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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden 6:45 pm, 30th January 2008

I am happy to reply to that point because I have some experience relating to it. If a foreign-controlled company acts against the interests of this country, we can intervene and take control of it. I was probably the last Minister in this House ever to nationalise anything—I nationalised all the companies owned by the Iraqis when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. We retain such powers over companies operating in our country, but would cede some of them to European institutions under this measure. It will give the EU competence to control, plan, influence or ration the supply of energy. That is what it is all about.

For the Liberal party, Steve Webb complained that we in the Conservative party were worrying our little heads unnecessarily, thinking up remote and unpleasant possibilities of what might happen to this country. But thinking about security requires one to think about unpleasant things that may happen. It is a bit rich for the Liberal party, having castigated the Financial Services Authority for not thinking about the remote possibility that Northern Rock might go under, and that there might be a run on a bank, which had not happened for the previous 140 years, to castigate us for thinking about what might go wrong in the sphere of energy. In the past, we have seen the Suez crisis, the OPEC embargo, the Iranian embargo and the Russian interruption of supplies to Ukraine. We know that energy can be used for political means, and can cause insecurity of supply. In such circumstances, it is important to know how to respond, and to have the powers to do so. Such issues are important, and we have to think about what might happen if we transfer authority for such decisions to the mechanism of qualified majority voting, and about how that would affect this country.

One of my hon. Friends said that we are all in it together, so it is worth pooling our sovereignty, or at least sharing risks, with other countries because we would then all be able to help each other. Logically, it is only worth a country sharing risks with others, and sharing its energy supplies, if those countries face fewer risks than it does, or have more energy supplies. In any other circumstance, one is simply exposing oneself to other countries' risks, and may be sharing one's energy resources with them without gaining anything in return.