On the one hand, a positive response to the question “Should this country remain in the EU?” is that one is voting either for the status quo or the status quo as amended by the current negotiations. What actually, however, is the alternative? Presumably, negotiation on a whole range of issues will have to begin. It is clearly not possible, after all, to go back to the world of the late 1960s. What is going to happen? How long is it going to take? What is going to be the opposite of the status quo, as it might be amended? We simply do not know.

An appealing argument, which I think will be attractive to many people, goes along the lines of, “I would like to leave, but on certain conditions. If not, no thank you”. How does the referendum help someone who thinks like that? How do you vote if that is your view?

Another idea, which has been canvassed quite widely, is that we should enter into some kind of associate membership. Were that to be a possibility, what is its compatibility with the questions in the referendum? Which way do you vote? It certainly is not clear to me.

In my experience of these matters, which is based on 10 years as a Member of the European Parliament, different people have very different perceptions of the various aspects of what being in the European Union is all about. Some think that the UK constitution is a sacrament; others think that the European project is sacramental; and most people do not think either of those things. Some people think that the EU is too expensive; others think it is good value. Some think that it is insufficiently Thatcherite and others think that it is not adequately Corbynista. Some think that it is undemocratic and interferes too much; others think that it is nothing like as bad as the UK system, with its extensive use of secondary legislation. Some people think that the CAP is an appalling French conspiracy, while others maintain that is the last bastion of British rural values under threat from that tyrannical tsunami of 21st-century urbanism. And then there is the whole question of the union that is the United Kingdom.

The debate and the issues are multifaceted and are perceived very subjectively. I am concerned about how people are going to begin to set out in their own minds the reality of arrangements governing matters, some of which do not run at all with the grain of traditional

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political thinking in this country. For many people who have not made up their minds—I understand that that is about a third of voters—the problem will be knowing where to start.

Having worked for 10 years in the European institutions, I still have contacts in Brussels—if I might touch on the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, I looked into the question because I have a European parliamentary pension and it is paid regardless of any political statement I may make about the European Union of any kind, so I am told. From those contacts, my intelligence is that there is a considerable body of good will towards resolving what one might describe as the “UK question”, partly because many recognise, at least to some extent, the general applicability and desirability of the points we are making, and partly from a genuine wish not to lose us. However, it is a bit like marriage. Any fool can get married and any fool can get divorced; it is the subsequent disputes over money and the children which so often degenerate into drawn-out vindictiveness and extreme acrimony—that is where the trouble starts. This indicates to me the difficulty of negotiating a post-referendum withdrawal.

The Bill promises to transfer in a particular case the type of decision-making traditionally exercised by government with Parliament and to hand it over to the electorate. It is a many-sided, complicated and esoteric bundle of issues which need careful consideration. This is something which Governments traditionally have always had to deal with, but they have always been able to rely on the Civil Service to provide them with impartial advice. Even if it is not followed—and it is not always by any means—it is inevitably of considerable help in resolving the tricky questions. In this case, the electorate are being asked to take a decision without any equivalent support. It is absolutely clear that the referendum campaign will be open season for every political mountebank and snake oil salesman around and, no doubt, they will be arguing on all sides of the debate. I believe that government has a general responsibility and particular duty of care to the individual elector to enable them to have access to at least some baseline information about the matter in hand, of the kind that the Civil Service gives to government day in, day out. People may or may not use it, but providing it will assist and improve the political credibility of the referendum’s outcome, since it will be less easy for the losers to argue that the voters were misled or got it wrong through ignorance.

As we know, one of the ostensible purposes of the referendum is to settle the question of EU membership. I am very far from sure that it will—the last one did not—and anticipate that the matter will remain open until one or other option is generally concluded no longer a realistic possibility. That was the case in the 18th century over the whole question of Jacobitism, which seems to me to be the closest parallel. Ensuring that our electorate as a whole have access to some basic baseline information, as was the case in 1975, is an essential aspect of all this, so I urge the Government to give the public similar relevant information.

The political landscape over which the referendum will be fought is in many aspects unfamiliar. When in an unfamiliar landscape, a decent map helps. I was in Palermo 10 days ago and I had never been there before.

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If I had not had a decent map, I dare say that I would still be wandering around the byways, or even worse. If such information were provided, it would be analogous to what the Civil Service does for the Government day in, day out. If it is good enough for the Government, it is good enough for the people.

6.15 pm

Baroness Suttie (LD): My Lords, as other noble Lords have said, we are debating the Second Reading of this Bill after the in campaign and both out campaigns have already been launched. Against the backdrop of campaigning on the referendum having de facto already begun, we owe it to the electorate to work constructively and quickly to ensure that this is the very best Bill possible by improving it where necessary, as so many other noble Lords have said today. The Bill could and should be improved both by extending the franchise and in terms of the information provided so that people can make as educated a choice as possible. In that regard, I am certain that we shall have more detailed discussions on information and reports available to the electorate during the later stages of the Bill. However, I shall today concentrate the majority of my remarks on the other key area where I believe that the Bill needs to be further improved; that is, extending the franchise beyond those currently covered by the Bill.

Last September, when my niece, Emma, was 17 and in her final year at school, she was able to take an active part in the referendum campaign in Scotland. When I spoke to her last Sunday afternoon to ask her about the Scottish referendum, she said that being able to vote was a very positive experience. She said, “We felt valued because we were being consulted on something that would have an impact on our whole future, and our views were being taken seriously. All the discussion and events ensured that we were well informed and that we were clued up on the facts and arguments. Having a vote at 16 and 17 really engaged a lot of people in politics who otherwise wouldn’t have been interested, because it targeted us at the right age and, as a result, I think we’re all more likely to vote in the future and to become more involved in politics”. If the outcome of the Scottish referendum had a major impact on the future of our young people in Scotland, and it was therefore decided to give 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote on that future, surely that argument applies even more strongly to the referendum on our future membership of the European Union. Indeed, in the Scottish context, not to do so might become a further bone of contention in the already febrile political debate in Scotland.

There are those who argue that we should not give 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote because “they are just children” or they are not mature enough to vote. But if at the age of 16 you are responsible enough to serve your country, get married and pay taxes, you are surely old enough to vote on an issue that will have such a big impact on the future of your country. We should recall that, 100 years ago, not dissimilar arguments were being used then about extending the franchise. Young people are not just the voice of tomorrow. As the 16 and 17 year-olds demonstrated through their passionate and articulate engagement in the Scottish

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referendum campaign, they are the voice of today. On the vital question of our membership of the European Union, one of the most significant and long- lasting decisions to be made in his country for years, that voice deserves to be heard and given effect with a vote. Given the strength of feeling expressed today on this issue, I hope that we will receive a positive response from the Minister, even though she is currently absent from the Chamber.

To conclude, I want to make one other broad political point. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will fight a separate in campaign, and for many nationalists the dream result would be for Scotland to vote to remain in and for England to vote to leave, thereby triggering a second referendum on Scottish independence. I would love to believe that the First Minister would for once put the wider good of the United Kingdom first, but I fear that narrow nationalist politics will prevail. So I make a plea to the Government, as well as to the political leadership of the in campaign, that they should be exceptionally sensitive to the Scottish dimension in this referendum. It would be tragic if the vote on one union led to the break-up of the other. Deciding on the franchise for this referendum on the EU is hugely important and these decisions should not be taken lightly, but if this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, as has been said by so many other noble Lords today, to decide on our relationship with the European Union, we should extend that franchise as widely as possible to include those whose lives and futures will be directly affected.

6.19 pm

Lord Plumb (Con): My Lords, I declare my support to remain in the European Union. I support the Bill, generally, and look forward to the debate in which we will have the opportunity for much discussion on detail. I have doubts about the referendum and therefore I wholly support the points made by my noble friend Lord Bowness.

I first got involved in 1972, 43 years ago. At that particular time I was involved with the various organisations existing in Europe such as COPA, the organisation representing the council of professional agriculturalists in the EEC. It was a very powerful group of Europe’s farm organisations. In 1979, I entered the European Parliament as a Conservative Member, and for 20 years I was, like others in the Chamber, heavily involved in the work of the Parliament, holding various offices, including two and a half years, I am proud to say, as President of the Parliament, voted for by the Members of that Parliament themselves.

It was a great experience. It was often frustrating, living through routine crises, but there were only half the number of countries at that time that there are in the EU now. It was a challenge. Imagine the challenge at that particular time dealing with many people across that chamber whom not many years before we had been fighting. It was a case of reconciliation with those people, which mattered to all of us at that time, as we felt we were trying to do something to unite Europe, which had been at war for so long.

The European Parliament has now increased its power and its responsibilities, as it shares decision-making with the Commission and the Council. I would like to

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see much closer links with Members of this House and the other place to discuss future developments with Members of the European Parliament. There was a fine example in Denmark in the Folketing—this used to happen, so I presume it is still the same now—where every Tuesday morning the Danish Members of the European Parliament would appear before the whole of their Parliament to be questioned or have a discussion on matters of concern at that particular time. We seem to totally ignore them here in this country and from our respective Parliaments. I would like to close those links.

I am aware of course of the work of our European committees and the excellent reports of our seven sub-committees. They deserve more recognition and publicity than they get at present. I am sure that they are considering many of the issues that we are now debating, producing helpful and positive information. I entirely welcome what the chairman of the European Union Committee said earlier, my noble friend Lord Boswell.

As of today, we should be discussing not what we are discussing now but our commitment to improving the single market, freeing up trade and removing the paper chase, red tape and regulations. Although we often think we are, we are not alone among the 28 nations. Many of them feel exactly as we do about similar things and I speak from experience in saying that. Setting out facts and effecting the movement of people, goods, services and capital and so forth are the things that we could build on given the time, opportunity and the will to do so.

It is an irony that there is so much pressure in some quarters to divide and split up the United Kingdom, ultimately making it the most federal country in Europe, while Europe is providing a single market particularly benefiting the United Kingdom. It would take years, as others said earlier today, to dismantle our present commitments and it would be extremely expensive to buy our way out of the club of nations. The effect, in my opinion, would be totally disastrous. Those who say that we can continue with that trade irrespective of the commitments that were made totally ignore the fact of the reaction and attitude of other countries towards trade once we pull out.

I wholly support what other noble Lords said earlier today. It is remarkable as one travels around the rest of the world, as I did when I was President of the European Parliament, to see the respect that other countries had for Europe. I was not at that time seen as a British citizen going to those countries; I was seen as the President of the European Parliament, and they marvelled at the opportunity therefore to bring together countries that had been enemies for so long.

My particular area, as noble Lords know well, and I cannot ignore it, is an interest in agriculture and the common agricultural policy. Whether we like it or not, that common agricultural policy will be debated, because so many spurious figures are bandied about of what this costs the nation and individuals. I have even heard Members of the other House saying that 50% of the money from the common agricultural policy goes to France. That of course is not true. When we start

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discussing this in Committee, I hope that the facts will be there. I hope that the Government can produce those facts and help us to see what are the clear facts of what it is—not what some people or what the press might say it is, but what it actually is—so that we can base our arguments on the truth and not on the fiction that is so often bandied about.

Of course, the common agricultural policy is difficult to govern in the sense of making one policy for 28 countries. We cannot determine quantity when we are dealing with living and growing things in the climate that we have. Why do we have the policy and why only for agriculture? The very nature of food production makes policy adjustments difficult, causing complications and distorted trading. It is to create a fairer market in an endeavour to avoid inflated food prices. I hope that we can get rid of the costs that are bandied about in the views that will be expressed during the time that we have to prepare for the referendum.

