European Communities (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 20th November 2001.

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Photo of Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Trade), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister for Trade and Investment and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also Department of Trade and Industry), Minister of State (Trade and Investment) Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also FCO) 7:30 pm, 20th November 2001

I am sure the noble Lord will accept it when I say that I have sat round negotiating tables in recent months and heard people declare one position with absolute certainty; and I have seen some very different outcomes—most notably in Doha only last week. If we were to insist on CAP reform before enlargement, we should make enlargement a hostage to those member states which are least keen on it. We must be careful about the way in which we approach this matter. We are approaching it very much in the interests of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps I may turn to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, in relation to Ireland. The Irish Government have asked us to go ahead with our ratification process. That may not suit the position of some Members of the Committee. I understand that. But the Irish Government are the democratic leaders of their country. They have asked us and our European partners to proceed with our ratification process, and we are proceeding, on the unequivocal mandate that we have as a result of this year's general election. I admired very much the unequivocal stance taken by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. The noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, rode to his rescue and said that he, too, was not too keen on enlargement. But whatever else the treaty is about, it has been very much in the public domain a treaty about successful enlargement. I believe that the Government have a mandate on which to proceed.

The noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, gave balance to the debate. He agreed with his noble friend about the "disgrace" in terms of the length of time taken for enlargement. He was right to say that if we wreck the treaty we shall delay enlargement even further. The noble Lord knows his noble friend far better than I do, but I cannot help feeling that his noble friend on the Front Bench will understand the weight of his remarks on that point.

The Government are right to resist these amendments, for the reasons which I hope I have spelt out clearly.