HC Deb 05 May 1993 vol 224 cc243-9

Amendment made: No. 47, in page 2, line 4, leave out from first 'of to 'and' in line 5 insert 'the Treaty establishing the European Community'.—[Mr. Andrew Smith.]

Mr. Dorrell

I beg to move amendment No. 44, in page 2, line 8, leave out 'the Commons' and insert 'each'.

Madam Deputy Speaker

I suggest that it would be convenient for the House to discuss at the same time Government amendment No. 45.

Mr. Dorrell

The effect of amendment No. 44 is to amend clause 3, which was accepted by the Government in Committee. Clause 3, the House will remember, was originally new clause I in Committee. It provides an opportunity for the House to consider and vote on the report submitted by the Governor of the Bank of England on the work of the European system of central banks.

The clause as drafted provides that that vote shall take place only in this House. It is conventional that when votes are called for on free-standing resolutions in one House, the same opportunity is provided to the other House. The only normal exception to that process arises in the context of supply procedures. The new clause does not relate to supply procedures and the Government think it would be appropriate to afford a similar opportunity to another place to have a vote on the subject contained in clause 3 of the Bill, as amended.

Mr. George Robertson

These amendments are not as simple and uncontroversial as the otherwise plausible Financial Secretary would have the House believe, and I will explain why. Earlier today, the Government accepted amendment No. 2, and Ministers have been perambulating around television studios telling the world that it did not matter, that what happened was of no great consequence and that the protocol should not have been there in the first place.

It is as though the Foreign Secretary was holding a grenade in his hand and this afternoon it went off. He wiggles his hand about saying, "I did not need that hand, anyway." The Government are trying by their generosity to tell the British people that what happened was of no real consequence, and in the amendments now before the House they are at it again.

Amendment No. 44 would, says the Financial Secretary, simply give the other House the right to debate the report of the Governor of the Bank of England and an opportunity, equal to that of this House, to vote on that report. Clause 3 is historic. This is the first time in British history that the Governor of the Bank of England will be required to report to this House. Not only is that a first, but the Government have accepted a provision that will oblige Parliament to have a vote on the Governor's report. Clearly, it is not an insignificant feature.

As the Financial Secretary points out, the normal exception to the convention in this House on measures that are considered by one House and not by the other is in relation to finance. He uses the word "supply," but we know that that relates to finance, and there is a good and proper tradition for that. We are talking of a report by the Governor of the Bank of England to Parliament on questions of finance and the discharge of his responsibilities in relation to economic and monetary union and the European central bank.

Mr. Dorrell

The hon. Gentleman is making an important mistake. The principles of supply would remain unaffected by the treaty. The responsibilities of the Governor concern monetary policy, and if we move to stage 3 of the treaty, any vote on monetary policy will be governed by the standard procedures of the House and will not be part of supply.

Mr. Robertson

The last time I was accused of making an important mistake was when the Minister of State told me that my amendment, then called amendment No. 27, would wreck the Maastricht treaty. So I treat the authoritative words of a Treasury Minister with a degree of scepticism.

Although the Minister talks of the precise details of the convention, the fact remains that we are concerned with monetary policy and the discharge of the responsibilities of the Governor of the Bank of England in relation to the European system of central banks. So it should remain, as a matter of principle, in the province of the House of Commons and not necessarily the House of Lords. Accordingly, I recommend my hon. Friends to oppose amendment No. 44.

Amendment No. 45 is linked with that amendment and, as a Government amendment, will be put to a vote. It, too, looks simple, equating the responsibilities of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. When we get to the vote arising out of what was known as new clause 74, it will be the final cliffhanger vote of the whole ratification procedure which, perhaps unfortunately, I described as a ticking bomb. My description may have been unfortunate, not because it will explode in the Government's face but because such explosive similes are not in the best taste, especially in recent times.

We are being told that that process will prevent a Lords amendment from returning to the House. Hon. Members have been told, sotto voce through the usual channels, "It is simply George seeing shadows." It is said that I, of all people, want to detain the House further to consider Lords amendments before ratification. If there is any one person in the House of Commons who does not intend to detain the House for any longer than necessary on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, it is me. It is absurd to suggest otherwise.

7.30 pm

The Government's intentions are clear. The Bill now provides for a vote in the House of Commons that will take place—as the Foreign Secretary said—between Royal Assent on the ratification Bill and the actual ratification and notification of ratification. That is simple and straightforward—this afternoon the Foreign Secretary laid it on the line for Conservative rebels and told them what they would be voting for. I have made it clear in a previous debate that the amendment—to whichever motion the Government table—will explicitly refuse the Government the right to send the articles of ratification to Rome until they have signed the social chapter.