I give one figure from the common agricultural policy budget to make a comparison for those suggesting that France receives all that money. I will give the difference between France and Britain. France actually receives 16.6% of the total 43% that is allowed for agriculture, because it has 16% of the farmed area of the European Union. The United Kingdom receives 7.1% since we have 9.4% of the farmed area. The rest of the 43% of the overall budget goes to the various other countries at different levels for agriculture. Other sectors such as energy and transport receive subsidies that are funded fully or partially by government and therefore receive a smaller percentage of the overall budget. The agricultural budget actually makes up— remember this please—less than 1% of public expenditure in all member countries, where they spend three times more, for example, on defence. That is a fact, and it is a very different story from the one that we so regularly hear.

The importance of agriculture and horticulture production amounts to considerable business, given the 142,000 businesses involved—more than the number in the motor trade, education, finance and insurance. We have a self-sufficiency ratio estimated to be 60% of all food production, but it is interesting to look at the ratio of different countries. Imports exceed exports, so we have to do more to compete with France, whose food ratio is 120%; in Germany, it is 93%, and here it is 60%. We have a lot to make up to be really competitive.

I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, mentioned, in what I thought was a good speech, the fact that the future is there to be changed not for us but for young people who are coming into business. I know that there are more young entrepreneurs coming into agriculture who are prepared to face that challenge, hopefully with the opportunity to combine practice with science and to put agriculture at the forefront of our economy in the European Union. They need to know, and they ask me regularly, what future there is. What can I say when there is this uncertainty as to what is to change and as to what will replace what we have now? To improve and simplify our existing policies must be our aim, not to cause chaos by withdrawal and upheaval. We shall enjoy getting more involved in that in Committee.

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6.32 pm

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): My Lords, I intend to address this question, as I have been very pleased to see many colleagues on both sides of the House have done today, on the basis that, although I do not like referenda very much in principle—I very much agree with the oft-quoted remarks of both Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher on the subject—we now face a situation in which we have a Government who have won an election and who have an electoral mandate for this referendum, and we should settle down and do our duty.

As I see it, our duty is threefold. One is to make sure that the technical arrangements for the referendum are robust and fair. Secondly, we must have the appropriate franchise—a lot of very good comments have been made in today’s debate about that, particularly in relation to the franchise being given to EU citizens resident in this country and the reduction of the age of election to 16. I hope that those points will be taken further in Committee and on Report. Thirdly, and most importantly—vitally, of course—we must have an honest, open and comprehensive debate, so that the British public can make a choice which is considered and focuses on the essential facts.

For that purpose, and in the course of the debate which started here this morning and through the afternoon in this House, it is very important indeed that any kind of error, spurious or manifest, or any kind of spurious argument—any kind of what the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, memorably called “tosh” this morning—should be exposed and challenged. Indeed, I intend to expose and challenge a certain amount of the noble Lord’s own tosh in the course of my brief remarks.

One of the essential facts that no one has ever been able to get away with ignoring, thank God, is that between 3 million and 4 million people in this country work for firms whose majority of customers are somewhere in the European single market. That is so important. The Eurosceptics have always accepted that they cannot possibly come forward credibly with policies that would involve us leaving the single market. Therefore, they have always said, “Don’t worry—we’ll leave the European Union, but we won’t leave the single market”. That needs to be probed very thoroughly indeed, because it goes to the heart of the national economic interest in the matter. A year or two ago, the Eurosceptics were saying, “That’s all right—we’ll join EFTA, or we’ll do a bespoke deal, rather like Switzerland”, which actually is not an offer. That was the sort of thing one heard from the Eurosceptics.

Then it came very much to their attention, and they could not avoid the fact, that to join EFTA or to do a Swiss-type deal would involve us being put in a position of impotence—indeed, a humiliating position—in which we had to accept all the rules of the single market as they were decided by other people, without any right or opportunity to take part in their formulation, and have to continue to pay a financial contribution to the European Union. Even the IoD, the Institute of Directors, which was a hotbed of Euroscepticism at one time, realised that that was a quite unacceptable solution for this country.

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So the Eurosceptics have now started saying, as the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, said this morning, “Oh no, we won’t go down that road; we’ll do a better deal, a better deal than anybody”. If anybody says that, one’s suspicions are naturally aroused. Why would we be able to do a better deal? “Well”, we are told, “because we actually buy more from the rest of the European Union than it buys from us”. In other words, they are more dependent on us than we are on them, so we have them around the neck and they have to accept our terms. Nothing could be further from the truth; nothing could be more damaging to us going into any kind of negotiation with the rest of the European Union because it is based on complete falsehood, on a logical fallacy. Trade dependence is a function of relative dependence on exports to the countries concerned—relative exposure to those particular exports in relation to the total GDP.

Let me give an example, so that everyone can appreciate the obvious logical point. Micronesia might be buying £1 million-worth of goods every year from China and selling China only £100,000 worth of goods in the course of a year but, of course, it would have absolutely zero leverage on China. It does not matter that there would be a 9:1 relationship between exports and imports between Micronesia and China. It does not matter that Micronesia would have an enormous balance of payments deficit with China. What is important is the relative position, and we know what the relative position is. The European Union’s exports to the United Kingdom are 2.5% of EU GDP, whereas our exports to the rest of the European Union are 15% of our GDP. So it is a relationship of 6:1. We have a 600% disadvantage in this matter—no basis at all for negotiating some special deal.

Even if we could negotiate some such special deal, which I think is most unlikely, it would not solve an essential problem which is the investment problem that is critical for the future. It is no use talking about the present; we have to talk about the future. The investment problem is that anybody who is putting new capacity somewhere into the single market to service the single market as a whole must be assured that they have a host Government that have some influence with Brussels in the legislative and regulatory process. Otherwise, of course, they would be completely unrepresented, which would be completely unacceptable. We have had that message clearly from, for example, Japanese car manufacturers based in this country and American pharmaceutical companies based in this country. They need to feel that, if they are coming here, the British Government will take up their cause when required in Brussels. It is even more important in financial services, where we have such an enormous amount of foreign investment. That problem can never be resolved if we walk away from the actual membership of the European Union and its constitutional legislative structures, which is what the Eurosceptics are proposing.

It may be because they are subconsciously so aware of the weaknesses of their case that, increasingly, the Eurosceptics try to move on from a discussion of the future of the single market to one outside the single market. We heard the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, this morning say, “Oh no, much more important is what is going on outside the single market”. I took note of

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one of his quotes, which I hope I still have. I must try to find it because it is really quite memorable. He said, “Because of our history, we have better worldwide links”. The idea is that the solution is: even if we do not do so well in the single market, we will do even better outside it.

That is based on three mistakes. It is based on a bad business policy; it is certainly based on an economic fallacy; and, it is based on an enormous piece of ignorance—quite extraordinary ignorance. The bad business judgment is the fact that the countries he was thinking of do not regard themselves as having a special relationship with us. I have met so many Indians who have told me that they have been so disappointed, frustrated and annoyed at British businessmen going out to India and thinking that they have an inside track because of British-Indian history. As a matter of fact, most Indians do not look at the Raj at all with the kind of rose-tinted, nostalgic spectacles that many Eurosceptics seem to wear.

China is a country where one has to be extremely careful because one is too easily associated with a country which imposed the unequal treaties and which burned down the Summer Palace in 1859. People are completely insensitive to this kind of problem. These countries are run by people who are highly intelligent, very sophisticated and who are going for value for money. They make hard-nosed economic decisions. So the idea that we have some special advantage in these areas is complete and utter rubbish. It is very deceptive and dangerous for British business. This pretentiousness is quite the wrong kind of advice to give to British business. They need to be much more realistic.

The economic fallacy is even more serious; it is very serious indeed. Far from there being a trade-off between being a part of the single market and having access to the worldwide markets beyond, there is a negative trade-off. It is not a question of having more of one and less of the other; if you have more of one, you have more of the other. The whole reason for the single market was because it would create a large internal market comparable to that which Japan and the United States enjoyed and which, at the time, we did not have in Europe. The idea that the single market would produce greater specialisation, larger firms and longer production runs has worked. It has produced economies of scale and enabled firms to carry higher overheads, particularly in the critical areas of marketing and research and development which are so important for the future. This has all come about based on having an effective single market. So the last thing we want to do is to say, “We do not need a single market; we can do better outside”. The opposite is actually the case. This is a very serious fallacy that clearly needs to be exposed thoroughly in the course of this particular campaign.

On the issue of ignorance, the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, is one of the most knowledgeable and brilliant human beings I know—it is only in this area of Europe where he allows his emotions to take over and defeat his very formidable intellect—but he showed an extraordinary piece of ignorance, or at least negligence because he never mentioned it at all when he talked about the outside world, about the situation in which we trade. Apart from the United States, the world

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outside the single market is primarily within free trade agreements or trade and investment agreements negotiated between the EU and the markets concerned. The most recent ones were negotiated with Canada and Japan, and we are now engaged in the TTIP with the United States. If we left the European Union, the next day we would cease to be able to benefit from these trade agreements. Such agreements sometimes take, quite typically, five or six years to negotiate. They are enormously valuable. If we left them, we would immediately be at a handicap. We would immediately find ourselves paying tariffs or suffering other disabilities which our competitors in the single market were not doing. To negotiate something of our own would take years, and under no circumstances would the terms be as good because we would be offering a market of 60 million people and the EU would be offering one of 400 million. We would be the “demandeur”, so anyone could say “Ha ha! This is our price”.

This is a hopeless way forward and, if we go down this route, we will be betraying the country’s national interest. In my view, it is very important that these matters are gone into in considerable detail. If not, the British people are likely to make a decision which they would live to regret.

6.42 pm

Viscount Trenchard (Con): My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for introducing this debate. It is a great honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies, who has, unfortunately for me, already attempted to demolish all the arguments I was about to put forward. My experience of having worked as a banker in Japan for 11 years leads me to believe that it is not as simple as he makes out. I am utterly convinced that I was seen primarily as a British person and only secondarily as a European. Although I was privileged to serve as a vice-chairman of the European Business Council in Tokyo, the other Europeans wanted to me to do that job because I was British and because, as an Englishman, I would have more influence. The British Chamber of Commerce as a body was probably more influential than the European Business Council. So I have rather a different interpretation of how Europeanness and Britishness mix and complement each other.

Since 1975, the British people have had no opportunity to approve or reject the EU’s relentless march from being the Common Market—principally a free trade area that we joined in 1973—to something approaching a superstate: the European Union of today. In common with most noble Lords who have spoken, I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to allow the British people a vote on whether they wish to stay in a reformed EU. But we do not yet know how significant the reforms will be. The reforms most British people want involve the restoration of powers to this Parliament and a reduction in the number and reach of EU tentacles, which permeate every area of our national life and every arm of national and local administration.

At the same time, to avoid a further—perhaps fatal—euro crisis, many in Brussels and some of our EU partners, are also seeking to reform the EU, but the reforms they seek involve moving in the opposite

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direction. They want more fiscal integration and tax harmonisation—basically, the establishment of a single finance ministry for the eurozone. It seems to me that we will therefore become increasingly uncomfortable in remaining a member of the EU on the same basis as the integrating eurozone economies. It is not clear how the interests of the UK and other countries outside the eurozone can be protected. I look forward to the publication of the Chancellor’s document detailing how this can work, as reported in the

Sunday Times

. This will surely require a new structure for the EU itself, which ideally should recognise the reality of the current situation: that the UK is already a semi-detached member of the EU, as a non-participant in the most important aspect of the European project, the common currency, and also a non-participant in the Schengen agreement.

The Bill before us commits the Government to a referendum on what is still an unknown package of reforms. Is it not customary to publish a White Paper well in advance of a referendum, providing the voters with a clear explanation of what exactly they are voting on? Is it the Government’s intention to publish such a White Paper? Does the Minister agree that it should contain a section explaining in an impartial way the consequences of remaining in the EU and one explaining the consequences of leaving?

