[Mr Christopher Chope in the Chair] — National Parliaments and the EU

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 16th July 2013.

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Photo of Gisela Stuart Gisela Stuart Labour, Birmingham, Edgbaston 9:30 am, 16th July 2013

That is not my recollection. The biggest thing that happened during the convention was the Iraq war, which meant that people’s attention was rightly drawn to other things. However, as I was representing national Parliaments and not the British Government, I had access to the Departments across Whitehall in a way that even a Cabinet Minister probably never has. I had a snapshot of what was happening in various Departments at any given time, and then I saw how people negotiated and traded things.

There is nothing wrong with that, but if we do not know what deals are being struck, we can neither approve nor disapprove. What happens is not uniquely British: every Government comes back with a success that they regard as an ultimate success for their own negotiating position, and think that they have shown all the others how they have failed. Anything that they do not like, they blame on the European Union. We will never be at ease with the decision-making process unless we actually know what is going on. We take notice only of the things that we do not like; there is no cognizance of the things that we do like.

This is about the Europe Minister and the accountability of UKRep. This place needs to get its head around how we can break open that decision-making process and make it accountable here. I think that I am right in saying that we still do not even know whether one of our Ministers was at the Council meeting or whether he or she was represented by a civil servant. Is that information available?