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House of Lords

Friday, 31 January 2014.

10 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Leicester.

European Union (Referendum) Bill

Committee (2nd Day)

10.06 am

Clause 1: Referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union

Amendment 50

Moved by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

50: Clause 1, page 1, line 12, leave out subsection (6)

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, I apologise if I appear less lucid than I hope I usually am.

Noble Lords: Never!

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: Who said never? I have just travelled back overnight from the United States.

Noble Lords: Why?

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I was there with the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, who told me that he would have made a lot of money if he had been able to keep me there. But I managed to escape and here I am. Earlier on, it sounded as though the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, had been flying overnight.

A noble Lord: Get on with it!

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I will get on with it, as my noble friend said.

I was there with the European Union Sub-Committee on External Affairs, which is not irrelevant to what we are talking about today—to the Bill as a whole and indeed to this amendment. We were there to discuss with senators, congressmen and members of the Administration the proposed TTIP, the trade and investment deal between the European Union and the United States, dealing with important issues such as financial services, agriculture, automobiles and so forth. It is because we are a member of the European Union that we are part of that and we can benefit from that trade deal as well as many other trade deals.

It was very interesting because, in the margins, just about everyone we spoke to, including the trade union—the AFLCIO—businessmen, senators and congressmen, said that they hoped that the United Kingdom would stay in the European Union. The

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Americans overwhelmingly believe that it is important from our point of view, from the European Union point of view and from their point of view.

I return to the Bill and this amendment. I am grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne. I bumped into him earlier on and described him as the custodian of the Companion. I respect him in that capacity. I will keep an eye on him and he will be keeping an eye me to make sure that I stay in order.

I said in my initial speech that the Bill is not fit for purpose. These amendments and many of the amendments that we will deal with today point out some of the problems, omissions and inadequacies of the Bill as drafted. I do not know who drafted the Bill, but it certainly does not have the fingerprints of good parliamentary draftsmen. It is totally inadequate.

Some people in Scotland think, and we can take the Scottish referendum as an example, that if—heaven forbid—they vote yes on 18 September this year then if not immediately within very quick succession Scotland will become an independent nation. However, it is not as simple as that; it is not at all simple. It is up to Parliament—this Parliament—to consider the result of that referendum, to legislate, and to negotiate and discuss it with the Scottish Government.

Similarly, there is a view that if 50% plus one vote for the United Kingdom to move out of the European Union, that would happen very quickly. However, again, that is not the case. It is up to Parliament to assess the result, which is why subsequent amendments that say Parliament must assess whether the result of the referendum is “definitive and beyond challenge”. It would create tremendous problems if it was challenged. The problems could arise, first, if the referendum was very close indeed, especially if there were a lot of spoilt ballot papers, which there could be—we have known elections where the number of spoilt ballot papers has exceeded the majority vote. In a referendum, that would mean that the result could be challenged.

We will come to amendments later about counting in each of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. If there was a different result, for example, in Scotland, as we discussed briefly last Friday, we should think of the consequences of that. Indeed, there are other consequences in other parts of the United Kingdom. What if the result of the referendum was very close? Under the Bill, everyone who has a vote for a UK European Parliament constituency will be voting in this referendum, which means that people from Gibraltar will be voting. We will come to those amendments in more detail later on, but just imagine if, on a very close result, the outcome of the referendum as to whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union was decided by the votes of the people of Gibraltar. That would be astonishing, but it could happen. These are the kind of things that we have to take account of.

Later on, we will discuss who votes in the referendum, which is relevant to this as well. We will discuss whether 16 and 17 year-olds should vote, and whether European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom or UK citizens living in Europe should. Again, whether or not we incorporate and accept any of those

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amendments—I hope we will—will affect the outcome of the referendum as well. These are important matters, which is why the gravamen of what I am proposing is that, ultimately, this Parliament should decide.

10.15 am

Two amendments, in the names of my noble friend Lord Anderson, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, and in my name, relate to specifically defining some of the qualifications that Parliament should take account of. In particular, Amendment 51 says that 40% of those registered to vote should,

“give assent in the referendum”,

while Amendment 56 would require that,

“40 per cent of those registered to vote participate in the referendum”.

Amendment 56 is the one that I am really arguing for. I think that we have got the wording wrong in Amendment 51 and, at a later stage, I would take the opportunity of changing that. Let us say that 40% participate in the referendum and it passes by a small majority of just over 50%. That means, effectively, fewer than 25% of voters could determine the future of the United Kingdom within the European Union. That is astonishing. There needs to be, and Parliament should say that there needs to be, a good turnout for the result of this referendum to be definitive and beyond challenge.

I have occasionally been accused, here and elsewhere, of going on too long—

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: The record shows that my critics are completely wrong, as my noble friends rightly agree. All the records show that none of my speeches is more than 10 minutes, and neither is this one. I beg to move.

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): I remind your Lordships that if Amendment 50 is agreed, I cannot call Amendment 50A by reason of pre-emption.

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, as so often, I follow my noble friend Lord Foulkes. Our names appear on a number of the amendments. In the other place, we used to work together as part of a team, and I believe that we are part of a team now, and wholly in agreement. He talked about his visit to Washington and the trade deal. If the Scotch Whisky Association, for example, were to have a problem with Japan in respect of Japanese whisky, is it better that the UK Government make representations to Japan or that we rely on the full weight of the European Union? That is why business is so concerned about the unilateralism of this Government and, indeed, of this very strange Bill.

My noble friend has said that he is very tired after coming back overnight from Washington. Given the clarity and lucidity of his speech, I hope he can do that more often, as it clearly had a marked effect on him. I came back after only a week in Strasbourg fairly tired. This is clearly a very important debate. He mentioned

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the importance of turnout. We had a problem in Wales in the 1997 referendum, where there was a turnout of 50%—25% for and 25% against—although, as it happens, the devolved institutions are now wholly accepted.

The aim of these amendments is to prevent a constitutional outrage. Any sixth-former who studies politics knows it is a clear principle of the constitution that no Government can bind their successor. So why try? What is the purpose? I had a television debate with a leading member of the Conservative Party, and when it was put to him, “What, really, is the purpose of this Bill?”, his reply was very honest: he said, “It’s a signal”. If something is a signal, one of course has to ask the simple question of who it is a signal to. The signal was intended, presumably, either for potential UKIP supporters or Conservative Party Back-Benchers in the other place. If it is a signal, it is clearly a signal which has not been heard or heeded.

I referred last Friday, which seems an age ago, to an excellent article in the Financial Times which argued that Mr Cameron’s gamble had failed. He can try perhaps to buy off a portion of the electorate, be it a portion of his own party, with this gesture, but it will not work, because they will ask for more. Rather like the penguins in the penguin house they will swallow it down and demand more—the trouble is that this Government may be inclined to give it to them.

The Mirror this morning contains a piece apparently saying that the Prime Minister is in office but not in power—I think that I have heard that somewhere before. It means that the Prime Minister’s is less and less in authority. Clearly, he needs allies in the European Union. He has insulted Monsieur Hollande, who is here today, by saying that the French economy is substantially worse than our own. That is probably true, but it is not a way of influencing people and making friends.

I would remind the Prime Minister that the Czech coalition negotiations have just been announced. Previously, there was a highly Eurosceptic Government there under President Klaus; now, with the change having taken place, a potential ally has been lost in the Czech Republic. The Czech position on Europe has fundamentally changed in that the party there which is allied with my own party is Europhile; the Christian Democrats are Europhile; and the party of former President Klaus has been consigned to the sidelines— so, again, the Prime Minister has lost an ally. He lost an ally in Bulgaria and Romania with what is being said in respect of immigration. He has lost an ally in Poland. So where is he going to find that coalition which is necessary in any European politics, as the noble Lords, Lord Kerr and Lord Hannay, would say? Where would he find those allies?

The other problem which exercises me—I shall say it at this stage rather than later—is that the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, agreed last Friday that she was speaking from the Front Bench but on behalf of the Conservative Party. That was an honest assessment of where she stands; she clearly does not speak on behalf of the coalition. She also sought to preserve the fiction that this is a Private Member’s Bill. If this be an initiative of the Conservative Party, on whose behalf

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she speaks, and if it be the case that this is purely a Private Member’s Bill, I ask with all delicacy what the officials are doing in the official Box. Who are they briefing? Are they briefing the Conservative Party—that surely would be wholly improper? Once upon a time, I was a member of the Diplomatic Service and I sat in the officials’ box; I would like to think that I wrote one of Mr Heath’s best speeches, but that is another story. I was then, as an official, briefing the Government. Who are the officials briefing on this occasion? This is a matter of considerable constitutional importance and is potentially quite improper.

If we proceed with the prospect of a referendum by 2017, and even if one has to trigger that as a result of Motions in both Houses on the basis that no Parliament can bind its successor, what is absolutely clear, as night follows day, is that there will be substantial uncertainty. Dare I say that business does not like uncertainty? Inward investors do not like uncertainty. There will therefore be considerable problems. We have enough inward investment at the moment; we are a relatively proud recipient of inward investment because of our stability; but what will be the consequences if we say that we do not know, perhaps for the next four years, what will happen in this country? The CBI has pointed it out very clearly: what indeed is going to happen?

I return to the purpose of the amendments. It is clear that no Parliament can bind its successor—it is an outrage to pretend otherwise—and that the whole purpose of this Bill is to give some signal to Conservative Back-Benchers. They have rejected it and we should reject it.

Baroness Andrews (Lab): My Lords, I rise to speak briefly in support of Amendment 50 and to address the issue of delegation. I am delighted to see my noble friend in his place, undiminished in his powers of argument and bringing such positive messages.

The amendment anticipates in principle a wider argument about the nature of delegation as a whole in what we all agree is a very perverse Bill. I hope that it provides some context for later amendments, Amendments 66 and 70—to which I have put my name—which raise the question of inappropriate delegation. I do not want to pre-empt that debate but instead to raise a general point about the approach taken to parliamentary control in a Bill of such enormous constitutional importance.

This House is well versed in discussing issues of delegation and we are well used to challenging a Government when they bring forward legislation with inappropriate or inadequate delegation and parliamentary control. We are all too familiar with the problem that statutory instruments can be debated but not overturned apart from in exceptional, even notorious, circumstances. Time and time again, the Delegated Powers Committee, on which I have the privilege to sit and which is ably chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Winchester, has had to challenge attempts to delegate legislation which is sloppily drafted and based on arguments which are weak, confused, disingenuous and generally inadequate. We have often in our reports to government rejected those arguments in favour of stronger controls. We have been successful and this House has supported us in protecting Parliament.

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Here we have a Bill which is in a class of its own, a Bill which should never have come before this House as a Private Member’s Bill let alone with the support of government. That is where the problem over the delegation of powers in this Bill starts. This is not a government Bill. There is no Explanatory Memorandum, which is what we would have expected in the Delegated Powers Committee had it been a government Bill. Such an Explanatory Memorandum would have set out the case for delegation; it would have defended it; it would have explained why it was the only recourse; and we would have been able to test those arguments. We would have brought those arguments to the House and made a judgment on them.

We are not able to do that. Reports from two very distinguished committees of this House have made severe judgments on this Bill, but we have not been able to test the arguments. I am sure that when the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, replies to the amendment, he will try to help the House and offer an explanation as to why there is such a unique—apart from in the 1975 referendum Bill, which was very different—degree of delegation in this Bill.

However, I do not believe that an oral explanation is sufficient for this House, so I invite the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs—and I do not believe that it is too late for him to do it—to provide, even now, an Explanatory Memorandum for the House to consider, to explain why he thinks that a Bill of this magnitude should delegate the key functions to secondary legislation and thus place debate on those functions effectively beyond the reach of this House, rather than provide for them in the Bill, as would have been far more proper. I do not have to remind the noble Lord that, since it is a Private Member’s Bill, such a memorandum would have to be entirely his own work, but I do not think that, as a gifted novelist, he would have any difficulty with that, so I look forward to his reply

Any Bill of such major constitutional significance should be a government Bill, which sets out on its face the major characteristics and implications and which can be debated, explored, and above all, changed, if necessary, in this House. That is what we are for; that is what we do.

I am sure that our debates on Amendments 66 and 70 will reflect on how Parliament could exert stronger control over this process. In terms of this amendment, Clause 1(6) attempts to put both the date of the election and the Welsh version of the question into an affirmative order. In any other context, that would indeed be an appropriate level of control. However, I believe that this clause should simply be removed because, in the words of so many noble Lords, the Bill is unfit for purpose. It is of such a confused parentage that it is very difficult to know whether it is a single parentage. If it were a child, it would certainly be very much at risk; social services would be taking a serious interest in it. Under these circumstances, any attempt to legitimise the process by way of delegation is inappropriate itself and should be rejected. That is what my noble friend Lord Foulkes’s amendment does and that is what I hope the House will commend.

