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(1) The Secretary of State shall report at least quarterly to Parliament on any negotiations in the Council of Ministers or the European Council, or with EU partners, designed to secure ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon by all EU member states in the event of any member state failing to ratify the Treaty.
(2) A Minister of the Crown may not commit the United Kingdom to new obligations, or alter the obligations of the United Kingdom, or agree in the Council of Ministers or the European Council or informally to any non-Treaty proposal, undertaking or document designed to secure ratification of the Treaty by an EU member state that had previously failed to ratify the Treaty, unless Parliamentary approval has been given in accordance with this section.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have now decided to endorse a leap into the unknown. What do I mean by that? During our debates, the Minister has paid tribute to the extent to which we have probed and have had discussions. But the theme running through many of our debates has been the known unknowns. What is going to happen has been the question dominating so many of our debates. That has reached a crescendo with the decisions that the House has taken today.
This amendment standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford seeks to establish parliamentary control over events which will now take place. We have heard from the Minister that the Prime Minister will come to the elected House, the other placeshe believes on Monday, but whenever the discussions have concludedand will report. This amendment seeks to make it clear that Parliament will decide on the future course of action. Subsection (2) of the new clause in Amendment No. 2 states:
As we do not know what will happen, we should entrench the view, which I think came from all sides of the House, that this is not a problem just for one country. It is a problem for the European Union.
As the problems of the citizen grew ever more pressing, instead of bold policy reform and decisive change, we locked ourselves in a room at the top of the tower and debated things no ordinary citizen could understand ... there became a growing mood amongst European people, that Europe, unable to solve its actual problems, took to solving imaginary ones ... This finally took grip ... The evening of the French result, I remember being
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In many ways, there is now an opportunity to lift peoples minds above the minutiae, whether it is the collapse of the Third Pillar, or the streamlining or tidying up of certain procedures. Can we not now embark on a debate, for which I argued in one of the amendments that I proposed, to lift the hearts and minds of the people of this country and the peoples of Europe with a new vision, which entrenches for a lifetime to come the vision that we have all held of a peaceful and prosperous Europe? But it must be a Europe with which the people of Europe are comfortable, a Europe where its people are at ease with whatever is proposed.
As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, when I quoted his foreword to that excellent analysis of the negotiations at the start, in many ways ill luck has bedevilled the history of the development of the European Union. It is about time that we got on to the front foot and became much more positive about what Europe means. It means so much to so many of us. It means a great deal to me that my party is the party of Europe and believes in the United Kingdom being at the heart of Europe. That is where I stand. But it can be achieved only if we persuade people.
It is time to give ourselves a reality check. To receive the wake-up call. The people are blowing the trumpets round the city walls. Are we listening? Have we the political will to go out and meet them so that they regard our leadership as part of the solution not the problem?.
That went down very well indeed at the European Parliament. Let us try to revive some of that language, listen to the people of Europe and make sure that when the Prime Minister returns with, I hope, the way ahead, it will be up to this House and the other place to debate and approve what further steps are to be taken. I beg to move.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I support this amendment. It now is the sheet anchor, the Motion and the first amendment having been rejected. Those do not matter so much so long as this amendment is accepted by the House. It is perfectly plain that no one knows what will happen. It is very much open to question whether, if one merely ratifies, that gives one Government or another Government or all Governments a greater pull. It is all right perhaps as a pull for the Governments but is it a pull for their electorates?
My noble friend raised the crucial point: in the long run, account has to be taken, not only by us, but by every member state. If this institution is going to operate, it has to operate with the approval of the electorate, who have to understand what is going on. Before it can get to the electorate, the member states have to understand what is going on. It is not a question of hurrying the matter. This amendment makes it perfectly plain that in these circumstances our position is protected. We cannot commit the United
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The Archbishop of York: My Lords, the purpose of the Bill before us is to ratify the treaty. If that is the case, to then say, If there is a failure of ratification then this will not happen in the same Bill that ratifies the treaty, seems to speak with a double tongue. We either ratify or we do not.
This proposed new clause is therefore very confusing. I can understand its intention; it is designed to secure ratification of the treaty of Lisbon by all EU member states. But the Irish have rejected it. We have been told by the Benches opposite that it is dead. But if it is dead, what is the reason for this proposed new clause?
The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, was really not about the amendmentit was about what we should do to educate all our people to be more positive about Europe. I agree with that, but this amendment is to a Bill which is supposed to be ratifying the treaty.
