Reassert Parliamentary sovereignty

Recently I was keen and happy to support Bill Cash’s proposed legislation to “reassert UK Parliamentary sovereignty.”

His five clause Bill states “The sovereignty of Parliament is hereby reaffirmed”. It goes on to protect sovereignty from treaties, other legislation and the European Communities Act, itself the fount of EU power in the UK. It would send a clear signal to UK courts that they need to follow UK law, even if this is in conflict with EU law.

I look forward to William Hague telling us if this is the way he will propose his own Parliamentary sovereignty legislation which has been promised, or if he has some other way of doing it. The Cash short simple Bill looks good to me.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

60 Comments

  1. Norman
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I think all supporters of the Conservative Party are looking forward to this too – can't come a day too soon to try and get rid of all the negativity regarding previous statements on the EU.

  2. Steve Tierney
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    It would send a wonderful message if this bill was supported by the party as a whole. A valuable message.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The gradual erosion of our system of common law is one of the worst features of the EU.
    The Public Prosecutor, who investigates the case and then prosecutes it and then tries and judges it without a jury, is not English. And he is coming to a court near you.
    Extradition without proper process is not English. That is coming too and, thanks to the labour is is here already for USA.
    There is a growing number of cases like minor road infringements and family matters which are routinely and unjustly "tried" without a jury.
    Meanwhile Mr Cameron and Mr Brown take great care that all their announcements are made away from parliament and you only have to switch on the telly to see that nobody much bothers to turn out for the empty green benches.
    And to see Dan Hannan addressing a completely empty hemisphere (sorry, I forget the exact EU name) is even more depressing for a democrat.

    PS To our host: (are you OK? – loads of typos this morning and that isn't like you at all!)

    • Peter Turner
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      I have to bring your attention to the term 'British' rather than just 'English' when referring to matters that effect the UK as a whole. We need to protect our unity when the EU is about as they consider our seperate nations as just parts of different regions of the EU and would love to see the UK broken up.

      • Kenneth
        Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Scottish Law and English Law are separate, so it is okay to use such terms.

  4. OurSally
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    You want to let the spell checker run over that one before the Brits wake up!

  5. Ken Adams
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Mr Cash proposed this as an amendment to the European Union (Amendment) Bill it would have affirmed the sovereignty of Parliament over and above any of our legal commitments in the Lisbon Treaty.

    The Lib Dems and Labour voted against the amendment and the Conservative front bench all abstained.

    So why should we now expect a Conservative government to do a Uturn and implement such a bill.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Good question!

    • APL
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Ken Adams: "And to see Dan Hannan addressing a completely empty hemisphere (sorry, I forget the exact EU name) is even more depressing for a democrat."

      When I read that, you coud have knocked me down with a feather, I was so surprised!

      • APL
        Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Bit careless with that last post. The really surprising thing is that a bill to reaffirm Parliamentary Supremacy while not necessary, we simply need patriotic MPs, was not supported by our supposedly Eurosceptic Tory front bench. [sotto voce] A member of which is Kenneth Clarke that notorious old Eurosceptic.

  6. AndyC
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Is the text of the bill available anywhere? It sounds like this is the new Act of Supremacy we need, although it's not going to be compatible with Lisbon of course. But it's a battle that needs to be fought and won.

    If the Conservative Party backtrack on this, as many suspect they will, then there's really not much point in their continuing to exist. I emailed Mr Hague on the issue some months ago, but never received a reply. Hardly encouraging.

    That said, I do understand Mr Cameron's tactical reluctance to bring the issue to the fore. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt this time round, but I'm increasingly of the view that he is at the very least making a wider error in not seeking to address it at the beginning of a parliament when his mandate will be fresh.

    • Dr Bernard Juby
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Yes, It was published some time ago in, "The European Journal" published by "The European Foundation", 2nd Floor, Carlyle House, 235 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 1EJ (www.europeanfoundation.org) elegant in its simplicity.
      Now we are out of that appallingly named, federalising, pro-EU, People's Party wouldn't it be nice to go the whole hog and for the party to fully support the Bill.

  7. English Conservative
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    It's a bit late for that, isn't it?

    The Damian Green affair and the fact that members don't trust themselves to set their own pay did for Parliamentary Sovereignty.

