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European Union (Amendment) Bill

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

House again in Committee on Clause 2, Amendment No. 9.

This concerns a very important new provision in the treaty. We should make no mistake about it: it is a further step on the way to creating a centralised European state. There can be no other reason for it. Indeed, from the point of view of the smaller nations, it is a retrograde step; with a rotating presidency, at least they have a turn at that office. I am not at all sure that from now on they will ever have a turn at holding the presidency of the European Union.

In history, whenever an office such as this—a chairman of something—has been set up, it has always evolved. The chairman wants more power and the members want to give him more power because, if he has more power, there is less for them to do. Therefore, all history shows that, once you give senior office to people, the whole thing tends to develop into a new power centre. If people do not believe that, they should look at the development of the European Parliament. I think that the European Parliament came into existence under the Single European Act but before then it had been a European Assembly. Until 1977, it was not a directly elected assembly but a representative body of the national parliaments. However, as soon as it became directly elected, as some of us predicted, it became more powerful. It was renamed as a parliament, and in each treaty since the Single European Act the European Parliament has accreted to itself, or has been given, new powers so that it has become a much more important part of the European Union. Indeed, only this afternoon, just before this debate, we saw that it had accrued new powers under this treaty.

As I said, all history shows that once you make an office permanent—indeed, when you create an office for which you do not immediately know what the powers will be—there is every incentive to build that office into a very powerful position. We are being asked to give permission to a pig in a poke. We do not know what powers will be exercised by the new president. We know that he will try to accrue more powers to himself and, of course, the ultimate aim will be an elected president by universal suffrage. That is the end product and it is what the new president and the people who believe in a united federal state of Europe want. I appreciate that there is nothing wrong with that. I do not want it; nevertheless, that is what it is all about. This evening, we are being asked to create a permanent presidency or semi-permanent presidency or whatever it is called—it will, at any rate, last for up to five years—and certainly for the first two and a half years the president will build up his position so that he gets elected for another two and a half years. We have seen it all before.

I feel sure that the noble Baroness will reassure me on this. She will say, “Of course, the British Government do not believe any of this at all. They simply think that, as we heard earlier, it will be a more efficient way of driving things forward”. However, I do not want things to be driven forward. Nevertheless, that is what we will be told the role is about. At present, however, we are aware that private discussions are going on about the role of the presidency. Some pretty powerful people believe that it should be a leading role and that the president should in fact act like one, not like a lord mayor. Our former Prime Minister foresaw this position as being one where the President of the European Council spoke for Europe on the world stage—quite clearly, a powerful post indeed.

Noble Lords will have seen that when Mr Blair’s name was put forward for the post of president, he quite clearly said that he would consider accepting the position only if it were a powerful one. He did not want any sort of job that was simply meeting people or holding banquets and what have you for visiting diplomats or heads of state. He sees it, as he saw it at the beginning, as a powerful position—one that will get more powerful as time goes on. The Prime Minister of Belgium certainly sees the position as very powerful, and has said as much. I believe that he is a candidate as well. He has said that if he gets into the job, he will be trying to make it very important indeed.

People know my position on the European Union. It has always been made plain. I agree with nothing that enhances its reputation and powers. I believe that a president will do that, therefore I am against it.

The noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, finds that funny. At this time of night, I am glad to be acting as a bit of a comic.

I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, that I did not find it funny. I found it pathetic and risible; that is why I was laughing.

Well, some of us find that the noble Lord’s position on the European Union has always been rather dangerous for this country. I would probably prefer to be risible rather than dangerous. However, we have known each other a long time, and we know each other’s position. We can probably carry on without any name-calling. The noble Baroness knows my position. I believe that this is a retrograde step and I therefore support the amendment.

I assume that it is a coincidence that the amendment proposed by the Tory spokesman was—like Amendment No. 89 in the Commons; and I got the date wrong, it was 30 January—also moved in the Commons in the name of Mr William Cash and Mr John Redwood, as Amendment No. 90 on page 564. So the Vulcan strikes again, with many interesting suggestions about changes.

As the noble Lord is making such a study of amendments in the House of Commons, why does he not table the amendment that his leader could not table there, but which could be tabled in this House, allowing for a referendum on “in or out”?

It is necessary to speak to the amendments on these occasions, otherwise we will digress and go back into a Second Reading debate. As the noble Lord knows—

When I am dealing with an intervention, I should have a chance to finish. I never know about the propriety of automatically giving way. I suppose that it is not absolutely necessary in Committee, as far as I know. The Companion is being produced again to remind us of the relevant clause, and I will gladly give way if the Minister wishes to remind the Committee again about it.

From memory, there is no obligation on a Member to give way. However, the tradition of your Lordships’ House has been that noble Lords do give way. The noble Lord did give way and I am not sure that he needs to continue to do so.

I am grateful for that explanation. That was my understanding. I would be delighted to give way to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, but for reasons of time I will not do so. It is getting late and I shall be very brief. As the Conservative Party in the Lords and UKIP have been conferring frequently on these matters—that is a normal procedure and I do not object to it—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, will make precisely the same point as the one just made by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth.

We on these Benches regret that Amendment No. 9 has been tabled. The adjective used has changed over a short time. Those of us who are interested in philology will reflect on the changes in language over time. For instance, in English, the words “thank you” have now been replaced by the word “cheers”, which now means “thank you” on all occasions. When you are getting out of a taxi and saying goodbye to the driver you say “cheers” rather than “thank you”. That has taken probably about nine years to evolve.

In this case, the adjective for the nature, quality and texture of the amendments from our Tory colleagues last Tuesday—the first allotted day of the Committee of the whole House—was always that the amendments were “probing”, whereas in the Commons the text was always presented as “wrecking” amendments. So the adjective “probing” has evolved from “wrecking” in the space of four weeks. That demonstrates how language can change rapidly depending on the examples provided.

We believe that the amendment would be destructive and we hope it will not be taken further. The creation of this post will be important for the future progress of the enlarged and complicated European Union of 27 member states. The important change envisaged is the creation of the post of a new full-time president for a first period of two-and-a-half years, renewable by only one similar period, making up to five years for the same individual. This would be the person to drive forward—a phrase which was also used by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, though he does not approve of it—the European Union policies. I use the modern phraseology “drive forward” because the European Union needs a powerful and respected figure as president to drive forward the agreed consensus policies of the sovereign member states. That is what it is in essence, and that is what it will remain in the future—in this highly non-federal, unfederalistic European Union.