I suggest that the House rejects the amendment. The noble Lord has made a wonderful speech on what we should do about the positive aspects of Europe; perhaps he will, after hearing a few other speeches, withdraw his amendment.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, the amendment seems extremely injudicious and to cut absolutely across almost the sole point on which everyone agreed in our long debate earlierthat the Irish were not to be bullied, subjected to fait accompli, pushed into a minority of one and subjected to pressure. Yet, if it were accepted, the amendment would do all those things. It would mean that before a British Minister could go to the Council and agree with his Irish colleague and his 25 other colleagues on some,
he would have had to have votes in both Houses of Parliament. If anybody with any knowledge of Anglo-Irish history believes that the Irish would be more likely to vote yes in a referendum if the text that they were being offered had first to be approved by the British Parliament and had then been presented to them as a fait accompli in Brussels, they have not been reading the same history books as me.
I am sure that the intention behind the amendment is entirely benign and helpful. The introduction of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, was full of good will but the consequences would be absolutely disastrous. If we passed the amendment, we would not have to wait 24 hours before the sound of keening from somewhere west of herearound Dublinwould be clearly audible.
In so far as the amendment is concerned, I express my agreement with the two previous speakers. I should like to add one simple point: we have better scrutiny functions of EU matters in this House and indeed in the other place than we do for any other kind of treaty or international agreement. We also have a clear provision that you cannot alter the rights and duties of the people of this country in any way unless authorised to do so under the European Communities Act 1972, as amended. There is therefore no question of the need to obtain prior consent.
This amendment is a kind of super Bricker amendment. Those of us with American interests, who remember the effect of Senator Brickers amendment in seeking to fetter the ability of the Executive branch in the United States to enter into treaties or other international agreements, and the way in which petty party interests have prevented the United States from, on occasion, being able to negotiate properly, will realise that what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, rightly described as a cumbersome mechanism is actually a mechanism for complete stalemate.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I do not think that petty party considerations are behind this amendment. It is a great anxiety that many people haveI am one of themthat those who lead the European Union are getting out of touch with the electorate, which is a very bad thing. Everyone knows that for this European Union to move effectively, it has to have peoples backing. Leaders cannot get themselves so divorced from what people think that they operate in a world of their own.
We all know that the Government do not want a referendumand one can understand itbecause they know they will lose it. Therefore it is not being allowed. The thinking behind the amendment is, We have given a certain amount away to Brussels. We cannot give more away without parliamentary approval. I think that is perfectly reasonable and I hope that the noble Baroness will give it consideration. I am sure that the diktats from on high have said, On no account must you accept any amendments from the House of Lords. However, despite that, I hope that the Minister will consider it.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, has put forward a most superficially attractive argument in his usually engaging way. However, I am afraid that I cannot agree with it because it seems to me that those who have come to the conclusion that this amendment, if carried, would be unduly restrictiveI would go further and say emasculativeof the Governments scope of manoeuvre are correct.
I do not believe that there is anything other than sincerity behind the noble Lords attitude in this matter. It is an institutional objection on the part of the Conservative Party to the treaty itself. The party has been utterly consistent from the start. It has rejected, almost in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, the treaty and all its works. It seems to me that the one thing that the Conservative Party, with great respect, is incapable of doing is saying one word that is benign, charitable and laudatory in relation to the treaty.
It reminds one of the story of Napoleon going to a village in the Vendée in about 1810, when there were doubts as to the loyalty of the people of that locality to his administration. No guns had been fired by way of salute and the mayor ran out and said, The powder is damp and we would not have been able to fire the guns. Furthermore, the countryside is very dry and had we done so it would have caused fires. Thirdly, Emperor, we have no cannons. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the Conservative Party in this matter; it has no intention whatever of giving any support to this treaty.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, of course, I am not the Conservative Party, but I am surprised at what the noble Lord has said. I certainly do not take that view. In my speeches today and on other occasions, I have always said that it was essential that we retain our membership of the European Union but I have objected to certain aspects of the treaty. I do not speak for my party but I do not think that the noble Lord is being fair in any way to me.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, I hope that I have not been unfair either to the noble Lord or to the Conservative Party. I did not say that the Conservative Party objected to the Union; I said that it objected to the treaty. It seems to me that it has been thoroughly consistent and absolute in its attitudes in that regard.
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