While I am still open to the possibility that our European partners will change their minds and allow us to retain our membership but withdraw from the political and judicial structures, it is most unlikely that the commitment to the necessary treaty changes can be obtained in time. Does the Minister agree that, if the leave campaign should prevail, the Government should negotiate a new trading and collaborative relationship with the EU which would preserve the single market and our free trade with the bloc? I am not sure whether this should be defined as a reconstituted EEA or EFTA, or even as a new class of associate trading member of the EU—in which case, does leave really mean leave? It is manifestly in the interests of our European partners to retain our open trade relationship with them even if we can no longer be part of their political project.

It is claimed by those who would advocate remaining a full member of the EU at all costs that our interests would be adversely affected if we no longer had a voice in the institutions of the EU that make the rules. But our voice has not been strong enough to prevent our being outvoted every single time we have objected to a proposal being considered in the European Council. With only 9.7% of the votes in the European Parliament, it is not surprising either that the United Kingdom MEPs, even if they could sometimes agree on anything, are powerless to protect British interests. In these circumstances, fundamental reform of the EU must provide a basis for the UK and other non-eurozone member states to escape the strictures and costs of the political and judicial institutions which are being expanded and developed to bring about ever-closer union, while remaining free trading partners on a basis similar to the current customs union.

There are many other areas where we must and will continue to collaborate with our European partners, but I believe that, in the global world that exists, we

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will be more successful and retain more influence in the world as a sovereign state. I also believe that our own financial sector regulators—the PRA, part of the Bank of England, and the FCA—should be restored to the position of sovereign regulators, no longer subject to the EBA, ESMA and EIOPA. This is essential in order to prevent further damage to our financial services industry. For example, the alternative asset management industry is already suffering from the application of the harmful and pointless Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. It is difficult to see how changes as fundamental as are needed can be obtained without treaty change. If the negotiated changes on which the referendum will be fought involve merely a promise of future treaty change, how can the EU and our European partners be trusted to deliver the promised changes in future?

I welcome the Government’s agreement that the purdah rules will apply during the campaign, but ask the Minister to tell the House what measures the Government are taking to ensure that the European Commission and the European political parties are similarly restricted. I would also like to hear the Minister’s answer to the question asked by my noble friend Lord Lamont in his excellent speech as to why the Government still insist on obtaining a partial exemption from the Section 125 rules. Will she also inform the House when the Government intend to publish the draft regulations?

My noble friend Lord Norton raised the question of a threshold. There was a 40% threshold requirement in the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum, but the problem is that if you have a threshold and only 39% of people vote, it does not settle anything. What happens next? You have to have another referendum, I suppose.

I have to agree with my noble friend Lord Lawson that the EU is a political project rather more than a trade project. I do not think that membership of the EU, or a different kind of trade-based relationship with it, will make much difference to our trade with the EU. However, escaping from the bureaucratic burdens placed on us by full EU membership, will, in my view, help us develop better and closer trading relationships across the world in this global age.

6.51 pm

Lord Dykes (Non-Afl): My Lords, one of the two great tragedies in this country ever since the previous referendum in 1975 has been the “them and us” mentality of many politicians in this country, and other people outside Parliament. That feeling, unfortunately, continues. It is a very strong manifestation of the feeling that all the other member states are different from us and we are exceptionally different in a merited sense that leaves them standing. The other tragedy is that this country is bedevilled by the worst press in Europe. Apart from a few moderate newspapers, I think that at least seven newspapers supported the Conservative Party in the last election and are owned by foreign-based owners who do not pay UK personal taxes.

I live in France and my friends involved in politics in Paris phone me and ask, “Why do you allow these foreigners to own newspapers in your country, with their corrosive message about the European Union”? Recently, Rupert Murdoch very kindly said that he

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was changing his mind a bit on Europe and might give a lead in that regard. However, in the mean time, the


and the

Daily Mail

continue their campaign of poison on Europe. Most of their stories, particularly those on the front page but also elsewhere, are completely untrue and are not based on any realisable facts about any negotiations in the European Union. If you take the UKIP vote, at least 4 million people must have believed some of that stuff, but some of the others who do are Conservatives and Conservative MPs.

In addition to the other two tragedies that I have described, another tragedy is that the whole thing is a phoney exercise, as we know. We are all pretending. I sympathise with the Minister having to go through the charade of the referendum project. I think the Bill will get passed because people feel that it is inevitable and that, even if you do not like referendums and do not like a lot of the detail in the Bill, you have to support it for the sake of preserving our membership of Europe.

The other reason for this situation arising is that, in the enlarged version of the Bullingdon Club that is the Conservative parliamentary party in the House of Commons, a sufficient number of anti-Europeans has built up. The Prime Minister understandably wished to stabilise his position as a new opposition leader—a young, dynamic, new politician coming in from the background, who was not very well known. He sought to chat people up at Carlton Club dinners and elsewhere about how bad some aspects of Europe were, at the same time saying, of course, that he did not want Europe to be a bedevilling feature of the life of the Conservative parliamentary party. The two things were an astonishing dichotomy and we are still working through this exercise.

I dislike referendums intensely. I suppose the only exception would be if there were an existential decision for one part of the country, such as Scotland—a vote on leaving the wider United Kingdom. There is presumably no other way of doing it, to satisfy all chemical and psychological opinions, than having a referendum. We should think of the damage done by referendums each time we have them, when they are based on false arguments, as Harold Wilson’s was. That was designed to keep the Labour Party together, just as David Cameron now has this phoney exercise to keep his parliamentary party in the other place together. Every time you have a referendum that people know is not genuine, you undermine the authority of Parliament.

I muse on history. We have heard some very good speeches displaying historical common sense from the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and others on the need to think again about the future of Europe, what it means and our membership of it. It is not just economics and trade; it is wider than that and it is very important to the British people.

The difficulty, therefore, is always to make sure that we put the right arguments forward and make sure that the public have the benefit of hearing genuine arguments because we are contending with a press that will not bother to give the details about Europe. I am afraid to say that they are very lazy in the parliamentary Press Gallery. They do not want to

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know too much about it. They just want the British clash of parties and politicians to be the European story, rather than the real, underlying story of Europe. I was chairman of the Conservative group for Europe before the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral. He mentioned his chairmanship. In those days, the Conservative Party was very enthusiastic about Europe. I worked at a very humble level with our then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and remember his very poor French when he made the famous acceptance speech in Brussels, when people put their hands over their ears. None the less, the whole feeling and enthusiasm then was encapsulated by distinguished people such as Sir Henry Plumb, as he then was, now the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, and we thank him for his speech today.

One has to think about the spirit of Europe, not just all the details. By the way, I hope that the Minister will take on board the plea made by so many noble Lords today that we should allow 16 year-olds and 17 year-olds to have a vote. I hope that the Government will reconsider that. There is much more that we will need to discuss in great detail in Committee in a fortnight’s time and then two weeks after that. I prefer to deal with just one or two points today that I think reinforce my suggestion that we get back to the spirit of Europe. Why are we afraid of Europe? Why are we childish about Europe? Why is it “them and us”? Why do not the Germans and the French fear a loss of sovereignty? I live in France as well, which is a very patriotic, nationalistic country, and sometimes very bloody-minded in pursuit of its own ends, as we know. Apart from members of the Front National and the Communist Party, which is much weaker now, everybody in France feels that being a member of the European Union is a natural and good thing.

Apparently, according to the historians, in 1880, people started to talk in the United States of the United States being one country—as “is”, rather than “are” denoting the individual states. Europe may never get to that position. It may remain comprised of sovereign countries aiming to secure the greater good for everybody by dealing through integrated institutions, sometimes by majority voting but by unanimity as well. I say to Members who are not very keen on Europe that individual sovereignty—national sovereignty in the old sense—last existed in Britain probably in 1912, and even then, two years later, we were subject to a French commander-in-chief in the First World War, so this nonsense must be got out of our system.

I know that some people think this is too avant-garde a suggestion to make so late at night, by why are people in Britain afraid of the euro, as they are? They remember the humiliation of being driven out of the exchange rate mechanism in 1992 and they know that the euro is a very strong international currency, getting closer and closer to that of the United States as the main reserve currency in the world. Sterling, by the way, is 2% in terms of reserves. That is the choice we all face—that of being avant-garde and modern about Europe, and of supporting the young British backpackers who want to be European and study foreign languages. Why do not more parliamentarians speak foreign languages? Why do not more parliamentarians such as the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, live abroad so that they know what it is like to be with foreigners? Why do we

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not have more knowledge of all these things that add up to the great European Union, which we need and must cherish? We should support this referendum Bill because we have no other choice, unfortunately, and make sure that we win with a huge majority.

6.59 pm

Lord Sheikh (Con): My Lords, I am wholeheartedly in favour of giving the British people a say about our relationship with the European Union. People can then decide what will be in the best interests of our country and the integrity of the resulting decision cannot be questioned. The last time this happened was 40 years ago. When you think of how much has changed, not just in our relationship with Europe but in every other facet of life, it is clear that it is time for the British people to be given their say again. The issue is of some emotion but we must not let ideology get in the way of reasoned argument. This referendum will be a pivotal turning point for our country. It will pave the way for many decades to come.

Most people agree that the European Union is in need of some reform. Put simply, too much power has been transferred to Brussels. Many laws should be given back to member states. The European Parliament has become too large and expensive. Most importantly, many people feel that it is unaccountable and that our national sovereignty is being undermined. I would like to see national parliaments playing a bigger role in developing European laws and regulations. We in the United Kingdom must ensure that the laws and regulations work in our interest as much as possible.

One of the main attractions of EU membership is the economic benefit, and we must make sure that we have a firm hand in negotiating all trade deals. The EU single market means that British businesses have access to 500 million customers: it is a goldmine of opportunity. The EU has signed free trade agreements with many countries. This is to be applauded. Were we to leave the EU, we would have to renegotiate our trade relationships with 50 countries on an individual basis. This would involve extensive costs and resources. In addition, membership of the single market makes the United Kingdom a more attractive destination for international investment.

The EU must, however, become more competitive and outward-looking. It is a highly impressive bloc of talent and innovation but it must strive for more. For the benefit of business and the economy more widely it is also important that the EU system works to help promote growth and job creation. Rules must be simplified and red tape must be reduced. Some regulations are better handled at national level and this must be done. The CBI has been consistently clear that for most British businesses the benefits of EU membership outweigh the disadvantages.

We must look very closely at the matter of immigration. We should have control over our borders and pick and choose who is best for our economy and who deserves to be helped. We have a responsibility to accept genuine refugees in need. Last year I visited a refugee camp in Jordan and spoke to a number of people there. These are the people that need and deserve our help. I agree with the Prime Minister’s decision to take refugees from these camps but the numbers should be higher.

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I have just returned from visiting Ethiopia. While there I saw some of the remarkable work being undertaken by DfID. It is important that we continue to help other countries to have good governance and to develop economically. People will then prosper in their own communities and be less inclined to come to Europe. With regard to migrants from other EU countries, we must appreciate that their entry does create problems. The knowledge that our borders are open to free movement creates public apprehension and in some cases resentment. The question of immigration from other EU countries needs to be revisited.

We must acknowledge that the Europeans are now our close allies. Indeed, since the establishment of the Common Market there have been no conflicts within the European Union countries. The Common Market was created after the horrors of the Second World War and it generated and maintained people-to-people contacts. In an increasingly globalised and interdependent world we rely heavily on each other. In matters of security and terrorism most of all, we will need to be able to counter the threat of Daesh. Russia also continues to flex its muscles. A united EU response gives us a much greater voice. Similarly, we need a harmonised approach to properly tackle climate change: international threats require an international response. We must, therefore, preserve some of the close working relationships we currently enjoy with our European neighbours. It is important to bear this in mind.

