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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner 6:30 pm, 30th January 2008

My hon. Friend knows full well that the German border is close to Russia, with Poland in between. As one who has spent some time reading about the downfall of Berlin in 1945, I think that the Germans would be happy to have gas supplies from Russia, and that Russia would be happy to receive their euros in exchange. I assure my hon. Friend that we have full security of supply from Norway, Qatar and Algeria, apart from our own North sea oil coming on stream. There is no problem with our security of supply at the moment, but, as I said in an earlier speech, we must prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. We must prepare for a day when a difficulty with supply may be caused by disruption, prices or outside events. Conflict in some part of the world may affect our energy supply. My right hon. Friend Ms Hewitt mentioned various particularly unstable parts of the world that supply us with energy.

We have already dealt with the provision in article 176A on determining the conditions for exploiting energy resources. I imagine that that would cause no difficulty to the Opposition, and that there would be no difficulty over the provision that states:

"By way of derogation from paragraph 2, the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, shall unanimously and after consulting the European Parliament, establish the measures referred to therein".

So what is the problem with competence? What is the problem with solidarity? What is the problem with article 176A? Why, as the hon. Member for Cheltenham asked, were these wrecking amendments tabled? The answer is, of course—and there were murmurs from the Opposition Back Benches to this effect—that it was part of the process of wrecking the amending treaty. The artful dodger of politics is trying to undermine the treaty by undermining energy. If the day were to come when we had a Conservative Government with the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton in charge of energy policy, the hon. Gentleman would be living with this. It would be in his bible. He would be carrying it around with his pocket wherever he went.

The Committee should take account of the fact that these are wrecking amendments which have no real significance in the great scheme of things. They reflect again the opposition to the European Union in all its shapes and forms that has developed through Mr. Cash—I gave him credit for it earlier—and the closing in on themselves of the Britons whom we used to called little Englanders. Once the Conservative party moves away from that and we engage in a genuine debate on the future of Europe, the Conservatives will be the better for it, the Government will be the better for it, and so will the country.