The different argument that the noble Lord, Lord Howard, advanced today is one that I have to take much more seriously. This time it is the rest of the world that comes as supplicants, rather than the EU 27, to a self-confident UK freed of the shackles of the European Union, bestriding the world, trading on our own terms and striking new alliances. The Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Japanese and Indian Governments have all made clear that they believe it is in their interests and ours that we stay, not go. That is the view of the US Administration, the Government in Beijing and the G20. I do not believe that the rest of the world is waiting to do business with us on our terms.

Despite reservations about the strategy that the Government have followed, I have to say that I warmly endorse and welcome the conclusions of their White Paper: we are better off, safer and stronger in the EU. That is certainly true.

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9.14 pm

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. We worked together extremely closely in Brussels. He was never my Private Secretary, and I think I am a bit relieved that he was not. We were on the same side—at least I think we were, most of the time. I always used to rely on the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, to tell me what the mind-set was of those against whom I was negotiating and he had very good judgment. However, I was rather surprised today when he whispered in my ear, “I am very pleased you haven’t made up your mind about whether we should remain in the European Union”.

He had a bit of a point in that I have found this quite a difficult decision. Some people may not believe that, but it is a very momentous decision. It is a great change in British policy over 40 years and, of course, it is an extremely difficult decision to be in argument with colleagues and close friends.

I have never before argued that we should leave the European Union. I have been accused of arguing that. I know that one should never refer to one’s own speeches, but in 1994 I made a speech in which I was accused of advocating withdrawal. What I actually said in 1994—and it caused a bit of a storm at the time—was that the EU was becoming such a political union that the time would come when we would have to choose between being part of that political union or going on our own way. I think that was, probably quite by chance, what happened subsequently. Europe integrated more and more and had a different vision of its future from what we had.

Taking a longer view of our relationship with Europe; it has never been a comfortable one. It has been awkward all along. We had to get out of Schengen; it was not comfortable for us. We had to get out of the single currency; it did not fit our ambitions for Europe. Our great contribution to Europe was supposed to be the single market and the acceptance of qualified majority voting. Well, yes, up to a point, although there has been an awful lot of argument over whether Lady Thatcher would have been in favour of remaining in the EU or coming out. The one thing I do know about Mrs Thatcher is that she bitterly regretted the introduction of qualified majority voting. She felt she was misled and that it was a great step in the wrong direction.

Some people think we have not been constructive enough in our attitude to Europe. I know Tony Blair would not object to my revealing a private conversation. I remember having a conversation with him on a train going to Darlington. We were discussing his approach to Europe. He said, “The answer to Europe is to be constructive. Get in there, be positive, agree with them and they will all come round to our way of thinking”. I am afraid I said to him, “I have seen that movie several times and it always had the same ending”. It did not work for Tony Blair either.

We have heard today arguments about the pooling of sovereignty—there is nothing at stake, it is just the pooling of sovereignty and this is very similar to NATO. NATO is a military alliance, which is quite different from transferring law-making powers to a body whose law is superior to your own domestic law.

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Not for nothing did Elmar Brok, a leading member of the European Parliament and a close ally of Mrs Merkel, describe the European Union as “a state under construction”.

I think many people have become disillusioned in Britain because of the sleight of hand with which that objective has been concealed; the way in which the constitutional treaty became the treaty of Lisbon; the way in which countries have been asked to vote several times when they voted the wrong way in referenda. It is for all those reasons that disillusionment has set in in Britain. Many people such as myself believe that it would be far better to have a relationship based on economics alone.

Many people have argued in this debate that for us to sell to the single market of Europe we have to be part of it. I put it to the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson—I agree I did not put it very well or clearly but I think it is an important point—that the United States has Europe as its main trading partner. Since 2011, the United States has sold more in goods than the UK has. It is not a member and it does not have any say in the rules, but it does not find that a huge obstacle. Services are also extremely important, because people say the future is services. They say that the British economy is strong in services and indeed it is, but the United States exported to the European Union over $200 billion worth of services whereas the United Kingdom only exported less than £100 million of services. That, I suggest, makes a very strong dent in the argument. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, can deal with that in her reply. She did not reply very well before, but we will listen to her when she replies to that argument.

My noble friends Lady Byford and Lord Tugendhat asked the question that is asked all the time. They say that we who are sympathetic to departure from the EU never spell out the exact terms on which we would have a trade relationship with Europe. I am not sure exactly what detail they want us to go into. Obviously nobody can say what the tariff on this or that, on shoes or clothes, will be. The question ought to be: is there a deal available or is there not? Is there a negotiated free trade deal available or not? My noble friend Lord Howard quoted what Jacques Delors said—that the British are probably interested only in an economic relationship with the European Union and, therefore, if they wish to leave, we should give them an economic relationship and a free trade area.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: I must counter the noble Lord. I think that the quotation by the noble Lord, Lord Howard, was completely accurate. What Delors said was that you can have an EEA, which is what the Norwegians have, or you can have a free trade agreement, which is what a lot of countries round the world have, but you cannot have access to the single market.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: That was not what Delors said at all. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Howard will not mind me revealing that he took the quotation from material that I supplied to him. That was not remotely what Delors said. I further inform the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, if I may, that Jacques Delors said it several years ago, and, much more

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recently, Mr Schauble, the German Finance Minister, and, I believe, the Economic Minister of Germany, both stated that a free trade agreement with Britain would be not just desirable but, from a German point of view, necessary. That is a very important point. However, my noble friend Lord Garel-Jones poured cold water on the argument that it matters enormously to the people in Europe to have an agreement. It matters to them as much as it matters to us. It is not a question of surpluses or deficits; the German manufacturers want to know exactly on what terms they could sell into the UK market just as we would need to know on what terms we could sell into the German market. It is a question of mutual need.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon: My Lords—

Lord Garel-Jones: My Lords—

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I am happy to give way, but I have already taken eight minutes. I will let the House judge who should intervene.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon: I am so grateful to the noble Lord, and I am sorry if I test the patience of the House. Of course it is the case that the deal will be available; the question is at what price and for how long. Of course it is the case that some countries in Europe would want that deal, and Germany is one of them, for the reasons that the noble Lord has very appropriately expressed. However, the point is that that deal has to be agreed by all 27, and that is where the difficulty is going to come. The difficulty will be not be with Germany, which has an interest, but with the many others that do not. I am sure that the noble Lord understands that.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I understand what the noble Lord is saying but I do not accept that other countries are necessarily going to object. If Germany, the most important country in Europe, finds it overwhelmingly in its interest to have a trade deal with Britain, and has declared well in advance of this happening or being a possibility that it thinks it would be necessary and desirable, then I think we can assume that many other countries in Europe would follow. What I did not understand was the point made by my noble friend Lord Garel-Jones that somehow people would be less willing to have a trade agreement because we had shown contempt for the European Union by deciding to withdraw. Surely if a country makes a democratic decision simply that it does not want to be part of a political agreement with another group of countries, that is not a cause for anger or resentment; that would be completely against the ideals that the European Union is meant to stand for.

