Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

The views of my noble and very old friend Lord Hamilton of Epsom were to some extent shared by my noble friends Lord Trenchard and Lord Astor. I am afraid that he descended into the well known Conservative position that UKIP is damaging the Conservative Party. That is flattering but always requires the rejoinder, “What about the country? Which do we put first—your party or the country?”. I know which I would put first. My noble friends were also firm that, if there were to be a referendum on whether we should stay in the European Union, the country would vote to stay in. That would depend on leadership and vision, two

20 May 2008 : Column 1456

qualities missing from the modern Conservative Party. One word of truth outweighs the whole world.

My position is nearer that taken by my noble friend Lord Blackwell, who cannot be with us this evening, as chairman of the Global Vision think tank, which is that we should return to a relationship of simple free trade with the European Union and abandon the rest of the political baggage. That means leaving the European Union, although Global Vision does not put it quite like that. I agree that when you put to the people the question, “Do you want to leave the European Union?”, the percentage wanting to goes down to 40 per cent, whereas if you say, “Do you want to return to a simple free trade relationship?”, you are up in the 80s. It is a question of education, leadership and the debate that would take place in this country were we to have the referendum that this amendment suggests.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that I did not accuse the entire Conservative Front Bench of being ignorant about matters European. I accuse the current leadership of that and the party of guilt in having taken us into this quagmire. The noble Lord said that the Conservative Party wants to see a strong EU responding to the networked world. He wants to see the kind of Europe that, he says, we would want to work for. I say to him that, while we stay in the European Union, with some 8 per cent of the votes and the rest of them determined to do something else, we have not a hope.

Finally, on the Liberal Democrats, I will concentrate my remarks on those of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire—

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. As he is giving out marks to everybody here, I hope that he will not forget to congratulate himself on putting down an amendment that assumes that this treaty will enter into force. I am most grateful to him for that and hope that he will test the opinion of the Committee. We will then make the treaty enter into force.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I would not have wanted to do it like that but as we are debating the Bill on the treaty, I had to earth the amendment to come out of the European Union in the Bill. That is why the amendment is worded as the noble Lord sees it on the Marshalled List. For myself, I would not even bother with a referendum. If I were the Conservative Party I would simply go into a general election saying, “If we win we will come out”, and it would do very well. I hope that answers his question.

I turn, finally and briefly, to the Liberal Democrats, the pi├Ęce de résistance of the whole debate.

10 pm

A noble Lord: Where did you get that language from?

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Lea, who asked that question. I cannot believe it was the right reverend Prelate, although they are sitting very close together.



20 May 2008 : Column 1457

I must reaffirm to the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that I am a good European. I speak fluent Italian; I have 157 Italian cousins from my first wife; several dozen Austrians from my second wife; and I have business in every European country. I am a good European and I love the Europe of nation states. I just do not like the project so favoured by him and the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock, and his Europhile and Eurocrat friends. That is the difference.

The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, declared that he was unembarrassable and therefore he could not go into the Lobby with the UK Independence Party, by which I think he meant he would be too embarrassed to do so. I do not quite follow his logic there. He had a dig at the eurofacts magazine—which should be very much commended to your Lordships as a beacon of light and truth in this somewhat murky debate—and he accused it of suggesting that the EU was about to inhibit the rights of spiritual mediums. I have not the faintest idea whether or not it is, but I would not put it past it. The EU has, after all, invaded the whole field of food supplements and herbal medicines to the detriment of our health food stores and so on. I am not suggesting that they are in the same category but it has passed many absurd directives, including the working at heights directive—or the ladders directive—which stops you climbing a ladder unless you have someone holding the bottom of it; and you cannot build a rocking horse if it is over two and a half feet high, or whatever that is in metres, and so on. The European Union is guilty of the most absurd legislation and interference in our national life.

We were told by my noble friend—as he then was—Lord Hurd that Maastricht was the high watermark of integration; that no longer was the European Union going to interfere in the nooks and crannies of our public life. But, as I mentioned earlier, since then we have had the vibration directive, which refers to driving tractors and so on, and the 56-page condom directive. The beast is incorrigible. It goes on spewing out legislation because it has nothing else to do, which is extremely damaging to people on the receiving end.

I conclude by pointing out that we might have gone through the night tonight; the Committee is lucky that I withdrew the amendment on cost-benefit analysis, which could have kept us here for a long time. I am glad to receive the gratitude and appreciation of the noble Baroness the Leader of the House.

Finally, the Liberal Democrats say that their leader, Mr Clegg, is absolutely clear that he despairs of getting a proper debate on the European Union. The noble Baroness the Leader of the House also says it is difficult to get a proper debate on our membership of the European Union. So why do not the Liberal Democrats at least support a referendum on Lisbon? That would give a national debate. As I mentioned earlier, it would not go as far as we in the UK Independence Party want, but it would be a start and it would give that debate. I have to conclude that the Liberal Democrats do not want this debate. They want the project to proceed with as much bureaucratic and political shenanigan and support as they can

20 May 2008 : Column 1458

muster. They do not want the people involved. I want the people involved, so I intend to test the opinion of the Committee.

10.05 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 167A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 7; Not-Contents, 74.


Division No. 2


CONTENTS

Hamilton of Epsom, L. [Teller]
Moran, L.
Morrow, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L. [Teller]
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.

NOT CONTENTS

Alli, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashton of Upholland, B. [Lord President.]
Astor of Hever, L.
Bach, L. [Teller]
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bilston, L.
Borrie, L.
Bradley, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chester, Bp.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Crawley, B.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elystan-Morgan, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jones, L.
Kinnock, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lindsay, E.
Luke, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Maxton, L.
Montrose, D.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Puttnam, L.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Sewel, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Trenchard, V.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Verma, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

10.15 pm

[Amendment No. 168 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page