European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 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) 6:30 pm, 20th November 2001

There are not very many rules in this House, but I shall invent one: do not take bets on line. If the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, wants to give you his money, do it outside the Chamber, please.

This is a debate on an amendment which would introduce qualified majority voting into the selection of members of the Economic and Social Committee and of the Committee of the Regions. The present situation is that both committees are consultative bodies on each of which the UK has 24 members. No change is proposed under the Treaty of Nice. The only change is the increase in the total number of members to accommodate the new member states. As I understand it, in practice in the past no member state has ever objected to another's nominations. The only reason that I can think of for the provision of qualified majority voting is the same as that which applies to the Court of Auditors; namely, it would prevent a member, unusually and without precedent, objecting to the nomination of another member state. Therefore, I believe that it is a useful but not very important measure—and certainly not worthy of the kind of debate that we have had this afternoon.