be used properly in a way that gives a Government a chance to speak on behalf of their Parliament and their people in the Council in a fundamental way. New clauses 3 and 4 are very attractive, because would give teeth and meat—a bit of beef—to a Bill that lacks that completely. The Bill is a list of things which might be on the mind of the body politic and perhaps the anti-European press, but it does not have any substance. The new clauses have substance, as they lay out clearly how the brake should be used.

There is absolutely no doubt that new clause 5 is necessary. It deals with a tax and we should have had a similar clause, somewhere along the line, on the giving away of our social security rights. It is clear that people who come to this country to work see social security as an extra payment that does not come out of the pocket of their employer. When someone leaves their family back in Poland, where they still have their house, to

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come to this country to work, they get all the benefits required under our social security legislation—tax credits, child tax credits and so on—which they often send back home. They also often end up with a council house, because they then bring their family to this country and live in overcrowded conditions, and they leave their house back there being paid for by the British taxpayer. All those things might have been examined seriously if we had had a provision such as new clause 5 to deal with how social security would transfer.

Clearly the own resources arrangement is a tax and will be about creating a European tax as a substitute for VAT. I have been at conferences and seminars called by the Commission in other countries to press that point heavily, and thank goodness Treasury officials were there to argue hard against such an arrangement. We might say that it was one of the three red lines, because we said that tax was a red line that would not be crossed. However, the own resources debate will clearly be pressed again and again by the Commission, which will try to convince us that the proposed arrangement is not a breach of one of those red lines. New clause 5 would put up a nice barrier that we would have to cross purposefully and decisively if we wanted to move away from that red line. I commend the hon. Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) for his tenacity, even at this late stage, in tabling well thought-out new clauses. I do not think that they come from a Eurosceptic, anti-European view; they would just be common sense and make good legislation.

Mr Cash: I wish to speak about my amendment 1, because it is important not only in principle, but in practice as we move forward on the negotiations taking place on two main issues. The first is European economic governance as a whole and the other is the, as yet, unformulated competitiveness package, which is coming up in the lift and being promoted vigorously in some other parts of the European Union.

The issue turns on the Bill’s proposal for the circumstances in which a treaty or an article 48(6) decision attracts a referendum. Under clause 4(4)(b), we would not have a referendum where

“the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom”

came into play. It might sound obvious that we would not want to have a referendum if it did not affect us but, unfortunately, that rather innocuous wording raises a substantial and profound problem.

I remember Chancellor Kohl talking in the 1990s about the need to move forward with a two-tier Europe and he used the analogy of a convoy. The Minister for Europe is doubtless aware of what is coming up in the lift, but he should also be very worried about it because it is one of the greatest and most serious problems that we face. Many people, including distinguished commentators from the Financial Times and other newspapers, take an interest in these matters and get to the root of what is going on in Europe at the moment. Rather than merely having a convoy of ships travelling at different speeds with the slowest eventually being required to catch up—that was Chancellor Kohl’s analogy—these proposals on European economic governance are the equivalent of having an aircraft carrier of the eurozone and a rowing boat of the other member states that are left behind.

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I do not believe for one minute that we should be in any way trapped or lured—to use the Prime Minister’s words—into engaging in the kind of European economic governance proposals that apply to the eurozone or to the competitiveness package on their own merits. Given the record of the European Union, neither has worked, is likely to work or will work. But there is a danger in our acquiescing in allowing the other member states to go ahead by participating in the given procedure, be it the ordinary legislative procedure, the special procedure, the special purposes vehicle or something that arises by virtue of a treaty. The key test is whether it

“substantially affects all or any of the political, economic, fiscal, social or constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and other Member States of the European Union.”

That is how my amendment 1 puts it.

If something falls into that category, as I firmly believe these proposals do, it clearly affects our fundamental relationship with the European Union in such a way as to require a referendum. We went through the arguments about the constitutional treaty and all that followed from it, and we went through the subsequent arguments about the Lisbon treaty and insisted on a referendum on it, because these things affected this fundamental relationship. I am talking about the Conservative party, rather than the coalition, which is quite a different thing. The basis on which we presented our argument for a referendum was that the treaty was creating a fundamental difference in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

I cannot think of anything more likely to demonstrate that fundamental difference than the implementation of these procedures, irrespective of the legal niceties of defining the transfer of powers or competences—I could argue that there is, but that is not the issue I am raising. I am saying that the key question is the substance of what is being done, not merely the choice of specific words employed—not in the Bill, but merely in the coalition agreement—about the transfer of powers or competences. I defy anybody to find the words in the Bill which say that wherever there is a transfer of power or competence there will be a referendum. That is not what the Bill says; it chooses a list of circumstances, specifically but not generically, where a referendum will be required. That is a fatal flaw in the Bill, but the real problem is the substance of what is being decided in a given treaty or article 48(6) arrangement. To my mind, the creation of a two-tier Europe, with the United Kingdom bound into it by acquiescence, puts us at risk because it creates the aircraft carrier of Europe and we are left in the rowing boat.

7.30 pm

Ms Louise Bagshawe (Corby) (Con): I admit that, for the first time, I find myself mystified by my hon. Friend’s arguments. Surely, the point about the Lisbon treaty was that it altered the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union in a most disadvantageous way for the United Kingdom. In the situation that he describes, where the Eurocrat nations are heading off at jet speed to unite themselves, I am quite content to be in the rowing boat, and I would prefer it if the rowing boat were being paddled very fast in the other direction. I cannot understand why we would need a referendum in those circumstances.

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Mr Cash: The answer is that my hon. Friend completely misunderstands the nature of the European Union. That is the problem in a nutshell. I am afraid that she does not understand—I have to put this to her very bluntly—that the creation of a two-tier Europe on such disadvantageous terms would be very damaging to us. If, however, an association of nation states were to decide to go in one direction, while we retained our independence and did not acquiesce in treaty or other procedural arrangements that bound us into that association, I would be content, but that is not what is happening.

What is happening is that we are being actively required to become and are acquiescing in becoming part of a new treaty arrangement that affects us all—all member states as a whole—but they get their solidarity and concentration of power with the new arrangements that they enter into; we are left within the legal framework, subject to the European Court of Justice and all that goes with it, without being party in practice to the arrangements that they devise. That is why the social and employment legislation, the fiscal arrangements and all the rest of it will have a disadvantageous effect on us if they proceed with those arrangements.

My right hon. Friend the Minister may say that the proposed arrangements will be purely intergovernmental. We had a bit of a discussion about that in the debate on an earlier proposal, but that is a far too simplistic way to put it because, as I pointed out in an intervention on the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr MacShane), the proposals of the European conclusions of 4 February specifically state:

“Building on the new economic governance framework, Heads of State or government will take further steps”—

I now refer to an answer that I received from the Financial Secretary, who put a lot of emphasis on this—

“to achieve a new quality of economic policy coordination in the euro area to improve competitiveness”.

So they are creating a new kind of co-ordinated arrangement. It continues:

“without undermining the single market.”

I believe that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was very insistent on including those words, so that the proposals would not put us at a disadvantage. My argument is that, whether or not those words are included, they will do so.

The proposals then go on to say—this is all part of the manner in which the system is being devised, which I regard as extremely dangerous and implausible—

“Non-euro members will be invited to participate in the coordination.”

It then says in respect of the President of the European Commission:

“He will ensure that the Heads of State or government of the interested, non-euro area Member States are duly involved in the process.”

In other words, the appearance is given, contrary to what the right hon. Member for Rotherham said—that we would not be party to those arrangements—that in practice this is a perfect example of the two-tier system in operation. It requires some careful analysis, but it does us no favours whatsoever.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman is putting the searchlight on a very important and difficult issue. It is vital that this matter is highlighted.

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To continue the aircraft carrier analogy, if we are in the rowing boat, the trouble is that we are not able to row in a different direction; we are inevitably carried along in the wake even though we may be in a different place. That has happened in the past, and it is likely to happen in the future.

Mr Cash: Indeed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) pointed out, the aircraft carrier is owned by the Germans and the French. That is all part of the problem.

Let us come to the crunch: the reality is that the creation of a German or Franco-German dominated Europe lies at the heart of this. That has been one of the major concerns that has permeated the Government’s thinking for a very long time, right back to when I was advancing similar arguments about the Maastricht treaty. In fact, it was one of the reasons why I took such exception to the treaty, not only because it created European Government, but because, as I said in several books and pamphlets at the time, it was creating a German Europe as well. We need not engage in shock, horror anxiety about that, but it is part of a new dimension that will now have a significant and very damaging effect on the United Kingdom. For that reason, we should not acquiesce in these proposals; we should do everything to defeat them.

Ian Swales (Redcar) (LD): I give due credence to the hon. Gentleman for all his knowledge on the issue, but can he think of an historical precedent where the citizens of one country have had referendum rights over a treaty to which their country is not a party?

Mr Cash: That is a very interesting question. Conversely, there have been three referendums—one in Denmark, one in France and another in Ireland—that would have an impact on us and people voted against, but the process of European integration carried on notwithstanding those results. In fact, to use an analogy, we got the rough end because, although the referendums went the way that some of us wanted, they made no difference and integration carried on anyway.

We need to understand perhaps that these proposals are, in fact, extremely dangerous. I suspect that my right hon. Friend the Minister will argue that, although we are being denied a referendum, the proposal will require approval by the United Kingdom Parliament in due course. The essence of my case is that it will have such a profound impact on the United Kingdom, by creating a two-tier Europe, that a referendum would be required because it involves a fundamental change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

I should like to say many other things about the proposal—perhaps I will have an opportunity to do so on Third Reading—but I have described its essence. This is a very dangerous move towards a German Europe, or a Franco-German Europe—it does not matter which way we look at it—and it is a fundamental strategic mistake. I see the Foreign Secretary, sitting on the Front Bench. He has bought this argument. I warned him before the general election that we should not enter this landscape. I am glad that he nods his head, because I was explicit about that at the time.

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Finally, I recall the words of Thomas Mann who proposed what I still believe to be one of the great questions of our time, as yet unresolved, but probably resolved by these proposals of a two-tier Europe along the lines of Chancellor Kohl’s analogy of a convoy, and ask, “What will it be—a European Germany or a German Europe?”

Mr Lidington: We are confronted with a cornucopia of amendments and new clauses covering a number of important but disparate subjects. I shall try, in the time available to me, to do justice to them, but I apologise to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and to the House in advance should I not have time adequately to deal with each new clause and amendment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) tabled new clause 3, which is grouped with amendment 4. As he said, the new clause deals with the “emergency brake” procedures in the EU treaties. It is important to note that we cannot equate the emergency brake procedure with a treaty change or with the exercise of a ratchet clause, because those relate, rather, to controls on the exercise or use of existing competences to adopt European secondary legislation such as directives or regulations in the areas concerned. His new clause would enhance parliamentary control over the use of some existing EU competences. Subsections (3) and (4) would add a requirement for a motion to be passed by both Houses before the UK could decide not to invoke the emergency brakes that can be applied to proposals for measures under all four treaty provisions specified in the new clause, and also before Britain could put an end to the emergency brake procedure by agreeing in the European Council to refer the issue back to the Council to continue with negotiations under the ordinary legislative procedure.

As my hon. Friend said, it is our view that, even were the European Council to refer a matter back to the Council to continue negotiations, member states would still be free to pull the emergency brake again if they saw fit. As consensus is required on emergency brakes, and if parliamentary approval were not granted, the result would be that the UK was effectively able to block EU decision making in those areas, although in respect of certain measures, as he will understand, other member states could have recourse to use of the enhanced co-operation procedures without the UK’s participation where that was permitted under the treaties.

