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Orders of the Day

European Communities (Amendment) Bill

1st Allotted Day

Considered in Committee.

[Sir Alan Haselhurst in the Chair]

Clause 1

Incorporation of provisions of the Treaty of Nice

4.24 pm

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk): I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraphs 2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 32, 36 subsection (b), 37 sub-section (b) as it relates to qualified majority voting, 41, 42 as it relates to qualified majority voting, and 44.'.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 3, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 2.'.

No. 4, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 3.'.

No. 5, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 5.'.

No. 6, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 9.'.

No. 7, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 12.'.

No. 8, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 13.'.

No. 9, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 14.'.

No. 10, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 15.'.

No. 11, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 16.'.

No. 12, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 18.'.

No. 13, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 19.'.

No. 14, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 20.'.

No. 15, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 21.'.

No. 16, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraphs 22 and 23.'.

No. 17, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 29.'.

No. 18, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 30.'.

No. 20, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 36, subsection (b)'.

11 Jul 2001 : Column 810

No. 21, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than in the final line of Article 2, paragraph 37, the words "acting by a qualified majority.".'.

No. 22, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 41.'.

No. 23, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than in Article 2, paragraph 42 the words "acting by a qualified majority".'.

No. 24, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 44.'.

No. 25, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 4.'.

No. 26, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 6.'.

No. 27, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2, paragraph 7.'.

No. 57, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 2 paragraph 10'.

No. 80, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 3, paragraph 2'.

No. 81, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 3, paragraph 3'.

No. 82, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 3, paragraph 4'.

No. 106, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 4, paragraph 6'.

No. 107, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than Article 4, paragraph 7'.

No. 233, in page 1, line 9, after "10", insert—


'other than in Article 2 paragraph 4 the words "with the exception of aspects relating to family law".'.

No. 28, in page 1, line 12, after "occasion", insert—


'other than the Protocol on Article 67 of the Treaty establishing the European Community'.

New clause 11—Implications for regions of amendment to Article 161 TEC


Mr. Spring: Today, we start our detailed discussions on the provisions of the Bill, which indeed are wide ranging. It is fitting that our proceedings should start with the issue of qualified majority voting, as its extension is a dominant theme throughout much of the Bill and the treaty.

Amendment No. 1 is a catch-all provision covering extensions of QMV in the treaty establishing the European Community, over which the United Kingdom does not have an opt-out. The extensions are covered in separate amendments tabled for discussion today, although right hon. and hon. Members may be reassured to learn that I do not intend to speak to all of them.

During all our discussions in the Committee, we shall try to measure this and other provisions against one yardstick: will they assist in the development of a modern, enlarged, diverse Europe that enhances the security and prosperity of the peoples of Europe? It is important that we consider the effect of the Bill on Britain itself, but the

11 Jul 2001 : Column 811

treaty is for the whole of the European Union. The effect of the treaty on the whole of Europe must be our dominant consideration.

We contend that while letting Britain down in the Nice negotiations the Government also let down the rest of Europe. The approach taken at Nice is no more in the interests of people elsewhere in Europe, especially those in the applicant states, than it is in the interests of the people of Britain.

A little more than three months ago, the Foreign Affairs Committee produced a report on European enlargement and the treaty of Nice. It concluded:


Does not that encapsulate the result of the Government's lack of leadership at Nice? Is not it inevitable that when our Government fail to put the case for reform, other Governments will fill the vacuum? Do Labour Members take pride in the fact that it was their Government who were taken by surprise by an agenda set by others? What does that say about the negotiating skills of the Ministers who represented us?

The remainder of the Select Committee's conclusion should be to the forefront of our minds as we consider the future:


Whenever the Government look as though they are about to repeat the mistakes they made at Nice—playing down the likelihood of a substantial agenda, refusing to show leadership and being taken by surprise by the leadership shown by others—we shall endeavour to remind them of the Select Committee's conclusion. It is crucial that Britain is proactively involved in the debate leading up to the intergovernmental conference.

Today, we are examining a particular result of the Government's lack of leadership: the extension of qualified majority voting in 31 articles or 35 areas. As I said, we should assess every measure taken at Nice against one main yardstick: is the measure right for a diverse, enlarged Europe that will be acceptable to the citizens of member states?

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): For the sake of clarity, will the hon. Gentleman tell the Committee whether he opposes the extension of QMV in principle or only in specific areas?


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