I have spoken too long. I believe that there are important areas where we have lost control of our own affairs in the development of the political union in Europe. It is quite true that the Prime Minister has achieved some worthwhile and notable concessions.

I believe that he has achieved as much as any person could have achieved, but that will still leave us open to the need that always exists in the political bodies of

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Europe—the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice —to have another leap forward. Just look how they undermined our opt-out from the charter of fundamental rights that Tony Blair thought he had achieved.

It is wrong to say that there is a status quo option on the ballot paper in the referendum. There is no status quo. Europe will continue to develop and integrate. When people cast their votes they must think not just of the present but of what Europe and Britain will look like in 40 years. That is the question.

9.25 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Lab): My Lords, it is a special privilege to take part in this most important debate about the future of our country and of our esteemed neighbouring countries. I appreciate that it is an unusual occasion when I and my Labour colleagues speak on the same side as the Conservative Government. My own early views of Europe and the world came from my grandparents. Colin talked about the German culture and medicine that saved his life after being captured in the trenches. Maxwell talked about our uncles who died in the trenches and in testing aircraft. After the First and Second World War, Maxwell flew the flag of the League of Nations and then of the United Nations, and I hope that we will be flying the EU flag on 23 June after we win the referendum.

In my professional life as a scientist and engineer, I was first impressed by the science and culture of Russia. Perhaps we should acknowledge and appreciate the UK spaceman in the satellite who waved to us on St David’s day.

My generation of scientists was excited by the growing European networks and facilities extending from the Atlantic to the Urals, even during the Cold War, but later we were able to benefit from growing collaboration in Europe as the new political structures were created. The early European networks after World War II in the 1960s and 1970s were not as strong as the great continental organisations in the United States. But as the EU was formed with significant budgets, exceptionally able EC officials and committees, as the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, underlined this afternoon, were able to use their diplomatic skills to connect the EC and the European Parliament to the intergovernmental European institutions, for example in nuclear and plasma physics and astronomy, weather forecasting, environment and biology. These were great developments. The EC role is sometimes dismissed, but it transformed those institutions and connected them to many useful projects, which set the agendas and standards for international science, technology and business worldwide.

Many UK SMEs—I declare an interest as a director of one—were funded by the EC to develop and apply science from these major projects. Evidence has been provided by research bodies and by business to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on the consequences of staying in the EU or leaving. The overwhelming conclusion has been that UK science and engineering has benefited from our involvement in the EU. Rolls-Royce, however, explained that the UK industry has not benefited as much as it might

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have done as a result of the UK policy to demolish the regional development agencies introduced five or six years ago.

The UK should do more to benefit from EU philosophy. We all know that in France and Germany the approach has been to—“pick winners” is the old phrase—create great projects such as the Ariane and Airbus projects, whereas the UK has not been part of the leadership of the projects.

Sadly, the Treasury still does not understand the philosophy. The Brexit criticism of UK membership of the EU is that it detracts from our sovereignty. The Science and Technology Committee has discussed this. The expert evidence emphasised that the EC and the European Parliament have been effective in listening to the concerns of people across Europe about the environment, human rights, working conditions, vacations —and have created these new rights.

I am surprised that this has not been mentioned today. The strongest argument for the democratic role of the EU came in comments by the Evening Standard business correspondent three days ago. The business correspondent asked Mr Murdoch why he was so keen that the UK should leave Europe. He said that it was quite simple: if the UK is out of Europe he just goes into No. 10 and they do what he tells them. If he goes to Brussels they take no notice. That is quite a strong argument to which we should listen.

A point made by the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, is that one important role of the UK in Europe is based on our tremendously strong and capable universities, which are a great magnet. It is this aspect that brings many thousands of excellent students to Europe, and then many of them return to their countries. It is argued by some university administrators that if the UK was to leave Europe, this important part of our intellectual life would become considerably less attractive, with business consequences.

It seems curious that in the recent words of a high official of the Conservative Party, the UK is the corner shop of the world. I think he made a mistake and that he meant the workshop of the world, but that is what he said. Therefore, some people still have Napoleon’s view that we are a shop-keeping country. We are not. We are a great centre of intellectual and international learning. This aspect is important for the continued maintenance of our position in Europe.

Looking to the future, the ultimate goal for the UK is surely for it to use its pivotal position in the world and to join France in leaving the United Nations Security Council, which should of course have the European Union representing our Europe. There would then be a slot for somebody else. This would be the natural future. The idea that we are going to continue fighting for our little position in the world is not the way to look forward to the future.

9.32 pm

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. I was struck by his comments thanking the European Union for its support for science and research. I will make a deal with him. I will give him £20 and then he can give me

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£10 back and I will try to understand the logic of his position. We are net contributors to the EU and the money we get back is our money. The difference is that we are told how to spend it by people who are not accountable to anyone.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Perhaps the noble Lord is not familiar with the research that has been done by Universities UK. It states that moneys which come through the programmes of the European Union are worth 1.4 times moneys that come from simple research in the UK without collaboration with others. Before he starts with “It’s our money” he should think of that.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: If the noble Lord had been listening to me, the point that I was making—I am sure he understood it—is that we are net contributors to the EU and therefore what comes back is money that we have already contributed. If we did not have to join the EU we would have that money and be able to spend it on our priorities in science and research.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd—I am not sure whether he is in his place—talked about how Ministers were wrong in the way they operated within the EU. They would come back and announce that something had been a great triumph when it had been a disaster. I confess that I have been in that position. The person who turned disaster into triumph was the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. He is brilliant at taking a disaster and making it look like a triumph—as we saw from his speech when he explained how the Prime Minister’s negotiation was a great triumph. I am delighted to see that he has lost none of skills.

However, the problem still remains. The fact that the Prime Minister, with all his energy and enthusiasm, spent six months going round the European capitals, flying here, there and everywhere, staying up half the night and coming back with a mouse of a negotiation, indicates just how impotent we have become in the European Union, and what is the central issue of this referendum campaign: how can we get back to a position where our Prime Minister can make minor changes to welfare without the permission of the European Union?