Kelvin Hopkins: I followed the case made by the hon. Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) fairly carefully, and I understood it to mean that the new clause would give parliamentary backing of or control over Ministers when they go to the Council. Would that not strengthen the position of Parliament relative to the EU and put a bit of stiffening in Ministers when they go to negotiate?

Mr Lidington: The hon. Gentleman has the right intentions, but the new clause would not achieve quite the purpose that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry intend. It would have some unintended and unwanted consequences as well. Let me explain why I consider that to be the case.

As I said at the outset, any proposals under the four treaty articles covered by the new clause would not constitute a transfer of power or competence from the UK to the EU, because the EU’s ability to act in those

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ways is already provided for by the treaties. Those decisions are not what the Government consider to be ratchet clauses, so we do not believe that such measures should, as a matter of policy, be subject to the controls provided for within the measure.

Furthermore, proposals for EU secondary legislation under articles 82(2) and 83 fall within the scope of our opt-in to title V under protocol 21 to the Lisbon treaty. We have already undertaken to review the procedures for parliamentary scrutiny of the use of the opt-in to ensure that Parliament has an increased say. I spelled that out, in outline, in my written ministerial statement of 20 January.

For the future, we have made it clear in clause 9 that the use of the ratchet clauses in some of those articles should ensure that any British participation in such measures by virtue of our opt-in should be preceded by the approval of both Houses of Parliament, and that our agreement to the final measures proposed should be preceded by parliamentary approval by Act of Parliament. We believe that that represents a significant step forward in enhancing the controls of the House on those justice and home affairs ratchet clauses while maintaining the same proportionate and sustainable approach that we have sought to take with all other parts of the Bill.

7.45 pm

Furthermore, since three of the four treaty provisions that are the subject of the new clause are in the area of freedom, security and justice, any such decisions by a British Government to opt in to proposals for EU legislation would themselves be subject to the UK’s opt-in protocol. One way in which the Bill will increase public accountability is by providing that any proposed treaty change to give up our freedom not to take part in justice and home affairs by removing our opt-in protocol would require a referendum first.

I am not arguing that the current arrangements for scrutiny are perfect—I think I made that clear earlier in our proceedings—nor am I arguing that the new clause is unnecessary for that reason. In my written statement of 20 January, I outlined the proposals for further enhancements of parliamentary scrutiny arrangements for all areas of freedom, security and justice opt-ins. I will not go into detail at this stage—I think that most Members of the House who are present are familiar with the content of that written statement—but if the new clause were adopted, in addition to the enhanced security measures on JHA that I proposed in January, there would be a practical implication: that in some cases Parliament would be required to look at the same issue more than once, first, when considering whether to opt in to a measure under one of those legal bases, then when considering whether to apply the emergency brake in each case. There would even be the possibility of a third examination of the same measure if the emergency brake provisions were to be used by the UK, or indeed any other member state, and there was then agreement at the European Council to refer the matter back to the Council of Ministers for the negotiations to continue based on the ordinary legislative procedure. I simply do not think that that multiplicity of debates and votes in Parliament would be a good use of limited parliamentary time.

The tests set for the emergency brake in the treaties are quite high. For that reason, we should hesitate before agreeing to a new clause that would require a

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mandatory parliamentary procedure for any of the measures covered by the four articles that it mentions. The test incorporated in article 48 of the treaty is that the emergency brake can be invoked where the measure

“would affect important aspects of its”—

meaning a member state’s—

“social security system”.

Under articles 82 and 83, the test is whether the measure

“would affect fundamental aspects of”

a member state’s

“criminal justice system”.

Those are high bars to leap, but it is important to note that it is for the member state—and the member state alone, not anyone else—to decide whether that test should be met. However, under the new clause, parliamentary approval would be needed before a British Government could consider whether the emergency brake should be used for any proposal for a measure under any of the treaty provisions that it specifies, no matter how small its potential effect on the UK.

For example, co-ordination regulations are amended regularly under article 48 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union to take account of changes in the various social security systems of member states. Many of those amendments simply do not have any practical effect in the UK—for example, a change in the name of a Dutch benefit or an update of a reference to German national legislation.

I do not think that that is what my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry intends, but the new clause would result in both Houses of Parliament being obliged to consider whether it was appropriate to use the emergency brake in respect of an amendment to such co-ordination regulations in respect of other member states’ national social security systems. I simply do not think that that is a sensible policy to adopt.

Amendment 4, which was also tabled by my hon. Friend, concerns a situation where in the future the UK might wish to take part in a measure under article 82(2)(d) or article 83(1) proposed following the use of the ratchet clauses in those treaty articles and decided by qualified majority voting. The amendment would ensure that we could not participate in such a measure unless Parliament had given its approval to do so through an Act of Parliament.

Clause 9 already provides for the use of these two ratchet clauses to be subject to the two-stage parliamentary approval procedure. First, a motion must be carried in both Houses unamended before Britain could opt in to a proposal to use either ratchet. Clause 9 then requires approval in the form of an Act of Parliament before we could agree formally to the decision in Council. I understand my hon. Friend’s concern, which is that once the ratchet had been deployed and the UK had opted in to a subsequent measure already subject to QMV, we would be bound by those measures even if the final proposal were not considered desirable by the Government.

However, I am concerned that the amendment may not deliver the result that my hon. Friend intends to achieve. Instead, the provisions in the Bill and in the package of measures that I outlined in January represent a more effective solution. First, if the UK formed part of a blocking minority preventing adoption of the measure, we could be ejected from the measure and

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other member states could proceed anyway without British participation, under the terms of article 3(2) of our opt-in protocol. This, as with all negotiations, increases the importance of effective UK participation in the negotiation and the development of a robust negotiating position with like-minded member states.

Secondly, both the treaty articles mentioned in the amendment make provision for an emergency brake procedure. So if we objected to the proposed measure on the grounds that it would affect fundamental aspects of our criminal justice system, we would be able to request that the measure be referred to the European Council. That would cause the suspension of the ordinary legislative procedure.

We recognise that the emergency brake must be invoked sparingly, and only if it meets the test laid down in the treaty that it “affects fundamental principles” of the United Kingdom’s criminal justice system. The emergency brake would not therefore be appropriate if its use were simply designed to ensure that the UK would not be bound by a measure that was subject to QMV and had been negotiated by others, and which the UK Government decided they wished to opt in to at a later date.

Thirdly—I do not want to labour the point again and again—I proposed on 20 January strengthened arrangements for parliamentary scrutiny of justice and home affairs matters. These provide a means by which to ensure much more intensive parliamentary scrutiny of the sort of measures that my hon. Friend has in mind, and to ensure that Ministers can be held to account and obliged to answer to parliamentary opinion in a debate and, if Parliament so wishes, a vote on the policy that they wish to adopt.

Lastly, as my hon. Friend knows, where the UK’s participation in a subsequent measure would depend on a post-adoption opt-in to one of the JHA ratchet clauses, or in other words in those cases where we had not yet opted in to the corresponding ratchet clause, the provisions in clause 9 ensure that an Act of Parliament would be required before the UK could participate in the subsequent measure. This would ensure that no Government could participate in a measure drawing upon a ratchet clause without having first to seek parliamentary approval for the ratchet clause itself. However, as the requirement for primary legislation would not guarantee that the UK could not remain bound by any subsequent measures subject to QMV after we had opted in, it does not seem sensible to legislate on this basis. I therefore urge my hon. Friend to withdraw the amendment.

New clause 4 addresses the issue of the European Union budget. The Government give high priority to budgetary discipline and seek, with Germany, France, Finland and the Netherlands in particular, to ensure that the European Union budget should grow by no more than inflation in the next financial perspective. The Prime Minister, and the entire Government, consider that to be of the highest priority. I fear that the new clause as drafted would make it more difficult to achieve our budgetary objectives. It would hinder our work in a number of ways.

First, new clause 4 is more restrictive than the position set out in the joint letter from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other countries that I have mentioned. This is because new clause 4 rules out growth above inflation in all areas of EU spending.

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Negotiations on the next financial perspective will be complicated, long and difficult. We will need flexibility to shape various elements of the EU budget below the lower ceiling for overall spending that we aim to achieve, and to build alliances with other budget-disciplined allies. The new clause would place severe constraints on our ability to build such alliances. That in turn would risk isolating the UK in future negotiations and make it harder for us to achieve our overall objective.

Mr Cash: Will the Minister give way?

Mr Lidington: If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I want to reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry.

Another example of the lack of flexibility in new clause 4 relates to the variation in payments from year to year. The December letter left some scope for real variation in payments over the next financial perspective, provided that payments over the whole period were frozen in real terms. The new clause would prevent any payments variations, but such variations are a natural consequence of how the financial framework works. For example, a commitment of €100 in 2005 might lead to a payment of €20 in 2006 and €80 in 2007. That is because commitments made in one year do not translate into uniform payments over subsequent years.

We want to cut wasteful EU spending, not just to reduce the overall size of the EU budget, but to free up some resources to improve the value for money that we and other member states get from European Union spending, and to support activities such as boosting economic growth and competitiveness. We would like to see work done on improving the way in which the EU budget supports economic growth and competitiveness via the Europe 2020 strategy, subject to judicious selection of the most appropriate policy instruments. We want the EU budget to enhance security, via an active role for the EU as a global player. This could mean increases in spending under those headings, but we would insist on those being counterbalanced by reductions under other headings, all within our overall objective of restricting any increase in the EU budget to inflation.

Paradoxically, the new clause might force a referendum on the next financial framework exactly because we had successfully achieved our reform agenda within the constraints of a very tight limit on the size of the budget overall.

New clause 4 and the associated amendment 7 would hamper our objectives of driving down the overall EU budget and improving the value for money that it provides. I therefore urge my hon. Friends to withdraw those amendments.

New clause 5 is about taxes. The measures proposed in the new clause address matters that already fall within European Union competence.

Mr Cash: Will the Minister attempt, even in the last 30 seconds, to say whether he accepts the principle that lies behind my amendment 1? So far he has not even touched on it.

Mr Lidington: We debated that issue at some length in Committee. My position and that of the Government remain that it is the sovereign right of member states to decide to agree treaties which affect them. What we are

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concerned about in the United Kingdom is defending the right of the British people to have a lock on anything that transfers powers away from this place to European Union institutions, and not to interfere with what other Governments decide independently that they wish to do.

Chris Heaton-Harris: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

8 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 24 January).

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Does the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) wish to move his amendment formally?

Mr Cash: I will not move the amendment, but I do not agree with what the Minister has just said.

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

Clause 10

Parliamentary control of certain decisions not requiring approval by Act

Amendment made: 3, page 9, line 2, at end insert—

‘(1A) A Minister of the Crown may not vote in favour of or otherwise support a decision to which this subsection applies unless Parliamentary approval has been given in accordance with this section.

(1B) Subsection (1A) applies to a decision under Article 48(7) of TEU which in relation to a provision of TFEU applies the ordinary legislative procedure in place of a special legislative procedure not requiring the Council to act unanimously.’—(Mr Lidington.)

Third Reading

8 pm

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I begin by thanking the many hon. Members who have participated in the very extensive debates on the Bill, with five full days in Committee, comprising more than 30 hours of this House’s time. So many Members have spoken—more than 90 in total—that it would take most of the two hours available for Third Reading to pay tribute to them all. I am delighted that the Bill has stimulated such interest.

