Clause 1 — Interpretation of Part 1

Part of European Union Bill (Programme)(No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe 9:45 pm, 24th January 2011

No. I want to do justice to the amendments tabled by the Opposition. They have been presented as increasing the role of Parliament. In fact, they do the reverse. The effect of the Opposition amendments, especially new clause 9, is to subject every referendum criterion to a significance test. If accepted, the Opposition's amendments would leave it open as to whether a move to join the euro was significant, a move to give new competences to the European Union was significant, a move to give up our border controls and take part entirely in a European immigration system was significant, or a move to join a European public prosecutor system was significant.

Mr David is trying to persuade us that he is offering new powers to Parliament, when it is clear to anybody who studies the wording of his amendments and his new clause that the intentions are the reverse. The Opposition's amendments would drive a coach and horses through the Bill. They would deny both Parliament and the people the additional powers and controls which I believe Parliament and people in this country want to see. The Bill is designed to be tough. As academic experts have said when giving evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee, it delivers the referendum lock that we have promised. I will not yield by weakening the Bill in the way that the Opposition propose.