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I have outlined powerful reasons for the Bill-not least the need to meet effectively the legitimate expectations

25 May 2011 : Column 1862

of the British people for a say in whether or not to transfer further powers to the European Union, which is not necessary at all at the moment; and not least the need to align our country with the movement throughout Europe for a greater democratic say by the people. That is an attitude that my honourable friend the Minister for Europe has encountered as he has visited every Government and talked to a vast range of Ministers and public opinion formers throughout all member states. He has never found the ideas and proposals of the coalition in the Bill any problem at all. I say that to the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, who suggested that I should do a bit more travelling. I should quite like to do a bit of travelling, but my duties nowadays frequently seem to be here. Perhaps I will be released over the next few days for a little travelling. Indeed, I intend to head off to the Middle East almost as soon as these debates are over.

Those are the reasons why, with the best will in the world, the idea of sunsetting or expiring legislation that can be renewed in some way by a future Secretary of State does not belong to this kind of legislation. This legislation is intended to be the architecture for a better and more settled relationship between this country and the European Union, by our exertions, and one hopes in the European Union generally, by our example. That is the possibility of the future. It does not to any degree tie Ministers' hands in the way that has been dramatically asserted, just as the negotiating positions of other Ministers in other countries with similar restrictions-sometimes by referenda or complicated mandates agreed with other parties in their Parliaments-are not tied but strengthened.

All of that is a fear of hobgoblins that I suggest my noble friends should dismiss. There is nothing in this that weakens our position, but there is a great deal that strengthens it. There is a great deal of hope for the future in better and settled relationships with the European Union, with popular support. That is why, for the time being and as an enduring fact, I have to say that sunset clauses do not, alas, fit the purpose of the Bill. I ask the noble Lords who have suggested them to withdraw them.

1.15 pm

Lord Taverne: My Lords, a number of very important points have been made on both sides in this Bill. I would like to discuss many of them further, but we will return to this on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 61 withdrawn.

Amendments 62 to 64 not moved.

Clause 22 agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment.

House adjourned at 1.17 pm.


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