Bill Cash MP


Yesterday, in the debate on the last week European Council, I stressed that there are currently as many as 30 European directives in the pipeline which will deeply affect our financial regulation and economic governance, nearly all of which are by qualified majority voting and co-decision. There is also the issue of European social and employment legislation. I asked, therefore, how will the Prime Minister and the Chancellor tomorrow-regain and retain control over those economic issues?

The Prime Minister: "My hon. Friend makes a very good and reasonable point. There are threats to our competitive position coming from the European Commission and, more particularly, from the co-decision procedure and the great strength that had been given to the European Parliament under the Lisbon treaty. It makes our work harder, I have to be frank. In relation to the de Larosière package on financial regulation, a reasonable compromise was reached, but the European Parliament has unpicked that and made it much more burdensome from the British point of view. Now, there is no alternative to having to fight back to the compromise that we left. It is not a satisfactory situation. One thing on which my hon. Friend and I agree is that the Lisbon treaty was not a step forward."

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I said in today’s debate on the Sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament and the European Union debate, in Westminster Hall,
that Sovereignty means “supreme power or authority” – “a self-governing state”. This is not a debate about getting out, as such, but about the practical issue of how we deal with the European issue. It is not an abstraction but about the daily lives, both economic and political, of those who vote us to this Parliament. It is about Eurorealism, both in the United Kingdom and in Europe as a whole. It is about rules that don’t work, economically and politically, and the need for radical reform of a system which has become uniform and inflexible, with the acquis communautaire, which has become sacrosanct and irreversible, with majority voting and the system of co-decision, barring only a total negotiated change by all 27 Member States into an association of nation states, and if and when this fails by asserting the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament, to override this failing system, where it is in our vital national interests so to do.

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I said yesterday ( 3 June), during a debate on European Affairs at the House of Commons, that one of the reasons why the eurozone is imploding is the vast amount of social and employment legislation, the over-regulation and burdens on business not only in Europe but imposed on this country as a result of European directives and regulations. Hence, the Prime Minister's commitment to repatriate those powers is essential not only for us but for negotiations in the European Union. If that does not happen we will not have jobs, growth or enterprise, nor will we be able to reduce the debt or pay for public services where necessary.

Moreover, I stressed that the economic proposals that are coming forward, will be subject to majority voting. Consequently, we need to introduce and enact a sovereignty Bill so when Britain is outvoted there is an opportunity for the House to override European regulation in our vital national interests.

My concern about any coalition Government remains that we must keep to our principles and our manifesto promises. It is essential that we stick to our template and manifesto commitments on sovereignty. There are three categories of activity in coalitions: the easy stuff, the difficult stuff and the red lines stuff. We must stick to the red lines because they are about who governs us and how. A sovereignty Bill and the repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 are central to that. We have a responsibility and an obligation to put the sovereignty of Parliament at the top of our agenda because, as I have often said, it is not our Parliament but that of the people who elect us. The question, "Who governs the United Kingdom?" is therefore central and we have no right to make any concessions on that.

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Bill Cash @ The Independent: "The centre of gravity on the Europe issue has shifted to the Tories. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. The proposals will not come from Downing Street or the Foreign Office, but from the European Commission. The question is how you react to them –do you say yes or no when they can be approved under qualified majority voting [when Britain would not have a veto]. It is very simple. Implementing the Lisbon Treaty is a further transfer of power, and so the answer is no because we [the Tories] voted against it. Full stop."

Only a Sovereignty Bill can restore to Parliament its mandate

Bill Cash @ Critical Reaction:"The fundamental issue at the heart of concerns over the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament is the freedom of choice – the choice of the voters to decide the laws under which they are to be governed and to deal with the question of who governs Britain. The issue of Parliamentary sovereignty is essentially a practical question, not a theological one, and effects every voter and every man, woman and child in the country on a daily basis and in a very direct way.

"European legislation invades every nook and cranny of our daily lives and on any reasonable estimate affects at least 70% of the vast array of laws. New legislation floods from the European Union like a tsunami, as I witness in the European Scrutiny Committee every week. It includes criminal law, state aids, financial regulation, relations with Russia and internal security, burdens on business, overregulation, the rules governing the dreadful state of our public finances, the debt levels and questions of public expenditure through to the absurdly named Stability and Growth Pact which provides neither stability, nor growth nor a pact. It affects the whole of our justice and criminal law. It affects the regulation of the City of London and the role of the Bank of England and financial services. It affects family law. It affects the CAP, the CFP, the rebate, regional policy making, energy policy, consequences of immigration and the £2000 for each man, woman and child which the EU costs according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and the newly unacceptable proposals for enlargement involving countries who are neither appropriate allies nor intrinsically democratic.