The European Union is a modern creation which is not easy to describe in the context of the history of political and state structures. It is a unique body, sui generis in every way; a Union of sovereign member states. The member states will inevitably allocate to individuals, and to the central institutions which were freely and happily adopted by them, a considerable amount of discretion and intrinsic power, of whatever nature, in the actualité of how the role unfolds in the future. Logically, we do not know what that will be because it is a new post and many details will have to be discussed when and if the treaty is ratified by all the member states, which could take up until the end of this year.

There is currently a President of the European Council but that position has been weakened in the increasingly enlarged community. All the people involved in it have repeatedly said in recent years that the troika system has not been able to function effectively and that the six-month period for an individual chairman of the Council of Ministers and the European Council has not produced sufficient results. It is a complex exercise and this new creation is necessary.

Amendment No. 9 is negative because it seeks to remove the role of the President of the European Council in external representation of the European Union. The President of the European Council now has the role of representing the EU externally. A good example is that Slovenia will lead the EU-Japan summit later this month.

For all those reasons we hope the amendment will not make progress tonight and that other members of the Committee will endorse that view.

I am a bit puzzled by the debate so far, because it is not at all clear what it is about. I would have got the impression from the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that the amendment would remove the presidency of the European Council altogether, but when I look at the Marshalled List I see that it does not have that effect at all; it merely removes the external function of the President of the European Council. But many of the speeches, including that by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, implied that they wanted nothing to do with the President of the European Council at all.

It is also being suggested that the President of the Commission might at the same time become President of the European Council despite the fact that the treaty says:

“Members of the Commission may not, during their term of office, engage in any other occupation”.

That seems to me to debar totally the President of the Commission becoming at the same time President of the European Council. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, seems to think that the rotating presidency has been abolished. But it has not been abolished. It has been abolished only in the external representation of the European Union, not in the running of all the Council formations that deal with domestic policy. So he will still be there.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, said that he did not want a cult of celebrity. I pinched myself then when I thought that, in two months’ time, the possibly last holder of the rotating presidency, Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy, is going to become the President of the European Union. If you do not get that point, I shall not go any further. But I think that celebrity is a word that might spring to mind in that context.

I hope this amendment will not be pursued. I think that giving an external job to the President of the European Council makes sense. If we did not have that, we would have the President of the Commission alone doing it. I cannot believe that that is what those proposing the amendment want. They presumably want the Council and the member states to be in the forefront of all the summit meetings with Russia, China, the United States and so forth. But if they remove the President of the European Union, then they will leave only the high representative, who will be one level down from the President of the Commission in that respect, who will be his president.

I do not think that the amendment is very well thought through. Although I would agree that the deconfliction of the jobs of President of the European Council and the high representative will be an important part of the implementation of the treaty once it has been agreed and ratified, I think that, on the whole, the outcome will be a positive one, particularly because, if you think about it, the rotating presidency in the external field no longer makes much sense. There are 27 member states, probably 28 or 29 fairly soon. That means that you get the presidency once every 14 years, with no continuity and with countries such as Malta or Cyprus holding the post. The mind boggles a little bit about all that. There is no external representation anywhere around the world. I do not think that it makes any sense. This change is a timely one. I therefore hope that we will not insist on pursuing the amendment.

I support my noble friend Lord Howell in his amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has just tried to clarify the role of the President of the European Council, as envisaged, and that of the apparently not-so-high representative for foreign affairs, who is also envisaged. I wonder how the overlap between their roles would be dealt with. As my noble friend Lord Howell said, we have heard much too little about how that will work out in practice.

However, I also thought that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was most helpful in explaining that the permanent President of the European Council is indeed not intended to make the Union more efficient but to make it more effective. That is exactly what I feared. It seems to me that the corollary of the fact that the President of the European Council will be made more effective is that the Heads of Government of the 27 member states will be made less effective. That does not matter for the Heads of Government of the countries that punch below their weight on the world stage, but it does matter for those that punch above their weight on the world stage. Having spent 14 or 15 years working in Japan, I have seen that, in Japanese eyes, the United Kingdom has continually punched above its weight on the world stage. I suspect that the same is true in Korea, China and other countries that I have visited.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, says that we cannot go on with a rotating presidency involving 27 members. I do not see why we cannot. Indeed, it is important to ensure that we do not have a permanent president because that would make the EU into a country, which means that the United Kingdom would be less effective because it would become less of a country; it would be less clearly seen as such.

Hang on. The argument is that having a permanent presidency makes the EU into a country. I am a member of a number of associations and organisations that have permanent presidencies and they are not countries. My local cricket club has a permanent secretary, and that is not a country.

The association the noble Lord referred to does not send ambassadors with credentials to be received by Heads of State of other countries. That is the difference.

We have not heard clearly, for example, who ranks first: the Head of State of any particular country in the Union or the new President of the European Council—who will always be referred to colloquially as “the President of Europe”, of that there is no doubt. We have to be very worried that by enabling the treaty to be ratified and to create the post of permanent President of the European Union, we will reduce the ability of our own Head of Government to act on the world stage with the effectiveness that he undoubtedly has. We as a country are seen throughout the world as having on the whole done more good than harm; a country that punches above its weight in diplomacy, defence, business and many other areas. If we reduce ourselves to the status of a member state of what is, whether we like it or not, bound to emerge into a federated state, we will reduce our ability to exert our influence in the world in the way that we have done through the ages.

I listened carefully to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, in introducing his amendment and I shall make one or two comments on it. I agree with those noble Lords who have said that in many ways the provision in the Bill is useful because it provides some continuity, which is needed at European Council level. It also helps to reduce the pressure, not only on small countries but on those countries in particular, from the burden that is otherwise imposed by the current presidential system.

The provision has another benefit. In terms of ministerial representation on the European Council, it will mean that the Council will be chaired by the new president rather than by a head of government of one of the participating countries, which has always been a rather strange factor in negotiation because the president of the presiding country has somehow had to be above the political discussions while often coming from a country with strong political views on the subject being considered. The political representation of that country has therefore had to be delegated to a more junior level. Having been a junior Minister, I am not sure that that is necessarily a bad thing, but the new arrangements provide parity between all the participating countries in the European Council in a way that will be helpful in the future.

