Select Committee on European Union Written Evidence

Letter from Lord Pearson to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 8 March, which we discussed this morning.

  It is true that the new terms of reference for your proposed enquiry were printed in the Weekly Bulletin of 17 February, but the House had risen for the half-term break the day before, and so a number of Peers, myself included, did not see it until the House returned on the 27th, one day before your previous deadline expired. I wrote to your Clerk that day.

  I am not convinced that your terms of reference allow you "to contribute to the fostering of a more informed public understanding of the work of the EU", nor to "identify practical steps which could be taken to broaden and improve public understanding of the work of the House of Lords in scrutinising EU legislation.

  I fear your initiative has to be seen against the background of the latest multi-billion-euro push by Brussels, in educational establishments and elsewhere, to get the `European citizen' to appreciate how wonderful the EU really is, and how doltish the French and Dutch voters were to turn down the proposed Constitution. The idea is presumably to get the people not to make too much of a fuss when parts of the Constitution are revived as a "tidying-up exercise".

  As to the work of your Committee and Sub-Committees, can you tell me the occasions when you have succeeded in getting the Commission, Coreper or the Council of Ministers to change their minds on any significant legislative proposals? And, incidentally, of any law passed in Brussels which has been successfully overturned by Parliament (the UK Parliament!).

  Could I suggest that if your Committee has spare energy and resources it should conduct another enquiry into fraud and mismanagement in the EU? Ten years ago and more, when its composition was more balanced, it conducted a series of excellent enquiries into this scandal, which of course continues to this day because none of the assurances given by the Government and the EU have been met.

  I confirm that I and my colleagues remain happy to give evidence, and I look

forward to your reply.

23 March 2006

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