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The European Union Bill 1992
Mr. Speaker,

It's interesting to make an appearance after a lot of Members have had a lot to say about me. I would usually thank the government for tabling such a bill today, but the truth is there is nothing to thank. We have been here before. We have had this debate. And the House spoke decisively. They now wish to reheat this debate and waste this House's time. It is tiresome, arrogant and out of touch. 

The government have said they have heard the criticisms of those who voted noe and have adjusted accordingly. The truth is, Mr. Speaker, nothing within Maastricht has been adjusted. They have slapped it in with some of the weakest Parliamentary guarantees I have ever seen: a vague referendum lock which they have ensured does not even apply to their own treaty and a toothless Select Committee. It does nothing to address the concerns we made of the actual contents of the treaty, of which despite the misrepresentations of this shameless Prime Minister there were some - and trust me Mr. Speaker I will get onto those and make my warning to him later. 

It begs the question Mr. Speaker, who did the government speak to that they didn't end up buying off with a Ministerial car instead of actual concessions on the Maastricht treaty? It certainly wasn't the Labour Party, Mr. Speaker. It definitely was not the principled Member for Havant. It wasn't the horde of angry Members of Parliament on the Conservative benches who had defected in disgust at the weak and unprincipled leadership they have seen. 

I do not think it is controversial for me to say that those in this House who voted contrary to the will of this House have no right to speak for me and other Members of this House that voted in line with it and tell us what we wanted. This kind of shameless arrogance makes this House a laughing stock to the British public and to the wider world.

Because we know the only person the government saw fit to negotiate with was the Deputy Prime Minister. And they did not negotiate by extracting concessions that would benefit this nation and the communities and individuals within it, but by instead strengthening the career of the Deputy Prime Minister and offering him a Ministerial car and salary. We know the British people have been let down by this government's backroom details too many times. This, I'm afraid to say Mr. Speaker, is another of those times where the British people have been sold out to give more private school boys and Oxbridge graduates a career boost. 

The very fact the Foreign Secretary sees fit to use old quotes against me in this debate shows he knows this is an argument where nothing has fundamentally changed, where we makes the same points to each other again. I will not entertain it and take the British people for such fools. They know that while I made clear I did not oppose more cooperation with Europe, this treaty was rotten to its core: it prioritised the City over the rest of the country and put this country on the road to an inevitable Federal Europe, only offering brakes when we should have been offered the opportunity to chart our own course. The Foreign Secretary could've done his job and negotiated stronger worker and consumer protections; could've negotiated more money going into our poorest communities through the Regional Development Fund; could've negotiated the recognition of this very Parliament within Europe's bureaucratic structures and given this whole House the recognised right to scrutinise European legislation.

Instead, in his arrogance, he saw it fit to negotiate absolutely nothing within the treaty that the opposition had asked for. It is a shame of the highest magnitude. More than a shame, it is a sham.

Now I turn my attention onto the Prime Minister, whose behaviour has been so slippery and untoward it has managed to make the Honourable Gentleman for Buckingham look like a man who sticks to his guns - surely his most defining achievement after a period in the Foreign Office marked by blunders so great that even his Home Secretary has criticised it extensively. 

The Prime Minister is right when he says Labour is more critical of what is not in the Treaty than what is in it as if this is some moment that exposes us all. I am not afraid to say, Mr. Speaker, that this is half true and the Labour Party has never shied away from this fact: while we did not oppose the three pillars in principle, it could lay the foundation for a Federal Europe that would have needed stronger guarantees within the Treaty. We've also made it completely transparent we opposed the aspects of this treaty that have prioritised the City of London instead of this country's nations and regions, including the Prime Minister's constituency of Crosby in Merseyside and the Foreign Secretary's own constituency of Conwy in Wales. These guarantees could have been negotiated and would have won our support. Again, the government have been so arrogant as to presuppose they knew best for the British people and their elected representatives, not that we knew better for ourselves and our constituencies. 

