It would be a monumental change if proposals relating to fiscal union, social union or employment union were to be incorporated in a treaty between the UK and other member states-excluding the UK, but none the less having a juggernaut impact upon us

During this week first debate on the committee stage of the EU bill, Bill Cash made the following interventions:

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): The Minister must be in absolute despair. In his very good ConservativeHome article, he said that this House would scrutinise this important legislation-the most radical since we went into the European Economic Community-but clearly we will not be able to do that today, because a number of amendments and clauses will not be reached. Is he not disappointed that the guillotine has not been lifted tonight?

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that if there were any attempt during the proceedings on the programme motion or at any point during the day that might give rise to suspicions that Members were talking matters out in order to prevent important business being arrived at, his words might sound rather hollow?

Mr Lidington: I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash), who has been here for a long time, knows that a balance needs to be struck between the time that is needed to examine important political and constitutional issues fairly and in the depth that both the House and the general public would expect, and the time that is available for debate, bearing in mind the many other priorities that the House has to consider. I would say gently to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone that I believe that he spoke at some length-more than 60 minutes-during the first day's proceedings in Committee. I hope that so far he has not had reason to complain that his contributions are being crowded out.

Mr James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are no fewer than 29 amendments, some of which are Government amendments, before we reach the fourth or fifth group, which contain the provision relating to whether there should be a referendum in the case of the accession of a new member state? That provision is extremely important, and without proper scrutiny being given to that, it could hardly be said that the Bill had had proper scrutiny in the terms that my right hon. Friend described? Would he regard it as unsatisfactory if we did not scrutinise that question, which is important for many, many people?

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I rise briefly to plead that we do not divide the House on this matter, because time is pressing. However, I am prepared to forecast that we will not get beyond the first group of amendments today. The Bill, if about nothing else, is about what might trigger a referendum, and the first group is concerned with that matter. It is extremely likely that we will not discuss much else today, given that that is the heart of the Bill. That suggests that the timetable motion is ill-conceived. Although it is generous of the Government to add an extra day, that does not resolve the problem we will have today, which is that it is most unlikely that we will discuss anything about clauses 2, 3, 4 or 5, the new clauses relating to clauses 1 to 5, or anything else. That is not what was envisaged when we discussed the strengthening of Parliament in the previous Parliament. A great disadvantage of these very curtailed debates on contentious pieces of legislation is that there is an incentive for people to use up the time for the convenience of the Government, rather than to provide a platform for those who actually want to discuss the Bill.

Mr Cash: Does my hon. Friend recall the speech made by Mr Speaker only last week, in which he drew attention to the necessity not only to maintain the sovereignty of Parliament, but to ensure that the Government are held properly to account? That was from Mr Speaker himself-a most unusual, but very important speech. What we may witness today would be in defiance of the principles that he enunciated.

Mr Jenkin: I agree with my hon. Friend. We have yet to find a way of respecting the Government's right to obtain their legislation in reasonable time, subject to the consent of the House, and of reasonably limiting the time spent on debate, while ensuring that all parts of the Bill are debated properly. We do not want to start following the example of the other place, where a tiny minority of Members are brutally filibustering, but we do need to improve the procedures that we have today. It is a sad comment on the state of the House of Commons under this new Government, who purported to believe in something called "new politics", that we are carrying on the old politics implemented by the Labour Government.

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): The hon. Gentleman has referred to Professor Hix's evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee. Will he note that the professor also said that previous EU amending treaties-Maastricht under a Conservative Government and Amsterdam and Nice under a Labour Government, as well as the Lisbon treaty-should all have been subjected to referendums? If the conditions of the Maastricht referendum campaign, which I founded and which had about 750,000 signatures, had been implemented by the Government at the time-let alone those for Amsterdam and Nice-is it not right to say that we would not be sitting here today discussing this nonsense?

Mr David: I am aware of all Professor Hix's comments, and I was careful to say earlier that I did not agree with all his remarks. The point remains, however, that he is fundamentally opposed to the idea of having a multiplicity of referendums, for the reasons that he outlined to the Committee. …

Mr Cash: The shadow Minister referred earlier to the meaning of the word "significance", and he has just mentioned it again. Is he aware that the "Oxford Dictionary" defines "significance" as

"having a particular meaning; indicative of something",

and goes on to give as an example,

"in times of stress her dreams seemed to her especially significant".

