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Mr Speaker, I beg leave to offer the House the following Motion.

Quote:That this House ratifies the Maastricht Treaty.

Mr Speaker as many in this House know the Government have spent the past year negotiating the next phase of the European Economic Community, the negotiations in Rome which occurred so successfully laid strong groundwork and throughout the month of January the final touches were put in place enabling the Prime Minister to sign on the dotted line this month. Mr Speaker this is no ordinary European Treaty, this is not an accession treaty admitting more Member States and it is not a competence treaty expanding European collective decision making, it is nothing short of an evolution of the fundamental nature of the European project. The European Economic Community will be reorganised into a European Union.

What this entails Mr Speaker is a reformation of what we understand as the European Economic Community into the European Union. The EU shall be made of three pillars:

  1. The European Communities pillar that shall encompass economic, social and environmental policies. It shall comprise the European Community, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community. All of which are being transferred from the old EEC.
  2. The Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar shall take care of foreign policy and military matters. I should note for the benefit of this House that there shall be no single European Military Force, a point I shall elaborate on further later in my speech.
  3. Finally the Justice and Home Affairs Pillar brings together cooperation in the cross-border fight against crime and criminal syndicates.
Mr Speaker these pillars define the central tenets of the new European Union. The Maastricht Treaty does many things, it formalises and ratifies a commitment to fully integrate the financial markets of Europe strengthening London’s grasp as the premier financial capital of the World. This is a tremendous win not only for the British financial sector but indeed for the entire British economy and will help us rebound and strive for better into the next century. The Foreign Policy pillar strengthens our joint response to international events, those who question why this could possibly be required need only look at the situation in the Soviet Union and Iraq. The Soviet Union have been roundly criticised for their shamefully wrong decision to deprive the United Kingdom of diplomatic representation by rejecting our diplomat to Moscow, a flagrant breach of international law, while Iraq proved that there is space for European military cooperation with the Anglo-French Basra landings leading to the overwhelming victory in Kuwait enabling us a speedy victory and restoring peace, law, and order to the people of Iraq. Finally the Justice and Home Affairs pillar signals our commitment to work with our European brothers in the fighting of crime covering criminality as wide ranging as drug, weapon, and people trafficking, international acts of terror, organised crime, bribery, fraud, murder, the list goes on and on. Our officers shall have access to international resources to help speed up the solving of the most heinous crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice.

Now Mr Speaker I move onto the consequences of the Rome Negotiations. The European Parliament and European Council have been strengthened immeasurably by this treaty, they now get a binding say on every matter of the European Union. There shall be no law passed to us from Brussels and Strasbourg that has not been positively approved by a member of Her Majesty’s Government and our elected MEPs. Mr Speaker I think I speak for this whole House and indeed the entire country when I welcome this dramatic and positive step towards the empowerment of the peoples of the European Union. The Commission will remain the Executive of the European Union but it will not have the power to unilaterally pass law, as with Her Majesty’s Government and the Houses of Parliament they must seek the positive endorsement of elected officials accountable to the people. Furthermore on the matter of the European Council this treaty is the first treaty in European Economic Community, or European Union, history to be written without either a single power being transferred from unanimous voting to qualified majority voting or see the voting power of the European Council change. In other words the European Council is the same today as it was yesterday and shall remain that way tomorrow. The British Government, and all other European Governments, shall retain their vetoes on existing competencies and all new competencies shall be created under the unanimous voting umbrella. This is another huge win for national sovereignty that I, this Government, and I believe the whole House will be able to endorse.