I have to say to my noble friend on the Front Bench, Lady Anelay, that during the debates on the referendum Bill, she assured us that the Government would not abuse their position and use taxpayers’ money for a particular position. The documents that have been produced to date are a travesty of these promises. My noble friend Lord Ridley did an excellent job in highlighting some of these points.

I look at the stuff that is coming out from the Government in arguing for remaining in the EU. We are told that 3 million jobs will be lost and that cheap flights and holidays will be at risk. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is abroad saying that our economy will be subject to a great shock, and he is getting some of his chums in the G20 to join in the clamour. How that helps to strengthen the pound, I do not know. Special advisers are getting on to business leaders, cajoling them into signing letters, and generals and others are signing letters. We even have the Governor of the Bank of England—a position that has always been

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outside politics—saying that our country depends on “the kindness of strangers”—a quote from “A Streetcar Named Desire”, or Emma Thompson running down the country. How any of those things are advancing Britain’s interests, I do not understand.

Of course, there is the big business agenda. Why does big business like Europe? Because it can go to Europe and spend £1.5 billion on lobbying and shut out competition. We had a classic example of that today. Look at the front page of the Times where Europe has suddenly, unexpectedly, decided that vaping should be treated as a tobacco product, so the cost should go up. I wonder who has been lobbying Brussels to achieve that? The tobacco companies and others. Who will suffer disbenefit? The people of this country who, in their hundreds of thousands, have been able to give up smoking tobacco to have vaping.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I remember when I, along with others, tried to introduce anti-smoking legislation in the other place. We were lobbied again and again. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, and all his colleagues were the people who acted on behalf of the tobacco companies. I would name some people if I had the time who were paid by the tobacco companies and who either were or went on to become Ministers in the Conservative Government, so he had better be careful.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: The difference is that if the Government do something that is against the interests of the public, the people of Britain can throw them out. There is nothing they can do when Brussels passes a directive. It is almost impossible to reverse directives because you have to have the support of all the other member states—and all the horse trading that goes on.

I would like to tackle one of the arguments which is utterly irresponsible coming from unionists. It is the argument saying that if we vote to leave the European Union it will threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom and the Scots will vote to leave the union. For any unionist to make that argument is grossly irresponsible. First of all, as unionists, we believe in the United Kingdom. This is a United Kingdom decision. We do not accept the idea that there is no mandate for the whole of the United Kingdom. This is what got Labour into trouble because it started saying that the Tories did not have a mandate in Scotland. As a result, it fed the nationalist tiger and now it is reduced to one MP in Scotland. Let us not have any more of this notion that this is not a decision for the whole of the United Kingdom.

I was very struck also by the Times today, which published a letter from that great man Tam Dalyell, who defied the Labour Whip to vote for us to join the European Union and joined Ted Heath in the Lobbies. His letter in the Times pointed out that this is a ridiculous argument. There is no appetite for a further referendum in Scotland and, indeed the Prime Minister has just stuffed the mouths of the Scottish Nationalists with gold to get them to sign up to the new powers in the Scotland Bill. No Scot in their right mind will vote for bankruptcy because that is what independence would mean, with the oil price where it is and the current state of the economy in Scotland.

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Of course, there are many positive benefits that could come to Scotland from being out of the European Union. Let us take one export industry—Scotch whisky—and one country. In India, Scotch whisky makes up 1% of the spirits that are drunk but the tariff is 150%. Yet the European Union has just failed again to reach a trade deal with India. We could do a trade deal that could be of huge benefit, and there are enough Indians and enough of a market to keep all the distilleries in Scotland working till the end of time in order to supply it. That is just one example.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: The noble Lord has had a go. When they say a trade deal would take 10 years or more, I ask: how long did it take to do the trade deal with Ukraine? It was done in one month. I believe that two issues are at stake here: cost and control. We need to be able to control immigration—not stop it, but decide what happens. How else are we going to meet our manifesto commitments on numbers, and how else are we going to prevent discrimination against people from Commonwealth countries and elsewhere in the world?

If we are honest with ourselves, this is about how we see ourselves as a country. Do we have the Mandelsonian view that it is all over, or do we see ourselves as a country with a great past and a great future, based on the innovation and expertise of its own people?

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: You sound like Alex Salmond.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: The noble Lord says that I sound like Alex Salmond. That is another reason why the nationalists should not be taken seriously when they argue that leaving the EU would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. The Scottish nationalists must be the first nationalist organisation in the history of the world to think it can get independence by joining a supra-national bureaucracy that is not accountable to the people concerned.

The noble Lord says that I sound like Alex Salmond. Perhaps, then, I shall conclude like Alex Salmond, by quoting Robert Burns:

Be Britain still to Britain true,Amang oursels united;For never but by British handsMaun British wrangs be righted!

9.42 pm

Lord Willetts (Con): My Lords, it has been an extraordinarily lively debate. My noble friend Lady Anelay said at the beginning that we would be trying the patience of the voters if the referendum were held any later, but I feel that I might try the patience of this House if the debate concludes any later. I would like to briefly reflect on the debate, especially on the very lively and powerful interventions that we have had from the Privy Council Bench—many generals under whom I served as a foot soldier in battles in the past.

The interventions have often concerned our economic relationship with the EU. As we come towards the end of the debate, the options are becoming clearer.

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There is some kind of Swiss or Norwegian option, involving joining the European Economic Area. The exact terms of that would have to be negotiated, but it would very probably involve accepting all the major freedoms of the single market. Indeed, the former Swiss Prime Minister has put it as follows:

“It therefore seems very optimistic to me for Leave campaigners to suggest that EU member states would simply grant the UK full access to the Single Market while allowing you to opt out of free movement”.

There is, therefore, some kind of deal on offer, but it involves accepting the product regulations and the four freedoms that come with membership of the European Economic Area. We do not have to go down that route if we leave. There are alternatives—and in several powerful interventions we have been told that the alternative is to look at the US relationship with the EU. That would indeed be a different model, which would not involve our joining the European Economic Area. The US-EU relationship still involves tariffs on US goods coming into the EU and vice versa. It involves customs controls on goods moving back and forth. In many ways, it would involve an increase in the red tape facing British businesses, as they went through the same kind of hassle that US businesses now face. You have to comply with EU product regulations. That is why Lincoln Continentals are not cruising up and down the streets of Mayfair: they do not comply with EU regulations.

