European Union (Amendment) Bill

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Shadow Minister, Foreign Affairs, Deputy Shadow Leader, Parliament, Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 9:30 pm, 19th May 2008

My Lords, it is a pity, but perhaps inevitable, that we have been debating such a crucial matter through the dinner hour. No doubt your Lordships' minds are turning to other things. The significance of this cannot be overestimated. I stand astonished that the noble Baroness the Lord President has been to Peru and back since we last debated these issues. I admire her stamina. I see why Ministers were talking about being exhausted. Most of Peru is 12,000 feet high and there are considerable breathing difficulties when you get there. It sometimes seems to me, listening to the Government's arguments, that some of them are 12,000 feet high as well. They certainly give me some breathing difficulties.

The tone of the Government's arguments, and of their supporters and apologists, has been that they cannot really imagine that this passerelle procedure will ever be used in a difficult and awkward way. They say that it has never happened in the past—there have been passerelles in previous treaties, it is perfectly true. In the words of the noble Baroness, it is all extremely unlikely. I want to get this exactly right; I wrote it down. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, said that it may never be used—he used the word "never"; noble Lords can check that in Hansard. That is a tricky word in this sort of context. I advise him and others who go into the "never" mode—