    1649 to 2009, RIP

  8. A.Sedgwick
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    and me.

  9. English Pensioner
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    But unless Parliament is prepared to exert its own rights over the Executive and not do what the whips tell it, what is the point?

  10. waramess
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I thought EU law was now supreme after ratification of Lisbon, and if so how can you now introduce a British law that is more supreme than an extant EU supreme law?

    In any event why not just trust the electorate for a change, and have a referendum on EU membership?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Not according to the then Europe Minister, Jim Murphy, speaking in the Commons on February 27th 2008:
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708

      "I turn to new clause 9. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) has asserted that the UK’s membership of the EU has fundamentally diminished parliamentary sovereignty. That is a striking claim. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman, but I do not disrespect him. He has sought to make his case in an entirely cogent and logical manner. As the hon. Member for Cambridge (David Howarth) is well aware, the classic definition of sovereignty is given by Dicey in his “Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution”:

      The principle, therefore, of parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely that ‘Parliament’ has ‘the right to make or unmake any law whatever”.

      Parliament exercised its sovereignty in passing the European Communities Act 1972. By doing so, Parliament – not the EU, not the European Court of Justice, but Parliament – decided to accept the obligations of EU membership for the UK. Parliament has continued to exercise its sovereignty in passing the legislation necessary to implement every EU amending treaty since the Single European Act 1986.

      Let me be clear, as I was yesterday – the UK Parliament is and remains sovereign. That is not affected one millimetre or one inch by the Lisbon treaty. As our own courts have ruled,

      “the fundamental legal basis of the UK’s relationship with the EU rests with the domestic not the European legal powers.”

      That came from Lord Justice Laws."

      Having said that, he then went on to state the principle of the primacy of EU law.

      Unfortunately as Martin Howe QC put it, referring to that "Metric Martys" case:

      "However the doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament is not written in stone, but rests on continued judicial acceptance of its validity"

      and it should be a matter of concern that Lord Justice Laws had to correct a junior judge who accepted the contention of prosecuting counsel that Parliament was no longer sovereign:
      http://www.bwmaonline.com/Legal%20-%20Morgan%20Ju

      At least with this Act in place it would be written on paper (or vellum) if not in stone.

      Incidentally, Martin Howe has recently argued that we need an Act like this even more now that the Lisbon Treaty has come into force:
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704

      "Time to Safeguard British Sovereignty"

      "The U.K. needs a sovereignty bill to preserve its right to override external laws, including those originating from the EU."

      To those who argue that Parliament is sovereign, there is no need to affirm that, and it would be pointless to do – and not all those who argue on those lines have the interests of our national sovereignty and democracy at heart – I would offer a simple, albeit imperfect, analogy.

      Suppose I own a piece of land, a fact confirmed by an entry in the Land Registry, but others mistakenly believe that the land is public property?

      Would it be pointless for me to erect signs saying "Private Property – Keep Out", and put a fence around the land?

      Or would I be sending a clear message that this land is not open to all, and squatters will not be tolerated, let alone allowed to gradually and stealthily acquire some kind of squatters' rights over it?

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        If Murphy makes the argument essentially, because parliament passed the various EU treaties it remains sovereign, then Dr Hacha could claim the Czechs retained their sovereignty in WW2 because he invited Hitler in.

        So it turns out Heydrich was acting without authority…

        What a risible, miserable, worthless argument to make. If the man believes what he says, he is seriously misguided, if not, he should not say it.

      • TheBoilingFrog
        Posted March 9, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Jim Murphy asserts: ‘the right to make or unmake any law whatever” as evidence of Parliamentary Sovereignty.

        Before Lisbon that was true, Parliament was in a position to exit the EU by unmaking all the EU treaties including the ECA. But since Lisbon we're unable to do it.

        To fully exit the EU we have to ask permission and have it granted by the other 26 member states via articles 50 and/or 51. It is precisely the reason why Cameron is unable to have a post ratification referendum, because we are unable to unratify the treaty. That is not the position of a country which is truly sovereign.

        Regarding Sovereignty bill, if EU and UK laws conflict you can bet that the ECJ will challenge any claims of UK sovereignty. It already has done so with Germany, despite the German Constitutional Court claiming supremacy before Lisbon was ratified, the ECJ issued a direct challenge to it's claims of supremacy in the case of Kücükdeveci in January.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          Well, you're right that the so-called "exit clause", now Article 50 TEU here:
          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do

          was intended to entrap the member states rather than facilitate their withdrawal.

