Members of Parliament are heirs to a great tradition. Some of our predecessors took great personal risks to defend and extend the liberties of Englishmen and women. They fought to prevent the executive government, the Crown, exercising too much arbitrary power at the expense of the people.
Today we need to remember that when Parliament debates whether important matters of criminal justice, recently repatriated to UK control, should be surrendered to the EU. John Hampden, John Pym and John Eliot fought against a Crown which wanted to presume to itself the power to tax without reference to the grievances and rights of those paying the bills. They fought to uphold the right of Parliament to fashion the law and ensure its fair enforcement. John Eliot died prematurely from his stay in prison for refusing to accept Ship money. John Hampden died of his wounds in an early battle of the civil war. Their cause was just and ultimately upheld.
Today the threat to our liberties and right of self government comes not from the Crown but from the EU. Some of us this day will argue against surrendering any criminal justice powers to the EU. We accept the need to co-operate with the police and criminal justice systems of our neighbours to track criminals and bring them to court. This can be done by bilateral agreements which preserve the authority of the UK Parliament and the sovereignty of the UK electorate. Eliot, Pym and Hampden would expect no less.