William Hague MP: It is all too typical of the Government’s management of our affairs
that the House of Commons has been left with less than five hours to
debate a measure of far-reaching importance in which there is widespread public interest. It is typical,
too, that the reason for that is two statements, both of which derive
from the unremitting incompetence of the Government. It is still more
typical that the Prime Minister, having signed the treaty without
having the courage to turn up for the ceremony, wants to force the Bill
through Parliament but lacks the courage to vote for it himself.
must compliment the Foreign Secretary on his speech. We expected him to
put the case for the treaty, but not to do so in such a hugely
entertaining way. When the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs.
Dunwoody) asked him about the legal force of preambles, he was not
really able to give an effective reply. When the right hon. Member for
Birkenhead (Mr. Field) asked him about support from House of Commons
Committees for his view of the differences between the treaties, he was
not able to think of any. When he listed the NSPCC among the supporters
of the treaty because of its child protection provisions, he omitted to
say that the Government opposed those provisions going into the treaty.
It seems like an important omission. They were opposed at the European
Convention by the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), when he was
the Minister for Europe, on the grounds that they would extend the
competencies of the European Union—or perhaps that was just an early
incompetence from the right hon. Gentleman. If that is to be the
quality of the Foreign Secretary’s argument, it is a good job that he
has the committee of bishops on his side, because there will be nothing
left for him but to pray."
"… We can all picture the scene at a European Council sometime next year.
Picture the face of our poor Prime Minister as the name “Blair” is
nominated by one President and Prime Minister after another: the look
of utter gloom on his face at the nauseating, glutinous praise oozing
from every Head of Government, the rapid revelation of a majority view,
agreed behind closed doors when he, as usual, was excluded. Never would
he more regret no longer being in possession of a veto: the famous
dropped jaw almost hitting the table, as he realises there is no option
but to join in. And then the awful moment when the motorcade of the
President of Europe sweeps into Downing street. The gritted teeth and
bitten nails: the Prime Minister emerges from his door with a smile of
intolerable anguish; the choking sensation as the words, “Mr
President”, are forced from his mouth. And then, once in the Cabinet
room, the melodrama of, “When will you hand over to me?” all over again."
More from Hansard here.
David Heathcoat-Amory MP: "How can we have permanent dialogue with the European Union when it
produces a draft treaty only 48 hours before it is agreed? It is a
totally two-faced procedure, and it is a scandal that the House and the
Government went along with it. Of course, the reason is obvious: the
Government never had the slightest intention of consulting the people.
That was done in France and Holland, which said no, and the Government
are not going to make that mistake.
is the last treaty on which any public vote will be possible, because
it now becomes self-amending. Never again will it be brought before the
intergovernmental conference, and never again will it be put to a
referendum. That is why the treaty is incomprehensible. The position is
not, “The treaty’s complicated, so we can’t ask the people”; the treaty
is complicated because the European Union knew that it had been
relieved of the obligation to simplify it for our voters and our
electorate. That is why it resorted to the old process of drawing up
legal texts by politicians and lawyers for other politicians and
one reads the text of the treaty, as I had to, one can see that we are
talking about an entirely unreformed European Union. It remains one of
the most old-fashioned organisations in the world—centralised,
harmonised, and obsessed with standardisation and over-regulation. It
is completely out-manoeuvred by the rest of the world. For example, no
other group of countries on earth has followed the European Union in
becoming a customs union. Instead, they have all gone down the route of
free trade agreements, which achieve the same circulation of goods and
people, without binding member states to a trade policy about which
they can do nothing, and which prevents them from helping the poorest
countries on earth through bilateral agreements.
The EU is entirely an old-fashioned structure, unreformed in every respect."
More from Hansard here.