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Angus Robertson (Moray): May I ask the hon. Gentleman why there is no recognition in the proposal of the fact that Scotland has its own legal and judicial system? Why has that fact not been incorporated in the amendment?

Mr. Spring: I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has brought that point to my attention. I am sure that we shall bear it in mind, as will the Government.

Ministers should act to allay the concern in some quarters that, while initially promising nothing more than co-operation between prosecuting authorities, Eurojust may be the first step towards having an EU public

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prosecutor able to conduct investigations outside our legal system and corpus juris—the EU body of criminal law. For example, Commissioner Vitorino has said:

The explanatory statement of a report voted for by Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs in November, the Gebhardt report, said:

We are seeking important reassurances from the Government on those issues. We need to be assured that, by providing treaty articles in this area, EU leaders are not paving the way to moving beyond mere co-operation towards the kind of development—such as the creation of a European public prosecutor—for which many in the EU have been calling for some time.

Amendments Nos. 45 and 48 also raise important issues relating to enhanced co-operation in the second and third pillars. We are particularly sympathetic to amendment No. 48, which concerns the loss of the so-called "emergency brake" veto in the justice and home affairs pillar. However, we will be discussing the principle of enhanced co-operation later in the proceedings, and I intend to address the veto issue in relation to its loss in the Community pillar at that time.

I apologise to the Minister of State for asking a series of very specific questions, but I hope that he will recognise that these are genuine concerns, and that he will address them during the course of the Committee proceedings.

Mr. Hendrick: I shall start by saying how much some Labour Members deplore the scaremongering of the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) and some of his colleagues when they say that the treaty threatens NATO in some way. The European rapid reaction force will give the European Union the capacity to conduct military operations in response to international crises when NATO is not, and does not wish to be, engaged. I find it incredible that the Opposition should want Europe to have a capability to intervene in crises across Europe, yet are unwilling to give it the means to do so. I also find incredible the suggestion that the Western European Union might serve as the body capable of co-ordinating such operations, because it has a staff of less than 100, based in Brussels.

Dr. Julian Lewis: I think that the hon. Gentleman is missing the point of the Opposition's objections. What we object to has nothing to do with the capability of European

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countries to defend Europe. It has to do with the structures that organise and apply those capabilities. We want European defence capabilities to be organised and applied within the structure of NATO. Under the treaty, we are getting new structures without capabilities, whereas we need new capabilities within existing tried and tested structures such as NATO.

9.15 pm

Mr. Hendrick: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. Clearly, if the United States does not wish to be involved, we need a coherent political structure that can direct operations, and the only political structure that can do that is the European Union. The Western European Union has very little clout, so it is bizarre to suggest that such a structure should be built around the WEU when most of the countries involved are members of the EU. That says more about the Opposition's attitude to the EU than it does about the capability of the WEU to conduct such operations.

The range of potential missions is described as humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace making. For many months during the war in Bosnia, the United States was unwilling to get involved in a European conflict, and that unwillingness led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Bosnian people. The ethnic cleansing in that part of the world was an atrocity that had not been witnessed since the second world war, and the unwillingness of the Americans to get involved because they were reluctant for any of their troops to come back in body bags led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Mr. Cash: The hon. Gentleman is really testing the patience of the House. Is it not inconceivable for him to present this argument when it is perfectly clear that it was impossible for the EU to generate anything in the way of heavy lift or the response that was required to deal with the catastrophe in Bosnia? The hon. Gentleman is talking total rubbish because he has not referred to the increase in function, the shift away from NATO and the absolute refusal of member states to provide the resources that were necessary. In fact, the Germans are continually decreasing their defence capability. The hon. Gentleman is talking absolute rubbish and, most unusually, he is making a fool of himself.

Mr. Hendrick: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, and I hope that he will not pull his punches so much in future.

The ink was not dry on the common foreign and security policy when the conflict in Bosnia broke out, and it is quite clear that the Americans did not want to get involved. For many years now, they have made it plain that they are not prepared to spend American tax dollars on defending European nation states. Now that Europe has produced a constructive set of proposals, many of which the United States accepts, we are hearing arguments—not from Colin Powell or any other American representative—about possible Turkish opposition to the proposal. Indeed, the outcome of the Irish referendum has been put forward as the reason why Europe should not move in this direction. To anyone who says that it leaves out Turkey or Norway,

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I would say that I certainly do not remember Turkey or Norway arguing for strong intervention in Bosnia or expressing any great wish to sort out the problems there.

Mr. Wilkinson: Can the hon. Gentleman explain why the Danes are not contributing any forces at all to the so-called rapid reaction force?

Mr. Hendrick: I am not here to answer for the Danes, but to speak for the interests of the British people and my constituents in Preston, so I shall not go down that route. The Opposition constantly refer to Denmark and Ireland as though they were the most significant and weighty states in the EU.

Angus Robertson: Perhaps one of the advantages of the European rapid reaction force is that it brings in countries that are not involved in NATO, such as Austria, Finland and Sweden. That may benefit everybody in Europe.

Mr. Hendrick: I agree. More nations are involved than would have been had any other method been adopted. Had the treaty not been agreed, the Opposition would not have made any constructive proposals to deal with any of the crises that may arise in Europe as a result of the current political problems.

For the benefit of Opposition Members, I must explain that the treaty does not involve the creation of a European army. The commitment of national resources by member states to any operations will be based on their sovereign decision as nation states, not the decision of the European Commission or the European Parliament. The European Union has not been given a role in collective or territorial defence, which remains the sole responsibility of NATO, and anybody who, like the hon. Member for West Suffolk, says that the proposals in some way rival NATO obviously does not understand the treaty and has not read it very well. The treaty acknowledges that NATO remains the base of its members' collective defence and will continue to play an important role in crisis management.

European military capabilities must be strengthened as a priority. The Euro-army is the latest Conservative anti-European myth. The proposal is for a stronger Britain and a stronger Europe, and the Opposition know it.

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