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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Enjoy the recital!
Lord Howell of Guildford: The reference that the Minister has just made to the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in the successful operationso we hearat Doha is a good example of where consultation and co-operation between as many of a group as one can get togetherin that case the European Union groupclearly makes sense. However, the article is not about that, as my noble friend Lord Biffen said; it is about support for various perfectly commendable objectivesfavourable environment, policies of innovation and research, and so onbut the issue is how those objectives are to be achieved. Are they to be achieved by a competitive, low-tax environment in the nation state, favourable to enterprise, initiative, investment and innovation, or are they to be an addition to be achieved by support from the European institutional level?
There is the apocryphal story of the boy scout who insists on helping a senior citizen across the road only to discover on reaching the other side that she did not want to cross it in first place.
I sometimes feel that some of this "wished-on-us" support coming from the European institutions over and above our national methods, over and above an appropriate degree of concertation and co-operation, is something that costs, but does not necessarily add value. One is entitled to look critically at the long lists of proposals supporting this and supporting that at Community level in ways which may not add value to the existing situation.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Is the noble Lord, Lord Howell, repudiating the structural fund? We are talking here about £10 billion of structural fund money coming to the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2006. We are talking about Objective 1 funding going to Merseyside, to South Yorkshire, Cornwall, West
Lord Howell of Guildford: The noble Lord is premature. I am talking about Article 157. I have not yet come on to the structural and cohesion funds. I shall say a word about those in a moment. The Minister is taking several jumps ahead of what I am saying.
I am referring to Article 157 and questioning some of the costly and often ineffective support programmes which tend to be fifth wheels on the coach of sensible industrial and tax policies conceived at national levels.
The noble Lord tempts me to turn to Article 161 and the structural and cohesion funds. I am not saying what he thinks I am saying; I am interested that these matters are to be handled in a different way after 2007 and that there will be a fair distribution of the funds. The figures he mentioned are very large.
We must bear in mind, of course, that if all goes according to plan 2007 will be a time when there are more like 25 members of the European Union rather than 15. The new 10 will have a GNP per head of around one-quarter of the existing 15 and the clamour for their fair share of the structural and cohesion funds will be extremely loud. The need to ensure that the system is fair and that the weighting of votes is not always balanced in favour of the big boys or the existing members will be very important. I do not say that that cannot be achieved. But we shall have to watch very carefully indeed that fairness is perceived to exist by the 10 new applicants.
Already voices can be heard both in the western end of the existing Union and in the central and eastern end of what will be the larger Union which are in contradiction to each other, each side saying it is they who should get the "fair" share in the distribution of the structural and cohesion funds.
So these are serious issues, not to be turned into a party football bouncing me or anyone else into saying that we do not applaud the use of the funds when properly applied. They have no doubt brought benefit to many parts of the United Kingdom as well as to other parts of Europe. But a serious point arises here. If qualified majority voting is in operation after 2007 in this new enlarged Community of 25 plus, and maybe more, we must expect a few sparks to fly as people work out what is and what is not fair.
Those are matters for further debate, not to be pressed further now. Therefore, in the light of some of the explanations given by the Minister, and in the light of other comments in this debate, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Howell of Guildford moved Amendment No. 20:
The noble Lord said: We turn now to Article 175 in the TECnot the TEUwhich again gives some cause for concern to those of us who are anxious that the Community and its institutions should concentrate on what they are good at and what adds value, and not be distracted into other areas where nation states, regions and smaller, more sensitive bodiescloser to the front line, as it weremay be more effective. The particular points which catch our eye are those in black type, which means that they have been introduced by the Nice Treaty to the existing corpus of treaty legislation.
What we have here are propositions that the council shall decide what action is to be taken by the Community in order to achieve a number of objectives already in the treaty under Article 154. They include protecting human welfare, prudent utilisation of natural resources, and promotion at an international level to deal with regional, worldwide and environmental problems. One could not object to any of those points for a moment. They are obviously to the public good if they can be achieved.
Then we have measures primarily of a fiscal naturethat was already in the treatymeasures affecting town and country planning; quantitative management of water resources affecting directly or indirectly the availability of those resources. Anyone can see that management of gigantic rivers necessarily needs to be concerted transnationally as it is for the river Rhine and across other borders throughout the Community. Indeed, one little known area of transnational co-operation is that by the River Foyle Authority between Northern Ireland and the Republic. That kind of co-operation between authorities which are able to operate transnationally can work perfectly well. I am not totally clear as to why we now need new measures to bring the Community so firmly in on the act. There may be points which I have missed. If so, I am sure the noble Lord will put me right. However, the extension of the competencies into management of water resources seems, once again, to be a development where subsidiarity has been forgotten.
In this case were the rules followed for testing whether something should be put to the process of subsidiaritysuch rules are often neglected but were originally in one of the earlier treatiesor did we just leap without hesitation into quantitative management of water resources and town and country planning, although I believe that already existed? What has happened to the idea of subsidiarity? Why is it not being promoted right through the treaty at every point? Why is not there a tone of the Community saying, "We will stick to what we can do in terms of rules and regulations. We have reached right across the Community to where we really can be a valuable support to the nation states and to the industries and citizens within them but on other matters we will, indeed, either not intrude or", better stillI realise this is asking for the moon"unravel the commitments centrally which were suitable in a previous age but in
Why are not those principles asserted in the new text? What happened at Nice that people forgot about subsidiarity and, instead, proposed new centrality, if that is the opposite of subsidiarity? We would like to know the answer to that question. That is the purpose of the amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Willoughby de Broke: I rise briefly to support my noble friend's amendment. It seems extraordinary that subsidiarity seems to have disappeared from this article, and I wondered why. My noble friend gave examples of intergovernmental co-operation, which seemed to work perfectly satisfactorily. I wonder why such examples are not followed more frequently in the European Union, rather than trying to operate them centrally. Here we have town and country planning and the quantitative management of water resources.
I see that the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, is in his place. When he gave evidence to the European Select Committee he said that he thought that the Commission was trying to do far too much with things it should not mess with. He gave the example that amused me of giving prizes at a melon festival in Cavaillon. The management of town and country planning is one level up from that. There is also the quantitative management of water resources, which can be anything from winding a lock on a canal in Warwickshire to deciding the river flows on the Rhine, land used with the exception of waste management, and so on.
Again, it appears that the Commission is trying to make decisions that should be taken at a national level. Can the Minister explain why these provisions are here and why such matters cannot be achieved on an intergovernmental basis? Why is it necessary for quantitative management of water resources to be in the treaty? Is that a significant factor in enlargement? Perhaps the acceding countries will benefit from the high quality management that the Commission and the Council of Ministers can bring to bear on their water resources.
I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about that. Meanwhile, if my noble friend decides to press this amendment to a vote I shall support him.
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