When it comes to services, the EU is absolutely clear—even clearer after the financial crisis—that if you wish to offer financial services in the EU you have to be based and regulated in the EU. Iceland is a warning about people offering services in the EU without being properly regulated in the area. Many American banks are located in London because—one among many reasons—that is how they access the EU market. Clearly, in a negotiation that led to our having a similar kind of relationship with the US, the EU would expect that type of arrangement. That is not because the EU is an unusually protectionist power. Let us be frank: the US similarly has a very protectionist attitude to competition from European countries, including ourselves. It is clearly in the British interest that these barriers between the EU and the US be reduced, and there is currently a negotiation aiming to do exactly that—TTIP. I do not believe that there is any prospect of any improvement in trade relations that could do better than the mutual powers of negotiation now happening between Europe and America. If America is to make any concessions to anyone for access to its markets, it will be to the EU and vice versa, so the best thing we can do is play a constructive role in those negotiations.

Another aspect of the relationship is the eurozone, on which the British Government have taken a strategic decision. Our approach to Europe was once described as, “Britain should be in the fast lane, but driving very slowly with everyone else flashing their lights behind us”. What we have decided to do with the eurozone is pull over and allow them to accelerate. There is an argument that this was a mistake, but my view is that if the eurozone is to succeed—it is clearly in our interest for it to succeed if at all possible, although it is a very confused and risky economic experiment—the deal is,

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“You go ahead; if you need to integrate, do so, but preserve our full rights as a member of the single market”. That is what has been secured.

It is not just a matter of economic arguments, though. We have also heard about democracy and democratic deficits. Very few people have put that argument more powerfully than my right honourable friend in another place, Michael Gove, in an excellent article setting out his views. I pulled up short when he said:

“EU rules dictate … the distance houses have to be from heathland to prevent cats chasing birds”.

He said that there is an EU rule that they have to be five kilometres away—an example of the trivial interference that we have from the EU. I have looked into this. There is indeed an EU habitats directive. It does not specify any five-kilometre rule about the location of housing next to heathland. That comes from Natural England, as it decides how it will interpret this EU directive. The five-kilometre rule is planning guidance—not legally obligatory—proposed by a UK agency when it thinks about what this rule should mean. The lesson I conclude from this is that a lot more of what we do lies in our own hands than we sometimes admit. Speaking as a former Minister, maybe we sometimes use the European Union as an alibi when it is a matter of domestic responsibility for domestic policy and domestic legislation. Britain is indeed a proud and self-confident country and we often still have the capacity to make our own decisions. We should celebrate that power and I do not believe our membership of the European Union is a significant threat to it.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Would the noble Lord accept that only about 9% of our economy and 9% of our jobs come from sales and trade to clients in the European Union, and that that is declining in deficit? Would he agree that 11% of our economy goes to the rest of the world and that the remaining 80% stays in the British economy? Does he accept that the whole of that 100% is afflicted by EU regulation? Would he care to answer that?

Lord Willetts: I would not.

9.49 pm

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, this has been a very interesting debate. First, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, on his maiden speech and in particular his stress on the cross-party nature of the campaign for the remain vote. I will return to that point.

I will now utter a phrase not often heard these days. The Liberal Democrats are fully behind the Government and support Mr Cameron to the hilt—rather more than some on his own Benches. That support includes the date of 23 June. The Prime Minister made an excellent start with a sparkling performance on “The Andrew Marr Show” and a combative presentation since. I particularly agree with his arguments about sovereignty needing to be pooled if it is to be real not illusory. That point was made by my noble friends Lord Ashdown and Lord Maclennan.

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I am very glad that the Prime Minister stressed the value of the EU to UK security, an argument that the Liberal Democrats and many in this House had to fight hard on. I think of the noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Boswell, in that context. When the coalition had to decide on staying with the opt-in to policing and crime-fighting measures, there was quite a lot of heavy lifting so I am very pleased that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have been persuaded there.

The Liberal Democrats, who are fully united as a party behind our 70-year history of support for Britain in Europe, believe passionately that remain is not only the rational and right thing to do but also the patriotic choice, playing to our strengths and multiplying our ability to promote our interests. As my noble friend Lord Lee of Trafford said, leaving would take the great out of Britain.

I want to pay special tribute to Europe Minister, David Lidington, who is something of an unsung hero of the renegotiation exercise. He is intelligent, diplomatic and knowledgeable, and his six-year longevity in the post—a poisoned chalice, some would say; I have no idea whether he wanted to be there for that long—has been an asset given the relationships he must have built up with Ministers and officials across the EU. We saw a dividend of that on 19 February. I hope I have not just dealt a blow to his further career prospects. I particularly enjoyed his response to the Brexiters in the other place last week. He said:

“If the Prime Minister had come back from Brussels brandishing the severed heads of the members of the European Commission and proceeded to conduct an auto-da-fé in Downing Street of copies of the Lisbon treaty, they would still be saying, ‘This is feeble, insufficient, not enough’”.—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/16; col. 564.]

He was absolutely right.

I heard the Foreign Secretary speak a little less colourfully this morning. While still describing himself as a Eurosceptic, he made a powerful case in presenting the document published today for how Brexit was a risky leap in the dark and that none of the potential alternatives was viable for Britain. Just today, the former Swiss President and, this evening, the current Norwegian Prime Minister advised against copying their countries’ relations with the EU.

We all wait—and still wait—for an honest portrayal by the leavers of what they propose instead of EU membership. We waited in vain during this debate as answer came there none. The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, talked about a free trade agreement but as others—including the noble Lords, Lord Willetts and Lord Kerr, said—that is fundamentally different from access to the single market. Everybody sensible accepts that access to the single market comes at a price.

All out friends and allies, not only in the EU but also in the Commonwealth including Canada and Australia, in NATO—which, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, said is made stronger by the UK’s membership of the European Union and those organisations being partners—and of course in the United States and, importantly, Ireland, urge us to stay in the EU. Can the leavers cite a single country or leader apart from Putin’s Russia that wants Brexit?

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The US trade representative has said that the United States is not interested in a trade deal with just the UK.

We know, of course, that the leavers are all over the place. Boris Johnson—true to form—could not stick to his suggestion of a second referendum for more than five days. And 13 days before his announced “decision” to back leave, he had been singing the praises of the European Union. Boris executes more U-turns than all the black cab drivers in London, who, by the way, are not among his fans.