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10.30 am

Lord Cormack (Con): This Bill came to this House from another place. In that other place, it was not opposed properly either by the noble Baroness’s party or by the Liberal Democrats. It is a point that has been made before and a point that needs to be made again. This Bill is indeed defective, but it came to us in the state in which it came. Last week, your Lordships’ House inserted two constructive and sensible amendments which did not in any way destroy the intent and purpose of the Bill. It is up to your Lordships’ House to deal with this matter now as expeditiously as we can so that it can go back with those amendments—there may even be another one—and the other place will then have the duty to decide whether it is going to pass the Bill as amended by your Lordships’ House or not. It is at that end of the Corridor where that ultimate decision should be made. It is the duty of this House not to impede what the other House has passed, but to improve it. That has been done. It is now up to the other House—or it should be when we have completed our Committee and Report stages—to accept the amendments or not. Your Lordships’ House must not be cast in the role of a body that has stood in the way of a referendum by destroying the Bill. This House’s duty is to improve, not to destroy. It is the job of the other House to decide whether the legislation should go on the statute book and I hope that that will motivate our discussions today.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, the noble Lord has properly said that a week ago, this House passed two constructive amendments. Why did he not support them?

Lord Cormack: I made my position very plain at Second Reading. I did not support those amendments because I believed it was sensible to give the Bill a fair passage. However, I accepted last week—and made a speech to this effect—that we had improved the Bill with those two amendments and the Bill had not in any way been destroyed in its intent or purpose. We must not now make ourselves a laughing stock by talking too long or by too many of us talking. We need to get this Bill through today so we can have Report next week or as soon as possible. The Commons must make the final decision as to whether this Bill goes on the statute book.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord has spoken about sticking to the rules in your Lordships’ House. I listened carefully to what he said and could not detect whether he was speaking for or against the amendment in front of us. I was quite clear last week that he was against the amendments that he now admits have improved the Bill. Information would be helpful.

Lord Richard (Lab): My Lords, the last thing I am prepared to do, with great respect, is to have a lecture from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, as to the functions of this House or the way in which we ought to behave. This whole Bill is a prominent and clear example of how this House should not behave. This is clearly a

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major constitutional issue; for it to be brought forward by a private Member in a rush, and to be told by Members on the other side of this House that we are not entitled to consider it properly, is not only arrogant, but positively impudent. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, will reflect on this at some stage.

The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said that the Bill was improved by the two amendments that we passed last week. That is true: it might be further improved by two amendments that we pass today, without destroying—as he put it—the purpose of the Bill. The amendments that have gone down were tabled with thought. They were not tabled in order to filibuster; they were tabled to deal with a situation into which this House—and indeed the country—should never have been put by this Government. If the Government had shown an ounce of steel in their relationship with their own right wing, we would not be in this position today. They have not and we are in this mess, which is what it is, and we must now try to deal with it, but to be lectured by a sermon from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, is, frankly, almost too much.

I will try, perhaps, to calm down slightly. I have an amendment in this group—Amendment 73—which I hope the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, will think is helpful and constructive. It is a serious attempt to deal with the difficulties raised by this Bill in terms of legislating now for what might happen in the next Parliament. The next Parliament after the next election will be a different Parliament from the one that is now sitting. In those circumstances, that Parliament should have a say—and a direct say—given by this Bill, and not by some general constitutional doctrine that no Parliament can bind its successors. It should be given by this Bill in the sense that, before the Bill actually comes into force—it can be passed in this Parliament if that is what Parliament wishes to do—a resolution is passed by both Houses in the next Parliament saying that the Bill should now come into force. That is an attempt to deal with the dilemma in which we are placed, that we have a Bill in this Parliament designed to take effect in the next Parliament. Let me wrap it up: that is the effect of the Bill. It is not designed to take effect in this Parliament; it is designed to take effect in the next Parliament.

Therefore, it seems to me that in those circumstances, it is only just, reasonable and fair—and, indeed, constitutional—that that successor Parliament will have some say in whether and how the Bill comes into force. My amendment is not, I hope, a foolish one or a filibustering one. I said in my speech that it was not a filibustering one: it is not going to go on for very long, anyway. It is an attempt to square this very difficult circle in which we have been placed by the shenanigans of the party opposite, and particularly by the Government. The amendment aims to square that circle, by providing that, although the Bill is legislating for something designed to take effect in the next Parliament, the next Parliament will nevertheless have a direct say as to whether or not that should take place.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): The noble Lord, Lord Richard, in addressing his comments to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, several times suggested

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that this was the Government’s Bill. I just wanted to put on the record that it is a Conservative Party Private Member’s Bill, not a government Bill.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB): My Lords, I will speak to the same amendment in this group to which the noble Lord, Lord Richard, referred: Amendment 73. I would like to do so in a spirit of positive response to what the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said—that is to say, to attempt to improve this Bill. I will also, therefore, speak briefly.

The point of Amendment 73, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said, is to deal with one of the most glaring defects in this Bill as currently drafted, which is that its sole purpose is to bind the hands of a future Parliament. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, will be able to produce chapter and verse for occasions on which legislation has had a binding effect on future Parliaments, unless they chose to repeal the measure, but I would be delighted if he could produce a single example of a piece of legislation that had no purpose other than to bind the hands of a future Parliament, which is the case with the Bill as drafted.

Amendment 73 would remedy that defect. It would ensure that a future Parliament would have to pass a resolution to bring the Bill into effect. That seems to me to restore the balance in our constitutional practice. I am occasionally astonished by the nonchalance—or, some would say, the recklessness—with which the sponsors of the Bill are lopping great chunks off our constitutional practice. It is really pretty odd. Yesterday in this House, we had a superb debate about the future of the union of the United Kingdom and there was unanimity around the House, but today Members opposite, the sponsors of the Bill, are supporting a Bill that will increase the number of yes votes in Scotland in September 2014 and decrease the number of no votes. I know that logic is not normally a strong suit of our countrymen, and probably me, but I think that we are carrying this a little far now. I hope that, when he comes to reply to this debate, the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, will take on board the importance of Amendment 73, as well as the others in this group.

Lord Spicer (Con): May I ask the noble Lord whether he is in favour of joining the monetary union?

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: The noble Lord may very well ask me that, but it would take me too long to answer while at the same time staying within the bounds of not filibustering.

Lord Spicer: The reason why I ask him that is that, if he was in favour of joining, under the treaty of Maastricht, that would be irrevocable—it would be binding on another Parliament in future.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: The noble Lord has shifted between two tenses. He first asked whether I was in favour of joining the monetary union. The answer to that is yes. He also asked whether I am now in favour of joining the monetary union at this point in time. The answer is no.

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Lord Finkelstein (Con): Is it the noble Lord’s contention as a constitutional principle that this Parliament can never determine anything that happens in the next Parliament? If so, how did we come to commit ourselves to the Olympics?

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: If the noble Lord had listened to what I said, which I fear he did not, he would know that I did not say that this House or this Parliament can never pass measures that have an effect in a future Parliament. Indeed, I specifically said that I am sure that there are lots of examples where that has been the case. I merely said that I thought that this measure, the sole purpose of which is to bind the hands of a future Parliament—it has no other purpose; nothing will happen during this Parliament—is a very odd constitutional innovation.

Lord Giddens (Lab): My Lords, I am one of those who believe that it is sensible to discuss the content of the Bill, if only because it is a marker, so I should like to return to its substance and talk briefly to the amendments.

If the UK were to leave the EU, it would be the biggest decision that the country had taken for at least 60 years. The idea that its consequence would be a simple retrieval of lost sovereignty is surely ridiculous. The country would have to redefine its place in the world: 60 million people confronting a world of 7 billion. Leaving the EU would not magically open up new markets. The UK would have to go cap in hand to an organisation that it had just spurned to get some kind of trading deal. Its situation would not be at all like that of Norway or Switzerland, which did not join the EU in the first place and were able to tailor deals at an early stage.

That is the backdrop to my support for many of the amendments tabled to the Bill, including Amendment 50. A referendum result that is, in the terms of the amendment, “definitive and beyond challenge”, is absolutely necessary, and all means must be pursued to ensure that it is achieved. There could easily be protracted legal challenges if the Bill is not thought through in all its ramifications—for example, challenges to the extent of the franchise. Many further amendments are relevant to that point.

I have studied referendums all around the world in the course of my academic work and I feel that Amendment 56 is also essential. I lived for quite a few years in California, where the problematic aspects of referendums were very visible. It is vital to insist on a baseline turnout for a referendum of any importance, otherwise decisions, even highly consequential ones, can be taken that do not reflect the will of the people. A minimum of 40% turnout is therefore to me an absolute exigency.

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords—

10.45 am

Lord Triesman (Lab): My Lords, I was not passing up the opportunity, I just could not believe that no one else was standing up.

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The amendments present some serious options for the House to consider. There is a need for serious parliamentary analysis of the outcome of whatever referendum there may be. Let me set out the argument in these terms. It may be that, after a referendum, it is wholly clear what the people of the United Kingdom wanted—but, even in those circumstances, some things would not be wholly clear because work would still fall to be done.

I am not saying that because I would disrespect a serious majority among a large number of people voting, but just in terms of trying to work out what would need to be done and how we might set about it. The precise terms of the disengagement would need to be thought through and negotiated. Later amendments address this question, but there would need to be a consideration of what the continuing relationship would be as, many people would submit, we would not simply cut ourselves off and that would be the end of the matter; there would be a continuing relationship of some kind, and that would need to be thought through. The terms of the continuing relationship would, I submit, need to cover trade agreements and competition rules—we would not want suddenly to find that the businesses and industries of the United Kingdom were at a massive disadvantage in relation to other nations in competition terms. We would need to look with considerable attention at labour market arrangements—I know that they are among the most highly contentious things, but none the less, it is unavoidable that we would need to analyse them properly.

I will not bore the House with the whole list, but as another example, we would need to look at environmental co-operation and at all the arrangements, which have preoccupied me during parts of my career, for the relationship between higher education institutions, the movement of scholars, what we regard as comparable qualifications and so on. In all those cases, and in many other issues, we would need to consider timing. Their timing might not be identical. There would need to be a serious analysis. Parliament will have a major role in that analysis at every phase.

I made the point a few moments ago that in the case of a big majority and a very good turnout, we might be able to say that we were at least wholly clear. In those circumstances, there is what I described last Friday as an expression of the settled will. Even that has its complexities, which are also addressed in amendments. The settled will of people in Scotland or people in Wales about the EU is a significant issue, because we have already devolved a considerable amount of political authority, and I think that the people to whom that political authority has moved will want to feel that they have an objective view of what is happening and what their interests might be. So even that expression of settled will has ramifications.

However, the result may not be of that kind. Personally, I do not believe that it will be. I would like to believe that the people of the United Kingdom would wish to remain in the European Union, but let us suppose for a moment that they decided by a very marginal result, on a very small turnout, that there was a wish to leave. I completely accept that that would be a result of sorts, but just think of the set of negotiations which

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we would need to conduct. Those negotiations would be considerably complicated by being conducted in circumstances where there was a marginal result on a low turnout. All the counterparties in the negotiation would understand that it was a weak decision which, in that sense, would reflect that at that moment we had become a weak nation. I cannot believe that counterparties in the modern world would not take advantage of those circumstances. Those are real politics in what could be a real set of circumstances.

I have heard it said in the House that we resolve issues at general elections on simple majorities. However, this is not like a general election, where people are being voted for in a single constituency. It is not one-650th of the variance at stake; it is much more profound than that. Neither will it be changed five years further on by another election or, in an even shorter period, by a by-election. It is essentially an indelible decision and, for all those reasons, it does not have the potential to be corrected—certainly not in the short or the middle term.

I do not believe that the appeal to other kinds of votes which we have had on other matters is really a direct comparison either. The weight of this decision is quite different from that about whether someone wants to have a mayor in Tyneside, for example. That is no comment on Tyneside or its relative importance; it could be a mayor anywhere else. It is simply a different decision, and when people have said, “Well, what about all those decisions?”, I cannot believe that they would transform our constitution in so fundamental a way on the basis of those kinds of decisions setting the precedents. The length of time for which the decision would hold, as I said, would be of profound significance.

I would argue that the issues at stake are quite different. This set of decisions will be fundamental to our economy, now and in the future. The decisions will be fundamental to our relations in economic terms with North America, China, the BRIC states and the MINT states, whatever difficulties some of those states may be facing, probably temporarily. When we start thinking about the character of the economic relations that we would want with them, we will have a totally different game plan in any negotiation with them, depending on whether we are doing it within Europe or trying to do it without the rest of Europe. It is fundamental to our economy, and to political and international relations.

I ask the House to reflect on what has happened in the past weeks over Iran, the possible consequences—they are not certain by any means; it is still highly problematic—for Syria and Iraq, and the broader settlement of the Middle East conflict. The role of my noble friend Lady Ashton has been commented on, quite rightly, in this House and at some length. I believe that everybody in your Lordships’ House understands that the power and authority which she exhibited in that role was because she was speaking for a bloc of real international importance, and that she could not have achieved that result, whatever her talents, in any other way. That is a Britain operating properly in an international context to produce profound

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international results which may be a route—as I earnestly pray that they will be—towards a peace which has been so elusive.

Our impact, even with a permanent seat on the Security Council, is not of the same order. We are relatively small and no longer quite a power in the old sense. I believe that if we took the wrong decision, it would not be long before the argument about whether we should retain that permanent seat rose to the top of the agenda again. If I was in one of the countries that might be affected, I can tell your Lordships that it would be high on my agenda because I would know that I was speaking from strength to people who would speak only from weakness.

The reason I put all these points to the House is that my view is that the decision has to be very clear, and it is inevitable that Parliament will have to review and decide in terms of the realities on the ground. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, made the point last Friday about how people would have to deal with the realities. We already know that the decision taken in a referendum would be advisory. That has certainly given weight to the decision but it still means that there is much to do, and it will have to be done by both Houses.

