Memorandum from Lord Moran
Proposal for a Select Committee to consider
what might be the consequences of a withdrawal from the European
The Head of Research Services in the House of Lords
Library has confirmed that there appears to be no "authoritative
and impartial report on what detachment from the European Union,
in whole or in part, would mean for the United Kingdom".
(Dr. Victory's letter of 28 July 2003, attached.)
It is the view of all those who have subscribed to this paper
that a report on this is overdue and that
a Select Committee of the House of Lords would be the most appropriate
body to produce such a report.
Members of the Liaison Committee will be aware that
there is no provision for withdrawal in the existing EC Treaties.
The draft Treaty establishing a European Constitution does, however,
include, in Article 1-59, a procedure for withdrawal from the
Union. The text of this article is attached. A House of Commons
research paper points out that Baroness Scotland, when a Foreign
Office Minister, was asked why there was no provision in the EC
Treaties for the free and unilateral withdrawal of Member States,
as there is for the treaties governing NATO and the WTO, and that
she replied: "We see no need for the Treaties governing
membership of the Union to include a specific provision on unilateral
withdrawal. It remains open to Parliament to repeal the European
Communities Act 1972, the logical consequences of which would
be to withdraw from the EU The terms of such a withdrawal would
be for the Government to negotiate with the other member states."
(HL Deb, 11 January 2000, WA 96-7). This
paper also records that Peter Ham told the House of Commons
European Scrutiny Committee in November 2002:
"We saw it for the first time as we
did other ideas in the skeleton draft constitution which he put
forward and we are having
a look at it. It may be a good idea that Member States which are
so fed up with the European Union are able to remove themselves
from it. We need to look
at the detail, we need to know exactly what it
Against this background our House on 27 June 2003
gave a Second Reading to the European Union (Implications of Withdrawal)
Bill (HL), introduced by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, which would
require the Government to set up an independent inquiry into the
implications of withdrawal and to publish the result.
During the debate Lord Moran, a Cross Bencher, suggested
that instead of seeking to get the Government to set up such an
inquiry it might be better for this House to do so. He said:
"It is of the greatest importance that we should
have a thorough, impartial and well-informed study of what detachment
from the Union, in whole or in part, would mean for this country.
I do not suppose that this Government or any other that is in
sight will do this, although of course they should. I believe
that in those circumstances the best way forward might be for
us to set up a Select Committee of this House to consider thoroughly
and to report on the implications of acting in accordance with
Part I, Article 59 of the draft constitution. Such a committee
must command confidence and be as balanced and impartial as possible.
A good precedent was the Select Committee on the
1996 Inter-Governmental Conference
three Eurosceptics were
co-opted to this committee to balance the Europhilesthat
is, the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddard
of Swindon, and myself as a Cross-Bencher. It worked well and
we all signed the report which was, I think, a useful one.
Such a committee established now could hear evidence
from experts in all the relevant fields. A report on these lines,
calm, dispassionate and authoritative would
be an enormous help to all those considering our future relationship
with Europe and would enable all of us to judge whether withdrawal
would be a catastrophe or bring benefits to this country. I commend
the idea to the House."
This approach is welcomed by Lord Pearson (who has
agreed that if such a Select Committee is set up it would not
be necessary to proceed with the further stages of his Bill) and
is supported by at least 51 Peers from different parts of the
House whose names are attached. These include a former Prime Minister,
a former Speaker of the House of Commons, several former senior
Ministers and a number of Peers who are distinguished members
of the business community.
We think it essential that the Select Committee should
command general confidence. It should not be overbalanced by known
Europhiles or known Eurosceptics. It should be as dispassionate
and authoritative as possible, and this would apply most of all
to the Chairman. Its aim should be to shed light on the question,
not to generate heat.
In our view it should seek oral and written evidence
from the most eminent available experts on all aspects of the
constitutional and legal position, financial, trade and investment
implications, effects on our foreign relations and defence arrangements
and on agriculture and fisheries. It should then set out the likely
consequences of partial or total withdrawal, detailing the likely
positive and negative effects.
Peers supporting this request:
Ampthill, Astor, Baker of Dorking, Beaumont of Whitley, fen, Black
of Crossharbour, Blackwell, Campbell of Alloway, Cavendish of
Furness, Chalfont, B. Cox, Cuckney, E. Erroll, V. Falkland, Feldman,
Forsyth of Drumlean, Glenarthur, Griffiths of Fforestfach, Harris
of High Cross, Inge, Kilclooney, Kimball, B. Knight of Collingtree,
Laing of Dunphail, Liverpool, B. Mallalieu, Mancroft, C Mar, Monson,
Moran, Mowbray and Stourton, E. Onslow, Palmer, Pearson of Rannoch,
E. Peel, Pilkington, Renton, B. Saltoun of Abernethy, Sheppard
of Didgemere, Shrewsbuiy & Waterford, Slim, Stevens of Ludgate,
Stoddart of Swindon, B. Strange, Swinfen, Tebbit, Thatcher, Vinson,
Waddington, Weatherill, DL, Willoughby de Broke.
from Isolde Victory to Lord Moran dated 28 July, 2003
The Draft Treaty Establishing a European
Constitution. Text of Article I-59
* * * * * *
Letter from Isolde Victory to Lord Moran
dated 28 July, 2003
Withdrawal from the EU
I have been following up your query about whether
there have been any authoritative and impartial reports on what
detachment from the European Union, in whole or in part,
would mean for the United Kingdom.
I could not find any impartial consideration of this
question of the kind you proposed for a select committee (HL Hansard,
27th June 2003, col. 561). There have been a small
number of pamphlets and journal articles on the subject but none
with the balance and range of a select committee
I hope this is of assistance.
The Draft Treaty Establishing a European
Constitution. Text of Article I-59
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the
European Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall
notify the European Council of its intention; the European Council
shall examine that notification. In the light of the guidelines
provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and
conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements
for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future
relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be concluded
on behalf of the Union by the Council of Ministers, acting by
a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European
3. The representative of the withdrawing Member State
shall not participate in Council of Ministers or European Council
discussions or decisions concerning it.
4. The Constitution shall cease to apply to the State
in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal
agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred
to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with
the Member State concerned, decides to extend this period.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union
asks to re-join, its request shall be subject to the procedure
referred to in Article