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Division No. 1


Addison, V.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Annaly, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Blyth, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E. [Teller.]
Crickhowell, L.
Cross, V.
Henley, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Kenyon, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knollys, V.
Lauderdale, E.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Leigh, L.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
McConnell, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monk Bretton, L.
Monson, L.
Moran, L.
Mountgarret, V.
Moynihan, L.
Munster, E.
Naseby, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rawlings, B. [Teller.]
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowallan, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Waddington, L.
Wharton, B.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Clinton-Davis, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hooson, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Jacobs, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Levy, L.
Lockwood, B.
Ludford, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Ogmore, L.
Orme, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Strabolgi, L.
Strafford, E.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

21 May 1998 : Column 1803

2.12 p.m.

Lord Bruce of Donington moved Amendment No. 2:

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Seat of the European Parliament

(". This Act shall not enter into force until a Minister of the Crown has laid before both Houses of Parliament a report on the financial implications for the United Kingdom of paragraph (a) of the Protocol on the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies and departments of the European Communities and

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of Europol annexed to the Treaty signed at Amsterdam on 2nd October 1997 amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related Acts.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 2 deals with the location of the various institutions of the Community. It may be for the convenience of your Lordships to say that I shall refer to pages 88 and 225 of Command Paper 3780 which reproduces the Treaty of Maastricht.

The protocol which is set out at page 225 is quite remarkable in itself because it completely negates another clause which remains still intact within the treaty and is still part of the treaty itself. Perhaps I may read that to your Lordships so that noble Lords can follow the precise way in which this matter has been dealt with. Article 289 of the amended treaty, which is Article 216 of the original treaty, states:

    "The seat of the institutions of the Community shall be determined by common accord of the Governments of the Member States".

That remains a part of the treaty itself. It is still a valid and clear clause within the treaty.

In the course of the determination of the final text of the Treaty of Amsterdam, there were several IGCs. There were even final deliberations on the day on which the treaty was signed. Oddly enough, even though those deliberations at the IGCs produced a number of deletions of clauses from the original treaty as amended by Maastricht and a large number of amendments to the various clauses in the Treaty of Rome as amended by Maastricht, nowhere in the protocols, apart from this particular one, did their appear a complete negation of a clause.

Obviously, in this case--and the Government will have a very good opportunity to reply--almost up to the time of the signing of the treaty, there was agreement as to its text. And then suddenly, out of the blue, appears a protocol which is not in the normal function of a protocol explaining various aspects of clauses in the treaty but a protocol in complete negation of one of the clauses which remained intact.

I ask the Government whether there is any explanation for that. There is one version, the truth of which I am not aware; that is, that it probably was not in the original text at all but when the final documents emerged for the signature of the various participants, this one mysteriously appeared.

That is not unusual in European agreements. I can testify to that from my own personal experience. I have participated in a number of conferences in the European Parliament itself in which certain agreements were arrived at and everyone understood exactly what they were. And yet, when the presidential version of what occurred appeared the next day, a number of new clauses and amendments appeared in it that nobody seemed to remember having agreed to.

We all know how those conferences work. I have been to scores of them. To begin with, there is laid on the desk of all the delegates, whether governmental or otherwise, the final communique which they have not yet considered. The conference goes on and parts of the

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final communique get shipped away and eventually they make up their minds as to exactly what they want to agree to.

But there have been many cases when the presidential or the chairman's version of what occurred the previous day appears to differ markedly from the memory of those who participated in the discussions and even those who took notes upon it. Therefore, the first question I must ask the Government--and I am sure they will answer me in all honesty--is whether anything appeared following the agreement of the Amsterdam Treaty proper that either added to or subtracted from their recollections or notes of what actually occurred.

This is a direct challenge by me to the authenticity of the documents because--and noble Lords must believe me when I say this--the number of times when documents have been altered is no one's business. Indeed, I shall name the country. France, in particular, when it is in the chair, is prone to produce somewhat different versions of what has actually been agreed. I defy challenge in that respect. I say that because, in my own particular case, I can in fact still produce such documents.

If that has occurred, it is something which ought not to be countenanced. The original clause, which is still there, reads as follows:

    "The site of the institutions of the Community shall be determined by common accord of the governments of the Member States".

As it stands, without the protocol, it means that the existing sites cannot be altered unless there is unanimous consent to the alteration. In short, there is quite adequate security as long as the existing members are in complete accord. There is no reason why, even if one dissents, the sites of the various institutions can be altered. The question arises as to why they should want it explicitly in the treaty? Is it because they are afraid that, with the enlarged Community, certain member states might urge--and urge successfully--the abandonment of the unanimously agreed accord on the sites? What are they afraid of as regards the position already stated in the treaty?

It is common knowledge that there is tremendous waste as regards having different sites which, in many cases, result in a duplication of functions. According to the accord and the arrangements proposed in the protocol, France will have its Parliament-- 12 plenaries--fixed in Strasbourg. Luxembourg will house the General Secretariat of the European Parliament. I emphasise the fact that it will be Luxembourg, not Strasbourg or Brussels. Indeed, Luxembourg will also house three of the 12 meetings a year of the Council of Ministers when they take place in April, June and October. Those Ministers will meet there three times; they are currently based in Brussels.

