Primary Care: Targets


2.51 pm

Asked by Baroness Walmsley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will encourage general practitioners’ practices to employ nurse prescribers, nurse practitioners and pharmacists in order to achieve their seven day target for primary care.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Prior of Brampton) (Con): My Lords, broadening the skill mix within general practice is an important part of improving access for patients. General practices are including nurse prescribers, nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists in their multi-disciplinary

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teams and experience suggests that this results in significant benefits for patients. Earlier this year, NHS England launched a £15 million scheme to fund, recruit and employ clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): I thank the Minister for that reply, but is he aware that the GP shortage is made worse by the fact that a declining number of young doctors want to go into GP practice for various reasons, including pay, working hours and the volume of consultations? At the same time, we have a surplus of excellent young pharmacy graduates looking for jobs who would be very happy to go into clinical general practice. Is it not time for a new initiative to bring these two things together and ensure that doctors get the assistance of all these excellent young graduates?

Lord Prior of Brampton: The noble Baroness makes a very good point. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that where general practices employ clinical pharmacists, it relieves GPs of a considerable burden. Interestingly, the NHS Alliance produced a report last week called Making Time In General Practice. It identified that up to one in six patients seen by GPs could in fact be seen by someone from a broader skill mix within general practice, so what the noble Baroness says makes a lot of sense.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, while one may applaud the intention of the 24/7 NHS service, does the Minister agree that the Government are potentially raising public expectations that are just not going to be achievable, given the deficit of nearly £1 billion that we have seen in the first quarter of this year alone?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the deficit in the first quarter is indeed a matter of huge concern—I am not going to pretend otherwise—but the Government are wholly committed to seven-day services both within hospitals and in general practice. We are committed to investing £10 billion extra in the NHS over the next five years, and ensuring that we have enough GPs and enough support for them is a key priority.

Lord Patel (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that, before anybody is qualified to prescribe, the important part is that the correct diagnosis is made before the prescription is given? Having said that, does he think that qualified high-street pharmacists may have a role in prescribing, apart from the clinical pharmacists who are attached to general practitioners?

Lord Prior of Brampton: I fully accept, of course, that diagnosis is extremely important but I think that advanced nurse practitioners can play a role in diagnosis, as well as in treatment, as can physician associates, given that both are supervised by GPs. I believe that high-street or community pharmacists can play a big part in supporting the role of clinical pharmacists.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet (Lab): The noble Lord will recall yesterday’s discussion about how the integration of care is crucial. I am absolutely in agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley—this is what

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integration in the health service really means. Providing the opportunity for pharmacists in hospitals to work in those practices should be encouraged.

Lord Prior of Brampton: I completely agree with those comments. Over the next five years, we will see much greater integration of acute hospitals and primary care and community care.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): My Lords, the suggestion has been made that nurses from overseas who are not earning £35,000 after five years will be deported. Does this mean that the Government are going to think again on this issue?

Lord Prior of Brampton: This raises an important point—that we ought to train our own nurses. Relying on recruitment from overseas is not a viable long-term strategy and we must increase the number of training places in the UK.

Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab): My Lords, in seeking to broaden the skills base in general practice, as the Minister has just said he wishes to do, will he consider encouraging GP practices to employ artists? Is he aware of the excellent outcomes for patients in GP practices that have an artist in residence?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the short answer is no. I do not think that I could stand here and promise funding for artists in GP surgeries, but I do have an open mind. If the noble Lord would like to talk to me about it outside the Chamber, I would be very happy to do so.

Lord Naseby (Con): My Lords, as the NHS has a problem with its cost base, rather than load GP practices with even more overheads, would it not be wiser to follow what a number of us experience in our own practices: much closer liaison between GP practices and local chemists, which account for only a partial amount of the NHS’s overheads?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My noble friend makes a very good point. There is an increasing and important role for high-street and community pharmacists in delivering healthcare.

Lord Kakkar (CB): My Lords, I declare my interests as chairman of UCL Partners and as UK Business Ambassador for Healthcare and Life Sciences. What strategy do Her Majesty’s Government have to ensure that NHS prescribers can continue to provide innovative therapies and interventions for their patients?

Lord Prior of Brampton: The noble Lord makes an interesting point. I do not have an answer to give him today, but perhaps I may reflect on that and come back to him.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, clearly the role of community pharmacists could be enormous in the future, but in the end we still need more GPs. I have yet to be convinced that the Government really do have a programme that will effectively make sure that current GPs stay in the profession and that new

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GPs enter it. Can the Minister confirm that a number of the seven-day working pilots involving primary care have had to be cut back because of a shortage of GPs?

Lord Prior of Brampton: I cannot confirm that a number of the pilots have been cut back because of a shortage of GPs. I assure the noble Lord that we are committed to having an additional 5,000 doctors and a further 5,000 professionals working in general practice by 2020. That is a key priority for the Government.

Lord McFall of Alcluith (Lab): My Lords, the number of 80 year-olds today—3 million—is estimated to double by 2030. According to the King’s Fund, this will be the biggest challenge facing society. In particular, the issue of caring for frail, vulnerable adults with complex needs is crying out for attention. What future planning will the Government do to address this human bombshell?

Lord Prior of Brampton: The noble Lord makes a very perceptive point. Demography is driving healthcare. The whole thrust of government policy is to treat as many people as possible outside acute hospital settings. Over the next five, 10, 20 years, I expect to see a far greater share of the health budget going to primary and community care, and a lower percentage to acute care.

Lord Colwyn (Con): My Lords, in view of the massive costs of agency staff working in the NHS, could not the Government consider setting up their own agency?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, it is our intention —for all kinds of reasons; cost, safety and quality of care—to reduce our dependence upon staffing provided by agencies. We would much rather see staff employed on a permanent basis or through hospital banks.

Redcar Steelworks


3 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): With the leave of the House, I would like to repeat the Statement made by my right honourable friend Anna Soubry earlier today in another place. The Statement is as follows.

“Mr Speaker, I begin by saying that the significance of yesterday’s announcement is not lost on either myself or any member of this Government, because we know and understand the profound implications it will have on Teesside. I also pay tribute to the honourable lady; she and I will not agree on this matter but I pay tribute to what she does, which is, as every good MP should, to fight for her constituents—and I know she does that. At the same time, I pay tribute to the honourable gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, who I suspect will also fall out with me, for the work he has done on behalf of his constituents.

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I say that it is not lost on me because it was an honour to go up to Redcar the other week and to meet a number of people at that time. We knew SSI was under huge, considerable difficulties. To set it into context, it had never made a profit, notwithstanding the outstanding workforce, which it undoubtedly is, and a lot of good will. To set it in perspective, the coking ovens were losing, on average, £2 million a month.

The official receiver accordingly was brought in on that Friday and, in his capacity as liquidator of SSI, announced that he had received no viable offers for the coke ovens or for the blast furnace following discussions with potential buyers and would therefore begin closing those facilities. The terminology is a “hard closure”, which is a tough closure as well, and this is not mothballing, so we have to be realistic as to the implications of that.

As I say, it is hugely regrettable news, both for SSI workers and their families and the local economy more broadly. Only this morning, I spoke to the chief executive of the local council, Amanda Skelton, who informed me that at least 50% of the people employed working in the ovens and blast furnace live in Redcar; so we are under no illusions as to the significance for that town. The Government remain absolutely focused on supporting those people who find themselves out of work as a result of SSI’s liquidation and, through a package of up to £80 million, we will continue to invest in them and the future of the Tees Valley economy. Safety, as you might imagine, is a top priority, and we will continue to ensure the official receiver has all the funding and support necessary to ensure a safe and orderly closure of these assets, working with the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency. I would like to thank the official receiver for what he has done. I put on record not only my thanks but also the fact that he has been able, with the assistance of government, to keep the coking ovens going until yesterday’s announcement—and that was no mean achievement.

When I was last in Redcar, we were in the position where, just by way of example as to the serious nature of what had been going on, we discussed the possible sale of coke that might just raise, that Friday morning, £800,000 that might just buy some sulphuric acid to keep the power plant going. That was the hand-to-mouth existence—the reality of SSI. Not the local management, who struggled under the most difficult of conditions, but a reflection, unfortunately, of the Thai owners, notwithstanding all the welcome they had properly received when they bought this plant and the great hope that had been invested in them by the local community.

I would like to place on record my thanks to all those, including the community trade union, I had the great pleasure to meet when I was up there, as well as local authorities, local Members of Parliament and other stakeholders who have helped operate SSI’s facilities during this particularly difficult period and who have done so much to try to ensure there is a future for steelmaking in Redcar. Unfortunately, all that good work has come to nothing”.

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3.05 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, the closure of this site is a catastrophe for the local economy and for the local community on Teesside: 170 years of steelmaking were snuffed out yesterday. The Government are overseeing the loss of a national industrial asset while showing no willingness, as far as we can see, to step in and try to rescue it.

Steel produced in that area is surely part of an industrial strategy. One would expect any Government concerned about the future of the economy in this country to think more closely about our automotive, aerospace and construction industry needs and the relationship they have with steel.

Did the Government explore options for mothballing this site over a longer period to save the assets? Will the Minister confirm how much it will cost the taxpayer to clean up the site? As she mentioned, there are several concerns there about toxicity. Will she reflect on the fact that we are currently engaged on the Enterprise Bill, and in that Bill there may be an opportunity to look again at the question of Chapter 11 solutions when industries of national strategic importance get into trouble?

It seems to me that the Government are washing their hands of this and standing back when they should be taking a direct interest.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his many questions, and for his reference to the Enterprise Bill, on which we had a good debate yesterday. As I explained at the end of proceedings then, it has been difficult. The underlying problem is that the SSI operation has never made a profit. The scale of decline in steel around the world is enormous. The world is oversupplied, with overproduction at 30%. This figure appalled me. There are 200 million tonnes of excess tonnage in China, and EU production is 169 million tonnes. We have an enormous challenge.

The right thing is to look forward. That is why we have established a steel summit on Friday in Rotherham, which obviously goes wider than Redcar. The Secretary of State will be chairing it and Anna Soubry will be there, along with all the key outside players, including, obviously, steelmakers such as Tata and Celsa, the trade unions and experts, including Oxford Economics, who are able to look objectively at the global position and look forward to see what can be done.

Chapter 11 has its advantages in some other climes. I think we have debated this before. We find that the insolvency tends to end up being less efficient, particularly in the sort of circumstance we have here, where you have a big global problem. You have to look forward to different opportunities for an area.

Lord Brookman (Lab): As an ex-general secretary of the union referred to by the Minister and an infrequent speaker in the Chamber, I am pleased that the Minister congratulated the union that I once led, under a different heading. I remember a debate in this Chamber many years ago about the future of manufacturing in the UK, which had particular relevance to the steel industry. It went down quite well—there were 19 speakers —but I was told by one of the inner crowd that we live in a post-industrial society, which implied that banking, the service sector and finance were the way forward.

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The steel communities in this country, although there were 267,000 people in the nationalised industries in 1967, are very, very small. My home town in south Wales is decimated: the mines have gone, the steelworks have gone and times are tough.

If the Minister is running this conference next week, she should—please—apply her mind to keeping what is left.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: I thank the noble Lord for his comments and for his experience. I certainly agree that we should seek to preserve what is good. There are opportunities in the steel industry: there is HS2, if that happens; there is specialist steel; and we have a sector-led strategy on metals. We need to look forward in those areas and to small business creation in Teesside and in other ex-steel communities.

Lord Stoneham of Droxford (LD): My Lords, can the Minister confirm that £20 million of the £80 million that she says the Government are investing in Teesside is money that would be paid in any event in the form of statutory redundancy in a liquidation situation? Will she further say whether the Government, in the situation that they face in Redcar, would be prepared to consider a government-backed task force, as they did five years ago, to look at the diversification of the economy and would be prepared to consider additional funds to help that community if viable projects subsequently emerged?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, on the up to £80 million that is made available, how much goes on redundancy will depend on uptake, but we are clear that it will provide a lot of funds for training and reinvestment in skills—the sort of things that are needed and that are in the hands of the local task force that we have set up and did great work in 2010. The Prime Minister has said that, if necessary, we will look at this again, but we think that the £80 million will make a huge difference to the more than 2,000 unfortunate people who, if one takes all of them together, will lose their jobs—it is very disappointing. On a future task force, we are focusing this week on the summit and on the local task force.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): Does my noble friend know that for the second Forth Bridge crossing, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government, the majority of the steel is being shipped from China? That suggests that there is a degree of uncompetitiveness or a degree of dumping of steel going on. Does my noble friend not acknowledge that one consequence of putting green taxes on high-energy-using businesses is to make them uncompetitive, leading us to import carbon from our competitors and to put our people out of work?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I am not sure that energy policy is the issue here. We have already paid £50 million in compensation under the Energy Intensive Industries Compensation Scheme. As my noble friend said, the issue is the lack of competitiveness, but I think some public organisations do this better. If one looks at Crossrail, one sees that it used a great

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deal of British steel in its concretes by way of the work that it did with the supply chain to encourage it to bid for work during that excellent project.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the north-east has faced issues like this before? When I became the Member of Parliament for North West Durham in 1987, Consett steelworks had closed. Ironically, one of the reasons that we were given for closing Consett was to keep things going in Teesside. We then faced a male unemployment rate in the region of 20%. It took years and years to begin to get people employed, and it was very difficult to get the quality of skills that they had been used to working with in the steelworks. This is a huge challenge to the local community and I really think that the Government have not taken it seriously enough. The summit in Rotherham will do nothing for Redcar.