Regardless of one’s opinion on the workings of the European Union, there can be no doubt that it has changed considerably in recent decades. In 1975, 67% of voters chose to continue our membership of the European Economic Community. That was a very different body from the one we now find ourselves part of. Back then, it was purely about economic benefits. There was no projection of ever-closer political union or integration. It therefore follows that the mandate for our membership now needs to be renewed.

One of the biggest criticisms of the whole European project is that it lacks democratic accountability. National parliaments are without a doubt the most democratically accountable and legitimate form of governance for their people. Very few people involve themselves in the affairs of the European Union, so the pros and cons of European membership will need to be explained to them in an easily understood manner. We should take the initiative to trim the bureaucratic, regulative and legislative fat and to make our case to the British people about exactly what the benefits of the European Union can be. Europe needs to serve its member states better and help them to get the most out of the benefits that such a union provides.

I will wait to see what the revised terms are before voting yes or no. I would prefer for us to stay within the union if the revisions were satisfactory.

7.08 pm

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, those of us who travel to other European countries are normally asked this question, which I was asked last week: what is going on with your country and the EU? We do not understand. So I thought I would save the Hansard for this debate and send it to them, because I am not sure I can answer

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the question any better now than I could then. People are puzzled and do not understand why we have this odd attitude to the EU. Most of them think we are mad, frankly, and it is very hard to disabuse them of that.

I was thinking, in preparing for this debate, of something that Roy Jenkins said many years ago. In a way I hoped it would be out of date, but it is not. He said that our problem was that we had not really come to terms with the end of empire. He said it a long time ago, but there is still an element of that running through our attitudes to our membership of the EU.

Let me be specific about some points in the Bill. I am delighted that Members of this House are going to have a chance to vote in the referendum. If it is worth voting on our position in the EU in a referendum, it is also worth while having a vote in general elections, but that is for another day.

I used to think that giving 16 and 17 year-olds the vote was not a good idea, but I have come to realise that I was wrong. It is a healthy change, and I very much hope that this House will vote an amendment into the Bill to give the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds. We will then see what the Government do when it gets back to the other end.

The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said earlier in the debate that, even if Scotland votes to remain in the EU and the rest of the country does not, that would not affect a referendum in Scotland. I really do not think that would be the case, although I bow to his greater knowledge of Scotland. If Scotland votes one way and England and Wales vote the other, the pressures for a further referendum in Scotland will increase and the likely outcome will be less certain than last time.

I turn to one or two specifics on justice and judicial co-operation. If we are not members of the EU, what is going to happen to the European arrest warrant and to our participation in Europol and Eurojust? We might lose those chances, because why should the EU countries go along with us if we say, “We are leaving you, but please can we stay part of this or that?”? I think they would probably say “Go to hell”. Why should they do so? Yet things such as the European arrest warrant are essential for our security. It enables us to get people who are a threat to this country back to Britain to face justice. Although the EAW may have some faults, it is essentially a measure that protects British interests. As crime is increasingly international, we need Europe-wide co-operation; that can be achieved only if we are members of the EU.

I think it was John Hume who said some years ago that the EU was the most successful peace process in world history. That is absolutely right and, before we knock the EU, we should be respectful of what it has done. Our membership of it has contributed to that achievement of peace in Europe. I do not believe that these things are inevitable; the cohesion and sense of solidarity engendered by the EU has very much helped European peace.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about the implications of a British exit on relations between Britain and Ireland, and the specific implications for Northern Ireland. The Irish Government clearly kept

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out of the referendum debate in Scotland—that was for us and not for them—but this time, I think, they see it a little differently. When Mr Charlie Flanagan, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, spoke recently at Chatham House he referred to the constructive role that Ireland can play in the EU debate in the UK. He said:

“We have resolved, despite being respectful of the democratic process here, to make our voice heard. That means … a role that is supportive of the UK, our most important EU strategic partner, in helping it to achieve reasonable reform objectives. But a role that is equally respectful of our 26 other friends and partners within the European Union”.

He went on to say that,

“it is crucial that every effort is made to engage in debate, to provide information, to clarify, to explain”.

Mr Flanagan then drew attention to the importance that Britain’s EU membership had for Ireland. He indicated that he wanted,

“the UK in the EU because our Union is stronger”,

because of Britain’s participation in it. He said that Ireland benefits from Britain’s membership and that,

“it reinforces … the … bond between our two countries”.

I hope that the millions of people of Irish origin in Britain will take note of what the Irish Government say and vote accordingly in the referendum. Those 3 million or so votes would make quite a difference to the outcome.

I want to say a little about the economic and political aspects of our relationship with Ireland. The UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, India and Brazil combined—a pretty formidable point. The UK is Ireland’s most important market; the value of Irish exports to the UK are at their highest level ever. In fact, Ireland is the UK’s fifth-largest market, with more than £17 billion in British goods and services exported to Ireland in 2012. About 200,000 people in Ireland are employed as a result of Ireland’s exports to the UK, while UK jobs resulting from exports to Ireland are estimated at more than 200,000. The UK is the third-largest investor in Ireland, after the United States and Germany. These seem to be important facts. The Eurosceptics will say that nothing would change if we left the EU. I think it would, as do the Irish Government, and the close bond we have would be lessened. As far as tourism is concerned, 3 million British people visited Ireland in 2013, while the year before about 2.5 million Irish people visited Britain. That is very important.

However, let me turn to Northern Ireland. The EU had a very positive influence on the peace negotiations there. The EU and the United States together made it possible and created the conditions which enabled us to proceed to the Good Friday agreement. Without the EU’s active involvement and support, things might not have moved forward as they did. We are talking about both the political and economic benefits to Northern Ireland. I think the accepted view is that the EU has been a force for good for everyone in every community, right across Northern Ireland.

If the United Kingdom were to leave the EU, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be the EU border. We worked very hard to get rid of that border so that it is effectively not there—you do not see it at all if you drive from North to South—but

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who is to say what pressures might then be put on that crucial border between Northern Ireland and the Republic? It would be unthinkable if, having worked very hard to get rid of them, there had be some sort of mechanisms on that border. But something would have to be negotiated, as would the wider common travel area. The Government and the people who want us to get out have said nothing about all these things, but they are pretty important.

I have talked briefly about the situation as regards Ireland and Northern Ireland, which are important aspects of the total. I believe that a British exit would be a disaster.

7.16 pm

Lord Cavendish of Furness (Con): My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. I always enjoy his breadth of interest, although I would probably hesitate to cite the European arrest warrant as the EU’s high-water mark.

I rise to support the measure before us and do so with enthusiasm. I congratulate the Government on its introduction; the time has surely come for this hugely important issue to be resolved. I have read most of the debates in another place. There were impressive interventions and the outcome was unambiguous. Since there is nothing obvious that I want to change about the Bill, my few remarks will be devoted to the nature of the debate that follows the Bill becoming law.

I have never made a secret of my Euroscepticism. However, I still believe that it is just conceivable that enough in the way of reform could be achieved to persuade me to vote in favour of remaining in the EU. To that extent, my mind is not closed. In fact, many of us have more open minds than has been acknowledged in the debate today.

One possible avenue for such reform might originate with our EU partners rather than with ourselves. Might it not be the case that a combination of factors could conspire to persuade our partners that Britain’s aspirations are not, after all, so very far removed from their own? Might it not also be the case that consensus develops among those partners that our leaving might be the last straw for such a troubled and dysfunctional enterprise, whose competence, economic performance and direction of travel have in reality ceased to inspire confidence?

Those of us who lean towards the Brexit outcome need of course to understand the downsides and costs, and not to underestimate them. By that I do not mean absurd and dishonest statements, such as the one that claims that 3 million jobs are dependent on our staying in the EU. That claim rests on the ridiculous assumption that this country, outside the EU, would cease to trade with its former partners. Anyone who persists with such an argument, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Davies, was, must surely need also to concede that, by the same measurement, 4.5 million EU jobs are dependent on trade with the UK.

I am after serious and detailed analysis of the implications of staying as well as leaving, as other noble Lords are. When my noble friend the Minister comes to wind up, could she try to tell us a little more about how people will be able to access authoritative

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and independent research on these issues? Whitehall analysis and comment on its own will not command public trust without what one might term some kind of independent review. I thought that my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who is not in his place, put this in context very well. I hope that the Minister will read his remarks with some care.

The debate, I believe—and this has not been touched on—should take account of a problem of the modern age, which is the increasingly corporatist nature of all activity throughout the western world and the resulting political fall-out. The state, perhaps inevitably a little bit corporatist, feels more comfortable dealing with large corporations than with small ones. The corporatist world—industry and commerce—meanwhile has to a great extent ushered in what I might call extreme politics, mentioned here by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle. The anger we see on the streets here and elsewhere is less directed at free-market capitalism, which in my lifetime has lifted literally billions of people out of poverty, and more towards corporatism, which has in the last few years cheated and disenfranchised many of the most vulnerable people in the world.

I am not arguing that the leaders of big business are all venal and bad; of course they are not. There are many admirable business leaders, and they are very well represented in your Lordships’ House. However, huge corporate size, wealth and power are almost inevitably corrupting, and in the end self-defeating, because they undermine competition, and those that they are meant to serve become lost to view. As it currently functions, the EU is the personification of corporatism and a denier of freedom and democracy. The link between the rulers and the ruled has faded almost to the point of invisibility,

I have always held that a much neglected problem with Britain’s relationship with the EU stems from the simple incompatibility of our legal systems. I am convinced, for example, that it accounts for much of Whitehall’s infamous gold-plating, which is so dementing for those of us who try to run a small or medium-sized business.

I remind your Lordships that such businesses generate 95% of the British economy and more attention needs to be addressed to their concerns. We have had many lectures today, led by the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, about trade. I make the point that many of those lectures come from people who have never traded. I have spent my entire adult life trading with the rest of the world, and I can assure your Lordships, in spite of what the CBI says, that neither I, nor any of my colleagues or people whom I know, have any fear of our future outside the European Union.

Crucially, the debate should—and I fervently hope will, following the passing of this Bill—concern itself with how we are governed and how our people want to be governed. Our system of government can be traced back 2,000 years, when the inhabitants of these damp islands decided to put an end to unaccountable power. The ensuing constitutional journey, which included such milestones as Magna Carta, celebrated this year, has not always been smooth, but the version ultimately bequeathed to us gave us the rule of law, an independent judiciary and democracy. It was exported to the whole

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of the English-speaking world and seems to me to have stood the test of time quite as well as other systems adopted by countries that, in the main, are very much younger than our own. Europe is a young concept, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London reminded us.

I would not think of offering advice to other countries as to how they should govern themselves; nor, out of good manners, would I claim that our system of government is better than theirs. However, there needs to be a very compelling case indeed to give up our tried and tested form of government in favour of another. But with some 60% of our laws already being decided outside of this Palace of Westminster, and with the persistence of the mantra of “ever closer union”, that is precisely what is being asked of us if we are to remain members. As was eloquently pointed out in another place, “ever closer union” leads to only one destination and that is Union.

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister pointed out in his Bloomberg speech:

“It is national parliaments which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU”.

For me, the preservation of our ancient freedoms and our democracy will ultimately be the test that trumps all others.

7.24 pm

Lord Callanan (Con): My Lords, I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the register of interests. I provide consultancy services to a number of companies and organisations in Brussels and across the EU. I discovered that the problem with speaking 50th in a debate such as this very popular debate is that many of the points that I wanted to make have already been made many times over by people who are much more senior and eloquent than I am. The Minister will no doubt be pleased that I will be relatively brief; I pay tribute to her forbearance in sitting on the Front Bench for eight hours listening to the EU being debated, though I notice that she brought along her own cushion to make the experience a little bit more pleasurable.