Now I mentioned earlier in my speech that this treaty includes provision to preclude the creation of a European Army. Written into the Maastricht Treaty is a provision stating clearly and unambiguously that any further integration is required to be made via treaty change. As the Maastricht Treaty does not allow for the creation of a European Army that means that such a move would need to be unanimously agreed to by member states in the form of a new treaty, enshrining another British veto into European law that allows us to stop reforms that run contrary to our interests dead in their tracks. Speaking of the British veto I am pleased to once again reaffirm this Government’s commitment that any future single currency would be subject to a British opt-out which will then be put to a referendum of the British people. That provision is included in the text of the Maastricht Treaty and the referendum shall be legislated into law before the upcoming General Election so that no party on any side of the House can sign us up to the single currency without either a vote in the Commons to repeal that Act or a referendum of the British people. Rest assured Mr Speaker that we on this side of the House will not be taking the former option. To round off the subject of economics Mr Speaker the Maastricht Treaty also includes reform of the ERM expanding the bands’ tolerance to 15%, allowing for strong fiscal action as required to counter economic hardships faced by the British people and the peoples of other EU nations, and allowing for nations to re-peg their currency should they wish to do so.

Mr Speaker as I have said before Britain wins when Britain leads. Britain is leading in Europe and in turn creating a Europe that works for us. The Rome Negotiations and Maastricht Treaty have set the stage for a European Union that democratises the EU, strengthens and respects the sovereignty of individual nations, and strengthens the role of our financial institutions creating opportunities for the British economy to grow and provide us with the revenue required to further our fiscal objectives in the budget. This is what can be achieved if we engage with Europe rather than treating them as a Napoleonic evil that must be fought every bit as hard as the external threat of Communism. Mr Speaker I am pleased to commend this statement to the House and will be equally proud to move this motion after the time for debate is over.

Quote:OOC Note:

The Maastricht Treaty is essentially the same as irl with the three pillar system. The deviations from real life are called out in the subsequent paragraphs with the veto protection + expansion, the Euro Referendum, the need for more treaties if we want to expand, the ERM laxing, an expediting of the integration of Europe’s finance markets around London, and a requirement for the EU to wait until the Single Currency and its institutions are all set up before further expansion can take place.
Mr speaker

Time will be allocated for this motion
Mr. Speaker,

Before I continue with my speech today, I just want to make the whole House aware that I am thankful to the Foreign Secretary. Prior to his speech in the House, he set me aside for a very brief and very informal chat just to ensure we were on the same page on the contents of the treaty and on the same wavelength - he pointed me out to any resources I would need to fully understand the treaty as outlined, and for that I am grateful.

The pleasantries are now over, though, Mr. Speaker and we must get to work in holding the government to account on the treaty it has negotiated today. A good opposition does not pull its punches, but it vocalises the course it sees as the best course in going forwards. That is what I hope to achieve. Unlike some in this House, I will not ensure I am not questioning the motives or the patriotism of those in this House and in government who negotiated this deal. I believe, in good faith, they and many pro Europeans across the House are taking the action that they believe they must take to chart Britain on a better course. That is what I also hope to do today. 

Mr. Speaker,

The Labour Party made it abundantly clear it opposed the creation a single currency full stop, and we would campaign against its adoption in the United Kingdom. We believe such a currency would inherently create a less flexible and less sovereign Europe with nation states less able to fight for their unique economic interests, and its establishment leaves us greatly uncomfortable with the course the European Economic Community hopes to forge going forwards. But we did make it clear we would wait for the Maastricht Treaty to be presented in full before coming to a decision. Mr. Speaker, this was, for some reason, met with chagrin from the government - I am confused as to why, considering the government went at great lengths to tell the opposition we did not know the contents of the Treaty which was something we were more than happy to concede. Mr. Speaker, the Foreign Secretary made a statement to the press that we would eventually have to come off the fence, which was something I was not just acutely aware of but enthusiastic to do.

Mr. Speaker, the treaty now stands before us and we are going to have to get off that fence. And I am afraid I need to make it clear to the Foreign Secretary that though I think he has come into the Rome negotiations with good intentions and has left securing what he believes to be a victory for this country and even though I think there are aspects in this treaty which warrant merit and do secure some crucial victories for Britain, the Foreign Secretary and I fall on different sides of that fence.