Does he know something we don't?

Chris Heaton-Harris: ... Several manoeuvres have taken place under previous Governments to determine who is Minister for Europe. The incumbents do not often stay in the role for long. Either they are, like the current incumbent, sufficiently ambitious to move up the ministerial pay scale, or they could easily be a journeyman on the way out. There is a historical context to some decisions about conferring a competence on an EU agency, and one needs to know what the agency was formed to do in the first place. I perceive such conferral as part of the mission creep in Europe. The European Commission, in establishing so many new agencies on such a regular basis, creates its own quangocracy.

When I was a Member of the European Parliament, it was difficult to police the spending and powers of an agency that the European Commission set up. Indeed, it was more difficult than policing some of the agencies and quangos that Governments of different complexions established in this country. If those agencies grab power and take more competences-even for a valid reason at the time-it is important that the Minister of the day understands the historical reasons for setting up the agencies and the intended limits on the powers. I was present when Eurojust and Euro-magistrate were set up-all part of the European public prosecutor, which I look forward to debating tomorrow, and all part of a significant salami-slicing approach of taking powers away from individual member states, and building something that nobody particularly wanted.

I understand that any ministerial decision on the significance test has a kind of double lock. It has been drawn as narrowly as possible, and I would therefore like the Minister to answer a couple of questions. First, I want to check whether any treaty change will require an Act of Parliament. I should like to think that Parliament will have every opportunity to vote for a referendum on such a change. That is why I support amendment 11. Secondly, the decision on significance is subject to judicial review to ensure that decisions not to hold a referendum only on genuinely insignificant matters are backed.

Those matters are important because, as I said, they are about getting the British people to trust the decisions that we make on Europe again. No member of the public wants decisions to be made behind closed doors, without reasonable explanation. I emphasise strongly to the Minister that the amendments are not about trust in him, his ability to undertake the role or his decisions. I would like clarification that Parliament will have a say because that is what we were sent here to do.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) has tabled some tempting amendments to which the Minister and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) alluded. In amendment 1, my hon. Friend manages to do a fantastic decapitation job on the Bill that would basically put all changes up for referendum. Although there is validity in my hon. Friend's reasoning-he has seen through the years a lot more of what goes on in this place than I have-I do not want everything to be decided by a referendum. The British people will not take that. They want Parliament to say, "These are important decisions and there will be a referendum, a debate in both Houses, or an Act and a vote," and the Bill makes such provisions. We can then choose whether to amend a measure so that it is subject to a referendum because we believe it to be so important. If we think that a subject is insufficiently important, we can decide not to have one. I am tempted by amendment 1, but I am simply unable to support it for those reasons. I was tempted by amendment 1 because of the accession exemption, which the hon. Member for Caerphilly and a number of hon. Members mentioned. I tabled an amendment on accession to the EU that we will not decide on today, just as we will not decide on many amendments that have been tabled. Amendment 21 is exactly as the hon. Gentleman described it. It would mean that a 3.5% dilution of our voting powers on the European Council triggered a referendum. That is a catch-all-it is completely designed as such-so that we would have a referendum on the accession of big countries. Given that, amendment 1 all of a sudden comes back into play and I am once again tempted. I would much rather have had a comprehensive and sensible debate on clauses 4 and 5 today or tomorrow or in extra time.

Mr Cash: I understand where my hon. Friend is coming from, but there is a difference between significance and the opinion of the Minister on the one hand, and the question of exemption on the other. Clause 4(3) says that certain matters are forbidden territory. I am tempting my hon. Friend by saying that that whole category of exemption should clearly be removed, even if there will be a debate on what is or is not significant.

Chris Heaton-Harris: I understand what my hon. Friend says and I am quite sorely tempted, but my problem, as I described earlier, is the minutiae that might be sucked in under amendment 1.

Mr Cash: I understand my hon. Friend's reasoning, but the specific exemptions are set out in clause 4(4)(a), (b) and (c). I understand that he would not want my proposal to go too far. The British people expect these things, which after all include matters such as Turkey and treaties of the type proposed by the French only the other day, not to be exempted. The British people would be left out and not taken into account on such decisions and treaties, yet they would have the most incredible impact on them. I shall explain that later.