The Commission itself will have a permanent office in Brussels. In fact, Brussels will hold additional parliamentary plenaries as regards the Committees of the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Germany's interest in the matter will be confined to the European Monetary

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Institute, and Holland will have the European Police Office (Europol). The remaining 10 states will have nothing in them of any note.

I am not complaining about this in any way; indeed, it is no part of my case today that the UK should have any institutions in it at all. I am not complaining of unfairness. There is a very good reason of course, because in about 10 years' time the United Kingdom will be the only extant parliamentary democracy in Europe and will, I hope--if it follows my advice and those who think like me--remain well out of this new wretched superstate which will reproduce the superstate envisaged by the German General Staff in 1942. I do not plead that we should have more, but I am saying--and the amendment states--that the cost of all this is terrific and is unnecessary.

The General Secretariat of the Parliament has to move to Strasbourg and to Brussels as well as being in Luxembourg. Every week there is a caravanserai of lorries conveying documents from one part of France to Luxembourg or to Brussels at enormous extra cost. Why on earth is that allowed to continue? Everyone admits that such arrangements are ridiculous and that there should not be this travelling circus going all over the place with masses of lorries conveying documents from one site to the other. There is, of course, a considerable extra cost. It is my wish and that of my colleagues that this matter of cost should be considered by another place.

The other place is naturally interested in all waste. Your Lordships will recall that the other place had an investigation carried out--the Benefits Integrity Project--into disability payments as the other place thought there was large-scale fraud in that area. It thought that out of a cost of £11.5 million, it would probably be able to recover, on average, £7 to £8 million a year. Of course that is completely erroneous as that represents only 70 cases of selected fraud out of the 55,000 that have so far been assessed. Nevertheless the zeal was there to pursue this sum of £7 million or £8 million per annum which the House of Commons thought was being fraudulently spent.

The extra cost to the European Community funds, of which we bear 14 per cent. of its expenditure--a sum which is vastly in excess of the sums allegedly to be recovered from social security fraud--is a significant sum. It can be anything between £20 million and £30 million per annum by every estimate that has been so far made as to the ridiculous extra costs that arise from the various locations, and the movements between them, of these principal European institutions.

It is my hope that another place may be able, and think it desirable, to investigate this further. The way of ensuring that is to make sure that this amendment is carried because then the other place will have to consider the matter because, believe me, it has not considered it for over three years. The other place is the guardian of our financial resources. Therefore it ought to be afforded the opportunity to consider the matter. The existing case for trying to gloss over this is thin indeed. We have a unique instance of where a protocol is used to override and completely to negate an article

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that still remains in the Bill. That is quite insufferable. I ask the House to support the amendment. I beg to move.

2.30 p.m.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, having listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, I am not absolutely sure that he is not finding himself on something of a procrustean bed. Knowing his views on the legitimacy and appropriateness of the European Parliament in the European political system, there is probably something to be said for having the European Parliament meeting once a month in Strasbourg, since that undoubtedly interferes with the efficiency and smooth operation of the organisation. Indeed, from that perspective, there is a case for saying that it should never be allowed to meet in the same place more than once, thereby further eroding participation in the business of the Community.

I wish to make it clear, as a former Member of the European Parliament for five years, that I love Strasbourg. It is a marvellous city and a place where I dearly love to be. That said, the peripatetic nature of the parliament between those two great cities, Brussels and Strasbourg, does not contribute to the smooth-running operation of the Community. It would be in the interests of the communities and the peoples of Europe for the parliament to be permanently situated in Brussels, adjacent to the Commission--not merely because of the proximity to the other parts of the European system but at least as much because there communications with the rest of Europe are so much better than they were in Strasbourg. It is an obvious point, and I shall not elaborate further.

What has been rather disappointing is the attitude of the French. I can understand their Gallic pride in having one of the seats of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which is a remarkable place. Nevertheless, I have always understood that what stood in the way of rationalising those rather eccentric arrangements described by the noble Lord was the unwillingness of the French to contemplate any change in the existing state of affairs.

It is my understanding--noble Lords will forgive me if I have misunderstood--that about a couple of weeks ago at the summit to launch EMU there was a great deal of negotiation about the identity of the person who will be president of the European Central Bank. If my memory is correct, the dispute was basically as to whether it should be a particular Dutchman or a particular Frenchman. There was a long drawn-out negotiation.

Bearing in mind that it was clear that the French were extremely anxious for their candidate to secure the post--a great deal of negotiation and horse trading went on--it seems to me that that would have provided the most wonderful opportunity to throw this particular issue into the negotiations. It is my understanding that the Government's view about the location of the European Parliament is much along the same lines as

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mine. Against that background, did the Government introduce this point into the negotiations that took place. And if not, why not?

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