If the Tory rebels care to believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who said in the Budget debate that we would never sign the social chapter—they can vote with us in the knowledge that the amendment will wreck the Maastricht treaty. It will stop it in its tracks, not just for this country but for the whole of Europe. I hold the contrary view and believe that the Government would not dream of taking the country into the wilderness which that would represent by destroying the treaty for everyone. However, that will be the issue on that vote.

Now, the Government are saying that the House of Lords will have an equal right to vote. Is the Minister of State to be allowed to reply to the debate? The Government do not usually allow the Minister of State to open or reply to debates any longer—he is to resign the moment that our proceedings are over. However, if he is allowed to reply, I should like him to answer a simple question for the House: what happens if the House of Commons votes for our amendment and the House of Lords does not? What will happen at the end of the ratification process? What would the constitutional position be? There is nothing in the constitution of the United Kingdom or in "Erskine May" to deal with such a situation. We shall be moving from a relatively straightforward position—with the House able to make a decision on whether to ratify a treaty that does not include the social chapter—to one that places the Government in the dilemma of having to sign the social chapter or walk away from the treaty. Therefore, I recommend that, when we come to it, my hon. Friends should vote against amendment No. 45.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Is not there a double lock in that both Houses have to approve the measure? I am sure that it will not be a problem—it is a double lock or additional safeguard.

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir. T. Taylor) usually sees more conspiracies and ghosts than even I do. However, my considered view is that. the Government are trying to avoid the House of Commons having to come to a conclusive decision on the issue. Anyone who has watched the Government meandering around the labyrinth that my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) described so eloquently earlier will come to the same conclusion as I have, rather than any other more generous conclusion. I believe that, when we reach it, the House should vote against amendment No. 45.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 305, Noes 256.

