Clause 1 — The Treaty of Lisbon

Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 7:08 pm on 29th January 2008.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe) 7:50 pm, 29th January 2008

Clause 1 defines the treaty of Lisbon for the purposes of the Act. The definition of the treaty of Lisbon set out in clause 1 is the full title of the treaty agreed at the intergovernmental conference in Lisbon on 13 December 2007. That is the factual, legally correct definition of the treaty. Parliament must be absolutely clear about what treaty the Bill that it is asked to approve deals with.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone

Of course. The Minister may be right in saying that that is what the treaty states on the face of the Bill and on the face of the treaty. However, that is not what is being done. The treaty is not, as the Government keep saying, an amending treaty. It is a treaty which merges the existing treaties with amendments—significantly different, with huge implications for the way in which the European Union will be conducted in future.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe)

It is not my intention to engage in a detailed debate about the processes, the themes or the amendments. We shall have ample opportunity to discuss the amendments on subsequent clauses.

Clause 1 simply defines the Lisbon treaty. It is a question of factual accuracy, without which the Bill lacks legal certainty. We should be debating the substance of the treaty.

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Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Shadow Minister (Europe)

Because of the limited time that we have to deal with amendments to this important part of the treaty, I shall not dwell excessively on clause 1, not least because we argued in great detail on Second Reading why we believe that the treaty of Lisbon is, in effect, the EU constitution under another name. I shall not reprise that entire debate tonight, save to place on the record, beyond peradventure, our belief that the Lisbon treaty is the renamed EU constitution, and that the powers brought forward are effectively the same. We do not want to let clause 1 go without putting that on the record in Hansard tonight.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone

I repeat what I said in an intervention to the Minister. The new Union that is created by the merger that I described earlier will take over legal personality from the European Community, with very significant constitutional impact. This, therefore, is a fundamental change of the kind that fulfils the criteria for the Government to hold a referendum. That is all I need to say at this stage, but it is fundamental to the consideration of all that follows in these proceedings.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Conservative, North Essex

The reason why the clause should not stand part is that the Government have so far failed to explain how the treaty differs in any particular in the effect that it will have, compared to the effect that the constitution would have had. Can the Minister give a single concrete example to show how the implementation of the Lisbon treaty will result in a different effect from that of the constitution?

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Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Home Affairs

Following on from the remarks of Mr. Jenkin, it is clear from the previous debate that there are four distinct areas in which the Lisbon treaty is different from the constitutional treaty—for example, in the area of justice and home affairs—including in its effects. As we discussed in the debate, if we have an opt-in—

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Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. That is not the subject of the clause 1 stand part debate.

Question put and agreed t o.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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