European Council

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 23rd June 2009.

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Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg Leader of the Liberal Democrats 3:31 pm, 23rd June 2009

I thank the Prime Minister for his statement, and I agree with what he said in light of the expulsion of the British diplomats from Iran. While we should of course monitor what is unfolding in Iran with due sensitivity, we should be utterly uncompromising in our view that hardliners in Iran should not seek to scapegoat either British diplomats or the media for problems entirely of their own making.

I welcome the Prime Minister's saying that the Irish have received the reassurances that they sought on the impact of the Lisbon treaty. Does he agree that if the Lisbon treaty is finally ratified this autumn, Europe should then get on with tackling the problems that really matter to people—climate change, the economy and crime—and that any attempts by any future UK Government to reopen the terms of membership would be self-indulgent and self-defeating?

The summit was particularly important for setting out the framework for a European Union response to any future banking crisis, and I welcome the agreement. But does the Prime Minister not see—I have raised this with him before—that however strong the EU regulatory framework is in that area, unless the Government here act to disentangle the banking system, separating high-risk casino investment banking from the day-to-day business of high street savings and mortgages, our economy will continue to be vulnerable to a repeat of the banking crisis?

With recent reports suggesting that the impact of climate change may be even worse than we had feared, does the Prime Minister agree that the EU must be in the vanguard for an ambitious and comprehensive deal at the Copenhagen summit in December? Is he concerned, as I am, that the recent summit was light on detail on the crucial question of how much EU states will pay to assist adaptation to climate change in developing countries? It is those countries that will bear the brunt of the dangerous effects of climate change.

I am glad that the summit conclusions referred to the need for the EU to tackle cross-border crime, which I do not think the Prime Minister mentioned. Does he agree that it is essential that this country and our Government play their full role in measures such as the European arrest warrant and co-operation through Europol and Eurojust? Does he agree that rejecting those measures would be a betrayal of the British people, putting Eurosceptic dogma over the safety of British communities?

Finally, the summit text included declarations on Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is vital that there is adequate security in Afghanistan for the elections in August, and that Britain continues to play its role in Helmand province. In that context, will the Prime Minister confirm recent reports that he rejected the advice of his military commanders that there should be an increase in British troop numbers in Afghanistan? Can he not see that it would be the worst of all worlds to ask our troops to do their very difficult job in Afghanistan without committing enough resources for them to do that job properly?

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