Treaty of Lisbon (No. 5) — [5th allotted day]

Part of Business of the House (Lisbon Treaty) (No. 4) – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of William Hague William Hague Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs) 2:08 pm, 20th February 2008

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to end and to insert instead thereof:

"disapproves of the Government's policy towards the Treaty of Lisbon in respect of provisions concerning foreign, security and defence policy;
notes that those provisions are in large part identical to those in the European Union Constitution;
further notes that the Government publicly opposed many of those provisions at the Convention on the Future of Europe;
believes that the Government was right to oppose those provisions;
regrets the Government's change of policy;
and believes that the consequent increase of the European Union's powers over foreign, security and defence policy at member states' expense is not in the national interest.".

It was our contention, when the timetable for debating this Bill was discussed three weeks ago, that the vital areas of foreign policy and defence merited at least two separate days of debate, and I suspect that it will be clear, both from the uncertainty surrounding these issues and their importance, that far more time should have been given to them.

At the outset, let us be clear that the foreign, security and defence provisions of the EU treaty provide a classic illustration of how closely the treaty now before us mirrors the EU constitution, usually down to the smallest detail. The Foreign Affairs Committee, which has, of course, a Labour majority, concluded in its report that

"there is no material difference between the provisions on Foreign Policy in the Constitutional Treaty which the government made subject to approval in a referendum and those in the Lisbon Treaty on which a referendum is being denied."

No rational person could come to any other conclusion. The similarities are overwhelming: the existence of the high representative, the renamed Foreign Minister, and the simultaneous membership of the European Commission for the person holding that post; the appointment of the high representative by qualified majority voting; the extension of QMV to proposals made by the high representative and the design of the EU diplomatic service; the creation of the new EU foreign policy fund; the requirement on Britain and France to invite the high representative to present the EU's case at the UN Security Council when a common position has been determined; the creation of a single legal personality for the EU; and a series of defence commitments, including a mutual defence commitment and so-called permanent structured co-operation.

All those points, which are the subject of our six-hour debate today, were in the EU constitution and are in the EU treaty. Indeed, some were among the aspects of the treaty that made it a constitutional treaty in the opinion of the former Foreign Secretary, who is now the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Straw. He told the House that the creation of an EU Foreign Minister, as well as an EU president, were points that were

"central to the European constitutional treaty, and of course I see no prospect of their being brought into force, save through the vehicle of a constitutional treaty."—[ Hansard, 6 June 2005; Vol. 434, c. 1001.]

It is as clear in foreign policy as it is in any aspect of the treaty that if the Government were possessed of any honour or honesty in living up to their manifesto commitments, the people of this country would be permitted the referendum that they want and deserve.