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A Speech by Bill Cash in a House of Commons debate on Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, 10 February 2010:

Ian Pearson (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury)

That this House takes note with approval of the Government's assessment as set out in the Pre-Budget Report 2009 for the purposes of section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993.

I welcome the opportunity to debate the information provided to the European Commission under section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993. Each year, the Government report to the Commission on the UK's economic and budgetary position and our main economic policy measures, in line with our commitments under the stability and growth pact, by formally sharing information from the pre-Budget report.”

William Cash: The issue before us goes rather deeper than the pre-Budget statement and the report, (...). I say that because the origin of section 5 has to be observed if we are to know exactly what we are talking about in terms of the British economy in the context of the European Union.

On 4 May 1993, a Labour amendment was moved and then accepted by the then Government, basically in order to do a deal over the Maastricht treaty. Mr. Smith, who was leading for the then Opposition, said that the object of the amendment was, first, to make clear the priority that the Opposition believed should attach to article 2 of the Maastricht treaty in setting the goals of the Community in general; secondly, to deal with the question of the assessment of criteria, particularly convergence; and thirdly, to deal with the question of accountability. It is important to look at what article 2 says, because that goes to the very heart of the crisis that is going on in Greece and the whole practicality of the European Union. It prescribes as follows:

"The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing the common promote throughout the Community a harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and of social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States."

That is what article 2 states, and of course it is now in the Lisbon treaty, which consolidated all the existing treaties.

The Maastricht rebels, for whom I had the honour of leading many of the debates, took a strong position and refused to support the arrangements in question. I am glad to be able to inform the House that Mr. Hain, no less, the current Secretary of State for Wales, made a powerful speech in which he condemned the wishful thinking of the arrangements, and went on to vote against the Maastricht treaty on Third Reading. He was joined by a number of Labour Members, but not enough.

This is not just about history, it is about the present. Based on our predictions, all the Maastricht rebels, including my hon. Friend Mr. Chope, who is sitting next to me today, declined to vote for the proposal on the grounds of the impracticability of what was contained in article 2. Now, as is becoming increasingly obvious in this context and many others, the European Union simply is not working. I refer to what section 5 of the 1993 Act actually states, which is:

"Before submitting the information required in implementing"

the provisions of the treaty that I have just mentioned,

"Her Majesty's Government shall report to Parliament for its approval an assessment of the medium term economic and budgetary position in relation to public investment expenditure and to the social, economic and environmental goals set out in Article 2".

It states that the report will be submitted to the European Council and European Commission in pursuit of their responsibilities under various articles.

Over an extended period, particularly in relation to the Fiscal Responsibility Bill-I referred to it as the fiscal irresponsibility Bill-those of us on the Conservative Benches have made one attack after another not only on the United Kingdom's performance, as set out in the pre-Budget report, but on the performance of the eurozone countries in complying with those provisions. I spoke about that only last week in the debate about financial management in the European Committee. We have also made the point, as I did earlier, about the absurdity of the no-growth, no-stability, no-pact arrangements in the so-called stability and growth pact, which was introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend Mr. Clarke in those heady days.

We are caught up in the failure of the European Community and European Union on their economic policies, which are simply not realistic. We need only examine article 2 to realise how much wishful thinking lies behind it. It does not work, because of the failure of the Lisbon agenda, because of over-regulation and because of the degree to which the report of the European Court of Auditors does not stack up, as I mentioned in Committee the other day.


With regard to fiscal stability, the Government have failed woefully. I have said before that they have lied on the question of the actual debt, and that is why Standard & Poor's, PIMCO and other organisations that have great control and influence over both credit ratings and the bond market are looking so nervously at the underlying weakness of the British economy. The plain fact is that we are in serious difficulties and the Government are doing nothing about it. That is part and parcel of the problem that comes from attempting to subscribe to principles laid down in the Maastricht treaty, as endorsed by the Lisbon treaty, that simply do not work.

I have not advocated the idea of outright withdrawal, just like that. However, what is going on in the eurozone at the moment, as evidenced by a number of important articles that have been written over the past few days, has demonstrated the seriousness of the situation. It is simply astonishing that here we are in a virtually empty House, with nobody at all on the Labour Back Benches other than the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister, when the eurozone is in deep trouble and may even be beyond crisis and when an economic summit meeting to deal with the matter is proposed for Thursday.

Wolfgang Münchau stated in the Financial Times in an article written on Monday 8 February that "advocates of an IMF-led bail-out conveniently ignore the disastrous signal that this would send to the financial markets about where the eurozone is heading in the future."


"It would be so much better if the eurozone were to sort out its own problems."

That was certainly not what the Prime Minister said at Prime Minister's questions today.