The £80 million, as the noble Lord said, includes statutory redundancy costs, which is an outrage. Will the Government pay far more attention to what is going to happen to that community in Redcar, which is quite isolated? Unemployment in the north-east is already the highest in the country, and in the Tees Valley area it is probably higher than in the rest of the region. This is a real crisis for local people and the Government must recognise—in a way that, locally, they are not seen as having done so far—the impact that it will have on that local community and make sure that the opportunity for change and reconstruction of some manufacturing jobs is made more possible. That means working closely with the European Union as well with the local task force and the LEPs.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I do not share the negative view that was set out, but I agree that we need to look forward. We set out in our Statement yesterday a great number of the things that we are doing on reskilling and looking forward, as the noble Baroness suggested. We have taken action at the EU level to work with other member states who face similar challenges—the French, the Germans and the Luxembourgers—in fighting dumping, and some measures have been taken. But as I said, this is a real competitiveness issue and we need to look forward and find new opportunities in this important industry.

European Union Referendum Bill

Second Reading (Continued)

3.16 pm

Lord Boswell of Aynho (Non-Afl): My Lords, this Bill is domestic legislation, so, while I have the honour of chairing your Lordships’ European Union Committee, I have no scrutiny locus to apply to it. Further, I am bound by the obligation of non-partisanship, and that is in any case very much the culture of my committee as a whole. I felt however that it might be useful to the House to outline our thinking in this crucial matter.

I do not plan to participate in the Committee stage of the Bill. I certainly have personal views on some issues that, judging from the debate this morning, are likely

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to be raised, and I am a self-confessed ex-serial amender of Bills. On technical issues, I shall confine myself to one comment: as the revised version of the ballot paper question now appears in subsection (4) of Clause 1, the wording both of the Long Title and of the first subsection could usefully be harmonised with it.

The substance of the Bill is of course very much not a technical matter, and as the decision is now being left to the British people as a whole, I do not intend to express any view on it on behalf of the committee, particularly ahead of substantive negotiations. I will concentrate, for the benefit of the House, on what I feel we can properly offer as your Lordships’ scrutiny committee.

The House will be aware that, just before the recess in July, we got in early with the report The Referendum on UK Membership of the EU:Assessing the Reform Process.We are taking this work forward into a new inquiry which we are about to launch, which asks: what are the issues involved? Is there any common vision of the reforms that are necessary in the European Union? At a more technical level, who is negotiating, and with whom? How are the various interests being addressed? What is the timetable, both for making decisions and for reporting back to Parliament and the nation on them?

It is clear that the process is far more complex and fraught with risk than the 1975 negotiations and referendum, which many here will remember. Then there were only nine member states, compared with 28 now; the transition period for the United Kingdom had barely begun; and the concept of devolved Assemblies—save for the Northern Ireland Assembly—was some way off. The European Parliament then was still directly appointed, in its infancy and relatively powerless.

The second emphasis in our inquiry is that this Government, in their understandable wish to develop their own position and to secure their negotiating objectives, might possibly put too little weight on some less obvious players and overlook some issues—for example, those of bilateral interest which could still derail the negotiation process.

Recent negotiation history over justice and home affairs matters, which caused such a flurry last year, is a warning bell here. As an example of an interest, the Irish Republic, with its involvement in constitutional issues affecting the island of Ireland and the unique land boundary with the United Kingdom, needs to be kept actively in play. More generally across Europe in my experience, we have many friends and we must cultivate them in what is bound to be a delicate game of three-dimensional chess. In playing this game, tone is extremely important.

Naturally, on behalf of the House, we are pleased that our Government’s emphasis is on an enhanced role for national Parliaments. This should not in our view be seen as downgrading or challenging the legitimacy of the European Parliament. If collectively as national Parliaments we aspire to an enhanced role, we must be allowed a forward gear as well as a purely negative role. Our committee has been active in this area. We recently submitted to the Commission, with the support

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of nearly half the Chambers of national Parliaments, the first ever green card initiative on the reduction of food waste.

We also, as a committee, insist on the transparency of the negotiating process. Of course, there must be scope for proper diplomatic leeway but, equally, an entirely closed process could risk a backlash of acceptability. Ministers have made explicit commitments to keep Parliament informed and we shall hold them to that. Then, as negotiations proceed, we shall be looking out for the extent to which the Government may legitimately claim to have fulfilled their own objectives, which centre around four issues, and equally for the legal certainty of any undertakings they have received. The nation must be clear about the basis on which it is voting, to reduce the scope for any future confusion or even recrimination.

In conclusion, I suspect that the small print which properly concerns us, as your Lordships’ scrutiny committee, will inevitably be swept up in the far bigger strategic issues of a national decision. I doubt, frankly, whether too many electors will be hanging on the details of some particular assurance as they decide how to place their own vote—and I would not expect to be doing so myself. In any case—this was touched on in the earlier stages of the debate—there is an inevitable asymmetry in the formal choice. We shall certainly be confronted at the referendum with a stay or leave choice on the basis of the negotiations that the Government are undertaking while, on the other hand, a national choice to leave at that referendum would trigger a fresh round of negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The outcome cannot be known in advance of any application that would in turn have to follow the outcome of a referendum.

In the end, what we can offer as a committee is to inform this House and through it the people more generally as to some of the practical issues and implications. Ultimately, I would expect—and indeed, I think I would hope—that people will make their choice on the basis of these strategic issues involving our people, and in the decision whether they are best tackled through active membership or from outside.

3.24 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD): My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London spoke earlier of the changing historical shape of Europe. I live part-time in Aquitaine in France—a region that was, of course, part of the kingdom of England for some centuries. Consequently, I frequently journey from here to there. During the time I have been doing that, I have developed a tremendous admiration for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. She frequently journeyed to and fro on horseback, through strife and storms, often while pregnant. I am glad to say that my journeys are less arduous.

Aquitaine, like other parts of France and Spain, has tens of thousands of British expats living there. Can the Minister confirm how many UK citizens have lived abroad for more than 15 years and how many of them live in EU member states? These are the disenfranchised British people I want to talk about.

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As the Minister made clear, the basis for this Bill is the Westminster franchise, but that is not fit for purpose for this referendum. It is quite illogical that it should be used because it is to do with local and national elections.

Among these British expats, many have worked in the UK for their whole lives—as teachers, soldiers, doctors, diplomats, bus drivers—and many still pay taxes in the UK because they get a UK government pension. Their children and grandchildren live and work in the UK. These people are deeply invested in the UK and care about its future. Of course, if they live in the EU, they are concerned about how the changes will affect their own future in a very direct way. However, their concerns run much deeper and wider than their own situation. I will quote a policeman, Philip Pearce, who retired from Somerset to France and said:

“I moved to France 20 years ago, living on a government pension from the police force. I have made my home here. Because I have a government pension I still have to pay income in the UK. I pay my income tax there like so many others with government pensions, but have no say in voting. Yes, perhaps this is reluctantly acceptable in normal elections, but not this referendum”.

That is one example. Another could be that of a young person who, after university, goes to look after a sick parent abroad. That parent, though ill, lingers on and that young person, despite long-term hopes of returning to the UK, has no vote. Somebody else, whose career takes them abroad—perhaps when they are 25—and who is still working abroad at 41, has now got small children and plans to return to the UK in the near future. This is quite a common pattern. Why should they not have a vote in the referendum when the rest of their lives will be invested in the UK?

In her opening remarks, the Minister said that the Government intend to pass their votes for life Bill, promised in the Queen’s Speech, in due course. I was glad to hear that. However, there is no saying that it will be enacted in time: in fact, it looks unlikely. Even if we follow the wise advice of the noble Lord, Lord Jay, to get on with it sooner rather than later, I doubt that the votes for life Bill will be enacted by 2016. So those hundreds of thousands of expats will have no say on the future of the EU.

The only way to solve this problem is to amend this Bill to include them. After all, if we can amend the Westminster franchise, as we intend to do, to include Members of your Lordships’ House, surely we can amend it to ensure with safety and certainty that those people whose future in the UK is as invested as ours have their say. This is what I intend to do in Committee.

3.29 pm

Lord Norton of Louth (Con): My Lords, I wish to speak briefly on changes made to the Bill and what is omitted. I do not propose to follow some noble Lords who have begun to fight the referendum campaign.

My starting point is one of scepticism in regard to the principle of referendums, but an acceptance that successive Governments have utilised them and that they are therefore part of our constitutional arrangements. What we are faced with is not the ideal, but it is the real.

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We have rarely discussed the principle of referendums. A dislike of referendums is set aside when someone prioritises a particular issue of policy and sees a referendum as a way of achieving an outcome that otherwise may not be achieved. Governments have employed them on a disparate and discrete basis, with no set framework for determining their use. The Bill before us can be justified on the grounds that it addresses a fundamental part of our constitutional arrangements and derives from precedent. As with the 1975 referendum, it is grounded in a manifesto commitment. However, it is not set within a clear, intellectually coherent approach to constitutional change. The danger is that we are developing a new constitutional framework without thinking through the consequences.

I turn to the specifics of the Bill. As introduced, it reproduced a problem of the 1975 referendum and, indeed, later referendums, but one that has now been corrected, but introduces a problem not present in 1975. As my noble friend Lady Anelay pointed out in introducing the Bill, the Bill as initially introduced stipulated a yes or no response. When the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill was going through this House, I drew attention to the bias involved in inviting a yes or no response. There is a natural tendency to want to appear positive, so there is a bias in favour of a yes response regardless of the question. Some referendums have, as we know, resulted in a no victory, sometimes a substantial victory, but that outcome might have been even greater had the burden of the question been reversed or electors offered a choice between two mutually exclusive statements.

The Electoral Commission previously favoured a yes/no question because of the ease of campaigning—one could have a vote yes and a vote no campaign. It has now changed its position, having undertaken consultation and research, and favours two statements. I welcome the change and the Government’s acceptance of the Electoral Commission’s recommendation. Subsequent surveys have shown that having a choice of statements, as opposed to a statement inviting a yes/no response, does affect how people vote. My concern is not with what their response is, but that the process itself is as neutral as possible. I therefore commend Clause 1(5), in the form it which it reaches us.

I turn to the problem not present in 1975. On that occasion, electors were invited to vote on the basis of the terms of membership renegotiated by the Government. The ballot question was preceded by the statement stipulated in the Referendum Act:

“The Government have announced the results of the renegotiation of the United Kingdom’s terms of membership of the European Community”.

The terms were known. There was a gap of almost three months between negotiations being completed and the referendum taking place. For the referendum provided for in this Bill, it is expected that electors will be invited to make a decision based on the Government’s negotiations. Nothing about the negotiations appears on the face of the Bill and it is not clear as to the relationship between the date of the referendum and the stage at which negotiations are completed and, indeed, what form completion takes. In the event of a vote to remain in the EU with negotiations incomplete, what obligations remain with the Government?

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Other issues to be addressed, in my view, are whether there should be a threshold requirement, similar to that imposed in the 1979 referendums, and whether it should be a binding referendum, as with the 2011 referendum on the electoral system, or whether it should be advisory, as has been the norm. There is clearly a case for considering a threshold, given the significance of the issue, and especially so should we decide that the outcome should be binding. An advisory referendum gives Parliament the opportunity to take into account turnout in considering whether to legislate in line with how electors have voted. I assume that there will be a reasonably high turnout, but that is not certain. Perhaps my noble friend Lady Anelay can share with us the Government’s expectation as to turnout, and whether they are minded to accept that a threshold is desirable, and if not, why not.

The House of Commons has passed this Bill. It is not our task to challenge the principle. The Commons has also approved, after discussion, particular provisions, or refused to include particular provisions. We can usefully address those matters that the other place has not considered. It is important to get the Bill right before we begin a referendum campaign. We need to ensure that we focus on the merits on the Bill. There is still work to be done, and it is important that this House plays to its strengths.

3.35 pm

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): A referendum is,

“a device of dictators and demagogues”,

said Mrs Thatcher in 1975. Clearly, like the Bishops, she knew her Book. We are, however, where we are. This is not like last time. It is not like the Battle of Balaclava: the gallant charge of the Light Brigade with the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, playing Lord Cardigan. The manifesto pledge was clear; the electorate voted; the House of Commons has voted. Our task is to improve this Bill; we cannot possibly oppose it.

I do not want to talk about the negotiations in Brussels. I echo all that the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, said. I cannot add to that because I do not know what is happening and I understand neither our aims nor our methods. I am baffled, as is Brussels. Instead, I will step back a bit. I have a nasty feeling that we have been here before: a newly elected Government; an intervention in the Middle East, not hugely successful; non-intervention to assist a European neighbour invaded by Russia; and a Government seriously contemplating the possibility of stepping out from the task of forging a stronger, more competitive Europe—this is 1956. We paid for our Suez mistake over a generation in foreign policy.

Our worst mistake, however, was to walk out of the Val Duchesse talks which followed the conference at Messina and led to the Treaty of Rome. We knew almost immediately that it was a mistake. Prime Minister Macmillan tried to prise open the door that we had slammed behind us as we flounced out. However, it took 15 years to get that door open. Meanwhile the rules of the club had been written in our absence and inevitably to our detriment. Once we were in, it took us another 15 years to correct that detriment: to

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establish, at least in principle, a single market; to bring down external tariffs; and to entrench free trade. It took another 15 years finally to deliver Mrs Thatcher’s vision—the vision of the Bruges speech—of a wider Europe: bringing Budapest, Prague and Warsaw into the Union and to some extent laying to rest the ghosts of 1956.