Invidious as it is to single out any Member—I apologise to those I do not mention—I want to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) and the European Scrutiny Committee. Whether or not we were surprised that he did not move his amendment just now, we were certainly not surprised that he did not agree with what my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe has just said. I thank my hon. Friend and his Committee for their two very comprehensive reports on the Bill. The Government do not take the same view as the Committee on all the points they have raised, but the Committee has fulfilled its vital role commendably.

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The whole House has benefited from my hon. Friend’s knowledge and his long-held and principled approach to these matters.

On the Opposition Front Bench, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds), a shadow Foreign Office Minister, impressed the whole House with her first speech from the Dispatch Box, which is no easy thing to do. She showed herself to be one of the Leader of the Opposition’s new generation with a bright future. As I understand it, his “new generation” is a sufficiently elastic term to encompass the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr David), the shadow Minister for Europe, as well—[ Interruption. ] Indeed, the squeezed middle—another elastic and not exactly defined term. Perhaps both terms are suited to him. Once again, he has shown the House his great eloquence.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) spoke with great verve and passion. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison), who is in his place, brought to the debate his usual rigour and deeply held belief in parliamentary accountability. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr Shepherd) has spoken with all the zeal for democracy that we associate with him. My hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) has demonstrated great fluency and articulacy in the debates, including earlier this evening. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) for the legal focus he has brought to the debates.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) for the intelligence and thoughtfulness he has brought to the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Neil Carmichael) gave us the benefit of his considered and always thoroughly reasoned opinions. My hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) showed the House his enormous skill in debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) made the debates more enjoyable for everyone, not least with his unquenchable sense of mischief. My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) made very carefully thought-through contributions, and my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer) gave the House the benefit of his great clarity of mind.

My hon. Friends the Members for Witham (Priti Patel) and for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), my right hon. Friends the Members for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) and for Charnwood (Mr Dorrell) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) have all spoken well in these debates. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) and for New Forest East (Dr Lewis). I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friends the Members for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), for Wycombe (Steve Baker), for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers), for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) and for Crawley (Henry Smith), whose rigorous scrutiny has helped us materially to improve the Bill as it has gone through Committee.

From another party, my hon. Friends the Members for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood), for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) and for St Austell and Newquay (Stephen Gilbert) very ably represented their

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party and powerfully made the case for the Bill from a slightly different perspective from that of some of my colleagues.

On the Opposition side, I want to thank the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson), without whose sharp wit no debate on Europe would be complete, although evidently we are having to do without it this evening, so perhaps the debate is incomplete. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart), who is in her place, as always brought her great experience and independence of mind to bear. The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) reminded us that she is a sincere tribune of democracy. Truly, no debate on these matters would be complete without the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins), as I well remember from the previous Parliament. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) left us in no doubt about his view of the Bill. The right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr MacShane)—it is a pity he is not here—fulfilled his proper role admirably, which is to denounce the Bill in such fierce terms as to convince everyone else of its great merits. He has done us an enormous service by doing so regularly.

Lastly, I must thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe who has led the debates in Committee with great authority and absolute command of the language and detail of the treaties and of the Bill. I and the rest of the Government are very grateful for the superb work he has done. I should also put on the record my gratitude for the outstanding work done by officials in the Foreign Office in putting together this legislation.

The Bill represents the most significant and radical overhaul of how the most important decisions in the European Union can be made by the United Kingdom—decisions on changes to the EU treaties—since the European Communities Act 1972. It is an overhaul that is as profoundly needed as it is overdue. It marks a real shift in power from Ministers to Parliament and from both Ministers and Parliament to voters themselves.

The last 13 years of Labour Government saw the old approach tested to destruction. Four major treaties were signed. One was blocked by referendums in other countries. A referendum was promised in this country but denied and a treaty was taken through Parliament with no basis in any party’s manifesto. After those 13 years, the EU’s reach and power has grown and grown, but its standing with the British people has fallen at the same time.

For any democrat, that must be a deeply unsatisfactory state of affairs. Whether one approves of everything in all these treaties, which is a respectable position but not mine, or believes, as I do, that the EU now has considerable powers that would far better be matters for national Parliaments and Governments, we cannot go on like this. The EU’s future developments must be put under proper democratic control. That is an absolute necessity from any point of view on the EU if disenchantment with it is not to grow yet worse.

Mr Cash: Will my right hon. Friend be kind enough to give way?

Mr Hague: I was hoping that my kind reference to my hon. Friend would give him such a glow of contentment that he would be able to sit through my speech, but I will of course give way.

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Mr Cash: It will not be the first time that my right hon. Friend has found I am not taken in by flattery. The real question is the one to which I referred a few moments ago when he was in the Chamber, which relates to the landscape of the European Union, increased Europeanisation as it affects this country and the manner in which the predominance of other countries is clearly moving further and further upstream. Does he really believe that the Bill will make any substantial difference to that question, particularly if we go down the route of a two-tier Europe?

Mr Hague: The Bill does make a material difference. It does not address the whole question my hon. Friend raises, because there are many different dimensions to it, but it is an important measure. In any future negotiations about the EU, British Ministers will be in the European Council saying very clearly that, under a vast range of provisions set out in the Bill, proposals that may be put to them in the European Council would require a referendum in the UK. That does change the negotiating position in Europe and the freedom of manoeuvre of British Governments, and it means that Governments have to be very alert to that point—not just British Governments, but all the Governments of the European Union. I can tell my hon. Friend that when I explain that point to them, as I already do, it makes a considerable impact on them.

My view is that the European Union has great achievements to its name: the single market; the enlargement of its membership, which has done so much to strengthen the spread of freedom and democracy in Europe; and the effective use of European nations’ collective weight in the world, which remains of high importance to our values and interests, as we have seen on sanctions and on Iran and hope to see in response to events in north Africa.

There are great challenges for the nations of Europe, in growth and global competitiveness, where action in the European Union on widening further markets in services, energy and the digital economy could do much to help to lift our economic prospects, but all that will be ever more overshadowed if the EU’s treaties change yet again to enlarge its powers still further without popular consent. That is the point that the Bill addresses.

Mr Redwood: I am all in favour of that democratic consent, but there is about to be a very substantial strengthening of power over economic governance for euroland, and, although we will be opted out of the most severe penalty, many of us believe that the measure will have a very big impact over the years on this country. Why cannot we have a vote on that crucial new treaty?

Mr Hague: It is already very clear, from our discussions on that treaty, that it will not have the effect on the United Kingdom which my right hon. Friend fears. There is no provision for it to do so; indeed, it is very clear that it should not do so. If any change were to be made to the arrangements of the European Union which imposed significant new sanctions or obligations on the United Kingdom, then of course a referendum would arise under the provisions of the Bill. That again will have to be remembered when all such provisions and changes are discussed within the European Union in the future.

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It is one of our core beliefs in this coalition Government that power should not be hoarded by Ministers and officials in Whitehall, but be shared more widely with Parliament and people. That is wholly at one with the development of modern society. People increasingly want and expect to make decisions for themselves, not to have them taken for them by the Government. This Government believe that that desire and expectation are shaping our society for the better, so we are opening up public services to more choice, giving professionals more responsibility and devolving power in the Localism Bill.

The Bill before us is driven by our belief in giving power to people. Indeed, the lack of referendums on transfers of areas of power from Britain to the EU has become glaringly illogical, given the many issues on which the previous Government did institute referendums. We have had referendums on devolution and, locally, on whether towns and cities, from London to Hartlepool, should have directly elected mayors. The logic of all those referendums is the same: they are decisions on whether to change who holds power and how that power may be used. No decision can be more eminently qualified than one that could move an area of policy from the responsibility of this House to the responsibility to the European Union.

Ms Gisela Stuart: I want to take the Foreign Secretary back to when he said that he wished to share power. Does he also wish to share power in the European Union with UK citizens who apply for high-level jobs in it? The latest statistics show that British applicants make up less than 5%, because they are not competent in a second language. The Germans and French take something like 20% of the jobs, so could we share that power also with our workers and upwards?

Mr Hague: Yes, very much indeed. In fact, there was quite a lot of criticism of the External Action Service from other countries, because so many British people have gone into its senior ranks recently, but the hon. Lady makes an important point, which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe and I have been addressing since the new Government took office—that far fewer British people have gone into the European institutions in recent years.

The previous Government ended the European fast stream programme for civil servants, and it has now been started again. We hold events in the Foreign Office for universities, to point out that there are careers in the European institutions, so that in future a bigger intake of people working in those institutions will come from the United Kingdom and understand the culture and issues here. This Government are addressing that point, whereas the Government whom she supported rather dismally failed. I am therefore very grateful to her for raising that issue.

This Bill rightly gives Parliament far more control over decisions that had previously been a matter for Ministers alone or that Parliament had only limited ability to scrutinise and deliberate on. By directing Ministers when a referendum must be held and by setting such conditions in law, the Bill also transfers power directly to the people. I am a passionate supporter of the rights and role of Parliament, but there are issues where it is right that power should be exercised directly by the people.

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We can all recall manifesto promises that have been broken, and we all know that new circumstances can arise that are not covered by a manifesto. That was the very thin excuse that the Labour party came up with for not holding a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. Indeed, when voters must exercise their judgment on the whole of a manifesto, crucial questions of who should hold power can be lost in the broader argument. Although in most matters future Governments and Parliament can reverse the decisions of their predecessors, in the case of the European Union that can be very difficult indeed. The British people want the right to decide whether the European Union should be given new powers over areas of policy. They deserve that right, and our democracy will be healthier and the European Union more legitimate if they get it. That is the democratic case for this Bill.

Indeed, the case for the Bill is so strong that the House did not divide on Second Reading, and the Opposition, in their amendment to that Second Reading, accepted the soundness of the principle of referendums on significant constitutional changes. It is good that there is consensus on the extension of our democracy. Unfortunately, the Opposition Front-Bench team also took the position of willing the end but not the means, by proposing a rather nebulous committee to decide whether any treaty change was significant. According to that position, it would be debatable not only whether the preservation of our national veto or the retention of national vetoes over foreign policy were significant enough for a referendum, but whether joining the euro was significant enough for a referendum. That of course became a rather risible argument.

The fact that the Bill sets down in detail the criteria for when a referendum should be held was also objected to, but we make no apology for its detail. It ensures that the referendum lock that the Bill gives the voters is real. The complexity of the European treaties themselves makes any other approach ineffective. The alternative—some kind of broad test of whether there should be a referendum—would create legal uncertainty and leave far too much to ministerial discretion. Our purpose in drafting the Bill was to reduce ministerial discretion to the barest minimum. The answer to the distrust from which the European Union now suffers in this country is not to leave power in the hands of the Government, but to give it to the people.

A third objection was that the Bill will make it harder to negotiate in the EU, or that it sends the wrong signals. I argue, as I just have, that it will make it easier to negotiate in the EU. It is usually best to be wary of vague arguments invoking signals, and that is certainly true in this case. The signal that the Bill sends is that, in future, Britain’s conduct of EU business will be placed on a surer democratic foundation, and that is a good one. The Bill makes it no harder to negotiate, but it does mean that on all kinds of treaty changes the Government must be able to convince Parliament of the merits of their case, and, in the case of treaty changes that transfer power, convince the British people themselves.

