Mr Robin Cook (Livingston)
The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that we debated the matter a month ago. From the Dispatch Box, I recounted the way in which the Labour party would have behaved differently in relation to the BSE crisis over an entire decade—starting back in 1980, when we would not have abandoned the regulations that we left in place and which the Conservative party threw out of the window.
I was about to deal with the objections that the Foreign Secretary will raise in Dublin. One concerns measures designed to simplify procedures in the European Parliament. I must tell the Foreign Secretary that I have tried very hard to understand those procedures. There are six different ways in which the European Parliament passes legislation, and I have never yet managed to understand the distinction between them—and I am fairly confident that, if I cannot understand them, few of my constituents have a clear grasp of them.
If we wish to have a functioning democracy, its procedures must be transparent and understandable. That is why I believe that it would be right to widen the role of co-decision in the European Parliament, and in directives. I have never understood the logic of Conservative Members who complain about what they see as damaging legislation from Brussels, but then object to the European Parliament's having more powers to scrutinise such legislation. Such powers would not be at the expense of our Parliament; they would give it greater power of scrutiny over Brussels—not the right to initiate more legislation, but another hurdle before the passing of legislation.