Lord Cormack: The noble Lord has made a number of constructive and sensible speeches from the Dispatch Box. Is he speaking on behalf of the Official Opposition? If that is the case, why on earth were these points not put with such cogent lucidity in another place by those who speak for his party on these issues?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am speaking for myself in this House. This is a Private Member’s Bill and all I can do is to urge the House on the basis of my experience of foreign affairs. As I think I said last week to the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, the decisions taken at the other end will always be decisions with which I shall not even try to interfere, knowing the way that that would be responded to. I will try to tie this up quickly. I understand why the noble Lord makes his point but I think that everyone will know that, whether sitting on government Benches or on these Benches, I have essentially argued in this way the whole of the time that I have been in your Lordships’ House. I am making these points because I think that they are the right points to make.

If the result is a narrow one on a low turnout, the terms of disengagement will appear to Parliament to be potentially quite dangerous—or very dangerous—for the United Kingdom both in economics and politics, as I have said. In those circumstances, to decide to go ahead regardless—to recognise that it is an oncoming car crash and to do nothing about that—is hardly what the people of the United Kingdom will expect of their Parliament. Few will regard it in the decades that follow as having been a heroic moment. The bell-wether moments in geopolitics are probably not all that many but I suspect that, rather like the comment that this might be the most profound decision in 60 years, if we get it wrong in terms of geopolitics it may well rank with Suez and one or two other things which have been real disasters for us internationally.

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Parliament is the best judge of this. It is sensible to say that the weight of the vote will show itself either to be compelling or not, and will show whether there is a settled will. Taking the right steps to be negotiated and assessed will be a matter for Parliament. It is not in any sense disrespectful to the people of the United Kingdom for their Parliament to give coherent thought to the real circumstances—what in some circles are called the ground truths.

The only objection to this is not to do with democracy or following democratic practice. The objection is that it would get in the way of a rush to exit the EU. That is why the Bill is in the form that it is and it is reckless—a word that was used earlier in the debate. It may be that Mr Cameron does not intend this to be the outcome, but it may also be that he can no longer manage the wish of much of his party to leave the EU.

Some may have reached that decision because they have a paralysed fear of UKIP and no desire to take on UKIP and its arguments. That would be a pity. However, I suspect that many simply want to leave the EU and that is all there is to it. They are entitled to that view but this House and the other place—Parliament as a whole—are entitled to ensure that we get the whole of this right, so that we know that the will of the people of the United Kingdom is a serious expression, not a marginal one leaving us with little to say in anything that follows.

11 am

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords, I rise briefly to point out to the House that the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a comprehensive report on referendums in its session of 2009-10. Its conclusion on thresholds—the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has commented on 40%—was that:

“We recommend that there should be a general presumption against the use of voter turnout thresholds and supermajorities. We recognise however that there may be exceptional circumstances in which they may be deemed appropriate”.

One of those exceptional circumstances that the committee, of which I was not a member at the time although I am now, had in mind was major constitutional change. I think that there is a general view around the House that the issue we are debating today is one of major constitutional change, and the House may therefore wish to reflect on the advice given by the Constitution Committee at that time.

Lord Dobbs: My Lords, another hour, another group of amendments. We have 15 groups of amendments to get through today if we are to reach the end of Committee stage. That is my ambition, so noble Lords will understand if I attempt to be reasonably brief in responding to them.

These amendments go to the very heart of the differences between us. I believe in the Bill because I believe that we politicians have failed the people—it is as simple as that. We have flipped and flopped like a hooked fish dragged out on to the riverbank. I am also in favour of the Bill because I believe that ultimately it is the right of the people to decide their own future. Noble Lords pressing this amendment have an opposite

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view from me: they believe that Parliament should decide, not the people. In a representative democracy that is an entirely reasonable point of view, except—

Lord Lipsey (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Dobbs: I am only a minute into my speech, but of course I will make way for the noble Lord.

Lord Lipsey: Last week, when we were proceeding at precisely this pace, the noble Lord said that we were making very good progress, so I think that he might allow a fuller debate today. He has just made a completely unsubstantiated accusation against the opponents of the Bill. Many of us are not against a referendum; I myself am strongly in favour of one. We are against this dog’s dinner of a Bill, which requires improvement by every side of this House.

Lord Dobbs: The noble Lord has made his point, again. I think that it is a point that he made last week in Committee and I suspect that we may hear more of it again today. Of course Parliament decides, and we discussed that in Committee last week, but there comes a point when all these nostrums about parliamentary sovereignty require a dose of carbolic and common sense, when we need to find a democratic balance. That balance is not achieved by this unelected House obstructing the clearly expressed view of the other place. Parliament is sovereign, of course it is, but even above a sovereign Parliament there are the people. When the people have expressed their will, it is a terrible thing for any House of Parliament to defy. What British Parliament, as sovereign as it may be, would be unwise enough to turn around to the people and say, “We hear you but we choose to ignore you”?

Noble Lords opposite have taken us around the planet. They have taken advice from Brussels to Washington and have sought advice from Strasbourg and in Japan, yet they are completely failing to convince anyone that they are keen to take the advice of the people. If we pursue these amendments, we are doing only one thing—turning around to the people and saying that their voice, will and instruction are not enough, and that we unelected politicians know better. That is why they are so disillusioned and why we need a referendum to cleanse these stables. If that is the side of the barricade where the noble Lord wishes to take a stand, that is his choice. Otherwise, though, I beg him to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, with respect, the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, has not addressed any of the amendments or replied to any of the points made in the debate. All that he has done is repeat what he said last week about the right of the people to decide. It is totally inadequate for him to go on repeating that again and again in reply to every amendment. Surely the promoter of the Bill should deal with the points raised in some of the brilliant speeches that have been made.

The defects of the Bill have been coming out thick and fast in this debate. My noble friend Lady Andrews has said that there is no Explanatory Memorandum—

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why not? The noble Lord did not reply to that. I asked last week why there were no schedules to the Bill. A Bill of this kind, as my noble friend Lord Hennessy will know as an expert in these matters, should have schedules setting out the conduct of the referendum so that we know exactly how it is going to be carried out.

My noble friend Lord Anderson raised a very important constitutional point about what the officials in the Box are here for. Are they officials of the Conservative Party advising the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, or are they from the Foreign Office? We have not had a reply to that. The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, has not spoken. Last week we got her into some difficulty, but on this occasion either she or the noble Lord the Leader of the House would be welcome to intervene and explain why, if they are Foreign Office officials, they are there.

Noble Lords: Come on!

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: This is a very important point. My noble friend Lord Anderson has been a Member of the other place and of this House for some time, and he was an official in the Foreign Office, so he understands how these things work. The House needs to know. Is the promoter of this private Bill being advised and handed notes by officials of the Foreign Office, paid for by the taxpayer?

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My Lords, if the House really wants to know the answer then maybe I should give it. In the Box we have officials from the Foreign Office, who have prepared a government brief on a government position on many issues that will be arising during the Bill. They are government officials providing a government line on elements that may come up during the Bill upon which there is an agreed government line. Also in the Box I have my special adviser. He is there to provide me with any political lines, and it is those that are prepared by the Conservative Party. There is a clear distinction.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab): Will those government officials who are dealing with the strictly government parts of this Bill—I am bound to say that it is hard to know what the government parts are, because the Liberal Democrat party seems to be opposing the Bill vociferously—also therefore be making their advice available to the spokesman for the other part of the Government, the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine? When we discussed this last week, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said that for the purposes of this Bill she was very clear that she was speaking as spokesman for the Conservative Party. That party is indeed a party of government, but the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, is speaking as the spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party, which is also a party of the Government.

This is a serious point, not a trivial one. As it happens, since it is a constitutional issue, I think that it is wrong that the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, is sitting on the Bench. I am sorry to say that. I think

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that she is an excellent Minister—she is diligent and hard-working and serves this House very well indeed—but for the purposes of the Bill it would be more appropriate if the noble Baroness sat on the Back Benches. Alternatively, if we want to take a precedent, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, was joined by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, on the government Front Bench to deal with the Leveson inquiry, and they were both on the Front Bench together. That way the Government were represented on the Front Bench, because those are the two parties. We have a problem here: either the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, should be sitting with her Back-Benchers—and we would be delighted to hear her because she is always cogent and good—or else the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, should be joining her on the Front Bench.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): Let me help the House because I know there has been some confusion. The Leader of the Opposition and I have had an exchange about this. I understand the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, is asking, but she is quite wrong in her summary of the position. My noble friend Lady Warsi is a government Minister; therefore she sits on the Front Bench, and by convention those who sit on the Front Bench speak at the Dispatch Box. That is the position. While there is no collectively agreed position on the overall policy in the Bill, there is a government position on much to do with the Bill. For instance, on questions about our relationship with the EU, Gibraltar and referendums, there is a government position. From that point of view, having a government Minister available to answer questions to do with government policy, advised as appropriate, is absolutely the right thing to do. It is also perfectly in order for my noble friend, or any other Minister from across the coalition, to offer an opinion—as a Conservative, in the case of my noble friend—as an individual. My noble friend is completely entitled to do that. Any Minister in our proceedings can do that so long as they make it clear when doing so that that is what they are doing. When my noble friend Lady Warsi speaks on behalf of the Conservative Party alone, which is a distinction that my noble friend Lady Falkner drew earlier, she will do that and be absolutely clear about it. That is the position.

Baroness Jay of Paddington (Lab): My Lords, I hesitate to intervene because, unfortunately, for various reasons, I could not be here last week. I have, however, read the debate. I have the privilege of chairing the Constitution Committee of your Lordships’ House, and when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, say earlier that he was surprised by the number of constitutional matters that seem to arise—because the House seems to be taking up so many different things on a rather ad hoc basis—I had to agree. Surely the position that my noble friend Lady Symons has just raised about collective responsibility, which is what this is about, is central to the way that we conduct business in this House. If, as the noble Lord says, the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, who is representing her party in this matter, should not sit on the Front Bench because she is not a government Minister, surely the

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appropriate constitutional arrangement in terms of collective responsibility would be to have a Minister from the Liberal Democrats share the responsibility with the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi.

Lord Hill of Oareford: The noble Baroness sums up the position quite well in the sense that if there were a Liberal Democrat Minister who wanted to speak from the Front Bench, that would be perfectly proper.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I am sorry to intervene again, but has an approach been made by the Foreign Office, or indeed by the Leader of the House, to inquire whether anybody would wish to do that?

Baroness Warsi: I can inform the House that officials provide the same level of support and the same information to Ministers from both coalition parties.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): It is quite difficult when there is no Liberal Democrat Minister from the Foreign Office. I know that there is a Liberal Democrat Whip. I know that we wish to move on, but I think that many people in the Chamber are concerned about this constitutional aspect because it pertains not only to today, it has future relevance as we move towards the end of this Parliament. Noble Lords sitting on the Front Bench opposite have not been able to see the Liberal Democrat Members shaking their heads. It is clear from these Benches that there is a difference of opinion between the two parties in the coalition. Perhaps it is something that could be clarified later, but I think that we are not in a happy constitutional position on this issue.

11.15 am

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My name and that of my party have been invoked, so it is important for me to clarify where we are. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, that we are not necessarily in opposition to this Bill. We are doing our proper function of scrutiny, amendment, improvement and revision on this Bill. I say to the noble Lord the Leader of the House that his comments have been very helpful and illuminating, but it would have been helpful to the House if we had had that explained to us from the outset. When the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, whose reputation improves every day on all sides of the House and who is held in very high regard, spoke on the Bill last Friday, she did not make the distinction that she was speaking only on matters to do with the implications for government that might arise out of the Bill. Will the Leader of the House tell the House whether when the noble Baroness speaks on matters to do with her position in the Conservative Party she will move back to the Back Benches in order to create clarity between the Dispatch Box and a Back-Bench position? Finally, we have been told of the precedent set when the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord McNally, both spoke on Leveson. They did so in a self-regulating House with the consent of the House. It seems to me that the House is quite clearly expressing the opinion that it is not entirely happy with this position.

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Lord Hill of Oareford: I shall be brief because I do not think there is much I can add. I think I have set the position out extremely clearly. I do not think there is any confusion. It is the case that Ministers speak from the Front Bench; they therefore speak from the Dispatch Box. On the rare occasions when there is not an agreed collective position, they are obviously under an obligation to make clear when they are speaking solely in their capacity as a member of a party. My noble friend will do that. I think it is clear. I regret if there has been any confusion, but I hope the House now understands the position.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, this has been a very illuminating intervention in my reply to the debate. However, with respect to the Leader of the House, he still has not clarified the point raised by my noble friend Lord Anderson, which I also raised, about the officials who appear to be advising not just the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, but the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs.

Lord Hill of Oareford: My noble friend Lady Warsi was extremely clear about that as well. As it happens, there is a convention that we should not name people in the House who are not Members. That aside, we have clearly gone past that point. My noble friend made very clear the distinction, which anyone who has been a Minister will understand, that there are civil servants and officials to advise on government policy and a political person to advise on political matters. I have always believed extremely strongly in the traditional distinction in our system between civil servants who properly should stay one side of the line. I expect all civil servants to do that, to know very well how to tread the right side of the line and to make sure that Ministers do not step over it. Political advisers are another matter. That is the distinction, and that is the way it operates.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I am very grateful to the Leader of the House. That is absolutely clear. I now return to what I was saying earlier. Incidentally, I hope I will be given injury time and that people outside will not take all those interventions as part of my response.