Mr Cash: Amendments 1 and 3 stand in my name. My comments boil down to what I said in my interventions on my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) and were somewhat anticipated by the Minister earlier. In a nutshell, I see no reason why clause 2 should refer to an exemption condition or subsection (3) should state:

"The exemption condition is that the Act providing for the approval of the treaty states that the treaty does not fall within section 4."

Without any further let or hindrance, clause 4(4) would exclude from those arrangements that would result in a proposal for a referendum:

"the codification of practice under" the treaties already established "in relation to the previous exercise of an existing competence",

and

"the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom".

That is, I think, an incredibly important point. Also, as we have debated already, it would remove

"in the case of a treaty, the accession of a new member State",

which in this case would include Turkey. In the context of what the Government clearly want to exclude-in other words, their positive policy decision not to allow the British people a referendum on certain treaties of immense importance-they are disavowing the very intentions and principles that underpin the Bill.

I have made that point before over the question of sovereignty, where there is a massive contradiction between what is on the tin and what is in the Bill. I say again that those of us who spoke in favour of the sovereignty of Parliament won the argument, but that was not on the tin and it was not what the Whips-or, indeed, the Prime Minister-wanted, so it was voted down. That does not reflect particularly well-if I may say so-on our democratic system. We are faced with exactly the same point here. We are told on the tin that we will have a referendum on important matters-that is the general idea as explained in the Foreign Secretary's article in The Sunday Telegraph only a week ago-but on examination in Committee, it becomes perfectly obvious that certain kinds of treaty will be excluded. I have mentioned the example of Turkey, but I want to give another specific example of the kind of treaty that would be excluded.

Mr Cash: … I want to give an example that deals explicitly with a matter of immense importance that is coming up in the lift. In fact, it is not merely in the lift; the lift has come up and the doors are opening. Monsieur Fillon, the French Prime Minister, came over to see the Prime Minister specifically about this issue, and I have here the exclusive interview in The Times with Monsieur Fillon. I also had the opportunity to meet the French Minister for Europe and discuss the matter with him personally and privately.

There is no doubt about what they want or what they intend, which is effectively a twin-track treaty, which is a treaty entered into between us and the rest of the European Union-that is, with all 27 member states, in order to legitimise it within the framework of the treaty arrangements-so that, on the one hand, they get their treaty, and, within that treaty, an arrangement specifically designed to exclude the United Kingdom, even though we would be gravely affected by it. It would apply only to those other member states.

Clause 4(4) refers to "the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom".

They look like innocuous words, but what do they actually mean? That exemption condition-in other words, no referendum, to put it bluntly and simply-means that there would be no opportunity for a referendum if the other member states agreed to go down that route. They may well do that, despite all the protestations to the contrary, some of which were rather subtly indicated by the Prime Minister in his press conference, albeit without excluding the idea of any such treaty; rather, it was merely on the supposition that that might not affect us as much as we believe, or as I believe the British people would believe if they saw it in black and white. What do those provisions include? In particular, they include arrangements of that kind relating to fiscal, political, social and employment measures, not to mention other matters that would affect the relationship between us and the rest of the European Union. A massive juggernaut would be created, through a form of extremely enhanced co-operation between those member states, that would have an enormous impact on the United Kingdom.

I have been looking at the balance of payments between us and the other member states. The figures, which I got from the Library, only bring us up to 2009, before the catastrophe that hit Europe occurred, and they are alarming. The imbalance in the balance of payments between us and the other member states has been moving critically in the wrong direction. I could give the precise figures-I may do so later-but we only have to consider the following example, which was on the "Today" programme this morning. If one had listened to the programme, one would have heard about Belgium, which is in massive crisis, with protests and people on the streets, and no Government for 22 months. Greece is in absolute chaos, with protests and implosion, while Ireland, with its political crisis, is totally imploding. Spain has 4 million unemployed, with 40% youth unemployment and people on the streets on a massive scale today. Similar problems are also occurring in Italy, and there have been riots and serious unrest in France, too.