Many of the contributions that have been made so far have been almost a rehearsal of the arguments of the referendum campaign itself, rather than discussing the merits or otherwise of the Bill. I have listened with great interest to all the arguments about whether we should leave or remain, about whether we are a small island or not, about people’s experience from the war onwards and of their time on the Council of Europe—all of which, of course, have very little to do with what is actually in the Bill. I totally support the Bill: I campaigned in my party for many years for a referendum on Europe and I am delighted that my party sought the permission of people in the general election for that proposal. We gained their consent and we are now putting it forward into legislation, so the Government have my full support on that, not least because I am looking forward to the opportunity of voting in the referendum myself. I suspect that I am in a minority in this House in that I did not get the chance—I was not old enough—to vote in 1975 in the previous referendum. My father, who did, tells me that as a businessman, he voted enthusiastically for

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a Common Market and is now somewhat perplexed to find himself a member of a European Union—a point that has been made many times by other people as well.

I wish the Government well in their renegotiation attempt. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, I have taken part many times in negotiations in the European Union. It is a bit like wading through treacle, but I wish the Prime Minister well in his attempt to renegotiate the relationship. Actually, this referendum is probably the best tool that he has to enable him to get a satisfactory conclusion to those negotiations. To go into the debate and say: “Well, we would like all of these concessions; I know that they’re very difficult for you, but don’t worry, whatever happens at the end we are going to stay in anyway”, is not the best mechanism for persuading our partners to give us significant concessions.

I supported wholeheartedly the Prime Minister’s Bloomberg speech; I thought it gave an excellent list of problems with the relationship that he was seeking to rectify. I am somewhat concerned about some of the reports of backsliding from that speech since then, but I hope that the reports are incorrect and that the Government are going to surprise us and produce an excellent deal that will enable us all to support the renegotiation. I hope that when negotiations are completed —another point that has been made many times—the Government will feel able to produce a White Paper setting out the full details of what has been achieved and the consequences of voting to remain or voting to leave. That would be a great contribution to the debate, and I hope that the Minister will feel able to give us that assurance this evening.

On the subject of purdah, I welcome the amendments made in the other place and I hope—I know that the Minister has given us some assurances to this end—that the Government will not seek to use regulations to remove the restrictions that were voted on in the other House. It is also important that we ensure impartiality of the broadcasters, and to a lesser extent, of course, of the media as a whole.

I have heard many times references on the BBC to the claim that, if we vote to leave, we will be “leaving Europe”—as if we are going to take our island and tow it off into the mid-Atlantic. Of course we are not going to leave Europe: we will remain part of Europe, and we will still trade and be friends with our partners in Europe. The decision on whether to remain in the EU as a political organisation is entirely separate from whether we should leave Europe. It is impossible for us to leave Europe.

It is also important to ensure that the referendum is fair and equitable, and that spending restrictions apply equally to both sides. I know from my experience the power of the European Commission and its considerable ability to spend money. In addition, the European political parties are extensively funded by taxpayers’ money in Europe, so I hope that the Government will ensure that the spending restrictions are applied equally on all sides of the debate, and that they apply also to the Commission, the Council and the European political parties.

On the subject of the franchise, I am agnostic about the subject of 16 and 17 year-olds voting. I can see arguments on both sides; I suspect that most of them

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would not bother to vote anyway if they did have the franchise, but I look forward to taking part in the debate and hearing that argument explored further.

With regard to EU citizens, I do not see why they should be permitted to vote. If they are so keen to vote on whether the UK should remain part of the EU, it is open to them to apply for UK citizenship. If Spain, France, Germany or some other EU country had a similar debate, I would not expect British citizens working in that country to be given the right to vote there. I think it is fair that, as the Government have suggested, we restrict the franchise in this election basically to people who can vote in Westminster elections. I look forward to taking part in further debates as time progresses.

7.30 pm

Lord Willoughby de Broke (UKIP): My Lords, I am the 51st speaker on the list, and I note that no speaker has mentioned the role of UKIP in obtaining this referendum. It is true that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, who sometimes has his uses, mentioned Nigel Farage in an entirely different context, but the fact is that, however unpalatable it is to all the other parties, it is largely because of UKIP’s pressure—UKIP’s showing in the European elections and the recent national elections—that we have this referendum. The noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, mentioned that. UKIP has galvanised the country into understanding exactly what we have given away over the years—how much our Parliament and our Governments of all parties and every stripe have given away over a succession of treaties. Parliament has given away powers that were not its to give away. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, called it the freehold, and he was quite right. I did not agree with anything else he said in his speech, but the freehold of the British people has been given away by politicians who had no right to do that.

Who needs reminding about the—I do not want to use an unparliamentary expression but I shall borrow a phrase—terminological inexactitudes of Mr Edward Heath, who told us that joining the Common Market would entail no loss of national essential sovereignty? That was back in 1975, which was the last time the people of this country were given any say on our relationship with the EU.

Where are we now, 40 years on, after the give-aways in the Single European Act, the Maastricht treaty, the Nice treaty, the Amsterdam treaty and the Lisbon treaty? Forty years on, the EU has a flag, an anthem, a Parliament, a diplomatic service, a border force and its own Court of Justice to which English law is subservient. Who decides our energy policy? Brussels. Who decides our trade policy? Brussels. Who decides our agricultural policy? Brussels. Who decides our fisheries policy? Brussels. Who regulates our financial institutions? Brussels. Who decides what sorts of light bulbs and vacuum cleaners we can use in our own homes? Brussels. Who decides who we allow into our own country? Who decides our immigration policy? Again, it is Brussels. All this has happened in the past 40 years without the people of this country ever being consulted or asked whether they wanted to give away the freehold that was theirs to the unelected, unsackable Commission in

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Brussels. They were never asked if they wished to transfer those powers to a ramshackle organisation whose accounts have not been passed for the past 19 years.

I am delighted that finally we are going to have this referendum. We have the chance to ask and reply to the fundamental question. It is an easy one: out or not? Do we want to regain the powers to govern ourselves or do we want to continue to contract out the powers to Brussels? That is what the referendum is going to be about. It will be about whether we will be able to decide our own policies in this country, run our own policies and decide our own future. This referendum is going to be about whether in the end we want to decide how to spend the £20 billion a year which our membership of the EU costs us—an annual fee to join that ramshackle club. That is a positive.

The Prime Minister seems to think that if he skilfully asks the right questions and asks little enough of Brussels he will be able to come back and say to the country that he has a wonderful deal so it should back the Government and stay in the EU. As noble Lords have already said, the Sunday Telegraph published his four key demands. One is to ask the Commission to make an explicit statement that Britain will be exempted from the EU founding principle of ever-closer union, but we do not want to be exempted from any further closer union; we want to get back the powers we have already given away. Another demand is an explicit statement that the euro is not the official currency of the EU. That is completely irrelevant. The third demand is a new red card system to bring back powers to Britain by allowing groups of national parliaments the power to stop unwanted legislation proposed by the Commission. The only red card system that is really going to work is if we get out of the EU. That is the best red card system so that we do not have unwanted legislation foisted upon us by an organisation to which we do not belong. The fourth demand is a new structure for the EU itself. This is like a letter to Father Christmas saying, “Dear Santa, what I would like for Christmas is a new structure for the EU”. I suppose that maybe Mr Cameron believes in the Euro-Santa, but I do not think he is going to find that one in his Christmas stocking this year.

I have my own explicit statement for the Government: this sadly unambitious wish list will simply not cut the mustard. There is now an increasing groundswell in the country, largely because of UKIP, that the EU game is not worth the candle and that we would be better off out. This cuts across political parties, businesses which find themselves shackled by EU regulation and individuals who find that their everyday lives are adversely affected by EU rules.

The ice is cracking under the EU. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, is quite right that the euro has been an engine for mass unemployment and social unrest. The EU’s immigration policy has been wholly misconceived, both for its member states and for the luckless immigrants who put their trust in the EU and find that they have been misled.

The Britain Stronger in Europe campaign is wheeling out the tired old arguments we have heard so often before. We heard them this afternoon from the Europhiles who told us that we would be marginalised if we did

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not join the euro and that millions of jobs would be lost. We have heard that before. I have to tell the Europhiles that the fact is—the noble Lord, Lord Davies wants facts and here is one for him—that countries in the eurozone are suffering from crippling 20% unemployment and youth unemployment is 40% in some countries. It is also a fact that this country has created more jobs in the past two years than the whole of the eurozone put together. Those are the facts.

I shall finish by joining the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, in saying how odd I find it that the “stay in” campaign chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Rose—I find it rather odd that he has not participated in the debate—says that it would be unpatriotic to wish to regain our independence, to make our own laws and to decide our own destiny. That really is very sad indeed.

Let us remember—and I remind the Europhiles—that the United Nations has 193 members and 165 of them seem to get along very well without being members of the European Union. We can do the same. I end by offering noble Lords one thought: if we were not members of the European Union now, would we vote to join?

7.39 pm

Lord Tomlinson (Lab): My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke. I was particularly pleased when he made it clear to us all that it was UKIP pressure that led to this rather inadequate debate. He went on to say that the same old arguments were being brought out, and I thought that that confession from UKIP was good for the soul.

I thank the Minister for a very clear introduction of the referendum Bill. It was rather technical; nevertheless, it was clear and succinct, and I thank her for it. In reality, of course, nothing in the Bill is to do with the circumstances we are facing. It is a mechanism much more concerned with papering over the cracks in the Conservative Party, some of which we have seen today. I do not say that in a partisan way; I recognise it, as does the noble Lord, Lord Radice, from our past experience of Harold Wilson’s referendum. He was not prepared to say what the demands were, proclaimed a great triumph when we got something and then had a referendum on the basis of it. This is the same pattern, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I remember that referendum well because we had a parliamentary bookmaker at the time, one Ian Mikardo, the late Member of Parliament. I went to Mr Mikardo and asked him what odds he would give me for a yes vote in every constituency of the UK. He had to reflect on it overnight before he offered me 200-1. I put £10 on with Mr Mikardo, and there was a yes vote in every constituency in mainland England, Wales, Northern Ireland and mainland Scotland. However, the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, was wrong: not just Orkney and Shetland, but also the Western Isles, voted no. They were the only two constituencies in the whole of the UK that voted no, and even then by hair’s-breadth majorities of 50 point something against 49 point something. I lost because of those two constituencies; it was the Lamont curse from the Shetland Islands

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that got me. I suspect that the result in a referendum today would not be significantly different from that, because it will be fought on the basis of lots of people having their say in the circumstances.

The noble Lords, Lord Forsyth and Lord Lawson, and a number of other people have criticised the words “ever closer union”. You get the impression that those words were forced upon an unwilling British people some time after we had joined the European Union. That is of course nonsense; they were there in the treaty of Rome. When Geoffrey Rippon negotiated our membership on behalf of a Conservative Government, he was negotiating on the basis of the treaty of Rome, which contained those words that we adhered to. It is not something that was brought out of the cupboard afterwards—“Let’s force those Brits into greater federalism”—it was there at the outset.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: The noble Lord will be aware that there was a difference. The treaty of Rome and so on talked about ever closer union of the peoples of Europe, but the solemn declaration at the Stuttgart European Council changed it—this still holds—to an ever-closer union of the peoples and member states of the European Union.

Lord Tomlinson: I think that is a very sensible change. It is still a change that has been there from the start. The “ever closer union” concept has always been there. What do we want if we do not want ever closer union? Do we want ever greater hostility? Of course not. We want proximity between the peoples of Europe on the things that matter.

I sympathise with a number of noble Lords, such as the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, who, during the course of the debate, have expressed their scepticism about referenda. I share that scepticism, but what is, is what is; we are lumbered with a referendum and we have to accept that. The Government had a clear majority at a general election, they had a manifesto pledge and they are entitled to hold the referendum.

