European Union (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 19th May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour 7:15 pm, 19th May 2008

I support both amendments. Before I came into the Chamber, I looked up in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionarythe definition of "xenophobia". Volume 2 defines it as follows:

"A deep antipathy to foreigners or to foreign things".

That is all. Are we now to be told by the European Union that we must not have an antipathy to something or to some people? Are we not allowed to dislike other people, even if it is in a way that is perhaps a little extreme? This really is going too far.

The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, showed quite clearly in his opening remarks how such a policy could affect us if it were adopted under the rules of the Lisbon treaty. It could very easily enter our law, which would be against everything that this country has stood for over a long period—although, as a result of some of the legislation which has been enacted during the past couple of decades, people now say to themselves, "Oops, I should not have said that", after saying something which is perhaps not politically correct. We should not tolerate that in a free society. One can understand why people on the Continent—in Germany, Austria, France and places such as that—might need legislation about holocaust denial and xenophobia: they have to assuage their consciences for the wars and murders that have taken place over a long period. We do not happen to have to assuage our consciences in that way. Therefore, we do not need to put people in this country at risk as a result of a law against xenophobia.

As far as taxation is concerned, the Government will of course reply, "We have no intention of imposing or allowing the EU to impose, or have any say in, direct taxation". Well, ask the European Parliament about that, because it, as I understand it, believes that the institutions of the European Union should have the power to raise direct tax for the financing of the European Union. The matter is on the agenda already. Moreover, many policies now enacted by the European Union have implications for our direct taxation. I do not want to give a great list of them, but the one about which people are very concerned at the moment is the cost of the landfill directive, which directs the Government of this and all other member countries to reduce their amount of landfill by 2016. The result has been impositions by local authorities through bin taxes and so on, which are direct taxes on the people of this country.

I do not want to detain the Committee any longer. But I believe that we have to be on our guard that the taxation which is already dictated by the European Union should not extend any further at all. The noble Baroness from the Opposition Benches listed a number of ways in which, perhaps without our realising what is happening, there could be implications for direct tax. I therefore support these two amendments.