Results 41–60 of 3071 for speaker:Stephen Byers

Amendment of the Law: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation (13 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I am pleased to be able to take part in the Budget debate and support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in his radical and modernising programme of reform in the Department. I know that he wants to implement it, and many Labour Members will want to wish him success. The Chancellor delivered the Budget yesterday against a backdrop of probably the most difficult...

Amendment of the Law: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation (13 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I do not, and I shall come on to explain why. When I talk about public service reform, I will go through the three stages, which were articulated so well in a piece that the Prime Minister wrote for the Financial Times earlier this week. I will address the point that the hon. Lady raised when I reach that stage of my remarks. I was making the point that there is a danger in government that...

Amendment of the Law: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation (13 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: It is true to say that a small number of people were paying 90 per cent. or higher rates. The figure I am referring to is the total number facing rates of above 60 per cent.—in 1998, it was a little over 750,000, but it is 1,875,000 today. That is an unacceptable situation, and I think that solutions can be found—for example, a bigger increase in the national minimum wage, coupled with a...

Amendment of the Law: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation (13 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I would not go so far as saying that my heart was beating a little faster, but a smile may have played around my lips— [Interruption.] Yes, it is pretty good going really; it is progress. The Prime Minister's words are a clear indication of the direction in which he wishes to go, and they reflect the fact that, over the past few weeks, he has come to recognise the importance of public...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: As someone who had a part to play in drawing up the little red book for the 2005 election, I hope that my hon. Friend will refer to the clear commitment given in May 2005, before the general election, about the new constitutional treaty. At that stage, we knew exactly what the new constitutional treaty was. He is right to say that in April 2004 that was not so, but by the time of the...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I agree with my right hon. Friend. I was not in the House to hear the then shadow Foreign Secretary accurately articulate the position. To go beyond our manifesto commitment, the constitutional treaty was, of course, killed off by the votes in France and Holland at the end of May and beginning of June 2005. There was an attempt to resurrect the constitutional treaty. Some talked about...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I shall, with pleasure, for a small commission.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: Yet again, I must disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. The promise for a referendum referred to the new constitutional treaty, and we can then discuss what people believed that it stood for and so on. However, the promise concerned the new constitutional treaty, which, as we have heard, was voted down by voters in France and Holland and an attempt to resurrect it was effectively killed...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: No, I do not agree with that. Interestingly, there are different constitutional situations in different countries. My understanding is that nine countries planned to hold referendums on the old constitutional treaty, of which one was the United Kingdom. Because it was regarded as a constitutional matter, not just a political decision, many countries were legally obliged to do so. Because the...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I agree absolutely. That is the hidden motive behind the Conservative party's position. The 11 days of debate have shown the extent to which it remains divided on Europe and that a large number of Conservative Members want this country to leave the EU.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I will, but this will probably be the last time.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: That is a helpful intervention, and the response of Conservative Members says it all. The Conservative party has no time for the whole concept of the EU, and it is turning its back on the EU just at the time when we probably need it more than ever, because of what is happening in the world in general. As I have said, I shall not go through the detail of the changes in the treaty, as my right...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: Clearly the hon. Gentleman was not listening to the points that I made earlier. I hope that my constituents will pay me a bit more attention than he has. We made the promise in relation to the new constitutional treaty, which is no longer in place, and we shall see whether people are prepared to accept that. The hon. Gentleman confirms my point about the nature of our democratic...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I wish to support the position taken by the Foreign Secretary and to argue against the amendments and new clauses. I shall make three particular points, which I shall do briefly as I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. My first point concerns the history of the manifesto commitment in 2005. Secondly, I shall argue that the Lisbon treaty is a clear departure from the constitutional...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: No, and I shall explain why. The hon. Gentleman has a principled position on the European Union, which a fair number of his colleagues share—they want to get out. The past 11 days of debate have made it clear that the new leadership in the Conservative party has not been able to move the party to the centre of British politics, where the majority of people believe that we are better off as...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: The people have not yet had the opportunity to hear my argument. When they have, we might see a shift in public opinion. I shall await that with eager anticipation.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: My second point is about the differences between the constitutional treaty and the Lisbon treaty.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: It is a failing of all the main political parties that we have not had the courage or the ambition to make the case to the British people that the European Union provides them with massive benefits. Those of us who have been in government can rightly be criticised for that failure over the years.

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I am trying to explain why the manifesto referred to just the new constitutional treaty, and why we are not therefore breaking a promise. There is a different argument, which I will come to later, about the merit or otherwise of a referendum on a range of issues, and the constitutional reasons for that have been articulated very well over the years by the right hon. and learned Member for...

Orders of the Day: Clause 8 — Commencement ( 5 Mar 2008)

Stephen Byers: I have a choice; both hon. Members are very Eurosceptic, so I am not getting a balance. I shall take the intervention from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone).


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