I want to return to what the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said. I have great respect for him. We served together for a long time in the House of Commons. I was quite surprised that he returned again to the steamroller argument that we have to get this through, that we are not able to carry out our role of scrutinising properly and that we have this arbitrary deadline. I am replying to that very inadequately, but it was replied to very adequately by my noble friend Lord Richard, who has 25 years’ experience in this House and is a former Leader of the Opposition. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, will pay attention to that.

A noble Lord: Former Leader of the House.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: Yes, former Leader of the House.

This Bill has been criticised by people like the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, with a distinguished record in the Civil Service, who has described it as reckless, and by people like my noble friend Lord Giddens, a distinguished

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scholar, who has warned of possible protracted legal challenges. These are the kind of things that the promoter of the Bill should take account of and answer in debate. He should deal with them and he has dealt with none of them. Not one of them has been dealt with. He is totally inadequate in promoting this Bill.

My noble friend Lord Triesman gave a brilliant reply. It was one of those speeches which you wish you had made yourself, because it was so eloquent. It was a brilliant analysis—I will get the money later.

Lord Cormack: The noble Lord, Lord Triesman, made it quite plain that he was speaking for himself.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: He was not speaking for me—I wish he had been, if you see what I mean—but I agree with everything he said. Have I got that right? Yes. As he pointed out, we are not talking just about election to a constituency in a general election, when, of course, a few votes here or there can decide it, but it can change in five years’ time, and things change again and again. We are talking about an irrevocable decision, and if that irrevocable decision is made on a low turnout by just a few people or if it is made by the people of Gibraltar, because the vote is so close, it would really be an outrage.

I believe that this amendment is the right one. However, it has been pointed out to me that it is technically deficient; it is not drafted in the right way. There are other amendments later that would do the same thing, which we can consider when we get to them. Therefore, for that reason and for that reason alone, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 50 withdrawn.

Amendment 50A

Moved by Lord Turnbull

50A: Clause 1, page 1, line 14, at end insert—

“(7) No order shall be made under subsection (6) until the Secretary of State has prepared, published and laid before Parliament an assessment of the United Kingdom’s intended relationship with the European Union in the event of withdrawal from the European Union.”

Lord Turnbull (CB): My Lords, I do not intend to move Amendment 72, the other amendment in this group.

The noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, has set out the case for this Bill in his characteristic urbane manner, but no amount of urbanity or suavity can disguise the fact that the arguments for the Bill are superficial and the evidence thin. He has sought, for example, to persuade us that the other place has spoken loud and clear and that, with a majority of around 300, it would be wrong for this House even to amend it. However, I suspect that that does not reflect the true depth of support in the other Chamber. In any case, it will soon be put to the test. If the support for the Bill is as strong as he claims, there will be no problem in securing the additional time that the Bill needs to consider our amendments. To judge from the glum faces on the Benches opposite

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when the first amendment was passed, I do not believe that they believe that there is really that degree of support in the Commons.

The noble Lord made much of the argument that we must give people a choice. I agree with that, but it must be an informed choice. I am not against a referendum—I am against a “pig in a poke” or a “leap in the dark” referendum. Amendment 9, which was passed last week, established the principle that people must be given the information that they need about the results of an exit from the EU, without which they may make a choice that they come to regret. Responding to the noble Lord, Lord Roper, the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, said that it was unnecessary to make special provision for such information and that people could get it through political parties, through referendum campaigns, and through the press and business groups, pretty much as the Scots are getting their information now. That will not suffice, as some information can come only from the Government, which is what Amendment 50A addresses.

As I pointed out at Second Reading, voters need three things to make an informed choice: an understanding of how society and the economy will develop if we remain in the EU with its current framework; an assessment of how that might be modified by a process of renegotiation and reform in the EU; and an assessment of what our relationship with the EU might be—what might be retained or replicated, mimicked, modified or dropped. Only then can the impact assessment called for in Amendment 9 be established. Having set up these scenarios, the pros and cons of each can be compared and the balance of advantage struck in what, in the current jargon, would be called the delta. But the information required by voters cannot simply be left to laissez-faire; much of it can come only from the Government, who would be left with the task of negotiating the divorce settlement.

People will need answers to a host of questions—some general and some affecting their personal lives or their businesses. Let me give the House a practical example. Forty-two years ago, I found myself on the Treasury’s agriculture desk, looking after MAFF spending. I soon had to master the outgoing UK regime of deficiency payments for each sector of agriculture—beef, dairy, and so on. I then had to grapple with the incoming CAP regime—intervention prices, export subsidies and import levies. Then I had to master what was called the fourchette, the transition plan between the two. With a leave vote, we would face that journey in reverse. Farmers will want answers. What will the new regime be for them? Will they still be able to export their beef, and should they expand their dairy herd, or should they get out of farming altogether? Being told that it is too soon to say will not cut much ice, inform any sensible investment decisions or, worse still, satisfy the bank manager.

This problem will be repeated in a hundred different domains. Top of the list will be residence, citizenship and employment. People will ask, “Can I still employ EU nationals? Can I get a job in the EU? What healthcare or welfare benefits can the thousands of British retirees now living in the EU expect?”. Then there is trade and the single market. Many fear that we

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will be reduced to what has been called fax diplomacy—receiving notice of changes in regulations on which we have had no influence. In my view, it might not be as extreme as that, as we and the EU have a huge amount of trade together, far more than Norway and Switzerland, and a mutual interest in fostering trade in goods and services. That would all have to be negotiated. But it is likely that we would have a reduced influence. Furthermore, will my intellectual property rights, registered at the European Patent Office, be protected? Will I have to renegotiate and reregister my patents in the UK? Will the interchange of students be encouraged, will professional qualifications be recognised and will accounting standards stay the same? The list goes on.

Let me give an example of the kind of work that needs to be done. The “five tests” assessment of 2003 for membership of the euro was a huge exercise, led by the noble Lord, Lord O’Donnell, in the Treasury, and had many components, but it was crucial in helping the UK to reach what I believe has been vindicated as the right decision. It has also helped us resist the blandishments of some people who are now in this House, who wanted to make a politically inspired, unevidenced decision to go in.

I am struck by the contrast with the debate that we had yesterday, when we spent six hours discussing Scottish secession. A recurring criticism was that the Scottish Government had made an inadequate analysis of what independence might look like, that they are exchanging contracts on a house before completing surveys or agreeing a price. It is ironic that some of the people making that criticism of the Scottish Government should today be proposing a Bill that is equally flawed. A decision is being made against a fixed deadline, based on a plunge into the unknown and on a wish list rather than bankable, negotiated assurances.

This is a Bill for those who have made up their minds, have seen enough and do not want any more evidence. In my view, any Government who propose a referendum have a duty to provide voters with the best information they can on what a decision to leave would involve and what our relationship with the EU would be. Amendment 50A, taken in conjunction with Amendment 9, passed last week, ensures that no order can be made to trigger a referendum until that duty has been discharged. I beg to move.

11.30 am

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 50A from the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull. It is most unusual for the Foreign Office to be in agreement with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, but in this case it is. The Diplomatic Service is a separate service and takes no instructions from the Civil Service, so these arguments are my own.

I do not support the menu of amendments offered by my fellow countryman, the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock—there is a big difference between them and the amendment offered by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, supported by the noble Lords, Lord Grenfell, Lord Shipley and Lord Anderson. The assessments called for by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, are descriptive. They are describing potential scenarios. The assessment called for by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, would be

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normative because it would be authoritative and be describing the situation we would be in if we went out through the door. If we left the tent, like Captain Oates, we might be out for some considerable time. We might find it cold out there. I think the country would wish to be told. I accept that the process of establishing an authoritative statement of what life would be like outside might take time—Article 50 of the treaty of Lisbon talks about seceding from the European Union being a two-year process—but this would be before that. This would be before the referendum. This would be the assessment that the country would need so it could weigh up the case for and against staying in or going out.

I believe it would be important not just to set out what the Government hoped, felt and wanted but what they believed was negotiable. There would have to be some process of discussion with other countries and principally with our partners in the European Union, which we would be considering leaving. That process would take time. This point is very relevant to the amendment on questions of timing which—encouraged by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack—I withdrew last week. We will be coming back to that on Report.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Con): My Lords, I totally agree with the noble Lord that if there were to be a referendum the British public would be entitled to information about the consequences and the mechanism. However, that is completely different; the mechanism is a subsequent step to the referendum. All this Bill does is to establish that there will be a referendum. The point the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, made when he drew the analogy with the Scottish debate yesterday seems to me not to be correct. We had a Bill about the referendum. The criticism about the lack of information came afterwards. The mechanism was quite separate. Although all the points the noble Lord is making might be correct, they are not for this stage. This stage is just about the referendum.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: Precisely the same argument could be applied to the second of the amendments we made last week. The House did not buy the argument last week and the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, was good enough to say today that, in his view, both the amendments laid last week were improvements to the Bill and did not impair it. If we are passing a Bill on this referendum it is very important that we do not pass a defective Bill that omits important elements. Nobody in this House has proposed an amendment to Clause 1(1), which says that there shall be a referendum. In my view, this House is trying to do its job and get right the conditions and rules for that referendum, which is a point that we will need to come back to and which has been raised by several noble Lords this morning. We will have to come back to how the referendum will be conducted and—the point I am concerned about, for reasons well explained in the first leader in this morning’s Financial Times—the timing of the referendum.

I believe that the crucial thing about the assessment called for by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull—who is completely right—is that it would have to be authoritative.

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It would be wholly irresponsible to produce for the country a prospectus based on conjecture. If the country chose to leave the tent and found outside a landscape different from the one that it had expected and a climate much colder, the Government who did that would never be forgiven.

I hope all shades of opinion in the House will understand that the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, is precisely in the category that the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, was talking about—amendments that genuinely improve the Bill. In my view—on the Cross Bench one speaks only for oneself—this would be a genuine improvement and I urge the House to support it.

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords, can I just ask the noble Lord for a point of clarification before he concludes? He said that he was in favour of the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, and against the set of amendments from the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, on thresholds for participation and assent. Are these two mutually exclusive? He can vote for both of them.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: I apologise. I was unclear. I was not commenting on the amendments that have been discussed—those put forward in the first group by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock. I was commenting on amendments in the current group, linked alongside the one proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, which are all to do with assessments to be made available before the referendum takes place.

Lord Low of Dalston: I am grateful to the noble Lord. That is very helpful. Thank you very much.

Lord Grenfell (Lab): My Lords, I put my name to this amendment because I believe its purpose to be profoundly important. I do not have much to add to the very persuasive argument of the mover of the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull. I merely wish to endorse a lot of what he said and hope that noble Lords will strongly support the amendment.

I am afraid that the amendment, while I support it, is open to two different interpretations. Therefore, I slightly take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and stand somewhere between him and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, on this one. The amendment refers to,

“an assessment of the United Kingdom’s intended relationship with the European Union in the event of withdrawal”.

I am not sure that you can really make that assessment on purely normative lines. It has to be descriptive as well. If this amendment is addressed not just to Parliament but to the people, we are asking that the people be informed of the Government’s view of that future relationship. There has to be an element of the descriptive in that. That is the line that I have clung to in my support for this amendment.

The Prime Minister has said over and over again—and to the discomfort, to put it mildly, of a substantial number of his Back-Benchers—that he wishes the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union. However, what if the people in an “in or out” referendum

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beg to disagree with him? It is inconceivable to me that, with eventual withdrawal a possibility, the people should vote without the benefit of knowing in advance what kind of relationship he would wish the UK to have with the Union that it is leaving. I would have thought that to so inform the electorate was a simple matter of common sense, not to mention courtesy. In other words, does the Prime Minister have a plan B? If he does not, he must construct one and, having done so, the Secretary of State must publish it and lay it before Parliament before making any order under Clause 1(6). That is what the amendment would be calling for.

At the heart of this assessment, or plan B, would presumably be the end product that the Government seek to gain by negotiation—the best terms that they can obtain for access to the single market, to take but one example. Will the Prime Minister opt for the kind of relationship enjoyed by current members of the European Economic Area and EFTA? Will he take the relationships enjoyed by Norway and Switzerland as his model? I use the word “enjoyed” with some hesitancy, since EEA and EFTA members suffer taxation without representation, having to contribute to the EU’s budget without getting any money back, a reality of which the public ought to be made aware before voting. Or will he be aiming for some other kind of association? What kind of associate status would he judge appropriate for one of the largest economies in Europe and, indeed, the world? Whatever his intentions or preferences, in the case of withdrawal they need to be put on the table for all to see and discuss before the referendum is called.

We on this side of the House are not alone in calling for an eventual impact assessment of the actual effects of withdrawal on the British economy and on the rights of British individuals living both within and outside the UK, as well as on EU citizens living here—the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, referred to that. That assessment could show that things would turn out to be disastrous if a Government who had taken the UK out of the EU had failed before doing so to formulate a proper vision of the intended relationship. That would be inviting our erstwhile partners to do our thinking for us. I strongly support this eminently reasonable and crucial amendment.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, my name, too, is attached to Amendments 50A and 72. I start with the principles established by the Electoral Commission. A week ago we discussed in detail what the Electoral Commission said about the question and its wording. The document produced on this referendum by the Electoral Commission said that, in a referendum, voters should be able to “understand the question”—we covered that last week—“and its implications”. That is what this amendment would address. The Electoral Commission said that voters should be,

“informed about the possible outcomes, and”,

should be able to,

“easily understand the campaign arguments”.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr: we should not pass a defective Bill, without the amendment, because it makes it clear at this stage of the progress of the Bill that these specific words are important.

