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Lord Moynihan: I thank the Minister for his response. I was slightly concerned about the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell. He believed, to a certain degree at least, that my mindset was that of a blocking minority. There are two arguments which militate against that observation. The first is that, no doubt greatly to my disadvantage, my observations throughout the Committee's proceedings came from a politician who spent the past five years in industry outside Parliament, regretting deeply the polarity which existed in the Conservative Parliamentary Party and which I believe proved so electorally damaging.

Secondly, all my comments have been considered and drafted in my offices south of the river and revised late at night. For the past six weeks my three children, all of whom are under four years-old, had chicken pox and accordingly kept me awake most nights and allowed me to do some of that work. For those reasons my contributions may not have matched the excellence of Conservative Party briefings. I sincerely hope that from our Benches they provide a constructive approach to our

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role in Europe and Europe's relationship with us, and were not in any sense made in the mindset of a blocking minority.

Lord Grenfell: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I was not intending to say that he was acting as a blocking minority. I was saying that there is a certain mindset on his side of the Committee which reflects his party having been in a minority of one so often in Brussels and that has made it much attached to the idea of the veto.

Lord Moynihan: I am grateful to the noble Lord for clarifying that position. Perhaps I may make one or two swift observations. First, we will return to fraud at a late hour tomorrow, so I will hold back on my comments until then.

Secondly, I welcome the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, in highlighting the fact that there are strong arguments, not least financial ones, for all the parliamentary sessions, the committees and the secretariat to be based if not under the same roof at least in the same city and, in my view, surely in the same country. I believe that by tabling the amendment tonight it has been useful to place on record our concerns about the location of the European Parliament.

Thirdly, I was concerned by the echoing "Hear, hear" to the view that at the end of the previous government a blanket ideological opposition appeared to creep in with regard to QMV. That is not the case. It may have been brilliantly exposed as such by the electoral machinations of those seeking to beat us at the last election, and if that was the case I offer congratulations to colleagues opposite. However, at all stages, the issue of QMV should seriously be considered in the context

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of cases in which QMV in limited areas can, for specific purposes, produce a tangible benefit in return. That is how we should be looking at the extension of QMV, and it is the point I underlined at the outset of my comments. It certainly underpins the position of my Benches.

Finally, I believe that at this late hour we have not given sufficient consideration to the whole question of co-decision in the treaty. For the record, there are massive new powers for the European Parliament, and this was confirmed in a briefing note produced by the European Community in July last year. It stated:

    "The European Parliament made two major gains at the Conference to become a genuine co-legislator and a full arm of the European legislature alongside the Council ... Firstly the co-decision procedure has been considerably extended essentially along the lines of the principle suggested by the Commission in its report of July 1996, whereby any instrument of a legislative nature should be adopted under the co-decision procedure between the European Parliament and the Council".

The co-decision procedure is nothing short of a veto over decisions of the Council of Ministers handed to the European Parliament, and the Government have agreed that veto in 23 new areas. It was right and appropriate, even at this late hour, that attention should be focused on those provisions in this set of amendments.

I indicated that I intend to return to some of the key points that have arisen during the debates, but at this point in the Committee stage tonight, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 23B to 23K not moved.]

House resumed.

        House adjourned at two minutes before midnight.

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