Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:02 pm on 4th March 1993.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Calum MacDonald Mr Calum MacDonald , Na h-Eileanan an Iar 5:02 pm, 4th March 1993

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. You will understand my disappointment on your ruling, but, of course, I accept it, and I accept that your rulings on all such matters are final.

I ask for your further guidance on a related matter: our ability to table amendments to clause 1(2), which would express approval for some parts of the Maastricht treaty, for the purposes of the European Assembly Elections Act 1978, but not of other parts. You will be aware that I have been delving into the debates in Hansard covering the time when the Act was passed. In the debate on 2 February 1978 the then Minister of State, now Lord Judd, said in response to questions from the right hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell), who was speaking from the Opposition Front Bench at the time and inquiring about the general point: The other point, also properly raised by the hon. Gentleman, was whether Parliament could amend a Bill to authorise an increase in the Assembly's powers. Again, the answer is 'Yes.' He added: Parliament would not be able to alter the words of a treaty, but it could require the Government in some cases to ratify subject to a reservation."—[Official Report, 2 February 1978; Vol. 943, c. 834.] In the light of that statement and of the recent House of Lords decision, which indicates that Ministers' explanations and statements at the Dispatch Box are to be taken as evidence of the meaning and intention of legislation, will you consider the matter further? I am not asking you to give further consideration to my amendment. I ask whether section 6 of the 1978 Act allows this House to express its approval of some parts of a treaty but not others, which is the inference to be drawn from the statement by the Minister of State in 1978.