European Communities (Amendment) Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:50 pm on 11th July 2001.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:50 pm, 11th July 2001

I shall give way in a moment, but I am itching to get this point out and I know that the hon. Gentleman will not hold that against me.

If we are to have 1,200 minutes for debate and my hon. Friend the Member for Stone has tabled no fewer than 250 amendments on massively important matters, and if the bulk of those amendments are open for debate, it logically follows that there will be fewer than five minutes to debate each of them, on the extremely generous and unlikely assumption that there will be no Divisions. If we have a completely uninterrupted debate, that is how much time we shall have.

Do Labour Members really think that that is an adequate allocation of time, when we are talking about matters of profound significance such as enhanced co-operation, the future of European defence, the arrogation of powers by the European Union and the extension of qualified majority voting? If they consider that adequate, and most of them do not bother to turn up to debate the issues at stake, I do not know why they troubled themselves to go grovelling to their electors, begging to be voted in, when as soon as they are here they are only too happy to denude the House of its remaining powers.