We have also heard rather a lot of “porkies” from the leavers, I am afraid. The noble Lord, Lord Willetts, mentioned the one about the habitats directive, which boils down to some non-statutory guidance from Natural England. Boris himself has cited the one about being stopped from having safer lorries that would be more visible to cyclists. He claimed that the French had blocked this measure. However, it passed into law with the agreement of the Council and the Parliament and will come into force in a few years’ time. When the measure was going through, Boris himself blamed the British Government for trying to block this proposal. So some correct facts would not go amiss, including on our budget contribution, where there have also been some wild claims. I commend the organisation for picking up a lot of these mistakes.

My noble friend Lord Oates, who made an excellent speech, said that anyone would think that we had no friends. I am afraid that is the attitude of all too many of the leavers. I find a defeatist streak in them and a lack of faith in this country. The side that lacks confidence in the strengths of Great Britain is not the remain side: it is those who want to take their bat home. That quitting attitude undermines, and rats on, our friends. We should be a reliable partner, asking, in the words of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, not just what Europe can do for us but what we can do for Europe. That is the question Winston Churchill asked, who has already been invoked in this debate. I found an article that Edward Heath wrote 20 years ago, which stated:

“I readily accept that at that time”—

that is, the time of the Zurich speech in 1946; I was fascinated to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, say that he was present—

“Churchill did not envisage Britain being a full member of this united Europe”.

But Edward Heath added:

“This reluctance was based on circumstance; it was not opposition based on principle”.

Mr Heath went on to quote Churchill in the House of Commons debate on the Schuman Plan in June 1950, when Churchill asserted:

“The whole movement of the world is towards an inter-dependence of nations … If independent, individual sovereignty is sacrosanct and inviolable, how is it that we are all wedded to a world organisation?”.[Official Report, Commons, 27/6/1950; col. 2158.]

Apparently, in a letter to his constituency chairman in 1961, he said:

“I think the Government are right to apply to join the European Economic Community”.

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One of the joys of the last week or so has been the tweets by Sir Nicholas Soames, who, of course, is the grandson of Churchill. I note that he retweeted a tweet by Charles Grant at the Centre for European Reform, which said:

“As Sir Nicholas Soames’ grandad might have said, the EU is the worst possible way of running relations among European states except for all the others”.

I think there are some things we can do, apart from expressing the remain arguments effectively, to make the British people feel more at ease in the European Union. One is to stop the amount of destabilising change and domestic reorganisation for its own sake in the NHS, local government and the legal system. I am not arguing for stasis when reform is needed, but changing the public and civic realm out of recognition, which has not happened in France or Germany, for instance, makes people nervous, uncertain, bewildered and even frightened, unsure of themselves and their identity, and, all too often, looking for someone or something to blame—and that scapegoat tends to be Europe. I also think that we should stop gold-plating European directives, as has been mentioned.

I make a plea to the Government to go easy on some provocative and partisan policies. I read in the Financial Times that the Prime Minister is advising the Chancellor to ditch his planned raid on pension tax relief because he wants to woo the voters. If the Government would like to do a bit of wooing of the opposition parties in order to create a good cross-party mood of co-operation for the remain campaign, that would not go amiss either. Perhaps the Government could look again at the Investigatory Powers Bill and whether it is a good idea to produce it three weeks after three critical parliamentary reports; at the forced sell-off of social housing; at the attack on Labour Party funding in the Trade Union Bill, which is divorced from a comprehensive reform of party funding; and at slashing the Short money for opposition parties to do their work of holding the Government to account. Perhaps the Government might have a rethink on these policies.

I conclude by hoping that after a remain vote, the Government will pursue multilateral reform inside the EU, working with like-minded partners in a sensible, pragmatic, British way. This was the strategy in coalition of Ministers such as Edward Davey and it must be renewed. That valuable exercise, the balance of competences review, is an excellent basis for doing so. Perhaps then we can get away from using the phrase “Britain’s relationship with Europe”, as the BBC so often does, and remember that if we really want to play a leading role in the EU we have to start by embracing the fact that we do indeed belong to the EU.

10.01 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, after just over six hours of debate, I think we have seen your Lordships’ House at its best. Perhaps unusually for a debate of this length in this House, as the evening has drawn on, the speeches have got livelier, there have been more interventions and the debate has been reinvigorated. In a previous debate on this issue, I predicted that in the campaign leading up to the

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referendum we would have some really excellent debates and fact-based communications to inform and enlighten the electorate. I think we have seen that today in this debate and we are privileged in this House to have the benefit of the expertise of noble Lords who speak from experience as well as conviction.

We have heard from noble Lords who have represented us in the European Parliament, those who have worked in Europe and the EU, and those who have been engaged in and held positions in Europe-wide organisations. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, who had an important diplomatic position in Europe. We have heard from my noble friend Lord Mandelson, a former Trade Commissioner. That contribution was invaluable and struck a chord with what I thought I was an excellent speech by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup. Although the noble and gallant Lord was talking about security implications and my noble friend Lord Mandelson was talking about trade, they both addressed the issue that has been raised by some, that somehow we lose power and sovereignty by being part of the EU. Both of them, in the respective cases they identified from their experience, provided evidence that in the world of today we actually gain strength, power and influence by being engaged in the EU.

I praise the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, for an excellent maiden speech. He made a very eloquent and positive case for the EU. But I was also impressed that he made an eloquent and positive case for political engagement. In this day and age, when politicians are often criticised, those were important remarks to make in a maiden speech. I look forward to his future contributions.

When I predicted an intelligent and informed debate, I also predicted that we would hear nonsense, scaremongering and bad temper along the way. But when I predicted such acrimony, I did not expect it to start with the Cabinet or to start so soon. I find it a bit rich for Iain Duncan Smith to tell us that we are more likely to see Paris-style terrorist atrocities if we remain in and for the leave campaign to then accuse others of fear tactics. This is the most important national debate for a generation. The decision taken by our citizens across the UK will not just have a profound effect on our relationship with other EU countries but will strike at the heart of our place in the world. There will be real, lasting and, in cases, dramatic impacts on individuals and communities.

What is clear—and those of us campaigning to remain have a duty to point this out—is that a vote to leave is exactly what it says on the tin. It will trigger the process towards Article 50, which provides for exit, and it will do so straightaway—no ifs, no buts, as the Prime Minister is known to say. It is complex, it is difficult, and there are no guarantees that replacements for all the agreements from which we in the UK benefit could be in place in the two-year negotiating period—or it could be longer, in which case we would be in an even worse position. I appreciate that some noble Lords say that this can be done; perhaps it is possible. But for those who value those protections, “possible” and “perhaps” are not enough. There is a duty to be very clear about the risk.

