Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford 7:45 pm, 4th March 1993

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) has made some important points. He has argued that there is a major tendency towards a federal Europe. That tendency is undoubtedly present in Europe. There should be no doubt or difference between us about that thrust, especially in the European Parliament.

However, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reflect on the fact that the Maastricht treaty undoubtedly cuts back some of the excessive majority powers given under the Single European Act. That fact is illustrated in many of the clusters of amendments that we have considered and in the clauses themselves.

The treaty establishes two separate arms of the union —that on foreign affairs and defence policy and that on home affairs, justice and immigration matters. Those arms are not subject to the Commission. They are separate and they are the instruments of national parliaments and the Councils of Ministers. What is so remarkable about the Maastricht treaty is that, in spite of the federal tendencies, whose existence cannot be doubted, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues fought back. The Government have begun to push the European Community in the opposite direction, a direction of which I think the right hon. Gentleman would approve. They have enabled parliaments to reassert and reinforce their power over the Community and the Council of Ministers and, indeed, to join together in understanding the European union.