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I conclude from this that there has to be a document published that explains the implications clearly. However, there cannot be a document unless it is clear what the intended relationship with the European Union is going to be in the event of withdrawal. Otherwise, there will be serious confusion in the minds of voters as to what the implications of a referendum, and their vote in that referendum, might be, whichever way they cast it.

I noted a moment ago the words of the Leader of the House in commenting on the role of my noble friend Lady Warsi, the Minister. He said that she could respond on behalf of the Government, from advice given by Foreign Office officials, on the implications of a referendum. I therefore hope that, when we hear from my noble friend Lady Warsi, we will hear the views on the implications of this referendum being held.

I hope that there will be clarity at that stage about whether the supporters of the Bill want to follow in the steps of Norway. Norway is often cited publicly as a parallel for the United Kingdom. Inside the European Economic Area it may be, but it has no direct power in the EU, it has no seat at the table and it cannot vote. However, it still has to abide by directives just as full members do. Indeed, Norway has to implement three-quarters of all EU legislation, including the working time directive. It has to implement other employment laws—consumer protection, environmental policy and competition—and has to contribute to EU budgets. Norway’s per capita contribution is just over £100; the UK’s net per capita contribution is £128. If we join the EEA, there will be little saving in practice for us.

Switzerland is often cited as another example that we might emulate, but it has no right of access to the single market and it has to negotiate each and every case separately. Even Switzerland contributes to EU budgets at £53 per capita. If we left the EU, it is possible that we could operate with a most-favoured-nation status, but that would mean that 90% of UK exports to the EU by value would face tariffs. If we were in the EEA, trade would be tariff free and, as with Norway, the four freedoms relating to the movement of goods, services, labour and capital would apply, along with the implementation of three-quarters of EU legislation over which, as I have explained, we would have no say.

Advocates of EEA membership should remember that goods entering the EU via an EEA country cannot do so without implementing the rules of origin, a regulatory process that takes time and money. Goods imported into the EU via a full member of the EU can move freely.

11.45 am

Lord Trefgarne (Con): I apologise to my noble friend. We are considering Amendments 50A and 72. I am not entirely clear to which of those he is speaking. Perhaps he could help.

Lord Shipley: I am speaking to both of them, because they are about the Government and the movers of the Bill explaining their intentions. The Bill cannot be passed in its current state. The noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, called it a “dog’s dinner”; I agree entirely with

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that. We have to be clear about these matters, otherwise we are not doing our job as a revising and scrutinising House properly.

Those who wish for less regulation and believe that we can get less regulation by leaving the European Union should explain the implications of having to apply the rules of origin. There is a rising tide of concern about this. We could end up with more bureaucracy and regulation rather than less. Mention has been made this morning of trade agreements. What will the implications be for our trade agreements? If our intended relationship is not clear, where do we lie with the 46 trade agreements that the EU has with other countries—and, I understand, a further 78 trade agreements pending? If we left the EU, we would lose access to every EU trade agreement with a third party and each of those would have to be renegotiated, a long and time-consuming process that would damage exports in the interim.

In conclusion, Amendments 50A and 72 make it clear that the Government have to explain what our intended relationship would be with the EU if we withdrew. It is an absolutely fundamental matter, it seems to me. I look forward to hearing from my noble friend Lady Warsi, the Minister, when she speaks on this matter, and from my noble friend Lord Dobbs, when he replies to the debate. The British people have a right to understand this matter and that needs to be done at this point in the debate rather than at some later stage.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): My Lords, it is incumbent on this occasion—it was not done with the previous group of amendments—that we have some substantive replies from the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, and subsequent speakers. It is of vital importance that the British people have information and that they do not vote in ignorance of the consequences of the different potential results of the referendum. It may well be that as part of the noble Lord’s cunning plot, if I can use that expression, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Telegraph—indeed, all the press bar a couple of numerically small exceptions—would be very happy to provide all the information that the British people need, but it would not exactly be balanced.

When Harold Wilson decided to have a referendum in 1975, most noble Lords in this House will remember very clearly that there was information of exactly the type that the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, referred to. Therefore in reply, it is incumbent on the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, to remove any impression that the people who want the referendum do so with the motive of making sure that we get out. They are not interested in having a referendum on a level playing field; that does not motivate the movers of the Bill. Perhaps when the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, comes to reply, he can respond to the question: what can possibly be said in support of the idea that no such assessment should be placed before the British people if there is a referendum?

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury (Con): My Lords, I will intervene very briefly in response to my noble friend Lord Shipley, who had called in aid the Electoral

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Commission’s report on the importance of providing information to voters. It is very important that information is provided, but the commission did not say that it should be given before the Act comes into force. It could have said that, but it did not.

Lord Shipley: My Lords, I did not say that it did; the point is important because the Electoral Commission made it absolutely clear that information must be provided. That is why this amendment is so important. I made the point that we need to get this right at this stage of the Bill, otherwise we will have a bad Bill.

Lord Wigley (PC): My Lords, I will intervene briefly in this debate. The debate would be that much shorter if the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, now indicated that he will accept the amendment. It is patently obvious that this sort of provision has to be made. If the wording is not absolutely right we can come back on Report or at a later stage to correct it, but surely the principle has to be accepted.

I come from a background in Wales where the main question will undoubtedly be an economic one: what effect will pulling out of the European Union have on jobs? I will refer briefly to three headings. The first, which was touched on by the noble Lord who moved the amendment, is in regard to agriculture. The Farmers’ Union of Wales came here last year to brief noble Lords on the effect of pulling out of the European Union. It indicated that some 80% of its business would be affected adversely if we pulled out of the European Union. That is a massive consideration, and a shadow that will hang over the industry until this is put to bed.

The second sector that I referred to is the motor sector. Last week I referred to Toyota. There are a number of other important motor companies in various parts of the United Kingdom that will be affected—as will jobs. I started my career working for the Ford Motor Company, and I know very well that companies such as that one do not have a time horizon three years ahead; they plan for a decade ahead, and longer. If there is uncertainty as regards the conditions in which companies that operate in the United Kingdom will trade after 2017, it will affect investment decisions. That has already been flagged up by companies from Japan, and we cannot ignore it. When voters come to vote in a referendum, they need to have the information available on how the Government interpret what the situation will be if we pull out, and on what the alternative is. Companies need to know that so that they can inform their employees and others who will be affected.

The third sector I referred to is an important one in my area: the nuclear power industry. In Anglesey the Wylfa B project is likely to go ahead, but the company from Japan that is involved in it has other interests, wanting possibly to build a nuclear power station in Lithuania or in other locations in mainland Europe. The issue is that if it decides to put more emphasis on mainland Europe because we are not part of the European Union, the likelihood will be that the contracts for manufacturing all the components that go into a nuclear power station would drift to Germany rather

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than to the United Kingdom. The Government have already indicated that they see the knock-on effect of their programme of building nuclear power stations as important, not just as regards the locations themselves but as regards the industries associated with that. They would be undermined and there would be uncertainty—and, goodness knows, with nuclear power stations the time horizon is even longer.

Therefore, those three sectors, the employees who currently work in them and the communities that depend upon them, need to know. We surely need to pass the Bill back with provision in it to ensure that that happens.

Lord Tugendhat (Con): My Lords, I support the amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, for the reasons which he so eloquently set out. However, I will address a few remarks to my noble friend Lord Dobbs. My noble friend seeks to paint those who propose or support amendments as being opponents of the Bill who are seeking to deny the people of this country a referendum. However, that is not true. As I made clear in my speech at Second Reading, and again last week—

Lord Dobbs: I have never made that allegation. I have always accepted that there are men and women of great principle who are fighting the Bill from responsible positions. However, I have taken the advantage of pointing out—and others may conclude this—that some noble Lords may well oppose the Bill not for responsible, sensible and principled reasons but because they are simply determined to kill it. I have never whitewashed the entire opposition in the way my noble friend suggests.

Lord Tugendhat: My noble friend used the word “oppose”, but I do not oppose the Bill, and neither do I oppose a referendum. I have made it quite clear, as have other noble Lords, that I support a referendum on the basis put forward by the Prime Minister in his Bloomberg speech. It is precisely because I support a referendum that I believe that the terms of that referendum need to be as good as we can possibly make them. This will be a very important referendum—all noble Lords agree on that point. Therefore, if it is to be a very important referendum, the terms on which it is held have to be drawn up as carefully and objectively as possible. Because of that, it is very important that the people of this country should be able to make an objective choice based on as much information as possible. That must mean that they should be able, as far as possible, to balance the advantages and disadvantages of membership of the European Union against the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed new relationship.

I do not often invoke the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, but on this occasion I will do so. He points out, very frequently, that if we leave the European Union, there will still be trade between us and the European Union, and we will still deal very closely with it in economic matters. Of course he is right; one must not overstate the consequences of staying or leaving. However, it is undoubtedly the case that if we

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leave, the terms of the relationship will be different. Some people may think that they will be better, while others may think that they will be worse, but the British people need to be able to form a view based on as much information as possible. That is the purpose of this amendment, and I support it because I wish the Bill to be a better one.


Lord Giddens: I am very grateful for that intervention on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat. I am a pro-European. I am unusual for a Brit in that I am a passionate pro-European but I also believe in having a referendum. It is important to have an “in or out” referendum at some point. I think that most of us who are arguing in relation to the clauses of the Bill are doing so because we see that this is the beginning of an extended discussion. The House is laying down important markers for the progress of that discussion. The discussion will go on for several years. It should and must do, and it must reach the citizenry. The worst thing that could happen is that the UK will exit the EU without its citizens having a proper grasp of the issues at stake. As I see it, this amendment is a contribution to making a resource that will help people understand the pros and cons of leaving or staying in the European Union.

I repeat the point I made earlier about leaving an organisation and then making requests of that organisation. If we turn down our membership of it, we will not be in a strong negotiating position. We will not be in a position to say that we want to be like Switzerland or Norway. Therefore, it is highly important to think through not just the objective bases for, and consequences of, leaving but also the strategic consequences. It is very important, for example, to consult other states in the European Union well before the referendum so that we know what they are likely to concede to us.

I may be excommunicated from my side, but I support, or understand, the position of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack. The Bill has clauses. The House of Lords is here to discuss those clauses. We should make sure that we do the best job we can and leave something that will be the first stage of a massive national debate down the line.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, and many of the arguments which have already been deployed in support of it. However, in connection with the intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, of course it would have been possible to put forward an amendment which would require the Government now to say what they would do in the context of a no vote in the referendum—but that is not what the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, is suggesting. He is suggesting merely that the Government of the day should be required to provide this information to the electorate ahead of the referendum, which seems to me a totally reasonable thing to do.

It does not involve holding up the Bill or preventing a Bill that provides the basis for an eventual “in or out” referendum going on to the statute book. However, it does say that, before such a referendum can be held,

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the electorate must be aware of what the choice they are making implies, because a referendum vote is a very stark choice between one option and another. The other option, which would be to leave the European Union, would have very serious consequences. Is it not totally reasonable to require that those consequences are brought to the attention of the electorate before they are asked to vote? If that logic is correct, I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, will—

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I entirely agree with the noble Lord, and with the point that has been made widely, that all the information on both sides should be put forward in a referendum, but I do not see why that should be in this Bill, which is about the mechanism of a referendum. I remind the noble Lord that the Prime Minister said that he himself favours continued membership of the EU. If the Prime Minister recommends continued membership of the EU, is it conceivable that he will not spell out the advantages of being a member of the EU before a referendum is held? He is bound to do that.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I am sure the noble Lord is right, but the extent to which the Prime Minister carries his party with him seems to be in a little more doubt today than it was a few days ago. As I say, I am sure that the noble Lord is correct, but the amendment would require the Government of the day—that Government may well not be the present Prime Minister’s Government—to provide, at the time a referendum is held, and in advance of it, certain kinds of information that are not called for in the Bill as it stands. I happen to think that this falls fairly and squarely in what I would call in the argot the “Cormack category”—that is, a provision that will improve the Bill. I hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, will accept the amendment. I do not think that there is any ambiguity in it at all. Therefore, I hope very much that it will be endorsed.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, says that he will accept this amendment, I will very happily sit down and spare your Lordships’ House a few moments of my thoughts. I think I detect a negative response, in which case I ask the noble Lord, Lord Sherbourne, what is the purpose of giving information to the electorate after the event, and telling them plan B after they have voted yes or no, possibly partly in ignorance of what the implications of so doing are? I am reminded of the story of the eminent Scottish divine who, to his surprise, after a blameless life, found himself languishing in hell. He looked up, saw the good Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, I dinna ken, I dinna ken”. The good Lord, in his infinite mercy and goodness, replied, “Ye ken the noo”. That will be the position of the electorate. They will know the consequences of the referendum result for good or ill, but after the event—after the blameless life, in that case.

