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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:45 am on 16th July 2013.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe 10:45 am, 16th July 2013

If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I have very little time left. Could we give national Parliaments an emergency brake to throw an issue to consideration by the European Council? Should we provide powers for a yellow or red card retrospectively, so that national Parliaments could, as a group, insist that the institutions consider repealing or amending a directive that was part of the acquis? Should we give national Parliaments the power to bring forward an own-initiative report? In the hands of the European Parliament, that instrument has been significant in helping to shape policy development.

I liked the idea from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston of some act of oblivion at the end of a Commission’s term. Under that idea, a measure that had not completed all stages would be deemed automatically to fall and would be reconsidered in the next Commission and the next European Parliament.

Ideas about a conference of national parliamentarians or a second chamber for the European Parliament are part of the discussion, although there are some serious practical issues to be considered. How would such an institution fit into the legislative process? How could it be made to work in practice, given the other parliamentary and constituency duties that Members of this House have to carry out?

I am conscious of the fact that giving a stronger voice to national Parliaments is only one aspect, though a significant one, of the reform that is necessary to make the European Union more accountable and more democratic than it is currently. It is in all our interests that a way is found to overcome the profound public disaffection that we see throughout the continent on European decisions. There is no European demos, and strengthening the voice of national Parliaments is the right way forward to restore greater democratic accountability to the EU.