Mr. Speaker, in 1973 we were told we were going to join an economic union. Enamoured with the promise of better trade and better harmony, and as a result better economic prosperity, Britain chose in a fair and square vote in Parliament and then with the public to come in and then stay in. I myself will be open that at the time was enthused by the idea of such cooperation and economic coordination. And, Mr. Speaker, I still am. But my concern came from political union, where Europe attempted to supersede national identity. And slowly, but surely, we have seen that course be chartered. It has started off innocently - with European flags, European Parliaments, European courts and then European anthems. Now it is slowly descending into something more encroaching: European currencies, European central banks, European armies, European police forces, European citizenship and European leaders are, if not established explicitly in the treaty, the clear foundation for setting one later. Not all of these can be inherently bad, and I think there is merit to the established three pillars: better economic coordination, better foreign and security coordination and better home affairs and justice coordination. However, very little has been done to separate coordination from encroachment from the government.

This Maastricht Treaty contains within it some important safeguards and vetoes, for which I thank the Foreign Secretary - but it is one step towards an 'ever closer union' which I worry would take us onto a course we cannot step back from. The Foreign Secretary has focused extensively on democratisation within Europe, which is appreciated, but very little has been done to protect democracy from outside of it: very little has been included to remove Britain from the 'promise', of which I see it more as a threat, of an ever closer union now we know this is what the European Community and, however much it denies it, this government, is doggedly pursuing. There has been little to zero recognition of the sovereign role of national Parliaments in this Treaty, and they are given very limited power in passing European legislation, let alone scrutinising it. The Foreign Secretary in these negotiations has made the explicit choice that the European Parliament deserved more attention than the Parliament in which we speak today, where the backbone of law and order in this country comes from. 

The government wishes to reassure us because it has managed to barter some handbrakes. But we need more than handbrakes: we need steering wheels so we can't just halt the inevitable drift to a federal Europe, but chart a different course entirely. 

And lets be clear that this is not coordination or governing from the European level by consent and agreement, but by force if need be. This treaty has provided the European community with the ability to issue Britain and our other European friends with 'penalties' should we dare step out of line. This leaves me deeply concerned.

And what would the Europeans choose to punish us for? Lets look at the fiscal framework and parameters it has established: deficits to not exceed 3% of GDP and debt to not exceed 60%, with the United Kingdom bound to report and comply with these frameworks or potentially face consequences - especially if we are to join the euro, as the Foreign Secretary hopes. 

Mr. Speaker, these parameters are a nonsense for multiple reasons. Firstly, the parameters set are completely arbitrary. Why is a deficit of 3% of GDP excessive? Why not 4%? 2%? The same, of course, applies for debt - why 60%? Why not 50%? Why 70%?

These rules, which the Foreign Secretary has committed to himself to, are currently not even complied by from this government willingly took us from a surplus to a 12% deficit, which they acknowledged was the necessary course of action to save the United Kingdom from recession. They have now willingly tied theirs and future government's hands from taking this action again without consequence. The Foreign Secretary comes to the House to boast about how he relaxed the ERM's bands to stop the ERM becoming a force of misery and recession in Britain, only to fiscally tie Britain's hands from preventing or resisting recession with these very rules. In doing this, he has chosen to write austerity into the European Community's very foundations.

And who does that benefit, Mr. Speaker? You need to cast one look at the government's 12% deficit to know it does not benefit us, and to know we have now made promises to the European Community we cannot keep for a long time. The Foreign Secretary boasts about the victories he has secured for Britain, but this is ample evidence that this is a treaty written by the Germans for the Germans. It makes resisting Britain joining the euro more crucial now than ever. 

There are, of course, disappointments or areas where we feel there could have been more harmony within Europe. The Foreign Secretary likes to call the Labour Party 'eurosceptic.' But I will remind him that we adopted and maintain the Policy Review's stance than our membership of the EEC is to be embraced. This would not have happened without Mr. Delors, who I'm sure the Foreign Secretary had engaged with, coming to Britain and speaking to our TUC and promising a social Europe: one where workers' rights are strengthened, not weakened. Ones where the interests of multinationals and profit within Europe is not treated as more sacrosanct than the European people - indeed, where the collective solidarity of Europeans could be used globally to triumph over the vested interests of those multinationals, corporations and bankers.