          Nevertheless just like all rest of the EU treaties, Article 50 has no legal authority within the UK other than that lent to it by our Parliament.

          In this case, through its European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, which added the Lisbon Treaty to the list of treaties in Section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

          Provided that our courts continue to agree that Parliament retains the right to repeal its Acts to incorporate the EU treaties into UK law, in whole or in part, the problem is political rather than legal.

          However if there is judicial drift over time, and our judges copy most of our politicians by transferring their allegiance to the EU, there could be a major constitutional crisis if Parliament eventually tried to re-assert its sovereignty.

          It could end up, for example, with a judge purporting to strike down the Act of repeal, and Parliament petitioning the monarch for the removal of that judge.

          Which is why Bill Cash included a Judicial Notice in his Bill:

          "This Act shall have effect and shall be construed as having effect and deemed at all times to have had effect by the courts of the United Kingdom notwithstanding –

          (a) the European Communities Act 1972;
          (b) any exercise of, or rule of prerogative, or rule of international law; and
          (c) any Act of Parliament, whenever enacted, unless in that Act it is expressly stated that, subject to a referendum under section 4, it is to have effect without regard to the United Kingdom Parliamentary Sovereignty Act 2010."

          There is not, and there cannot be, any legal bar to Parliament passing an Act ordering a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty or anything else it chooses at any time it chooses.

          So Cameron could ask it to pass an Act disapplying the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty as far as UK law was concerned, subject to approval of the Act in a referendum.

          It's not that he couldn't do that, it's simply that he doesn't want to do it because it would cause a bust-up with the EU.

        • Dr Bernard Juby
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Why not simply refuse to pay any contributions until they put their house in order and manage to sign off their accounts?

        • Stuart Fairney
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          The EU are nothing but blustering paper tigers. The Greeks have ignored their financial rules for years, yet the talk is for bailouts not sanctions on the Greeks. Honestly, do we need fear French, Spanish or Italians? I think not. Even the once formidable Germans have lost it.

  11. Nick
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    John, you are in the right. EU government decisions are unaccountable and the UK local government hides behind EU legislation without being open about the source.

    The absolute minimum for me to consider voting Tory will be a firm, honest (cast iron?) commitment to enshrine the supremacy of the UK parliament in law. Certainly the Tory party is doing itself no favours by pretending that no one is interested in the EU.

  12. James Matthews
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    This morning The Scotsman ( presumably amongst others) reports that the European Court is insisting that convicted prisoners be given the vote in time for the next election. New Labour will probably hold out for the few more weeks necessary. Will the Tories pledge that they will not, in any circumstances give way on this?

  13. Simon
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    This is a real vote winner .

    Please reinstate the treason laws first .

    – so anyone with the gall to vote against it can be shot .

    • Andy
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      The Treason Act of 1351 is still the law. Alas this lot abolished capital punishment. Could be brought back, but we would have to build a new execution suite. Yet more expense.

  14. Michele
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    PERHAPS THIS IS WHY IT'S GONE QUIET ON THE EU FRONT, TORYWISE.

    PERHAPS IT'S MORE PALATABLE TO GET THE EU MESS SORTED OUT BY AFFIRMING SOVEREIGNTY.

    NOW, THERE'S A THOUGHT WHICH IS MAKING ME FEEL MUCH MORE DISPOSED TO CAST ASIDE MY UKIP SUPPORT.

  15. Graham
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Such legislation would be tantamount to withdrawal from the EU. Unfortunately, under the Treaty we signed up to at the very beginning, there is no scope to pick and mix.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I assume you mean this, his United Kingdom Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910

    His proposed method of entrenchment is interesting:

    "Her Majesty the Queen shall not signify her Royal Assent to any Bill which contravenes this Act or to any future Bill amending this Act or which purports so to do except and until the Bill, having been approved by both Houses of Parliament, has also been approved in a referendum of the electorate in the United Kingdom pursuant to an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament."

    Some people object that this is dragging the Queen into politics, but in my view it's making a legitimate use of her position as a kind of constitutional longstop.