Still, I strongly support the extensions to the franchise referred to in this debate. It is extremely important that we have a clear discussion, and we will do so in Committee, on two major issues in particular: the voting rights of 16 and 17 year-olds in a referendum, and in particular the voting rights of people who serve this country loyally overseas and have been denied their right here because they have done so for a period longer than 15 years. We are prepared to remedy that and we foresee doing so for the next general election, so we ought to remedy it for the referendum vote, because those serving our country overseas are significantly affected.

Governments, none more significantly than ours, love to rail about Brussels, the Commission, antidemocratic processes and the democratic deficit, but of course, most of the decisions of the European Union are made by the Council of Ministers. The European Parliament has a fair amount of co-decision with the Council. Other than the administration of policy, there are very few things the Commission has as an exclusive right. It has the right to initiate legislation, but that is the proposal. If only the Council of Ministers,

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individually and collectively, had the competence, confidence and coherence to kick out at an early stage that which they did not like, rather than rail about it after they had it, very often by rather benign neglect.

The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, called for fundamental reform. We have heard many such demands during this debate, but no one tells us what fundamental reform is. The Government’s renegotiation programme is a tightly kept secret. If it is anything like the Sunday Telegraph article, it is hardly a renegotiation but something that we could get just by asking for it, so there is very little in that. If the Prime Minister is going for any sort of reform, he has to bring back to us much clearer reports of what his demands were so that we can judge his competence and success in the negotiations. However, I believe that, whether he comes back with much or with little, when we put the issues to the British public they will follow the consent that comes from most of the affected people—from the political parties, industry, commerce and the trade unions, all of which I believe will argue strongly to keep the United Kingdom as a member of the European Union. A better member we will be if we exercise our membership with enthusiasm, vigour and conviction, and do not just see it as a slight shuffling of economic packs so that we can satisfy the Thatcherite demand, “We want our money back”. Europe has to be more than that. It has to have vision, and the vision I have for Europe is one I hope the Government will begin to think about encapsulating.

7.48 pm

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords, I feel a bit like a shaggy old dog stirred from his hearth by a shadow at the kitchen door, the whistle of a familiar refrain and the instruction that it is time to go ratting again. I am in good heart, though, because although it has been a long day, it is not a Friday, we are dealing today with a Bill that has been endorsed by the voters at an election and—dare I say it?—it is a better Bill than the one that I had the honour and pleasure of presenting to your Lordships a year ago. Time and reflection have helped to tweak it, and perhaps it is appropriate for me to apologise to one or two noble Lords who came forward at that time with reasoned and perhaps sensible amendments to that original Bill. We knew that it was never going to work as a Bill, but it was the first light before the dawn.

I am the tail-end Charlie on this and I do not wish to go into too many details of the Bill since that has been done so eloquently by so many people today. However, I will say in passing that I look forward to the efforts the Minister will put into justifying how it is consistent to acquiesce to votes for 16 and 17 year-olds for a referendum on Scotland but not on Europe. I wish her luck—she may need it.

I am a passionate European. I was struck, as I often am, by the words of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. We were schoolkids together—no, not at that school, at a grammar school in Hertford. His words have always been something of an inspiration to me. He asked, “What do we mean by Europe?”. For more than 2,000 years Europe has been the centre of the world. In fact, for almost 2,000 years it was the world: Plato, Homer, Mozart, Picasso—the great artists,

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the philosophers, the statesmen, the writers, the musicians —Shakespeare, Chopin, Beethoven, the Beatles and all the rest. It has been a pretty formidable and often glorious history. We have been the birthplace of democracy. It is said that the Greeks invented democracy, although it appears that they have been in a measure of chaos ever since. We have been the champions of basic liberties. We introduced the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Okay, I accept there have been a few historical hiccups along the way—things that were less than beneficial—but in Europe we have been, and still are, a beacon of hope for those around the world who are less fortunate than we are.

It is 2,000 years of extraordinary achievement, and yet during those years we have had so many different forms of institutions. You can still hear the footsteps of Socrates and Michelangelo and the Venerable Bede, even though the streets they walked along have long been worn away and the institutions they served have gone. The republics, the monarchies, the empires, the leagues and the confederations are nothing but ancient echoes. The world has moved on. I think it is a great flaw in the wider debate about Europe that we have been having for so many years that it has focused excessively on institutions and not on those deeper issues, because our Europeanness is defined not by our institutions but by our culture.

That is why I was very distressed with the words of the German Finance Minister Herr Schäuble when he was talking about Greece. He said that elections would change nothing and that there was no alternative. I hope that his words lost something in translation because they are pretty cold, hard and unnecessary. The history of Europe tells us that there is always an alternative. In every corner of Europe that you go to nowadays there are voices saying that our institutions are wrong: both sides of this great debate agree on that. We must change, we must go off in one direction or another, but what we cannot do is stand still.

There has never been a better time for a British Prime Minister to argue that there has to be a better way for British leadership in Europe. I wish our Prime Minister well in that undertaking. It is an enormous task. We are playing with history here. This is not a light or an easy decision, but he is absolutely right in that whatever he manages to do, the people must be given the final decision. That is the essence of this Bill here. It is the people, not the institutions, who are the final source of political authority. We have just had this wonderful discussion between the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, and my noble friend Lord Lawson about ever-closer union. I have to tell the noble Lord that the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, is absolutely right. Right at the top of the treaty of Rome in 1975 the preamble talks first and foremost about ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe. Notice the plural—the peoples of Europe.

There are other words that I think are relevant:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”,

and that,

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it”.

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Those were the wise words of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and I think they are as relevant today as they were 240 years ago. They seemed to make quite a success of it—and entirely without the benefit of a government paper setting out the consequences of their actions.

I am a passionate European in a way that my father and my grandfather could never have been. If I may take the Bard’s words at liberty, there is a lot of good in the state of Denmark—which means that I desperately want the Prime Minister to come back with a deal that I can accept: a clear, strong, substantial deal and not vague promises that might disappear like vapour trails in an evening sun. That would be good not just for Britain but for Europe as a whole—and then let the people decide.

7.56 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, we have had a very interesting and constructive debate.

I will just comment on the “ever closer union” issue, having first studied how the European Union treaties were negotiated as a graduate student. Originally in the treaty it was,

“ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”,

because those who had come through the war, often spending the war in London while their states were occupied, wanted to go beyond the nation state. They left the nation states out because Belgium had failed under occupation, as had France, Germany and Italy. The reinsertion of “states” into “ever closer union” was a later recognition that actually you needed to retain the nation state. It was a shift back, away from the original emotional, enthusiastic, idealistic federalism of those who came through the resistance and the war to a recognition that legitimacy depends on states as well and that there are limits as to how far one can go beyond the state. So while we are looking at the history of the evolution of all of this, that is part of this very wonderful phrase “ever closer union”, which means so many different things to so many different people. That is why it is an ideal phrase; we can interpret it in so many different ways and perhaps we should not get quite so hung up on it.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): I am most grateful to the noble Lord. It is a very interesting theory about this development of the “ever closer union”. Why did the original draft of the Maastricht treaty, before it was amended at the request of John Major, talk about “towards a federal union”?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: It is not a theory; I am actually giving the noble Lord some history. I have great admiration for him and his wonderful interventions —he is the best Commons debater in the Lords, I have to say. There were those of the original generation who really did want to build a United States of Europe and they followed the American lead in this. After the war, the Americans had wanted to press on Europe the idea that the Europeans should follow the American lead and build our own United States on their model, as the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, has hinted. All of us resisted American pressure because we did not want to go anywhere near that degree of integration.

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Lord Dobbs: Forgive me for interrupting, but I would also remind the noble Lord that the United States, in order to achieve a single currency, actually required a civil war to do it, which is scarcely a model that one wishes to follow.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I should remind the noble Lord that, when I have given talks in Washington and elsewhere on European integration, I have often said—sometimes years ago—that, if we ever achieved a United States of Europe, I had no doubt that the policy process would work almost as well as the policy process in Washington. I hope that the noble Lord understands the point.

We have teased out of this debate what issues we have to deal with in Committee and on Report. We are now agreed that there is to be a referendum; the question is now settled; and the date is beyond Parliament’s control, except when the negotiations have been agreed and the Government come back to us. Therefore, we are left with a number of manageable issues.

On the question of purdah, clearly, if we have a long campaign, the Government have to go on negotiating with their partners in the European Union, and Ministers will have to say some things. In that area we will need to explore what the correct outcome is.

On the franchise, on which a great deal has been said, it is quite clear that the current British franchise is a mess. It is a historical, imperial legacy which means that someone who was born in Rwanda or Mozambique and moved to London last year can vote on whether we stay in the European Union. When we are in London, we stay in Wandsworth, where you hear French spoken extensively in the streets, which has been the case for 20 to 30 years. However, French people who have been working and living in London for 20 or 30 years, paying taxes here, contributing in every sense to our economy, cannot vote. There are a whole set of issues there which we need to explore in detail. This is not an ordinary vote. As has been said during this debate and elsewhere, this is a vote about the future of this country, and therefore we need to look at the franchise for this exceptional vote in exceptional ways.

The noble Lord, Lord Norton, and other noble Lords raised the question of threshold, which clearly we will have to explore a little, although it is a very difficult issue. Whatever happens at the end of it, if we have a narrow majority, either with a low or a high turnout, it will not settle the issue. However, we all know that referendums do not settle the issue. Six months after the 1975 referendum, the Labour Party was still arguing against staying in the European Union, and look at what happened in Scotland, where the referendum did not settle the future of that country.

The issue of the provision of information is extremely important and very difficult, and again we need to spend some time on it. We have to ask for a White Paper; certainly we need to look at the implications of leaving and, if possible, the prospect of staying. However, I bear hard scars from the problems of having to try to create dispassionate evidence on Britain’s relations with Europe. I spent two years in government negotiating 32 reports on the balance of competences between Britain and the European Union. Some 2,500 pieces

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of evidence came in; the Conservatives put that in the coalition agreement because they were convinced that this would provide the evidential basis for knowing what sort of powers we would want to repatriate from Brussels back to Britain. The overwhelming evidence submitted to the balance of competences review—from business, universities, financial and legal services—was that they think the current balance of competences is pretty good, thank you. The evidence submitted by easyJet began: easyJet would not exist if it were not for the single market in the European Union.

How did the press and No. 10 react to this? They did their best to bury the balance of competences reports in full. They were usually published at the beginning of the Christmas or the July Recess, just to make sure that the press were looking somewhere else instead. That is part of the problem in trying to get dispassionate evidence into our debate: myths float by us, undisturbed by reality.

I saw in a Church of England blog, which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London referred to yesterday, that a lay member of the synod of Canterbury said that one of the reasons why the BBC is so biased in favour of Europe is because it receives so much significant funding from the European Union. I look at that with amazement. That is clearly going round in some circles as part of this wonderful phantasmagoria of the EU as a monster, reaching across the Channel to seduce honest Englishmen, strangle our free institutions and reduce us to serfdom under German—and perhaps also French—domination. Therefore, we will struggle between evidence and myth as we go on through this debate.

I will remark on one of the myths, which I have heard several times in this debate: “We thought we were joining a Common Market, and no one ever told us that this was a political project”. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference last week, said:

“When we joined the European Union we were told that it was about going into a common market, rather than the goal that some had for ‘ever closer union’”.

Last night, therefore, again I dug out Sir Alec Douglas -Home’s speech on 21 October 1971, on the first day of the Commons debate on the issue of principle of joining the European Economic Community. He said that,

“when Germany, France, Italy and the rest sit down to talk about their problems of security, and their attitude to world problems … it is vital that we should be in their councils. During the last year I have … been in the councils of the Ten, because they have anticipated the larger Community. Matters are talked about there which concern the defence of Europe and the defence of Britain. Matters are talked about—for example, the Middle East—which have the greatest implications for our country. It is essential that we should be in the councils when these questions are discussed, and that a decision should not be taken without us”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 21/10/71; col. 922.]

