EU: Financial Stability and Economic Growth — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:06 pm on 3rd November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Liddle Lord Liddle Opposition Whip (Lords) 4:06 pm, 3rd November 2011

My Lords, as many noble Lords have said, the noble Lord, Lord Newby, was very timely in choosing the topic for debate today. I agreed with virtually everything he said in his speech, although for the sake of the record I ought to say that I disagreed with his description of the previous Labour Government as an awkward partner in Europe. He should go to Brussels and ask what people today think of the coalition. We should remember the influence the previous Labour Government had over the Lisbon strategy, European defence and climate change policy. There were three new treaties. We greatly increased British influence in Europe. Our problem was that we did not make a strong enough case for Europe in Britain. This is what we now have to do.

The central issue in the debate is how Britain should keep its place among the adults, as my noble friend Lord Harrison said, at the European dining table. Some people think that Europe is irrelevant. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, is among those who think that the single market is relatively unimportant. For the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, it is a complete waste of time. I will give one example of something good that the Government did this week in my home town of Carlisle. They gave a grant to Pirelli tyres, which employs 1,500 people in Carlisle, to develop innovation in new tyres. Why is Pirelli in Carlisle? Because it gives access to the European single market. People such as the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, would destroy those jobs.