Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson , Hamilton 5:15 pm, 4th March 1993

I had hoped that the shambles on the Government Benches would have concentrated my hon. Friend's mind. When I said that I was moving the amendment for debating purposes, I thought that my hon. Friend would join me. The Lobbies are, of course, open to anyone. If my hon. Friend feels like voting to remove from the treaty the provisions that allow citizens of Europe to petition the European Parliament, I am sure that he will find some good reason for doing so.

The Government preach openness, but at Maastricht they resisted any move to open up the law-making process that goes on behind closed doors in the Council of Ministers. They were content to leave power in the hands of ambassadors, who meet every day as members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the European Community. They, the representatives, are the real rulers of Europe.

The Government preach democracy over bureaucracy, but, at Maastricht, they resisted any new powers for the European Parliament to supervise the increasing lawmaking powers of the Commission and the Council. Long ago, such powers left national parliaments well behind those bodies. The Government preach flexibility and the taking of decisions at the level that is closest to the people, but at Maastricht they fought against any change to the influence and powers of the unelected Commission. It remained virtually unaffected and unreformed by the treaty, which was signed by Ministers at Maastricht December 1991.

The Conservative party and Ministers preach about consolidating and entrenching the powers of member states, but their attitude to any vote on the social chapter in the House of Commons shows only too well that their contempt for democratic institutions at the European level is matched by their contempt for any dissent by Parliament.

The right hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), the Minister of State, is serving out his notice with patience and fortitude. He is wandering along the Corridors like some Flying Dutchman. It is ironic that he and others a re telling us that democracy is at the heart of the Government's crusade. They then tell us, in effect, that Parliament can say anything and do anything and that they will ignore us when Divisions take place. They may think that they can get away with that, but the British people will not let that happen.