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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. We did make progress on our initiative on zones of protection for refugees. It was agreed that member states should work on proposals for better protection of refugees near their regions of origin. I have to say to my noble friend that we are at the very early stages of dialogue. This dialogue will be with the commission, UNHCR, as he correctly referred to it, and other member states, to establish pilot projects in the autumn. Therefore I cannot give my noble friend any further details on that at present.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, on the common agricultural policy, can the noble and learned Lord say whether the Government have in mind a timetable for the ending of export subsidies from Europe? This has been dragging on for many years. Surely it is urgent to bring it to a conclusion.
I believe the European Union is fully committed to the Middle East peace process. It is a member of the quartet which was the author of the road map. I have no doubt that monitoring of progress will be essential. The difficulty is that, as we found in other contexts closer to home, one party says they will not do something unless the other party does something first. That party then says exactly the same thing. That is not tolerable. It is grossly irresponsible to the people who live in that part of the world. They all want what we want: an opportunity for a decent and ordered life and the hope that their children will have a better one.
Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, I thank the Lord President both for his Statement and for his personal remarks about me and my noble friend Lord Tomlinson. The noble and learned Lord says that the new member countries in the enlarged union are not ready to give up their nationality. As Scots and Welsh we know that even quite close relationships with other unions may keep alive a sense of nationality for centuries. Does he recognise that they are as little anxious as we are to give up democracy in joining the European Union? The members of the convention felt that the strengthening of the democratic basis and legitimacy of the Union are a vital part of the advancement of the effectiveness of the European Union. This is not just by national parliaments holding governments to account, but through proposals to elect the President of the Commission, the openness of the legislation council and the greater authority and involvement of the European Parliament. In the consent of the peoples of Europe must lie the key to ensuring that it can speak with one voice, both in purely domestic European affairs and in regard to third countries.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. He is absolutely right. I take perhaps an example that might chime in both our mindsthat is, the Czech Republic, which before 1939 was a democratic, highly successful, well-industrialised country. After 1945, until very recently, it had no experience of domestic democracy at all. What the noble Lord said entirely coincides with the theme of the Prime Minister's observations. Those who have struggled for so long domestically in conditions that we can hardly guess at are hardly likely then to give up voluntarily and willingly their hard-earned freedoms. The noble Lord is absolutely right in that context.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I disagree with what the noble Lord said. That will not come as a surprise to him. Ultimately, one gets to a stage where one has a deep, even philosophical, certainly political, divide. There are many hereI echo the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosbywho believe, not that we should drift with the tide of European history, but that we should be controlling as far as we can the way the boat goes.
If one has that view, if one welcomes the accession of the further 10 countriesI believe that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, gave some of their namesit is a roll-call of 20th century history for people who had virtually no democracy, which is their right. I believe that we have many virtues in this countryone of them occasionally may be found to be compromised; I hope sothat we can offer. As many of us travel around Europe and talk to foreign Ministers and parliamentarians, they wish us to be there. They envy us our arrangements. They want to learn from them. I return to the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan: there are opportunities here for a reinvigoration of the European institutions because of a two-way transfusion of increased democracy internally in the institutions and increased parliamentary scrutiny domestically. I have no fears about that and I hope that the rest of the country shares that confidence.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal for making the Statement. Is he aware that some peopleindeed, perhaps many peoplebelieve that the draft constitutional treaty smacks not of a federal constitution but of a unitary constitution? Will he comment on that?
In relation to the chair of the European Council, which the Statement says is to prepare and follow through the European Council agenda, will he or she be a chairman or a president? If he or she is to be a chairman, how will that relate to the president of the Commission? Will the president of the Commission be senior to the chairman of the Council or what? How will this new appointment of permanent full-time president square with the Prime Minister's Cardiff speech in which he called for a strong, full-time president? Mr Hain said that we wanted a president of the Union to be someone who could speak to the United States for Europe on equal terms. That does not seem to be borne out in the Statement made by the Prime Minister today.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, taking the last point first, obviously my noble friend Lord Stoddart, having much more parliamentary experience than I, will recognise that it is not for me to determine that. It is for the usual channels. When the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, asked me a similar question, I indicated that these are very important issues. We are an important House of Parliament, although we are not the superior one. Other things being equal, it seems to me that as a matter of principle we ought to seek to get decent time for these debates.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I know what he said. I am just about to explain it to your Lordships' entire satisfaction. Without incorporation of the charter as part of our own domestic law, I think Mr Vaz was seeking to say that it would have no more legislative or legal power than a copy of the Beano. Perhaps I would not necessarily have used quite that phrase myself, but there we are.
My noble friend Lord Stoddart asked about the president. Monsieur Giscard d'Estaing explained on innumerable occasionsonce to me personallythat there is no French word for "chairman". There is one in Welsh, which proves that it is an infinitely more civilised language"cadeirydd". At the moment, it is not possible to have the rotating presidency. I am bound to saywith one bound being free at lastthat it always seemed rather strange that one had a rotating presidency with a country, not an individual, taking over the presidency every six months. Most organisations would find it difficult to run in that way and, as the Prime Minister said in his Statement, for 25 it is quite impossible. Therefore, it is prudent to have a presiding officethat is the word I am looking forto preside over the deliberations.