Select Committee on Foreign Affairs First Special Report


The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Special Report:


1. The Laeken Council of EU leaders held on 15 December 2001 established a Convention on the Future of Europe. The Convention is an important body, which will play a crucial role in setting the agenda for the Intergovernmental Conference to be held in late 2004. It is to start work in March 2002 and to complete its deliberations in a year or so, in good time for the options it produces to be debated throughout the Union. Its membership must therefore be decided shortly. Among its membership will be representatives of the national Parliaments of Member States, including two members and two alternates representing the United Kingdom Parliament.

2. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee has been in correspondence with the Foreign Secretary and with the Prime Minister about how these appointments should be made. Questions have also been raised in the House.[2] To date (10 January 2002) no reply has been received from the Prime Minister, but the remainder of the correspondence, together with a relevant extract from Hansard, is published with this Special Report.[3]

3. A key constitutional principle is involved in the choice of representatives. National Parliaments are to be represented separately from Governments. Those representing Parliament should be, and be seen to be, true representatives of Parliament, and not the choice of Government. Such representatives should come not only from the government party. If they are to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, they must be selected only after full consultation with relevant Parliamentary bodies, including the Foreign Affairs Committee.

2   See HC Deb, 17 December 2001, cols. 19-37 & 8 January 2002, cols. 407-410. Back

3   See Appendix. Back

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Prepared 14 January 2002