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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 9:30 pm, 5th February 2008

Tonight's debate, like many of these debates, is about where power should rest. It is about democracy itself, especially in the context of the excellent amendment tabled by my hon. Friend Mr. Cash. I should like the amendment to go a little further, because I should like to see the sovereignty of a Parliament clearly reaffirmed and re-established in the laws that we enact when trying to tackle this rather difficult and refractory treaty.

This Parliament made itself great over many centuries because campaigners of all parties and of none—Whig and Tory, Labour and Liberal and Conservative—came together so often to assert the right of elected representatives in this House of Commons to make the laws and take the right decisions, and to face their electors in turn on the hustings so that their work could be adjudged good or bad and the necessary decisions could be made about the futures of MPs individually and of Governments who had exercised the powers of this House.

There have been two great movements. There has been a great movement over many decades to ensure that we reach the point where all adults have the precious advantage of the vote, so that they can choose those elected representatives and decide whether to remove them when they fail to do their jobs in the imagined way. The other great movement was to ensure that the powers were in this Chamber and in Parliament as a whole, so that here the laws could be chosen, here they could be amended, and here they could be struck down. What the Government are asking us to do tonight is suspend that right, in perpetuity perhaps, and certainly for a very long time—there is no fixed time for this treaty—so that in future such decisions may in many areas be made by unelected people in a European court. They may, as far as the British people are concerned, in future be made by unelected people sitting in Council chambers, often meeting in private and reaching decisions in private.