European Union (Approvals) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:19 pm on 4 July 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 2:19, 4 July 2017

EFTA is a different story, and I specifically raised it with the Prime Minister only a few days ago because I have been having fruitful discussions with the president of the EFTA court and his advisers. He has been over here to talk to the Foreign Office, to me as the then Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and to others.

It is an interesting proposition. I am not saying that we will do exactly the same in resolving those jurisdictional questions as happens at the moment with EFTA, but the great advantage of the EFTA model is that it is completely independent of the EU yet follows the decisions of the European Court of Justice for the most part, although not always—that is important. I am glad that my hon. Friend Vicky Ford noticed that, because not many people have. It is important that we have a constructive discussion about the best way of being cousins rather than brothers and sisters, as I said in my earlier intervention. We all have a mutual interest in ensuring that we have a proper jurisdictional answer to these questions.

I will not attempt to design a model here and now, but it might be something along the lines of a retired European Court of Justice judge—I do not want to be held to this, but it is a thought—together with a retired member of our Supreme Court and an independent judge, so that we get the benefit of listening to arguments that bridge the two jurisdictions. We will retain our sovereignty, judicial and legislative, but we are interested, for the sake of the companies to which my hon. Friend referred, in ensuring that we give them the answers they need. Her general point raises an important practical question, and we need to ensure that we end up with something that works, without prejudicing our legislative and judicial sovereignty, while providing an answer to the people in our constituencies and throughout the United Kingdom whom we serve as Members of Parliament.

Mr Deputy Speaker, many congratulations to you on the fact that I am seeing you here yet again. As you may have noticed, I am still here as well. So for practical purposes, let me draw my speech to a conclusion by saying that I do not in any way want to interfere with the process before us, because it is not going to affect this country in the longer term, and it is important that we act sensibly and responsibly to make sure that we do not rock the boat in the meantime.