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Mr. Francois: Speak for yourself.

Mike Gapes: If the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene and contribute to the debate, I shall give way.

Mr. Francois: I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. However, I am now on my feet, so I shall say that he can speak for himself, but not all hon. Members agree that there is no such thing as a European army, especially in view of developments in the past six months. He can hold his opinion and we can hold ours, but he should not pretend that ours is nonsense. There are two views.

Mike Gapes: Those views were presented during the election campaign. My Conservative opponent fought the campaign with a megaphone in Ilford town centre. All he seemed able to say was, "Save the pound. Keep the pound." People in my constituency had a clear choice and the Conservative vote decreased from a little more than 30 per cent. to approximately 25 per cent.—a resounding vote of confidence in the Opposition's policies. It was a rejection of sectarianism, to which I referred in Westminster Hall this morning.

There is clearly a need to work out the detail of the arrangements for armed forces. The headline goal of 60,000 troops to be deployed for a year with rotation is, unfortunately, ambitious for some European countries. It must be achieved, and we should begin to argue more forcefully, especially with Germany, about the need for stronger, more effective contributions from their forces. It is no good the British, French and Dutch taking the lead because of the shape of our armed forces and the way in which we have worked in the past.

Other European partners must change the structure of their forces and the way in which they co-operate and are deployed. That will be difficult and painful for those who have concepts of territorial defence and have no expeditionary strategy or tradition of deployment in other countries. That also applies to those who, for long-understood historical reasons, have political aversion to that or face adverse public opinion. However, such change is essential if we are to achieve the headline goals that were set out in Helsinki and reaffirmed in Nice.

Enlargement of the EU is desirable and essential, and it will happen. However, there is a parallel debate about the enlargement of NATO. We need to start making some distinctions. From information that I picked up in the United States, I am worried by the strength of the well organised lobby, which is linked through the Administration to Democrats and Republicans in Congress and key staffers, in favour of early, rapid enlargement to include all three Baltic states. We need to think that through.

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The argument for including the Baltic states in the European Union if they meet the economic criteria is unassailable. However, we should express our anxieties about the political consequences for the relationship with Russia and the stability of Europe of precipitate early NATO enlargement to include all applicant countries. In Warsaw, President Bush referred to those matters obliquely. He talked about the Baltic states joining European institutions. Some of us in Europe should express more strongly to the United States our anxiety to ensure that there is no automatic conveyor belt for all states to join the hard security organisation of NATO, which will remain pre-eminent in defence and security matters.

8.34 pm

Dr. Stephen Ladyman (South Thanet): It is a pleasure to participate in a debate that has included so many eloquent and confident maiden speeches. They came from my hon. Friends the Members for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) and the hon. Members for Boston and Skegness (Mr. Simmonds), for Argyll and Bute (Mr. Reid), for Fareham (Mr. Hoban), for Guildford (Sue Doughty) and for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois). I apologise if I have missed anyone off the list. They all painted such delightful visions of their constituencies that if it were not for the fact that I am lucky enough to have the one constituency that is even more delightful, I would be planning immediately after the debate to move my house and family to one of their constituencies. I congratulate them all.

I have been impressed by the maiden speeches, but with the greatest respect, I was less than impressed by the speech of the shadow Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude). He, like most Opposition Members, did not paint a coherent vision of Europe. He claimed that the Opposition supported Europe, could see the benefits of Europe and wanted Europe enlarged. However, he painted no vision of how that could be achieved. Similarly, he painted no vision of what he wanted Europe to do if it were not doing what he wanted it to do.

I commend to the right hon. Gentleman a document entitled "One Europe". I do not know whether he has read it, but if he has, I suggest that he re-reads it. It was written by a former an aide to Margaret Thatcher, who subsequently became one of her most trusted Cabinet Ministers. It painted a clear vision of Europe that grew out of the vision that the Conservatives had of Europe throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was a vision that clearly informed their actions over the 18 years that they were in government from 1979.

