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The simple matter that I would like to test is this. Adverting to the argument made by the noble Lord, Lord Neill of Bladen, which he put forward with immense articulation, as one would expect, that the treaty is dead and is not resurrectable, I wonder whether in fact that is so. I have been told by eminent Chancery lawyersI am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would agree with this, from his experience over the yearsthat, if you want to crack a trust or any other disposition of property, you can do so provided that two conditions obtain. The first is that the parties represent the totality of the beneficial interest and the second is that they are all sui generis and have full capacity to act in that regard.
I appreciate that under the treaty of Lisbon it is necessary that there should be total unanimity. However, if a very short treaty was passed by all 27 members, accepting that the treaty of Lisbon should apply only to the 26or to the 25 if the Czechs dissentit seems that that would be entirely lawful. It would, of course, be necessary for there to be a referendum in Ireland or, possibly, in the Czech Republic on that account, but if that were so, that second treaty would have amended the treaty of Lisbon in a perfectly valid way. If I am wrong about that, I am glad to be told so. I put the question not only to the Leader of the House but to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, in the hope that there will be a unanimous verdict on the matter.
Lord Dykes: My Lords, although quite rightly the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, has posed that as a question, in a way he provides a part answer himself
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Lord Dykes: My Lords, thank you, I accept the correctionespecially that of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who is very well versed in these matters as well as in many other matters, including Europe in general. I mention the most reverend Primate not only because of his traditional sacerdotal leadership, for which he is famousnot only in York but elsewherebut also because he is political. I do not mean that he is party political, but he is political in the wider sense of being logical; indeed, he showed the illogic of the amendment, which was moved very ably by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, too, for his remarks. I shall not say who it was but, a while back, I asked a previous ambassador of Ireland in London, now retired, when the note of condescension had disappeared from English or British voices when they were addressing Irish people. He said that it was 15 years ago, when Irish incomes per capita overtook those in the United Kingdom, which I thought was a very practical answer. The idea that we would go back with a textual intervention in Irish affairs, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, of the nature suggested by this amendment, is unwise.
I also thank my noble friend Lord Lester for his remarks. I would welcome the Minister putting aside the amendment as one to be furthered and pressed, which would be most unwise. However, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for his remarks. There was a lot of support for his thoughts about ensuring that the European Union once again connects strongly with the people. I personally think, and on these Benches the general view is, that the Lisbon treaty actually does that. People complain about the textual complications, but I think that they exaggerate their objections.
I feel strongly that the Lisbon treaty is partly a substantial answer from the European institutions and the sovereign member states, working together to meet the problem, after the Dutch and French referenda results, that the public were, quite rightly, grumbling about being out of touchand, more important, that the Union was out of touch with the public. But then again, in national politics, many members of the public in Britain and other countries say that they are out of touch with their own Government and that it has all become too complexor that, in the case of Britain, the political parties are too close together so no one can understand the substantial differences in their programmes, one to another.
There are all sorts of objections like that, but none gainsays the reality of building the European Union as a modern union of 27 sovereign countriesdeeply sovereign, with no reduction in any net sovereignty at the margin of any kind whatever; I cannot understand why the Conservative Party continues to fret about that matterworking together to make this a Union of the European peoples. The people themselves, with their diasporas spreading all over Europe and their mobility, with the 10 or now 12 member states coming in, too, with their mobility, and the younger generation, being practical Europeans, find these abstruse arguments about some pretend, so-called loss of sovereignty as very much living in the past.
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, moved this amendment not with the intention of seeing it pressed but to leave his little testament, at Third Reading, to remind us again that he is really a genuinely good European and that he feels very embarrassed sitting alongside some of his colleagues, who are not. There is an awkwardness in the Conservative Party, which will come out again and again, particularly if it is aided and abetted by the ministerial reply tonight.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow that debate. I shall end in a sense by referring to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, to which the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, has just referred. I shall deal with the substance of the amendment first, so that I can put it on the record.