I say that for all those who think that we would be better off as a sort of Switzerland with nuclear weapons, which I think is what—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: NATO.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The noble Lord intervenes on NATO. If you go to Washington now, you will discover that they think that NATO is a European

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organisation, and they argue very strongly that NATO and the European Union should work more closely together, because they see them as parts of the same outfit. There is not a sharp difference between the EU and NATO, and the overwhelming majority of members of NATO are also members of the EU. It is not a contradiction. The two go together; they complement each other.

The argument has also been made throughout this debate that the EU has changed beyond all recognition since 1975. That is partly because of British initiatives and efforts: Margaret Thatcher’s initiative on the single market; national deregulation and European reregulation, which of course meant different regulations as we negotiated some of them, but not an overall increase in regulation; and eastern enlargement, which Margaret Thatcher pushed for, with the unintended effect that of course when Poland came in, as she wanted it to, a large number of Poles decided that they wanted to move here, which was one of the interesting unintended consequences.

The world has also changed enormously since 1975. We are in a different global economy; the national companies that used to exist have become multinational; we have integrated production models in which every Airbus sold by the French has over 30% of British parts in it, and every car built in Britain and Germany has parts from other countries throughout Europe; and similarly, we have cross-border financial services, legal services and the like.

Britain has also changed. The noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, said, powerfully, “We want our independence back”. I would like to have back our regional economies. I spent much of my life in the north of England; in Yorkshire you used to have textile mills and building societies. He is from the north-east; we had ICI and Northern Rock. He will remember Northern Rock—it was quite a good building society in his time and did quite a lot for the regional economy. However, these things have all changed. Now Nissan keeps the north-eastern economy going, and I much regret that we no longer have regional banks. The bank that my father used to work for, Barclays, which used to do a lot of useful regional investment, has just chosen an American investment banker as its chief executive. That is rather different from the sort of national economy in which I grew up.

Therefore, we all have to adjust to a global world in which independence and sovereignty have gone. After all, sovereignty goes most easily with protection. Free trade requires international co-operation. Globalisation means global regulation, or regulation by the world’s leading economy, which so far, of course, has been the United States. If we wish to co-operate with others in managing a global economy, we should surely start by co-operating most closely with our neighbours, and if we cannot do that, we should not hold to the illusion that we would find the Chinese, the Russians, the Saudis and the Indians easier partners than the French or the Germans.

8.09 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I start by associating myself and these Benches with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, in relation to

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Lord Howe and Lord Healey. I feel that their contributions have been sorely missed today. They would have made this debate very interesting and their experience will be sorely missed in this House. Of course, our condolences go to the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, too.

We support the Bill and its passage through Parliament. We also support Britain remaining a member of the EU. We agree that the European Union needs to change. Like many in this debate we want reform in Europe on benefits, transitional controls, the way the EU works and how it relates to national parliaments. We also want the completion of the single market in services to boost jobs and economic growth here in the United Kingdom. We need to co-operate to achieve these things but the EU needs to recognise that there is a growing demand across societies in Europe for greater devolution of power at the same time. We need to co-operate and devolve, and the EU’s task in the years ahead is to reconcile these two forces.

While the Prime Minister has set out a strategy for the renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union, he has not set out in full what he is asking for. We have heard the Minister say before that it would be unwise for the Government to show their full negotiating hand. Like the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, I hope tonight she will be prepared to throw a little more light on the subject. The problem for the Prime Minister is that there is nothing he can negotiate that will satisfy a significant proportion of his parliamentary party. The danger is that our position in Europe will be dictated by the politics of the Conservative Party rather than the national interest. Whatever the divisions within the Conservative Party, the Government have a collective responsibility to ensure that the British people know what the consequences will be if they vote to leave the EU—a point well made by the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, and your Lordships’ committee. We shall therefore be making the case strongly in Committee that the Bill should include the requirement for the Government to set out to Parliament the consequences of leaving the European Union and what that means compared with our remaining a member. Those who want to take us out of the EU in the name of sovereignty will have to explain why leaving collective institutions where many of the rules of our economy are decided, and where we are currently represented, would enhance our power and influence. They will have to show why the major markets in the world outside the European Union would view us as a more attractive proposition if we left.

As my noble friend Lord Rooker said, lots of people have changed their minds on Europe. In the 1975 referendum I was secretary of my local Get Britain Out campaign. It was not a successful campaign but it is clear from today’s debate that many of the changes in Europe which persuaded me of the benefits of membership, such as the development and protection of workers’ rights, have had the opposite effect on many noble Lords. We have been travelling, in a way, crossing paths. To me, the development of the European Economic Community without the social dimension was very one-sided, but the development of that social dimension has changed the nature of the European Union for me and for my party for the good. As my

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noble friend Lord Radice highlighted, it is interesting that 40 years on it is the Conservative Party that has agreed to a referendum to try to deal with internal divisions. However, as he and my noble friend Lord Liddle said, reform is not just about what Britain asks for now; it is about the building of alliances—an approach that can bring considerable change over time. As my noble friend Lady Royall said, the proportion of the EU budget spent on the common agricultural policy demonstrates that change is possible by building alliances and arguing the case, not walking away. The EU will need to continue to reform in the years ahead not least, as we have heard in this debate, because the world is changing dramatically and the institutions of the European Union will need to do likewise.

On the franchise, I hear what the Government are saying: that it is right to use the same basic approach as 40 years ago in the last European referendum and as five months ago in the general election—in other words, to stick to the parliamentary voting register. On EU citizens, I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Balfe—I do not see him in his place—who mentioned that he would be quite happy to give assistance to citizens of other European Union states to become citizens of the UK. My husband, who has been my partner for 20 years and has been living in this country, is a Spanish citizen. I think that he would be quite keen to take up that offer of assistance, but I also assume that the noble Lord would be prepared to pay the £1,000 fee, which of course is what most European citizens would have to do if they were to take up dual citizenship.

As we have heard in this debate, referendums are rare; they are not part of the usual business of politics in this country. They have been used in matters of constitutional importance and, as in the case of Scotland, they have been described as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I do not think that our young generation should miss the opportunity to shape their future and it is really important that we address this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, mentioned the contribution in the other place from the Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston. I should like to quote her. She said that,

“since nearly one in four 16-year-olds can expect to live to 100 years of age and will be living with the consequences of this decision for far longer than Members of this or the other House, and given that they have the mental capacity to weigh up these decisions and the enthusiasm to take part, we should extend the franchise”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 9/6/15; col. 1062].

I could not agree more.

Contrary to the view of the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, failure to extend the franchise is completely at odds with the other rights that we already give to 16 and 17 year-olds, as we have heard in this debate, including the right to work, pay tax, join the Armed Forces, be company directors and consent to medical treatment. It is a long, long list. It is odd that the Government’s position in the Wales Act 2014 is to devolve to the Welsh Government the power to decide whether 16 and 17 year-olds can be given the vote. The Government are giving that power to Wales and it has been exercised in Scotland, yet they are blocking it in this instance. Why should English and Welsh 16 and 17 year-olds and Scottish 16 and 17 year-olds be treated differently in this referendum? What better way to get

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more young people involved in our democratic life than to give 16 and 17 year-olds the opportunity to take part in this momentous decision, which will affect their lives and their futures just as much as it will affect ours?

The Minister will no doubt say that we should not use this referendum to change electoral law, although of course we are doing that with a few exceptions, such as the small but overwhelmingly older generations in this House and the citizens of Gibraltar. My case is that this referendum is exceptional and we need to make an exception now for young people to vote on their future. As my noble friend Lord Anderson said, the world is constantly changing. The challenges that we face as a nation of creating jobs for future generations, of growing the economy so that we can continue to support the NHS and an ageing population, and of combating climate change, terrorism and insecurity cannot be solved on our own. Our future lies in co-operation in the European Union.

8.20 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, today’s debate has been vigorous and passionate, and rightly so. I believe that it presages the same kind of energy that we will see across the House when we reach Committee, and I look forward to engaging with noble Lords on those matters. Of course, I will continue to hold all-party meetings with noble Lords and will make sure that there is one such meeting before Committee. We have also produced some factsheets to assist noble Lords with some of the technical detail, and those will continue to be available.

Noble Lords have ranged very widely in their speeches today, and there is nothing wrong with that. We have heard many thoughtful, considered arguments across the whole panoply of issues and I have valued the opportunity to listen to those today. However, I trust that the House will understand that in my response I will focus mostly on the Bill itself, looking at its provisions and the principle of holding a referendum. Even though this Second Reading debate started at 11 o’clock this morning, I can see that Members of the House are as vigorous on this matter now as they were then. It is a model of the House of Lords for others to watch and, I hope, admire.

I have been asked many questions about the negotiations and perhaps I may deal with that matter first. The Prime Minister made it clear that there are four areas where he wants change: sovereignty, economic governance, competitiveness and immigration. For example, ever closer union—on which we had a very interesting exchange on the Floor of the House earlier this evening—may be right for others but we believe that it is not right for Britain. We wish to protect Britain’s interests outside the euro. We want to increase economic competitiveness to create jobs and growth for hard-working families, and we want to reform welfare to reduce the incentives that have led to the mass immigration from Europe.

Policy talks have been taking place between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe with a

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range of our colleagues across the rest of the European Union. Technical talks on the four areas for reform set out by the Prime Minister began in June following the June European Council.

The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, very properly asked the testing question—as he put it—of what the Prime Minister would do if he believes that the negotiation has not delivered the result he wants. In that case, would the Prime Minister recommend that Britain consider voting to leave the European Union? The Prime Minister has made it clear that, in those circumstances, he would rule nothing out. But he has also made it clear that he is confident that he will carry through a strong negotiation and achieve the right result for the UK and the rest of the European Union.

If I may, I will turn to the Bill itself. Noble Lords raised interesting points on the franchise for the poll, how we can ensure that the public can make an informed choice and, of course, the issues arising from Section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. I will try to address some of those issues now. With the leave of the House, I will give an indicator of the Peers who spoke on a given issue without referring to each individual, given that over 50 people have spoken. Sometimes, where only one person raised an issue, I shall do so.

First, I am glad to see such clear support in this House for the Bill making its passage through Parliament and becoming law. I know that there is, shall we say, a difference of view about how welcome referendums are in principle and, perhaps, in practice. However, overwhelmingly, there was support for the principle of giving the British people the opportunity to have their say. As my noble friend Lord Dobbs said, let them have their voice and make the choice. On the other hand, my noble friend Lord Bowness thought the referendum unwelcome, but he recognised that the Bill should pass.

I am grateful to noble Lords for making it clear that the matter of the referendum question itself is settled and gives the British people the opportunity to make a clear choice: remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union. It is crucial to our ability to move forward as a nation that the referendum is fair and is seen to be fair. That is what this Bill sets out to deliver. Noble Lords made several suggestions about bringing forward amendments to, as they see it, improve that fairness.

The franchise has been raised, quite reasonably, as an issue of importance for the referendum. There have been multiple suggestions about who should be added. Noble Lords who referred to the franchise in various guises include the noble Baronesses, Lady Royall, Lady Morgan of Ely, Lady Smith of Newnham, Lady Crawley, and Lady Suttie; the noble Lords, Lord Tyler, Lord Jay, Lord Teverson, Lord Harrison, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, Lord Shipley, Lord Elis-Thomas, Lord Hannay, Lord Rooker, Lord Maclennan, and Lord Tomlinson; and my noble friends Lord Tugendhat and Lord Dobbs. I suspect that there are others who I have managed to miss, and I apologise to them.