While we in Labour will still fight for that vision, we remain disappointed in the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Delors for not delivering. The Foreign Secretary has indeed secured some good concessions for corporate interests within Britain and once again prioritised the City of London over the many other nations and regions that form this country we know and love. But there have been no concessions for British people. He could have used this opportunity to strengthen the social charter, to strengthen the rights of workers and consumers and to lift standards for food, agriculture and on the environment. He has not done that.

Not only has he not done that, but he has absolutely failed to stick by his promises to sign up fully to the social charter. The Foreign Secretary stood before this House when questioned and promised he would not just sign up to the social charter, but would promise to - as a 'concession' - remove Britain's opt out from social protocols. We have not seen any commitment to this laid before us today. The government has failed to raise standards within the European Community, and has failed to commit to the standards that are already there. This was a huge opportunity to establish a Europe that worked for people, not corporations. Despite the Home Secretary's prior insistence this was not the case, it appears this Europe for corporations and not for people remains.

And once again, we see a failure for the Foreign Secretary to continue to ensure Britain can fight and vouch for its workers and its economic interests. Instead, the priority has been the City and European markets by not just leaving the European Community's restrictive state aid rules in place, but in cases tightening those rules. 

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate not everybody in this House is an avowed socialist who believes in public ownership. But I like to think everyone in this House is a patriot who fundamentally believes the British state should act in its own interests and have every tool at its disposal if need be to ensure British jobs and British communities are protected. The Foreign Secretary, however, has continued to cede these crucial tools if not, as I have outlined, rid of them further. Alongside austerity, privatisation and corporatism are etched into the very foundation of the European Community with this treaty, which I cannot find myself accepting.

Whatever my qualms with the Baroness Thatcher, she won the case for her economic vision democratically within the country. The Foreign Secretary has decided to pass that buck to Europe, and ensure that future governments cannot reverse that course if the British public so choose. 

So too has there been an absolute refusal and another missed opportunity to renegotiate the Common Agriculture Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy to be fairer to British farmers and fishermen and to the global poor. The former continues to keep food prices in Britain high while lakes of wine and mountains of cheese build at the benefit of French farmers and the latter continues to devastate fishing communities across the United Kingdom. The Right Honourable Gentleman, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, consistently promotes his pro European views and cites 'reforming CAP' as a reason for them. It is quite like staying in an unhealthy relationship with the belief you can make them better: voters should see it before believing it and voting for it, Mr. Speaker. We have not seen it, but we know the government haven't even fought for it. 

I'll be brief on the last point, Mr. Speaker, as I know there are debates and discussions occurring elsewhere in the House, but whether we were in support of the Maastricht Treaty or not, we cannot promote a vote for such constitutional changes without the approval of the British public. The government have made it clear that they believe that they should make this monumental choice for the British people. We wholly disagree, and believe this treaty, its merits and flaws, should be subject by the very people that put us into this chamber.

The government wishes to show the British people immense disrespect: transferring powers they rightfully deserve to Europe without consulting them in the process. We on the opposition disagree.

Mr. Speaker, the Foreign Secretary has trotted off to Rome and come back to give us all of the technocratic wonders of his budget, but he has failed to address the concerns of those who are not so enamoured by the European project. In the process, he has failed to deliver the promise of a social Europe so many of us on the Labour benches wish, and still wish, to fight for. For whatever concession or provision in this treaty designed to benefit Britain, the Germans have negotiated two more. 

This deal, and I do not say this lightly, represents the biggest missed opportunity of this generation. For that reason, I cannot endorse a vote for it. I hope to see others across this House - privileged men and women of all parties, those who believe in the European project and those more sceptical of it, to join me in ensuring it does not pass, and the Foreign Secretary fights for a stronger deal for Britain: not British banks, not British corporations, but the British people.
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