New Clause 3 — Report on the impact of the European Stability Mechanism on the economic performance of the European Union

Part of European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 10th September 2012.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe 7:30 pm, 10th September 2012

New clause 3 would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a report to Parliament, within a year of the Act coming into force and annually thereafter, setting out an assessment of the impact of the ESM on the EU’s economic performance. To some extent that touches on issues similar to those we addressed when debating the Opposition’s previous two new clauses.

My argument to the Committee is that the requirement the Opposition are seeking to impose on the Government is simply unnecessary and otiose. The ESM treaty—the intergovernmental treaty among the 17 eurozone member states—requires the publication of annual accounts, so we fully expect information on the financial assistance that will be provided by the ESM to be made publicly available. That would be done in the same way that information on the use of the EFSF and its financial assistance programmes is currently made available on a public website. Furthermore, every EU member state is already required, as part of the assessment known as the European semester, to submit annually to the Commission a report on its own economic plans and performance. Therefore, the information that the Opposition are seeking will be in the public domain anyway.

We seem once again to have a proposal that would create an unnecessary reporting obligation and use civil service time in the UK on a mechanism of which the UK is not part. Parliament, through its Select Committees, the scrutiny system and the powers of the Backbench Business Committee, will continue to have plenty of opportunity to require Ministers to come to the House to be held to account for Europe’s economic performance and the United Kingdom’s place in shaping the EU’s economic policies. We do not need the new clause to give Parliament those powers. I hope that the Opposition, on reflection, will choose to withdraw the motion.