European Union Bill Debate

Neil Parish welcomes the Bill which will transfer sovereignty back to Westminster and ensure more public and parliamentary involvement prior to the UK ratifying certain EU decisions and Treaty changes and never again deny the British people a referendum on an issue such as the Lisbon Treaty.Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I very much welcome my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's Bill. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), I spent 10 years in the European Parliament. [Interruption.] Yes, I sinned too; tonight is a night of confession.Seriously, over those 10 years we saw powers being transferred from the House to Brussels. I saw Tony Blair negotiate an increase in the budget of the European Union and give away part of our rebate, worth billions of pounds-and what for? A so-called reform in the common agricultural policy further down the road. Of course, when we got further down the road, there was no reform of the CAP; by then, the European Union had the money and was moving forward.It is absolutely right that we should have this sovereignty Bill to curb the powers of the European Union. The people of this country are absolutely fed up of seeing a one-way street going from Westminster to Brussels and not coming back. That is why the Bill is so important.Yes, the Bill probably does not go as far as many of us would like it to go, but at least we are stopping the flow. It is no good for shadow Ministers to wind us up by saying that the Bill is just to placate the Eurosceptics. I suggest that if the Labour party had been a bit more Eurosceptic when it was in power, we would not be in this position now. The Lisbon treaty was basically the European constitution, but wrapped in different wrapping paper. However, because of that, the Labour party said that we would no longer have a referendum on it and the people of this country were denied one.Now is the time to support the Bill and bring powers back. Provisions such as the social chapter, to which Tony Blair signed up, have brought all the working time directives and all the bureaucracy that ties up our businesses and stops us going forward as an economy. In time, after this, all those things will have to be pulled back to make sure that, in the end, this Parliament is sovereign and that we are not dictated to by Brussels.9.13 pm| Hansard