European Immigration

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1994.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin , Colchester North 12:00 am, 24th November 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will support making European immigration issues subject to qualified majority voting.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin , Colchester North

May I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the provisions for qualified majority voting in article K and, moreover, the cross-reference with article 100c in the main body of the Community treaty, which also provides for qualified majority voting? Can he give a categoric assurance that the Government will take all steps to prevent other member states or the Commission from trying to involve qualified majority voting in immigration and other issues covered by article K?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

My hon. Friend will be familiar with K.9—I mean not the character from Dr. Who but article K.9 of the treaty on European Union—which provides for article 100c of the treaty to be extended. Article , K.9 makes it clear that that can be done only by unanimity and with the consent of the House. The Government would never bring such a proposal before the House.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells , Pontypridd

If the Minister is forced to take the advice of the Europhobes on his Back Benches, will he also put a little more pressure on the Government to start punching their weight to ensure that our invaluable links with the British Commonwealth are not weakened by draft legislation currently with the Commission in Brussels, which would ensure that Commonwealth citizens who currently do not need a visa to enter the European Union, including this country, will need a visa in future?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

The hon. Gentleman refers to the provisions of article 100c of the treaty on European Union on the common visa regime. That was part of the Maastricht treaty, which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends supported. It will still be for Britain to decide which countries are added to the common visa list. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would know that. As for Europhobes on my Back Benches, as he put it, my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) was making the point that we would never give up our right of veto, which Opposition Members would give away at the first opportunity.