There is deep concern that the International Monetary Fund may be called in to sort out the problem, but equally France and Germany might do so. As I have said repeatedly, it will be yet another prescription for danger in the EU if some counties, including ourselves as a net a contributor, are called upon to bail out others. It will not just be Greece, because as we have seen reported in the newspapers regarding Spain, the next step will be the same as on 16 September 1992. Those of us who had campaigned against the compulsory exchange rate mechanism were proved right when the ERM collapsed, to the serious detriment of the people of this country, including my constituents. Wolfgang Münchau stated that these last few days of February "have reminded me of the speculative attacks on sterling and the Italian lira in September 1992."

He based his whole article on that analogy, and he is right, because it will not just be Greece. Whether or not Greece is bailed out, there will then be Spain, and then Italy, Ireland and Portugal, not even mentioning countries such as Romania and Bulgaria that are outside the eurozone for the time being and should never have been brought into the EU by accession. As everybody outside this place knows, we have a serious crisis for the eurozone as a whole. I do not say that with any great satisfaction or gloating, but I wish people had listened to us back in 1993.

Apart from voting against the mad arrangement that is now creating all the problems, in 1993 I said that we needed to ensure that we did not return to the dark forces of the past, with massive unemployment and the consequences of a failed economic system. That is what we predicted would happen, and we said that it would lead to the rise of the far right. That is exactly what I said in an article that I wrote in 1993, and I stand by it, because next to my constituency in Staffordshire the British National party is beginning to emerge.

There is a particular problem in Germany, because there is still an unemployment rate of more than 20 per cent. in the eastern part. The unity of the Deutschmark and now the euro has not solved the problems of eastern Germany. If the Germans are asked to bail out Greece-that is basically what is happening, because the French are just bystanders in this, and it is just a bit of political fixing-do we seriously believe that Angela Merkel and the German Government, not to mention the German people as a whole, will accept the prospect of bailing out all those other countries as well? That is what is in prospect.

It is precisely because those of us who campaigned against going into the euro won the battle in the Maastricht debates-that was at huge political cost, but necessary in our vital national interest-that we are out of the euro. The Prime Minister has no credit for that whatever. He just kept the debate going because he knew we were right-that is all there is to it. The plain fact is that we were right. Regrettably, we had to fight a Conservative Government over a long period on that issue. If Greece were not in the eurozone, it too could do what the UK can do, which is keep afloat even though that means devaluation-we must recognise that there is an international financial crisis, but it is being made much worse.

In City AM today, Allister Heath, who at one time was the chairman and research director of the European Foundation, which I founded in 1993, says:

"Bailing out Greece is not the answer".

There is another exceptionally good article in that paper as well. The plain fact is that the analysis in the City is clear. There is deep worry, and every reason why people should be worried.

In an article in today's Financial Times, Martin Wolf says that Germans must start buying to save Europe's stragglers. At the end of it, he says that that "requires improved competitiveness and buoyant external demand" “but that "At present, none of this is available."

The point is that in his proposals on the European Union, my right hon. Friend Mr. Cameron has made it clear that his imperative is to increase British competitiveness, and it is absolutely essential that we do so. We need to get rid of unnecessary over-regulation, most of which comes from the EU. We must follow up those proposals, but how will we do it?

That is where there is a serious and important decision to be taken. The decision hinges on my gold-standard-if I may dare to call it that-United Kingdom Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill, which has been debated in the House and which is strongly supported by a significant number of Conservative Members. My right hon. Friend has accepted it in principle, because he has stated that there will be a sovereignty Bill.

What is the relevance of that Bill to this debate? There are economic crises in the Europe and the UK, and we cannot separate the European issue from economic questions. The two things are absolutely interwoven on reacquiring growth and competitiveness, as my right hon. Friend said, and on the applications of the stability and growth pact and the Maastricht criteria, to which I have referred.

Rather than take issue with Conservative Front Benchers on that subject, I will simply say that it would be a great mistake to attempt to deal only with the economy in our manifesto going into the general election. We must deal with the European dimension at the same time. Therefore, we should deal with both the European issue-in spades-as well as the economic issue, because they are interdependent. To achieve that, we must repatriate powers to the UK Parliament, Government and people to ensure that we have a working, stable democracy that achieves for the UK the objectives of stability and competitiveness, to enable us to secure jobs and move forward.

On that basis, my Bill would provide the template to enable us to repatriate powers where there is any conflict between the requirements set out in the old Maastricht treaty and now in the Lisbon treaty, or the requirement for competitiveness-there is a stack of stuff that I will not now go into to deal with that. When it comes to repatriation of powers, we must be in a position to require the judiciary to take note of, follow and obey the Westminster legislation that is needed to override the European legislation. That is the solid template. That is what it is all about.