The noble Lord who has just sat down talked of his concerns about the role of the president, but it seems to me that it is clearly laid down that the president is appointed by, and accountable to, the European Council. Therefore, the president would be speaking on issues, or representing the Council, in those areas where there was an agreed position. I do not see that as a threat to the many areas in which Britain operates independently. It does not represent a threat in all those areas of foreign policy where sometimes, rather sadly, it has not been possible to have an agreed common position. For those reasons, too, we should welcome what is being proposed on practical grounds, rather than be alarmed about it on the grounds mentioned a few minutes ago.

Finally, I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Howell, in speaking to his amendment, praised Switzerland greatly. Switzerland was, I think, the last democracy to introduce votes for women, as late as 1971, and for that reason I could not go along with all his comments. I have to say, too, that the European Union has been very much a champion of women’s equality and women’s rights in all the directives that it has put forward since it came into being. For that reason as well, even though I like Switzerland, I have doubts about the examples that he used. I hope that the amendment will not succeed and I welcome the provision in the Bill.

I thought that the noble Baroness was going to express dissatisfaction with Switzerland because of its commitment to referenda as a means of determining policy.

I intervene briefly to say how much I support my noble friend’s amendment. I found the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, very revealing, because he is looking at this from the perspective of creating an entity. My noble friend Lord Trenchard said that to create a presidency was to view Europe as a country and not as a set of nation states. I think that what my noble friend Lord Howell said about celebrity was not a flippant point. If we create a president who represents the Community externally, especially if it turns out to be President Blair, he would use that office and all his talents to become a figure on the world stage. What I find difficult about the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, is that, on the one hand, we have to give up many of our vetoes, because apparently it is impossible to get agreement when you have such a large number of member states forming the Community, but, on the other hand, apparently it is okay to have a president representing the views of the Community externally that somehow are going to be agreed magically without having that requirement.

I think of the crises that have beset us of late. I personally opposed the invasion of Iraq, but I wonder, if we had a world figure, a president of Europe, representing our views, quite how he would have managed the chaos that we saw in Europe at the time of the invasion of Iraq. We can think back to the Falklands and many other examples of where it has not been possible for Europe to form a view. The serious point that I want to make is that this is yet another example of the elite in Europe trying to force the pace of political integration too quickly. If it does that, it will damage the Union.

The noble Lord suggested some time ago that the president would represent the views of Europe externally and that these would be arrived at by QMV. However, he must be aware that external policy—the CFSP, or common foreign and security policy—is still an intergovernmental matter and therefore has to be decided by unanimity.

I am sorry if I put it badly and misled the noble Lord, but that is the very point that I was making: if we need a presidency in order to represent views that are unanimous in Europe, how is that consistent with the argument for giving up 60 of our vetoes on the ground that Europe has now become so large that it would not be possible to get unanimity on important issues? There is a contradiction here. On the one hand, we have the idea that we have all to surrender our vetoes to get agreement with so many member states; on the other, we must have this new figure to represent Europe’s view, which will apparently be easily achieved by unanimity.

I used the examples of the Falklands and the invasion of Iraq to show that it is extremely difficult to get agreement. If you create an international figure whose role it is to explain that he has nothing to say because there is no agreement, that will damage Europe’s standing in the world. Where there is dissent within the Community, member states will see the institution failing to represent their views and that will be damaging to the Community, whereas the current system has the advantage that no one is able to become a figure representing the views of Europe externally with any degree of continuity.

We should listen to the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, is not in his place, but I will long cherish his statement that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead. The idea was that, by creating a First Minister and a body, nationalism would stay in its place. The noble Baroness the Leader of the House is giving me a look that says, “Aren’t you getting a bit wide here?”. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, spoke about creating an institution or a position. I give as an example not just the present Scottish First Minister, who is a nationalist, but his Labour predecessor, who decided to have his own foreign policy. We had an aid programme to Malawi; I think that he has now become the high commissioner to Malawi. The Parliament takes more and more powers. The role of First Minister has been developed way beyond even the functions of the Secretary of State in the old days. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is quite right: once you create a post of this kind, it will develop its own momentum and create tensions and divisions within the Community. Those who support the European Union, who are perhaps more ambitious than I would be for its role, would do well to recognise that they are sowing the seeds of the destruction of the institution that they wish to support.

The criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, of my noble friend’s amendments and what is done in another place would carry more weight if he and his party had put down any amendments whatever in this debate, particularly on what his leader said this week on the “Today” programme that he longed to have debated. Why has it not been put down? I think that we know the answer to that.

In introducing this debate, the noble Lord, Lord Howell, indicated that he regarded it as very important. He expressed the hope that it would be a long debate. I have not quite shared that hope and I am conscious that I am intervening rather close to the end of the debate, but I would not like the balance to be struck as it has been up to now.

A number of speakers have indicated that opposition to this proposal rests on the hope that the Council will not work. That was explicitly stated by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart; it has just been stated by implication by the noble Lord who has resumed his seat. I can understand these sorts of amendments being tabled and discussed by those who want to destroy the effectiveness of the Union. The candour of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is welcome in revealing what this is all about. It is an attempt to wreck the Union, dressed up with constitutional niceties and doubts about how the office might develop.

The actuality is that the Union has not, throughout its history, punched according to its weight. To the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, I say that that is what we ought to be seeking to do. If the Union has a view, which is arrived at by unanimity in the Council, is it not desirable that that view be represented effectively overseas? Is it not appropriate to have somebody who is there for more than six months and who is recognised in the world with which we have to do business as being an effective spokesman for that policy?

Some of the odder things that I have encountered in the Select Committee—I have to say that it has been a very interesting experience; it has been a great privilege to serve on it—have been the reports that have come from the country that has been occupying the presidency for six months, in which we have had reports on presidential priorities often with an attempt to indicate some particularity of view by the six-month incumbent. This is about seeking to ensure that the presidency represents the views of the Union, arrived at by unanimous agreement and not by a sort of ducking and weaving around particular interests of a transient president who feels that his or her country has to be given its place in the sun while this is going on.

We have to recognise that, if we belong to this organisation and it is to be more than a charade on the international stage, we need the kind of continuity that this office will help to provide. We need the kind of continuing heavyweight work from a chairman who can pull together the priorities on an ongoing basis, following the lead of the Council.