I am a signatory to both the amendments we are discussing. I put my name to them because I believe that on an issue of such importance the electorate should be informed about it. It is for those proposing

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the measure to say what their plan B is. Surely, we do not say to the electorate, “You will vote yes or no. If you vote no, you will step into the void. We will be coy about what the implications are”. That is why I have tabled a series of amendments—Amendments 74A to 74G—which I will summarise briefly. Amendment 74A is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: Switzerland”; Amendment 74B is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: Norway”; Amendment 74C is headed. “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: the Commonwealth”; Amendment 74D is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: North America”; Amendment 74E is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union”, which is concerned with other alternatives to membership of the European Union; Amendment 74F is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: European Economic Area”, and Amendment 74G is headed, “Report on alternatives to membership of the European Union: European Free Trade Association”.

There is a whole series of potential alternatives. Probably the most likely would be a relationship akin to that of Norway or Switzerland, or akin to that of the Commonwealth. I will not give a dress rehearsal of what I will say if we reach those amendments, as that would surely bore your Lordships. However, if the amendment we are discussing is passed—I very much hope that it will be because of its potential for an informed electorate—my amendments may then be otiose. However, I say for the benefit of the House that, as regards the position in respect of Norway, the report published about two years ago for the Norwegian Government by a learned professor is very helpful. He said, in terms, that he had come to the conclusion that it made sense for Norway to be fully part of the European Union. He set out all the disadvantages of Norway’s position, including the financial cost to it and the extent to which it was not able to make any serious input into discussions. Indeed, that was underlined by a representative of the Norwegian employers’ federation, the NHO, who said:

“We feel we have access”—

to Brussels—

“and the doors are open to us, but no one listens. Interest in Norway, and the influence of Norway, is diminishing”.

That is as much as I can say about Norway. In respect of Switzerland, the bilateral deals that that country has with the European Union are of interest, but the EU is unhappy with those relationships and is unlikely to want to repeat them. Switzerland is of course outside the financial arrangements of the EU and, because of the importance of the City of London, those arrangements are of considerable importance to us. Frankfurt and other financial centres look eagerly to see if they can replace the City of London. As to the implications for Switzerland—I shall not dwell on this because it would bore your Lordships if I were to go through them all—there is a very useful document by David Buchan for the Centre for European Reform, Outsiders on the Inside: Swiss and Norwegian Lessons for the UK. It sets out clearly what the implications of withdrawal are likely to be.

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The Conservative Party appears latterly to have discovered the Commonwealth. I recall when, once upon a time, I spoke for the Opposition in respect of South Africa. In 1986-87, the Conservative Party almost destroyed the Commonwealth over that country and wishes now to forget that. However, probably the best reply in respect of the European Union and the Commonwealth was given in a speech by the then Commonwealth Secretary-General, the New Zealander, Don McKinnon. He gave clear answers in response to a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. I have copies if colleagues wish to see it. I shall not extensively go over what was said, but Don McKinnon was saying essentially that the Commonwealth needs the United Kingdom to be part of the European Union as an advocate on behalf of Commonwealth interests—whether in relation to bananas, or the interests of Gibraltar in relation to Spain. There is a whole series of areas in which the Commonwealth is needed. Don McKinnon, who was obviously totally a Commonwealth man, gave the lie to those who see the Commonwealth as some sort of alternative, not a partner.

To conclude, the real question is: do we want an informed electorate or do we not? We should, as democrats, seek to have an informed electorate and, therefore, I shall support these amendments.

Viscount Eccles (Con): My Lords, at some time, preferably not today, I should like to hear about the implications of a yes vote. The amendment is defective because it does not balance the possibility of a no vote with the more likely outcome of a yes vote. I, like the Prime Minister, want to find myself in a position to vote yes, if I am still around. The problem is that the people know that we have been on a long journey of some 60 years to get to where we are. But the people are also apprehensive because they do not know where they are being taken. Does Brussels, with the eurozone problems, know where it wants to go? Perhaps I may give just one example. What does subsidiarity mean? What is it meant to mean? We should concentrate on the reasons why it is sensible for us to stay in the European Union. Many people have talked about reform but the problem is that we have no agreed sense of direction and neither does the European Union.

12.15 pm

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke (Lab): My Lords, I support the amendment. In an earlier intervention, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, drew a parallel with a debate we had in this House yesterday about the Scottish referendum. One of the key themes that came out was the need for a plan B regarding the currency. The noble Lord, Lord Wigley, referred to uncertainty. Take it from me that if you are in an extended referendum campaign, the impact of uncertainty, particularly on business intentions, is very considerable indeed. We are not confidently out of recession; even the Chancellor acknowledges that. One thing that business cries out for is a degree of certainty. That is why this is a common-sense amendment. We have to go into any referendum in an atmosphere of calm. It should not be held in an atmosphere in which some people think that the rug is going to be pulled for political reasons rather than for the best interests of the country as a whole.

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Before the end of this year, one part of Britain will take a vote on whether to leave the oldest and most successful single market in the world. If there is a no vote in the referendum to come on the EU, we will be taking a decision about leaving the biggest single market in the world. It is essential for the long-term decision-making of British and international business for us to give an indication of the options, what the possible plan B is, and what the consequences will be. The Government, as part of the debate about the future of Scotland, has produced some excellent analytical papers. I commend to noble Lords who do not want to go into the minutiae of the nature of the debate on Scotland one paper in particular: the analysis of the situation regarding defence. The capability exists within the Civil Service to produce a balanced argument.

I know that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, is a little more anxious today than he was last time, and I feel for him. It is probably the only time in this House that he will ever have unrestrained power. As a Back-Bencher with a Bill, he is in a position, without consulting anybody else, to be able to say that he accepts an amendment. We will get a move on and put a common-sense element into the Bill. If there had been schedules to it, we could have looked at them; but there are none. I therefore appeal to the noble Lord. Let us give a crumb to those who want this campaign to take place in an atmosphere of calmness and give a signal to the business community, which has lots of money to invest at the moment, that it can do so in an atmosphere of certainty.

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): My Lords, I take it as pretty certain that there will ultimately be a referendum because, at some point, there will be a new treaty anyway. I totally agree with my noble friend Lady Liddell that any referendum produces economic costs and uncertainties, and that is why it is particularly regrettable that the Government have, quite unnecessarily, brought forward this entirely gratuitous Bill in this Session of Parliament to have a referendum at some point in the next Parliament. It would be much better if we left the matter until then.

However, I do not think that our labours are wasted because what we are producing today, were producing last week and will go on producing in the remaining days on which the Bill is under consideration, is a kind of template for any future referendum when it occurs. It will be clear to any Government what can and cannot get through the House of Lords. No Government will again be tempted to try to fiddle around with the main question to be asked on the referendum ballot paper, which we discussed last week. The Bill has now established that and it would not be sensible to change it. In future, Governments will be guided by the Electoral Commission’s views on what the proper question would be. Again, if we were to pass this amendment, it would be carried forward into any future Bill, even if this Bill were not to be passed and this referendum did not take place.

A few moments ago, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said that if we had a referendum the country would have a very stark choice. I entirely agree. We all know that it will also be a very momentous choice, but it will

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actually be a rather uneven choice because the British public will be asked to choose between a known and an unknown—between an established and familiar fact on the one side and a purely hypothetical speculation on the other. It is very unfair and very dangerous to put the electorate in that position. It is dangerous because in those circumstances there is great scope, and therefore great temptation, for the promoters of the unknown option—those who, in this case, want to leave the European Union—to replace the unknown with a picture of their own devising which may be entirely fanciful, very wishful and even deliberately and cynically deceptive. That would be a very bad thing; it would be a very bad day for democracy to have a dishonest campaign of that kind. Therefore, it is very important that the electorate is able, as far as possible, to choose between two explicit descriptions of the two scenarios that are being offered. That is why I think that the amendment is enormously important.

There are some areas where a relatively reliable statement can be made about an unknown. For example, we all know that the Tory party does not like the Social Chapter. If we leave the European Union, we will not, by definition, be part of the Social Chapter, so it will be possible to say to people that there will not be a part-time workers directive or a parental leave directive, and anybody who is a part-time worker or who is thinking of having children will know where they stand. There are areas of greater uncertainty but they are ones where one can at least produce a reasonable description of the sort of scenario that might eventuate. For example, people are particularly concerned about whether we could still have access to the single market. There is a precedent in Norway and a precedent for EFTA, so there is a certain degree of credibility and responsibility in saying that there is certainly a likelihood that we could join EFTA if we wanted to. However, the rules of EFTA are quite clear—they have already been mentioned this morning—and it has already been explained why in many cases it would be very unsatisfactory to a great many of us.

However, there are areas where nothing certain at all can be said about what the position would be if we left the European Union today, and I fear that that is becoming increasingly likely in relation to the great area of access to the single market. Recently I have noticed that even those people who have been advocating our leaving the European Union have ceased to say, “Well, we could get a deal like Norway”. They have even ceased to say that we could get a deal like that of Switzerland. There is universal consensus on the continent among our partners and in the Commission that no one would ever be allowed to do a Swiss-type deal again. It is simply too complicated and difficult to administer with, I think, 140 separate agreements with the European Union. That type of scenario is out anyway, and anybody who takes a look at the situation will realise that it is not a possibility.

Therefore, one increasingly hears—we hear it increasingly often in this House—Eurosceptics and promoters of our leaving the European Union who say, “We’ll do better than Norway or Switzerland”. What do they mean by that? It seems to be far from clear. I detect in conversations with continental colleagues

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that in the type of circumstances in which we would leave the European Union there would be very little inclination to come up with special favours for us. Some have said, “Oh well, we have a deficit with the European Union. The rest of the European Union exports to us more than we export to them”. However, in point of fact, it is not a question of how big the deficit is for us or how substantial our imports or exports are; the leverage consists of the extent to which our trade is a proportion of the trade of our continental partners. It is generally never more than 25%. Therefore, I am afraid that we probably do not have a leverage.

In any case, there is no point in speculating about this, and it would be very dishonest to do so. It is important that a serious effort is made to sort out the consequences of our leaving the European Union. That should be set down in black and white by a Government who are then committed to making sure that they do not say anything which is deliberately untrue. They would have to have had serious discussions with our colleagues and partners in the rest of the European Union about what would and would not eventuate from our leaving. The British public could then be offered a genuinely honest choice between two scenarios, the details of which would have been set out as truthfully as possible.

Lord Giddens: I have not heard a single noble Lord object to the content of this amendment. The only one seems to be the “ram it through at all costs” objection. Could not the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, simply accept the amendment at this point?

Lord Dobbs: Of course I could but quite clearly I am not going to. It would deprive us of hearing the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock.

Lord Kinnock (Lab): I am grateful to the noble Lord. Although I endorse entirely the appeal made by my noble friend Lord Giddens and indeed others, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, that he could accept this amendment, and he could do it with the approval of the Prime Minister. My authority for claiming that comes from no less a source than the Bloomberg speech, which I am now quoting so frequently that I am beginning to think of it as the Bloomberg bible.

In that speech, the Prime Minister was very clear—indeed, commendably clear—that:

“If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return”.

That is a very sobering thought and a very grave proposition. To his further credit, the Prime Minister was balanced in his treatment of the issues in much of that speech. He said, quite correctly, that:

“Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU”.

He then, in a very balanced way, went on to say:

“But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?”.

He said that of course we,

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1505

“would be free to take our own decisions … But we don’t leave NATO because it is in our national interest to stay and benefit from its collective defence guarantee”.

The only question that I would pose to the Prime Minister and to the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, on this aspect is: how free would we be to take our own decisions?

In a further balancing item, the Prime Minister responded to such a rhetorical question by saying:

“If we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood. We are tied by a complex web of legal commitments”.

He continued:

“Even if we pulled out completely”—

and I do not see that there is any other option other than a complete pull-out, given what the Prime Minister said about it being a one-way ticket—

“decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions”.

If the Prime Minister was willing to say that a year ago in the Bloomberg speech and to spell out the implications of our departure, what conceivable resistance could there be to accepting an amendment that would make it mandatory to provide an assessment of the United Kingdom’s intended relationship with the European Union in the event of withdrawal? In fact, on this occasion I am being as uncharacteristically helpful as I possibly can be to Mr Cameron. Maybe one day he will reciprocate that.

Of course, the question remains: how free would we be to make our own decisions? This House will know that if the search is for sovereignty, then the definition of sovereignty as the power to make effective decisions must be predominant in our minds. Outside the European Union in the world of the 21st century and beyond, we have to wonder how a medium-sized economy with a population of around 60 million, abutting the world’s biggest single market, would fare if we had to conduct our own relationships individually—dare I say unilaterally?—with emerging and emerged global powers. How would we fare in terms of resolving the crisis of the environment or in terms of combating international crime, were it not for the fact that inside the European Union we can exert substantial influence on the direction of affairs and on the nature of international relationships in an increasingly complex and interdependent world?

12.30 pm

Freedom and increased sovereignty do not offer themselves if we are outside the European Union. To do the Prime Minister credit, I think he was articulating that view in offering his balancing comments on what life might be like outside. Again I commend him on his balance when he further went on to speak about timing, because that is relevant to this amendment too. He said that he could not accept the call being made by people who want a vote now or in the immediate future because:

“A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice. Now—while the EU is in flux, and when we don’t know what the future holds and what sort of EU will emerge from this crisis—is not the right time to make such a momentous decision about the future of our country”.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1506

We would have to stretch credulity to come to the view that the EU is not going to be in flux somewhere around 31 December 2017. The idea that the problems relating to the eurozone will be resolved, that enlargement of the EU will have been completed by that time or that, by some magic, all the problems that forbid an immediate referendum would make it not a sensible possibility will have been resolved and will have become calm, rational and easy by that date is beyond any belief.