    However the Second Reading debate is scheduled for April 23rd, and I guess that it won't take place.

  17. Carl Gardner
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I think much of the discussion of these issues by Conservatives is based on fundamental misunderstandings about Parliamentary sovereignty.

    First, the Damian Green affair had nothing to do with it. It didn't even involve Parliamentary privilege in fact (which is a different thing) apart from some possibly privileged papers in his office.

    Second, Parliamentary sovereignty isn't strictly affected by EU membership, the ECA 1972 or the supremacy of EU law (which, by the way, has been the law in this country since 1973 and is by no means a result of Lisbon). Yes, in a day-to-day practical sense you can say it's affected, in that Acts of Parliament can be disapplied by the courts under the ECA 1972 if they conflict with EU law. But it's crucial to realise that this is only because of the will of Parliament as expressed in the ECA 1972. Parliament could always repeal that Act, and if it wants to get EU law out of the UK courts, it only has to do so. Parliamentary sovereignty remains intact, at least in an ultimate sense (as I remember William Hague saying in a debate about Lisbon last year).

    There's absolutely no point in "reaffirming" Parliamentary sovereignty in principle, without limiting the EU law doctrine of supremacy in the UK. All that does is restate existing constitutional law. If on the other hand you do limit the supremacy of EU law in the UK, you are in truth amending the ECA 1972, non-textually as Parliamentary draftsmen would say. The open, honest and clear way to achieve the same thing is to expressly amend or repeal the ECA 1972. That's what Bill Cash should be arguing for, in my view.

    Fair enough if that's what you want. It'd mean we didn't comply with EU law, and would at least have to fundamentally renegotiate our relationship with the EU. Many Tory Eurosceptics may want this – that's perfectly legitimate. But I do think they should be open about it, or else if they accept, say, member states' obligation to abide by internal market law, openly say they accept the current constitutional arrangements. There's no statutory sleight of hand or "third way" that allows Parliament to override EU law compatibly with EU law and membership on the current terms.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      "Acts of Parliament can be disapplied by the courts under the ECA 1972 if they conflict with EU law."

      The courts can't disapply or strike down any Act of Parliament. They can strike down regulations made by ministers, if it's held that they've exceeded or abused powers granted to them by Parliament. In the event of a conflict with EU law, the default position of the courts is to assume that having previously passed ECA72 Parliament does not now intend to over-ride EU law, and therefore to give it priority. However even in that case the court cannot actually strike down an Act. If it was clear from the legislation that Parliament actually intended to over-rule that EU law, or to allow a minister to do so, then the courts would apply the new legislation.

      • Carl Gardner
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Denis, the courts certainly can disapply Acts of Parliament which conflict with EU law. That's what happened in the Factortame case, and it's quite impossible to understand that case unless you accept the House of Lords disapplied (you can use the words "suspended the operation of" if you like) the Merchant Shipping Act 1988. It's the necessary consequence of section 2(4) ECA 1972, which make all legislation, past or future, subject to EU law.

        The only circumstances in which the courts would apply an Act that conflicts with EU law is if it is clear Parliament intends to displace section 2(4). That can be done non-textually (i.e. without amending it or repealing it). But as a legislator the only way you could be sure the courts would get the message would be to expressly amend or repeal section 2(4). That'd be the honest way to do it, and it's what I'd advise any minister trying to override EU law.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          Not so. A divisional court ordered that part of the 1988 Act should be disapplied, but the Court of Appeal reversed that order. The House of Lords agreed with the Court of Appeal, holding that under national law the divisional court had no jurisdiction to make any such order.

          When the question was referred to the ECJ it ruled that Community law required any conflicting rule of national law to be set aside, but in fact the House of Lords never did that – instead the government dodged the issue by getting Parliament to repeal the Act.

        • Carl Gardner
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately, Denis, I think this is descending into an obfuscatory examination of extreme detail.

          Okay: you're right to say that the Lords didn't in fact disapply the 1988 Act – by then the government had amended it. Fair enough, hands up, perhaps I was wrong to say they did. I haven't looked at the judgment for a while.

          But let's look again at the original statement I made, and that you challenged:

          “Acts of Parliament can be disapplied by the courts under the ECA 1972 if they conflict with EU law.”