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The Labour Party is very clear about why we believe that it is in the interests of the UK and our citizens to remain. My noble friend Lady Morgan clearly identified so many of those issues, as did other noble Lords. I was very pleased to hear my noble friend Lady Young speak from her experience, when she raised those environmental issues and how valuable EU regulations have been in protecting our citizens. She asked whether there was a sensible Johnson; we could argue that there are two because we also have Alan Johnson leading the Labour campaign to remain. Insightful perspectives were offered by my noble friend Lord Soley and the noble Lords, Lord Hannay, Lord Tugendhat and Lord Jopling. They set this debate in a wider context, with a wider perspective.

My noble friend Lord Radice said that the Prime Minister has to rise above party politics and I think that he is right, because the Prime Minister has to recognise the importance of attracting allies from outside his own ranks—indeed, he needs to. The noble Baroness on the Liberal Democrat Benches raised one example a moment ago. There is another example: the trade unions are among the strongest supporters of the investment, the jobs, the trade, and the benefits for working people that are guaranteed by the EU. Surely the Prime Minister should think long and hard about the Trade Union Bill. Through that Bill, Mr Cameron is determined to make their work more difficult by making it harder for them to raise funds to campaign and harder to support the Labour Party. That does not seem a great negotiating strategy. At times, I have found the Prime Minister’s negotiating strategy quite baffling. He has to recognise that, far too often, it has been focused on trying to resolve the problems within his own party—and he was never going to be on to a winner there.

Chris Grayling let the cat out of the bag when he declared:

“Many of us made our minds up weeks ago, but we did the right thing and let the Prime Minister continue his negotiations”.

Clearly, they were not waiting with bated breath for the Prime Minister to come back from Brussels with the deal before they decided how they would vote. Let us be clear: nothing would have satisfied them. But negotiation within the EU is not a one-off, once-in-a-generation debate like a referendum. As noble Lords have said in this debate, it is an ongoing process. The reasons we should remain in the EU are so much deeper than just one negotiation and the Prime Minister’s deal. It is of course about trade, investment and jobs. It is also about standards, protecting our environment, ensuring that customers are not ripped off with dodgy goods, and about support and protection for workers across the EU, so that one country is not pitted against another in a race to the bottom.

These are real issues; they mean something to people and they impact directly on lives. It is about vision. That is where—my noble friend Lord Foulkes made this point—although we all want to remain in the EU, we see things a bit differently from the Prime Minister. In his 2013 speech, when he set out his vision of our relationship with Europe, he said:

“But today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity”.

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But it is also to secure peace. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, made a similar point—probably more powerfully than I will be able to—that the vision of Europe, standing together for peace, protecting its citizens, and fighting crime and terrorism is as important now as it ever was. The threats and challenges that we face today are almost unrecognisable from the days after the Second World War or during the Cold War—but they are no less real.

It is not just the threat of terrorism, from whatever source, but serious and organised crime that threatens the very fabric of society: people trafficking, fraud, cybercrime, child abuse, including pornography and paedophilia, drugs and money laundering cannot be tackled within our shores alone. We need not just co-operation but shared intelligence, joint operations and joint working if we are to have any impact on bringing those criminals to justice.

If I ever had any doubts about our voting to remain, the debates that we had here in your Lordships’ House on the coalition Government’s bizarre charade of the opt out then opt back in again on EU police and criminal justice measures were enough to convince me. There are many noble Lords here tonight who took part in those debates. The 2010 Conservative manifesto made these issues one of the key areas in which we would distance ourselves from the EU and have a “repatriation of powers”. It was the political equivalent of the magician’s card trick—a complete illusion. The reality was never going to live up to the rhetoric, fortunately. The clear impression was given that we were to free ourselves from the shackles of Europe, withdraw from the European arrest warrant and reinstate good old British policing. But the days of “Dixon of Dock Green” have passed. We had a bizarre hokey-cokey of opting out of all the measures and then opting back in again.

So what did we opt out of that gave us that great repatriation of powers? Ministers were never able to explain, or admit, whether any of the measures that we opted out of had any impact or were even in use in, or applied to, the UK. They included a directory of specialist counterterrorism officers that did not actually exist. We opted out of a temporary system for dealing with counterfeit documents, which had already been replaced, and out of a bundle of measures relating to Portugal, Spain and Croatia that did not even apply to us. It was a fallacy. What is important on that point is that, despite the rhetoric and the overblown claims of getting rid of the European arrest warrant, Ministers soon recognised that this could only ever be a vanity exercise. We needed those EU powers and regulations. It was in our interests and in the interests of our citizens. We were unable to fulfil our obligations to our citizens in terms of safety and security without them. Even the head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, has expressed his fear for our capacity to fight crime and terrorism from outside the EU.

It is as my noble friend Lady Morgan said: after the sniping and criticism, you have to step back from the rhetoric and politics to deal with the real issues at stake. That is why this campaign needs good judgment and hard facts. While many are clear about how they will vote, many more are still considering their position.

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They may not be obsessed with these issues, or even engaged at all with them, but throughout their lives they want what is best for their families, their communities and their businesses. They are listening to the debate, reading the information and coming to their own decisions.

A vote to remain does not need an absolute conviction that the EU is perfect in every way—we all know that it is not. But it is perfectly logical, reasonable and sensible to have criticisms or concerns about the EU and, at the same time, hold the balanced view that it is in our interests to remain and vote yes. It is perfectly logical, reasonable and sensible to want to vote remain and want change. The point has been made already that the EU needs to reform and that reform can be made only from within. Yet if we vote to leave, decision-making will continue during that minimum two-year negotiating period. It is hard to believe that anyone would take us seriously at all in making those decisions. Even after those two years, or longer, once we were no longer part of the EU our businesses would obviously want to continue to trade with EU countries. They would still have to abide by those regulations in doing business but we would have abdicated any responsibility to them in helping to shape those regulations. Our consumers buying goods from outside the EU would no longer have the quality, safety and environmental protections that they have now.

Those who campaign to leave have to offer something more than motherhood and apple pie, or “It’ll be all right on the night”. This is deadly serious. It must not descend into a campaign about who can shout the loudest, get the most celebrities or frighten the most voters. We have had a valuable debate today, which is a credit to your Lordships’ House. I hope that it informs the debate. We have no objection to the SI. We look forward to the referendum and we shall be campaigning to stay in.

10.14 pm

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, this has been a historic debate. The House has well and truly put its stamp on this very important issue. Many have spoken with personal experience. Sometimes there has been an acknowledgement that there is a visceral element to the reaction that many people have to this issue, as there will be throughout the country. So many points have been made that I hope noble Lords will not be too disappointed if I confine my remarks to rather few of the issues raised during the debate.

