European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 20th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour 7:15 pm, 20th November 2001

When I spoke to the previous group of amendments, I referred to a meeting about regionalisation being held at Exeter, chaired by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol. That of course was a slip of the tongue; it should have been the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter. I apologise to the right reverend Prelate and sincerely hope that I have caused him no difficulty with his right reverend friend.

As to the amendment, I am the odd man out—no, I am not quite the odd man out—because I do not believe that enlargement will be good for the Community or for this country. I say that I am not the odd man out because I understand that Sir Edward Heath—who, as noble Lords will know, is no political friend of mine—takes the same view; that is, that enlargement may well do a lot of damage to the Union rather than improve it.

There is some evidence that this will be so. After all, we started out as the Common Market; we became the European Economic Community; we then became the European Community; now we are the European Union. So virtually at each enlargement we have found that there has been not only a widening but a deepening.