I do not find it easy to accept the argument made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that the larger the grouping of nations, the more important it is not to have a leader. That is like saying that a company that is global in its operations should not have a chairman. The initiative, which was taken by the British Government in this respect, in the Convention on the Future of Europe, of which I had the honour to be a member, along with the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, was very properly directed towards removing one of the weaknesses of the constitutional arrangements that still exist. I am glad that the British Government were successful in persuading others of the importance of the measure that was taken. I very much hope that this amendment will now disappear and not trouble your Lordships’ House any more.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Howell, I agree with the amendment. Why do we need this long-serving, long-time president? That was answered in a sense by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, who made a Jesuitical point about efficiency and effectiveness. Well, it depends how you define those two words, but it seems to me, and to others in our position, that the European Union has been perfectly effective or efficient enough already, both on the national and international stage, with a rotating presidency.

I do find it rather odd, again picking up on something that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said—I hope I have not misunderstood him—that it would relieve the burdens on smaller countries, such as Cyprus and Malta, not to have a presidency or to be a long way down the line to have a presidency. That seems to me extraordinary. All the federalists make great play about equality of nations and what a wonderful brotherhood this is, yet it seems to me that there is a first and a second division—those who will have the presidency and those who will not have it. Surely, it is much more sensible, if you are to have this figure, that he should remain short-term and that the presidency should be rotating and go around all the nations, even if they have it only every 14 years. That would not be terribly onerous. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, is absolutely right: this is naked empire-building. It is giving the European Union a presence on the world stage which it fears that it may not have at the moment, with a rotating president. Personally, I think that it is a very good thing from the point of view of our party—but be that as it may.

I move on to another point that has not been raised in this debate. I sincerely hope that we do not have a long-term president of the EU with all the trappings. I do not give any particular credence to this, but I have heard that the president will be salaried, have a house and staff, have a helicopter or two and several limos. We do not know about that; that is by the by; but the position is being built up. But if the EU is going to be a figure in the world—and it is obviously the design that it should have a position on the world stage—can I ask the Minister or her proxy what the position would be of Her Majesty the Queen, relative to the president of the European Union? We are a member state and Her Majesty the Queen is under the Maastricht treaty a citizen of the European Union. I wonder how or if her constitutional role would change, under these arrangements. Who would receive ambassadorial credentials? Who would represent Great Britain at international conferences, or at any international event in which the European Union might have a role and the United Kingdom might be separately represented? Would it affect her role as head of the Commonwealth, for instance?

I ask those questions simply for information. It is important that we get some answers during these debates, whether now or at a later stage. The noble Baroness, Lady Quin, said that she was rather dubious about Switzerland’s credentials as a democracy because it had denied votes to women for such a long time. Well—that is Swiss democracy. There was a referendum in the local canton of Appenzell, where they voted against having the representation of women. It may be reprehensible, but that is what happened; that is what they wanted. They changed their minds and now women are fully represented, of course. The Swiss have a terrific representative democracy. They have referendums on almost everything. There is almost perhaps too much representative democracy there, as the Swiss sometimes say. But, of course, that is a happy position to be in, when you have too much democracy. In the EU we have much too little.

I therefore support wholeheartedly the amendment of my noble friend Lord Howell and look forward to having one or two of the questions that I put, particularly on the monarchy, answered this evening.

I was going to say that it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, but, having heard that intervention about how the amendment would impact on Her Majesty the Queen, I think that he is either demonstrating that he has not read the amendment that he purports to support or that he is completely out of touch with its effect.

Unusually in this debate, I join in agreement with a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. When referring to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, he said that it was revealing. Indeed it was. It is the first speech that totally revealed what this part of the treaty is about. It was revealing and helpful and stands in contradiction to many of the other speeches made in the debate so far.

I wanted to address one or two comments to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. He asserted with absolute confidence that the smaller states do not want this measure. I wonder, therefore, how on earth it ever got into the treaty. Were they deceived or were they all so stupid that they did not understand what they were doing, or did they actually support the proposition? Those are rhetorical questions, so I hope that noble Lords will not feel that they have to answer them. I am amazed by the noble Lord’s remarks. He went on to make a remark that immediately reminded me of my noble friend Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld, who has not been able to be with us for just over a year due to ill health. However, I am sure that if he were here and had heard the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, describe this measure as a pig in a poke, he would have stood up with the same alacrity that he displayed when, as a committee chairman, he replied to Mr Dennis Canavan in the other place when the latter accused him of trying to sell the committee a pig in a poke. My noble friend Lord Hogg pointed out to him that while there was a Hogg in the chair there would be no references to pigs in pokes or anywhere else. As soon as I hear the phrase “pig in a poke” I remember my noble friend Lord Hogg, as I do today.

The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, also made an important point. He said with great confidence to my noble friend Lord Sewel, who made an intervention, that, unlike the president of the Council, the president of a cricket club does not send ambassadors here, there and everywhere. However, the president of the Council will not be doing that either. The full-time, or longer term, president of the Council will have nothing to do with the external action service either in terms of its employment or deployment. Its deployment will be the responsibility of the Commission, particularly as regards the high representative. It will certainly not be a personal service at the disposal of whoever happens to be the president of the Council.

With those few words I echo the view expressed by a number of speakers. I hope that this amendment is withdrawn so that we can get on to ones of more substance.

I support this amendment by underlining some of the questions put by my noble friends Lord Stoddart and Lord Willoughby de Broke. We are once again dealing with a well-worn area of Europhile propaganda, which runs that the European Union would grind to a halt if it does not have the constitution. The French and the Dutch knocked that one on the head and we had a one year and then a two year period of reflection. We are now told that the European Union will grind to a halt—some of us wish that it would—if it does not get this new treaty with a permanent president strutting the world stage for two and a half plus two and a half years in the interests of the bureaucrats and Europhiles who support him.

I have one question for the Minister, which I think undermines the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, and others. Since the rejection of the constitution by the French and Dutch people, does she accept that the pace and speed of European law-making has gone up by 25 per cent? The requirement for unanimity was no barrier to this increased speed of law-making, which occurred because laws were easily validated, as is generally accepted.

So why do we need this new treaty? We did not need the constitution and we certainly do not need this new president. That is the question and I would be very happy to receive an answer.

Once again, I ask what the noble Lord’s sources are. I recognise some aspects of Professor Helen Wallace’s paper for the European Commission and perhaps some of his sources are what she actually said. It is a paper that I am familiar with. She said that the speed of decision-making has, indeed, increased somewhat in the past few years, but that the number of Acts passed has not increased. With the preclusion of a large amount of legislation, speed has increased but the mass of legislation has not.

