European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 20th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord Waddington Lord Waddington Conservative 7:00 pm, 20th November 2001

I was slightly surprised by some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Richmond. It is difficult for us to speak with authority about attitudes in each of the applicant states. But it would be a very brave person who asserted that all these applicant states want to join a tightly-knit club subject to more and more rules dictating how they should approach essentially domestic problems rather than that they should wish to join a union of sovereign states. In so far as I have any knowledge of the matter, it would be a very brave person who asserted that it is not the latter which most of them would prefer.

I have always looked with great dismay at the Treaty of Nice, because it is ironical that we should be saying that it was a treaty to pave the way for an enlarged community and yet we are putting more and more difficulties in the path of the applicant countries. We are saying, for instance, that they could not join unless they accepted that they had to have rules in this or that direction, and as a result of a step taken last year, for instance, they had to have an involved system of works councils and bargaining in the workplace which have nothing whatsoever to do with the normal rules of any club. That was how I reacted to the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Watson, looked at the matter.