How ironic that, under another Conservative Government, we are contemplating throwing all that away, renouncing our leading role in the single market—now of 500 million—and reverting to sovereign autarchy and isolation. It was a Conservative Party thinker who pointed out that the lone man lost in the Sahara has absolute sovereignty but is absolutely powerless. You have to be in to win. People have spoken about the Norwegians. To obtain access to the single market they have to accept EU rules, standards and specifications, and have no say in writing them. It was the Norwegian Foreign Minister who reminded us, “Leave, and you will be run by Brussels. Stay, and you can run Brussels”.

Who would like us to leave? Mr Putin, obviously—he thinks only in zero-sum games and the weaker the West is, the better, as far as he is concerned. Our American friends, our Commonwealth friends, our developing country friends, our Asian investor friends: all urge us to stay in their interests and, they believe, ours. They find it baffling that we might want to repeat the Messina mistake; so do I.

I believe we owe it to the electorate to enable them to make a properly informed choice: to heed Mrs Thatcher’s 1975 warning and see through the silly slogans and assertions, which will come from both sides, while realising the historical gravity of the decision. This is not a vote of confidence or no confidence in the Government. It is not an opinion poll on benefit cuts, devolution or austerity. As the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, said this morning, a vote to leave the EU would not be a reversible vote, like a vote in an election. The decision would be one that our children and grandchildren would have to live with, so we have to improve the Bill.

Others have spoken of extending the franchise. I agree with all three suggestions that emerged this morning. I support what the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, said and agree strongly with the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Tyler. I support what the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, and the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, said about 16 and 17 year-olds.

On Clause 6, I admit that I am baffled. I did not understand this morning’s exchange between the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, and the Minister. The concern I have about Clause 6 is that I would like to be reassured that this additional provision, accepted by the Government in the Commons, would not affect practically the conduct of government business in Brussels to the detriment of the national interest. That is what I will be looking for.

The most important changes, or rather additions, that we need to make to the Bill are those about which the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, spoke this morning. How can we ensure that the country is properly informed in advance on the consequences of a vote to leave? When in the last Parliament we in this House looked

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at the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, we carried by a huge majority an amendment requiring the Government to report, before the referendum, on the economic effects of our leaving. The country really needs to know the legislative and statutory effects of leaving in the areas of responsibility of every government department, central and devolved. The country needs to know the effect on individual citizens resident here and resident elsewhere in the EU.

Above all, the country needs a definition of out. It needs to know what out means. As the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, asked, what relationship with our shortly to be former partners would the Government envisage if required to take us out, and on what evidence do they believe that the 27 would agree? The economic consequences of repeating the Messina mistake would clearly be much bigger now, with the Union so much wider and stronger. To what extent, and in what negotiable ways, do the Government intend that they would be mitigated? The country needs to know, so getting the Bill right really matters.

I end with a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Lawson of Blaby, not so much for what he said today—although there was a point in it with which I agreed—and not for the messages of despair about continental Europe and the need for us to escape from it that he has been sending us in recent weeks from his hideout in the maquis of continental Europe, but for the perception and generosity of his wise weekend words about Geoffrey Howe. I add a tribute in passing to the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, for his contribution to that extremely moving BBC television programme on Denis Healey last week. Healey and Howe were two sparring partners and great statesmen—two very brave men and great Chancellors. I worked for them both, as I worked for their successor, and I know the importance that both would have attached to this referendum. Both campaigned in 1975 with Mrs Thatcher for us to stay in. Both were proud patriots with a sense of history and the knack of bending its arc our way, particularly in Europe—Healey with his link to Schmidt and Howe with his link to Delors. They would not have wished to see us repeat the Messina mistake. I really hope that we will not.

3.44 pm

Lord Balfe (Con): My Lords, referenda in the UK, as we all know, are a fairly new innovation. The first time in modern history that a referendum was used was in 1975, and their use was opposed quite vigorously by both Attlee and Churchill. They only came into being in 1975—the noble Lord, Lord Radice, gave us a very good history lesson earlier—to get the Labour Party off the hook, because it was deeply divided at that time. One part of the party wanted to be in, and the other part wanted to be out. Harold Wilson, who still stands high in my pantheon of former Labour Prime Ministers, went along with this suggestion, which I do not think he believed in for a minute. He went along with it, however, and the Labour Party—if I remember correctly—came up with the slogan, “Not on Tory terms”, without actually specifying what terms would be acceptable, because that did at least solve the immediate problem that the ones on offer were not acceptable.

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I have always disputed the complaint that we are somehow in something that we were not promised. In fact, the whole 1975 referendum campaign, in my part of London, was about what this campaign is about: Brussels. I remember listening to people like Tony Benn and Enoch Powell saying exactly what is being said today—that Brussels would somehow run things. In the end, we had to come to a conclusion, and overall we came to a very clear conclusion in 1975. I can help my noble friend Lord Lawson, who earlier seemed to be searching for a slogan to show that there was something beyond Europe. From history, I commend to him the slogan of the Morning Star in 1975:

No to a bosses’ Europe; yes to a workers’ world”.

That was meant to show that there was something beyond Europe that was vital and worth us getting.

The difference, of course, as has been said, is that the 1974-75 renegotiation was not the same as the present one: things are now very different. Today’s renegotiation, to be quite honest—which we seem to be in this House at the moment—is also to get the Government off the hook. It is as simple as that. The country is divided; there is a feeling that after 40 years, perhaps we should revisit this and have another go, but in fact, the options are far more limited today. There is really no option for any sensible person other than to maintain, and somehow build on, our relationship with Europe. The debate is about how we influence what we have got. Moreover, this is not the first renegotiation: Mrs Thatcher negotiated our terms in Europe much more fundamentally than this renegotiation will.

One of the delights of a long career in politics is that you can look back to all of the positions you have held—in my case, many have changed over the years—and at the changes in the parties’ positions. When Mrs Thatcher did her renegotiation, the Conservative Party was 100% in favour of Europe. I was in the European Parliament at that time. There was an odd little group called the H-block, led, if I remember correctly, by the late Brian Hord. They were in favour of something different, but overall, the Conservative Party was strongly in favour. The Labour Party was more divided. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock, has gone, because it was actually he who turned the Labour Party round more than anyone else. Of all the achievements to which he can lay claim, the foremost was that he was prepared to grasp the question by the throat and he turned the Labour Party round.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mentioned the negotiation by John Major to get Britain out of the social chapter. That was a really brilliant negotiation. Of course, what he conceded was that into the treaty went Strasbourg as the seat of the European Parliament. Tony Blair came into power and said, “We’re going into the social chapter”. The other countries said, “Fine. If you want to, we’ll amend the treaty”. I do not think France is going to say, “We’ll abandon Strasbourg” quite as easily, so be careful what concessions you give along the way.

I shall mention a couple of things concerning the present Bill, neutrally rather than hostilely. The British electorate is a jumble. Frankly, when citizens in Malta, Cyprus and half of Gibraltar can vote, but people who have worked in Britain for 20 years and who happen to have a French passport cannot, we are in an

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area of lunacy. The only advice I would give is that they should change their nationality. They still have time to do it. I am very willing to give any European Union citizen a quick course on how to change their nationality to become a good Brit, and be able to vote in our referendum. It is actually not very hard if you have a clean record and have been here for a bit of time. My advice to them is to get on board.

On the voting age, have we not got into a mess? We seem to have one age for one set of elections and another age for another set. I say to the Minister and my colleagues that we had better get something sorted out, because what we have does not make sense. We have a very odd collection of different ages. I would not go for 16, but since it seems that half of elections nowadays go for 16, I will restrict myself to saying, “Please sort it out”.

At the end of this debate, we are going to have to decide. I predict a rerun of 1975. I think the establishments of all the major parties will be saying vote yes, and the two outer wings will say vote no. Who are going to be the latter-day successors to J Enoch Powell and AW Benn? I am not going to start speculating. I can think of their names, but I predict that it will be like that. If I remember rightly, only Orkney and the Shetland Islands voted no in the previous referendum. There might be a few more no votes this time, perhaps some in Northern Ireland, because they have a habit of spiting themselves. Some places might vote no, but overall I predict there will be an overwhelming yes vote. The TUC has indicated it is onside, as has the CBI. We have set up an all-party campaign, and I am working with my good friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, across the aisle, to deliver Cambridge, one small but important city, for the yes vote. I look forward to getting a yes vote, getting this passed in some form or other and getting on with the job of being good partners in Europe.

3.53 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, it is sad that, at this time, we do not have the benefit of the wisdom and experience of Lord Healey and Lord Howe, and we send our sincere condolences to the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, at this very sad time.

This debate is more limited in scope than perhaps it would have been earlier this year. The starting point is surely that, after the general election, the Government can claim to have a mandate. We now need to examine the details of implementing the electorate’s decision.

In the other place, the Foreign Secretary declared that there are three variables: the date, the question and the franchise. On the date, the Government have stated that the referendum will be held before the end of 2017 and that the precise date will depend on the progress of negotiations. It has now been agreed that the referendum will not coincide with certain domestic elections. There is, however, a problem. In 2017, there are key elections in France and Germany. I agree with Liam Fox MP that, with all the different procedures in the 27 other member countries and the temptation for them to add favourite items, it is unrealistic to expect treaty change by the end of 2017. A post-dated cheque would obviously raise problems. We can do little about the date in today’s debate, but it is worth looking at the

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today, which suggests that there is not much urgency in the Prime Minister’s approach to the negotiations. Perhaps the Minister could reply to that later.

The question was changed for the better in the other place; it no longer invites the answer yes, but is balanced and fair. So far as the franchise is concerned, the simplest solution is, of course, the normal franchise for a general election with the addition of Gibraltar, which has already happened, and Members of this House. However, there are still many absurdities. Citizens of one foreign country resident in the UK—namely Ireland—can vote. Only citizens from certain EU countries in the UK—namely Malta and Cyprus—can vote. Citizens of Gibraltar, who along with the Falkland Islanders would face the most adverse consequences if we were to remove ourselves as advocates for them in Brussels, have the vote. EU citizens who may have spent decades here and have policy interests across the board will not have the vote, while British citizens who live abroad and may no longer have any real stake in our country, will. Surely some consideration should be given to adopting the same rules as in local government elections to allow all other EU nationals resident in the UK for a certain period of time, perhaps three years, to vote.

I have a few observations from my personal experience. I was in a European department in the Foreign Office when we in this country debated the alternatives such as EFTA, the diversion at that time. I appeared with Edward Heath on the same platform during the 1975 election. This, as Yogi Berra is supposed to have said, is like déjà vu all over again. We have a divided government party wheeling in a device like a deus ex machina for party, not national, interest. I recall in 1975 the bald assertion that the referendum would result in the closure of debate on our EU membership. Tony Benn soon recommenced his campaign against the EU, which led to the disastrous 1983 Labour manifesto.

Another precedent is of course the current debate in Scotland on a second referendum on independence. It is claimed by some that our citizens need to be asked again, as there was no mention in 1975 of ever-closer union and vast changes have taken place since. I comment that ever-closer union, which the Government now seek to opt out of, was always in the treaty. Again, as no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, would say, no institution is static. All political institutions are dynamic. Surely no one believed that the European Union would stand still. Still, David Cameron, our Prime Minister, wants his Clause 4 moment by seeking to avoid for us the movement towards ever-closer union.

I took part in the French referendum on the Maastricht treaty, successfully, I may say—just. Most of the debate at the time was wholly unrelated to Maastricht. That is really the problem: an in/out question can be easily misinterpreted. However, the referendum will not give a list of options for our people. What alternative would they favour if they were to vote no? How would we interpret a no vote? If the Government are so keen to listen to the people and have the benefit of their views, surely there should be a whole series of additional questions such as, “If no, what would you like to happen?”.

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My experience of the 1979 and 1997 referendums on devolution in my own Wales is that the result of the vote depends on who asks the question and when they ask it. In Sweden, for example, there was one brief moment when Swedish public opinion swung in favour of the EU, and that was the time when the referendum was held. There is a danger of a passing public mood which can determine the result; for example, if immigration were to rise to the top of the agenda of concern and were linked by the public to the EU.

One brief penultimate comment on the PM’s position. Clearly he travels light on this issue, as indeed on most other policy questions. However, the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, claims in his book that Mr Cameron wants us in, come what may. Certainly up to 2012, knowing the resulting uncertainties for our business and inward investment, he gave powerful speeches against a referendum. It is his party and not national imperatives which have changed his position. It is a dangerous gamble for the UK as a whole since a no vote would deliver a powerful new impetus to Scottish independence. I wonder if that has been added to the Prime Minister’s equation.

No doubt we shall examine the details of the Bill—particularly the question on the franchise for those who are 16 and above—and debate reports on possible alternatives. The referendum involves key decisions for us. It relates to how we see ourselves and our place in the world. Will we be stronger if we withdraw? Will we be taken more seriously by key players such as the United States, particularly in international trade negotiations? Will we be more attractive for inward investment? Will our car industry flourish with higher tariffs or will we be increasingly marginalised as a middle-ranking power but still—like Norway—be heavily influenced by decisions over which we have no say? The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, asked, “Who wants us out?”, and the list he gave was most instructive. Thus, beyond the details of the Bill are wider questions which I fear for party reasons the Government will seek to avoid.

4.01 pm

Lord Higgins (Con): My Lords, in waiting to speak this afternoon I have felt more comfortable than for many years because the Bench with a hole in it on which I habitually sit has finally been replaced. I mention this to reassure those who are still sitting on dilapidated Benches. It may be that the change here is a sign that austerity is finally coming to an end. I should add that one great advantage is that it is not as slippery, so that one does not find oneself sliding backwards and lying back and then being unjustly accused by the press of being asleep in a debate while listening to what people are saying. At all events, some things are improving.

