Mr Redwood’s contribution to the debate on the European Union (Approvals) Bill [Lords] 27 Jan

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): I rise to support my hon. Friends the Members for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) and for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg). It is right that the Government should go back and exercise their veto. I will briefly make the case for the use of that veto. We urge the Government to do so on this issue not only because of the merits of the case—they have been well explained by my two hon. Friends and by the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (John Cryer)-—but because we in this House and outside it are deeply frustrated by the fact that the European Union’s powers, which are already too large, are increasing day by day through court judgments, directives and regulations, with nothing being done to contain them.

The Labour party gave away 168 vetoes on crucial policies, so there are now huge areas on which we cannot respond to our constituents’ wishes to change or improve things, because we are under the control of European law. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) laughs, but she has no idea of the damage that the Labour party has done and of the pent-up frustrations in the country. We cannot have our own policies on energy, borders or criminal justice because powers have been given away.

Today, we are considering a small area on which we still have a veto. Unless the European Union’s policy is perfect, surely the Government must use that veto. We must either use it or lose it. We need to show that wherever we have a veto, we have a voice and an independent view.

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): What the right hon. Gentleman says about the veto is true, but will he admit that the veto was originally surrendered in principle by Mrs Thatcher in the Single European Act of 1986? That is what broke the principle.

Mr Redwood: Yes, some vetoes were surrendered in the Single European Act. I advised against that at the time and, for once, my advice was not accepted.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Did you vote for it?

Mr Redwood: I did not vote for it because I was not a Member of the House when the legislation was passed—I am not that old. I was against giving up the veto then, but the former Prime Minister accepted it because it was in very limited areas. It has subsequently expanded into a huge number of far more important areas, which has led to the passions and frustrations that we hear about every day from our constituents in e-mails and letters and in conversations on the doorstep.

There is an added reason why the veto should be used with respect to this proposal, as has been explained eloquently by the three Members who have made speeches already. The European Union is presuming to intervene in formerly democratic politics in our countries and to build on the technical definition of “citizen” that has been embedded in recent treaties with the idea that people’s primary loyalty should be to the European Union and not to their member state. With these programmes, it is seeking to disrupt loyalty, accountability and sovereignty in its member states still further. This is propaganda on the taxes and expenditure that we do not need at a time of austerity. It is unforgivable that money is being raised from our hard-working constituents and passed to the European Union for propaganda.

I urge the Committee to reject the Minister’s proposal. I urge the Committee to stand up for the British people and for the proper use of taxpayers’ money. I urge the Committee to oppose propaganda on the taxes. I urge the Committee to say to the Government, “When you have a veto, for goodness’ sake use it, because we do not have enough vetoes left.”

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One Comment

  1. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    “John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): What the right hon. Gentleman says about the veto is true, but will he admit that the veto was originally surrendered in principle by Mrs Thatcher in the Single European Act of 1986? That is what broke the principle.”

    How many times has this argument about the (anti-democratic) actions of previous governments been used to deflect demands for a referendum on yet another treaty surrendering more powers to the EU? Again and again.

    And he’s right, it was Thatcher who set the appalling precedent that having extracted the consent of the people to a certain arrangement in the 1975 referendum the government and Parliament could then alter that arrangement without bothering to refer back to the people.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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