Conservative Members of this House had two choices in their leadership election: to pick between the candidate who wanted Con Home, and another who wanted to con the House. They appear to have picked the latter, and it is the British people who will miss out. 

If you want the starkest example of the government's hypocrisy, lets talk about the Prime Minister on referendums.

He criticises Labour for a u-turn that never was. Despite my stating in January this year that "we also believe the British public should have a choice on the euro. But we believe they should have one on Maastricht too", before any Labour whips were removed and the Let's Lead Europe campaign was even formed," he wants to make out that Labour policy only supported a referendum on the euro once a rebellion had occurred.

Let us look at the real u-turn: the Prime Minister pretending referenda were constitutionally objectionable, before deciding to have a referendum lock. I'll be honest, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister came to the right conclusion does not particularly bother me.

But there is, as always with this Prime Minister Mr. Speaker, a great caveat: his own treaty would be exempt from such principle. 

The government have scrambled for excuses as to why this could not be. They have stated that this treaty does not change Britain's constitution or cede any sovereignty, and yet when asked which constitutional or legal experts agreed with this assessment I was not provided with an answer or name at all. 

This House when presented with a treaty only months ago chose to reject it, Mr. Speaker. Now it has been reheated, with shabby concessions plastered onto it, the government wants us to wave it through once again not on the basis the treaty has changed or improved, but on the condition the right people have been bought off. I won't have it, Mr. Speaker. Neither will the British people. We cannot laugh in their faces in this way. So I ask the House to reject this bill, or to at least accept some of the more common sense amendments offered by principled Conservative backbenchers.
((Small ooc note, the amendments accepted as friendly have been added to the Bill in italics to differentiate them from the original text))
Nicholas Eden
MP for Vauxhall (1974/1 - Present)
Mr Speaker,

In the debate on the Rome Negotiations earlier this year, I stood up and explained my party's position. We support pro-European, democratic foreign policy, we support giving the people a vote on the matter, and we support pioneering the reforms that Europe needs. Despite the self-indulgent posturing of both other frontbenches in this House on those votes - which led to a Parliamentary deadlock - I am glad to say that this bill, as it stands, is one I am very content to lend my support to. If we accept these terms, then no other country in Europe can say that their democratic chamber of government has as much say on how they treat the world. That is exactly the sort of example we should be setting.

Mr Speaker, we have had these arguments here already. Last time, Parliament failed to do anything but lead to deadlock. I hope that now we have a compromise very similar to what my party has called for for weeks adopted as Government policy, we can move forward with our heads held high towards the democratic public vote we need to ratify our place in Europe. Not long ago, Conservative ministers sneered at the concept of referenda being ingrained in law. This legislation does that. That, my friends, is the product of effective, principled opposition politics, and I think the message from the public now is simple: let's get on with it, and have a vote.
Alex Cardigan MP
Deputy Prime Minister (1992-present)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1990-present) | MP for Montgomery (1983-present)
Former BBC Broadcaster | Liberal Party | XP: 20 | Issue Champion | Safe Pair of Hands
Mr Speaker,

Due to the fact that nothing has changed in regards to the Treaty itself, this debate is becoming repetitive. That is not the fault of the Opposition parties but the fault of the Government. This Government have not listened to this House. The Maastricht Treaty was votes against and the Government have put that same Treaty back to the House. The Liberal Democrat’s talk of a compromise. There may be a referendum on the single currency. There may be a referendum lock on future Treaties and changes.

They are not compromises when we look at the main Treaty itself. The same Treaty. The unchanged Treaty. If this legislation is voted for then we are voting against the initial will of this House. We can’t even say if we are voting against the will of the people because this Government are too frightened to face a public vote on this issue. They don’t want the people to ratify this Treaty in a referendum. They do not want the ratification of the Treaty to be an issue that the electorate can decide on in a general election.

