My Lords, if the noble Lord has a little patience, he will hear the kernel of my argument. Former Ministers do not lose their pensions if they fail to uphold the ongoing interests of the country. As I was saying, these noble Lords are proud of their careers in the plush and well remunerated conclaves of Brussels, but of course they are also—here I exonerate the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, if necessary—already in receipt of a generous EU pension, or are looking forward to one. Few people know that EU pensions are unusual in that holders of them can lose them if, in the opinion of the Commission and the Luxembourg court they,
"fail to uphold the interests of the European Communities".
A large and growing number of noble Lords feel that these pensions should therefore be declared in your Lordships' debates, although as far as I know none was declared today, as usual.
Our view is shared by no less a personage than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, who chairs your Lordships' sub-committee on our declaration of interests. But unusually, and perhaps uniquely, our Privileges Committee itself has just overridden the committee of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, on grounds which appear to me to be almost wholly spurious. Watch this space.
There has been much speculation in both debates about what will and should happen at the EU summit on 21 and
Perhaps I may put a question officially to the Minister on behalf of the UK Independence Party: will the Government hold full debates in the House of Commons and your Lordships' House before the Prime Minister signs up to anything at the summit? Will they thus put the options and their intentions clearly in front of the British people before signing away to Brussels yet more of our sovereignty and our right to govern ourselves? Finally, can the noble Lord tell the House why the present negotiations are taking place behind closed doors? Is there anything in the European treaties which requires such secrecy, and as a rider to that, is there anything in the treaties which requires the entire process of EU law-making to take place in secret—or is it just for the convenience of the Eurocrats?
We learnt last Friday that most of our national law is now imposed by the secret Brussels system of law-making. I trust that even your Lordships would agree that the British people are therefore entitled to answers to the two questions I have asked, and I look forward to the noble Lord's reply.