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Mr. Quentin Davies (Grantham and Stamford): The right hon. and learned Gentleman has twice suggested that we should take issue with the United States on the issues of the International Criminal Court and national missile defence. He confirms the worst fears of the official Opposition about the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party having a secret agenda and seems to look forward to having a battle with the United States on those important issues, but he has not said a word about the attitude of France in the Gulf and towards Iraq. Had the French been a little more supportive of our sanctions policy in the middle east, Saddam Hussein might have decided before now to accept the United Nations resolutions.
Mr. Campbell: I confess that there is no secret anti-American agreement between the Foreign Secretary and myself. Indeed, I regard myself as something of an Atlanticist, not least because I was educated partly in the
I notice no such inhibition on the part of Members of Congress, some of whom find it necessary to legislate in the most draconian terms on trade matters that have a direct consequence on people in our constituencies, not least that of my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood). The jobs of many workers in the woollen industry in his constituency have been at risk during the past 18 months because of the ludicrous notion that a dispute about bananas is best dealt with by targeting the cashmere-producing factories of the borders of Scotland.
When it comes to the United States, robust and mature disagreement is much more likely to be part of a profitable relationship than the notion that we cannot open our mouths for the fear of upsetting it. [Interruption.] I am reminded of the French. I have said that the sanctions regime is being eroded, and that process is being aided and abetted by members of the Security Council. I wish they would not do that, but it is a fact of life. When we deal with European defence, I will say a thing or two about my attitude towards the French.
I had the good fortune to accompany the Secretary of State for Defence on his visit to Sierra Leone in July. Like others, I was deeply impressed by the quality of the British presence there. However, the Foreign Secretary knows that we share a belief in the need for more effective and stronger United Nations peacekeeping. I have seen little evidence--either when I was there or since, especially now that the Indian and Jordanian battalions may be withdrawn--to suggest that, as far as the UN presence in Sierra Leone is concerned, we are able to bet on a winner. My anxiety is that if the UN operation in Sierra Leone fails, the long-term consequences for the credibility of UN peacekeeping will be severe. That is why, to echo a point made in an intervention by the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen), who is a member of the Defence Committee, I wish that the Government would reconsider whether a United Kingdom battalion could become part of the UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone.
On Europe, I am sorry that the shadow Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Horsham, is not here. He gave the impression of an intelligent man making a case in which he does not believe. If he really thinks that there is an operation by stealth to drag the UK further into the morass of an integrated Europe, he is clearly reading the wrong newspapers. One can hardly open a newspaper without seeing--some would argue--more than adequate reflection of the views that he and his hon. Friends hold. When he says that, as Foreign Secretary, he would refuse to sign the treaty of Nice, I simply do not believe him. When he says that he will oppose ratification, I suspect that he might, but I doubt whether his heart or head will be in it. He also says that the Conservative party would hold a referendum on the treaty of Nice--that would be a first, because there has never been a referendum at its instigation.
It would tell us a great deal about the journey that the Conservative party has travelled since the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) took the country into Europe if it feels compelled to hold a referendum on the treaty of Nice as we understand it. Where are the issues that are of such fundamental
The Government succeeded in preserving the veto on tax and social security and they increased their voting power, but I do not regard those as great triumphs. They are no more than was to be expected. Nice did not deal properly with the size of the Commission. It is only 18 months since the House was up in arms about the inadequacies of the Commission, its arrogance, the failure of control and lack of scrutiny, so it seems somewhat curious to have no proposals to make in respect of the size of the Commission and the way in which it will work. That is a criticism addressed not only to our Government but to other Governments as well.
As the shadow Foreign Secretary said, there was nothing in the Queen's Speech about the common agricultural policy. It is true that, in that respect, policy reforms are enough--we do not need a referendum or to go knocking on the doors of the people of the United Kingdom asking whether they will support a referendum to change the common agricultural policy; but if reforms are sufficient, we have to ask where is the motivation to bring about the changes that are essential if the CAP is to survive the accession of Poland, to name but one country.
Why was no more robust and rigorous a view taken of the number of Members of the European Parliament? I believe strongly that there are too many Members both of this Parliament and of the European Parliament. If we embark on an open-ended commitment to increase the number of MEPs, we risk creating a European Parliament that is far too inflated to handle its responsibilities. In addition, there is in the minds of those on the doorstep a question about the cost. It is a great pity that Nice did not produce a far more robust attitude toward the size of the Parliament.
There is to be an intergovernmental conference in 2004. That should be supported because I believe it is essential to determine and define the roles and responsibilities at all levels of government and in all the institutions of the European Union. The most fascinating aspect of the German-Italian document is that it raises in a concrete manner the matter of subsidiarity. Where does it come from? Not from the federal Government, but from the devolved governments of the Lander, which are rightly concerned that responsibilities that belong to them should not be taken over by Brussels. We must remember that we in this country now have devolved government--devolved to a greater extent to Scotland than to Wales, but also devolved to London--so it is not impossible to imagine the separate organs of government in the United Kingdom displaying similar anxiety. The proposals for an IGC in 2004 are for subsidiarity. We should ensure that we play a prominent and effective part in that IGC.
Mr. Campbell: That is a matter for argument. In the first place, it probably would be, but part of the process of creating the constitution would be to define the role of the ECJ, and that might be done in such a way as to ensure that issues of a clearly domestic nature, rather than an international nature, would be dealt with by domestic jurisdictions, not by the ECJ. However, that is exactly the sort of argument in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman, myself and others should engage in 2004.
Europe will operate only when NATO chooses not to do so. I wish that that was to be enshrined in a formal protocol, but I have already put that argument to Ministers, so far without success. Activities are to be confined to the Petersberg tasks--peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention and crisis management--and the decision to deploy is to remain a matter for sovereign Parliaments. Like the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), I think that Parliament should have some say when this country deploys, for a long time, substantial forces.