Division No. 257] [7.33 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Congdon, David
Aitken, Jonathan Conway, Derek
Alexander, Richard Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Alton, David Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Amess, David Cormack, Patrick
Ancram, Michael Couchman, James
Arbuthnot, James Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Dafis, Cynog
Ashby, David Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Aspinwall, Jack Davis, David (Boothferry)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Day, Stephen
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Deva, Nirj Joseph
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Devlin, Tim
Baldry, Tony Dickens, Geoffrey
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Dicks, Terry
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dorrell, Stephen
Bates, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Batiste, Spencer Dover, Den
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Duncan, Alan
Bellingham, Henry Duncan-Smith, Iain
Beresford, Sir Paul Dunn, Bob
Biffen, Rt Hon John Durant, Sir Anthony
Blackburn, Dr John G. Dykes, Hugh
Body, Sir Richard Eggar, Tim
Booth, Hartley Elletson, Harold
Boswell, Tim Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bowden, Andrew Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Bowis, John Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Evennett, David
Brandreth, Gyles Faber, David
Brazier, Julian Fabricant, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Browning, Mrs. Angela Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Fishburn, Dudley
Budgen, Nicholas Forman, Nigel
Burns, Simon Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burt, Alistair Forth, Eric
Butler, Peter Foster, Don (Bath)
Butterfill, John Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Freeman, Roger
Carrington, Matthew French, Douglas
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Fry, Peter
Chapman, Sydney Gale, Roger
Churchill, Mr Gallie, Phil
Clappison, James Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Garnier, Edward
Coe, Sebastian Gillan, Cheryl
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Malone, Gerald
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mans, Keith
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Marland, Paul
Gorst, John Marlow, Tony
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Mates, Michael
Grylls, Sir Michael Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Merchant, Piers
Hague, William Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom) Milligan, Stephen
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mills, Iain
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Hannam, Sir John Monro, Sir Hector
Hargreaves, Andrew Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Harris, David Moss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, Alan Nelson, Anthony
Hawkins, Nick Neubert, Sir Michael
Hayes, Jerry Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heald, Oliver Nicholls, Patrick
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hendry, Charles Norris, Steve
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hicks, Robert Oppenheim, Phillip
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Ottaway, Richard
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Page, Richard
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Paice, James
Horam, John Patnick, Irvine
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Pawsey, James
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Pickles, Eric
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rathbone, Tim
Hunter, Andrew Redwood, John
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jack, Michael Richards, Rod
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Riddick, Graham
Johnston, Sir Russell Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Robathan, Andrew
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S) Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Key, Robert Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Kilfedder, Sir James Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
King, Rt Hon Tom Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Kirkhope, Timothy Sackville, Tom
Knapman, Roger Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knox, David Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shersby, Michael
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Sims, Roger
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Leigh, Edward Soames, Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Speed, Sir Keith
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spencer, Sir Derek
Lidington, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lightbown, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Spink, Dr Robert
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spring, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn Sproat, Iain
Lord, Michael Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Luff, Peter Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Lynne, Ms Liz Steen, Anthony
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Stephen, Michael
MacKay, Andrew Stern, Michael
Maclean, David Stewart, Allan
McLoughlin, Patrick Streeter, Gary
Madel, David Sumberg, David
Maitland, Lady Olga Sweeney, Walter
Major, Rt Hon John Sykes, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Ward, John
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Waterson, Nigel
Temple-Morris, Peter Watts, John
Thomason, Roy Wells, Bowen
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Whitney, Ray
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Thurnham, Peter Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Wigley, Dafydd
Tracey, Richard Willetts, David
Tredinnick, David Wilshire, David
Trend, Michael Wolfson, Mark
Trotter, Neville Wood, Timothy
Twinn, Dr Ian Yeo, Tim
Tyler, Paul Young, Sir George (Acton)
Viggers, Peter
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William Tellers for the Ayes:
Walden, George Mr. Robert G. Hughes and
Wallace, James Mr. Andrew Mitchell
Waller, Gary
Abbott, Ms Diane Cryer, Bob
Adams, Mrs Irene Cummings, John
Ainger, Nick Cunliffe, Lawrence
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Allen, Graham Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Darling, Alistair
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Davidson, Ian
Armstrong, Hilary Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Ashton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Austin-Walker, John Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)
Barnes, Harry Denham, John
Barron, Kevin Dewar, Donald
Battle, John Dixon, Don
Bayley, Hugh Dobson, Frank
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Donohoe, Brian H.
Bell, Stuart Dowd, Jim
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bennett, Andrew F. Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Benton, Joe Eagle, Ms Angela
Bermingham, Gerald Eastham, Ken
Berry, Dr. Roger Enright, Derek
Betts, Clive Etherington, Bill
Blair, Tony Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Blunkett, David Fatchett, Derek
Boateng, Paul Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Boyce, Jimmy Fisher, Mark
Boyes, Roland Flynn, Paul
Bradley, Keith Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Bray, Dr Jeremy Foulkes, George
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Fraser, John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Fyfe, Maria
Burden, Richard Galbraith, Sam
Byers, Stephen Galloway, George
Callaghan, Jim Gapes, Mike
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Garrett, John
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) George, Bruce
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gerrard, Neil
Canavan, Dennis Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cann, Jamie Godman, Dr Norman A.
Chisholm, Malcolm Godsiff, Roger
Clapham, Michael Golding, Mrs Llin
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Graham, Thomas
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clelland, David Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Grocott, Bruce
Coffey, Ann Gunnell, John
Cohen, Harry Hain, Peter
Connarty, Michael Hall, Mike
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hanson, David
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hardy, Peter
Corbett, Robin Harman, Ms Harriet
Corbyn, Jeremy Henderson, Doug
Corston, Ms Jean Heppell, John
Cousins, Jim Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Cox, Tom Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate Olner, William
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) O'Neill, Martin
Home Robertson, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hood, Jimmy Parry, Robert
Hoon, Geoffrey Pendry, Tom
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pickthall, Colin
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Pike, Peter L.
Hoyle, Doug Pope, Greg
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hume, John Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hutton, John Prescott, John
Illsley, Eric Primarolo, Dawn
Ingram, Adam Purchase, Ken
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Radice, Giles
Jamieson, David Randall, Stuart
Janner, Greville Raynsford, Nick
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Redmond, Martin
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Reid, Dr John
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jowell, Tessa Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Keen, Alan Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Rogers, Allan
Khabra, Piara S. Rooker, Jeff
Leighton, Ron Rooney, Terry
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Rowlands, Ted
Lewis, Terry Ruddock, Joan
Litherland, Robert Salmond, Alex
Livingstone, Ken Sedgemore, Brian
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Sheerman, Barry
Loyden, Eddie Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McAllion, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McAvoy, Thomas Short, Clare
McCartney, Ian Simpson, Alan
Macdonald, Calum Skinner, Dennis
McFall, John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McGrady, Eddie Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
McKelvey, William Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McLeish, Henry Snape, Peter
McMaster, Gordon Spearing, Nigel
McNamara, Kevin Spellar, John
McWilliam, John Steinberg, Gerry
Madden, Max Stevenson, George
Mahon, Alice Stott, Roger
Mandelson, Peter Strang, Dr. Gavin
Marek, Dr John Straw, Jack
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Tipping, Paddy
Martlew, Eric Turner, Dennis
Maxton, John Vaz, Keith
Meacher, Michael Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Meale, Alan Walley, Joan
Michael, Alun Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Wareing, Robert N
Milburn, Alan Watson, Mike
Miller, Andrew Welsh, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby) Wicks, Malcolm
Moonie, Dr Lewis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Morgan, Rhodri Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Morley, Elliot Wilson, Brian
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Winnick, David
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wise, Audrey
Mowlam, Marjorie Worthington, Tony
Mudie, George Wray, Jimmy
Mullin, Chris Wright, Dr Tony
Murphy, Paul Young, David (Bolton SE)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Tellers for the Noes:
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Mr. Jon Owen Jones and
O'Hara, Edward Mr. Peter Kilfoyle.

Question accordingly agreed to.

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