Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 5th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe) 10:00 pm, 5th February 2008

I would not wish to test your patience too much, Sir Alan, but it is absolutely certain that the hon. Gentleman will not be and would not be allowed to be airbrushed out of history in the way that others have in the past.

On amendment No. 84, the Government are clearly committed to the protection of human rights both in the EU and by the EU, but what is proposed would undermine that commitment. Removing the charter of fundamental rights from the scope of the Bill would not undermine the rights and principles as they already exist as a result of the European Court of Human Rights, the EU treaties, European Court of Justice case law or the traditions common to all member states. The principle that fundamental rights form part of Community law and apply to states when implementing that law is long established and reflects ECJ case law dating from 1970.

References to fundamental rights in the treaties are not new. The first reference to fundamental rights appeared in the preamble to the Single European Act, which the former Chancellor, Mr. Clarke, previously described as the single greatest transfer of sovereignty in this nation's history. That Single European Act provided that member states would

"work together to promote democracy on the basis of...fundamental rights recognised in the laws and constitutions of the Member States, in the ECHR and the European Social Charter".

The Maastricht treaty included the first explicit reference to fundamental rights in the text of the treaties. That reference became article 6(2) of the treaty on European Union.

Removing the charter from the scope of the Bill would prevent UK citizens from using the charter as an accessible record of the rights that they enjoy as EU citizens, and which the citizens of all other member states would enjoy. The rights and principles in the charter are not new; it records rights, rather than creates them.