          You said in your initial reply to me that UK courts can't do that.

          But the ECJ's judgment in Factortame says the Lords can do exactly that. The Lords accept in the judgment we're debating that they can do that:
          http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKHL/1990/7.html

          and it's obvious that, but for the shift in the government's position you have rightly remembered, they would have done that. At no point do any of the Lords maintain their previous position, that they could not disapply or suspend primary legislation.

          The courts can indeed disapply Acts of Parliament to give effect to EU law, and my actual point remains: the Factortame case says, and shows, that they can. It's impossible to understand that case any other way.

          I accept you're right that they didn't (as it happens) do so. That's by the by, ultimately.

    • Nick
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Carl Gardner said: "Second, Parliamentary sovereignty isn’t strictly affected by EU membership, the ECA 1972 or the supremacy of EU law (which, by the way, has been the law in this country since 1973 and is by no means a result of Lisbon). …. But it’s crucial to realise that this is only because of the will of Parliament as expressed in the ECA 1972. Parliament could always repeal that Act …."

      Wrong, wrong and wrong.

      In the Metric Martyrs case Laws et al stated that EU law was NOT supreme (EU law only over-rode UK "non-constitutional" law because the ECA 1972 was a "constitutional" law passed by the UK parliament, thereby loaning EU legislation the status of "constitutional" UK law). This judgement was an innovation. But it has not been challenged by the UK government.

      However Lisbon changes everything. Lisbon establishes the EU as a legal entity – a state – in its own right and also, in an annexe establishes EU law as supreme over UK (English/Scottish) law. We signed up to Lisbon. We are stuck. We are now part of the EU state full stop. Repealing the ECA is no longer available to us because to do so would mean leaving the EU. And Lisbon contains, you guessed it, the method (which is the only one permitted) by which we can leave. We are legally obliged to follow the provisions in Lisbon.

      • APL
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Nick: "We are legally obliged to follow the provisions in Lisbon."

        Only if you accept the idea that there is such a thing as 'international law', which of course there isn't.

        Treaties have been abrogated in the past, and it just needs politicians with backbone to do so again in the future.

        In order to smooth the process, we need to withdraw from the legal systems in Europe at the same time as abrogating the treaties.

        That way, we won't have the European Court of human rights or what ever other jumped up judiciary fining the UK for leaving the EU.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Not yet.

        During the passage of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 to approve the Lisbon Treaty the Minister for Europe gave MPs explicit assurances that:

        "… the UK Parliament is and remains sovereign. That is not affected one millimetre or one inch by the Lisbon treaty …"

        a clear message to UK courts that Parliament was not surrendering its sovereignty by approving the treaty.

        However as the years go by and senior judges like Lord Justice Laws retire and are replaced by the likes of District Judge Morgan that could be forgotten or increasingly called into question.

        • Andy
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          “… the UK Parliament is and remains sovereign. That is not affected one millimetre or one inch by the Lisbon treaty …”

          Yes but . . . . . Does it say that in the Act ? If not then what they say in the House isn't worth a . . . .
          as President Johnson would say.

      • Carl Gardner
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        I'm not "wrong, wrong and wrong", Nick. With respect, it's you who are wrong.

        You're right that Laws LJ drew a distinction between "constitutional" and non-constitutional statutes. I think you may be misunderstanding his idea, though. His point wasn't that EU law isn't supreme over the ECA 1972. His point was one of wholly domestic law, that subsequent Acts of Parliament can only expressly amend or repeal the ECA 1972.

        Laws's distinction isn't one that's been picked up to me knowledge by other judges or by lawyers generally. I agree completely with his ultimate conclusion, but you don't need his distinction in order to reach it. It's actually much simpler: it's the wording of section 2(4), not anything to do with its nature or status, that prevents its being impliedly repealed.

        You're quite wrong to suggest Laws rejected the EC law doctrine of supremacy. He didn't. he said (at para. 70):

        "I consider that the balance struck by these four propositions gives full weight both to the proper supremacy of Community law and to the proper supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament. By the former, I mean the supremacy of substantive Community law. By the latter, I mean the supremacy of the legal foundation within which those substantive provisions enjoy their primacy…. If this balance is understood, it will be seen that these two supremacies are in harmony, and not in conflict."

