Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson , Hamilton 5:30 pm, 4th March 1993

I have heard that speech from the hon. Gentleman so often that I could probably deliver it better than he can. It comes ill from somebody who is part of a party that supported the poll tax during a long period when the people were crying out for some sort of salvation from the pain of that. Championing the voice of the people is not something one hears with great authenticity from the Conservative party.

We have been around these debates for a long time and Parliament is the right place in which to debate the matter. First, the British people would not have known of the Government's contempt for democracy and for democratic institutions had they not had the opportunity of witnessing the volte face occasioned by the competing legal judgments on amendment No. 27. Secondly, it will be in this Parliament—it would be inconceivable in a referendum—that the people and their representatives will have a voice on the social chapter and the social protocol of the Maastricht treaty. There is no way that a yes/no question in a referendum would permit the opportunity for a separate view to be taken on the social chapter. That is only one of the many arguments that can be deployed against a referendum. However, the Committee will come to that issue later.