If there were any amendments to the Lisbon treaty, they would have to be laid before Parliament. To answer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, if we get to the point of having a new treaty, it would have to go all the way through your Lordships House and another place. I am very cautious, however, about pre-empting the discussions and debates that will go on, not only in the next two or three days but I believe for some months to come. I think that we are all agreed about allowing the Irish Government the space and time to consider and deliberate properly. Nor should we tie our own hands so completely as not to be able to have those discussions, albeit within the context of what would have to happen should that require a change in the law.
I was keen to be invited to offer the 25th report in the course of our deliberationsthat is, it is the 25th time that a report has been called for in an amendment. I was thrilled that we got to 25, because it is a nice, round number in many ways.
I was surprised at the report part of the amendment because, in a sense, it would require less of the Government. There are four prime ministerial Statements a year. I have been told that 23 June is the date for the Statement, should your Lordships House wish me to
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I will be resisting the amendment because we do more and the position is clear. The point that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, began with warmed my heart as I know that he is well regarded in the European UnionI may be killing his career nowfor his pro-European stance. I know that he has made some extraordinarily well received speeches about Europe and that he is not easily taken in on issues when he wants to consider them carefully. I believe that he and I easily could stand on a platform togetherI suspect with the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, tooand make positive speeches on behalf of Europe. I hope that he will look again at the treaty and at the points my noble friend Lady Quin, who is not in her seat at present, raised about the importance of moving forward on the international agenda and the relevance and importance of Europe. I believe that we could make common cause, which is a lovely note on which to ask him to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Hunt of Wirral: My Lords, I am grateful to everyone who has participated in the debate. I just want to say to the noble Lords, Lord Elystan-Morgan and Lord Hannay, that implicit in what they are saying is that the people of the Republic of Ireland should have two referenda. I ask them to explainnot now, of coursewhy the Irish should be consulted twice when the views of the UK public are not to be solicited even once. That is part of the disconnect that has featured in some of our debates.
There has been far too much talk of putting Lisbon back on track, and I agreed with much of what the noble Earlmy good friendLord Ferrers said. There has been too much talk of getting round the Irish result or, as it has been called, the wrong result. As I pointed out by quoting Tony Blair, I do not think that this crisis can be resolved by mere sleight of hand. The legendary legerdemain of the European political class will not provide an answer because it has long been a major part of the problem.
As well as thanking the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, for his contribution, I should say to the most reverend Primate that I respect him so muchhe knows that. I regard him as a man of great courage and bravery in his views. Although I disagreed with almost everything he said, I shall follow his advice and ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I have agreed not to divide the House on the passage of this Bill, as I did for Maastricht, so I thought that I would touch on some of the highlights of our proceedingsor rather, on some of the most depressing facts about our EU membership as revealed in our debates.
The first is that, despite two Written Questions and further questions in debate, the Lord President has been unable to identify any areas of our national life not now controlled, or capable of being controlled, by Brussels. That is not what the British people voted for in 1975, and they do not like it now.
Then we discovered that only eight out of the 27 member states support the UK in reforming the common fisheries policy and the common agricultural policy. The reform of the latter is blocked until 2013 anyway, and with that line-up in the Council there does not seem to be any prospect of reform in the foreseeable future. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, promised me a Written Answer on how many of the 25,000 children whom he said are dying every year from malnutrition and associated disease owe their deaths to the CAP, and on the level of other suffering. On the CFP, we are also waiting for an answer on whether any research has been done on the damage to the seabed caused by the 50,000 articulated lorries-worth of dead fish being thrown back every year.
One chink of light in our proceedings was that the Government assured those of us who dared to criticise the EU that we will never become guilty of the European crime of xenophobia, even after the EU becomes a state, with its new legal personality. I fear that over the years, as the EU gets more and more powerful and arrogant, that guarantee will prove worthless, but it will have to do for now.
