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 know that my hon. Friend wants to intervene, but I must make progress. I am sure that he will find something to object to in the rest of my speech and I shall be glad to give way to him at that point.

The European Parliament is not popular in the House. It still does not command wide popularity in the country or the same voting enthusiasm as domestic parliamentary elections, but few people who watch Europe would doubt that the calibre of its membership has improved considerably and that its role and influence have increased and will inevitably become greater.

We dismiss, ignore or ridicule the European Parliament, its members and its powers at our peril. We must set about ensuring that the role of its Members is built into what we do here because the future of our country in Europe is not an issue on which we can afford to delude ourselves into thinking that our two institutions are separate, independent or distinct for the carrying out of the tasks before us.

I wish to ask the Minister of State to answer one question. Following the Maastricht decision, it was decided at Edinburgh to increase the number of European Parliament seats by six. The Government have still not said how the seats are to be created, although we have been told that a new Boundary Commission might have to be instituted for the purpose. That will require primary legislation. This afternoon, the Leader of the House was unable to answer my right hon. Friend the deputy leader of the Labour party, but I hope that the Minister of State, who is more intimately involved in these affairs, will be able to tell us when the urgent need—urgent for all political parties—will produce an answer as to when the primary legislation can be introduced.