Bill Cash MP: “… I think the time has come for us to have a massive national debate about the future of who governs Britain because this affects people in their everyday, daily lives on a massive scale and we need, as I have just done, a new Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill, the object of which is very simple – to return to the British people the powers to govern themselves.

“…It is also absolutely essential that we do something about it because it is a matter of political will but it’s also a constructive move towards greater democracy.…

“…What we must do is to return decision-making to those people, the voters of this country, to vote in the ballot box for their own democratic decisions.…”  See Cash on EU-Tube.

A Speech by William Cash in a debate on the ‘Sovereignty of Parliament', 13 January 2010:

The fundamental issue that lies at the heart of this debate is the democratic freedom of choice at the ballot box-the free choice of the voters of the United Kingdom to decide the laws under which they are to be governed and to deal with the question of who governs Britain. This is a vital matter of national interest as we approach the general election, which will probably take place in May. It is therefore also a vital element of the political manifestos.

The issue of parliamentary sovereignty is essentially a practical one that affects every voter and every man, woman and child in the country on a daily basis in a very direct way. It invades every nook and cranny and, according to any reasonable estimate, affects at least 70 per cent. of the vast array of laws that stream out of the European Union like a tsunami, as I witnessed again today in the European Scrutiny Committee, on subjects including criminal law, state aid, financial regulation, relations with Russia and internal security.

In practice, it is not only the individual laws that are affected but whole spheres and even the running of our Parliament, not to mention public and local authorities. This influence is everywhere, and most of the provisions do not work. There are burdens on business, and overregulation, as well as rules governing the dreadful state of our public finances, debt levels and questions of public expenditure through the absurdly named stability and growth pact, which does not provide stability, growth or a pact. The whole of our justice and criminal law system is affected, as are the regulation of the City of London and the role of the Bank of England and financial services. Family law is affected, and so are the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, the rebate, regional policy making, energy policy-which we have just debated-and the consequences of immigration.

The European Union costs the United Kingdom £2,000 for each man, woman and child, according to the Taxpayers' Alliance, and the new, unacceptable proposals for enlargement involve countries that are sometimes neither appropriate allies nor intrinsically democratic.

The European Union also affects foreign policy and defence. Only a few months ago one of the world's leading strategists, George Friedman of the STRATFOR foundation, described in a book the unsustainable assertions of success of the European Union that the European elite and their fellow travellers claim as being "in benign chaos". He describes the European Union as a "schizophrenic entity", just as I have often done. He said, as I often have, that "Germany's position is unpredictable" and that it "will be engaged in traditional power politics" with an ambivalent relationship with Russia. Russia is also important to us as a nation because of our problems with energy security and its grip on gas supplies, as we discussed in the European Scrutiny Committee today and debated on the Floor of the House this afternoon.

The instability in Europe as a whole affects our sovereignty. We are so bound into European integration that a breakdown, with the intrinsic instabilities in the eurozone that were identified by Ralph Atkins in an 11-point article in the Financial Times a few days ago and with unemployment rising by between 10 and 20 per cent. in many member states, buttressed by the issue of flimsy paper money, is liable to affect our sovereignty.

I predicted in the early 1990s that, because of the lack of a sufficient safety valve, in the other European Union countries and in this country a time of economic stress would encourage the rise of the far right and rioting in the streets to fill the vacuum. There is no safety valve. The safety valve of democracy is essential for us to be able to ensure that we can maintain stability in our own country.

Those issues are now becoming increasingly prevalent in Greece, Italy and many parts of the eurozone, with new members of the EU effectively bankrupt and reliant on state aids amounting to £254 billion and financial aid of a further £193 billion, as we heard today in the European Scrutiny Committee. All that is unmatched by any reasonable prospect of growth and enterprise in Europe under the Lisbon agenda, all of which puts intense pressure on our own parliamentary democracy. In the last year, the European Commission approved no less than £3,000 billion in aid. That speaks for itself.

We should remind ourselves of the debates that took place at the time of the creation of the constitution of the United States and the insistence by Thomas Jefferson on the importance of states' rights and sovereignty, without going down the route of a federal system in Europe. We need to remember what John Taylor, Jefferson's great ally and amanuensis, stated in his work on the constitution of the United States: "sovereignty is the highest degree of political power, and the establishment of a form of government, the highest proof which can be given of its existence".

To ignore that proposition, or to bypass it, would be like discussing human biology or the genome while ignoring the arterial blood system, the supply of oxygen or the functions of the heart.

I doubt whether the BBC will even refer to this debate or my proposals, which is as the establishment would wish it: "Keep it under wraps! Don't tell the people and it will go away."