The bottom line is that Europe is not working according to the economic governance that has been prescribed. Yet under what is proposed, the opportunity to address the very kind of treaty that would enhance the ability to confront us with a massive juggernaut of policies that have been going wrong-policies that would undermine the opportunity to grow from our 45% to 50% investment in Europe-would be severely depleted. That would be the most damaging kind of treaty that could be entered into. Indeed, as I said in The Times on the day that the French Prime Minister came over, it would be the kind of treaty that I would expect our Prime Minister to veto on behalf of the British people. However, we cannot have confidence that that would happen, because of the argument being presented. This Bill was introduced on 11 November, when we know that treaties of the kind that I have just described were already being anticipated, however damaging and disastrous they would be for the very people of this country who, if they knew the facts, would say, "I insist on a referendum on any treaty relating to arrangements of this kind."

It would be an abomination for us to be confronted with the kind of arrangements that are being put into place-arrangements that would be so damaging to our growth and our relations with the European Union. That is why I say that this exemption provision has to be taken out of the Bill, for precisely the reasons that I have given. I do not need to enlarge on that point, but I absolutely insist that these provisions should be taken out. I look to the Minister, if he thinks that I am wrong, to give me a reasoned answer as to why.

Mr Cash: Although the Committee has rightly said that a judicial review might be considered unlikely in certain circumstances, the key question is what has Parliament said about the circumstances in which a referendum should be required. We should bear mind above all else that we in Parliament should decide what is in the interests of our own constituents. We are here to give them the opportunity on these matters-that is part of the Government's overall case which, regrettably, fails on a number of tests as we go through these proceedings. The object of the exercise is to ensure that the people of this country have the right to decide on matters relevant to their daily lives. Regrettably, the fancy franchises being thrown up by these exemption conditions and significance arrangements are invading the central question, which is whether the people of this country should be allowed to decide after we have made our judgment on their behalf.

Mr Clappison: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that point. The long and short of it is that the Bill provides that unless the significance condition is met and it is decided that a transfer of power is not significant enough to warrant a referendum-some transfers of power will not be significant enough, whereas others will be-there will not be a referendum. As the Bill stands, the Minister alone will decide whether that condition has been met and this House of Commons will not have the chance for a separate vote, before an Act of Parliament, on whether a referendum should be held. Even if someone were lucky enough to find the time and all the rest of it to table an amendment on this during the consideration of a Bill, it is unlikely for such an amendment to succeed if this is not contemplated in this Bill. The Minister would simply say, "The Government of the day decided that there were certain occasions when a referendum would be required and this was the procedure for dealing with a referendum in these cases. It was decided that a Minister's opinion was the test of significance or not, so this does not apply." I do not see such an amendment as being a successful avenue or a good defence to which to turn.

My amendment would provide an important safeguard, which is in addition to there being an Act. I welcome the provision for an Act, because that is a good thing. To be fair, an Act of Parliament is not required in these circumstances at the moment, because the transfers of power under the simplified revision procedure are simply subject to the resolution of both Houses. The Bill's proposals are therefore a step forward, but we could do so much better. If we do not make the change that I am proposing, we will be leaving a big gap.

Mr Clappison: For the same reason that placing something in a Bill is a stronger defence-it has stronger legislative authority-than leaving it to chance in the future. My amendment is a safeguard in addition to the Act of Parliament that will be required, and including in the Bill requirements on a referendum would make things legislatively stronger.

We come back to the question outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), "Why put any of these requirements in the Bill and why provide these 44 situations where a referendum is required, given that each time we have an Act of Parliament for a treaty change, as we would have to have, we could simply do the same thing then?" That argument is being run in certain quarters, but it makes a mockery of the whole Bill. I do not want to be too unkind to those who promote that argument, but I merely say that it was fully ventilated during the European Scrutiny Committee's deliberations and it was dismissed, and not only in one report. We produced a majority and a minority report, which disagreed on almost everything but agreed that a change needed to be made on the significance test. When one understands the two spectrums of opinion in the European Scrutiny Committee, one can see the measure of achievement in uniting the two.

Mr Cash: It seems inconceivable that if parliamentary approval for the Minister's opinion were denied precisely because of the arguments that have been heard in the House of Commons, the Government would then say, "We are going to enact this anyway. Parliament has said that it disagrees with the Minister's opinion that such and such applies, but we are going to pass this by way of an Act of Parliament." That is just not real. The real decision would be taken on the assessment of the opinion of the Minister and that would be properly gone into if my hon. Friend's excellent amendment were accepted.