That brings me to the fourth objection that I have heard to the Bill—that the referendum lock will make many kinds of desirable changes impossible because the British people will vote them down. That is surely the weakest argument of all—that the British people cannot and should not be trusted, and that arguments for increasing the EU’s powers are so unconvincing that the

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British people can never be persuaded of them. Although I believe that we have come to the point where the problem is not that the EU has too little say over too few areas of policy but quite the reverse, I say to those who have such concerns, “Have the courage of your convictions.” If a future Government thought it right to abolish national vetoes over foreign policy, for example, let them convince the voters of the merits of doing so. If that cannot be done, that is democracy at work.

The Bill sets out the process for handling any future treaty changes. The coalition Government have made a firm commitment that we will not agree to any transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels for the duration of this Parliament, but, as experience has shown, voters should not simply have to rely on politicians’ promises on such matters. If Parliament approves the Bill, any future treaty change that transfers powers from Britain to the EU will be agreed to only with the consent of the British people.

Many other matters have been gone over in detail, including important debates on the sovereignty clause, so I will not go through everything again. Some of my hon. Friends were concerned that references to the common law in the explanatory notes implied that the Government were forming a judgment on the origins of parliamentary sovereignty. That is not the case. For the avoidance of doubt, I reiterate that the purpose of clause 18 is to make clear and to put beyond speculation the basis on which directly effective and applicable EU law takes effect in the domestic legal order of the United Kingdom, and to negate the risk that EU law could be held to have an autonomous status independent of the will of Parliament through its Acts.

A number of Government amendments have been made to the Bill in Committee and on Report to ensure that it comprehensively fulfils its overall original intent and that the law on parliamentary ratification of treaties is wholly consistent and coherent. Hon. Members’ detailed consideration of the Bill exposed some areas where improvements could be made, and we are grateful to them for that work. First, the amendments make it absolutely clear that a referendum would be required in all cases before the UK could join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office or extend its powers, whether the decision was taken before or after that office had been set up by other member states or before or after the powers had been extended.

Secondly, the amendments ensure that any proposed treaty change that sought to give up any national veto in respect of the common foreign and security policy provisions in the treaty on the European Union, whether under the ordinary revision procedure, under the simplified revision procedure or through the use of an existing ratchet clause, would require the consent of the British people in a referendum. Thirdly, they ensure, with the passing of the relevant amendment a few moments ago, that Parliament will have to vote in favour of any move from the special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure in relation to eight articles of the treaty that are already subject to qualified majority voting.

The first Government amendment tabled on the second day in Committee amends clause 5 to ensure that the proposed eurozone treaty change is subject to the full

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rigours of this Bill for its ratification. That treaty change is due to be agreed later this month. Because the Bill is unlikely to be law by the end of May, we have amended it so that the clock starts ticking for the two-month period for the Government statement upon Royal Assent to the Bill rather than on the day when the treaty change is signed.

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): Will the Foreign Secretary use the opportunity of the eurozone’s needing our agreement to its permanent stability pact to require, in return, some repatriation of powers to this country, particularly in limiting the application of the working time directive, which is part of the coalition agreement?

Mr Hague: The eurozone treaty change is in the interests of the United Kingdom; let us be clear about that. Therefore, no one should think that it is in our interests to block that treaty change as it is currently proposed. Although we are not members of the euro—my position on the euro is very long-held and well known; I hope that we will never be members—its stability is very important for our own economic situation and economic future. It is therefore unlikely to be in our national interest, or to be effective, to try to block the treaty change to put forward the change that my hon. Friend proposes, particularly as other nations could, if necessary, make such changes outside the European treaties to get round such a block. However, he is right to raise concerns about the working time directive—an issue to which we will have to return.

This Bill deals with the most important EU decisions of all—those on treaty change. However, we believe that there is room for further improvement of parliamentary scrutiny and control over EU decisions, and that is particularly true of justice and home affairs opt-in decisions. It had become clear to us, and to many others in this House—my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere, in particular, has raised this—that the established system was inadequate. Therefore, two months ago, my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, with the support of the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary, announced a package of measures to strengthen parliamentary control so that there will have to be a vote in both Houses before the Government can decide by 2014 whether to opt in en masse to the existing EU criminal justice and policing measures adopted under the former third pillar. There is now also a minimum requirement for a written statement to Parliament on all opt-in decisions on new EU measures in justice and home affairs. In the case of strong parliamentary interest in a proposed decision to opt in, under the Bill there will be a debate and vote in both Houses on the Government’s recommended approach. [Official Report, 18 March 2011, Vol. 525, c. 9MC.]

There are a number of practical issues to resolve, so the Government are committed to consulting the business managers, the European Scrutiny Committee in the Commons, the Lords European Union Committee and the Justice and Home Affairs Committees on how these arrangements will work in practice, including the criteria for when a debate should be held in Government time and how we deal with periods of recess. Discussions on these issues are continuing, and we will report on their conclusions in due course. We are also committed to enhancing parliamentary scrutiny of other EU issues beyond the area of justice and home affairs, and the

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Minister for Europe has already been in contact with my hon. Friend the Member for Stone and the Chairman of the Lords EU Committee to take this work forward.

This Bill is not a panacea for all the problems of the European Union, but it does deal with the biggest challenge that it poses to our democracy: that its development should be linked to popular consent. The Bill does not just provide a referendum lock on any future treaty change that transfers powers: it provides a framework for greater parliamentary control over many important decisions, including those which need to be taken shortly to help deal with the eurozone crisis. It lays down that the transfer of power or competence cannot be agreed by a British Government without first obtaining the consent of the British people. It is a major change that strengthens our democracy by giving new powers to Parliament and voters. As such, it can and should be welcomed by everyone, whatever their view of the European Union, and I therefore hope that this House will give it its Third Reading tonight.

8.26 pm

Mr Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (Lab): As is customary, I join the Foreign Secretary in paying generous tribute to previous speakers in today’s debate and in the debates on the Bill in Committee of the Whole House. Throughout these debates, there have been sustained contributions from a whole range of Members, and I will accept the challenge of trying to identify just a small number of them given the very many who have spoken. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) have demonstrated their depth of knowledge on these complex but important issues. My right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr MacShane) and the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who is not in his place this evening, have shown that rhetorical flourishes are not the domain of any one party but can be brought to opposing sides of this debate.

I also echo the Foreign Secretary in paying generous tribute to both Front-Bench teams, both of whom have been well briefed for these debates, as the immense red folder opposite powerfully attests. Alas, for the time being it is the only thing on that side of the Chamber that is red, with the possible exception of the Deputy Leader of the House’s socks, but I hope that that will change in time.

On the Third Reading of Bills, it is customary to thank the departmental officials who have toiled in support of their ministerial masters. Some in the Foreign Office deal with great affairs of state, while some see service in troubled lands. A chosen few are dispatched to represent our country to our firm allies in the great capitals of the world. The seven officials who have been obliged to work full-time on this particular piece of legislation therefore deserve our heartfelt sympathy and support.

Not everything in the Bill is bad, although nothing in it is particularly good. It has been described variously as a piece of “legislative PR”, a “show Bill”, a “missed opportunity”, as having clauses that are “entirely bogus”, and of involving “contemplating our navels”. Those remarks, of course, all came from Conservative Members, apparently in support of their Government’s proposals. The measures in part 2 to ensure that Britain is fully

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represented in the European Parliament are of course necessary, as are some of the changes to the way in which this House scrutinises European decisions, such as those in clauses 9 and 10. There is growing consensus in almost all member states of the European Union that national Parliaments need to play a bigger role in scrutinising its decisions.

During the Foreign Secretary’s first period of trying to appease Conservative Eurosceptics, he tried to move the euro debate off referendums and into the mainstream of a general election campaign. As I am sure he will recollect, this Bill comes 3,572 days after he told us that there were just 12 days left to save the pound. He does not yet seem to have learned his lesson. The Conservative party has called for a referendum on every treaty since it was last in office. Its last manifesto pledged to repatriate the European competences contained in those treaties back to the United Kingdom. Now Ministers appear content with the situation as it stands and offer this 18-clause Bill instead.

The principle of having a codified set of rules on when a referendum should take place on major issues, as is attempted in schedule 1, is reasonable enough, even if it seems somewhat extraneous. We will see how far such a power is applied in practice. For all the talk of legislative and referendum locks, which we have heard again from the Foreign Secretary this evening, the Bill cannot get away from the simple fact that each successive Parliament in the United Kingdom is sovereign. If a new treaty is signed or a new distribution of powers is decided on, Ministers will have to bring a Bill before Parliament, just as before. At that point, it would be straightforward for them to amend part 1 of this Bill and remove any of the requirements. They could also legislate for a referendum, or choose a new constitutional innovation that we cannot foresee. It will be for the Parliament of the day to make that decision. Rather than a legislative lock, the Bill actually seems to be the constitutional application of the latest theory much-loved by the Prime Minister: the nudge theory. I suppose that for Government Members, it is worth a little more than the cast-iron guarantee that the Prime Minister offered before the election.

Mr Redwood: On reflection, does the right hon. Gentleman think that it would have been better if the British public had had a vote on Nice, Amsterdam or Lisbon, because they might have felt a bit happier about the European Union if they had been properly consulted?

Mr Alexander: I find myself in sympathy with the Conservative position at the times of those treaties. The Conservatives were not convinced by the case for a referendum, and neither was I. It rather reflects the changing disposition of those on the Conservative Front Bench that, as I recollect, the Foreign Secretary was a fierce advocate of the avoidance of a referendum on the Maastricht treaty. At least on that, we are at one.

The real guard is the precedent established by political consensus that, for example, no party will join the euro without a referendum. No party pledged to ratify the proposed European constitution without a referendum. There was no consensus on Lisbon. Labour and Liberal Democrat Members did not believe that a referendum was needed, but Conservative Members did, and the Conservative leader did until he suddenly realised that

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he might be in government in just over a year’s time and did not fancy spending the first two years as Prime Minister obsessing over European renegotiations.

Charlie Elphicke: I hate to intrude on the right hon. Gentleman’s reworking of history, but to describe the Lisbon treaty as nothing to do with the European constitution is a travesty of the truth and of what actually happened. Does he accept that he should regret not following through with a referendum on that matter?

Mr Alexander: I do not wish to intrude on private grief, but I sense that that question would be better directed towards his new-found colleagues in the coalition, who clearly do not share his view. If he was to achieve consensus on his side of the House, he might have a better chance of achieving it across the whole House.

The muddle in that part of the Bill is as nothing compared with clause 18—the so-called supremacy clause. That was meant to be the red meat, but the more erudite Government Members simply are not biting. The hon. Member for Stone called it a “mouse of a Bill” when referring to this point. Those Members know that this is Britain’s first foray into what can safely be described as decorative legislation. It demeans this House to assert that it is sovereign when the fact is not seriously questioned. What we have seen in the middle east and north Africa in recent weeks should be a salutary reminder to us all that Parliaments and states derive their sovereignty from the people they serve. This Parliament will be no more or less sovereign because of the superfluous clause 18.

The question that we are all left asking is, “What is the rush?” The Government say that they have no intention of passing any powers to Europe for the next four years, so part 1 of the Bill will not be used, and clause 18 has already been shown to be superfluous. However, the Bill has been brought before the House for Third Reading before the Localism Bill, the Health and Social Care Bill, the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill and the Welfare Reform Bill—before any of the legislation that is supposed to define the very purpose of the coalition Government.