With that in mind therefore the Government have the cause, the opportunity and the time to ensure that an assessment is made and publicly provided of what the intended relationship of the UK would be with the European Union in the event of our departure. An “in or out” referendum is being proposed. Both possibilities have to be considered comprehensively and calmly. I agree with the noble Lord who said earlier that we should pay even more attention and give much more publicity to the detail dispassionately provided of what would occur and what we can reasonably anticipate by staying in. Since this is an “in or out” referendum, it is at least equally important for the British people to be fully acquainted with the implications of coming out, which is the other option being offered. Bearing those realities in mind, I hope that the noble Lord will reconsider what appeared to be his peremptory response to my noble friend Lord Giddens and extend his view so that he will give further consideration to accepting an amendment which is only asking for a realistic appraisal of a real possibility.

If such an assessment were to be provided about what the relationship probably would and could be in the event of our departure, it would have a certain additional attraction. In my view, it would comprehensively counter and destroy the deceit of the Euro-secessionists; those people to whom the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, earlier referred, who seek to give the impression—both outside and inside the Conservative Party, and I do not mind which label they have—that withdrawal from the European Union would bring with it only opportunity and virtually no penalty whatever.

We have had enough allusions to the cases of Norway and Switzerland. Again in a praiseworthy passage in the Bloomberg speech, the Prime Minister said why the so-called Swiss or Norwegian options were simply not rational possibilities for our country to consider. If more detail about the reasonability of the Prime Minister’s stance were to be made available in good time and as a precondition of holding the referendum for the British people to understand and digest, a considerable favour would be done. Even more importantly than that, a real duty would be performed.

Lord Armstrong of Ilminster (CB): My Lords, I shall be brief. The core purposes of this Bill are that there should be an “in or out” referendum. It is not about what the result of that referendum should be; it is about whether there should be a referendum and that it should be before the end of 2017. This amendment has no bearing on those purposes. It leaves them unaffected. It requires the Government in certain circumstances to do something which any self-respecting Government would or should do in those circumstances.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1507

I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, that he and his colleagues in the House of Commons have the best chance of this Bill passing if he decides to accept this amendment.

Lord Liddle (Lab): My Lords, I will not detain the House for long. I think that there is pretty strong support all around the House for this amendment. It certainly has the support of the Opposition, who will vote for the proposition in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, if he chooses to test the opinion of the House. What is needed in any “in or out” choice is an authoritative assessment of Britain’s intended relationship with the European Union should the people decide to withdraw from it. That does not have to be just a wish list of hoping that we can have our cake and eat it outside the Union. It has to be a hard, realistic assessment.

I am a great lover of history. I like reading books about Britain’s post-war relationship with the European Union. The Macmillan Diariesis one of the books I have read. Harold Macmillan tried to establish a free trade relationship with the Common Market when the treaty of Rome was signed. He explored that and failed because, even in 1958, he was not able to achieve what was necessary for the national interest, and he decided we had no alternative but to join the Common Market. So we have to be realistic and this assessment has to be realistic.

Many Members on our side of the House have pointed out that the proposed referendum is not a popularity poll, it is a fundamental choice. It is not a choice you take once every five or 10 years. You cannot say that it would be a choice made for ever but you can certainly say that it would be made for generations. It is important that this choice is taken not on the basis of wish lists or hypothetical speculations—as I think the noble Lord, Lord Davies, said—but on the basis of what is a realistic alternative. The truth is that those who want to take us out of the European Union rarely state what they think the alternative is for Britain, which is why this amendment is crucial. There is a huge range of possibilities. At one end of the spectrum, there is membership of the European Economic Area, probably as a consequence of rejoining EFTA; but at the other end, we would have to rely on our WTO status in terms of our trading relationship with the European Union.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: Does the noble Lord recall that when he worked in Downing Street and the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, was a Minister at the Foreign Office, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, endlessly put down Questions asking for an assessment of the pros and cons—the benefits and the costs, because there are costs—of our membership? The noble Lord and the Government endlessly rejected that, year after year. Even a Bill was put down, but it was talked out. Does he think that he owes the noble Lord some sort of apology?

Lord Liddle: I am afraid that I do not, no. What I do know about the Labour Government is that when they were considering whether to join the euro, they

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1508

carried out a thorough assessment. In the case of this proposed referendum, we need to have a thorough assessment of what the alternatives would be.

Many people assume that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of free trade with our European partners by being in the EEA. That, of course, is the economic option with the least pain. But as my noble friend Lord Kinnock said when he talked about sovereignty, although being in the EEA might involve a minimum of economic pain, it would certainly involve a huge loss of British sovereignty. Whereas now we have a say on every EU regulation that applies to us, in future, as members of the EEA, we would simply have to accept every regulation decided in Brussels, and we would have to make a budgetary contribution as well. Being in the EEA would mean a massive loss of sovereignty for Britain. We may no longer be in the European Union but, in my view, we would also no longer be Great Britain, a sovereign nation able to exercise some say over its future.

As for the alternative at the other end of the spectrum, relying on our WTO membership and trying to negotiate free trade agreements, noble Lords have already pointed out some of the problems. We would immediately be withdrawing ourselves from free trade agreements that the EU has with other countries, and the whole future of agriculture would be put into grave uncertainty. The car industry is perhaps the best example of what noble Lords on the other side have to address. The car industry is probably the most outstanding example of the manufacturing renaissance that we have seen in Britain.

12.45 pm

Viscount Eccles: I would be grateful if the noble Lord would agree that I personally do not have a case to answer because I want to stay in. And I think that it is extremely damaging for him continuously to tell us that he expects the people to vote no.

Lord Liddle: I have the greatest respect for the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. I am not worried about the result of an election if there is a fair vote which is based on fair information. However, I am really worried about a referendum that is based on an artificial timetable which is led by the Prime Minister. I have great respect for the Prime Minister’s Bloomberg speech—as I said to the House, I agreed with 80% of it. To be frank, however, my honest fear, and I speak as an individual, is that when you look at what happened in the other place yesterday, when the Government collapsed in the face of rebellion from their own Back-Benchers—

Noble Lords: No!

Lord Liddle: Conservative Back-Benchers, I hasten to add, not Liberal Democrat ones. The Prime Minister's response to that was pathetic, even when what was at stake was a question of us sticking to the law. What kind of confidence can we have that an EU referendum would be fought on a fair basis unless these kinds of guarantee are written into the Bill?

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1509

I come back to the case of our car industry outside the EU. Unless we can negotiate a special deal with our partners there will be a 10% tariff on cars that are made in Britain. That will have a devastating impact on jobs in the British car industry. We cannot take these decisions lightly. We have to think about what we would be able to negotiate.

We should also have a realistic assessment of what we will be able to negotiate. Many people think that we would have the whip hand in any such negotiations were we outside the EU. I think that it was my noble friend Lord Davies who said that, in fact, that is not the case. We have to face the fact—and people are hard-headed about economic matters—that our exports to the single market account for between 40% and 50% of our total exports, however we calculate it. The rest of the single market’s exports to us account for about 8% of its exports, so if we are just looking at this in terms of the balance of power in that negotiation, it is not an attractive one from the prospect of jobs and growth in Britain.

In conclusion, if the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, is not prepared to accept this amendment, is he certain what his alternative to EU membership would entail? How would he go about making sure that the referendum was fought on a fair basis? If we cannot have this fair assessment then, frankly, the Bill is as I described it at Second Reading: an invitation to buy a pig in a poke.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, before the noble Lord finally sits down, will he explain to me why, when legislation was taken through Parliament for a referendum regarding the European Union in 1975, no such provisions as the ones he is now calling for were included?

Lord Liddle: If I recollect correctly—I took an active part in that campaign—there was an assessment of the reasons for British membership, which was sent to every household.

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, there is a government view on membership of the European Union, which is that the UK’s interest is to be a member of a reformed European Union. There are also agreed government views on how to run a referendum, following the alternative vote and Scottish independence polls. However, there is no collective position on holding a membership referendum and hence no government view on its implications. Noble Lords can be assured that, by the time of the referendum, the official yes and no campaigns will have made their cases in some detail. Therefore, the British people will be in no doubt about the choice that they are making.

Lord Dobbs: My Lords, this has been another lengthy debate and I do not wish to prolong it. First, I will just respond to a point that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, made earlier. I assure him that I have never sought and never been given, so far as I am aware, any advice from a government official for this debate other than factual advice or advice about the Government’s agreed position. I believe that all the proprieties have been maintained, as they ought to be.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1510

It is unthinkable that people would not be fully supplied with responsible information before any referendum campaign. There may of course be plenty of irresponsible information too, but that is the stuff of politics. It is nobody’s intention to ask people to vote on such a fundamental issue when they are not fully briefed and fully aware of what the issues are. No one can expect people to come to a rational and reasoned decision—as we would want them to—without the appropriate information.

However, it is very difficult to see what this amendment would add that is so very different from the amendment that the House carried last week in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Roper, which called for,

“an evidence based assessment of the impact of the United Kingdom ceasing to be a member of the European Union”.

I argued against that amendment, simply on the grounds that people would get all that information anyway and that it was not necessary to include those provisions in the Bill. The House decided otherwise and passed that amendment calling for an evidence-based assessment of the impact of the United Kingdom ceasing to be a member of the European Union. I am genuinely puzzled therefore as to the need for this amendment.

Again, the wording is important here. It asks about our “intended” future relationship with the EU. As it seems likely that, under most circumstances, all the major parties will be campaigning for us to stay in the EU, the question is: the outlines of this future relationship as intended by whom? How can this task be completed? By consulting UKIP? The only sensible way to seek a response to the question of how one intends to get divorced—which I think was the phraseology of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull—is to ask those who actually want to get divorced in the first place. Any plan B drawn up by those who do not believe in it, will not be arguing for it and have no intention of pursuing it would not be worth the paper that it was printed on.

The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, suggested, in defence of this amendment, that we should do what the Labour Government did for the euro by making their intended position clear. If that is the example he expects us to follow, I am not in favour of it. It was the most bizarre approach that any Government have taken to such an important issue and points to the difficulty of an intended position on something of this sort. The suggestion that underpins this amendment is really rather woolly. It is ambiguous and therefore I think that it is flawed. That is why I oppose it, which is perhaps why a very similar amendment was defeated on Report in the other place by a majority of 265 to eight. The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, has come up with an interesting constitutional principle that a clear vote in the other House does not reflect the view of that House, but we will pass on from that.

This is not a Bill for those with closed minds, and there are closed minds on both sides of this issue. This is a Bill designed to give those with common sense an opportunity to come to an informed position as to what they intend for their futures. If the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, will forgive me, I do not intend to follow him up the Swiss mountains or sail along the Norwegian fjords. The Prime Minister does not want that; I do not want that; this is another argument that seems to

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1511

be constructed in order to knock it down that I can see very few people putting. I shall certainly not be following the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in the magnificent tour that he gave us around every part of the world. The argument that we need to specify even more than we have done under the previous amendment and that we need to load the people with more information, not as a result of democracy or of our campaigning skills and our passionate beliefs in where we stand but on the face of a Bill because the Government require it, implies a huge lack of faith in the ability of the different sides in a referendum campaign to put their case. I do not share that lack of faith. I cannot see what this amendment would do that the amendment that we passed last week—

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way, but I am afraid that he is yet again caricaturing the supporters of this amendment. On the day after a referendum, whatever the result has been, it will not be for the protagonists of staying in or for the protagonists of leaving the European Union to define Britain’s future relationship if the vote has gone for a no; it will be for the Government to do so. The amendment would require the Government to set out what the relationship might be if there was a no vote. That cannot be left either to the yes campaign or to the no campaign.

Lord Dobbs: If the noble Lord will forgive me, that is not what the amendment seeks. It is not about what the relationship might be; it is about what that relationship is intended to be, which is a very different point. That is the point on which I suggest that this amendment is flawed.

It will come as no surprise to the House to know that I do not share the enthusiasm of those who do not believe that all this information will come out in an adequate referendum campaign. I regard this amendment as being entirely unnecessary. I believe that it is ambiguous and flawed, and that no one can come up with a suitable intended relationship in those circumstances. I therefore request the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Turnbull: My Lords, this has been another hour and a half—but I do not begrudge that—of very interesting discussion. I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken, overwhelmingly in support of the amendment. There are certain common themes. First, we are faced with a momentous decision. That was made very clear by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, in his intervention during discussion on the previous amendment. Secondly, the matter is immensely complex. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, for giving us a sight of the trade implications and for making the link with the Electoral Commission in that one has to understand not only the question but the implications of the question. It was also agreed that we as a Parliament and supporters of democracy owe it to the electorate to give the best possible information on which to make such an informed decision. Of the arguments against, one was that such an assessment was unnecessary because it was going to happen anyway.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1512

I think that our debate yesterday showed a Government campaigning for a change and not making preparation for plan B. The noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, argued that it was inconceivable that such an assessment would not be supplied. If it is inconceivable, what is the harm of putting it in the Bill? More importantly, however, the noble Lord said that we should rely on the arguments coming forward from the yes campaign and the no campaign. Each of those documents will be partisan, because they will try to make a particular case, whereas the assessment required by the amendment would establish some factual ground.