I commend the document to the right hon. Member for Horsham because, first, it said that we should not be scared about economic union and that we should face the desirable need for political union and not be afraid of monetary union and even military union. Secondly, he should read the document because one of its publishers was his father. He could well be enlightened by its contents. At least it painted a coherent vision of Europe.

After we give the Bill a Second Reading, as I hope that we will, let us start speaking up for Europe. Let those of us who believe in Europe start to proselytise for Europe. Let us start trying to explain to the people of the United Kingdom what it is that we believe that Europe offers.

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A theme of the debate is the need to reconnect people with Europe. If we are to achieve that, we must explain to people what Europe has achieved for them. In my constituency, that is relatively easy. We receive European objective 2 funding. I can take people to the road to which Europe contributed, which is a vital part of the economic infrastructure. I can take them to the new university campus that has been built on a business park that was serviced as a result of funding from Europe. I can take them also to the promenade, which similarly was funded by Europe. Two weeks ago, we all enjoyed the United Kingdom power boat grand prix in Ramsgate, which was paid for by Europe. I can show people what Europe is doing for them.

It is not so easy to do so in some constituencies because the benefits of Europe are slightly less tangible. Nevertheless, they are there. Factories have been built in the UK because people want to invest in Europe. There are jobs that exist only because we are in Europe. In the south-east of England, 495,000 jobs are linked directly to trade with Europe. Many tens of thousands of those jobs are in east Kent, the area that includes my constituency.

I can explain to people the security that has come from the peaceful co-existence of nations since the second world war as a result of Europe. Protection comes from human rights legislation, and there is freedom of movement. Those are all benefits that we get from Europe. We should start explaining to people that they are receiving them from Europe. When they understand that, they will understand the benefits of enlargement that are made possible by the treaty. They will understand why we say that enlargement could create 300,000 more jobs across Europe. They will also understand when we say that enlargement will increase the security of Europe.

We can also show people the benefits of common working in the treaty of Union. One of the few issues in the political process that really inspires people is that of the environment. The treaty of Union sets out the need to work together on environmental issues—which are of fundamental importance to us—on drugs, on combating organised crime and on organising asylum better than we do at the moment. All those things come with being members of the European Union and they can all be improved by enlargement. The EU works. We might want it to work better and to be more transparent, and we might want its decision-making process to be more efficient and rational sometimes, but it works.

The treaty makes enlargement possible. As other hon. Members have said, it does not, in itself, bring about enlargement. However, without modernisation we cannot have enlargement. Conservative Members who pointed out that we need modernisation of the Union and its institutions would deny it the means to carry out that modernisation if they denied it this treaty.

Qualified majority voting is an important concept. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Denzil Davies) claimed that there would be a democratic deficit because we are to lose our veto on certain matters, that totalitarianism was about to rule, and that we were in danger of handing over power to minority parties and extremist Governments in other countries. In reality, there are, by my calculations, 237 qualified majority votes under the new structure. That means that a majority would

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be achieved by 119 votes. The minimum number of nations that would need to vote together to achieve that majority would be five, although only if they were the five biggest nations, which command the support of some 300 million people. That is not a recipe for allowing small nations to dominate the union, or for giving away our democracy. If we were not among those five nations, it would require six nations to outvote us in any such decision.

We must not overlook what happened in Ireland. Clearly, we must respect the view of the Irish people. We have to convince them that changes have been made to facilitate their views and concerns; we cannot ride roughshod over them. However, hon. Members who say that the Union lacks democratic legitimacy should remember that the opinions of only half a million people in that referendum will hold up a treaty that affects the lives of half a billion people. Surely that demonstrates that the Union is taking account of minority views and is focused on their needs and opinions.

The European Union costs only about 1 per cent. of the annual gross domestic product of the member states. For that, we get more jobs, more trade, more security, more protection for our rights, and better controls on the environment, on monopolies, on drug traffickers and on asylum. That is a good bargain. The treaty, if we ratify it, will give us the power to make further improvements to the Union and to carry out the enlargements that we all know are necessary, and will be of benefit to every one of our constituents in the long run.

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