I have made my position clear repeatedly-probably about 10 times in debates on various Bills over the past 15 or 20 years. I believe that there should be a referendum, as I indicated in the debate on the Maastricht referendum all those years ago. Indeed, when my Bill on parliamentary sovereignty is published tomorrow, Members will see in it references to a referendum on parliamentary sovereignty, because parliamentary sovereignty involves the notion of an Act of Parliament to authorise a referendum.


I would be delighted if the Bill proposing the referendum on electoral reform included a long title so vague as to enable us to get a referendum in on the other matters too. In constitutional terms, it is ludicrous for us to have a series of referendums on matters such as those just referred to, but not on the central question lying at the heart of these issues about, which is who governs us and how.

It is all too boring or exacting for the establishment and others, including some parts of the media, to examine the question of what lies at the heart of parliamentary sovereignty, particularly when we can watch Ant or Dec or "The X Factor" although our democracy is on the line. Parliamentary sovereignty is the elephant in the room, but not even the room can be mentioned if it has the word "Europe" on its portal. Ignoring parliamentary sovereignty, the freedom of choice and the democracy hat it represents is like discussing religion without reference to the Bible or the Koran.

No one has the right to ignore this issue, because it affects every person in this country. It is not settled policy and it cannot be laid to rest. It affects the voter in every way. It affects the rule of law, the role of the judiciary and that of the civil service, and only in Parliament can it be resolved. The Government's position, in contrast to that of the Conservative party, is one of the abandonment of the fundamental truths of that statement. The Government have duped the British people into dangerous waters, and that betrayal is represented by the signing and enactment of the Lisbon treaty. Indeed, a few years ago I and the then Foreign Secretary, now the Justice Secretary, exchanged questions for more than six months about whether Parliament and an Act of Parliament could prevail over the prerogative. Eventually he had to climb down.

I remind the House that, for the first time in recent memory, the Conservative party has been, to all intents and purposes, united in supporting parliamentary democracy and sovereignty, rejecting not only the constitutional treaty but its terrible twin, the Lisbon treaty. Furthermore, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) has reaffirmed my continuous call, made for more than a decade, for an association of nation states, which would be founded on the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. He has proposed a sovereignty Bill in that framework, because he recognises the danger that we are in. I have addressed the exact framework of a Bill for that purpose in my United Kingdom Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill, to be published tomorrow, which will be on the Order Paper and among the papers delivered to all hon. Members. My Bill has been considered and vetted by pre-eminent constitutional authorities and its text is encompassed on but one sheet of a parliamentary page, in a mere five short clauses.


I should mention, however, that as long ago as 1986, I proposed a supremacy of Parliament amendment to the Single European Act, which included the words:

"Nothing in this Act shall derogate from the Sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament."

Had that amendment been accepted by the then Speaker and voted through, when we had a substantial majority in the House, it would have retained for this country a veto over the working time directive, as well as over many other examples of damaging legislation under that Act, including recent legislation relating to the undermining of the City of London. That issue will become ever more apparent when the full implications of the European Commission's proposals for the financial regulation of the banks and financial services within the jurisdiction of the European Court become entrenched. Those proposals will effectively be unamendable without the kind of proposals that I am putting forward for the defence of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament.

Indeed, in 1986 I was even refused the right to move my amendment. On three more recent occasions, however, not only have the House authorities, with advice, facilitated the moving of my supremacy of Parliament amendments-in relation to the then Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill in 2006 and, shortly afterwards, the Constitutional Reform Bill and other constitutional matters-but on those occasions my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney gave instructions to the Whips for my amendments to be endorsed by the party as a whole following the debate, overriding the Government's implementation of respective European legislation, and asked me whether our Whips could put forward Tellers to support my proposals.

On every occasion, the Government have opposed those amendments, including by specifically voting against my sovereignty of Parliament amendments in respect of the Lisbon treaty, which is a policy that is nothing short of appeasement. I therefore applaud the proposals made by my right hon. Friend for a sovereignty Bill, as does the whole Conservative party. However, the question remains how far such a sovereignty Bill would extend. The proposals and issues that I will now address will certainly need to be encompassed by any such proposals of my own which I know will have the backing of a substantial majority of the Conservative party in Parliament and elsewhere, and, to judge from recent opinion polls, well over 70 per cent. of the electorate.

I am putting forward a proposal based on the rejection of European government, albeit with co-operation on European trade, and on endorsing global trade and political co-operation and democracy in our national interest, with a reversion to an association of nation states in Europe, which is what I believe the people of this country really want. Indeed, the original White Paper that led to the European Communities Act 1972 clearly stated that we had to retain the veto as part of our parliamentary sovereignty, in order to sustain the vital national interests of the voters of the United Kingdom, and not only for our sake, but

"to preserve the very fabric of the European Community itself."