I have always been totally opposed to referendums, and in particular to what one might call binding or mandatory referendums, which in effect represent the dictatorship of the majority and take no account of minority interests. They are the antithesis of representative democracy and leave Members of Parliament unable to wholly fulfil their jobs as representatives and not delegates. I was glad to see in a note prepared by the Library that this Bill,

“does not contain any requirement on the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by

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which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative”.

For the reasons I have just mentioned I welcome that, but I am not at all sure that that is what is understood by the public at large who are going to suffer perhaps two years of debate on this issue and then find that the way the vote has been cast does not automatically get implemented by Parliament. If I may say so, I think my noble friend the Minister said in her opening remarks that the people will have the final say. Strictly speaking, I suspect that that is not true as far as the way that the Bill is drafted.

The other thing, which was raised by my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth, is that the Bill does not include any provision either for what should be decided as a decisive majority on the one hand or what should be the threshold for voting on the other. We will need to consider that in the course of debates in Committee and at later stages. There is also some danger that because this is being carried out against the background of a renegotiation, the vote will reflect whether people think that the renegotiation has been successful or not rather than the underlying question of whether we ought to be in or out. That could distort the result, perhaps to a significant extent.

It is been very difficult to discern what the Government’s objectives are at the present time—many Members have referred to this—but it is clear that the Prime Minister and the Government are opposed to the concept of ever-closer union. But there is a real paradox here. The people who frustrate any move to ever-closer union are the bureaucrats in Brussels, because they are absolutely fixated on two things: the single currency and the free movement of people. Far from leading to closer union, both those dogmas have put them in a position which is more and more divisive. We were told that the single currency would lead to harmonisation and convergence, but that is far from the case. You only have to look at the recent disputes with Greece to realise that the effect of the single currency has been to tear countries apart rather than to bring them together. The situation is similar with regard to the free movement of people, particularly against the background of the extraordinary increase in immigration from outside the European Union, and the way in which this has caused great dissent between, let us say, Germany and Hungary. There is therefore a curious paradox that what the Prime Minister is against is effectively implemented by the bureaucracy in Brussels.

However, at all events, what is crucial is that because of these two issues, which we have opted out of, the Prime Minister has effectively opted out of participation in many of the most important issues, not least the ones I have just mentioned, which are going on at the present time. He has tended to opt out, which is very dangerous indeed. We need to get to a situation where much of the renegotiation should lead to us arguing for what is right not only for this country but for the European Union as a whole. At the moment, the issues I discussed earlier are greatly to the detriment of our country in terms of, for example, exports, problems with immigration and so on. So the Prime Minister has to ensure that he takes a far more active role in

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Europe than appears to have been the case, because we have not been participating in those particular major areas of policy which I have referred to.

I will make one final point. All these tendencies have been recently for disunity in Europe, which could not happen at a more dangerous time. We cannot conceive of a situation where we have disunity in the European Union on issue after issue and then are totally united on participation in NATO. Personally, I am more worried about that situation than I can remember being for probably my whole adult life. These are important issues, and I hope that the Prime Minister will take a lead in the way I have suggested.

4.09 pm

Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate, which has ranged far and wide over the major strategic issues of the last 70 years in Europe, since the last war, right through to the issues of today, such as the wording of the referendum question and purdah. However, the Bill itself is mainly about very technical matters; 48 of the 56 pages concern detailed technical issues to do with the organisation of the referendum. I hope—others may not agree—that when we discuss this in Committee we will be able to carry out the House of Lords’ traditional role of scrutinising detail and spend at least a little of the time looking at these matters because they need scrutiny. There are a lot of ministerial powers set out here, for example, not just about the question of purdah, which I think we ought to look at and at the very least press the Government into saying what their intentions are.

On a minor detail, I express my personal thanks to the Government for the change to the Bill that means the referendum cannot be on 5 May next year, which is the day my current term of office as a local councillor comes to an end. If I decide to defend my seat, I would really prefer to do it without the encumbrance of a referendum on the European Union at the same time, which might divert attention from whether people want me again.

It has been a good debate and, in particular, I enjoyed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth—who is not in his seat at the moment—who talked about going into battle waving a white flag not being the thing to do because you are giving up before you start. However, the problem is that some of us would rather that this referendum was not taking place and we have no real confidence that there will be any huge change as a result of the negotiations. The Prime Minister and others will come back with a huge amount of spin, trying to tell the country about all the great changes they have achieved, which will not add up to very much at all. To that degree, I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Forsyth and Lord Lawson, and people on their side. The problem is that I do not really want any changes before we have the vote. I am perfectly happy to vote for the European Union as it is now and get stuck in within the European Union to achieve what changes this country might like.

As for flying the flag, the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, said that he was responsible for flying some flags somewhere in Wales and had four in a row: one for Wales, one for the UK and I am not sure what the

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others were. That is exactly what we did in the town I live in, Colne in Lancashire, where we have four flags flying outside the town hall. I always thought it was rather nice, all the flags you saw outside continental town halls when you went to Europe—the European mainland, I should say—so we have done it in Colne. We have the union flag, the flag of England and the European flag, which we were told people would come and tear down but nobody did. The only one anybody ever tore down was the union flag and they were football hooligans who wanted to run round the streets in a drunken manner, waving it. We also have the Lancashire flag. It took some time to get Lancashire County Council to agree to allow us to use the Lancashire flag, or perhaps it was the sheriff who had to agree—I am not sure. In the end I had to go to see Louise Ellman, who at the time was chairman of Lancashire County Council, to knock some heads together because they said the Lancashire flag could be flown only on the county hall and on the county jail in Preston. It now flies in Colne as well and that is the way to fly flags: fly as many as possible to represent the things to which people feel allegiance. The danger with flags occurs when one flag is dominant and it becomes very nationalist.

The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said that there had been a European distrust of democracy and democratic accountability, but I suggest that democracy is more than simply having elections and electing a leader or a group of people every so often. Representative democracy is indeed at the very heart of democracy but other things are too—things such as the rule of law, due process, equality and freedom under the law, and concepts of citizenship. Many of those concepts are as well known within the rest of Europe as they are in this country, and in some cases better known and better understood than they are in this country. How much better it is to have all those long, tedious and, some people think, extremely boring and time-wasting meetings in which European politicians and officials negotiate farm payments at 2 am to meet deadlines that expired at midnight and so on than it is to have them organising arms to shoot at each other.

One of the great triumphs of Europe is that it is 70 years—at least, within the European Union—since people in Europe were organised to shoot at each other. That is a huge triumph of Europe and, given its history, 70 years is a long time for that to have been the case. Anybody who thinks that Europe could not revert to a situation in which some of the countries that are now in the European Union start shooting at each other again is living in cloud-cuckoo-land. You have only to look not very far away—for example, to the eastern part of Ukraine—or to remember what happened in the Balkans just over 20 years ago to realise that there is nothing special about Europeans and that we are not a special kind of human being that does not engage in that sort of activity. The European Union has been absolutely fundamental in questions of war and peace. I hope that we will manage to talk about that in the referendum campaign and not just about trade, although, as a Liberal, I am not going to say that trade is not important.

I have two more brief points to make. One concerns the question of voting by 16 year-olds or whoever. One of the huge problems under the new system of

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individual electoral registration—which in general I support—is the registration of young voters. It is said that 2 million 18 to 24 year-olds are not registered and that among 17 year-olds—the attainers—only 25% are registered. That has to be tackled.

My final point is that it is all very well being able to vote as a British citizen living in another European Union country if you can get on the register and get your postal vote sent to you, but there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence from the recent general election that people had problems with both those things. That is another issue that will have to be looked at if we have a referendum in which all these people in Europe vote.

4.18 pm

Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, I welcome the Bill. I believe that the Government are clearly acting in the national interest in giving the people the final decision on this matter and I congratulate them on keeping their manifesto promise in this respect.

I also congratulate my noble friend the Minister on her opening remarks, which very crisply set out what can be achieved by this referendum. As she said, it is absolutely vital that it is seen to be robust and fair. We want to settle this question for a generation. I will possibly vote to leave unless the negotiations come up with good results but, if I do so and I lose, I will not complain unless the referendum has been unfair, and I am sure that others on all sides will take that view. So when the Minister says that we need to strengthen the perception that the neutrality of the Bill is beyond doubt, I heartily concur with that sentiment. The wording of the question, which achieves the maximum level of neutrality, is a good improvement. I welcome that as well and echo what my noble friend Lord Norton said about the inherent bias in “yes” and “no”.

However, that is precisely why Clause 6 needs to be scrutinised very carefully. This is the clause under which exemptions to Section 125 of the 2000 Act can be applied for and where the purdah rules can be altered, if necessary, in the run-up to the election. I am concerned about the power to make exceptions to Section 125 and echo what the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said in his intervention on the Minister: that we need to see what those exceptions are as soon as possible and not just four months before the referendum. As the Minister said, we want a fair campaign so that the deck is not stacked in favour of one side or another. In his closing remarks in the other place, Minister John Penrose said that a 16-week referendum period with no announcements in that time will be allowed. Will the Government put that assurance in the legislation?

On the question of 16 and 17-year olds, I was 17 in 1975. That means that I am one of the oldest people in the country and the House who has never had a say on the question of membership of the European Union. I am longing to have a say; I am looking forward to getting my chance at last. I am not sure that I would trust my 17-year old self to vote sensibly on that matter, and that is probably partly why I think the Government are right to stick to the Westminster franchise on this—to disfranchise my 17-year old self. It is the only way to solve the various conundrums that were raised by my noble friend Lord Balfe and the

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noble Lord, Lord Anderson, about how to set this franchise. The easiest thing is to go for the Westminster franchise, plus, of course, Members of this House.

The timing of this referendum is key. Over the next few years, the European Union is going to change beyond all recognition anyway. The integration of the eurozone is clearly required and necessary. Even if one does not think that it is going to happen anyway, one just has to read the report of the five Presidents or the state of the union speech of Mr Juncker, in which he could not have made it clearer that there will be a new integration of the eurozone and that the UK will have to seek a new status of some kind within that arrangement anyway, by 2020. In a sense, all that we are arguing about is how much independence we will have and what form it will take. Personally, I think that the leap in the dark is to leap in with that very uncertain arrangement.

Many of the speeches today have prematurely joined the battle of the referendum itself, rather than the question of this Bill. In the interests of brevity, I will try to avoid that temptation—except to say that I look forward to a chance to join battle and answer some of the questions that the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, raised at the beginning of the debate about what we would look like if we were outside. For the moment, I will answer it with one word: independence. The answer to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, as to whether we would have a seat at the table, is yes, we would have a seat on the World Trade Organization instead of 1/28th of a seat.

In conclusion, I applaud the Government for bringing forward this Bill and urge them to stick to their guns and make absolutely sure that the referendum process is as robust and fair as it can be.

4.24 pm

Lord Rooker (Lab): My Lords, this is a narrow Bill, which I support. I do not think that it is a bad thing to ask the nation, 40 years since 5 June 1975, if they wish to remain in Europe or leave. Effectively, that was the question then. We were not asked to join; we were asked whether we wanted to remain or leave. In 1975, I voted to leave—I voted no. In the referendum that will follow this Bill, I will vote to remain. I have been of that view for many years. I will do so irrespective of the success or failure perceived of the Prime Minister and irrespective of whatever changes may or may not take place in the leadership views of the Labour Party.

Like many in the Labour movement, I was finally moved over by Jacques Delors when he came to address conference. It was a massive turning point because he put the case in a way that I had not understood or seen it before. I am of the opinion that, warts and all, it is in the overwhelming interests of the UK and our EU partners that we remain. That is it, really.

A key amendment, and a view that I think is shared by many others, is to give the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds. I was a member of the Labour Party’s Plant commission some 25 years ago. I was in a minority then regarding the voting age, but since then I have changed my mind—that is the second change today. It is clearly a vote for a whole generation. This is not, as someone said, for a five-year election; it is for at least 40 years, and I think they should have their say. Scotland has

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shown that it works. We have had a practical example: it works. The past couple of weeks, in the Lords outreach schools programme, I have been in two secondary schools and the issue was raised at both of those.

I also think the issue of the franchise has to be looked at. People who have settled here with indefinite leave to remain have planted their life in this country, and irrespective of their technical nationality their commitment is to stay here; they really should have the vote. You cannot justify the various changes that have been debated in the Chamber today, with two other Commonwealth countries being part of the EU and the situation we have with the Irish Republic, a member state of the EU—we have peculiar, discrete voting arrangements for people from the Irish Republic in our elections here, which of course should continue. The fact is that people should be treated the same. If you put your stake in the UK, and this is a matter for the UK, I think you should have the vote.

I am a bit concerned that a lot of people have said that the TUC is on board. Some of the trade union leaders, I have gathered from the past few weeks, are a bit flaky.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: If people from France or wherever wish to commit to staying here for the rest of their lives, they will be naturalised British and the problem does not arise. Most of them—and I know a number of them—intend to go back at a later stage to their own countries. They still feel that that is where they belong.

Lord Rooker: That is not relevant to what I was saying.

I am concerned that some of the trade union leaders are a bit flaky, and I think the members of the trade unions should ignore them. Is the answer to the Tories taking the UK out of the Social Chapter to leave the EU altogether rather than campaign to change the Government so we can rejoin the Social Chapter? It beggars belief that some trade union leaders have said this. The words “donkeys” and “leadership” come to mind.

I have a technical question. No one has raised this, and I do not mean this in any way whatsoever personally for anybody. It is a technical question about the EU pensioners. There are several of them, several classes of person, who are EU pensioners. In some ways, it looks like a vested interest to any reasonable person, a citizen, for them to be involved in the campaign. In certain circumstances, the oath that they take binds them to the EU, and there are pension payments. This is a technical question for the Minister: Is it possible for an ex-Commissioner or other staff of the EU who are retired to campaign for the UK to leave and still be eligible to collect their EU pension? I do not mean this in any personal way, but the fact is this campaign will get dirtied by parts of the press. The sooner we get out the vested-interest issue and declarations of interest, the better it will be for everybody. It is best not to wait until the last time.

