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Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a question. He has just made a statement about the traditional attitude of the Government to Private Members' Bills which puzzles me a little. I should like to ask him why he said that, given the fact that in the lifetime of the present Government when I put forward a Bill introducing proportional representation into local government, all Ministers were brought in to vote and Government Whips were posted outside to stop Conservative Peers from leaving the Chamber. Can he explain to me why there has been such a radical change of attitude, given the fact that it is in the lifetime of the present Government that this has happened and that the then Leader of the House and the Government Chief Whip were among those who voted?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I have no knowledge of the incident to which the noble Lord refers and therefore cannot by definition respond to it. However, if a Division is called today the Government will abstain. I should conclude by making clear that our view is that this Bill is contrary to government policy and to Britain's interests.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to everyone who has spoken in this debate, though I appreciate that it has technically taken place on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Taverne. By my calculation 28 of your Lordships have been supportive of the Bill and only 10 spoke against it. While I repeat my gratitude to noble Lords who supported it, I shall confine my summing-up to the 10 who spoke against the Bill.
Taking them in the batting order in which they took the crease, the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, was guilty of two Euro slogans which I did not have time to mention in my speech. The first was that British business favoured the EU. I am afraid the noble Lord has been listening to the hierarchy of the CBI which, as we all know, has a somewhat distorted view of this matter, no doubt because its members hope for knighthoods and so forth. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that the Federation of Small Businesses voted to leave the European Union altogether. And if the noble Lord was to consult the Institute of Directors, he would find a very different view to that of the CBI.
The second Euro slogan mentioned by the noble Lord was that we need to be in the EU to sit at the top table of world affairs. He asked what the USA would think if we were out of the EU. The last time I heard anyone say that we needed something to be at the top table of world affairs was when we were discussing keeping Trident; and we kept it. What about the Security Council? Is it not so that our Armed Forces are the finest in the world? I fear that that sort of statement from the noble Lord is more resonant of Suez than of the future which this country should be facing.
My noble friend Lord Kingsland, in a helpful intervention, pointed out that delegated legislation might not be covered, and therefore withdrawn by the Bill. He may have a point and I trust he will table the relevant amendment when we move to the Committee stage. My noble friend also congratulated me on not mentioning a referendum in the Bill. I share his view on that. I believe the Conservative Party should win the next election by putting clear blue water between ourselves and the Benches opposite and by promising a complete renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union after we have won the election. I have to say that I fear we may not win it unless we adopt a manifesto of that kind.
My noble friend Lord Kingsland also went on to say that we have not lost sovereignty, hence the ability to discuss this Bill. He said that Parliament could get us out of the EU; it would fall away if we wanted it to. But I must put it to my noble friend that if we were to join EMU that situation would no longer prevail. He also wisely mentioned the situation of the United States becoming steadily more isolated. Some of us cannot help wondering whether that is because Europe is concentrating so much on the Western European Union. He rightly pointed out what a danger it would be if Germany and Russia were to get close together again. But I do not see why all those matters could not be dealt with by the UK and its European partners by intergovernmental co-operation.
Moving on, the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, pointed out the benefits that we have in a market of 360 million people. From what I said in my introductory remarks, I trust the noble Baroness will agree that we would keep our access to that market. The noble Baroness also made the remarkable statement that she felt the single market had led to a reduction in red tape. I can only recommend that the noble Baroness reads the book, Castle of Lies, by Mr. Christopher Booker and Mr. Richard North and we can then discuss the matter again.
The noble Baroness also opined that the Luxembourg Court of Justice makes the others obey the single market. I am not sure whether British Airways feels that it is very fairly treated and I do not know what she would have to say on the matter of steel subsidies.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, does the noble Lord not think that British Airways is rather pleased that it was given permission to go into Paris Orly when the French Government had tried to say no?
The noble Baroness said one more remarkable thing. She said that if we were out we would have regulation without representation. But she should be aware that that is exactly what we have with regulations--which are issued by the Commission, which do not even go through this Parliament and which the Commission is using more and more. It is a Commission regulation which threatens emtryl, so essential for our pheasant rearing. It is a Commission regulation that threatens the use of set-aside land for charitable purposes.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, in what I agree was perhaps the best speech I have ever heard in your Lordships' House, asked the Government whether they would introduce the 1972 Act today. I have to notice that my noble friend on the Front Bench did not reply.
My noble friend Lady Elles suggested that our debate was not representative of the British people's view and that we could leave the EU if the people so decided. However, the leadership of both parties appears to be in favour of staying in the European Union, and therefore I do not see how we are going to test the view of the British people unless we have a referendum. But I make no imputation to my noble friend Lady Elles that she is considering joining Sir James Goldsmith in this matter.
My noble friend also said that it would be the poorer people in this country who suffered if we left. I do not quite know how she squares that with the fact that our membership under the common agricultural policy costs the average family £1,250 per annum.
I come to my noble friend Lord Inglewood on the Front Bench, who I fancy has a number of letters to write. He certainly has one or two to write to me. He mentioned that the EU was valuable for collaboration on drugs, organised crime and the environment. I just wonder why we need the European Union for that. He said that the Government were pressing their view of a
I come finally to the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, who at least agreed that the Bill and our debate have been valuable. She may not have been here earlier when her noble friend Lord Taverne was not in agreement with her and said that it was more or less scandalous of me to have introduced this matter as a Private Member's Bill. But perhaps that is the Liberals for you.
I would go further in that regard because, although I was not there at the time, I understand that both the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, voted against the Second Reading of the European Communities Act 1972. In fact, I think the date was 17th February 1972.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I do not want to detain the House but the noble Lord must be aware that I was one of the 71 Members of Parliament on the Labour Benches who voted with the Government in favour of the European Community.
I heard a rumour that the Liberal Democrats have done this Bill the rare, perhaps unique, honour of issuing an official three-line-whip against its Second Reading tonight. I do not recall ever seeing the Liberal Democrat Benches so well attended as they are tonight. It is up to them, of course. But I fear that they are sending a message to the people of Britain that they do not want to repatriate self-government to this country. I trust that that is not a message that your Lordships' House will wish to send to the nation, so I must ask your Lordships to vote against the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, and in favour of the Bill.
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