        I agree with all this, which is legally orthodox in both EU and UK terms, and in line with everything I've said in my comments. I suppose I regret he used the term "supremacy" rather than "sovereignty" in discussing Parliament, which I think potentially confuses people. But my only actual disagreement with him is about the relevance of the "nature" of the ECA 1972, and his idea of the constitutional/non-constitutional split.

        You're wrong again when you say "Lisbon changes everything". It changes some things, but certainly not everything. In particular it makes no change to the supremacy doctrine. That was clearly established before the UK even joined the ECC, in the Costa v ENEL, Van Gend en Loos and Internationale Handelsgesellschaft cases in the 60s and 70s.

        The EC had legal personality before Lisbon, too.

        And Parliament can repeal or amend the ECA 1972 now, just as it could have done pre-Lisbon. The legal effect would be the same as it was pre-Lisbon.

  18. Derek Buxton
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, Nick, that is an absolute minimum. But we will not get any such thing out of Cameron. He will not challenge the EU in any matter, I'm afraid you need to get real, Cameron is an EU supporter. That is the bottom line.

    Incidentally, I looked at some new coins I had today, the worst coinage I have ever seen. It looked and felt cheap so I can only assume it is a start to a move into the "Euro", God help us.

    • Martin
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I know it is drifting off the point but what is the the new coinage you saw today?

      The Euro coin designs have one side common and the others are national designs (e.g Maltese Cross, Queen Beatrix etc)
      See http://www.ecb.int/euro/coins/html/nl.en.html

      The UK's latest sterling coins are a chopped up Royal Standard. http://www.royalmint.com/newdesigns/designsreveal
      A feeble design I hope we dump regardless of whether we join the Euro or stay with Sterling.

    • APL
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Derek Buxton: "Cameron is an EU supporter. That is the bottom line."

      Yes, despite the protestations of our host*, I agree. Judge Cameron by his actions, not his beguiling words.

      *John Redwood is a loyal Tory, unfortunately the Tory party he is loyal to no longer exists.

  19. gac
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I watched some of the debate on the Parliament channel on Sky. Dear Mr Cash still has his wits about him but his speed of thought is less good. Mr Huhne the Lib dem never impresses as his pro EU dogma prevents him from accepting any differing point.

    What is clear to many is that we do seem to get a very poor deal from our membership of the EU – based as it is on socialist centralist principles. Also the lack of transparent democracy is breathtaking.

    I understand why Mr Cameron cancelled his support of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, after all our Government has already signed it after reneging on their manifesto promise (nothing is new viz student fees), but I do think even now he should agree to have one just so the people can say to Mr Brown – you were right to ratify it or alternatively you were wrong.

    Makes no difference maybe but, Mr Cameron's hand in dealing with the EU will be strengthened if the vote is no and also he would gain 10 more plus points in the polls. If the majority say yes – well the status quo exists and Mr Cameran has still got the 'Browny' points.

    • Ian Jones
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      But most countries in the EU dont provide the socialist welfare state we have. Italy doesnt give the unemployed, single mothers and especially immigrants a house and furniture. they have to pay at the point of use for the health care….. the socialism in the UK is home bred.

  20. Ian Jones
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    A great time to cause political instability by threatening to pull out of the EU which is effectively what you are proposing.

    Should do the pound a lot of good and encourage inward investment I dont think.

    Little Englanders.

    • Nick
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Ian Jones, you do not know your history. "Little Englander" was the derogatory name applied to those opposed to the British Empire. Not quite the epithet you were looking for.

      The EU is an artificial political construction. It is not Europe and certainly not representative of the people or nations of Europe. Poll after poll all over Europe shows the EU to be unpopular and when people are allowed to vote the schemes of the EU power politicians are routinely rejected.

      The EU is corrupt, un-democratic, anti-democratic, unaccountable, unwanted, bureaucratic, inflexible and will fail any way. (sentence left out-ed() Better to dismantle it now whilst we can do so peacefully.

  21. JimF
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Hold out for it to be included in your employment contract.

  22. alan jutson
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I am confused.

    We need A Sovereignty Bill ?

    You mean that our elected MPs do not have total control over our own affairs at the moment !!!!!!!

    I can't beleive it !!!!!

    Surely we do not have to do what others (who we have not elected) say we have to do, do we. ????