I cannot deny that Brussels interference rattles me, both as a Back-Bencher and when I was a Minister. I reckon in some ways, if the EU were a fully federal

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state, with elected, quality Commissioners, we would end up with more powers back to the member states than are residing in Brussels. More powers to an unelected Commission stands in the way of progress.

Some of those powers must involve member states having a say on how big they get. Eurostat projections show that the UK will grow faster than any other member state. By the mid-2040s, the UK will be the most populous country in the EU, with 77 million people, ahead of Germany with 75 million and France with 74 million. Unplanned growth on this scale is not on in respect of what we do in this country, in respect of the infrastructure and water resources and everything else—nothing that I have seen in Whitehall over the years shows that we are prepared for it. I am not making a point about immigration or free movement of people; the fact is that it is a consequence and it is going to happen—the forecasts are there and they will turn out to be right. It is an issue that the member states should have some say in.

The balance of competences review was referred to earlier. I was at the Food Standards Agency at the time and we proposed a joint submission with Defra—that was the way we did it. It was clear so far as food safety was concerned that, with UK, EU and the international regulations which oversee both world trade and the Codex Alimentarius, it was overwhelmingly in our interests to stay. Of course, the powers that be at Defra at the time, the high command, tried to water it down. The FSA stood firm against it—two government departments were involved; the Secretary of State at Defra was not that keen.

On trade, I remember going to New Zealand on a private visit and discussing with farmers there the issues that they had in exporting—it is a major area of export. They just made it clear: “We get the instructions from Brussels, and we have to follow them”. That is exactly what will happen to the UK. We do not have to go to Norway to see what will happen; we can go to a major trading partner such as New Zealand.

The issue of the threshold, which has been raised a couple of times, will have to be looked at. What if, on a low turnout—let us say, less than 50%—the majority is narrow? This decision is for a generation—40 years; this is not like when we had the debates on the alternative vote issue, which was a blip, a snapshot that could be overturned the following week. What are the rules? There is no sense in having the debate after the result. We need to discuss it beforehand and this House is in an ideal position to be able to advise the Commons in some ways to think again.

The UK should be at the EU table out of choice, not dragged there in a sulk, which is how we have been for decades. Having a continuously troubled relationship —because that is what we have got—under Governments of both parties is not in the UK’s best interests, let alone those of our partners. We will never win allies for change, which is what we want. How will we get allies if we are there sulking and always seeming to be troubled? The prize of having a set of sovereign nation states, working together democratically and coming together for the big issues, is a prize well worth having, which is why I shall support continued membership.

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4.33 pm

Lord Borwick (Con): My Lords, it is important to commend the Government on introducing this Bill. I am just old enough that the first time I voted was in the first referendum—but that was to join a trading bloc and it has changed a lot to become the EU. It is high time that the people were asked again for their view on the EU.

It is also good that there are restrictions on government activity during the last month of the campaign. This will allow for proper debate during the run-up to the referendum that is not swayed by government resources or prestige.

I broadly support this government Bill and we must be extremely careful in amending it. Any amendments made will be reviewed through the prism of politics and might easily, and most likely correctly, be analysed as blocking amendments rather than improvements. Let us not try to fight the referendum by proxy through blocking amendments to the Bill. Our job in this House is to improve, not to block.

I am particularly concerned about potential amendments to widen the franchise to 16 or 17 year-olds. The Americans rallied to “no taxation without representation”. The inversion must surely be true: no representation without taxation. So what taxation is proposed for newly enfranchised 16 and 17 year-olds? If this amendment were to make it on to the Bill, it is incumbent on those who proposed it to answer this question.

Schooling or training is compulsory for this age group, so how can we now suggest that their education is so complete at age 16 that they are qualified to take part in elections and referendums? Perhaps we can create a link between truancy from school and voting. If 16 and 17 year-olds can vote, should they also be criminally liable for truancy? We are talking about young people who cannot enter binding contracts or sit on a jury. As I mentioned, this amendment is a perfect example of a block pretending to be an improvement by just changing the franchise.

The only bigger-picture problem that I see is if the negotiations going on now produce a third way—a sort of associate membership of the EU. If that happens, what becomes of the referendum question? Is the question asking: should we leave the existing EU, or remain in a new form of membership? Will the EU Referendum Bill have to be amended before it is used? Only time will tell. In the mean time, let us put this question behind us for a whole generation.

4.35 pm

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB): My Lords, whatever one’s view on the value and democratic viability of referendums—my own remains somewhat between the sceptical and negative, rather closer to those of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, than to some others: a scepticism that was reinforced by the experience of the recent referendum in Greece—the matter of holding an in/out referendum in this country before the end of 2017 was settled, so far as I am concerned, on 7 May, when a party with a commitment to such a referendum won an overall majority in the House of Commons.

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Our constitutional practice means that the Bill enabling such a referendum to be held must go into the statute book without undue delay, leaving the Government some flexibility as to the date in 2016 or 2017 that they choose to hold the vote—a flexibility which I suggest is essential if Britain’s negotiating hand in Brussels is not to be damagingly constrained. I respect that practice, which does not of course preclude amendments to the Bill—and they will not be blocking amendments. The noble Lord who spoke before me seems to have ignored the fact that his own party gave the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds in Scotland. Are they paying tax? I do not know.

We need to think very long about the possibility of amending the Bill because there are shortcomings in its present form and they are capable of being divided, as most speakers have done, into two categories: franchise and policy. If I have heard the phrase “the people must have their say on our EU membership” once, I have heard it a hundred times and I have no doubt that it will, and has, come up in this debate. But who are the people who are to have their say? That is the question. It surely demands great care and imagination when one considers that the decision being taken will last far longer than a single Parliament and will affect fundamentally far more people than currently get the vote in our parliamentary elections, which is the franchise in the Bill before us.

The essence of democracy is surely that people who will be affected by a decision should have their say on it. Here there are three groups who, in the Government’s Bill, will not have their say on it. First, the 16 and 17 year-olds. This group of young people was given the vote in the Scottish referendum last year and the general view seems to be that they exercised it responsibly and in large numbers. So why are they not to be given the vote in this referendum—which, like last year’s vote, will affect their lives for far longer than the rest of us?

The second group comprises British citizens living elsewhere in the European Union who lose their vote after 15 years outside this country. The manifesto of the party with a majority in the Commons contains a commitment to give them a vote in future parliamentary elections, quite rightly in my view—so why on earth are they to be excluded from the one vote that they are most likely to want to exercise? That does not make much sense, and I regard it as pretty aberrant myself.

There is also the question of EU citizens who have been for a certain time in the UK. They, too, were given the vote in the referendum in Scotland. They, too, will be fundamentally affected by the outcome of this referendum. It is surely anomalous that Irish and Commonwealth citizens should be able to vote—which I personally welcome and support—while French, Dutch, Poles and other EU citizens will not. Do we seriously dispute that the German or Italian citizen living here will have more at stake in the outcome than will a Sri Lankan or a Kenyan?

Switching now to the policy issues raised by this legislation, there is, above all, the need to provide voters with objective information for which no provision is made under the Bill. There will be plenty of advocacy on both sides of the argument—I may be responsible

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for some of it myself—but it will not be, and will not be intended to be, unbiased. Yet as we know from opinion polling, the public are not much interested in, or knowledgeable about, much of the important technical detail of our EU membership. There is a general lack of the sort of independent analysis from outside government bodies such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, or like the Institute for Fiscal Studies provides on election manifestos before general elections.

Surely we need a statutory requirement on the Government to ensure that objective information is made available in good time. There is also, after all, plenty of recent evidence-based material to draw on in the form of the last Government’s Review of the Balance of Competences. That may be too long and too detailed for the average voter to absorb, but surely a digest of its conclusions could be made available to the electorate. There is the crucial matter of the possible consequences of a no vote. It is a vital requirement that the electorate should know what would happen in those circumstances, however much I hope they will not arise. Otherwise, a no vote will be a simple leap in the dark. That is becoming a little bit of a mantra now, but it is true nevertheless.

We have seen that happen recently in Greece. This is not just about the trading alternatives—EEA, Switzerland, or none of the above—important though the choice in that respect will be. We also need to know what will happen to farm policy, research policy, law and order issues and business regulation—all of which would be fundamentally affected by a decision to withdraw. These consequential issues need to be spelled out by the Government because it will be they, not the no campaign, who will be left holding the baby if a majority of the electorate votes to leave.

In 1975 the Government produced a document called, If We Say No. I suggest that the Minister might like to have a look at it and consider whether the Government should reissue a document of a similar nature. It was sent to all electors. It was clear and well written, and much of it is as relevant today as the day it was written.

A contribution to this debate would not be complete without a word on the implications of an EU referendum for our own union within the United Kingdom. These could be far-reaching and dramatic, particularly in the event of a vote to leave the EU. Who seriously doubts—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, seems to doubt it, but I have not found many people who do—that a vote in the face of a Scottish vote to remain and by the rest of us to leave would trigger another independence referendum in that country, which would be all too likely to prevail? Who seriously doubts that a decision to separate the two parts of the island of Ireland into one part outside and one part inside the EU would be a major factor destabilising the Good Friday agreement, which is already under considerable strain? These issues are critical for our national future and should surely give pause for thought to anyone thinking of leaving.

I conclude by saying that the debate will obviously be pretty sharp. I hope that it will not be dominated by negative clamour. The purposes for which the European Communities were founded more than 60 years ago

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were noble: to put behind us for ever the appalling history of disastrous conflicts in order to achieve security and prosperity for all Europeans. They remain as true and valid today as they were then.

After a hesitant start, this country has played a significant and influential part in shaping the European Union. Look at the single market, the liberalisation of world trade, development policies and the inclusion of countries in central, eastern and southern Europe. There you will see policy choices and outcomes in which we took part and in which we should now take pride. I believe that it is in our interest to continue along that road and to strengthen the European Union in a flexible and pragmatic way. I sincerely hope that this referendum will do precisely that.

4.45 pm

Lord Blencathra (Con): My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. I tried to get out of the starting blocks too quickly and almost interrupted the end of his speech.

As a 22 year-old in the Highlands of Scotland I and my brother campaigned hard for a yes vote in the 1975 referendum. We said that joining the Common Market would be good for farmers, good for businesses and we even told fishermen in the little village of Avoch in the Black Isle that it would be good for our fishermen too. What a lie that turned out to be, as our fishing grounds were stripped bare and there are no fishing boats operating from Avoch anymore.

What were the arguments we were told to make then—arguments in which we then we believed? We said that, to the east, there was the massive Warsaw Pact trading bloc with 300 million customers and, to the west, the USA and Canada with 300 million customers. Unless we belonged to a big trading bloc, then we would be frozen out of world markets. That was a credible argument at the time. Then along came GATT and the World Trade Organization, which gave even tiny little countries access to world markets, so that Norway, Taiwan, Singapore and others have flourished without being part of a big trading bloc.

Then the European integrationists changed the argument and said that, although we did not need to be part of a big trade bloc to survive, it would be better if we were part of a large single market whereby we all had unrestricted access to others’ goods and services. Even Margaret Thatcher was persuaded, although she later realised that it was another big con. Although it was implemented by the UK, swathes of EU services have not allowed us access. As good Europeans, we permitted European companies to buy up our transport, water and energy companies, but we did not get equal access to theirs. That was probably our fault rather than the EU’s but, even on this substantial change, the British people had no vote.

Then we had the Maastricht treaty. It was rejected by Denmark in a referendum and, of course, Denmark was made to vote again until its people obeyed the European diktat. On the night of the Maastricht no vote, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and I were in Rio. We were negotiating on the first Earth Summit in 1992. We saved the world then. On that night, I was at a function in the Portuguese embassy. Portugal held

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the presidency but, as soon as Rio was over, Britain had the presidency and it was our job to speak at the United Nations on behalf of the EU. The EU was desperate to sign the convention itself but it could not; only nation states could. I chaired a meeting in Brussels and knew in advance that this would be coming up. So I called on the Commission lawyers, who said that we could not sign as the EU; it was illegal and against UN rules. I called on our presidency lawyers, who said that we could not do it; it was against EU laws. I called on the German Minister, who said that we could not do it; it was against the law. By this time, the buttons were being pushed, the red light was flashing and a southern European Minister said, “What is all this talk about the law? Let us just do it. Who is to find out?”. That coloured my view—perhaps unfairly—of many of the things we did in the EU.

After Maastricht, once again the British people had no say, even though our sovereignty was fundamentally reduced and our relationship with the EU changed. Then we had the Lisbon treaty, this time rejected by the Irish, who were made to vote again until they came up with a yes vote. Again the British people were given no say.

The next argument used by the European integrationists was that the British economy was so inefficient in comparison to France and Germany that we needed to be in association with those countries in order to benefit from their industrial practices. Well, that would certainly have been true in the 1960s and 1970s, but not now. We have the fastest growing economy in Europe, if not the G7. We have record employment and the majority of our trade is with the rest of the world, not the EU.