However, we failed to extract a promise from the Government that the EUs developing riot policeits gendarmerie forcewill not be deployed on British soil. If it ever is, that would cause the peoples disdain for the whole project of European integration to rise and to turn rapidly to hatred. We also failed to get any guarantee that the EU will not intrude further into our direct tax affairs. That will not endear the project to our people either. And, of course, we failed yet again to get the Government to set up an unbiased cost-benefit analysis of our EU membership. Yet again, it was perfectly clear that the Government shied away from such a project because they know that the result would be unacceptable to our people and would lead to our speedy withdrawal.
Perhaps the most surprising and depressing highlight for me was when a former Foreign Secretary, supported by a former High Court judge, moved two amendments that would have given our British courts superiority over the Luxembourg Court of Justices jurisdiction in two areas covered by the treaties. I found it difficult to believe my ears that such noble Lords had not understood the most basic legal mechanism by which this project proceeds: that the Luxembourg Court is the final arbiter in all EU matters, and that there is no appeal against it. That was very surprising.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, he destroyed the Governments red lines, which they pretend have been drawn in the matter of our justice and home affairs, in a brilliant speech of great legal clarity.
I cannot disguise my disappointment that noble Lords in receipt of an EU pension did not, with the notable and honourable exception of the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, see fit to declare that interest in all our debates. I refer your Lordships to our debate on 19 July 2007 when we debated why they should have done so. In summary, the reason why I and my Eurosceptic friends believe that noble EU pensioners should declare that interest in our debates is that EU pensions are perhaps unique in that holders can lose them if they fail to uphold the EUs interests or bring the EU into disrepute. Our case was unanimously supported by your Lordships Sub-Committee on Lords Interests, chaired by no less a personage than the former Lord Chief Justice, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf. Then, again I think uniquely, that sub-committee was overruled by our Privileges Committee consisting of party leaders and various prefects of your Lordships House for largely spurious reasons.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, is it your Lordships pleasure that I should name them? I was not going to because a number of them are not in their seats, but if I am called to name them I will. We obviously have plenty of time. If we look at former members of the European Parliament, we have the noble Lords, Lord Dykes, Lord Inglewood, Lord Harrison and Lord Teverson, the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, and the noble Lord who asked the question, the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, the noble Lord should realise that Members of the European Parliament are paid a salary by Her Majestys Treasury and that it is Her Majestys Treasury that pays my pension for service in the European Parliament. That is true for pensions of all Members of the European Parliament. I think that the noble Lord should be a little more circumspect before he throws around allegations. If he is then going to say that there is a supplementary pension scheme, he should also acknowledge that that supplementary pension scheme is run by a non- profit making organisation, ASBL, which is registered under Luxembourg law. It is not a pension from the European Union.
Lord Dykes: My Lords, perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that in the early 1970s I was a member of the old, unelected European Parliament. We were appointed by the leader of the party in those daysany partyand we received no salaries or pension at all.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, of course I apologise to the noble Lord if he, of all those I am now being called on to name, does not receive a pension. One reason why I did not want to name them allbecause there are othersis that the certainty of some of these conditions can, in particular cases, be difficult to discern. But there is not much doubt about it when we come to the ex-Commissioners and ex-Commission employees: the noble Lords, Lord Brittan, Lord Clinton-Davis, Lord Kinnock, Lord Patten of Barnes, Lord Richard and Lord Tugendhat. As I say, I would not have named those people, but I think it will help students who read Hansard in future to know that our debates have been influenced to that extent. There can be no doubt that this unseen hand has distorted the quality of our deliberations. I very much regret that.
Lord Kinnock: My Lords, before the noble Lord does so, perhaps I may ask him as a point of honour, since I have been listening to him from beyond the Bar, that when he expresses a desire to ensure that future students have an accurate understanding of what is going on, it is necessary to record, first, that I thought that he was a man of honour and would not give himself to sentiments such as those he has just expressed; and, secondly, that there is nothing that I have ever taken from anyone that would begin to influence the judgment that I exercise as a parliamentarian.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Lord is aware of it but he used the phrase unclean hands, which is a translation from the Italian and relates to corruption. I really do think we are reaching the limits of what is possible. The noble Lord would do himself a lot of good if he withdrew some of these remarks.
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