Report (1st Day)

Part of European Union Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 8th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Flight Lord Flight Conservative 5:15 pm, 8th June 2011

My Lords, I voted on two occasions for the Rooker amendment on AV. It is tempting to join the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, in taking the position that there may be a similar argument for supporting here an amendment that requires a 40 per cent turnout. However, the position is not at all analogous. In this situation, the aim is to protect the people of this country from having the powers of their Parliament and Government further diluted it and given away, as has sadly happened in the recent past, with Parliaments breaking their word to citizens and acting in a way contrary to that which they promised-I refer, for example, to the recent Lisbon treaty.

It is very clear that the Bill is there as a protection for the British people, and it would be made meaningless if we said to them, "We are going to give you this lock and protection, but if less than 40 per cent of people vote, we will give power back to the Government of the day who command a majority in the House of Commons". It is not an analogous situation to changing the voting system, where there were powerful arguments requiring an adequate turnout. It is not a situation that Burke would have supported in the slightest; he would have been absolutely against giving away the powers of the British Government and Parliament to another organisation. Either we give citizens a meaningful lock or we do not. Therefore, I feel no discomfort in opposing these amendments, having supported the Rooker amendment on AV; it is the whole point of the Bill.