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Lord Lea of Crondall: Is the noble Lord suggesting that Luxembourg should have had a veto on who to invite to that famous dinner?

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: No. I was merely pointing out that it is not the European Union that responds in times of crisis, but the old and tested alliance and friendship of this country and the United States of America. The behaviour of the Dutch Prime Minister shows an ambition to muscle in on this tried and tested

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and, if I may say so, powerful and effective alliance. It shows how pathetic the ambitions of some of those leaders of European countries are.

Lord Acton: The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is making an admirable speech as usual, but I cannot understand what it has to do with the amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: If the noble Lord will be good enough to read Hansard tomorrow, he will find out that I am trying to suggest that the last thing we need is more unity over common foreign and security policy. That includes the appointment of a High Representative.

When one considers matters of Euro-creep, one always does well to consider just how bad things have already become. In that respect, I do not know whether your Lordships are aware that there are already 28 foreign policy security groups which meet in Brussels. I do not expect the noble Lord to respond today, but I should be grateful if he could write to me, placing a copy in the Library, saying which areas those 28 groups cover. To whom do they report? What action have we ever taken outside the agreement of one of those 28 groups in Brussels? I do not suggest that these groups are binding but that they have already compromised our foreign policy to a degree which many of us would find unacceptable. It would be helpful if the Minister could provide some enlightenment on that matter at least by way of correspondence.

4 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following this debate I have a problem; namely, that I can reply either to the amendment or to some of the speeches. I shall cut my speech on the amendment and very briefly respond to the admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, on foreign policy. There is so much misunderstanding contained in a period of only 14 minutes that something needs to be said in public. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said—I must repeat it from the Dispatch Box—foreign policy is made by member states, not the Commission. Foreign policy is made by unanimity, not qualified majority voting. The arrangements for foreign policy were established in the Treaty of Maastricht, not the Treaty of Nice. There is no change in the Treaty of Nice. Any change would require the unanimous agreement of the member states.

The High Representative—we come to the tenuous link between these debates and the amendments—whether chosen by qualified majority voting or unanimity, implements the policy agreed by the member states. As the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, rightly said, the role of the High Representative is modelled on NATO's Secretary-General. There is no danger in future of a high representative following a policy which is inconsistent with the unanimous views of the member states. That is as much as I want to say about foreign policy.

However, I should like to deal with qualified majority voting because it refers not only to these amendments but to all the others which were grouped

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with it by agreement last week but have now been ungrouped. I shall not speculate in public on the reasons for that.

Lord Tebbit: I know that the Minister, in referring to the adoption of foreign policy by QMV through the Council—that is part of the Treaty of Maastricht, which he will recall I strongly opposed—will draw the attention of the Committee to the second paragraph of Article 11 which provides that member states shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union, or is likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. Clearly, that means that once a policy has been adopted any member state which seeks to deviate from that policy after a change of government will be in breach of the treaty.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I thought that I had said enough about foreign policy, but even now the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, appears to believe that decisions on foreign policy made by member states are by qualified majority voting. He just said so.

When the United Kingdom joined the then European Economic Community there were already a number of articles in the Treaty of Rome which were subject to QMV. As the EEC, and later the European Union, has grown larger there has been a need to extend QMV to stop decision-making grinding to a halt. The biggest extension came with the Single European Act 1986. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, may have disagreed with the Treaty of Maastricht, but his party did not. Literally thousands of directives and regulations have been passed using articles to which QMV has been extended. That allowed progress on the single market to be accelerated—and a very good thing, too.

My partial answer to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson—for the extensive range of information that he requires he must refer to published documents—is that Maastricht also introduced QMV into many new areas of activity: implementing measures for common foreign and security policy; justice and home affairs pillars; trans-European networks and transport; telecommunications; energy infrastructures; development policy co-operation; consumer protection; environment, and many others.

I have a whole section of brief which attacks the Conservative Party but I do not propose to use it.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Like my noble friend Lord Tebbit, I did my best to oppose the Treaty of Maastricht. Any attack that the Minister may make on the party is not something which will worry me very much. The noble Lord may have misunderstood my question when he cited a list of items which moved to QMV under Maastricht. My question concerned the 28 foreign policy groups which meet in Brussels and, as I understand it, already decide most of our foreign policy. I accept that it is not appropriate for the noble Lord to provide all this information, even if he had it at his fingertips—which I suspect he may not—during Committee stage. To establish just how bad is the

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situation already, my question is: what areas do these groups cover, to whom do they report and what action have we ever taken outside them? Have we ever acted against the view of the majority in those 28 groups?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Since the question has nothing to do with the amendment I shall write to the noble Lord referring him to the published documents which will answer his question. I believe that that is as fair as I can offer. Like the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is entirely consistent about Maastricht, but it was their party which put forward that treaty. I did not hear the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, as a member of the then government object to the Single European Act 1986 in quite the same way.

I turn away from the Conservative Party, with some pleasure, to talk about this Government's views. The Government take a pragmatic view of QMV which is based on calculating Britain's best interests. Qualified majority voting works for Britain and has built the single market on which over 3 million UK jobs and thousands of businesses depend. It simply is not true that Britain always loses out and others almost always win. In 1999 the UK was not outvoted on a single issue, but Germany was twice, France three times and Italy eight times.

We are clear that more qualified majority voting in the right areas can work strongly in Britain's interest in future. That was how we approached the negotiations on the Treaty of Nice. Where we felt strongly that an issue was of such fundamental importance that the decision must remain with the UK—with this Government and Parliament—we simply said that we would not agree. We made that clear to this House and our European Union partners even before we started the negotiations. We set out in advance in a White Paper in February 2000 the areas where we would not agree to QMV. We said that we would not accept QMV for tax, social security, defence, border controls, treaty change or the Union's own resources—its budget—nor did we. The UK veto remains on all these issues.

Nice extends QMV in 31 articles of the treaty, and there are good reasons for all those changes. How significant are they compared with those articles which were agreed by the Conservative Party—I am sorry, previous governments? How many times is the new article on the appointment of the CFSP special representative to be used compared with the number of times the articles which moved to QMV under the Single European Act have already been used? Consider the significance of moving consumer protection to QMV as the opposition did at Maastricht compared with moving the rules for the procedures of the Court of Auditors as we did at Nice.

This is not about numbers but about British interests. To oppose QMV in principle is short-sighted. Every one of the 31 moves to QMV that we agreed at Nice will be in Britain's interests. It is in Britain's interests to have QMV for industrial policy to increase competition. Our companies do very well out of the single market. It is in Britain's interest to have

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QMV for international agreements on trade and services. Our companies benefit from the liberalisation that this is likely to deliver.

It is also in the UK's interests to have QMV for the rules and procedures of the European Court of Justice. That will deliver more efficient procedures and speedier judgments to ensure that the EU's rules are respected. In this group of amendments, it is in the UK's interests that decisions on who should be appointed to official positions should be made efficiently. They should not be held up on the principle of Buggins' turn, or on the basis of nationality or cross-border rivalry. We need the best people appointed quickly and efficiently so that they can get on with their duties. That is what QMV will do for us in this area.

We have nothing to apologise for in the changes made in the Treaty of Nice. I oppose the amendment.


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