Why so? Simply because there is no greater vital interest than freedom of choice at the ballot box in every part of the European Community-now the European Union. That has been severely undermined by successive treaties and by this Government's betrayal in signing and enacting the consolidating Lisbon Treaty, which encompasses all the treaties. Now is the time, in our manifesto, to reassert and reaffirm the full measure of parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom in line with our constitutional law and practice. We want not theology but practicality; we want not EU bureaucracy but UK democracy. It is not anti-European to be in favour of democracy.

What are the constitutional issues that we have to address? In particular, they are the assertion of European Union institutions, including the European Commission and the European Court, that they have ultimate jurisdiction over our law-making, our laws and, specifically and dangerously, our constitution and our Parliament. Other countries, too, are concerned about those assertions, but we in the mother of Parliaments have a leadership role to play in defending the rights of our voters to continue their freedom to make their choice at the ballot box without let or hindrance. That must be the case irrespective of majority voting, irrespective of the lethal power of the former so-called co-decision procedure in the European Parliament-now ominously described as the "ordinary legislative procedure"-and irrespective of the assertions of the European Court of Justice. That is no less of an issue than when we had to resist invasions of another kind that threatened to undermine our sovereignty and our nationhood in the dark days of the 1930s and 1940s.

Until 1972 we were moving towards greater democracy, but we have been moving away from it since then, and we must redress the balance in terms of our parliamentary sovereignty now, in the coming general election. Our constitutional case law is crystal clear. The judgments of Lord Denning in MacCarthys v. Smith, Lord Diplock in Garland v. British Rail and Lord Laws in the Metric Martyrs cases all correctly assert the tradition and history of this country for centuries-certainly since the Reform Acts of the mid-19th century, when modern democracy was born-that the latest Westminster enactment, clearly and expressly stated, prevails against any past enactments inconsistent with it or overriding it, including those that are derived from the implementation of the European Communities Act 1972. That is specifically the case when the words "notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972" are placed in the inner bailey of a Westminster enactment.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Witney has made it clear that he regards the repatriation of economic competitiveness as an imperative requirement, just as Jefferson rightly insisted on states' rights. My right hon. Friend stated only this week that his watchword is "responsibility". That approach has lain at the heart of my efforts of the past 25 years to insist upon parliamentary sovereignty as the fulcrum of our representative government.

The problem is now acute, because, although the European Court of Justice has asserted its claims for more than 40 years in the cases of Handelsgesellschaft, Van Gend en Loos and Costa v. ENEL, those were but puny assertions until the enactment of the Lisbon treaty, which the Government have treacherously driven through. That treaty includes declaration 19, which gives guidance to our courts and others and which asserts and affirms the case law of the European Court. That case law involves the Court asserting its jurisdiction over not only our laws and law-making, but our constitution, which belongs to the British people, the voters at the ballot boxes and no one else.

It would be irresponsible to ignore this issue, and it would be equally irresponsible to allow the current state of affairs and the assertions of the European Court and the Lisbon treaty to be embedded by the effluxion of time. We should recall that other seminal constitutional change, in the beneficial direction of greater democracy, became embedded as this Parliament evolved through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as we moved towards greater democracy. It is unforgivable to allow the current undermining of our parliamentary sovereignty, away from our hard-won democracy, not to mention the necessity for serial radical reform of the procedures of the House. The gutting and guillotining of Bills and the Government's refusal to devote proper time for Bills to be debated undermines our parliamentary sovereignty. I regret to have to say that I had to describe our Parliament in my evidence to the Wright Committee as "a sham" for that reason. I would add to those issues the way in which we have been invaded by these assertions from the European institutions.

We need to restore our democracy, and reasserting parliamentary sovereignty is essential in that cause. To prevent discussion in the media or the BBC would be, and is, an outrage, and it would be irresponsible merely to endorse the principle of sovereignty without dealing with the problem in its entirety. For if we were merely to fill half the cup of sovereignty by enacting an inadequate sovereignty Bill in our response to the European integration process, the Lisbon treaty and the assertions of the European Court, we would be handing an opportunity to our own courts, including the Supreme Court, in the interpretation of any present or future legislation, to endorse the assertions of the European Court over our constitution and law-making in the light of the declaration of the primacy of European law set out in declaration 19 in an annex to the Lisbon treaty.

We must explicitly and expressly restrain our judiciary from having any opportunity of so interpreting European legislation and applying the constitutional assertions of the European Court, precisely so that we may explicitly preserve our own parliamentary sovereignty and with it the rights of the British people, who have fought and died over many generations, with blood and treasure. This is their Parliament, not our Parliament, and we not only have no right to take away their heritage, but we have a duty to preserve it.