    On a more serious note.

    Perhaps we should ask why our elected MP's gave up control of our Country in the first place.
    I would have though that the Defence of our freedom and the right to control our own Country was the primary responsibility of those in power.
    If they fail in this basic task, then there seems little point in being an MP.

  23. Kenneth
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Within the UK why are people in England so strongly anti-EU and yet in Scotland most people are quite positive about it?

    I've been perplexed about this for a while.

    In Scotland UKIP can't get even close to winning a seat in the European Parliament but yet they win seats by the barrel-load in England.

    At some point there may be friction between Holyrood and Westminster over the Euro, as sadly, it seems England doesn't even want to consider it.

    I just find it hard to understand why playing a full and active role in Europe is considered inferior to being effectively a Satellite of the USA in most International matters.

    Anyone care to enlighten me?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      We don't have to do either. Sanity is something that you can enjoy by yourself.

    • APL
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Kenneth: "Within the UK why are people in England so strongly anti-EU and yet in Scotland most people are quite positive about it?"

      The SNP have sold the Scottish people the logical fallacy that they can be independent nation within the European Community.

      A moments thought shows that to be false. If you take instructions from another as to how you order your affairs, you are not independent.

      I guess, if you consider yourself a vassel state of one supra-national authority and as far as your typical SNP voter that is Scotlands condition in regard to the UK, then swapping one overlord for another is 'no big deal'.

      Kenneth: "I just find it hard to understand why playing a full and active role in Europe is considered inferior to being effectively a Satellite of the USA in most International matters."

      Agree with Lindsay, we don't have to do one or the other. We can agree to coperate with the EU when it is in our interests to do so. Likewise the US, choosing the option that is in the best interests of the UK is something we should be able to expect our politicians to do. Trouble is, they are blinded by doctrine, the fashonable one happens to be the concept of solidarity with the EU.

      • Kenneth
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:36 am | Permalink

        "I guess, if you consider yourself a vassel state of one supra-national authority and as far as your typical SNP voter that is Scotlands condition in regard to the UK, then swapping one overlord for another is ‘no big deal’."

        This is a complete misrepresentation.

        Scotland is ALREADY in the EU as a part of the UK. The EU's role concerning the people of Scotland will not change when Independence comes (within 30 years).

        The main differences will be Scotland will control its own Defence, Taxation, Resources and Immigration which England currently controls. The EU does not control this.

        Scotland will also get roughly twice the seats in the European Parliament that it has now to be in line with Denmark, Ireland, etc.

        To try to equate the UK with the EU as an Overlord, while failing to acknowledge we are already all in the EU, is grossly misleading.
        Also the EU has far less power than many of you try to make out.
        The EU wouldn't have forced Scotland to go into Iraq and Afghanistan.

        • APL
          Posted March 12, 2010 at 1:08 am | Permalink

          Kenneth: "Anyone care to enlighten me?"

          Kenneth: "This is a complete misrepresentation."

          You asked for any opinion. I gave you mine, that is what it was, an opinion.

          Kenneth: "Scotland is ALREADY in the EU as a part of the UK. The EU’s role concerning the people of Scotland will not change when Independence comes (within 30 years)."

          But right away, you have just affirmed my point. Scotland is already in the EU, and when, I assume you mean independence from England comes, [inside 30 years], Scotland will still be a vasal state of the EU.

          That is why Scots are indifferent or positive to the EU.

          England and the English patriots on the other hand, look at the EU as an occupying power, when England gets independence from the EU, England will be a free independent country.

          That accounts for the disparity in views between the Scots and English on the subject of the EU.

    • Derek W. Buxton
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      "A full and active role in the EU", you are joking…..are'nt you? They give orders, we are supposed to obey an unaccountable bunch of foreign beaurocrats who we do not elect and cannot fire, most odd! We, who over many years have upheld freedom and the rule of law, fighting when necesary, are now (ruled by Brussels after years of fighting for our independence and freedom-ed). The EU is not based on freedom, justice or democracy in any way, shape or form and needs destroying, the sooner the better. The only thing it's supporters have is a hatred of England.

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Will the Cash bill ensure that once again the Law Lords or the UK Supreme Court becomes the highest court in the land, and that citizens, companies and government do not have a right of appeal to any European court – whether the matter is criminal or civil?

