European Union (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 19th May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour 9:30 pm, 19th May 2008

I am obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, for confirming that my understanding of the position was correct. The situation is not satisfactory from a parliamentary point of view. Parliament may make a proposition; it may make suggestions; but it cannot alter decisions that have been reached by the Government. That is simply not good enough. I think the bypass procedure has been used 187 times, so Parliament has been unable to fully discuss the proposal that has been sent to it by the Commission.

The amendment proposes that Ministers should be mandated; in other words, they should not make decisions until both Houses of Parliament have properly discussed the issues and made a decision on them. That is the only way in which a democratic Parliament can work. The present situation is completely undemocratic. Ministers can go to Europe and agree by qualified majority, and our Parliament, which is all I can speak for tonight, will not be able to say yes or no to a decision which often severely affects people in this country. I support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, and hope that we shall come to it on Report at a much earlier hour than it is now.