The EU is in decline; it is paying itself too much, is not working hard enough and its “social Europe” pay and benefits systems are dragging us down. Europe is uncompetitive in comparison with the USA and the Asian economies. We are trapped in a declining post-war concept which 33 million Britons aged under 59 do not necessarily understand or have had any say in. I once asked my distinguished predecessor, Willie Whitelaw, why he was so keen on Europe. His answer was, “David, if you had been through the war, then you would support any organisation which kept the peace in Europe”. I said, “But, Willie, NATO did that”, but he responded that political union was a price worth paying for all of us if it kept Germany, France and Italy at peace. I deeply respect that view from a brave Military Cross holder, but the world has moved on since then, but the vision of the old men of the post-war era has not, whether it is Adenauer, Willie, Ted Heath, Wilson, Monnet, Schuman, Brandt, Schmidt, Kohl or d’Estaing. A united political Europe may have made sense to deal with the problems of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, but it may be irrelevant to our global economy 60 years later. Nor, it seems, have the views changed of those who told us that the UK would die unless we joined the euro. So many of those saying at the BSE launch yesterday that we must stay in or perish were the same ones who got it 100% wrong on the euro. The British people may want to take that into account when weighing the arguments on both sides.

We now need to get the views of the 33 million people—that is an estimate by the Library—who have had no say in the development of this political union

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since 1975. Our whole electoral roll is about 46 million, I believe, and therefore 75% have never had a say in the creation of the European superstate. I cannot see how anyone can object to consulting the British people on the terms proposed in the Bill before us, which I completely support. Let us have a vote for the first time in 40 years, and I ask the Government to set out the facts clearly. We must have a White Paper setting out what changes the Prime Minister has obtained and the consequences of leaving the EU and of staying in. We know the risks of leaving, but staying in could be a bigger leap in the dark as the EU pushes for “more Europe”. We heard the vision of President Hollande last week, we have the five presidents’ report, and a White Paper to set out just what the Prime Minister has achieved is important, but also we need information on the likely direction of the EU over the next few years. We need to deal with the claim that 3 million jobs will be lost. That is just not credible; 3 million jobs may be tied to EU trade, but there is no suggestion that that trade will suddenly stop.

I say to my noble friend the Minister that we need to see the draft regulations which the Government are proposing on purdah. I accept the Government’s word that they will not seek to claw back the concessions on this made in the other place, but I understand that they have said that some clarificatory regulations will need to be made. Well, if the Government have concluded that there are areas which need clarification, they clearly know what those areas are and we want to see the drafts of the regulations before the Bill goes back to the Commons.

The EU has changed beyond all recognition since I voted for a Common Market in 1975. We never expected to be sucked into a complete political union with our rights to negotiate at the international institutions of the world removed and our voice replaced by the EU, especially at the World Trade Organization. We Britons have always had a world view. We are not little Europeans. I want a Common Market with the world, not a common EU Government. That is the debate I believe we need to have and I think it is the debate we will have over the next 12 months. I believe it is high time that the British electorate had a say. I support the Bill.

4.54 pm

Baroness Crawley (Lab): My Lords, several kindly colleagues from the Benches opposite have spoken to me recently about the interesting times that the Labour Party is living through. Well, I think they were being kind. I have news for these colleagues: however interesting they think my party is at the moment, it will be as nothing compared with the interesting times we could be living in, as a country, in a few years.This is because, as many noble Lords have said, to appease the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party and to call home those Tories caught flirting with UKIP, the Government are—how can I put it?—in Farage-ing for votes, in danger of sleepwalking out of the European Union and consequently breaking up the United Kingdom. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, I believe that if Britain leaves Europe, Scotland will be far more likely to leave Britain and we will be left to our own, much-reduced, devices. We could well end up a slightly warmer version of Iceland—although this

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Chamber would not let you know that this afternoon—with much poorer economic trading and prospects than at present, as many noble Lords have already said, and with much less protection and regulation for working people and our environment. This self-infliction is happening at a time of unprecedented globalisation when it comes to the importance of successful trading blocs and solving damaging climate change at an international level.

My party is supporting this Bill in principle. Before anyone reminds me, I know that was not the case before the general election. As JK Galbraith once said:

“Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory”.

We are where we are, whatever my opinion of referendums. While supporting the Government’s Bill, we will of course seek to improve it, especially in the area of broadening the franchise to include UK citizens aged 16 and over, as many noble Lords have set out so ably today. If we believe that this referendum will settle our relationship with the EU for at least a generation, our young people, who will reach adulthood—and indeed middle age—in that time, should have a say in the moulding of their future. I sincerely hope that the Government will think again on this very important aspect of the Bill.

We are also keen to ensure that, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and others have called for, the Government make non-partisan and evidence-based information available to the British public regarding our membership of the EU and the consequences and effects of withdrawal from it. As several noble Lords have asked, what are the alternatives? We need to know.

My party has long been committed to Britain remaining a member of the European Union, and continues to be. There is, of course, diversity of opinion in both our party and the country. Individuals are free to campaign as they see fit. However, Labour will make the case for Britain remaining in the EU, because we believe that that is the progressive choice and that the EU has helped the UK to create jobs, secure growth, encourage investment and tackle best those areas of our lives that inevitably cross borders—areas such as climate change, tax havens, terrorism and, currently, getting a grip on the unprecedented refugee crisis. Yes, late in the day, and after much chaos and catch-up, a plan is emerging at EU level for how to deal with so many war-weary people seeking a new life away from death and devastation. Even now, many on these Benches would call on the Government to think again about their decision not to take responsibility for at least a modest proportion of those refugees newly arrived in other EU member states.

While the Labour Party retains its pro-EU stance, we will oppose any attempts by the Government, in their pre-referendum negotiations, to water down, or undermine, our hard-won European Union rights—as individuals and in the workplace. However, we are clear, as my noble friend Lord Rooker has said, that the answer to any damaging changes that the Prime Minister brings back is not to leave the EU but to pledge to reverse those changes by campaigning to stay in, to strengthen our hand and to work towards a

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Labour Government. As a former Member of the European Parliament who worked on these policies, the European Union inspired maternity leave, parental leave, paid holidays, consumer rights and health and safety standards. I know that these are flags of hope for British people, not flags of surrender, as has already been said.

None of this is to say that the European Union is perfect—quite the contrary. I share the frequent frustration of many British people with the way the EU goes about its business, with a perceived—if not actual—lack of transparency and accountability in decision-making, and with a gulf between well-intentioned, high-level EU rationality and local grass-roots demands for greater openness and devolved powers. We have to regain people’s trust in EU decision-making during the coming campaign.

My party wishes to see reform in Europe on benefits, on how the EU relates to national Parliaments, on state aid rules, on reform of the EU budget and on the further protection of British workers as we move into a more digitised and robotic workplace future, where even the Governor of the Bank of England has said recently that every job he did when he worked at Goldman Sachs could now be done by robots or computers. The answer to that future workplace automation and the depopulation of British careers is not to row ourselves further away from the EU and the possible answers that we could find there, hoping for the best. It is to stay in, complete the single market and boost jobs and growth.

None of this reform happens in a Union of 28 countries without constantly building alliances with our EU partners and arguing the case. I sincerely hope that that is what the Prime Minister is doing in this renegotiation phase, along with recognising where British influence has already played a significant role in developing good EU policy. The Prime Minister’s return from his negotiations is as eagerly awaited by us all as the next series of “The Great British Bake Off”. Let us hope that there will not be too many half-baked outcomes.

We all approach this referendum in our own way. I will do my best to make a well-founded but essentially hopeful case for a British future in Europe. I believe that the British people respond to hopeful campaigns over fear-inducing ones and as we approach the work on this Bill, I hope that—especially for our youngest and newest referendum voters—there will be a thirst to understand and learn more about why we all think our relationship with Europe is important, whatever our in/out stance may be. A shared history in war and peace means that for many of us, decisions on our relations with the EU will always be coloured by a recent past where democracy itself was hard fought-for and we stood shoulder to shoulder with our European neighbours. We should continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with those neighbours into an uncertain future.

5.03 pm

Lord Bowness (Con): My Lords, the Bill is a Government manifesto commitment and it must pass as quickly as is reasonably possible. I make that statement of the obvious lest anything I say subsequently should be construed in some way as an attempt to oppose the

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Bill. Having said that, I am afraid that I do not recant from my previous opposition to the idea of a referendum. I regret the Bill. I submit that it is unnecessary and, in the present circumstances, unwelcome.

It is unnecessary because of the European Union Act 2011, which has already ensured that there can be no transfer of powers to the EU without a referendum. It is unwelcome particularly because the Government have deviated from the 2010 position of the Prime Minister, who at that time was against an in/out referendum, and because it represents a success for those whose only agenda is our exit from the European Union.

I wish the Prime Minister well in his efforts to reform matters of concern to Britain and people of all parties. However, I fear that nothing he can bring back from these negotiations, short of a proposal to leave us outside the European Union, will satisfy those whose desire is to see us in precisely that position. It is unwelcome because, unless the result is a vote to leave, it will settle nothing: the Scottish referendum must have at least taught us that. For how long will we consider the issue to be settled: 20, 30 or 40 years? I submit that some choices and decisions made by nations cannot constantly be subject to review. Shall we demand a vote on membership of NATO, which commits us to taking up arms to defend a fellow member? Are we to argue that NATO is a post-war construct, entered into in different times and different circumstances, and that its role is now different from that envisaged by the founders? These are arguments often deployed in connection with the European Union.

Moreover, the referendum is unwelcome because the uncertainty created by the possibility of a British exit is not necessary. A competitive Europe, yes; expanding the single market, yes; a less regulated Europe, yes; but none of that demands treaty change. It merely requires determined working with our partners to negotiate changes to individual pieces of legislation. We will not challenge the fundamentals that would involve treaty change. Everyone acknowledges that that is politically impossible, in terms of both the timescale and the likelihood of obtaining unanimity. Lastly, it is unwelcome —and this is perhaps the greatest cause of its being unwelcome—because it brings into question our membership at a time when we need to be at the heart of the Union, working with our partners on the great economic problems and the problems of immigration, refugees and security, to name but a few.

It is often said—and it has been said this afternoon—that the EU’s original aims have been achieved: that peace in Europe is no longer threatened. Yet the growth of nationalism, extremism and the surrounding security problems must surely mean that we cannot take any of that for granted. The European Union has been a great driver for peace and democratisation in the continent, and it still is: ask the countries that want to join. When I meet parliamentarians from other countries at meetings of the OSCE, they cannot understand why we are putting ourselves in the position of a possible exit, and they are concerned that it might happen. I urge my noble friends in the Government to ensure that we make clear our wish to remain, not just by words but by deeds.

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The migration and refugee issue is but one case in point. I acknowledge all that the Government are doing and their reasons for doing it in the way that they are. However, could we not just acknowledge that many small countries in the European Union and many of its neighbours are struggling with problems that are testing their capabilities and resources to the limits? If we are not to take any of the refugees from Europe, could we not offer some logistical assistance on the ground to show that, while we are not part of Schengen, we are not blind to the problems of our fellow Europeans? We can offer aid to the Caribbean, assistance to the Saudis for their prisons, put soldiers on the ground in Sudan, and offer China money to spread the word about British football. A little help for the Greek islands would perhaps be a little more appropriate and would certainly help our negotiations and the building of alliances that have already been said to be so essential in the process on which we have embarked. The case for membership has to be made now, not at the end of the negotiations. The out lobby is already working flat out because it does not care about the outcome: the only issue is whether it can win the vote to come out.

Much has been said this afternoon about the franchise. It is a strange Bill whereby the citizens of three EU countries, who are not UK nationals—the citizens of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus—will have a vote because they are Commonwealth citizens. In addition, there are non-British nationals—we do not know how many; at least, that is what I was told in answer to a Parliamentary Question I tabled in the previous Parliament—resident in the country who are Commonwealth citizens who have the vote. This is probably an issue for another time but, given that we are one of few countries, if not the only country, to allow non-citizens to vote in national elections, the parliamentary franchise needs an urgent review to examine the justification for allowing citizens of Ireland and the Commonwealth this right.

I hear the argument that to change the franchise might delay the vote, but in an age when you can be entered on the electoral roll only a few weeks before an election, some change should be possible, and it should be made in respect of UK citizens resident in other European Union countries. We already have a manifesto commitment to extend the franchise, and since the potential effects of withdrawal would impact on such UK citizens, they are entitled to have a vote.

As other noble Lords have said, we need independent factual information upon which the public may base their decision, and against which they may judge the statements of the in and out campaigns. We need to know what the Government will do if the vote is to leave. We need to know what they will seek. Voters must know what may change in the event of a no vote and the effect it will have on them. Crucially, it must be made clear that what rights are retained will depend on the outcome of the exit negotiations, and that it will be a matter not for us but for the other 27 member states. We will not have a vote.

I therefore hope that my noble friends will accept that although this Bill will, according to the conventions, pass, those conventions do not preclude amendments being sought and supported by many of us. There may be other Members from these Benches—not just me—who

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will attempt to improve the Bill where we consider it necessary. After all, those with a different view from mine fought their corner in the other place. I shall seek to fight mine here.

5.12 pm

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD): My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, with whom I broadly agree and have done for many years. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, opened this debate in a very clear way and expressed the views of the Government with regard to the Bill with clarity and balance. I hope that she will listen to some of the arguments that have been deployed today.

I am sufficiently old to recall the Second World War. When I was a boy, the street in which I lived in Glasgow was bombed and 12 people were killed. The next day, I was sent to the country to stay with the then chairman of Mowlem who had taken a house which was thought to be free from the likelihood of bombing. None the less, that experience has driven home to me the sense that the European Union has achieved a great deal for peace. It is now 70 years since the Second World War. I remember the French vetoing the European Defence Community and thinking that that was a tragedy.

The Government have put forward this Bill at a very awkward time. It seems to me that the public’s decision may be related more to the outcome of the renegotiations than to a sense of whether belonging to the European Union is in Britain’s interests.