If the Bill is not just a legislative attempt to distract the Conservative right, I am afraid I can think of only one possible explanation. The week before last, the Deputy Prime Minister was reportedly shocked to discover that he was briefly in charge of the Government. The only real purpose for the Bill that I can adduce is that it is designed to guard against an eventuality such as this: the Prime Minister abroad on a trade mission, the Foreign Secretary about to head to Washington for important discussions and the Chancellor in Klosters, with the Deputy Prime Minister seeing an awful Liberal Democrat election result and deciding to make a dash for the history books by joining the euro before any of them manage to get back to the country. I tell Conservative Members who are slightly concerned by that scenario that in reality they need not worry; the mere fact of the Deputy Prime Minister’s support is probably a bigger barrier to Britain joining the euro than any referendum lock contemplated in the House.

We are content for the Bill to proceed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, particularly of clauses 3 to 6. However, what it reveals about the Government is probably

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of more import than its true legislative effect. Dramatic, epoch-making events are taking place in the middle east as we gather here this evening. In Libya, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have not exactly covered themselves in glory, and the root of the problem appears to be their failure to co-ordinate either within Government or among our allies. May I respectfully suggest that the Bill is distracting Ministers from what should be their overriding focus at this time?

In February, the Foreign Secretary said that the cost of simply drawing up the Bill had already run to £200,000. We are left wondering not only how much the final bill will be but whether it is really the best use of the Foreign Office’s resources when it is having to make significant efficiencies. Of course, the bill for this Bill has not yet ended, because the Government have ignored amendments tabled by the Opposition and are leaving judicial review, rather than Parliament, to determine in the final instance whether there should be referendums. We do not know how often judicial reviews will be called or a decision will be reversed, but we do know that what has been called the William Cash memorial Bill could equally be called a fiscal stimulus for any legal practice specialising in judicial reviews.

The Conservatives’ monomania about Europe in opposition was an eccentricity, and the further they sank in the polls, the grander their rhetoric became. I confess, for that reason alone, to occasionally having cheered them on. However, they are in government now and the time has come to put away the party preoccupations that kept them going in the dark days of general election defeats. Now their job is to run the country and develop a foreign policy worthy of the name. Now is not the time for legislation designed to appease their own Back Benchers.

I have enjoyed both versions of the Foreign Secretary that have been seen in the House in the past decade—the baseball-capped, 14-pint-a-night young Conservative with extraordinary rhetorical skills, and the rather more world-weary, scholarly voice of experience in a Cabinet that all too often lacks it. There is a lot for Opposition Members to admire in both those characters, but surely to be a strong Foreign Secretary he needs to decide whether the Bill really fits with the seriousness needed from a British Foreign Secretary at a time of global economic and political turmoil. His 2001 persona would surely have loved the Bill, but I and many others had hoped that he would take that fact as a warning rather than an endorsement.

The Foreign Secretary has my support in putting pressure on the Gaddafi regime in Libya in the coming days, and the Minister for Europe has my support when he speaks out against human rights abuses in Belarus, as he did at the weekend. In seeking the right reforms in Brussels, they have not merely my support but my sympathy. I just wish that they would get on with those vital tasks instead of wasting so much of the people’s time with a Bill that satisfies few and achieves so little.

8.39 pm

Mr Cash: I am fascinated by the line that the Opposition are taking. I am not impressed, if I may say so, by the line being taken by the coalition Government. It is difficult to resist the idea that a referendum is necessary in certain circumstances, so I rather anticipate that

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there will not a Division this evening, since the Bill is associated with what is really no more than the unlikely event of a referendum being called in respect of any of the provisions contained in it. The circumstances and the facts that we have had the opportunity to examine in the course of proceedings on the Bill, and indeed the trend, as I said in my earlier speech, of the UK being drawn in to the legal framework of a two-tier Europe but actually being neutered at the same time, increase the necessity of a proper referendum—an in-or-out referendum—so that the British people can decide whether they want to be Europeanised or absorbed, like ectoplasm, into the strange new world being created, over which we have increasingly little influence, let alone control.

This is, fundamentally, about a democratic deficit. I do not believe that the Bill will make any substantial difference to the landscape to which I referred in my previous remarks to the Foreign Secretary. A strategic mistake is being made in respect of Europe. Europe is failing. There is incredibly high unemployment in other member states: Spain’s youth unemployment, for example, is 43%. Very serious damage is being done by burdens on business—50% of all our economic regulation comes from the EU—and there is a failure to provide oxygen for the small business community in this country. The Bill does not, in my opinion, make any difference to those matters.

We have faced for some time now an economic crisis in Europe, but none of the measures—including the 2020 strategy, which will be no more successful than the Lisbon agenda, which had to be abandoned—will make any substantial difference to the mistakes and distortions associated with the European Union as it now is which continue to affect the United Kingdom. We need to renegotiate the treaties, and the Bill will not change that fact.

At the beginning of our debates on the Bill, the European Scrutiny Committee proposed to have a proper investigation into it. I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary did not feel that he could attend, but I am glad that the Minister for Europe came to see us, albeit somewhat late in the day. The Committee gave careful consideration to the Bill, but it is not evident that the Government paid very much attention to what has been described in many quarters as one of the best Scrutiny Committee reports produced in recent years. I am afraid that they have substantially ducked the issue.

I shall address a number of the points as they cropped up. Much play was made of the idea that the Bill would reaffirm the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament, but when I tabled a motion to that effect the entire Conservative party, with some honourable exceptions, voted against it, which struck me as somewhat bizarre and extremely dangerous.

The European Scrutiny Committee report, which took evidence from many of this country’s pre-eminent constitutional experts, came to certain very clear conclusions. First, we noted:

“Clause 18 did not address the competing primacies of EU and national law”,

which is a matter of grave concern, and that on the evidence we received, clause 18 was “not needed”. We also concluded, on the evidence that we received, that

“If Parliament wills it may legislate to override the European Communities Act 1972 or the EU Treaties by repealing them,

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amending them or any provisions in them, or by clearly and expressly legislating inconsistently with them in respect of EU legislation or generally.”

That is a very important statement from the European Scrutiny Committee, because for many years it was asserted that, owing to the nature of the European Communities Act and the treaties on which it is based, with their amendments and their additions, it would not be possible for Parliament to legislate “notwithstanding the European Communities Act”. There was a movement towards the assumption—it was a dangerous habit of thinking and attitude of mind—that somehow we were locked into a situation that would never allow the United Kingdom to reassert its sovereignty in respect of European legislation.

For reasons that I have given, including the burdens on businesses, which are costing about 4% of gross domestic product, and the fact that since 1999 as much as £128 billion—it might be more now—has been lost to the British economy through over-regulation, we have to deal with these questions. That is the flipside of the idea of having a referendum on any further transfer of competences or powers. We have to deal with the existing European Union, not any future EU or any future extension of powers or competences. That is something for the future; we have to deal with the EU as it is now, and it is doing great damage, in many respects, to the UK’s national interests.

Mr Redwood: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who as always is doing a great job on this issue. Will he agree that the legislation would be much more convincing if the very huge transfers of power now taking place—the power to regulate all our financial and banking services, the power in criminal justice and, soon, economic governance powers—were to be the subject of a referendum as a result of the Bill?

Mr Cash: Indeed, it would. For example, the fact that the City of London and its jurisdiction has legally been transferred to the EU is an indictment of the trends in the wrong direction. The landscape is changing in the wrong direction. With respect to the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister and other Ministers, I say that these matters need to be very carefully reviewed. All is not lost; the Bill is now going off to the House of Lords, and as I said earlier this evening, I hope that over the next few months serious consideration will be given to the impact of the European proposals on the competitiveness package, and the encroachments of European economic governance. I hope that these matters will be tackled. We need to ensure that we not only deal with future referendums, which we have been told will not happen until the next Parliament anyway—that is some years away—but tackle the crisis and the danger that we should be addressing now.

I trust that the House will not mind me mentioning that today I published a new note—perhaps I might even call it a pamphlet—entitled “Saving the British economy for the British people”. It sets out the history of the stabilisation mechanism and how it has drawn us into a dangerous situation regarding bail-outs. However, I will not go down that route now, because I want to return to what the European Scrutiny Committee said about the Bill. We concluded that

“if the legislative supremacy of Parliament is under threat, it is from judicial”

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supremacy. That is the problem. It is a British constitutional problem, not only one of the assertions of the European Court of Justice; it is an internal domestic constitutional question, as Professor Tomkins made clear in his superb evidence. We said that:

“we attach weight to the warnings expressed by Professor Tomkins if the Government maintains clause 18 in the EU Bill.”

He spoke of the Bill overall as going

“out of its way to invite litigation”.

That is precisely the direction in which we do not want things to go. We need to be certain that the sovereignty of Parliament is a matter for Parliament and the people, not the judiciary or the Supreme Court, particularly in the light of the trend shown in assertions by the likes of Lord Steyn, Lady Hale and Lord Hope of Craighead, all of which we looked at in detail in the evidence that we received and the judgments reached when we concluded our review of that evidence.

Furthermore, we concluded:

“Clause 18 is not a sovereignty clause in the manner claimed by the Government, and the whole premise on which it has been included in the Bill is, in our view, exaggerated.”

We were also concerned about the manner in which the explanatory notes had been devised. We debated the matter at length, concluding:

“The Explanatory Notes present as fact what the evidence we have received tells us is disputed, viewed from any perspective.”

In other words, we were deeply dissatisfied with the way in which the explanatory notes dwelt on the idea of the common law principle. Indeed, I moved an amendment to clause 18 in an attempt to remove it from the framework of judicial interpretation, but that amendment too was defeated by the Government. In fact, I would say—I say this with respect to the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe—that despite the soft words that the Foreign Secretary offered at the beginning of this debate, he knows well enough that we will not be put off or seduced by any flattery; we are interested in the arguments and the facts.

The European Scrutiny Committee analysed this Bill and found it wanting in many different ways. The other thing to say about clause 18 is this:

“The real point is whether a government can, in law, make it difficult for a future Parliament to amend or repeal the legislation it has passed”—

in a word, the point that the shadow Foreign Secretary made just now. We concluded firmly that

“in our view it cannot. Our conclusion therefore is straightforward—that an Act of Parliament applies until it is repealed.”

Sovereignty is not an arcane, theoretical or abstract question; it is, as I said in opening the inquiry, about the vast array of activities and functions that have been conferred on the authority of the European Union by the Lisbon treaty—a treaty that was passed by the previous Government but has since been adopted by our Government, despite the fact that we opposed its passage through the House tooth and nail when in opposition—and how they affect the daily lives of the people and businesses of this country in such a wide variety of ways, making it essential that we reassert the right of Parliament to override those provisions if they are deemed not to be in our national interest.

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There is no presumption that merely because of the European Communities Act 1972 we have to accept as a matter of compulsion whatever is served up to us by the European Union. If it is not in our national interest, we must repudiate it. I see the Minister for Europe shaking his head. He knows that this is an important question, but he disagrees with me on it. I do not hold that against him; I simply say that he is wrong. There are those who will continue to argue that there is no way in which we can override European legislation, but no way will those of us who take the view that we do change our minds. We put the national interest first, and if what is being done under European Union proposals is not in the national interest, we will have to override it.