    That is what is needed. We might tolerate a list of exceptions – narrowly defined – to ensure the smooth functioning of the 1986 Single European Act. But leave to appeal to a European court would have to be granted by the Law Lords on each specific occasion.

    It would be helpful if clauses were added to state that the UK has no obligation to support the Euro by contributing to a European Monetary Fund, or to finance a European President or foreign policy.

    • Carl Gardner
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      It isn't strictly right to say litigants can "appeal" to the European Court of Justice now. What happens is that any court (not any litigant) can "refer" a question to the ECJ, which is indeed a mechanism aimed at ensuing the smooth functioning of EU law in this country.

      The real point is that when a court does this, it must expressly decide to refer questions. Nobody can simply "appeal" to the ECJ having lost in the UK courts, going over the heads of the UK courts. The UK court must agree to the referral.

  25. Vanessa
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    You must know that this would be impossible under the Lisbon Treaty. Britain needs to leave the European Union before she can take back her sovereignty and the ability to make her own laws.

    Also the Queen has be displaced from her throne by the same treaty as we are all EU citizens now and not British Subjects of the Crown.

    The laws coming from Brussels now will destroy the ability of The City to make the wealth this country is used to.

    People in this country also do not understand the Napoleonic model of justice which is nothing like our Habeas Corpus "innocent until proven guilty" and the European Arrest Warrant exploits this by extraditing people to other countries and putting them in prison WHILE they look for evidence or fabricate it. There is no evidence against them and none needed to put them in jail where they can be for 18 months without trial. This is happening more and more frequently where someone is mistakenly identified for having done a crime and this is enough to be extradited. When will the British people wake up and see that our civil liberties and freedoms which we enjoy as our birthright are being taken from us????

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Andy
    http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/bri

    "Following the decision in Pepper v Hart in 1993, if primary legislation is ambiguous or obscure the courts may in certain circumstances take account of statements made in Parliament by Ministers or other promoters of a Bill in construing that legislation."

    "The House of Lords in its judicial capacity decided that clear statements made in Parliament concerning the purpose of legislation in course of enactment may be used by the court as a guide to the interpretation of ambiguous statutory provisions."

    "Your Lordships are motivated by a desire to carry out the intentions of Parliament in enacting legislation and have no intention or desire to question the processes by which such legislation was enacted or of criticising anything said by anyone in Parliament in the course of enacting it. The purpose is to give effect to, not thwart, the intentions of Parliament."

    Obviously it would have been far better for Parliament to have passed Bill Cash's New Clause 9, and it was disgraceful that so few MPs supported it, but the statements made by Murphy would carry some weight.

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    This has been a most interesting debate. Let me recall what happened when the 1976 referendum approved, by a majority of 2:1, the 1973 accession to the EEC, as it then was.

    The morning after his defeat, Enoch Powell wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph, which I still have on my bookshelf, yellow with age. It was entitled 'So is Britain now obsolete?' and spat defiance. After citing the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath as the emboiment of nationalism, he chided Edward Heath for believing that the nation state arose in the 19th century, and reached his peroration:

    "The Referendum is not a "verdict" after which the prisoner is hanged forthwith. It is no more than provisional, as all electoral decisions are provisional. It is as little final as the outcome of a General Election can commit us irrevocably to Mr Heath's form of socialism or to Mr Benn's form of capitalism. This will be so, as long as one Parliament can alter or undo whatever that or any other Parliament has done. Hence those golden words in the Government's Referendum pamphlet: "Our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament."

    They are the declaration that we are a nation state still and not part of the Community, whose nature and purpose is to supersede the nation state. That is why the Continent does not believe those words. That is why the advocates of British membership rage or scoff when they are quoted. That is why they will be needed when the British in the coming months [years!] come to realise what YES was intended by others to mean."

    So the Commons has the right to enact Bill Cash's bill, always has done and always will do. And we have the permanent right to revoke our participation in any European Treaty that we have signed. Naturally, it would be good to have agreement with our European neighbours, but it is neither legally nor morally necessary to do so.

  28. cheap ghd
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    And to see Dan Hannan addressing a completely empty hemisphere (sorry, I forget the exact EU name) is even more depressing for a democrat

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page