The Prime Minister, for reasons that I fully understand, has not disclosed what his objectives are. That is understandable in light of the likelihood of the Europhobes saying that it was not enough. If he were to say what his objectives were, he might have to come to Parliament and to the people and say, “Well, I didn’t achieve all that I wanted to, but I have done my best”. We should have entered this national debate with a recognition that change—and change is needed—would take a long time, and that the best way to achieve it is not with one country taking on 27 others and saying, “Stand up to the mark”.

The noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, was the initiator of the last convention on the future of Europe, which seems to have achieved a great deal, and was implemented in particular by the treaty of Lisbon. That is the way in which we should achieve change: not with one against 27 but by bringing together a consensus among people in the European Union, recognising where we need to go. However, the manifesto of the Conservative Party promised this to the people. I fear that if the English reject membership of the Union, Scotland will stand up and say, “We need another referendum”. That would be a disaster.

At this point, the Government have to give some indication of what the consequences of leaving the European Union would be. That has been called for by a number of people speaking in this debate and it would be something that the Government could take into account, following the 1975 example.

Membership of the European Union brings us into harmony with most of the 500 million people living in the Union, and gives us a voice and influence in

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negotiating with other countries, particularly the growing countries such as China and India, and the United States. If we were not in the Union, our voice would be barely heard, despite our history of global involvement.

So far as the Bill is concerned, the franchise is too limited. We should provide that 16 and 17 year-olds have the power to vote. We ought to follow the Government’s commitment in their own manifesto to give people who have lived beyond this country for more than 15 years an entitlement to vote. We should also entitle people who have come from the European Union and are European Union citizens to vote.

These are necessary changes in the Bill. They are not fundamental but they would make the outcome seem fairer and longer-lasting. We should not close the debate by saying that the referendum is final; instead, we—and particularly the Prime Minister—should initiate a convention on the future of Europe, because many of the changes that we want to see, including treaty change, cannot be achieved by 2017. That is a difficult year because of the French and German elections. Treaty change will be involved if we are going to see the European Union develop as we would wish.

5.21 pm

Lord Blackwell (Con): My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, whom I greatly respect even though we often disagree on this topic. Before I begin I should make clear that, while I have a number of business interests set out in the register, in speaking today I will be setting out my personal views.

Given my contribution to previous debates in this House on this topic, you will not be surprised to learn that I strongly support the Bill and the proposed referendum. Indeed you may remember I introduced a Bill into the House in 2004 to bring about the promised referendum on the European Constitution, a referendum opportunity that was sadly missed. Like others, and given the huge changes in the European Union since 1975, I believe even more strongly now that a referendum is long overdue. I also strongly support the Prime Minister’s attempt to negotiate a more viable relationship with the European Union before the country is asked to decide on continued membership.

The fundamental reason for those views is the continued drive, reinforced by the Lisbon treaty, to move ever closer to a political and economic union among the majority eurozone and would-be eurozone members. It is essential that they do so to provide the cross-country financial support, common fiscal discipline and common social policies that they need for the euro to survive. We should not stand in their way but that means that the current position of the UK—bound by the same treaties and institutions—may become increasingly unsustainable. We are not and never will be part of the eurozone, so the reality is that we cannot be at the heart of a European Union that becomes increasingly focused on the governance and political decision-making of an integrated eurozone core. With most decisions on a wide range of EU competencies now taken by majority voting in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, the UK risks being bound by laws imposed by a political group of which we are not a part and which

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in many areas has different interests, different legal, social and political traditions and often different attitudes towards free markets.

This should not be a question of win or lose or whether we can win a few concessions at the expense of other members, or indeed whether we can impose our vision of reform on the rest of the European Union. Rather it should be about whether we can get agreement across Europe to a new settlement that suits everyone: a new kind of treaty relationship between the UK and the eurozone members that makes it sustainable for us to become and remain a member of a wider but looser European Union club, alongside but apart from the eurozone core—a member of the European club but not part of or a brake on their ever-closer political union. That decision, when it comes, is of sufficient political and constitutional importance to justify putting it to the people in a referendum.

Those who oppose or perhaps regret this democratic process make two arguments. The first is that it is too complicated an issue to put to the UK electorate and risk coming up with the wrong answer; the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, called it a “reckless gamble”. I have no sympathy with that view. Indeed, I share the view that the attitude of European leaders holding that perspective over the last half century has caused the widening gulf between the leaders and the wider populations across Europe. The evolution of the European Union and particularly the creation of the eurozone has moved the project from a purely economic to a strongly political and constitutional union. You cannot force nations into shared sovereignty and pooled democratic oversight unless the people feel that they have become or are becoming one nation. Politicians who do not carry their electorate with them in those decisions rapidly forfeit their trust and ultimately risk exacerbating rather than removing national tensions.

The second argument I have heard is that the objective of staying in the European Union is a foregone conclusion, and that even raising the possibility of exit weakens our ability to play a strong role within the European Union and creates damaging uncertainty. For the reasons I have set out, I do not agree that remaining in the European Union without a significant change in the current treaty arrangements is ultimately sustainable from a political and constitutional perspective. Nor do I believe that there is a compelling economic argument to override those considerations. Of course, under any outcome it would be simplest to stay in the single market if we could do so while protecting the global competitiveness of the City of London and other key sectors from unwelcome regulation. However, whatever the nature of our relationship that emerges, it is clearly in the interests of both European and UK businesses to maintain a workable trade arrangement. Therefore the long-run impact of a change in our position will depend on whether any attempts to create trade barriers are offset by the potential benefits from being free to develop a less regulated and potentially more globally competitive UK economy. There are voices on both sides of that argument, but in the end our global competitiveness in the fast-growing markets outside the European Union must be a primary concern.

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Equally, whether we are in or out of the European Union, we can and should maintain close co-operation with our European neighbours on non-economic matters of common interest, including of course defence and security. On the other hand, unless we seek to negotiate a new relationship and do so with the full understanding on both sides that a significant change is needed, we are unlikely to get an outcome that secures a sustainable position for the UK within the European Union in the longer term.

As for uncertainty, I am afraid that that is the price of living in a democracy. While uncertainty may mean that some business investment is held back in the short term, there are many reasons why the UK is likely to remain an attractive global location whatever the outcome, and ignoring the democratic process may be even more costly, as I have argued. I hope that a sensible debate will emerge so that, in the light of what the Prime Minister’s negotiations achieve, we can have a level-headed assessment of what future will best deliver a global vision for a competitive UK economy and a sustainable relationship with our European neighbours—a relationship that addresses the reality of the increasing economic and political integration of the eurozone within the EU club.

It is important that the House is seen as upholding the democratic process by endorsing the commitment of the Government to put the best achievable outcome of the EU negotiations to the electorate and abide by the result. We should give the Bill our full support.

5.29 pm

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, was right to mention the importance of our global competitiveness, and that is exactly why I believe it is right for us to stay in the European Union. Indeed, I am proud to be on the pro-European Benches making the patriotic case for Britain’s membership of the European Union, putting our country rather than our party first.

I was 19 in 1975 when I voted in the referendum. It was fitting that on the 31st anniversary of D-day we should have voted to remain part of the extraordinary community. I was young then, and so was the EEC, and we had been members for only two years. That referendum was important, but in the last 40 years the European Union has evolved and the world has changed and the referendum now is much more significant. I believe that this will be the most significant vote in my lifetime. It has huge implications for the future of Britain: for our ability to maximise opportunities and influence in the world, for economic growth, for the development and exploitation of the single market, for jobs and for our capacity to deal with the 21st-century challenges of climate change, international crime, terrorism and the movement of people from south to north, fleeing wars and fragile states.

The referendum is important for my generation but much more so for the young people of our country, for my children and my grandchildren. This is about their future and I strongly support the extension of the franchise to all UK citizens aged 16 and 17. My noble friend Lady Morgan in her excellent speech put forward, as did other noble Lords, cogent arguments as to why such an amendment on 16 and 17 year-olds should be

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accepted. The Government’s arguments simply do not hold water. I understand that the Foreign Secretary has said that this is a decision “for another day” but that is crazy—this referendum will affect the rest of young people’s lives much more than any vote in any general election, as the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, said. It is a fantastic way to engage young people in our democratic system, to inform and energise them—as happened in the Scottish referendum—and to give them some power over their future. I am in favour of giving votes to 16 and 17 year-olds in any election, but I feel especially passionate about giving them a vote in this referendum.

I also support the arguments made to extend the franchise to others. The Government have clearly taken the decision to bring forward legislation to enable UK citizens living in other parts of the European Union to vote in future general elections, so what possible reason could they have for not allowing them to vote in the referendum which will have an enormous impact on their lives? I guess one silver lining might be—says she with tongue in cheek—that if the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, were resident in France for 15 years he might not be able to vote in the referendum. But that is for another day, I suppose.

Then there is the situation of EU citizens living in this country who are allowed to vote in local elections but again will not be able to vote in a referendum whose result could bring about profound changes in their lives. The Government say that they want to have the same franchise as in general elections. If that is the case, why do noble Lords have a vote—although is right and proper that we do? The Minister has said that we should follow the rules of previous referendums, but we are not, because the citizens of Cyprus and Malta will be granted a vote. Why them and not Spanish citizens? Of course I understand that the latter are not members of the Commonwealth, but two classes of EU citizen cannot be right, and the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, is interesting.

We know that some citizens are, and always will remain, in favour of continuing membership of the European Union, and that others are vehemently against membership, but there are millions who remain undecided and for them to decide how to vote they must be properly informed. That is why I strongly support the arguments in favour of the various reports that have been mentioned. Without the information that such reports provide, people will not be able to take an informed decision and the Government will be abnegating their duty to inform. Indeed, like everyone else in this country, we need to know what being out of the European Union would mean.

Like all member-state Governments, we are also in the dark about the issues on which the Prime Minister is seeking to renegotiate—baffled, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said. Many have mentioned the Sunday Telegraph,from which we learned that Mr Cameron is seeking four key concessions from the EU, all of which seem rather sensible to me and none of which require treaty change. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, said, whatever success the Prime Minister will have—and I wish him well—it will not be enough

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for those whose mission in life is for us to leave. Anna Soubry said a couple of weeks ago at the Conservative party conference that it is their life, and that,

“they live it, they eat it, they drink it”.

I fear if the country votes to remain in the EU—which I hope—they will still not give up.

I hope that the Minister can enlighten us about the content of the renegotiations, but if that is not possible I would be grateful for her assurance that the Prime Minister is not seeking to dismantle social Europe in any way. We want and need a Europe that is working for working people, who want hope and a vision for the future. There have been many changes and reforms over the years. You just have to look at the proportion of the budget allocated to the CAP, which is still too much, and at good initiatives such as the Youth Guarantee Fund. There will and must be many more changes and reforms. We want change, but we want to bring it about through discussion around the table with our partners rather than by putting a gun to their head.

The Minister said that this Bill is about mechanics, which it is, and mechanics matter. Can the noble Baroness confirm that the lobbying Act does not prevent companies or third sector organisations making their views known about the European Union—the implications of either staying in or withdrawal—and providing information to their workforce, customers and membership? I have heard from several large companies that they are not willing to say what they feel about the referendum because of the lobbying Act.

With yesterday’s launch of the united Britain Stronger in Europe campaign and last week’s launch of the several out campaigns, it feels as if the referendum campaign has already begun. But there are many months to go and the passing of this Bill will be just the first step. The EU has faced huge problems in the last few years with the euro crisis and the possibility of Grexit, and now we have the refugee crisis, a humanitarian crisis which I believe is the greatest challenge to our values and the greatest challenge that the EU has ever faced. This summer’s confused response to a complex problem was not enough. It is further evidence that changes are needed in the European Union, yet I am utterly convinced that we are better together, finding common solutions to shared problems. I understand that some people are afraid of the future and find nationalism and nostalgia attractive, but in an increasingly interdependent world to retreat into the isolation of a small island simply does not make sense. We must put the future of our country first, working with our partners in the European Union to find answers to the challenges of the 21st century. I want to continue to belong to a Great Britain in the European Union rather than a little England.

5.37 pm

Lord Naseby (Con): My Lords, it is always a privilege to follow the noble Baroness and indeed to listen to my noble friend Lord Blackwell, who is sitting next to me. I have been committed to Europe all my life, partly perhaps because my maternal grandparents were German, naturalised British, and maybe reflecting my experience of being evacuated during the Blitz down to the depths of Herefordshire, but more likely because of what I

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read about Winston Churchill’s great desire after the war to set up the Council of Europe to ensure that Europe had jaw-jaw rather than war-war. Whatever the reason I have been consistent in my views. I worked overseas for a number of years and when I came back in 1963 I joined the Young European Managers Association. That loyalty was of course tested soon after I was elected in the marginal seat of Northampton South in 1974 with the grand majority of 141. In 1975, as all noble Lords will know, we had the last referendum. I worked particularly hard in Northamptonshire because it was not a foregone conclusion then what the result would be, and it is not now. However, it was a success, and indeed I put a little polish on the “Keep Britain in Europe” poster that I still have in the downstairs loo.

It was my decision as an MP to join the Council of Europe in 1983, rather than being dragooned into it, and I served for eight years. I am proud of a typical success that happened when I was there; it concerned the tragedy of the “Herald of Free Enterprise”. It was my committee on the health side that took up the sword to find a common protocol across Europe for autopsies, and it is an indication of how successful individual members can be when we work with others in that environment.

Lastly, as Chairman of Ways and Means in another place, it was my privilege to take the Maastricht Bill through the House, involving 25 days, four all-night sittings, four clauses and more than 500 amendments. Somehow or other, although people knew my background and involvement in Europe, I was not criticised at any point for my handling of that Bill.

