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Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion of the Committee, raise important questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which the Committee considers that the special attention of the House should be drawn;
That the Committee have power to appoint Sub-Committees and to refer to such Sub-Committees any of the matters within the terms of reference of the Committee; that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of Sub-Committees, but that such Sub-Committees have power to appoint their own Chairman for the purpose of particular enquiries; that two be the quorum of such Sub-Committees;
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I hope that it is in order for me, as a member of your Lordships' Select Committee on the European Communities and as an acknowledged Euro-sceptic, to take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, for his chairmanship of the Select Committee. I have served under several chairmen in my time and I would like to record a sincere tribute to his patience, good humour and fairness. In saying that, I feel sure that I am speaking for all other members of the committee.
I do not want to prolong our proceedings this afternoon, still less to say anything inappropriate about the membership of the Select Committee which we are being asked to approve. But I trust that it will be in order if I remind your Lordships that opinions about this country's membership of the European phenomenon do not run along party lines in your Lordships' House. Our various shades of support and antagonism do not therefore find ready representation through the usual channels, because all three of the main political parties show a degree of support for our present and perhaps future involvement in Europe which many of us find disturbing.
Perhaps the best test of opinion in your Lordships' House about Europe generally came on 14th July last year when we had an important vote on whether or not we should have asked the other place to think again and grant the people a referendum before we ratified the Maastricht Treaty. I appreciate that some noble Lords who voted for a referendum approved of the treaty, but it may also be fair to claim that opinion in your Lordships' House has since grown somewhat more sceptical of our further involvement in Europe, perhaps even of the status quo in Europe.
Be that as it may, 176 of your Lordships voted for a referendum and some 445 against. Those who favoured a referendum therefore amounted to around 28 per cent. of the vote. The point I want to make to the usual channels, as politely as I can, is that the composition of our Select Committee and its sub-committees does not reflect that test of opinion. In fact, of the 20 members of the Select Committee, only three voted for a referendum, and two did not vote, so 17 per cent. of the committee is made up of those of us who voted for a referendum, compared to the 28 per cent. who did so on 14th July 1993.
Likewise, in the sub-committees taken as a whole, only eight of the 55 members voted for a referendum and four abstained. That puts the representation of those who favoured a referendum at some 14.5 per cent.,
I appreciate that our sub-committees are in theory appointed by the Select Committee as a whole, of which I have the honour to be a member. But in fact my experience indicates to me that the sub-committees are appointed more by the chairman of the Select Committee and the chairmen of our sub-committees. I feel sure that I can rely on the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, whom I congratulate and welcome to his new position as our chairman, to bear what I have said in mind when the time comes.
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, perhaps I may ask my noble friend the Leader of the House whether we are now going to have a full-dress debate on the European Union, repeating everything that was said on Thursday? If so, what is the point in having a debate on the Address?
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, for his kind and generous words at the outset of his remarks. I am grateful to him also for his courtesy in having informed me beforehand that he proposed to raise this matter today. As the noble Lord acknowledged, membership of the European Communities Select Committee is a matter in the first place partly for the usual channels; then for the Committee of Selection; and, finally and decisively, for your Lordships' House. I assure the noble Lord that the customary consultations have taken place and that the terms of the Motion are such that, if your Lordships decide to pass it this afternoon, the membership will be broadly representative of your Lordships' House, as it has been in the past.
Again, as the noble Lord acknowledged, membership of the sub-committees is a matter for the European Communities Select Committee. The noble Lord is a distinguished member of that committee and so, at appropriate times, he has the right to make any observations he chooses about the membership when those matters come before the Select Committee if, as a result of the Motion, it is set up this afternoon.
My noble friend the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees, who will, if the Motion is passed, become chairman of the European Communities Select Committee, is in his place and has heard the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. I hope that my comments will be acceptable to the noble Lord and to your Lordships.
(1) Every instrument which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be or might have been taken in either House of Parliament, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament; being
(d) an order subject to special parliamentary procedure; but excluding any Order in Council or draft Order in Council made or proposed to be made under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974.
(2) Every general statutory instrument not within the foregoing classes, and not required to be laid before or to be subject to proceedings in the Commons only, but not including Measures under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and instruments made under such Measures;
(i) that it imposes a charge on the public revenues or contains provisions requiring payments to be made to the Exchequer or any government department or to any local or public authority in consideration of any licence or consent or of any services to be rendered, or prescribes the amount of any such charge or payments;
(v) that there appears to have been unjustifiable delay in sending a notification under the proviso to subsection (1) of section 4 of the Statutory Instrument Act 1946, where an Instrument has come into operation before it has been laid before Parliament;
(viii) that its drafting appears to be defective; or on any other ground which does not impinge on its merits or on the policy behind it, and to report their decision with the reasons thereof in any particular case.
That the Committee have power to appoint one or more Sub-Committees severally to join with any Sub-Committee or Sub-Committees appointed by any Committee appointed by the Commons; and to refer to such Sub-Committee or Sub-Committees any of the matters referred to the Committee.
That it be an instruction to the Committee that they do not consider any instrument which is directed by Act of Parliament to be laid before and to be subject to proceedings in the Commons only; and that the Committee do not join with any Committee appointed by the Commons in considering any such instrument.
That it be a further instruction to the Committee that, before reporting that the special attention of the House be drawn to any instrument, the Committee do afford to any Government department concerned therewith an opportunity of furnishing orally or in writing to them or to any Sub-Committee of the Committee such explanations as the department think fit.