This evening, I am ready for the noble Lord, Lord Wallace. When he put a question to me earlier about the thousands of British troops that will be committed to the new European army, I was a bit flummoxed, because I had read the original in French. The Leader of the House tried to help me by sourcing my quote to Open Europe. When we come to the defence issue, I have the sources of that information, which are the Figaro and a very senior figure in the French Administration.

Regarding the question that the noble Lord has now put to me, the origin of my suggestion and my question is the Sciences Po institute in France, with which I hope the noble Lord is familiar. That is where the quotation comes from and it has been validated in Germany and in at least one Scandinavian country. I believe it to be factual. The absence of the constitution and, I maintain, the absence of this treaty, and certainly the absence of the European president, to which the amendment refers, will have little effect on the speed and quantity of European legislation. I suggest that we accept the amendment and see this project for what it really is.

Again, this has been an interesting debate. I only raise with noble Lords the time, because for noble Lords who I know have been clear that they want to complete the Committee in good time and in good order, I suggest that at the next Committee day we think about the length of our contributions, regardless of the intensity of debate, which I accept has been very important. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Quin, because it is very important that we girls get in on this debate. It is a boy-dominated discussion.

I cannot answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, about 25 per cent; I do not have the faintest idea what he is talking about, but I have no doubt that he will provide me with his sources and I shall be able to give him a full and factual answer. I have received a letter from Open Europe about the issue of its briefing, mentioned last time, in which it pointed out that there was an article in a newspaper. I have to say that I was looking for more authoritative sources. I will look at who wrote the article; I, too, can read it in the original French and we shall see where these debates take us.

Let me respond to the amendment by being clear on where we began our discussions on the purpose of the treaty. It related to the question of how we managed a European Union of 27 nation states, with a possibility of that number growing by one, two or possibly more, and made ourselves as effective as we possibly could, not only between ourselves as nation states, but on the world stage. I accept—and noble Lords have not made much of this, but it was an important element of the debate in another place—that the three presidencies working together, including the presidencies to come, have been important elements in making sure that there has been synergy, collaboration and continuity between those who have had the privilege of serving on the Council of Ministers in relation to all the aspects of European work and those who have chaired them together and thought through the continuity of what we do.

As a former justice Minister during the UK’s presidency who has had the privilege of chairing several Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings, I firmly believe that there is a real issue that we have to think about. We have been clear in the UK that it is a good move to think about the creation of a new full-time president of the European Council, because we have in Europe a strategic agenda which national prime ministers and presidents set for the European Union. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, rightly says that there are occasions when there is disagreement between member states. The role of the president is to be a functionary of the Council. The president is not making policy but rather representing the European Union on the world stage.

I looked back at the relations between the European Union and Russia, a country which was discussed earlier in our debates for different reasons. While Mr Putin was President of Russia, he met 16 different European leaders in their role as EU President—beginning with Portugal in May 2000, interestingly, running through the gamut of European countries and ending up with Portugal again in October 2007. Those who have the good fortune to chair the European Council are also running their own countries and have their own priorities as national Presidents or Prime Ministers. They arrive to take over the mantle from a President or Prime Minister before them and try to continue a debate which is often at a critical stage or are in the middle of deep negotiations with another member state. From my small and irrelevant experience of chairing the Justice and Home Affairs Council, I know that just when I had got to grips with things, I handed over the baton to somebody else. That does not matter on those councils where three presidencies are working together on issues that are beneath the strategic issues, looking at the role of the European Union on the global stage. However, it does matter when you are thinking about how to make sure that you have continuity in dealing with global issues. I believe that for an individual to represent the views where we have consensus between 27 member states for two and a half years plus two and a half years, and no longer, is a sensible solution.

Let us take the specific example of energy policy in relation to our relations with Russia, with President Putin. Germany would have a completely different view from Britain. How could this president represent those views?

The noble Lord makes a very important point. First, those discussions would largely be held between the energy Ministers working together on the appropriate Council of Ministers with the appropriate opposite number in Russia. When it came to the big strategic discussions, if there was not unanimity of agreement between the 27 member states, the President would not be able to represent a single view, and that is as it should be. We are not arguing that this person should start to make policy. The noble Lord shakes his head. I understand that that feels rather odd but it is no different from the present situation, with a rotating presidency every six months. Flawed though it may feel to the noble Lord as a strategic approach, it is the way forward in representing 27 member states where you need clear agreement on a particular policy. Rather than investing in an individual for a very short time, one is investing in an individual for a longer time. If that individual is regarded as a success, they can continue for a little longer and one gets continuity in negotiations. From his time as a Minister, the noble Lord will understand that continuity is an issue that is constantly faced. The principle behind that should be recognised by your Lordships’ House and by this Committee in particular.

That is, for me, the fundamental argument behind why this is such a sensible and straightforward proposition. It is not about glorifying individuals; it is about effectiveness and the ability to represent properly and see things through with a sense of continuity, which we cannot do at present.

Members of the Committee referred to the Blue Book again and I have had a letter from the author. None the less, I believe that what is said at the beginning of the book is incorrect. I shall not go into that in greater detail now, because I want to discuss it with the author. I am in no way suggesting that there is something fundamentally wrong with the book. As I said in our previous discussion, it was because I could not understand why noble Lords, faced with what is in the treaty, could reach a different conclusion that I went back to as many references as I could to see whether they might have read something that is still, in my view, inaccurate. I have asked for advice. I will not go further because I want to meet the author—I have met him before—and I do not want to say anything more until then.

It is very important to consider how valuable someone in that position might be. The noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, asked specific questions about the role of Her Majesty the Queen. I want to be absolutely clear. Her role is completely unchanged. The constitutional position is unchanged. Representation for the UK would be, as appropriate, Her Majesty or the Prime Minister. Nothing is changed by the treaty or anything within it. I hope that that puts the noble Lord’s fears and concerns at rest.

