European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 20th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord McIntosh of Haringey Lord McIntosh of Haringey Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 6:00 pm, 20th November 2001

There was either a slip of the tongue or, more likely, I misheard the noble Lord. When the report of the Select Committee is debated is a matter for the usual channels.

I was taken aback by what the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said. I have done what the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, has done and looked at paragraph 3 of Article 247. The noble Lord is right. The members of the Court of Auditors shall be appointed for a term of six years. That is in the existing text.

"The Council, acting by a qualified majority after consulting the European Parliament, shall adopt the list of Members drawn up in accordance with the proposals made by each Member State".

That follows a provision in paragraph 1 that the Court of Auditors,

"shall consist of one national from each Member State".

It sounds to me as though a very small difference is proposed and all that is provided by qualified majority voting is that someone from one member state cannot veto the nominee of another member state. It strikes me that that provision may be useful, but may not always be required. It certainly does not lead me to consider that there is any danger in it. On the other hand, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Biffen, it does not lead me to consider that the work of the Court of Auditors will be improved. I believe that the possible difficulty in the decision-making process for the appointment of the Court of Auditors will be removed.