As Shakespeare said, using the words of John of Gaunt, we must defend "This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land, Dear for her reputation through the world", which, as he put it, "is now leased out"-and, I say, with this latest treaty in mind, "is now bound in with shame, With inky blots, and rotten parchment bonds". As he continued: "That England, that was wont to conquer others, Hath made a shameful conquest of itself"- with the betrayal of our people by this Government over the Lisbon treaty. That is why we must reaffirm and reassert our parliamentary sovereignty and successfully defend ourselves yet again, as we have so often over centuries past.


I want to make sure that the European Court of Justice and our Supreme Court do not, as in the Factortame case, strike down Acts that are passed by the democratic wish of the voters of this country.


Yesterday evening, in the debate on the European financial services proposals, Bill Cash MP spoke out against the regulations, as he rejected proposals for establishing a European Systemic Risk Board, a European Banking Authority, a European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, a European Securities and Markets Authority, with all their respective powers, and the regulation on Community macro-prudential oversight of the financial system, and furthermore, rejected the Government’s approach “to setting up a new financial supervisory structure in the EU.”

Cash said: “The United Kingdom will no longer be able to insist upon retaining its own control over financial services and banking in the City of London and across the country. The Westminster Parliament will be obliged to accept the legislation which includes the overarching legal architecture and final jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The French, the Germans and President Barroso have achieved their objectives while Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have sold the United Kingdom down the river.”

During the debate, Bill Cash made the following interventions:

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): As I am a member of the ESC, I am sure the Minister will understand my wishing to draw attention to the fact that in our most recent report we have, effectively, condemned the idea that we should rush forward with these proposals. There are many good reasons for that, which are set out in our report. Furthermore, does the Minister accept the following point, which I have repeatedly made to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer-this is, effectively, a sell-out to the process of majority voting, and it will do immense damage to the City of London, which accounts for an enormous percentage of our GDP? Does she also agree that there is no justification for the speed with which this is being done, or for handing over the whole of this ramshackle structure to the European Court of Justice?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with him on this and that I think it is important that we have a European harmonisation of regulation. That was agreed at not only the European level, but the global level. I think we would all agree that we are looking for a harmonisation of regulation at a global level, and the EU process can move forward on that.

Mr. Cash: The Minister speaks about red lines. Will she exercise a veto when the whole matter is going to be decided by a majority vote?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: This is a package of five legislative proposals. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that four of them are down to qualified majority voting, but one of the items in the package is subject to unanimity. We are going into the negotiations with our red lines and I am sure that the Chancellor will stick to them. Within the negotiations, I am sure that we will get not only what is good for the UK, but what is good for the EU.

Mr. Cash: Does the Minister note that one of the questions that we put was whether, in the context of the architecture to which I referred earlier, the Government are satisfied not only with regard to the voting issue, but with regard to the relationship of the European Court of Justice to these bodies? That is crucial, because it is at that point that the question of the exercise of real power is determined. Can the Minister answer that question, please?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I can only refer the hon. Gentleman back to my previous answer, which was that we have concerns about the legislative proposals, where the Commission appears to be taking over the role of the courts, because the judgment as to whether member states are following European law must be a matter for the European courts. We are putting in place a new framework to improve the quality and consistency of supervision and regulation. Such a framework will better protect consumers, help prevent financial crisis and improve efficiency for firms. I look forward to hearing the contributions of hon. Members in the debate. 4.49 pm

Mr. Cash: My hon. Friend knows that I have the gravest concerns about all this. Does he appreciate that although the trade associations-I mentioned the Association of British Insurers, the British Bankers Association and the Investment Management Association -have effectively endorsed the idea of this supranational authority, there is also a political dimension, because whereas they may have a multinational view about these matters in the global context, in terms of the City of London a political judgment has to be struck? That is why I personally take the view that we ought to resist this all the way down the line. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) said, people in the trade associations take a globalised view based on multinationalism, whereas when one deals with people in individual firms on the ground, one finds that they frequently take a very different view. Does my hon. Friend have any comment to make on that?

Mr. Hoban: My experience in this role over the past four years is that there is a wide divergence of views in the City about the role that Europe should play in the regulation of financial services. Several trade associations take the view that there should be a harmonised rule book, for example, but they are also concerned about the pace at which the reforms are progressing and whether a proper process is in place. We have seen that in the way in which the alternative investment fund managers directive has been dealt with. The devil is always in the detail. We need proper scrutiny of these proposals, and people need carefully to think through their impact. The problem is that when others seek to use their political agenda to shape regulation in Europe, it is sometimes to the detriment of our own sector based here in London.