There are many aspects of the Bill, including the whole problem of the creation of a two-tier Europe and the extent to which a referendum is being denied to us under clause 4, that will cause grave difficulties for us over the next few months as we deal with the question of the eurozone and the countries that are not part of it. I regard this as a matter on which we will be judged as time goes on. On the exceptions, including clause 4, that preclude a referendum on matters that will dramatically affect the United Kingdom—such as a two-tier Europe or an accession treaty—the Committee concluded:

“the exceptions…have been drafted to allow the Government to support certain EU policies, such as strengthening of the eurozone, including through harmonisation of economic, fiscal and social measures if necessary…or enlargement, without triggering the referendum lock.”

The reality is that we will need a referendum if the creation of a two-tier Europe affects the United Kingdom in the way that we anticipate. If we are so affected, and we are put at a grave disadvantage, the responsibility will lie with the Government for refusing to allow a referendum. We are not only moving towards a situation in which the creation of a new kind of Europe is in prospect; we are on the brink of it. That landscape will not be an attractive one unless we move down the route of an association of nation states. The Foreign Secretary knows perfectly well that the arrangements in the Bill do not deal with the present. They deal only with the future, but we are confronted as I speak with the present danger of a European system that does not serve our national interest. We must meet that challenge, and meet it now.

8.58 pm

Mr Clappison: I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on his speech this evening, and on his robust reaffirmation of parliamentary sovereignty and national democracy, which was very welcome to those of us on this side of the House, at least. I also thank him for the interest that he has taken in parliamentary scrutiny of opt-in decisions in the important areas of freedom, security and justice, and the attempt by the European Union to seize for itself the power to fashion our criminal law in this country.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe on the way in which he has taken the trouble to respond to all these debates. He has done so patiently and thoroughly, and shown great expertise. He has had a considerable amount of research behind him, and I think that the whole House is grateful to him for the exemplary way in which he has taken the Bill through the Committee of the whole House.

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I also congratulate the hon. Members for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) and for Caerphilly (Mr David) on their contributions to these debates, which have been very good humoured, and very effective in their own way. I congratulate, too, the shadow Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander), on his speech this evening and for the foresight that he apparently possesses. He seems to have an ability to see into the future. Little did we know when we began our Second Reading debate on 7 December—or before that, when we promised these measures in our manifesto—that the right hon. Gentleman would have foreseen the problems in the middle east before anyone else did. He also deserves to win some sort of prize for stringing together unrelated issues in order to exploit them for maximum political advantage. That bodes well for his career in opposition, if not for the credibility of his policies or particularly for the credibility of his party’s position on Europe.

Let me sound a note of caution to my hon. Friends. On one or two occasions and again this evening, some have suggested that the Bill and the referendum locks will stop all transfer of power to Europe. That is not the case, so we need to continue to be vigilant about the transfers of power to Europe that can take place notwithstanding this Bill.

The Bill requires a referendum for a transfer of competence to Europe and in certain other specified instances, as well as for a movement from unanimity to qualified majority voting. However, my right hon. and hon. Friends will be aware that in a succession of treaties from Britain’s first membership of Europe onwards—including particularly the important treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon—we have already transferred a whole list of competences to the EU. That includes not just exclusive competences where only the EU can act, but shared competences where if the EU chooses to act it can extinguish national competence in the same area and in supported competences. As I say, the list is very long and it is backed by the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which has shown its ingenuity in extending that jurisdiction, and by the appetite for power of the European Commission.

Each time the EU chooses to act, to exercise power in respect of one of those many areas of important competences that it already possesses and to make policy, it extinguishes our ability to make policy at a national level in this Parliament. Each time it chooses to make law, to bring in a regulation or to put in place a directive for states to interpret, it is putting in place a law that takes precedence over our national law—and the European Court of Justice will see to it that in any case of conflict, European law takes precedence over our national law.

Notwithstanding the Bill’s provisions, there is considerable scope for the European Union and its institutions to take more power from this House, from our country and from our electors. We can already see important examples coming along. I thus urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to express the same degree of determination to ensure national self-determination and parliamentary sovereignty when we get to the occasions that we know lie before us in the not-too-distant—in fact, the immediate—future, particularly in respect of freedom, security and justice, where we have already agreed to certain opt-ins

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for one or two important provisions. We know that the EU has a big programme in these areas and that many more of them are coming along.

I gently remind my right hon. and hon. Friends that we promised in our manifesto that we would seek to repatriate powers to this country and certainly not give additional powers to the EU. The valuable opt-out that we enjoy should be mentioned. It was a red line for the previous Labour Government, although created under pressure from Conservative Members, so we need to be very careful as a party that we go no further than Tony Blair and the previous Labour Government were prepared to go in providing the EU with an opportunity to make the criminal law of this country. I believe that criminal law belongs to a nation state: individual electors should be able to have their democratic say about it, as should their Members of Parliament.

I urge my right hon. Friends to be equally vigilant in the important area of economic governance. We know that there is an agenda and we will look very carefully at it in the future. We have seen reports in the press—apparently well-founded reports—that the European Union is, through the exercise of its trade policy, seeking to interfere with our immigration policy through the granting of visas as part of trade negotiations. That too would constitute a transfer of power to the European Union. The ability to determine who should be admitted to this country as an economic immigrant does not belong to the European Union; it belongs to a nation state. We should make that determination, in accordance with our needs and with the promises we have made to the electorate on the important subject of immigration.

I take heart from what has been said this evening by my right hon. Friends the Ministers about that and about the many other issues that will no doubt go to the European Union. We know that the EU, particularly the Commission, is a beast that is hungry for power and is never satisfied, or at least has not been satisfied so far in its history. Each time we have placed a safeguard in the way to save ourselves from it, the EU has found a way around that safeguard and dismantled it.

Let us hope that things will be different in this instance, but I say to my right hon. Friends that they must be robust in the face of the EU’s demands. As well as the provisions in the Bill, we need Foreign Secretaries and other Ministers who will go to Europe, be prepared to say no and stand up for our national interests—and our supreme national interest is to preserve the ability to decide our own futures and preserve the sovereignty of our Parliament, which has been fought over, has taken so many years to establish, and is so grounded in our history.

I urge my right hon. Friends to do that and I believe that they will, for I have great confidence in them. Certainly, if they do, they will find solid support among Government Members who will back them every inch of the way when they go to Europe and say that this country is not prepared to abandon its opt-out and choose to opt in, is not prepared to submit itself voluntarily to economic governance by the European Union, and is not prepared to abdicate from its proud democracy and grant further powers to the European Union.

I said that my right hon. Friends would have the support at least of Government Members, but they should also bear in mind that the patience and credulity of the British public have been tested to breaking point

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by the European Union. People in this country are aware of the promises that have been made about the transfer of power to Europe, and if they find that yet more power has been transferred to the European Union, their patience will be tested beyond that breaking point. The grave disillusionment that they undeniably feel with the EU, which expresses itself in so many ways—for example, in their disenchantment with its lack of accountability—will then extend to the politicians and leaders who are perceived to have given away yet more powers to it.

However, I am confident that that will not arise. Let me say in particular to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—to whom the country owes a great debt of gratitude for the principled stand that he has taken over the euro and many other issues—that he will have the full support of Government Members if he complements the Bill’s provisions by going to Europe and seeing through the robust words that he has uttered this evening. He will deserve all our support if he does that, as I am sure that he will.

9.7 pm

Kelvin Hopkins: The hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison) made a fine speech, and I agreed with every word of it. Let me too congratulate the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash), who chairs the European Scrutiny Committee, of which I am a member. Several other members of the Committee have contributed to this and earlier debates, and I think that all its members, on both sides of the House, do an excellent job.

I support the Bill to an extent, but I will become a true believer only when the first referendum takes place under it. I look forward to voting in that referendum, whatever its subject. Indeed, I think that any referendum on the European Union would be welcomed not just by me but by the British people. They have long wanted to express a view.

Throughout the European Union, the Euro-barometer—the measure of support for the EU—has been sinking for years. Its level is particularly low in Germany at present. Only yesterday, The Times reported that there was a serious possibility that the agreement on a scheme to bail out the weaker euro members in view of their present difficulties would fail because the German electorate are very hostile to the idea that Germany should effectively bail out other countries that may eventually include Portugal, Spain and who knows where else, as well as Ireland and Greece. That would cause serious problems for Angela Merkel in Germany. It is not all over yet.

I think we were very wise to stay out of the euro, and, like the Foreign Secretary, I do not believe we should ever join it. Indeed, I think there is now a serious possibility that the euro will be progressively dismantled—I will not say that it will collapse—and that we will return to something like the Deutschmark zone and other single currencies. Countries could then adjust their currencies according to their own needs and be able to choose their own fiscal and monetary policies. That is how economies will work together. There will be shock absorbers between economies, which is the way it should be. The arrangements in the post-war settlement worked

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extremely well. When countries had their own currencies, they had stable currencies relative to other currencies, but they also had the ultimate possibility of devaluation or revaluation, as necessary. Each country chose its own monetary and fiscal policies. That is not just about democracy; it is about making the world economy work better.

Many other Committee members have spoken. I had the pleasure of being a signatory to a number of amendments that were supported by Members on both sides of the House. On one or two occasions, I had the opportunity to vote for these amendments. Interestingly, I voted for amendments that were against a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition Government, but I was regarded as rebelling. My local newspaper said I was a rebel because I had voted against a Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government, which is very strange.

We have heard some witty and very worthy, clever and excellent speeches from both sides of the House, which I welcome, but I think that behind all these clever speeches there is still a desire among the upper echelons of the political class to retain real power in the EU within that political class and prevent it from being put in the hands of the electorates. In many EU countries, the Eurosceptics have been stripped of all positions. Indeed, in respect of my own party, the previous Government introduced under Tony Blair a list system of proportional representation. That enabled the party to strip out all Eurosceptics from the European parliamentary party and to make sure that all European Members were onside with the EU. It also lost us scores of seats, but that was a minor sacrifice compared with the importance to previous leaders of making sure that all the Members of the European Parliament in our party were on the side of the EU. Unfortunately, it also enabled certain extreme parties to get seats in the European Parliament. I put it to both Front-Bench teams that we should return to a single-Member seat, first-past-the-post electoral system for the EU. I look forward to that day, and I hope that we will achieve it.

Some Members talked about the possibility of other opt-outs. I would like to think that at some point a member state—perhaps Britain—might choose to opt out of something of which they are currently a member. I suggest as a starting point giving notice that in five years—or whenever—we will opt out of the common fisheries policy and restore our control over British fisheries, and thereby restore the fishing stocks and stop the nonsense of discards.

There are so many things we could say about the EU, but the fundamental point is that the people of Britain and of all member states want a greater say in what happens to the EU. I do not think they like the euro, and I do not think they like the sense of being controlled by a bureaucratic regime in Brussels. They want to have democratic control through their member states. That way, we can have better relations between those member states, because then we will feel free to be friendly with other states as we will have control of our own country and will not be controlled by anybody else. Coming together on a voluntary basis as a friendly, comradely association of member states is the future for Europe that I think would be overwhelmingly preferred by the millions of people of all the European nations.

I am happy to support the Bill, but I would like it to be stronger.

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9.14 pm

Chris Heaton-Harris: I, too, thank the Minister for Europe for being so precise in many of his answers to the questions that we have raised. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) for asking more awkward questions than I would ever dare, and the Labour Front Benchers for adding to the debate, although they did so only partially because they just sat there really. However, I did welcome the contribution made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds). It was probably the most coherent of the lot, so I congratulate her.