However, that fundamental belief cost me dearly in 1997. The late Jimmy Goldsmith, with his “get out of Europe” policy for the Referendum Party, decided to have a candidate in my constituency. He succeeded in getting 1,405 votes, just 2.5% of the poll but enough to unseat me by 744 votes—much, I have to say, to the surprise of the Labour candidate. The Referendum Party candidate, in his speech at the count, said words to the effect of, “I came here to kick out the pro-European Tory. I’ve done the job and now I’ll go back to London”. Thus ended my career in another place.

Against that background and as an aside, I find it quite extraordinary that my dear party has chosen another Goldsmith as a prospective Mayor of London, knowing his views on Europe and indeed his views on a third runway at Heathrow, which is so vital to the success of London.

I welcome the Bill and I welcome the Prime Minister’s determination to make the EU work better for all the people of Europe. That needs to be emphasised. It has to work better because, as we have seen recently, there has been the situation in Greece, huge levels of unemployment in many member states and, frankly, a shameful lack of any coherent policy over refugees.

As we all read in the weekend papers, it would appear that there are four key demands: first, to get Brussels to make an explicit statement that will keep us out of the European superstate; secondly, an explicit statement that the euro is not the official currency of the EU but that we have a multicurrency union, thereby protecting the pound; thirdly, a red card system to

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bring back some powers from Brussels; and, fourthly, a so-called new structure reducing the dominance of the big nine.

Of course I am not doing the negotiating, but it seems to me that the first two points should be obtainable. However, I find the third and fourth a little too imprecise. Surely we should consider some specifics, and two come to my mind. The first is that in my view the City of London is absolutely fundamental to the success of this country—not only its position in world finance but all that it means for employment and the success of the United Kingdom. Frankly, it must, in the ultimate, be under the control of this country and not shackled by Brussels. The second is the policy of the free movement of labour. Of course I understand it and see it as a cherished view of many in Europe, but somehow or other it is not working and it really does need to be reviewed. Migration, which is so prevalent in the press today, is something that we have to get a grip of and find some means of controlling without totally undermining the freedom of movement of labour.

Personally, I would push for safeguards in just those aspects that are fundamental to the UK economy rather than try to change any of the headline missions of the existing treaty, unless of course we see the emergence of new missions, such as the European army, which is totally unacceptable to me. I assume that my noble friend Lord Hill, as a Commissioner, will be deeply involved. I have complete faith in his patience and dogged persistence, and I hope that my noble friend the Minister will send him certainly my best wishes and, I suspect, the best wishes of the whole of your Lordships’ House.

At heart, as the House probably knows, I am an ex-ad man who held a marginal seat for nearly 25 years. As such, I want to see a clear communication strategy with some exciting benefits sold to the British people. I want them to be communicated with. I do not want to read a lot of knocking copy; I want to hear the positives—the benefits of staying in on an adjusted basis, as we have talked about. I want to appeal to all age groups and to all sections of society across all the media. Frankly, from my point of view, the referendum should be held under the current Westminster franchise but with two parties added to it. One—your Lordships’ House—has already been agreed. I think that we should have a vote in general elections in any case, as I have said many times. The other is those of our citizens who work within Europe. Personally, I would not wait until the end of 2017. That is too long for any campaign. We should vote in 2016 early in the summer with the sun on our backs. I say good luck to my noble friend Lord Rose and his team, and I thank them for the work they are going to do.

5.46 pm

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab): My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. Indeed, I enjoyed his speech and agreed with much of what he said. The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, may be surprised to hear that I agree with him about referendums. He is absolutely right that in a parliamentary democracy it is up to Parliament to weigh up the issues and make decisions, but the time comes when a

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referendum may be necessary. For example, for a very long time all the parties in Parliament have agreed that we should remain in the European Union. However, there is great concern about it in the country, and perhaps not a majority but a huge minority believe that we should leave the Union because it is not good for our country. Under those circumstances, it is right to hold this referendum, because the powers that be—the parties—need some guidance and that is what the people will give them, whichever way they go.

When I took part in the debates on the Referendum Bill in 1975 in the other place, I really did not dream that I would be involved in another one in this place 40 years later. Of course, in 1975 it was a Labour Government Bill; this is a Conservative one. In 1975, there was little experience of referendums. We hardly ever had them; indeed, I do not think that at that stage we had had a national one. We had some in Wales about pub opening times, but not in England. Today, through experience, we have a better understanding of how referendums should be organised. So this Bill is a much better one and it is even better as a result of debate and amendments made in the House of Commons. However, it is a bit late. There should have been a referendum on the Lisbon treaty but that was denied to this country by the then Prime Minister. That was the time when the referendum should have been held, so this one is a little bit late.

The Bill before us is, I believe, satisfactory in most respects and it does far more than the 1975 Act to ensure fairness. It ensures that one side of the argument is not outspent by the other, as was the case in 1975, when the no side was outspent by the yes side by about 20:1. In spite of that, one-third of people voting still voted to come out. I also hope that the Bill will preclude foreign organisations such as the CIA from intervening in the referendum campaign, and likewise the European Commission and other EU institutions.

I shall not go into the arguments for and against remaining in the EU—we have heard a lot of them this afternoon—except to say that this referendum is about a different organisation from that which was voted upon in 1975. Then, it was perceived as a vote to stay in a common market. Today, people will be voting to remain in a Union that already has significant powers over the governance of the United Kingdom and seeks further powers through the ever-present mantra of an “ever closer union”. Those of us who tried to point out that joining the EEC, or Common Market, would lead to a loss of UK sovereignty were derided and insulted by our opponents as ignorant little Englanders. Yet we were right. Treaty by treaty, powers have been transferred to Brussels and we have all been made citizens of the European Union.

I was hoping that we could conduct this referendum without name-calling and insults, but, unfortunately, the leader of the campaign to stay in has set the tone of the campaign by accusing Eurosceptics of being unpatriotic. I wonder whether he knows the meaning of patriotism when he comes out with a stroke like that. He should be warned that there are some Eurosceptics who are experts at insults, but we do not want to use them. I hope that that will be understood.

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The referendum is, above all, about who governs Britain. I hope that, when people vote, they understand that.

For myself, I was opposed to joining the EEC. In fact, I made the first speech about it when I was a prospective candidate in the Newbury constituency, of all places, at a place called Woolhampton, in 1962; I have not changed my view since then. I have opposed every treaty extending its powers, and remain convinced that the United Kingdom would thrive outside the EU and regain the full power to govern ourselves through our own Parliament and institutions, which have been established over the centuries.

I want to ask the Minister one question, which I hope she will be able to answer. If the Prime Minister is unable to obtain the changes that he needs, that are relevant and that will ensure we retain our sovereignty, would he be prepared to recommend that we leave the EU? I hope the Minister will be able to answer that, but I appreciate it is not an easy question, especially bearing in mind that the Prime Minister will not tell us exactly what he is going to negotiate about.

Having said that, I support the Bill and look forward to taking part in its further stages.

5.54 pm

Lord Suri (Con): My Lords, a good number of noble Lords have already spoken and some are still to speak. I think that this is the longest debate I have seen in my first year in this House, which is very interesting.

I am a businessman by profession. Unlike many noble Lords, I have not been an elected politician in the other place. For that reason, I focus on the bottom line. There has been, and will be, much discussion of principles during this debate, but I want to bring the business and economic reality to the fore.

I have heard many of my Eurosceptic friends expound on the glorious sunny uplands that will lie beyond us until we vote to leave the European Union. We can be like Norway and Switzerland, they say. The hardest part of this to understand is when they turn to me and expect me to support their case. I have been told that a Britain in this situation could refuse free movement. If so, why have Switzerland and Norway both declined to do so? Why do both have a higher percentage of foreign EU nationals than Britain?

However, immigration is of secondary concern to me. When it comes to the economic realities, a UK outside the EU would not be participating in the drawing up of EU regulations, which would affect my business and others. A UK outside the EU would not be making the voice of its business community heard in the regulations that we have to live by. As for negotiating our own trade deals, we would be negotiating as a small country. Do my honourable colleagues think that a UK-China trade deal, between 64 million and 1,357 million people, would be a good deal, or do they, as I do, suspect that we would be steam-rollered? We need to buy into Europe and the TTIP. The best deal for our country is undoubtedly within the European Union. However, let me be honest: there are things that I would like to see changed.

I was relieved when, some two weeks back, the European Court of Justice upheld the right of government to stop prisoners voting in elections. What worries me

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is that the UK could have been liable for challenges and fines in those courts, had the ban been struck down. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will renegotiate a package in which the supremacy of British law, made in this and the other place, will be recognised. We also need further safeguards for the firms of the City of London and the wider financial sector in this country. EU regulations on these matters disproportionately affect Britain, as a country that is reliant on financial services for over 20% of our exports. We need to be more forthright in protecting our interests here. Our noble friend Lord Hill has been an excellent voice for British interests on the Commission, and I applaud his ongoing efforts in this area.

On a broader point, we must secure safeguards for countries like ours that will not sign up for deeper integration, federalism or the euro. We have natural allies who are not in the euro and do not desire more integration. The Prime Minister must continue his efforts to achieve substantial change with their help. A two-speed Europe is preferable, but not at the cost of being excluded from the crucial decision-making that the EU does. I have full faith in the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, and that Britain will make the right choice to stay in when the referendum outlined in this Bill is held. I support the Bill.

5.59 pm

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): My Lords, the leitmotiv of this debate seems to be “Come back, Harold Wilson, all is forgiven”. He may have kidded the rest of us sometimes, but I do not think he ever kidded himself. I only wish that were true of his successor in 10 Downing Street today.

My qualification, such as it is, for speaking is a little along the lines of that of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, in that I wrote the TUC pamphlet in 1975, saying, “Vote no”. Albeit brilliantly argued, two-thirds of our members voted yes. That is the sort of thing one tends to remember. Jack Jones subsequently said to me, “I thought I asked you to write a popular pamphlet saying, ‘Vote no’.” I said, “I did, Jack, I did.” He replied, “Well, it wasn’t very popular, was it?”

The trade union movement has now, I think it fair to say, come to terms with the reality of multinational but accountable capitalism. I say “but accountable”. There is a question mark there. I hope no one in this Chamber thinks there should be any withdrawing of the degree of accountability of multinational capitalism, be it Volkswagen, which we have been very conscious of in the past few days, or, indeed, the hedge funds. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said that we do not want people financed according to the ratio that applied in 1975, but it seems that hedge funds are now the epitome of our national interest. Are they not multinational, or does he not want any of the money coming from the hedge funds? That is a rhetorical question, but he will forgive me for that.

We want a debate with proper rules of engagement.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I am very sorry to interrupt, but I do not quite understand the reference to hedge funds. I do not think I made any reference to hedge funds.

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Lord Lea of Crondall: The noble Lord did not make a reference to hedge funds, but the point I am making is that, according to the papers, there is a very prominent role for hedge funds in financing the “get out” campaign. I assume that he is not unhappy to take their money.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I did not take anybody’s money.

Lord Lea of Crondall: One of the most complicated points we have been discussing is describing what “out” looks like. It is a genuinely difficult problem. There are two issues which are very hard to separate out. First, as the FT says today, Paris, Berlin and Brussels are increasingly exasperated about what Britain wants. The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said he was baffled by the negotiating strategy. The problem is that it is very hard to pin down what the “out” position would be and what, therefore, is the correct comparison with the “in” position.

People such as the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, are not really interested in renegotiation. He makes no bones about it: he wants out. But there are others who say it depends on the outcome of the renegotiation. I think it is fair for us to give more thought to what it is that the British people will be looking at. They will be able to look at what “in” means a lot more easily and unambiguously than what “out” means, so I want to spend my other four minutes on what “out” might mean.

I agree very much with my noble friend Lady Morgan of Ely, who said that the Office for Budget Responsibility or an organisation of that ilk could look at some of the economic consequences. Of course, the rest of the picture is very hard to give to the OBR or Whitehall. It is far too speculative, and it probably will be a picture of a future period, let us say in three years’ time, involving a vote to say “out” and further negotiation with the countries of the 28 as to what “out” actually means.

As Donald Rumsfeld said, there are known knowns and known unknowns, and there are both types in this quandary as to how we present what “out” looks like in an objective and unambiguous way. The answer is that we do not know, because the negotiation beginning now would have to be followed by another negotiation about what “out” actually meant in terms of customs, tariffs, industrial standards and so on.

The throwaway line of the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, about the EU raising trade barriers against us as some sort of eccentric thing to do—that is only the converse of our getting out. If we think that the trading arrangements within the EU have no substance, being out of the EU will not present us with any difficulties, because according to his hypothesis, if we were out, there would be no change at all. Thus, we all disappear, chasing our own tails. If that is the position, clearly it is misleading. Getting out would have some consequences. We have only Greenland to go on at the moment, and that is a slightly odd comparison, given that it has just a few thousand people and millions of fish, and Denmark controls its foreign policy. Before the referendum, we must give more thought to how the “out” question can be better identified.

I conclude with one quick point about the franchise. The dog that has not barked today, and it is an important one, is the dire state of the electoral register.

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In many places—but equally, in the inner circles—it is a scandal. Will the Government agree to examine the steps that could be taken with the electoral authorities to address this deepening problem? It is not a million miles away from the other work that they will be doing if the amendment on age limitation and so on is accepted.

6.08 pm

Lord Inglewood (Con): My Lords, the evening is getting on, and it is clear that we are going to have a referendum and that we know the wording of the question, so I do not want to talk about that. Rather, I would like to talk, like a number of other speakers this evening, about the choice facing British voters. What, in the real world, are we choosing between when we answer the question? This is not a hypothetical matter. It is not a university exam question.