Mr. Cash: My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point relating to competing sovereignties. The European Court asserts its primacy over not only our laws but our constitution. I am glad to say that the leader of our party has affirmed that there will be a sovereignty Bill to deal with some of those questions. Does my hon. Friend agree that where there are such competing sovereignties, and it is in our national interests to do so, as it is in the case before us, it is essential that, if we come to power, we justify and carry through the leader of our party's commitment to the repatriation of legislation to ensure our economic competitiveness, using our sovereignty Bill?

Mr. Hoban: I suspect that my hon. Friend is pushing me to go further than I am inclined to go at this point, but I want to explore the legal argument, because there is an issue to do with the basis of the powers. I know that he is an expert on the subject, so he may want to contribute to the debate on that point later….

Mr. Cash: I agree with my hon. Friend's analysis, but the danger is that, because of mission creep, there will be increasing control-the practitioners instinctively feel that that is coming. Those who are promoting this whole superstructure, including the Government and Lord Myners himself, would hand over the City of London, lock, stock and barrel to a supervisory authority that will insist that it has its way. That is the problem and it is completely contrary to proper market conditions. That is where the problem lies for the City, and it will end up in competition with New York instead of working across the Atlantic as we should do.

Mr. Hoban: My hon. Friend makes an important point about mission creep when it comes to these authorities, and he has been very critical of trade associations so far. However, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe has identified that as a potential issue. It is concerned that ESAs will go beyond technical issues and stray into policy. …

Mr. Cash: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is totally crass for the Government to hand over the running of financial services to the EU, and then to saddle themselves with the responsibility for bailing people out when things go wrong? How stupid can you get?

Mr. Browne: I am not aware that anyone in this debate has proposed that course of action-

Mr. Cash: It is what this is all about.

Mr. Browne: The hon. Gentleman says, from a sedentary position, that that is what this motion is all about, but the nub of the debate is whether that is the case. I shall deal with that in a moment, but we all acknowledge that these enormous financial institutions have tentacles that reach into many different markets. That is why it is appropriate for us to ask ourselves whether the regulatory regime that monitors them should have a similar scope, and a dimension to its activities that reflects the scale and nature of the organisations being regulated. Because we have the most advanced financial services sector in Europe and are the dominant players in the market, the proposals before us today could have some benefits for the UK. A market whose general regulation applies the same rules to all European countries could present opportunities for us to achieve greater profitability and wider expansion, as long as there is no improper restriction of our financial services sector. That is important, because regulation must not restrict legitimate competition….

Mr. Cash: The hon. Gentleman betrays a remarkable lack of knowledge about the extent to which the French in particular and the Germans, who are also going for the European bank, have set their hearts, minds and political will on doing as much as possible to ensure that the City of London does not survive as the main centre in Europe. The hon. Gentleman is completely and totally off the wall.

Mr. Browne: I do not know if I am grateful for that intervention. When I spoke about paranoia about the European Union, I did not necessarily have the hon. Gentleman in mind, although he may have identified with that feeling. There are many good reasons why London should be the financial services capital of Europe, as it offers entrepreneurial dynamism and labour market flexibility, and the fact that we speak English helps….

Mr. Cash: Does my hon. Friend agree that the European Commission, being the ultimate bureaucratic executive and the responsible body-these regulations are about regulatory arrangements and are the highest of legal instruments that must be implemented by member states-is acting in a manner that will inevitably lead to a non-competitive environment, because the Commission itself is basically undemocratic? It is bureaucratic, and all the fears that my hon. Friend has expressed will come about because of the failure of the culture within the European Union to understand that that is the basis on which the Commission operates, and it should not be allowed to do so. The Government are seriously in error and should be condemned for allowing such a situation to come about.

Mr. Fallon: My hon. Friend makes his point, again, extremely powerfully….

The House having divided: Ayes 256, Noes 188.

Bill Cash still insists that we must a full referendum on the European question because the British people have been denied one since 1975 and a referendum is needed in order to secure a vote to ensure that the democratic wishes of the electorate are the basis on which we are governed – as he said in his press statement of Monday 2nd November.

However, Bill Cash is extremely glad to hear that David Cameron has effectively endorsed his continuing campaign for many years to reassert in the national interest the primacy of Westminster legislation in principle over the European Communities Act 1972 and therefore the Lisbon Treaty, which consolidates all the Treaties.

The European Communities Act was a voluntary Act passed by Parliament and does not and must not be allowed to usurp the sovereignty and supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament on which the democratic wishes of the British electorate are founded. Where under existing European law, such as the Social Chapter, the overregulation of business and the City of London, the areas of immigration, fisheries and the Common Agricultural Policy and in other areas of European policy-making, the European system of Government undermines vital British national interests.

This new statement by David Cameron would open the door to effective renegotiation despite majority voting and unanimity where our vital national interests were concerned. This is a major step forward in an association of member states, for which Bill Cash has campaigned for the last decade and more.