Kelvin Hopkins: The hon. Gentleman is right, and I apologise for momentarily forgetting the name of his constituency-Harwich and North Essex-earlier. I agree with him. We have been right so often. When I argue about the European Union, I do not do that in nationalist or theological terms. I ask people to consider the effects on the European economy, which has grown more slowly than it would have done without the euro.

Mr Cash: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that those who take our position-the Euro-realists-are the pro-Europeans because the people who promote the extraordinarily damaging policies create the massive unemployment, riots and protests that are happening?

Kelvin Hopkins: Indeed. The hon. Gentleman is right again. Many of those who protested most strongly against matters in the European Union are people of the left-trade unions, working-class people, the unemployed, minorities and so on. We should not portray a right-left divide; the debate is about democracy and what works.

Mr Cash: On the anniversary of Winston Churchill's death, will the hon. Gentleman accept what he said, which is that country comes first, constituents second and party third?

Michael Ellis: That is absolutely right. Conservative Members have learned lessons from previous enlargements and we will not allow full free movement of workers from all new members, carte blanche, as soon as they join. We should require, it seems to me, complete fulfilment of all the membership criteria, particularly on criminal justice enforcement, for example. Labour messed up on that previously and this country suffered.

I respectfully submit that there has previously been a fundamental lack of understanding of sovereignty issues in this country. One example I would venture to provide is Labour's creation of the Supreme Court. The very name is a misnomer, I submit, because in this country the law is not as it is in the United States where the American Supreme Court in Washington DC is empowered to say that the Government's legislation is unlawful and to strike it down. The US Supreme Court can overrule Congress, but in this country Parliament is sovereign. Labour thus showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the British constitution when it called the institution that took over from the House of Lords judicial committee "the Supreme Court". The law in this country is not supreme; Parliament is supreme and Parliament gives the law its authority, not vice-versa, unlike under the American system.

That brings me to clause 18, which is crucial and reaffirms that Parliament has ultimate sovereignty over European law.

Mr Cash: I take issue with my hon. Friend on that, simply because we had a significant debate on it and the European Scrutiny Committee took a completely contrary view.

Mr Cash: Leaving that aside, let me suggest that, according to the sequence of events provided for by the excellent amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison), the question of the Minister's motion and its approval by Parliament will arise before Third Reading, and almost certainly before Report. For practical purposes, therefore, the House of Commons will have decided the question. Surely the hon. Gentleman is not honestly suggesting that, its approval having been required, Parliament would vote against the proposal on Third Reading. Surely that would not make sense.

Mr Cash: Does what the hon. Gentleman just said bear out what we heard from Lord Mandelson, which is that even at the last minute, after the coalition had been to all intents and purposes stitched up, the hon. Gentleman's leader, the Deputy Prime Minister, was still on the phone to the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) to ask whether he could achieve any further manoeuvring in relation to the European Union?

Mr Cash: Is the hon. Gentleman aware-I am sure that he is, and perhaps on reflection he might like to retract those remarks in light of the fact that he is sitting in such close proximity to the Minister for Europe-that the same Europhobic utterances to which he is referring were reflected by the entire Conservative party, in unity, opposing every aspect of the Lisbon treaty and insisting on a referendum? I know that his hon. Friends were not doing so; this so-called temporary alliance looks as though it has quite a few splits in it.

Martin Horwood: What we have is not a temporary alliance with splits in it, but a business arrangement between two parties with very different traditions and very different views on Europe. The refreshing thing about the coalition, in contrast to Labour when it was in government and there were accusations of psychological disturbance and all sorts of things going on behind the scenes, is that we at least can be open and honest about our different traditions and perspectives. It is to the credit of the coalition and of the Minister that we have managed to create a Bill that largely satisfies both sides.

Mr Cash: As Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, I know that it is universally accepted on both sides of the House, as has already been expressed by the Minister and the shadow Minister, that the quality of analysis that we have given to clause 18 and those proposals has been excellent, and that view has been endorsed by many outside Parliament. I mention that simply because the hon. Gentleman is perhaps moving into territory that he might later regret.