I can’t quite make sense of the comment from the Liberal Democrat’s that we can move forward to a public democratic vote on ratification of the Treaty. This may be a vote on ratification, but if the Liberal Democrat’s think that a vote in Parliament is a public democratic vote then I’m afraid they need a name change. If they want the public to democratically ratify the Treaty then instead of voting this bill through, and therefore supporting ratification with no mandate, they should vote it down and support legislation on a separate referendum either now or in an election platform. Or despite their name and love of referenda in general are they, on this occasion, frightened of the public?
Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to express my strong support for this bill, a bill which will see enhanced protections for the United Kingdom as it relates to Europe. This bill is much more than simply ratifying the Maastricht Treaty, and that is why I am so proud to support it.

I will reiterate a couple of key features of this legislation that demonstrate this Government's willingness to compromise. Indeed, this deal was approved not only by the Prime Minister, but also was agreed to by the very parliamentary leader of the Referendum Party! That is how unifying this proposal is among europhiles and euroskeptics alike: when the Liberal Democrats and I agree on a piece of European policy, this truly is an issue all of Britain can get behind.

First, we do ratify the Maastricht Treaty. This Treaty will expand democratic accountability in the European community, while protecting Britain's vital opt-outs and veto powers. This will strengthen our economic standing within the continent, for instance by allowing greater integration of the City of London's world class financial services with the rest of the European markets.

While reasonable people can disagree about Maastricht itself, what makes this bill so agreeable to myself as a committed euroskeptic is how it protects British sovereignty. Specifically, we authorize a referendum lock on any future European treaties. Any future treaty with Europe that undermines the core protections Britain has won in Maastricht, such as our national veto, must be ratified by the British people in an open plebiscite. This is a major gain, indeed, I find it ironic that the so-called Referendum Party is opposing a policy that would lock-in referenda on Europe for the future.

But I digress. The other feature that I strongly advocated for being added is the creation of a European Affairs Select Committee, which gives Parliament itself a direct say in the dutiful exercise of our national veto. This is a protection for Parliament that would never have been considered had we not voted down immediate ratification - but instead, this bill offers ratification "plus."

That "plus" enhances the legitimate exercise of democracy both directly wielded by the British people and wielded by their representatives in Parliament. That "plus" marks a departure from ever-closer union towards sustainable future where Britons can prosper from European commerce and trade without being bogged down by rules that we don't agree to. That "plus" is what makes me, and many of my fellow euroskeptics, able to stand here before you today in support of this important bill.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a thread that has been unceremoniously woven by members of the Opposition. And that thread involves my character - my very moral fiber. Having long served various MPs as an aide and then being elected and promptly taking a spot on the backbenches, I wholeheartedly reject the idea that I was bought by a ministerial car or title. I believe such insinuation are unbecoming to be made against a fellow member of Parliament here on the floor of the Commons, especially against a member who risked his career to oppose the initial, half-cooked ratification motions.

What I do stand for with my support of this vital legislation is a continuation of my calls for greater protections for the people and the Parliament of this United Kingdom. And, having worked out an arrangement, as outlined in my Bruges Group speech, I am confident that I am standing before Parliament today knowing full-well that this is the best way forward for Great Britain.
Quinn Shaw
Labour and Co-operative MP
Wolverhampton South East (1987-present)
(Formerly Wilfred Hart, Conservative Deputy PM and Deputy Leader of Referendum)

Amendments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10 are all to be voted on and will be done over a 48 hour period.

Please post a list of your votes on each amendments.

Once these votes are tallied then an updated bill with any new amendments (those already agreed by the government and any successful amendments from the votes) will be posted. A subsequent vote will then be held on the amended bill.
Redgrave | A-Team
No to all
Nicholas Eden
MP for Vauxhall (1974/1 - Present)
Aye on all amendments
Henry Carpenter | Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Havant (1964-present)

Member of the Monday Club

Biography | XP: 4 | Traits: Maverick
No to all
No to all.
Rt. Hon. Edward Winter MP - Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Ashford (1987 - Present)

First Secretary of State (1992 - Present)
Secretary of State for Defence (1992 - Present)
XP: 1 / Issue Champion (Falklands)

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