In the end, this is a debate between noble Lords who are concerned to see in the treaty ways in which they fear the growth and development of the European Union and those who see the treaty as an opportunity to develop the European Union, retaining what is rightly ours as a nation state but collaborating effectively together and finding new structures to take that forward. I sit firmly at the latter end of the spectrum. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

The noble Baroness the Lord President puts her case very reasonably and quite persuasively, but the truth is that behind this debate is a very deep division between those who want practical, detailed co-operation in the regional grouping that is the European Union—that is, us—and those who are looking for a place in the sun, a world role, a place on the world stage, as many European leaders are calling for. They are looking, in the words of the noble Baroness, for “a strategic global agenda” and a representative who can lead on that: this near-permanent president, someone who can hob-nob with the United States President and the President of Russia and can answer the telephone when Henry Kissinger rings up for one number, as he once claimed he did when he wanted to find out European external policy. That always seemed to me a particularly absurd ambition, because when you ring Washington, you get about 10 different views of foreign policy there. Why he should think that we could unify in Europe, I do not know. The answer is that we cannot. We can unify on some things in practical ways, in coalitions of groupings of European nations, and we do so, but we do not need the rigidifying and codifying of this under new laws and new treaties and a central figure, who would inevitably become the celebrity—the Mr Europe—whose views were taken to be the views of Europe as a whole, where they could be formulated.

I agree very strongly with my noble friend Lord Trenchard that in this modern, networked world, blocs are yesterday’s idea. Gathering together in some bigger grouping—or scrum, as it were—is not the way forward for a country such as this with all its historic abilities, qualities and skills in negotiating the chopping and changing of foreign policy with the complete changes in the centre of power and economic gravity that are taking place, which make our links with Asia as important as our links with our nearby neighbours in Europe. So there is an important deeper division. The noble Baroness's persuasive explanation does not convince me that that hers is the right way forward. This also damages the position of smaller countries. They may have signed up to the treaty—some have, but there has been a lot of grumbling. If the rotating system is to end, they will be cut out of the scene at the highest level for a time.

The noble Lord, Lord Roper, took me to task about the definition of who was and who was not on the Council. I think that he was probably right, because he is very well informed on these things, but it does state in the treaty:

“The European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take part in its work”.

That may not make him a full-time member, but he is there, taking part in the work of the European Council, as well as being the vice-president of the Commission. That is blurring the international and the supranational in ways that are very dangerous for the future. If we are blind to that, we will be blind to a lot of trouble in future.

There was also an intervention, again from the noble Lord, Lord Roper, about CFSPs, a no-go area for qualified majority voting. That has been asserted by the Government and it is claimed in the treaty. I think we will be able to prove without challenge in later amendments that that simply is not so and that the CFSP is exposed to QMV arrangements in Article 32—I think it is renumbered as Article 17(2)—where the new Foreign Minister can bring forward decisions for QMV in the Council. There are 10 other areas where QMV also comes into foreign policy issues. Do not let us be quite so certain, as some people seem to be, that QMV is out of CFSP and that it is in an area where our veto is maintained. It is not.

Finally—I know we want to be brief so we can get a little more work done tonight—as for the words of the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, I suspect he has been put up by his colleagues as the terrier who is designed to provoke the wicked Tories and to describe us as what we are not, which is anti-European. We are strongly pro-European and always have been in ways that many others, particularly the zealots who want to push everyone together in an over-integrated system, are not.

In your Lordships' House, which I much enjoy, many of my individual friends are on the Liberal Democrat Benches. Collectively, however, I really cannot conceal my contempt for their supine yesterday Europhilia. They are the embodiment of everything that brings my beloved Europe into disrepute and which elevates the worst features of unaccountable bureaucratic power in Brussels and downgrades Europe’s best features of diversity, variegated vitality and democratic legitimacy.

When it comes to the Brussels bureaucracy, all I can say to my Liberal Democratic colleagues is that they make poodles and lapdogs look positively rebellious.

Having said that, I am very tempted to press such a serious issue but it is late and we will return to this matter because it is of fundamental importance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10: Clause 2, page 1, line 12, after “excluding” insert—

“(i) Article 1, paragraph 17, inserted Article 9C TEU, paragraph 4, and Article 2, paragraph 191 TFEU, replacement Article 205(a), paragraph 3; and(ii) ”

The noble Lord said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Blackwell and at his request, I will do my best to speak to the amendment standing in his name.

This concerns the new voting arrangements in the treaty, about which there has been a certain amount of black smoke. The Government has asserted that our voting influence will increase as result of the treaty. This is such a partial account as to be positively misleading. What the treaty actually does is to increase countries’ power to pass measures but to reduce their power to block them. This is a crucial distinction that has not been adequately recognised in debates, either inside or outside Parliament.

Under the system agreed at Nice, EU laws presently have to pass three hurdles: 74 per cent of the weight of votes in the Council plus 62 per cent of the population and a majority of member states. Under the treaty there will be just two hurdles: 65 per cent of the population and 55 per cent of the member states. The highest hurdle has therefore been taken away, making it easier to pass legislation. This is what people must mean when they talk about streamlining decision making.

These changes will make it harder to block legislation. Germany will be the only large member state whose power to do so would remain roughly the same. The London School of Economics has gone to the trouble of doing the arithmetic. I hope it has got it right. They quantify the UK’s loss of blocking power at 30 per cent.

As with so much of the Lisbon treaty, the new voting system is taken directly from the Constitution with the difference that it will now not come into force until five years after the rest of the treaty comes into force, in other words not until November 2014. Europe would not be Europe without a thicket of almost impenetrable detail, but I will spare your Lordships the complex interim arrangements up to March 2017 and the various exceptions and deadlock-breaking compromises in the text. These are a sideshow to the main point that stopping unwanted laws will become more difficult. Originally, and we have heard this before too, the Government were against the new system. Peter Hain said:

“We see no need to revise the deal made at Nice”.

But somewhere along the line our objection was dropped.

Why should we be more concerned about blocking legislation than about passing it? The answer is straightforward. The Union is already producing too much regulation and it is too difficult to repeal it. A recent poll of 1,000 UK chief executives found that more than half of them thought that the benefits of the single market are now outweighed by the costs of EU regulation. That is an absolutely shocking result, but perhaps of little surprise to those of us who spend our days in business and away from Westminster and Whitehall. In fact, you could not walk into a small firm, charity or community centre without finding a similar level of resentment at the unending flow of EU rules, admittedly often gold-plated domestically. The latest edition of the Laws of England has doubled to 100 volumes, with most of the new laws, according to the editor, coming from Europe.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce, EU regulation introduced since 1997 has cost British firms £40 billion, nearly three-quarters of the cost of all regulation introduced since that date. So making it even easier for Brussels to churn out laws seems extremely unwise. I shall give a couple of specific examples. The UK is currently blocking the removal of our exemptions from the working time directive. We are also resisting the temporary agency workers directive. Our ability to defend our position in the Council, particularly on the second directive, is fragile, and under the new system it would probably collapse altogether. In boom times we can just about live with all these impositions, but in difficult times we become more acutely aware of the drip-drip of business going elsewhere and of companies and wealth producers packing their bags for more competitive economic climates. The Financial Services Action Plan is costing the City £14 billion to implement. That was bad enough when the financial sector was flourishing a year or two ago, but today it is a heavy blow after Northern Rock and the liquidity crunch.