The shadow Foreign Secretary’s remarks about the Government taking their eye off the ball when it should have been concentrating on these important matters were slightly unfair, especially as they came from someone who, when in a slightly more junior job on the Government Benches, was known in European circles for going missing, not all the time, but on one particular occasion. He was being called to speak in the European Parliament by President Borrell when he unfortunately stepped out to take a very important phone call and left just an empty chair next to a startled UK official. President Borrell did not know who the then Minister for Europe was or what he looked like—he had been told he was a young precocious man who was raring to go—and so, thinking that the UK official was the right hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander), he called him to speak. In the end, a cross and flustered Minister rushed into the Strasbourg plenary session to catcalls, boos, whistles and derogatory laughter—and that was after he gave his speech. It is the way his Government handled these European issues that makes this European Union Bill all the more important.

Just about everyone who has spoken has taken on board and asked the Minister for more clarification about one surprisingly consensual part of this Bill. That is the general dissatisfaction with the way we scrutinise EU legislation in this place. We talk about this quite a lot, but a written ministerial statement made a number of vague proposals. I know it was an invitation for this House to do more, but will the Minister say what he would expect this House to do to take him up on this offer? Does it involve the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee writing a letter to him, forming a team with ministerial officials and taking this matter forward? Everybody in this place wants to do the job of scrutinising European legislation better and we would like to know exactly what the slightly vague couple of sentences in the written ministerial statement actually mean.

The Bill now goes down the Corridor and the strange noises we hear in the background are those of tombs opening and biographies being dusted down by the great and the good of the former diplomatic service, who intend to remind everybody of how everything was so much better when they were left to operate behind closed doors with few checks or balances and how those bloomin’ elected people, of all political persuasions, down the other end of the Corridor are wrong because they always try to react to public opinion. I would like to think that one of the strongest arguments for this Bill is the fact that we are dragging all this out into the open and binding the hands of Ministers when they go into negotiations in Europe, although not as much as I

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would like. The noise that is coming in opposition to the Bill only strengthens the Minister’s hands in getting this through.

9.18 pm

Priti Patel (Witham) (Con): I wish to raise just a few points, but I first wish to welcome the Bill and the introduction of the referendum lock. I congratulate the Minister for Europe on the way in which he has addressed many of the concerns raised during the passage of the Bill, particularly as regards my amendments and new clauses. I thank him for his perseverance with me and my arguments. He has given some strong commitments on transparency in the EU, on improving cost-benefit analysis, and on having better impact assessments and more EU legislation held to account in this Parliament. He has also rightly given us warm words on ending the era of Departments gold-plating directives and legislation from Europe, as well as on the long overdue one in, one out rule for European regulations.

The Bill will safeguard against some European power grabs—which is of course more than important, long overdue and welcome—but, alas, not them all. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier, the Bill is not a panacea for all the EU’s ills, but it is clearly a step in the right direction. There are areas where the EU already exercises competence, as laid down in the Lisbon treaty, and where it can secure more powers from Britain, without the need for any safeguard in Parliament or by triggering the referendum lock in the Bill. The Bill does not deal with those matters, but I continue to urge the Government to do everything possible to prevent British interests from being undermined in that way. I would press the Government to work towards repatriating powers from Europe to this country, to protect our sovereignty and to renegotiate our financial contributions and the colossal sums of money that we hand over every year to the EU.

Finally, as we know, the Bill deals with the EU, but as we have seen with prisoner votes recently, this country’s ability to make its own laws is being undermined by another European body: the Council of Europe and its Strasbourg-based institutions, with their increasing desire to exert control over our country and to undermine Parliament and British democracy, and the regular issuing of diktats that the European Court of Human Rights considers but that escape parliamentary scrutiny. I therefore briefly urge the Minister and the Foreign Secretary to consider introducing a similar package of measures and reforms to improve the democratic accountability of those institutions and to ensure that British laws, as we have heard throughout the passage of the Bill, are made in Britain by the British, and that we effectively put the national interest first.

9.21 pm

Mr Bone: It is a great pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel), who, as usual, made a powerful speech and, of course, mentioned the colossal amount of money that we give to the European Union for redistribution. In other words, it is rather like foreign aid, except perhaps that it is not used for the best purpose. Under the last five years of the Labour Government, £19.8 billion net was given to the European Union. Unfortunately, under the first five years of the coalition Government, the figure will be twice that amount, and she made a powerful point.

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Earlier today, I visited Lancaster House for international women’s day and the launch of the fund for groups that want to help the victims of human trafficking. It was brought to my attention by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, who is a United Nations special representative and co-ordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, that such things do not stop at the European Union; they go much further and cross borders.

When we started to debate the Bill many weeks ago, my hopes were raised that we would discuss much wider issues than we got round to discussing. Tonight, of course, we have heard a lot of powerful speeches. I must praise our Front-Bench team. Obviously, whenever I listen to the Foreign Secretary, I am always convinced by his arguments, even when he is totally wrong. Again, I was convinced tonight. When the shadow Secretary of State spoke, he absolutely convinced me that the Government were totally correct.

The shadow Secretary of State did not say—I should have liked to intervene to ask him—whether, when the Bill becomes law and if Labour Members ever came to power again, they would actually honour it. Of course, we are now talking about fixed-term Parliaments, so it is quite possible that Labour Members will be sitting on the Government Benches without a general election, but the right hon. Gentleman did not answer and avoided saying whether they would support the referendum lock.

Obviously, my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) has for years led the battle for sense in the European Union. Now that he is Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, we seem to be getting a lot more European business in the House. That is to be wholly welcomed, at least by myself. He told us about his pamphlet, which, I understand, is for sale in all good bookshops, but he did not tell us one thing: how many euros it costs.

As usual, my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison) made the most powerful of speeches with which I agreed entirely. That brings me on to the Minister for Europe, who has been in his usual great humour and on top of everything. He has been an absolutely wonderful No. 2, and it is obvious that when the reshuffle comes, perhaps on 6 May, he will be promoted to a Cabinet role. The obvious answer for the new Minister for Europe is my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere. May I put in that bid?

The hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins), who spoke from the Opposition Benches, was wonderful. He made his normal pro-European speech, which was against the EU. It is a great shame that all the Members on that side of the House do not share his views.

Recently, I was in Portugal on human trafficking business. I learned a lot about the EU there and was able to discuss the European Union Bill with the person sat next to me at dinner, who was a communist. I found that the Portuguese Communist party and I have a lot in common—we both want to come out of the EU.

9.25 pm

Mr Buckland: I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) meant that he was on all-party parliamentary business on human trafficking in Portugal, and I am more than happy to set

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the record straight on his behalf, as he has been not only my colleague, but my very good friend, for many years, including when I was fighting elections in south Wales and attracting record numbers of votes cast against me. At one time, I had an unofficial competition on that with my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison), who himself had been a valiant by-election candidate in another part of the country. I think I won that contest.

In that context, I was very attracted by the speech made by the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins), who reminded us that, at one time, there used to be such a thing as socialist MEPs representing the British Labour party. I remember standing against one in 1994 who beat me by an Olympian margin, but whom I distinctly recall saying in a public meeting, when asked about the four freedoms, with which we are all familiar as underpinning the treaty of Rome, that he disagreed with every one of them. His approach was rather more of the school of Joseph Stalin than that of Jean Monnet. I am almost nostalgic for those days, and I am sure that there are Labour Members who share that nostalgia.

To come fully up to date, this has been a thought-provoking debate not only on Third Reading but in Committee and on Report. In particular, during consideration on Report today, we had an interesting and important debate about how the House will deal with issues relating to the EU. My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) asked one of the most important questions of Ministers: how are we, together, to develop a proper system by which we not only scrutinise European proposals and legislation but behave more proactively? In other words, how do we initiate thematic debates about the future of the EU, whether that be on issues such as enlargement, external trade or the environment? We could take our pick.

It is time for a far more proactive approach to be taken. Far too often, we have simply reacted to the proposals emanating from the European Commission. Like all good democrats, a lot of us have a problem with the concept of a civil service that initiates policy. That has fundamentally over the years vexed many British parliamentarians, who are used to a system of a civil service that enacts policy initiated by elected politicians—although between 1997 and 2010 that line was sadly blurred. That is the fundamental dilemma that has faced many of us over the years when we have wrestled with the issue of the EU.

I was amused by the contribution made by the right hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander), the shadow Foreign Secretary. After 13 years in which the locusts ate on Europe, it takes a lot of chutzpah to stand up and lecture the Conservative party and this Government on their approach to the EU. We had a 13-year vacuum—policy inertia, confusion and chaos—which was another chapter in the history of a political party whose stance on Europe has veered from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous. I may still be a fairly young person, but I remember facing a Labour party not so many years ago that advocated withdrawal from the European Union.

The proper debate on Europe has in the main, with a few honourable exceptions in the Opposition, remained fairly and squarely within the confines of the Conservative party. I make no apology at all for the fact that at times the debate has become heated—some would say

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acrimonious—and difficult for the Conservative party, but in 2011 perhaps it is time for us to stand back, take stock and accept the fact that with that debate comes creative energy. I like to see the Bill as another example of that energy.

The Bill is by no means an end. It is a mere stage, but an important stage which reflects the fact that the era of professional diplomats making decisions in closed rooms has gone, as it should have done. Now is the time for a reconnection between politicians and the public. What better way to do that than via the mechanism of referendums? The Bill makes that important concession and makes it in a careful and considered way.

I have always been somebody who can be described as positive about our membership of the European Union. I make no apology for that. I made the same point on Second Reading. I have been convinced for many years about the economic and political case for our active and leading membership of that institution. I am, however, deeply sceptical about moves towards further European integration when it comes to the criminal law, for example, jurisprudential issues or the encroachment of the judiciary on matters that are properly the province of this place and of politics.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) is right when he reiterates in his eloquent way the point about judicial encroachment. He is right to say that that is not a problem peculiar to the institutions of Europe. It cuts right across the balance of power domestically. The decision of the previous Government to create a Supreme Court, which was a regrettable and mistaken decision, reinforces the creation of two cultures—a culture of judicial interference and judicial we-know-bestness, as opposed to a culture of political control and power exercised by democratic representatives of the people.

Nobody in the House can safely say that we are out of the woods on that issue. It is one of the defining issues of our times. It was wise of Ministers to accept the fact that there are aspects of the Bill that will be subject to judicial review. The Bill is no exception to a general rule that whatever Bill the House and the other place pass, we are increasingly at the mercy of applications for judicial review. That is not something that we will be able to resolve tonight, but from tonight we will be able to move forward to the new approach to the development of policy on Europe that all of us in the House want to see—an openness from Ministers at the Dispatch Box, a frankness in assessing the importance of decisions made by the Council of Ministers, and a real partnership between those of us who sit on the Back Benches as legislators and those who sit on the Front Bench as our representatives in the Councils of Europe.

I will end on this note: there is a salutary lesson from history about the dangers of Executives being too far removed from the will of the legislature on matters of foreign policy. Let us remember what happened to President Wilson when he came back from the Paris peace conference as the leader of the political world about to take a brave new stride into the League of Nations, only to find that his legislature was not with him. At a stroke, American foreign policy was changed. There needs to be a careful interlink between the will of the House and what our Ministers do in the Councils of Europe, which is why I support the Bill as an important step forward in that process.

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Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. The winding-up speeches will begin at 9.45 pm. I am keen to accommodate two further speeches before then, if humanly possible.

