Easter Adjournment

Part of Deferred Division No. 85 – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point 2:54 pm, 29th March 2007

My hon. Friend anticipates my next point. I share his deep concern about the matter. The Government have implied that they do not believe that the German Chancellor's watered-down new proposal for a constitution should be put before the people of this country. I shall revert to that shortly.

The federal Government of Germany state that they will compel ratification of the lightly modified and previously rejected EU constitution. The Prime Minister will do as he is told by the Germans, just as he did as he was told by Bush—look where that got us. The Germans are trying to sleepwalk Britain into the new constitution without a referendum and without consulting the people.

The Germans perceive the EU constitution as creating an EU President and a Foreign Minister. It robs Britain of its voting rights on home affairs and justice matters. It will be signed off by the Germans, the Commission and the European Parliament, but not the other 26 member states. It will not be put to the people of those states, including the people of Britain. Hon. Members should listen carefully to the British people, whom they represent, show stronger leadership, and stick to clear principles on those matters.

EU membership is a massive burden to Britain. The Government want a constitution without troubling the people with a referendum, as my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough said. However, the facts are clear: Europe is incompetent, inefficient, corrupt and unwilling to tackle that corruption. It cannot even get its accounts signed off.

The common fisheries policy is a nightmare, which has devastated our fish stocks and virtually destroyed the UK fishing industry. It discriminates especially against local, small, seasonal inshore fleets such as those that operate from Essex and Kent, including Canvey Island and Leigh-on-Sea in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West. I shall not repeat his comments—he made the case more eloquently than I ever could. The relevant Minister has arranged this week to swap some of the quota to fill the gap, but that is not enough. We need another meeting with the Minister soon to discuss, for example, the massive Belgian and Dutch boats, which take in more than 2,000 tonnes of fish each year from Britain's six-mile and 12-mile limits. My fishermen are worried about the legality of that—especially of where the fish are landed and eventually sold—and the control on the catches that are taken. That is destroying our fish stocks, as we have experienced in the past two decades.

The EU damages the developing world through the redundant common agricultural policy and its selfish, backward-looking, protectionist policies. Labour Members do not even challenge the EU's failure to deliver international aid effectively. Yesterday, the Secretary of State for International Development said:

"The EU water initiative has been pretty patchy."—[ Hansard, 28 March 2007; Vol. 458, c. 1482.]

He is right. Multilateral aid through the EU is neither as effective as supporting the voluntary sector nor as giving bilateral aid, whereby this country can control the use to which the aid is put and monitor its effectiveness in helping the poorest people in the world.

I am rattling on for too long. I simply emphasise that if mainstream parties will not tackle those tough issues, the public will increasingly support fringe parties to do the job. None of us believes that that would be good for democracy. Britain should revert to a trading relationship and commonsense co-operation in Europe. Getting out of Europe would help UK jobs, our economy and our border controls and it would return our sovereignty. That is what the British people want.

I wish everyone a happy Easter and tell them not to get too sick on their Easter eggs.