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Lord Whitty: My Lords, as I think intended by the noble Lord, the answer is no because the proposal for a superstate is not on the agenda either in the Treaty of Amsterdam or in those areas which still need addressing. We are therefore not moving down the road of the superstate. We have made that clear. I believe that the Official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats have also made that clear. We are united in this House that we are not moving to a superstate. Therefore the issue does not arise.
On harmonisation, clearly the protocol and subsidiarity to which we referred will limit the degree to which harmonisation will apply in certain fields. However, we are not intending to roll back the harmonisation which has successfully occurred under the aegis of the single market. Indeed, in many respects the single market is the major achievement of the European Union and it would be wrong for us to promise roll-back of harmonisation in that respect.
Lord Renton: My Lords, does the noble Lord realise that the federal provisions in the Treaty of Rome--they are still there even though the treaty has been amended--involve the creation of a superstate? That is what a federal constitution is.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, no, I do not accept that. I do not accept that it is a constitution for a state. It is a treaty between sovereign member states who agree that on a growing area of items they will pool their sovereignty. We are not talking about the constitution for a superstate. We are not even talking about a federal state in the way that the noble Lord implies.
The Earl of Clanwilliam: My Lords, when does one stop the ever deepening process? The Treaty of Rome states that there will be ever deepening of the state in Europe. When do we stop that ever deepening process and start the federal process?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the past few interventions indicate a reversion to what should have been covered within the Second Reding debate. Whether or not we get deeper depends on a unanimous decision in the Council of Ministers for a change in the treaty. The British Government and the British Parliament
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, he has not said where the new Government stand on an absolutely fundamental point about enlargement. The previous Conservative Government hoped and believed that widening the Community would weaken the institutions of the centre. That is why many members of the previous Conservative administration were in favour of it. Do the present Government agree with that or do they agree with the alternative philosophy that widening necessitates deepening?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, we are having another Second Reading philosophy debate at the end of the Third Reading. However, I shall reply to the noble Lord. We believe in enlargement because we believe in the reunification of Europe and democratic institutions which have been deeply divided for 50 years. We believe that that is a political advantage for the whole of Europe, whatever implications it may have for its institutions.
I believe that the trade off which the previous government sought between widening and deepening is erroneous. It was erroneous then and it is erroneous now. We will deepen in those areas in which we consider it sensible to deepen and we will resist deepening in those areas where it is not in our interests or the interests of Europe to do so. There is not the kind of trade off on which the previous government insisted.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, today we have rehearsed the arguments which were put forward at previous stages of the Bill. There has been an interesting exchange of views. I totally agree with the two points made by my noble friend Lord Renton. No one wants a European super state. Luckily for the noble Lord, I do not believe that that is on the agenda. I agree with my noble friend's second point about harmonisation. I do not believe that harmonisation can work. Probably the only way forward--I remember this from my time as a Member of the European Parliament--is through mutual recognition. That is probably easier.
My noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch, in his usual eloquent fashion, keeps us aware of all the horrors of the European Union. He drew our attention to yet another book which we must read. I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, who is very knowledgeable on the subject, and my noble friend Lady Park. I worry, however, when NATO enlargement is coupled with European enlargement. I believe that they are different subjects.
I regret that I am not totally satisfied with the Minister's response. More and more reports are produced but little seems to happen. As he rightly said, my amendment is modest. It is an attempt to try to inject greater momentum into the process of enlargement. I am
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
I have been doing a little arithmetic since we last debated the Bill on Report last week. According to my calculations, before we began proceedings today, we had spent a total of 48 hours and 16 minutes in detailed scrutiny of the Amsterdam Treaty, over eight full days. That is no mean total and that does not take into account the time that we have spent on the legislation today.
Therefore, between your Lordships' House and another place, we will have had a grand total of 15 days' debate on these issues, not to mention the numerous other instances of reports and ministerial appearances before Select Committees of both Houses. Thanks to the application and hard work of the House, I think it is fair to say that we have covered this treaty from cover to cover. Some parts of it we have dealt with several times and I make no complaint about that.
The Amsterdam Treaty is more modest in some respects than its predecessors. But, nonetheless, it makes some important changes to the European treaties. I pay tribute to all those noble Lords who have, throughout the course of our deliberations, made such knowledgeable and constructive contributions to our debates. Sometimes we sat quite late into the night debating matters of broad principle and matters of great detail. I should like to thank my noble friends Lord Bruce of Donington, Lord Stoddart of Swindon and Lord Shore of Stepney and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I believe that I can safely say that they left no stone unturned. It is clear that we differ fundamentally on this Bill and on the treaty upon which it is based, but I thank them for the way that they put their case and for the courtesy that they showed in doing so.
I should also like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. Their knowledge, expertise and grasp of the treaty has been second to none. Their clarity in explaining their case, even when it differed from that of the Government, was exemplary. I should like, too, to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. I should like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in particular,
I thank the officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who have been aided by other officials. It is now 20 years since I sat in the Official Box in your Lordships' House. I know how arduous and how skilled that job has to be. Our Bill team has been knowledgeable, of sound judgment, accurate and timely in its advice. It has also been unfailingly good humoured.
This is a good treaty for this country and it is a good deal for the people of this country. It fulfils the Government's undertakings to the people of this country in our election manifesto and it has, of course, been passed in another place--the elected House. I know that there are several noble Lords who cannot agree with this assessment. They have made no secret of their views over the years and of their uncompromising opposition to this country's membership of the European Union. However, I also know that there are many on the Benches opposite who fully support the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. Many have played a distinguished role in deepening and consolidating this country's relationship with the European Union. I suspect that in their heart of hearts many of those noble Lords realise the value of this treaty and of this Bill. I urge them and all noble Lords on all sides of the House to support the Government.