Unfortunately, being a late arrival to the debate, I was unable to be here during the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Gilbert of Panteg. My late inclusion was because of the acute discomfort that my noble friend Lady Anelay was in. I salute her tenacity throughout the whole business of the European Union Referendum Bill and her dedication to bringing matters to the House’s attention. But I have it on the highest authority that he made an excellent maiden speech, and we very much welcome him to the House and look forward to his future contributions.

My task in winding up this debate has been made easier by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, made many of the points that I might have made in

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winding up, and rather better than I would have done. I can deal with the date quite briefly, in view of the widespread acceptance of the SI. The Prime Minister has announced his intention to hold the referendum on 23 June, and my noble friend Lady Anelay explained why the Government believe that that date strikes the right balance between giving enough time for a proper debate and not making voters wait too long to have their say. There will be four months from the announcement of the date until polling day, six weeks for campaigners to apply to be designated, and a 10-week regulated referendum period. We believe that that is ample time. Traditionally, general elections have only six weeks’ notice; this referendum will have had much more. The intention to hold a referendum before the end of 2017 was announced in the Prime Minister’s Bloomberg speech of 2013; it was affirmed at the election last year and reaffirmed by the passing of the referendum Act in December. No one can claim that they were not given sufficient notice.

Most importantly, the Electoral Commission has confirmed that it is content with the Government’s proposals and that, in their view, arrangements for a well-run referendum are “well advanced” and that the date does not pose a “significant risk”. It was only the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, who suggested a different date; he suggested that the Government should wait until after the Tory Party conference, an invitation that the Government have no difficulty in refusing. The approval of the procedure has been echoed by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee; both have considered the instrument and both are content with the proposals.

Lord Howarth of Newport: The noble Lord has suggested that the Electoral Commission is content—maybe it is—but has it offered a view on the character, integrity and neutrality of the various so-called information documents that the Government have been pouring forth? It might be that it would consider that those documents are not in fact as neutral as they ought to be.

Lord Faulks: I am unaware of any view having been expressed about those documents but, since the noble Lord asks about those documents, which have been variously described as “propaganda”, they are the Government’s attempt to make their case and to make it clearly—The Best of Both Worlds, as the Government see it. We look forward to those who wish to leave the European Union putting forward their views in writing so that they can be scrutinised and dismissed as propaganda if they must be. But rather, I would suggest, a proper analysis of views on one side and another should be undertaken.

I turn to the deal—the EU renegotiation. I take the point made by my noble friend Lord Ridley that this is a question of a relationship not with Europe but with the EU. There have been a range of opinions. The special status that the renegotiation has delivered means that Britain can, as the pamphlet suggests, have the best of both worlds. We will be in the parts of Europe that work for us, influence the decisions that affect our economy and help to keep our people safe. We will be

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in the driving seat of the world’s biggest single market, but we will be out of the parts of Europe that do not work for us—the euro, the eurozone bailouts and the passport-free, no-borders Schengen area—and we will be permanently and legally protected from being drawn into ever-closer union.

The deal has achieved agreements in each of the four areas that were set out by the Prime Minister in his letter to Council President Tusk in November last year. On sovereignty, the deal ensures that the UK is out of ever-closer union, will never be part of a superstate, and has achieved new powers to block unwanted European laws. On competitiveness, the deal secures new commitments from the EU to cut red tape, complete the single market and sign new trade deals. On economic governance, we have made sure we will never join the euro, that British taxpayers will never be required to bail out the eurozone and that British businesses cannot be discriminated against for not being in the eurozone. On welfare and migration, we have made sure that new arrivals from the EU will not be able to get access to full benefits for four years and that child benefit will no longer be sent home at UK rates.

The noble Lord, Lord Green, suggested that this might not reduce the flow of EU migrants. The new relationship means that EU migrants can no longer claim full benefits for some time, and this ends what has been characterised as something-for-nothing welfare arrangements. The Government are not making a forecast of numbers, but we know that around 40% of EU migrants are supported by the benefits system, so reducing this artificial draw will, the Government believe, help us control and reduce immigration from Europe.

The legal nature of this deal has been called into doubt by some, but let me be clear: this deal is legally binding for all EU member states and the decision of the heads of state or government has now been registered with the United Nations as an international treaty. The conclusions of the February European Council as well as the text of the deal itself clearly set out the legally binding nature of the deal, and the European Court of Justice has held that decisions of this sort must be taken into consideration as being an instrument for the interpretation of the EU treaties.

Council President Tusk was clear that:

“The 28 Heads of State or Government unanimously agreed and adopted a legally binding and irreversible settlement for the United Kingdom in the EU. The decision concerning a new settlement is in conformity with the Treaties and cannot be annulled by the European Court of Justice.”

The legal opinions of both the Council Legal Service and Sir Alan Dashwood QC further confirm the legally binding nature of the deal. All those documents are footnoted in the document described as propaganda by those who oppose this process.

My noble friend Lord Astor asked whether the European Parliament could veto elements of the deal after a remain vote. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, has said that he absolutely rejects the notion that MEPs have a veto and has given a guarantee that the European Parliament will, immediately after the referendum to stay in Europe,

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legislate on the proposal of the Commission. Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP, the biggest block in the European Parliament has said that with strong backing from EU member states and parliamentary leaders a UK package,

“could go through very quickly after the referendum. One or two or three months is possible”.

So we are confident that we can get the changes we need written into EU law.

Lord Hunt of Chesterton: Perhaps the Conservatives might join this group. It might be more expeditious.

Lord Faulks: I am sure they will be grateful for that suggestion.

The position is that this is a legally binding agreement. Of course all countries have evinced a clear agreement to be bound by the terms. The European Court of Justice cannot be bound by the agreement itself—it is a final court determining the validity of an agreement—but is it not realistic to expect that it will in any way go against what is a clear agreement in international law entered into by all members of the European Union.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Will my noble friend explain why the Lord Chancellor takes a different view from him?

Lord Faulks: In an interview which I saw, the Lord Chancellor suggested that the European Court of Justice—or the CJEU, as it now prefers to be called—is the supreme court in Europe and is above all European institutions in interpreting the law. That is entirely a correct statement of the position. If he suggested—and I am not sure whether he did or did not because it seemed to me that he and the Prime Minister might have been talking about rather different things—that the treaty was not binding on the European Court of Justice, he was right to the extent that it is open to the European Court of Justice to decide that its jurisdiction is determined by the nature of the treaties only. It is highly unlikely that they would do so—highly unlikely because there is a clear agreement evinced by the 28 countries, the members of the European Union. No self-respecting court that had any say for its own reputation would do violence to that agreement.