As well as reducing our ability to stop legislation, the Lisbon treaty would also hinder our ability to amend it as it goes through the Council by using the weapon of our blocking power to improve draft laws and head off protectionism. Some of the more unacceptable proposals in the directives on financial instruments, prospectuses, consumer credit and transparency were only removed by the UK and other liberal member states through combining our potential blocking vote and threatening to use it. There are important regulations still in the pipeline, such as the Solvency II regulation on insurance, and it is almost inevitable that there will be a legislative response to the credit crisis. In both cases, the UK will be affected disproportionately, given the City’s pre-eminence in the financial sector. It is therefore all the more important to be able to stop ill-judged laws.

Climate change regulation is another area of some concern. The emissions trading scheme and the biofuel targets are both deeply flawed. Some in the House today have called them a disaster. Now there is talk in France of jacking up EU farm tariffs on climate-related grounds. As the Financial Times pointed out yesterday, Monsieur Barnier’s proposals are very dangerous. The consequences of our being unable to block agricultural protectionism are very alarming for impoverished African farmers.

The line is that without the treaty, the Union will grind to a halt. There is no evidence whatever to support this assertion. The EU of 27 member states has proved to be a more prolific legislative machine than the EU of 15. Members tonight have already referred to the Parisian Sciences Po institute, which found that the EU has been adopting new rules and regulations faster since enlargement. The voting system introduced by the Lisbon treaty is therefore unnecessary. Indeed, it is worse than unnecessary. It risks negating the liberalising reform agenda in Europe that this country has so long stood for. I beg to move.

I do not wish to detain the Committee for long, but I would like to comment on one or two things said by the noble Lord, Lord Leach of Fairford, in moving this amendment. When the noble Lord came before the Select Committee to give us evidence, we were pleased when he told us that it was hard to object to the principle of recognising population in the voting system. Indeed, we were so pleased with that remark that we quoted it at paragraph 4.56 of our report.

On the more substantive issue to which the noble Lord referred—the weight of the United Kingdom in the new voting system—there are two points to be made. As to building up a majority—and we are normally in the majority—our weight will go up from 8 per cent to 12 per cent, so we will have 50 per cent more weight when we are trying to build up a majority to get something agreed. When we come to blocking, there is a dispute. The noble Lord is quite right. Open Europe, in its report, states that the UK stands to lose nearly 30 per cent of its ability to block EU legislation in the Council. On the other hand, others, including the Government, consider that the UK’s share of a blocking minority will increase from 32 per cent to 35 per cent. Therefore, there is a dispute on this matter. I happen to accept the views of the Government, which were supported by others.

There is another point. At the moment, it is necessary to have only three member states in order to have a blocking minority. That is increased under the treaty to four member states, which could be argued to disadvantage us in some way. However, we were impressed when a former British representative to the European Union, Sir Stephen Wall, told us that the current minimum of three member states to form a blocking minority was a mistake, because it is not often that we are in league with two other large member states in wanting to block something. He did not think that the minimum of four would be significant in terms of undermining the British ability to block. I do not believe that the changes in the Lisbon treaty in this respect are significant and, therefore, I do not believe that this amendment deserves support.

I completely agree with my noble friend Lord Leach of Fairford. I am pleased to see in his place my noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, because he and I experienced at the front line what can go wrong and why it is so important to get these checks and balances right. We encountered what is affectionately known as the Lazarus system. We were reliably informed that a whole series of directives that would have impacted on the UK’s competitiveness were dead and buried. We had not realised that it was perfectly possible for them to be revived, so we knew these directives as the Lazarus directives. Some of them have been quoted by my noble friend. They indeed impact on our competitiveness. We have to consider the jewel in our crown of financial services and the pre-eminence of the City of London. The idea of the more legislation, the better can run directly counter to our national interest. That is why I think that the noble Lord, Lord Roper, conceded that there were areas where we suffer in our ability to stop the flood of legislation and it is why I support my noble friend.

I start by saying how much we welcome the noble Lord, Lord Leach of Fairford, stepping in to move this amendment on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell. I am led to understand that this is the first amendment that he has moved in this House; to do so at 10 minutes to 10 after a long, heavy day of Committee work demands more than is usually required. I congratulate the noble Lord, although I shall not agree with him. I hope that that does not come as too much of a disappointment or surprise to him.

His amendment would exclude the provisions in the Lisbon treaty that set out the new double majority voting system from having any effect in UK law. To us, this a key institutional reform introduced by the treaty and one which means that decision-making will become fairer, reflecting more accurately the relative population sizes of the member states and, at the same time, increasing the UK’s voting weight.

We believe that the new system will ensure more effective decision-making in the enlarged EU. As it is based on population, surely it is more transparent and fairer than the current QMV system. As has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Roper, our share of the votes in the Council of Ministers will rise substantially from 8.4 per cent—that is, 29 votes out of 345 under the incredibly complex Nice system—to 12.3 per cent.

The treaty of Lisbon updates the EU’s institutional structure to reflect the fact that the EU now has 27 member states and faces new global challenges and opportunities. Frankly, effective co-operation in the EU will be essential in meeting those challenges. The treaty updates the EU’s institutional structure in a number of different ways, and we have discussed some of them tonight. That structure was designed for a different era and we believe that the changes will enable Europe to act more effectively. It is in our country’s interest to see more effective decision-making in areas such as energy, the environment and counterterrorism. It is not in our interest to see gridlock as an EU of 27 becomes, it is hoped, even larger in the future.

While considering the merits of a voting system, we have to bear in mind that a single member state is only as strong as the coalition of which it is a part. The benefits, or otherwise, to the UK depend as much on the change to the strengths of other countries as to the UK. By way of example, Germany, which was referred to by the noble Lord, will, as the largest member state by some margin, be the biggest beneficiary of the move to a voting system based on population. Thus, in votes where the UK and Germany are on the same side—as we tend to be, for example, on budgetary issues—DMV is in the UK’s interest not only because our vote increases but also because the German vote increases too.

