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 Tugendhat Lord Tugendhat Conservative 7:15 pm, 20th November 2001

Perhaps I may delay the Committee for a minute and a half or so because I should not like the debate to end without a single Conservative voice being raised in favour of the Treaty of Nice. I say that because the Treaty of Nice is designed to bring about a result that has been the objective of successive Conservative governments over the years.

I realise that many noble Lords on these Benches, and many other of my friends and colleagues in the Conservative Party, have changed their positions somewhat in recent years, but the fact remains that the original objective of Conservative governments (that is, to bring about the enlargement of the Community) was a good objective in the interests of this country and of a wider Europe.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Howell that it is an absolute disgrace that enlargement was delayed so long after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is absolutely right in that, as in many other things. If we were by any mischance to reject the Treaty of Nice after the Irish referendum that has already been referred to, that would make the task of enlarging the EU immeasurably greater. I cannot believe that either my noble friend or many others who have been in the Conservative Party a long time or have served in Conservative governments would want that to happen.

I hope that the Treaty of Nice will be passed as it stands. It is a curate's egg, by no means perfect in all respects and has some features that I would have preferred not to see, but it is designed to bring about a result that would be in the interests of Britain and Europe and one for which the Conservative Party has fought over many years.