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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:30 am on 16th July 2013.

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Photo of Emma Reynolds Emma Reynolds Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 10:30 am, 16th July 2013

I do not claim that the yellow card system has been a stunning success. As the hon. Gentleman set out, it has been used successfully on only one occasion

—the so-called Monti II proposals, which were then withdrawn by the European Commission. Just because the yellow card system is not a success at the moment, that does not mean that it could not be made to work better. I will move on to that and better co-ordination of national parliamentarians in a moment.

The Labour party is committed to pushing for a red card system when in government. It would, in effect, turn the yellow card into a red card, by stating clearly that a third of national Parliaments being against a proposal is a veto. It would not force the European Commission to reconsider, but would say, “No. Stop. Stop that proposal. One-third of national Parliaments have great concerns, therefore withdraw it.”

Even within the current treaties, the yellow card system could be made to work better, which brings me to the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. Charles Grant, the director of the Centre for European Reform—a think-tank that is well reputed and thorough on such matters—has suggested creating a national parliamentary forum in Brussels of MPs from different member states. I would be interested to know whether the Minister for Europe has considered that proposal. I regret to hear that European Commissioner Viviane Reding did not turn up to the meeting when the hon. Gentleman was in Dublin. Perhaps a new forum, made up of MPs—not necessarily including Chairs of Scrutiny Committees—meeting in Brussels could better hold to account European Governments, who have permanent representations. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston suggested, there should be better political oversight of such representations.