European Union Bill — Report (3rd Day)
Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP)
My Lords, I am afraid that this amendment, if accepted, will be seen by the British people as an unambiguous attempt to wreck the Bill, and so I can but advise your Lordships not to accept it. Not for the first time I must ask your Lordships to see and accept that, uniquely on this issue of our EU membership, your Lordships' House is strongly and increasingly out of tune with public opinion. We have even managed to debate for many days a European Union Bill which does not address the two key issues about our membership: the disaster which is the euro and the fact that we avoided it, and whether we want to stay in the European Union at all.
I congratulate the Government and the Foreign Office on managing that feat, but it does not make your Lordships' House any more relevant or popular to the people we are supposed to serve. The British people are not stupid. They are in fact much cleverer, much more patriotic and altogether nobler than their political class. They also work in the real world to earn the salaries to pay the taxes to keep us, the political class, afloat in the style to which we have become accustomed.
Of course the political class does not like referendums. That has been very clearly set out in our debates, and today by the noble Lords, Lord Deben and Lord Brittan, and by those who have tabled and support this amendment. However, the British people are showing strong signs of wanting more referendums, and on this issue all the latest polls show that something like 84 per cent of the British people want a referendum on our EU membership-in or out-let alone the comparatively minor issues covered by this Bill.
The British people understand that what is happening to the people of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and other countries is entirely the fault of the discredited project of undemocratic European integration with its attendant euro. It is not just in this country that the public are moving against EU membership and their political class-and, therefore, I might point out, this amendment. I do not suppose your Lordships have noticed the very recent opinion poll in Norway. Norway has moved a long way: according to this poll, 66 per cent are now against EU membership, with only 26 per cent in favour. Opposition to EU membership is highest among people under the age of 30, with 77 per cent against and only 15 per cent in favour. As the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, has reminded us, opinion is moving strongly in France, Germany, Finland, Holland, Austria-in fact, hardly anywhere in Europe is EU membership still popular.