Lord Howard of Lympne: Is it not the case, however, that although all courts these days are unpredictable, the European Court of Justice is more unpredictable than most? Unless and until a case came before the European Court of Justice, we simply do not know what their decision will be.

Lord Faulks: Some courts are more predictable than others, but the confident assertion from all legal advisers whose opinion I have read is that, for example, were there to be an argument to the effect that our changes to migration arrangements were somehow contrary to the principle of free movement, there is no way that the European Court would say, “Well, the treaty has freedom of movement, but all the members states have agreed to the contrary that there should be

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this arrangement for the United Kingdom”. I simply cannot believe that it is arguable that there would be any other conclusion than that there was honouring of the agreement.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, could the Minister confirm what I believe to be the case, and stated when I addressed the House earlier: that in the cases of Denmark and Ireland, where postdated commitments were entered into for treaty change, which took quite a few years to fulfil, there was no evidence and no case in which the European Court of Justice sought to tamper with those agreements? That is rather more important than endless speculation about what they might do.

Lord Faulks: I am grateful to the noble Lord. He is quite right. Those are substantial precedents and a clear indication of what might happen—as he quite rightly said, in invoking the Latin maxim pacta sunt servanda.

Lord Spicer: Can my noble friend think of an example where the European Court has intervened and where it has not done so in favour of an integrationist centralist Europe, according to the acquis communautaire?

Lord Faulks: With great respect to my noble friend, I am not sure that going over the entire jurisprudence of the European court would help, either at this time of night or at all, in terms of answering this fundamental question. We, the Government, submit that the answer is clear: this is a binding agreement.

May I also advance the argument that we are better off in the EU? The Government believe that the UK will be better off. The Government’s long-term economic plan is delivering economic security for families and businesses, underpinned by sound public finances. We plan to do this by investing in the UK’s future, addressing the productivity challenge and rebalancing the economy towards trade and investment. With turbulence in the global economy, membership of the EU supports this plan by giving British business access to the free-trade single market, and dozens of trade deals across the world.

Through our EU membership, we already have trading agreements with more than 50 countries. Concluding all the trade deals currently under way could ultimately be worth more than £20 billion a year to the United Kingdom GDP. Once these deals are completed, around three-quarters of UK exports to non-EU countries would be covered by an EU-negotiated free-trade agreement. Of course, we could make other deals—whether we could make them on better terms must be seriously in doubt. This Government’s deal keeps the EU moving firmly in the right direction and hard-wires competitiveness.

Would we be safer in the EU? The Government believe that we would. Our EU membership allows the UK to work closely with other countries to fight cross-border crime and terrorism, giving us strength in numbers in a dangerous world. Our new settlement reiterates that the responsibility for national security

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rests solely with national Governments and that EU institutions will fully respect the national security interests of member states.

The Government believe that the UK will be stronger in the EU because we can play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within, helping to make the big decisions that affect us. Membership of the EU, like our membership of NATO and the UN, amplifies the UK’s power and influence on the world stage. At a time when we are, as many noble Lords have pointed out, faced with an increasing range of serious threats, co-operation at an international level is more important than ever.

This is a significant package of measures, delivering changes that are substantial, legally binding and irreversible in the sense that they can be changed only if all 28 member states agree. Of course it will not solve all the problems with the EU. In that sense, it should be seen as an important step on the road to EU reform —a point made by my noble friend Lord Howell, in his thoughtful speech—rather than the destination.

As to leaving the EU, noble Lords will be aware of the discussion elsewhere about a vote to leave being a means of securing further concessions in the renegotiation process, ahead of a second vote. That appears to have been briefly the view of the Mayor of London and is still the view of Mr Dominic Cummings.

The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Ely, asked if there was any contingency planning for Brexit. The Civil Service is working full-time to support the Government’s position, and the Government’s view is that the UK will be stronger, safer and better off remaining in a reformed EU. I want to be very clear on behalf of the Government: a vote to leave is exactly that—a vote to leave. The Government cannot ignore the democratic decision that will be made on 23 June; there is no option on the ballot paper to have a second renegotiation or to hold a second referendum. The Prime Minister has been explicit that a vote to leave would trigger Article 50 of the treaty. It would begin the process of a British exit from the EU.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: On the point that the Minister has just made, it is not a matter for the Prime Minister to decide whether Article 50 is invoked in the event of a referendum for leaving; it is a matter for Cabinet. The Cabinet will have to have before it papers setting out all the various options, and it will be for Cabinet to decide which of those options it wants to pick up.

Lord Faulks: Whatever the process, it is clear that Article 50 will have to be adopted. The EU treaties, which the UK is signed up to, set out a legal process for an EU member states to leave. My noble friend Lord Lawson suggests that we can simply ignore that process by repealing domestic legislation in the form of the European Communities Act, which is the piece of legislation that incorporated the treaty into our domestic law, but if we simply did that and ignored the UK’s international obligations, we would be violating the rule of law. It would hardly be a good

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way to begin a negotiation with 27 other member states to get a good deal for Britain by breaking international law.

The public would expect that if we were to leave, we would do so, as we have traditionally done, in accordance with the law and following the terms of the treaties. A vote to leave would start the clock on a two-year period to negotiate the arrangements for the UK’s exit. I should also be clear about what would happen if that deal to leave was not done within two years. Our current access to the single market would cease immediately after two years and our current trade agreements with 53 countries around the world would lapse.

The Government have made our position clear: the UK’s national interest—the interests of every individual, family, business, community and nation within our United Kingdom—will be best served by our country remaining part of a reformed EU. There was almost total agreement across the House today that we should let the British people have their say on 23 June. Clearly, then, there is no reason to wait. Let us give each side time to make their case, then let us put the question to the British people. Let us settle this issue for a generation, and let us vote to remain.

There is a Motion to approve the statutory instrument before the whole House. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.

European Union: United Kingdom Membership

The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom’s special status in a reformed European Union

Motion to Take Note

10.34 pm

Tabled by Baroness Anelay of St Johns

That this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s policy paper The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom’s special status in a reformed European Union presented to Parliament pursuant to section 6 of the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

Motion agreed.

Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill

First Reading

10.34 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, endorsed as a money Bill, and read a first time.

House adjourned at 10.35 pm.