Thus, instead of allowing some detailed discussion of a Treaty which fundamentally alters the relationship of the UK with the EU and transfers significant and important Sovereign power to the EU, the House of Commons is allowed but five hours of daily debate on a series of ‘themes’ chosen by the Politburo, as if this was one of their wretched focus groups assembled to come up with the answer they want to hear. Then when the music stops, they all sit down, whereupon that day’s debate is ended:
Mr. Francois: Thank you, Mrs. Heal. The Liberal Democrats now have 20 seconds. Their spokesman said that essentially we had nothing to fear from the changes in the treaty that relate to foreign policy. Why, then, has the leader of the Liberal Democrat Members of the European Parliament said that those changes will have a dramatic impact? This is yet another Liberal Democrat split on the treaty, in what is becoming an increasingly long list.
We must also bear in mind that the treaty is self-amending. It contains powers to allow the abandoning of further vetoes, including vetoes relating to foreign policy, without any requirement for another treaty or an intergovernmental conference. I refer to the so-called ratchet clause. When the Minister was challenged to give a commitment that no vetoes would be abandoned without primary legislation, as the Foreign Affairs Committee had recommended, he ducked the question. We will hold the Government to account for that as the Bill proceeds.
It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings, the First Deputy Chairman of ways and means put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [28 January and this day].
Hansard 20 February2008
I wonder if there has been so abject a surrender of the sovereignty of the Parliament of a great nation since 10th. July 1940 when the French Third Republic voted itself out of existence in favour of the collaborationist régime of Maréchal Phillipe Pétain.
One is reminded of the tale of Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
Inspector Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Inspector Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Sherlock Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
One wonders if future historians of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1707-2009) will one day ponder much the same question of the membership of its Parliament. Or whether it will then be permitted to ponder such things.