Under the new system, it will be simpler to update the voting weights if and when new member states join. Because we will have in place a system based essentially on population, rather than prescribing each country a specific number of votes, we will not need to renegotiate the system every time a new country joins. That could be particularly important as Croatian accession moves closer. It is part of a sensible updating of the institutional framework of the Union to equip it to act more effectively in pursuit of shared interests.

It has been alleged by some—the noble Lord referred to this—that double majority voting would reduce our blocking power. I have seen figures, and they have been mentioned today, suggesting that our blocking power would be reduced by some 30 per cent. Those figures are discredited. Those who used them quoted from a paper published by academics at the London School of Economics in June 2004. One of the authors of the paper, Professor Machover, has made it clear to us that, in his view, under the new voting system the UK’s relative position will substantially improve. The Select Committee, under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, who is in his place, concludes:

“The new system for calculating a qualified majority is more equitable and takes more account of population than the current QMV rules, and the revision is significant”.

The committee also repeated:

“The UK’s voting weight increases from 8 per cent to 12 per cent”.

Finally, we have analysed situations where the UK has recently been in blocking minorities on sensitive issues, such as on the soil directive, the payment services directive, the 2008 Community budget and the European fisheries fund. In each and every case, I am advised that we would have also been in a comfortable position to defend our interests under these new rules.

We step, then, into the field of qualified majority voting. I hope that the Committee will agree that it is really too late to start a debate on that—on its virtues or otherwise—tonight. However, if there are members of the Committee against qualified majority voting in principle, it is important to remember that the first use of it was in the treaty of Rome; it was extended further by the Single European Act. The Government recognise, as we did at Nice—and as our predecessors did in the Single European Act, and at Maastricht, which followed it—that, as the Union grows in size, decision-making by unanimity can become more difficult. QMV can make that easier.

The example, of course, is that the single market could never have been built, nor would much legislation have been passed on, for example, the environment, market liberalisation or reform of the common agricultural policy, without QMV. With the greatest of respect, I will quote the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, who said in this House, long ago now, in 1993:

“We would never have got the single market without an extension … of majority voting … we wanted a single market, and we had in fact to have some majority voting”.—[Official Report, 7/6/1993; col. 562.]

I hope that—

Earlier today, the Minister made a useful intervention about the speed of this Committee. We have reached Amendment No. 10. By my calculations, looking at the Marshalled List, we will need another 30 days in Committee to complete this Bill. May I make it clear, with both Chief Whips in their place, that on these Benches we are, in the four remaining days, willing to sit until midnight and, if necessary, through the night to see this Bill through? I have sat through many Committee stages in this House and I have never known such self-indulgence from Members on the opposition Front Bench, who have toured so many horizons in their interventions and given vent to so many old prejudices. I therefore think that the Opposition had better go away and think hard about how they will play this game, because their behaviour goes into dangerous territory.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, will reflect carefully on the words that he has just uttered. This is a Bill of constitutional significance. These Benches take the Bill seriously, as we do the scrutiny that this House carries out so valuably. I am aware that, today, Members of the Committee from all Benches have given their expertise and, while I may not have agreed with what they said, I certainly agree with the way in which they said it. We on these Benches will defend the right of this House to carry out proper scrutiny of Bills. We do not abuse process; we use it. We undertake to continue to do that, as we do now, with honour.

Before I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment, which I was about to do, I am certain that the usual channels will be discussing the progress of this Bill in the usual way. With thanks to the noble Lord again for moving his amendment, I ask him to withdraw it tonight.

Before the noble Lord, Lord Leach, does that, I really must put on record the fact that the Minister took my noble friend Lady Thatcher seriously out of context when he just quoted her. As her latest book reveals, she has changed her mind much since then. I would not want this evening’s debate to finish on a note of unfairness to the greatest peacetime leader that this country has had for many years.

I hope that I did not do the noble Baroness an injustice; I certainly did not intend to do so. But the quotation about the use of qualified majority voting for the single market is on the record; it is a fact. I hear what the noble Lord says about that but my quotation was fair and is relevant to the amendment that is before the Committee.

It is getting late and I shall try not to detain the Committee for too long. I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his generous remarks. I did not expect them and I do not deserve them, but it was kind of him.

The noble Lord, Lord Roper, rightly quoted against me—perhaps not against me, but with me—my remarks that I thought it would be a good thing to reflect a little more the weight of population. I said that and I still believe it, and it is reflected in the treaty. But that is not where the shoe pinches; that is at another stage of the triple majority process. So although I welcome it, it is not really the main point.

I struggle with the thought—perhaps my logic fails me at this hour of the night—that it can be both easier to pass and easier to block legislation, which appears to be what is being said by those who disagree with my analysis and that of the LSE. I am grateful for the critique of the LSE analysis and I shall certainly look into it. If the LSE has it wrong, it has it wrong, and it will not be quoted by my lips again. But if it has it right, you may hear from me again.

The Minister returned to the question of effectiveness, a theme which has been raised quite often today. I am in general in favour of effectiveness, but in the matter of passing laws—where we already have an enormous mass of laws, where the weight is so great and where there are recurrent promises from generation to generation that they will be cut back by 25 per cent while the exact opposite happens—my enthusiasm for greater effectiveness is considerably muted.

Gridlock was quoted in connection with matters such as climate change legislation. If there had been gridlock on biofuel limits and on the emissions trading system, we would be a great deal better off because we could have used that gridlock to give some thought to these proposals, which have turned out to be extremely ill judged. We might then have got them right in the first place instead of struggling to get them right the second, third and fourth time round, or even cancel them altogether.

My main purpose, however, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, was to highlight the economic costs of EU regulation and the danger that this will escalate further by easing the process of passing new laws. That, at least, is agreed on by both sides of the Committee. I shall reflect carefully on the thoughtful points that have been made. I may return to this issue at a later stage, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Before the House resumes, I would like to assure noble Lords that the excellent scrutiny undertaken by the Committee will continue. I am glad to say that we have four days of Committee left. Before we meet again as a Committee, my colleagues in the usual channels and I will be discussing how we move forward with this excellent scrutiny in the time we have left. With that, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.