Mr Jenkin: I am all for that. I remember my noble Friend, the former Member for North Shropshire, Lord Biffen-he who had whipped through and proposed the guillotine on the Single European Act-starting his speech in a debate on the Maastricht treaty by exclaiming that we all have blood on our hands. The important theme to draw from this debate is that there is unanimity about the democratic deficit at the heart of the whole process of European integration. The people have not been involved or consulted enough.

My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) extolled the virtues of the Bill as the "Thus far and no further" Bill and the great victory for my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash), who has campaigned on the matter for so many years-the Bill Cash memorial Bill. My hon. Friend seemed to be saying that the Bill would succeed in stopping the process of European integration in its tracks, even though the much-quoted Martin Howe, QC, has said that although the Bill might fix our place on the escalator, it does not stop the escalator going up.

My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford extolled the Bill's virtues not because there would be referendums, but because it would prevent European integration because nobody would want a referendum. My hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), however, did so because he thought it would cause referendums, and he lamented the fact that there had not been one since 1975. We all know why the Bill is in being-it is because there ain't been a referendum, and every time a major decision is discussed in Europe, the public cannot understand why they have not been consulted about the dramatic changes that are taking place.

We are continuing to feed the expectation that something in the Bill will trigger a referendum, but I do not believe that the Government have any intention of allowing a referendum to be triggered. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Minister has said that he has no intention of there being a referendum in this Parliament. The Bill will go on to the statute book and then a future Administration-perhaps a Conservative one, perhaps another coalition one or perhaps a Labour one-will not be bound by it.

This I will grant my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth: the Bill creates more of an expectation that somehow the situation will change. However, we are in danger of over-selling the Bill if we think it will create a lock. It will not. Let us listen to the words of Lord Leach of Fairford, who is the chairman of Open Europe, no less, which champions the issue and for which my hon. Friend worked. He has said that

"as it stands the EU Bill has some loopholes which urgently need to be plugged if it is to withstand the steady mission creep of new EU laws and accretion of powers."

What we are debating today is whether we can plug some of those loopholes. I am afraid that the whole conception of the Bill has been deconstructed in today's debate.

Mr Cash: Amendment 1 would deal with the exemption condition, which in turn would deal with that mission creep, the accession issue and the question of mixed treaties.

Mr Jenkin: I will deal briefly with my hon. Friend's amendments, which deserve consideration and which I will support if there is a vote. The original pledge was that any new treaty would get a referendum-that was what we were told at the Conservative party conference in 2009. That was going to be the real referendum lock. It seems that the proximity of office blunts the senses, and "any treaty" is now only "certain treaties".

We are now faced with a treaty of enormous significance in the EU-the treaty for fiscal union that Monsieur Fillon came over to propose to the Prime Minister last week. We will be told that it will not affect us, because there is no transfer of competence, no change in voting rights, no imposition of obligations and all the rest, and that it is not significant, so there is no need for a referendum. I remember being told that we could ratify the Maastricht treaty because it did not really affect us as we would have an opt-out from monetary union, but look how it is affecting us. There is no such thing as "Does not affect us". Of course, if we were not in the European Union and it went ahead with fiscal union, it would affect us, so it will be argued that we cannot object as long as we have proper opt-outs.

The problem is that we are in the EU and under the European Court of Justice. We are in the decision-making institutions and in the legal jurisdiction of what will become a fiscal union. It is impossible for anyone to argue that the development of the European Union can go ahead to such an extent without affecting legal decisions in this country. Yet the Bill excludes any possibility of a referendum on an extremely significant treaty. That provision should have been in the Maastricht treaty-we all argued that for that when monetary union was first discussed. We all pointed out that the no-bail-out clause was worth nothing-article 104c is emblazoned on my heart. We all argued that there could not be monetary union without fiscal union. We warned of the consequences of monetary union without fiscal union, and stressed that our opt-out was meaningless and would not protect us from the consequences of the Maastricht treaty. Now we are warning again that we should not allow the treaty to go ahead unless we get sufficient opt-outs and exemptions from the existing acquis communautaire, yet the Bill does not provide for a referendum.

...

Mr Cash: Does the Minister not accept that it would be a monumental change if proposals relating to fiscal union, social union or employment union were to be incorporated in a treaty between the UK and other member states-excluding the UK, but none the less having a juggernaut impact upon us? In those circumstances, is that material not so important that we would expect to get a referendum-as would the British people?

Please read the full debate here.

 

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