Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson , Hamilton 5:45 pm, 4th March 1993

I appreciate and respond instantly to your interpretation, Dame Janet.

I always welcome an intervention from the hon. Member for Stafford. I referred to him in the House Magazine this week, because the week before last I attended a Scottish Statutory Instruments Committee considering the Lanarkshire enterprise zone, believing that I had escaped the dreadful world of Maastricht. I was horrified to see the hon. Members for Stafford and for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) sitting on the other side of the Committee. I thought that they were being permanently mobilised around the House of Commons to scare me, but I realised that they had to attend as a punishment.

I described them as the Hale and Pace of the Maastricht debates, not as a simple point of abuse but because I recall the famous Hale and Pace sketch, which I am sure hon. Members will remember vividly, in which they were acting the part of two cooks testing a microwave. At one point, to the horror of the watching audience, they took a cat and said, "The microwave is extremely useful for cooking cats: all you do is open the door, put the cat in, close the door and turn on the microwave. Here is one that we prepared earlier", and this frazzled object was put up to the audience of children and animal lovers, who were horrified by the low taste of the sketch.

It seems that some Members on the other side of the argument continue to hold up the frazzled cat as an example of what would happen if Maastricht were ratified, just as they held up frazzled cats in the debate on the Single European Act