Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford 6:45 pm, 4th March 1993

In that case, he has not been listening carefully.

The powers of the national parliament should not simply have been relegated to a protocol, an annex or an agreement at the back of the treaty. They should have been at its centre if the treaty were to have any self-respect whatsoever. The powers of national parliaments in relation to the European Community needed to be increased, not reduced. The encouragement that our Government were supposed to give other member states to increase the scrutiny and quality of European legislation by means of proper investigation by elected representatives of the people should have been a prime objective in filling the democratic deficit contained in the treaty.

The treaty is authoritarian, undemocratic and socialist in most of its characteristics. There is something fundamentally wrong with the basis on which the treaty was negotiated and the point made by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) is entirely valid. The object of the treaty is not to increase democracy in Europe. Far from it: it is to create an impression that democracy will be increased. But there is not real determination to increase the powers of national parliaments within the European Community.

If there had been a real commitment to it, all member states would have been required to scrutinise the legislation properly in the way in which we do in Britain, even if we do so somewhat imperfectly. In France, it is done by decree, and in many member states there is no serious attempt to investigate it. That system is a travesty for Europe, let alone for the United Kingdom.

I agree with the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow. For many years we have both been members of the Select Committee on European Legislation and know that other member states are somewhat less effective in their scrutiny of such legislation, even allowing for the fact that we could doubtless improve our efforts.