The link between franchise and favouring one result over another has also been mentioned. It is important that we have a franchise that is seen to be fair. Given the

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national importance of this decision, we believe that the appropriate starting point is the Westminster franchise. To that, as noble Lords have commented, we have added Members of this House, who are already represented in Parliament, and Commonwealth and Irish citizens in Gibraltar. We believe that, in following the Westminster franchise, we are following precedent. The 1975 poll on EEC membership and the 2011 poll on the alternative vote system used the same franchise, with the exception of Gibraltar. The European Union Act 2011 used the same franchise, except, of course, that this Bill adds Irish citizens in Gibraltar for consistency with the position in the UK.

Noble Lords pointed to the inconsistency between the voting ages for different elections. We have responded to requests to increase the powers of the devolved Administrations. As a result, the power to determine the voting age for Scottish Parliament and local elections in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Therefore, 16 and 17-year olds in Scotland will be able to vote in these elections in 2016. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, said that he believes that the Cabinet had been persuaded that it was a good idea that 16 and 17-year olds should vote in Scotland. The decision was taken by the Cabinet to devolve the decision to Scotland on the basis that it was right for them to make the decision. It was made clear at the time that that was the case.

Lord Tyler: Will the Minister give way?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I shall, although I suspect that I shall then be cutting out a reference to other noble Lords. I am accurate in what I have said.

Lord Tyler: I will be as brief as I can. Is the Minister therefore saying that the Cabinet was not fully aware of the consequences of giving that decision to the Scottish Administration?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I did not say that in the slightest. I was correcting the impression that the Cabinet had made the decision to give the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds. I would not wish the accurate facts to be misunderstood: the Cabinet took the decision that the decision should be devolved to Scotland. I think it is right that Scotland made the decision because it was a referendum about the position of Scotland.

The Wales Bill will go to the Welsh Assembly—the power to determine the voting age for Welsh Assembly and local elections in Wales. This change will not be made in time for the 2016 elections.

It is a fact that devolution gives rise to inconsistencies. I appreciate that there will be very lively debate on these matters when we get to Committee. Noble Lords have said, in support of extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds, that we should value their views. We do. Others have said that young people are engaged and politically active, and that they are able to take these decisions. Indeed, this may well be true, but it is also true of many 15 year-olds, and we have not had a thorough debate on where the franchise should extend. One or two noble Lords referred to the fact that

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political engagement is not necessarily true of all 50 year-olds, but that is another matter. Political engagement, surely, or lack of it, should not be enough justification for giving or denying a vote to someone.

As I set out this morning, we believe that changing the entitlement to vote should be achieved through specific legislation. It should be considered properly; there should be full consultation; it should be considered through both Houses of Parliament in the normal manner; and it should command a consensus. Although I hear very strongly the views of the House today about 16 and 17 year-olds, I say to noble Lords that there is not consensus on this matter at the moment. I shall look forward to hearing further arguments in favour of changes to the franchise when we reach Committee. Apparently, Parliament has not had the time to scrutinise properly the implications of such a change.

The question of EU citizens voting has also been raised and debated. There is nothing in the EU treaties that says that EU citizens should be allowed to vote in referendums or parliamentary elections in other EU member states. This is for member states themselves—meaning this Parliament—to determine. It is the norm across the EU that EU citizens are not able to vote in national polls in other member states. I am not aware of any other member state that would extend such a vote to citizens of other EU states.

British citizens were not enfranchised, for example, in the Dutch or French referendums of 2005. Many EU nationals who have lived here for many years are a valued part of our society, and many of them choose to take UK citizenship. Whatever the cost, they choose to do so. They will, therefore, have the right to vote.

There are also questions about why certain people living overseas cannot vote.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Will the noble Baroness recognise the point made by an earlier speaker that none of the precedents she talks about in the European Union relates to a country voting on whether to leave the European Union? The argument for giving EU citizens here the vote is that their rights are going to be fundamentally affected. They were not fundamentally affected in the same way by these other referendums. I think, therefore, that it would be good if she could recognise that there is a total difference in nature between this referendum and the others that have taken place in the European Union.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I always respect the views of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Indeed, this is the first time that a country is facing the opportunity to vote to leave the European Union, but it is my understanding, from colleagues across Europe, that they certainly viewed the referendums held there as being of great seriousness for the future of their countries.

I have been asked specific questions. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, asked how many British citizens live abroad. There are a number of different estimates, but in 2013 the United Nations estimated that there were 5.2 million British-born migrants abroad, of whom 1.3 million were in other EU member states. There are, however, no figures distinguishing how many have been away for longer

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than 15 years. I know from visiting our embassies overseas that when British citizens travel or settle, they do not usually let the embassy know—so we do not have the opportunity to gather that information.

Noble Lords asked about removing the 15-year rule for overseas voters. We are committed to doing so; it was in our manifesto; and we are keeping the promises in our manifesto. A Bill will be brought forward, but it will be a Bill to consider the matter of franchise and not something to be rushed through in time for any particular piece of legislation in this Session.

I was also asked about an anomaly by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, who commented that Peers overseas can vote if they have been there for more than 15 years and others cannot. What I can say to her is that Peers are in the same position as anybody else. If they are resident overseas and have been for more than 15 years, they are subject to the same 15-year rule, just like any other British citizens resident overseas.

There was very strong debate on public information, with the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Ely, the noble Lords, Lord Hannay, Lord Jay, Lord Tugendhat, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard and Lord Cavendish of Furness, and many others very properly saying that it was important that the public should be able to make their decision based on reliable information. It is difficult to know how individuals determine what they believe to be reliable information, but that is something we will have to consider. I listened very carefully indeed to every noble Lord who made points about the publication of material, whether it was by government, whether it was government to commission work from the OBR, whether it was government to provide some statistics that would be in some way scientific and independent, or whether it was a White Paper. I would like to consider further exactly what that material might look like and what kind of information could be produced that is proper and helpful, and noble Lords have a strong role to play in those discussions.

Clearly, there is a role for the Government in all that. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, proposed that there should be a White Paper on the matter of leaving the European Union. Whatever information is produced by the Government should also say very strongly what the implications are of staying in the European Union, because it is a matter of inviting people to make a decision between remaining and leaving. Therefore, the Government’s duty is to look at both those matters.

The Bill is all about putting the question to the British people. It does not make provision about what happens next. I was asked whether the result would be legally binding. Clearly, at the moment, it is not sensible for us to guess about the best way to implement the result, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, this would be the first time that a member state had had the opportunity to vote to leave. If we got to the position where the country decided that it wished to leave, we would then get into the newer territory of working through those procedures.

Perhaps I may deal first with whether the result would be legally binding. I was asked by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London whether the Government would respect the result of the referendum.

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The Prime Minister has made it clear that we will respect the result of the referendum even though it is not legally binding. In March 2010, the Constitution Committee of this House considered referendums in the UK and concluded that, because of the sovereignty of Parliament, they could not be truly legally binding—my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth was on the Constitution Committee, so I know that he will appreciate the details of that.

With regard to the process of leaving, I was asked about the Article 50 process by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, I believe. She nods her assent. The Prime Minister, of course, is focused on success, as I mentioned earlier, so we are not going to speculate on might what might happen if there is a vote to leave the European Union. In general terms, and I have certainly had advice on this before from my noble friend Lord Bowness, Article 50 provides a mechanism for states to withdraw from the EU. Once a member state has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw, it would have to negotiate its future relationship with the EU. This is agreed by a qualified majority of the member states, with the consent of the European Parliament. Article 50 gives a limit of two years for these negotiations, which can be extended with unanimous agreement before the treaties cease to apply.

While I am dealing with individual questions, I will refer to one from the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, who asked about the implications of the lobbying Act. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act does not prevent companies setting out their views on EU membership. That Act amended the rules for third parties campaigning in elections; it did not amend the rules for campaigning in referendums. The Bill applies Part 7 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, which sets out the rules for campaigning at referendums. These rules do not prevent companies making their views known to workforces and customers.

On campaigning itself, the campaign rules were considered in another place. It has been such a long time since PPERA was passed in 2000 that the House of Commons agreed to uprate the spending figures in line with inflation. Fact sheets are available with information on that. Noble Lords rightly concentrated their fire on the whole issue of Section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. This concerns restrictions placed on publicly funded bodies and individuals on publishing certain material in relation to the referendum in the final 28 days of the campaign. The restrictions of this section will apply in full following an amendment made on Report in the other place. The power to which noble Lords referred to set out in regulations any exemptions to those rules was also added to the Bill at the same stage. Clause 6, which stands in the Bill before us, was passed without vote in the other place. There was no dissent. It is only proper that any regulations made using this clause will be subject to the affirmative procedure in both Houses.

To my noble friend Lord Lamont and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, I can say that Section 125 places a restriction on publishing material that deals with,

“any of the issues raised by”,

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the referendum question. Publication means to make something available to,

“any section of the public, in whatever form”.

We are now taking stock, as I mentioned earlier, reviewing the implications of living with Section 125 in full and determining whether that is possible or whether we will need to use the power to make regulations.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords—

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I was about to come to my noble friend’s questions.

I now come to the questions posed by my noble friends Lord Forsyth and Lord Ridley. I was asked about the Government’s commitment to four months’ notice of a campaign that would last for 10 weeks. It was suggested that this should be in the Bill. The four months’ notice applies only when regulations are made under Clause 6. There must then be at least four months between the making of these regulations and the referendum date. We believe it would be wrong to set the referendum period now, while the date of the referendum is itself undecided. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill provides a power for Ministers to set the referendum period in regulations subject to the affirmative procedure. However, the Government have indicated that we do not intend to set a referendum period any shorter than the 10 weeks provided for in the PPERA.

My noble friend Lord Forsyth said that he believed Section 125 does not apply to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Government. Section 125 applies to,

“any other person or body whose expenses are defrayed wholly or mainly out of public funds or by any local authority”.

So, yes, it does indeed apply to the Scottish Government. The activities of the Scottish Government are funded entirely from the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: I am most grateful to my noble friend for that helpful piece of information. Can she just tell me how long it will take her to take stock? I am trying to be helpful but there is a degree of suspicion that perhaps the Government might be tempted to water down the position on purdah. I really do not understand why the Government cannot take stock and produce regulations while we are considering the Bill, so that the House has an opportunity to discuss

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it. What exactly is the problem? Is it the shortage of manpower in the Foreign Office? What is the difficulty that prevents the Government saying what these regulations should be?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, if it were an easy matter we would have resolved it by now. It is a matter whereby, to ensure that we properly bring forward regulations—if we do at all—before this House, we take full legal advice and take into account all the ramifications of government business. On the position of Members of another place and ourselves, if we are speaking outside parliamentary privilege and all related matters, this is not a matter to be resolved in a way that this House would find unsatisfactory. We are taking care. The debate today and further debates will feed into those decisions. That is the important matter. Noble Lords have that voice, and I know I will listen to it.

My noble friend Lord Ridley referred to John Penrose giving a commitment to a 16-week referendum period which should be on the face of the Bill. All I would say is that my honourable friend John Penrose made it clear that we do not intend to set a referendum period any shorter than the 10 weeks provided for by PPERA and the 16-week—or four-month—period is already in the Bill. If my noble friend has a moment later to look at Clause 6(6), he will see that the provision is there. I have been rescued—I have been giving away too many copies of my Bill; clearly it is too popular a document. Subsection (6) states:

“Any regulations under subsection (2) must be made not less than four months before the date of the referendum”.

I am very grateful for the care, attention and energy displayed by noble Lords today. It is a privilege to stand here and bring forward this Bill for your Lordships’ attention. What we are doing is so important, as many noble Lords have said. It is a chance in a lifetime to give the British people their say on whether the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union or leaves it. I look forward to the vigorous debates to come. I believe that today we have set this Bill on the road to giving the British people the chance to make their decision. I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 8.49 pm.