9.35 pm

Richard Drax (South Dorset) (Con): It is a privilege to follow my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland). I, too, pay tribute to the Minister for Europe; if the debates have confirmed only one thing in my mind, it is that he and I are poles apart. For me and many of my constituents, it has been sad to watch a once-proud sovereign nation hand over more and more powers to Europe. This federal beast grows bigger by the day, and those it does not seduce it consumes. I have a warning for our party at the ballot box: unless we take a tough stance on Europe, we will pay dearly at the next general election.

Labour promised us a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and reneged on that promise. We have inherited a thoroughly unsatisfactory situation which we hope the Bill will somehow mitigate. I welcome the opportunity to call a referendum on any proposed EU treaty or treaty change that transfers more powers to the EU, but I have grave reservations about whether those measures will prove effective.

It is important to remind the House that five new powers have already been transferred: a European Action Service has been created; the European arrest warrant has been extended; EU regulations have been imposed on the City; EU oversight on our national budget has been agreed to; and our contribution to the EU budget has been increased, despite our objection. As I understand it, the Bill would not have prevented any of those transfers of power.

Even the significant clause 18 is under siege from various legal interpretations. Some highly respected Members of this House do not believe that it will safeguard our sovereignty, and I agree with them. I pay particular tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) for all the work he does to stand up for the national interest. It is not a bit of fish or meat for the Eurosceptics, as the Opposition claim. The truth is that it is done in the national interest.

Every day there is further evidence of Europe’s creeping influence on our laws, liberties and livelihoods. This week alone, anti-discrimination legislation has been interpreted in the most extraordinary way by the European Court of Justice, which has ruled that insurance companies may no longer differentiate between men and women. In calculating pension annuities, the Court has decreed that payouts must be the same, despite evidence that women live longer—I think I understand why. Similarly, women will face higher driver insurance premiums, although statistics prove that they are involved in fewer accidents than men. Both rulings are imposed on us by a foreign court and by judges who are unaccountable and unelected. Surely it is time for this country to stand up for itself.

If any referendum should be held, it should be the one that we were promised. We all know what the outcome would be. Then, and only then, would the lion that once was this country roar again. Once more, we would be in charge of our economy, our laws, our rights, our borders and immigration, to name but a few

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matters. I shall be voting with the Government tonight if the Bill is pressed to a vote, because it is better than nothing. I remain deeply sceptical that it is nothing more than a fig leaf, but frankly, a fig leaf is perhaps better than running around, vulnerable, in the buff.

9.39 pm

Mr Redwood: I, like my right hon. and hon. Friends, welcome the two aims of this legislation. The first, to hold a referendum on any future transfer of power, is vital to try to secure some democratic legitimacy for what might happen next. The second, to assert that this House and Parliament in general is sovereign, even over European law, is excellent, but I hope that Ministers will take away from this debate the great sense of unease among many colleagues, who feel that the Bill does not deliver what Ministers say it intends to.

As my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) just said, we face a large transfer of powers in all sorts of areas at the moment—in criminal justice, in City and business regulation, in the External Action Service and, soon, in economic governance. Any one of those areas would deserve a referendum, but the whole lot together would make a good package for testing out the Government’s new enthusiasm for democracy and the debating skills of the Opposition, who say that that is exactly what the British public want. What is stopping them, other than fear and the belief that, perhaps, the British public would not vote for such measures after all?

I am also worried about the assertion of the parliamentary sovereignty clause. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) has probed and tested it, and there are legal dangers on the route that we are now taking. Sovereignty is something that we have for a period if we are prepared to use it, but it is also possible to let it slip away or to lose it, and we cannot make this Parliament sovereign by a single clause in a piece of legislation. It means nothing. This Parliament will be sovereign again only if it wishes to be; this Parliament will be sovereign again only if it has some political will; this Parliament will be sovereign again only on the day it says to the European Union, “We disagree with you on this. You will not give us what we want by negotiation, so we are going to legislate for ourselves.” Ministers should not pretend that this Bill has resolved the problem.

Let us take the issue of fish. I have heard Ministers, from all parties that have been in government, say to the House that they, like me, thoroughly disagree with the discard policy, think that it is wrong and intend to negotiate a better answer. No better answer has been negotiated. We gave the European Union 20 years’ warning. Why do we not simply legislate now to take ourselves out of the common fisheries policy and show that this Parliament is sovereign and works in the interests of the British people and a great British industry.

Mr Davidson: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Redwood: I do not have time, otherwise I would be very happy to.

Mr Davidson: You have the support of Labour’s Back Benchers!

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Mr Redwood: That’s great; I am very glad that I have the support, from a sedentary position, of Labour’s Back Benchers.

If this Parliament is never prepared to legislate against the views and wishes of the European Union, people will rightly conclude that the European Union is now sovereign. I mentioned in earlier debates on this legislation that the Crown remained sovereign for a long time in our country, and that Parliament whittled its powers away. There is no precise date on which people all agree that the Crown ceased to be sovereign and that Parliament replaced it, but the situation illustrates that, if we make too many concessions, make too many mistakes and grant too many powers on lease, one day we will not be able to get those powers back. The Crown discovered that it had given away too many powers and lost too many battles, and perhaps power finally resolved to Parliament on the day when they murdered—or killed—the King. That was a fairly definitive act, but it took place after a long series of battles and struggles when power had been ebbing away from the monarchy—and the monarchy was invited back.

I want no such violence in resolving the issue with the European Union, but I do want some political strength and some political substance. Surely, the European Union now does so many things that rile the British people that we should take matters into our own hands.

As my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench will always want to be diplomatic and to negotiate, I give them this final thought in the few minutes that I am allowed. The Germans, for their own reasons, think that they need a treaty change to accommodate the bail-out activities and the huge increase in economic governance powers that they intend to take over the other member states of euroland. They need our signature on that, even though we are not a member state of euroland.

I do not believe for one moment that we will be exempted from many of the requirements for information and common policy formation and negotiated solutions, even if we are opted out for the time being from the power of the fine. We will be dragged into the situation. I wish the Government would not only say, “We have no intention of being dragged into it and seek clearer language,” but to confirm that, say, “As proof of good faith, we want economic powers back.” The latest language from the Government suggests that we are going to keep control over the main elements of our taxation system, not our taxation system as a whole—a red line that the previous Government always said that they had attempted to preserve. We can see the drift in economic powers and economic governance.

The British Government must stand up for British interests. They will have no better chance than the new treaty that is about to be negotiated—so please, Government, use it, don’t lose it.

9.45 pm

Mr David: As we come to the end of this Third Reading debate, it is worth reflecting on the impact that the Bill has had on Britain’s standing in Europe and the world. With unemployment rising and living standards falling, and with people the length and breadth of Britain concerned about the health service and the education of their children, this Government have placed before Parliament a Bill that is monumentally irrelevant to the needs of this country.

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Although there are parts of the Bill that Labour Members support, I believe that we have demonstrated that large sections of it are ill conceived, ill thought out and contradictory. While the Government have singularly failed, and did not even try, to address the issues that are at the forefront of the minds of the British people, they have succeeded in sending a clear message to our partners in Europe—that this Government do not have a coherent European policy. Where we should have consistency and vision, we see inconsistency and ambiguity. Instead of promoting our national interest in the European Union with vigour and determination, we see a Government ignoring the reality of the modern world—a Government who look in on themselves and see bilateralism as a simplistic alternative to the multilateral engagement that is vital in a fast-changing world.

Such an approach is determined not by what is in Britain’s national interest but by political expediency that places above all else the maintenance of an unholy coalition of pro-European Liberal Democrats and Conservative Eurosceptics. However, as the seven days of debate on this Bill have demonstrated, the Eurosceptics have recognised that this Bill is a ham-fisted attempt to placate them—and if that has been the intention, it has clearly failed. I disagree with many of the arguments of the Eurosceptics, but I recognise their honesty and tenacity. I pay particular tribute to the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) for his work and that of his Committee, the European Scrutiny Committee. Without their hard work and the excellent documents that they have produced, the debates in this House would have been nowhere near as good as they were.

If the Government have failed to buy off the hon. Member for Stone and his colleagues, they have failed, equally, to convince prominent Liberal Democrats that their anti-European tone is more apparent than real. Only this morning, I received a copy of a letter sent by a federalist Liberal Democrat MEP who is a former leader of the Lib Dems in the European Parliament—Mr Andrew Duff. Mr Duff has written to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, proposing a new treaty provision. It is interesting to see what he has written. I quote from his letter:

“Dear Jerzy…As you will be well aware, the British Parliament is about to enact a law which will install and entrench referendums as part of the UK’s national ratification process for all important amendments of the European Union treaties…That being the case, I believe the time has come to lighten somewhat the European Union’s procedure for treaty revision…I propose that”

the European

“Parliament launches an initiative…so that all future treaty revisions will enter into force once they have been ratified by four fifths of the States.”

This means that Mr Duff wants to abolish the need for unanimity among member states and is quite happy for treaty changes to be imposed on the British people and the British Parliament. If anything shows how the Bill has exposed the fault lines in this hapless coalition, it is that absolutely ridiculous letter from the Liberal Democrat, Andrew Duff.

To be serious, one of the most worrying consequences of the Bill is that it seriously questions Britain’s full participation in the European Union. Nowhere has that been more keenly demonstrated than in the comments of the United States ambassador to the United Kingdom. Just a few weeks ago, Ambassador Susman stated that

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the United States valued the special relationship between the US and Britain. However, he thought that it was also vital for Britain to play a strong role within the EU. Because of the negativity caused by the Bill, Mr Susman felt that it was necessary for the UK to rule out withdrawal from the EU. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has done that. The United States recognises, even if this Government do not, that Britain’s influence in the world requires it to be an active participant in the EU.

After consideration in this House, the Bill will go to the other place. I sincerely believe that it will be scrutinised in detail, and that its fundamental flaws will be not only criticised, but corrected. As it stands, the Bill will lead to a questioning of our parliamentary democracy, a weakening of Britain’s role in the world, and a diminution of our influence in the EU. The British people deserve better, and I hope—indeed, I am confident—that the other place will bring about the much-needed change.

9.51 pm

Mr Lidington: I thank all Members who have taken part not merely in today’s debate, but during the seven days of debate that we have devoted to the European Union Bill. I also pay tribute to the team of officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They have worked tirelessly for very long hours, frequently at weekends, to ensure that the Foreign Secretary and I have been briefed, and that our responses to the debates have taken account of the various and detailed points raised by individual Members from all parts of the House. Our officials have demonstrated a commitment to impartial public service in the best traditions of the British civil service.

As the Foreign Secretary said, we owe a debt of gratitude to all who have played their part in the comprehensive examination of the Bill. Why the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr David) ever dreamed that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) could be bought off, I cannot imagine. Having worked as a colleague of my hon. Friend for nearly 19 years, and having had dealings with him even before I entered the House, I am in no doubt whatsoever about his principle, tenacity and utter rectitude in refusing to be bought off by any Minister of any Government while he has served in this House.

The debates on the Bill have enabled us to identify, in large part through the assiduous work of my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), areas where there were gaps in the Bill’s realisation of policy intent, and have allowed us to bring forward amendments. The debates have also provided an occasion for the House to reflect more broadly on issues of parliamentary scrutiny. My hon. Friend asked me a very direct question. The Government are in the initial stages of considering what sort of arrangements we wish to pursue. Although I have met my hon. Friend the Member for Stone and the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee in the Lords, I have yet to meet the Chairs of the Select Committees on Justice and on Home Affairs, who clearly have an interest in the justice and home affairs measures that are coming forward under Title V.