What is the difference between this amendment and the amendment passed last week? The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, made this clear. It falls exclusively to the government of the day to make the assessment. They will have to cope with the consequences of a no vote and they should set out what they think those consequences should be.

It was asked why we should not have a similar document on the consequences of a yes vote. There are two reasons why I have not included that in the amendment. The first is that the Prime Minister has promised us his view of what the consequences of a yes vote would be after a renegotiation. The second is, as was perceptively pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Stamford, that there is an asymmetry of information. A lot more will be known about being in and staying in than about moving out and something is needed to rectify that imbalance.

I lived in hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, would accept the proposal from the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, and others. I hoped that he would accept the principle of it and come back with something better. He complained that this is not a perfect amendment. He has had the opportunity to take it away and improve it but he has decided to spurn that. On that basis, I do not think we can take this argument further.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): Before the noble Lord sits down, can he indicate whose intention he has in mind? The amendment refers to the “intended relationship”. Whose intention is at issue?

Lord Turnbull: That would be the responsibility of the Government who inherit the responsibility for negotiating the terms of separation. I beg to move.

1 pm

Division on Amendment 50A

Contents 198; Not-Contents 134. [The name of a noble Lord who voted in both Lobbies has been removed from the voting lists.]

Amendment 50A agreed.

Division No.  1


Adams of Craigielea, B.

Addington, L.

Alli, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Ilminster, L.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1513

Bach, L.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Bakewell, B.

Barker, B.

Bassam of Brighton, L.

Beecham, L.

Benjamin, B.

Berkeley, L.

Bhattacharyya, L.

Billingham, B.

Bowness, L.

Bragg, L.

Brennan, L.

Brinton, B.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookman, L.

Campbell-Savours, L.

Carlile of Berriew, L.

Carter of Coles, L.

Chidgey, L.

Christopher, L.

Clancarty, E.

Clement-Jones, L.

Clinton-Davis, L.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Crawley, B.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Desai, L.

Dholakia, L.

Donaghy, B.

Drake, B.

Dykes, L.

Elder, L.

Elystan-Morgan, L.

Evans of Temple Guiting, L.

Falkner of Margravine, B.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

Faulkner of Worcester, L.

Filkin, L.

Foulkes of Cumnock, L.

Gale, B.

Garden of Frognal, B.

German, L.

Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

Giddens, L.

Glasgow, E.

Glasman, L.

Golding, B.

Goodhart, L.

Goudie, B.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Graham of Edmonton, L.

Grantchester, L.

Grender, B.

Grenfell, L.

Griffiths of Burry Port, L.

Hamwee, B.

Hannay of Chiswick, L.

Hanworth, V.

Harris of Haringey, L.

Harris of Richmond, B.

Hart of Chilton, L.

Haworth, L.

Hayter of Kentish Town, B.

Healy of Primrose Hill, B.

Henig, B.

Hennessy of Nympsfield, L.

Hilton of Eggardon, B.

Hollis of Heigham, B.

Howarth of Newport, L.

Howells of St Davids, B.

Howie of Troon, L.

Hoyle, L.

Hughes of Woodside, L.

Humphreys, B.

Hunt of Kings Heath, L.

Hussain, L.

Hussein-Ece, B.

Irvine of Lairg, L.

Janvrin, L.

Jones of Cheltenham, L.

Jones of Whitchurch, B.

Jones, L.

Kennedy of Cradley, B.

Kennedy of Southwark, L.

Kerr of Kinlochard, L.

Kestenbaum, L.

Kinnock of Holyhead, B.

Kinnock, L.

Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.

Knight of Weymouth, L.

Lea of Crondall, L.

Leitch, L.

Liddell of Coatdyke, B.

Liddle, L.

Lipsey, L.

Low of Dalston, L.

McAvoy, L.

Macdonald of Tradeston, L.

McFall of Alcluith, L.

McIntosh of Hudnall, B.

MacKenzie of Culkein, L.

McKenzie of Luton, L.

Maclennan of Rogart, L.

McNally, L.

Maddock, B.

Maginnis of Drumglass, L.

Manzoor, B.

Massey of Darwen, B.

Maxton, L.

Mendelsohn, L.

Morgan of Ely, B.

Morgan of Huyton, B.

Morgan, L.

Morris of Handsworth, L.

Myners, L.

Newby, L.

Noon, L.

Northover, B.

Nye, B.

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.

Paddick, L.

Palmer of Childs Hill, L.

Pannick, L.

Patel of Bradford, L.

Pendry, L.

Peston, L.

Phillips of Sudbury, L.

Pitkeathley, B.

Quin, B. [Teller]

Quirk, L.

Radice, L.

Ramsay of Cartvale, B.

Ramsbotham, L.

Rea, L.

Redesdale, L.

Rees of Ludlow, L.

Reid of Cardowan, L.

Rendell of Babergh, B.

Richard, L.

Roberts of Llandudno, L.

Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.

Rogers of Riverside, L.

Roper, L.

Rosser, L.

Royall of Blaisdon, B.

Sawyer, L.

Scotland of Asthal, B.

Sharkey, L.

Shipley, L.

Simon, V.

Smith of Basildon, B.

Smith of Clifton, L.

Snape, L.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1514

Soley, L.

Stirrup, L.

Suttie, B.

Symons of Vernham Dean, B.

Taylor of Bolton, B.

Temple-Morris, L.

Teverson, L.

Thomas of Gresford, L.

Thomas of Swynnerton, L.

Thomas of Winchester, B.

Tomlinson, L.

Tope, L.

Triesman, L.

Truscott, L.

Tugendhat, L.

Tunnicliffe, L.

Turnberg, L.

Turnbull, L. [Teller]

Turner of Camden, B.

Tyler, L.

Uddin, B.

Wall of New Barnet, B.

Wallace of Saltaire, L.

Walmsley, B.

Warner, L.

Warnock, B.

Warwick of Undercliffe, B.

Watson of Richmond, L.

Whitaker, B.

Wigley, L.

Wilkins, B.

Williams of Crosby, B.

Williams of Elvel, L.

Wood of Anfield, L.

Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Worthington, B.

Wright of Richmond, L.


Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.

Anelay of St Johns, B.

Arran, E.

Ashton of Hyde, L.

Astor of Hever, L.

Attlee, E.

Balfe, L.

Bamford, L.

Bates, L.

Bew, L.

Black of Brentwood, L.

Blencathra, L.

Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.

Brabazon of Tara, L.

Bridgeman, V.

Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.

Brougham and Vaux, L.

Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.

Byford, B.

Caithness, E.

Carrington of Fulham, L.

Cathcart, E.

Cavendish of Furness, L.

Colwyn, L.

Cope of Berkeley, L.

Cormack, L.

Courtown, E.

Craigavon, V.

Crickhowell, L.

De Mauley, L.

Deighton, L.

Dixon-Smith, L.

Dobbs, L.

Dundee, E.

Eaton, B. [Teller]

Eccles of Moulton, B.

Eccles, V.

Eden of Winton, L.

Empey, L.

Faulks, L.

Feldman of Elstree, L.

Fellowes of West Stafford, L.

Fink, L.

Fookes, B.

Forsyth of Drumlean, L.

Fowler, L.

Framlingham, L.

Freud, L.

Gardiner of Kimble, L.

Gardner of Parkes, B.

Geddes, L.

Gold, L.

Goodlad, L.

Goschen, V.

Hamilton of Epsom, L.

Heyhoe Flint, B.

Higgins, L.

Hill of Oareford, L.

Hodgson of Abinger, B.

Home, E.

Hooper, B.

Horam, L.

Howard of Lympne, L.

Howard of Rising, L.

Howe, E.

Howell of Guildford, L.

Hunt of Wirral, L.

James of Blackheath, L.

Jenkin of Kennington, B.

Jenkin of Roding, L.

Jopling, L.

Kakkar, L.

Kalms, L.

Kirkham, L.

Lamont of Lerwick, L.

Lang of Monkton, L.

Leigh of Hurley, L.

Lexden, L.

Lingfield, L.

Liverpool, E.

Livingston of Parkhead, L.

Lucas, L.

Luke, L.

McColl of Dulwich, L.

Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.

MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.

Mackay of Clashfern, L.

Magan of Castletown, L.

Mancroft, L.

Miller of Hendon, B.

Morris of Bolton, B.

Naseby, L.

Nash, L.

Neville-Rolfe, B.

Newlove, B.

Noakes, B.

O'Cathain, B.

Patten, L.

Perry of Southwark, B.

Popat, L.

Rawlings, B.

Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.

Ribeiro, L.

Ridley, V.

Risby, L.

Seccombe, B.

Selborne, E.

Selkirk of Douglas, L.

Selsdon, L.

31 Jan 2014 : Column 1515

Sharples, B.

Sheikh, L.

Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.

Shrewsbury, E. [Teller]

Skelmersdale, L.

Spicer, L.

Stedman-Scott, B.

Sterling of Plaistow, L.

Stowell of Beeston, B.

Strathclyde, L.

Sutherland of Houndwood, L.

Swinfen, L.

Taylor of Holbeach, L.

Trefgarne, L.

Trimble, L.

Trumpington, B.

Verma, B.

Warsi, B.

Wasserman, L.

Wei, L.

Wheatcroft, B.

Whitby, L.

Wilcox, B.

Williams of Trafford, B.

Younger of Leckie, V.

1.13 pm

Clause 1, as amended, agreed.

Amendment 51 not moved.

Amendment 52

Moved by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

52: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Count for votes cast

The count for votes cast in the referendum shall be carried out and declared separately for—

(a) Scotland;

(b) Wales;

(c) Northern Ireland; and

(d) England.”

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, this amendment can be dealt with relatively briefly—by me, certainly. The amendment before your Lordships requires that the votes cast in any referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union would,

“be carried out and declared separately for”,

each of the component nations of the United Kingdom. We have already discussed why a referendum should not result in Britain leaving the EU unless it secures a simple majority in each of the component parts of the United Kingdom, so I will not go further into that.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the result of any EU referendum is agreed across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom by counting, and publicising the overall result, in individual component nations. Only if that is done will the referendum be seen as legitimate and will those who wish to break up the union be forced to admit, for good or ill, that whatever Britain’s relationship with Europe may be, it was consensually agreed upon by the whole of the United Kingdom and not imposed on any part. I so move.

Amendment 53 (to Amendment 52)

Moved by Lord Anderson of Swansea

53: After Clause 1, line 8, at end insert “; and

(e) Gibraltar”

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, my amendment relates to Gibraltar. Many of us in this House have a special concern for Gibraltar and therefore wish to

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ensure that it has a separate count. We all have a special responsibility for Gibraltar. That is seen, for example, in the fact that Gibraltar is represented by one of the constituencies of the UK in the European Parliament. It has a very proud history, not least in the Second World War.

Coming here today, I was musing how the people of Gibraltar, which is relatively small—perhaps not much larger than a ward in my own former constituency—none the less represent so much of the Mediterranean. The current Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, has a good Mediterranean name; Sir Joshua Hassan showed that there was a Jewish community in Gibraltar; Peter Caruana, the former Chief Minister, has a good Maltese name; and even Albert Poggio, who is the excellent representative of Gibraltar in this country, has an Italian name. There is currently a total linkage of the people of Gibraltar with many Mediterranean countries.

The relevance to Gibraltar of the European Union is in part because of the dispute with Spain. Most if not all of us would agree that Spain has been extremely unwise in seeking not to build up relations with Gibraltar. There have been the disputes leading to endless delays at the border, which harm Spanish nationals who work in Gibraltar. Equally, there has been the dispute over the territorial waters. These matters are litigated in Brussels. The people of Gibraltar quite properly criticise some of what goes on in the European Union in respect of the Spanish judge who I think recently presided over a judgment to the detriment of Gibraltar. We criticise sometimes the fact that, although Britain should represent the interests of Gibraltar in Brussels, sometimes the UK representative has perhaps failed to notice matters that are relevant to those people.

On one thing, though, the people of Gibraltar are clear: it is in their interest to have the UK there in the EU, fighting the Gibraltar cause and putting up the objections to any particularly nationalist and populist sentiments put forward by the Spanish. It is therefore most important that the Gibraltese, the people of the Rock, are able to show their opinion and to do so clearly, and that Gibraltar is established as a separate electoral unit with a separate result. It could be an interesting point if the people of the Rock were to say yes, because they recognised the importance of their relationship with the European Union through the UK, and yet the UK were to turn its back on the European Union and therefore, in effect, on Gibraltar. However, that is for another day. Both in chairing the Foreign Affairs Committee and in other fora, I have long stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Gibraltar. I am happy to do so again to ensure that there is a separate count, separately recorded. I beg to move.

Lord Wigley: My Lords, I am sorry that I missed the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. His brevity in speaking today is no doubt recognised by all across the Chamber. Any accusations that he could be filibustering would be absolute nonsense. However, the question raised about Gibraltar is slightly different. I understand the position that my noble friend Lord Anderson comes from, but the main thrust of my support for the amendment moved by my noble

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friend Lord Foulkes—and my amendment, Amendment 67 —is the need to ensure that the people of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England know exactly where they stand on this matter.