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European Council

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 24th October 2011.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:30 pm, 24th October 2011

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We did have a commitment to seek the return of important powers from the European Union, such as the social and employment legislation. Obviously, we are in a coalition, but as Conservative leader, I remain committed to achieving that, because it is in the British national interest to do so. My hon. Friend makes the important point, however, that it was not part of our manifesto or our policy to seek a referendum that included an in/out option. I completely respect the fact that there are Members, not only on this side of the House but on the Labour side as well, who have long wanted an in/out referendum, not least because some of them would like us to get out of the European Union altogether. But that is not our policy, and that is the reason we having the debate on this on a Monday, on a proper motion, in the proper way. This is not some side issue; it is an important issue. As I said before, I believe in the sovereignty of Parliament. To me, all decisions of Parliament matter, and the idea that we could sweep this off into a debate on a Thursday and that no one would notice is wrong. What Parliament decides matters, and that is why the Government are taking the motion seriously.