[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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

The hon. Gentleman has not even allowed me to finish my point. If he considers the proposals from the Centre for European Reform, he will see that they are not about a talking shop. With great respect, I know that he sits on COSAC, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston mentioned, and that committee needs to be vastly improved from its current formulation and in its make-up. Mr Grant says that it does not give MPs a big enough stake, is only consultative and is often treated “disdainfully” by MEPs—his word, not mine.

There is clearly a great—[Interruption.]Would Mr Cash at least give me the courtesy of listening to my response to his intervention? There is clearly a great problem with the current set-up, and having a presence in Brussels of national parliamentarians who could have a vote and scrutinise more closely the decisions taken by our and other Governments deserves closer consideration, rather than just saying that it would be a gathering of fools—a statement with which I profoundly disagree.

I recently met the Speaker of the Dutch House of Representatives, and she has an appetite, as do colleagues in other member states with whom I have discussed the matter, for Parliaments to work more closely together. The Government could give greater consideration to the successes in the Dutch, Danish and German Parliaments. For example, in the Netherlands, the standing committees—akin, I think, to our Select Committees—choose proposals from within the Commission work programme that they see as priorities and about which they might have concerns, and they refer them to their European affairs committee.

Our departmental Select Committees are not involved enough in proposals at an early stage, or even at later stages, and I would be grateful if the Minister could say something about what the Government could do to drive greater consideration and scrutiny on a policy-by-policy basis, given that, as has been said, a lot of European policy is not foreign policy—as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston said, it is an anomaly that it is often treated as such. Our departmental Select Committees could learn from the experience of the Netherlands.