European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 20th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour 6:15 pm, 20th November 2001

First, I wish to ask the Minister a question. Does the treaty alter the method by which members of the Committee of the Regions from this country are appointed? Will the system be altered in any way?

My other point is that, whether we like it or not, there is a worry in the country that the Committee of the Regions is working towards the regionalisation of Europe on a cross-continental basis. I have received letters about it. I was at a well attended meeting in Exeter—there were about 300 people there—where concern was expressed about the activities in relation to regionalisation. There was also a meeting in Bristol, attended by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, to discuss the question of regionalisation. A member of the Commission attended that particular meeting. Naturally, people questioned why that individual should be at the meeting to discuss English regionalisation. That was a perfectly legitimate question to raise.

To support the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, I understand that at a meeting of the European Movement at the University of Bristol, Dr Caroline Jackson, a Tory MEP, was asked whether regional assemblies would become regional governments and eventually cause Westminster to be abolished. She said yes. I did not hear the observation of the noble Lord, but I give way to him.