Intergovernmental Conference

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 3rd May 1995.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East 2:18 pm, 3rd May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to hold discussions with members of the EU reflections group on future IGC priorities for 1996. [20430]

Photo of David Davis David Davis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The first meeting of the study group is on 2 June in Messina.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

I wish my hon. Friend well in those discussions, as he is our participant. The two Members of the European Parliament who came before the Select Committee on European Legislation last week for the hearing repeated, with emphasis, that deepening—

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

—was very important and would be a leading feature of the discussions—they anticipated that, anyway. I do not know whether the reverse is true, since they also said that that would mean the increasing use of majority voting. Can we show some enthusiasm for that and try to keep up with them?

Photo of David Davis David Davis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

It is always a nice feeling to know that my hon. Friend is behind me on these matters. No, I cannot agree with him about the views expressed by the two Members of the European Parliament who came to speak to hon. Members last week. Oddly, I find myself agreeing with the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that deepening, to some extent, is a synonym for federalism and, as such, we shall not be supporting it.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Will the reflections group be reflecting on the means of overcoming the democratic deficit, such as increasing the powers of the European Parliament and controlling those of the Council of Ministers? All Parliaments could do with taking powers away from their Ministers.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I do not agree with that last comment. The democratic deficit, as it is described, is interpreted in many different ways. We take the view that the most important action that can be taken is that already outlined by the Prime Minister at Leiden; to try to bring the national Parliaments into a bigger role in the European Union.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Ruislip - Northwood

Can my hon. Friend reflect on the tremendous wave of support which would rise up throughout the country were Her Majesty's Government's representative at the reflections group to press for the recovery of powers and competencies to this Parliament and to this Government, which we ought never to have lost to Brussels? Above all, can he seek through the reflections group the recovery of the primacy of British law over European law?

Photo of David Davis David Davis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

What I can say to my hon. Friend is that I am sure that all aspects of the European Union will be discussed at great length in the reflection group. Matters such as the balance of powers between national Governments and the Union will be discussed.