Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Labour Committee Demands EU Treaty Referendum

When I was doing the News 24 paper review on Saturday the Sunday Express had a story about the Labour dominated European Scrutiny Committee issuing a report this week on the new Constitutional Reform Treaty. The report has been published today and I am grateful to the Daily Referendum blog for highlighting these three paragraphs of amendments tabled by the Conservatives on the Committee.

1. The Reform Treaty, as compared to the Original Constitutional Treaty, requires a referendum of the electorate of the United Kingdom because it is the equivalent to the Constitutional Treaty, even if not the same. It is a distinction without a proper difference.

2. A referendum is required for the following constitutional reasons: the Reform Treaty with the merger of the TEC, based on the Treaty of Rome (which was the genesis of the European Economic Community), followed by the Single European Act on the one hand and the TEU (with its genesis in the Maastricht Treaty which deals with European government, followed by Nice and Amsterdam), on the other, into a Union with an overarching single legal personality and a self-amending text is "substantial constitutional change", even "fundamental change" in terms that warrant a referendum according to the government's own criteria.

4. The Reform Treaty on all these tests requires a referendum. It would be a deceit of the electorate (even by the criteria for a referendum set out by the Government) to refuse to hold one, unless the Treaty itself was rejected by the Prime Minister in the IGC on 18/19 October as he should. Unless this occurs, refusal to hold a referendum would be a breach of trust with respect to the Reform Treaty (let alone past promises about the original Constitutional Treaty made in 2004) and would run clearly contrary to the assertions of the present Prime Minister that he is committed to restoring good governance, democracy and trust.

These amendments were voted down by the Labour majority. It will be interesting to see what the final report says. If the Sunday Express is right, the report (endorsed by Labour MPs) will indeed say that the Treaty is not substantially different from the original constitution

UPDATE: I have had to substantially change this post after David Boothroyd correctly pointed out that the amendments above were not voted for by Labour MPs. This was not a deliberate misrepresentation on my part; I misunderstood what was being said on the Daily Referendum blog and thought that these paragraphs were part of the main report. Apologies for any confusion.


David Boothroyd said...

What a pity your blog post appears above a link calling for a criminal offence of lying. Because the paragraphs you quote are not from the report, but from an amendment proposed by Bill Cash MP (see here) which was supported by Bill Cash, Anthony Steen and David Heathcoat Amory (Conservatives) and opposed by six Labour members and one SNP member of the committee. This is not the committee report.

This may be a committee with a Labour majority but the committee did not call for a referendum. You are lying when you suggest it did.

Anonymous said...

gordo has to cave and give a refendum surely. we all know that this is the constitution in drag.

Anonymous said...

I was beginning to think that common sense was prevailing at last - and then along came David Boothroyd and smashed the illusion. It's a real shame if what David has said is correct.

Iain Dale said...

David, You are entirely right, although I was not lying, it was an honest mistake. I read the DR blog and I honestly thought this was part of the main committee report. I have now substantially rewritten the piece to reflect that and added an UPDATE at the bottom explaining that you pointed out the error.

I hope that you will accept I was not deliberately lying!

David Lindsay said...

That's that, then: Brown should reject it at the IGC, or, if he doesn't, then Parliament should throw it out (as it is clear from this that it will).

Who needs a referendum for the BBC to spend a month parading that clever Dr MacShane or that engaging Mr Clarke (not to say that nice Mr Cameron, who has never promised to campaign for a No vote) against Tony Benn once every three or four programmes and people who want to abolish the NHS the rest of the time? By the end of that month, there'd be a massive Yes vote.

So instead, let the Prime Minister and Parliament do their jobs properly. Th latter, at least, clearly wants to. What's stopping it?

eric the fish said...

How about this thought? We shouldn't have a referendum because there is no precedent for having a referendum when treaties (be they EU or other) are signed.

We went into the EEC without a referendum, we went into the EU without a referendum. All sorts and sizes of EU treaties have been signed without the need for referendums. All sorts and sizes of other treaties have been signed without the need for referendums.

Referendums are nasty foreign things which we don't need because we have had centuries of stable government.

Agree? Thought not...

John T said...

David Lindsay - are your comments made with Iain's honest error in mind?
Am I the only one who has to type in a vaguely rude Polish word below before my comment appears?
Ignoring your (little in my view) error, Iain, you asked a question of Labour Readers. I'm not admitting whether I'm one, in case "anonymous" starts jumping all over me, but I think the answer resides in Browns (nearly famous) red lines. We should know if they are holding firm very soon. If they don't hold firm, and Brown comes back home without having got his handbag out (borrowed from Lady T - did anyone else noticed she left No. 10 without it?), then I'll be first to the barricades, with one eye over my shoulder in case any "tory Readers" are behind me!

David Boothroyd said...

Oh I don't know Iain, was Tony Blair lying in the foreword to the September dossier?

john t said...

david I don't know, he says not, but war is not about to break out over the EU Treaty. Or is it? I get the impression most people don't mind too much either way.
And uvsjea to you too!

David Lindsay said...

Most Labour MPs, including Brown, don't really want this Treaty any more than most Tories do, although I wouldn't bet on Cameron's opposition to it if the chips were down. Probably half of the Lib Dems don't want it, either.

So MPs should just throw it out, if Brown hasn't already done so at the IGC. A referendum would only turn out as I described. But who needs one, anyway?

Daily Referendum said...

Iain is not lying on this,

The blame is mine for not making it clear in my post that those paragraphs quoted were proposed amendments. I have also altered my post to make this clear.

I would like to point out that the committee are not confident that Gordon Brown's red lines cannot be eroded over time. The BBC News website have a video of the committee's Labour chairman explaining just that.


Anonymous said...

So you failed to check your source, Iain? What a shame.

Always best to check with the Committee report itself rather than relying on the spin of others, I find.

Vienna Woods said...

What are these three bloody red lines? Are they the same as the three "conditions" for the economy. Everything this stupid, half baked Scotsman gets his clumsy fingers on, he screws up. Everything he puts forward is in 'threes'. Can't he count passed three, or what? Is he such a dumbo that he believes the general public listen to his fairy stories with "three wishes" at the end of it all. Everything about him is surreal. No wonder the economy is f*cked!

John T said...

Vienna Woods, I was a floating voter, but I'm not now!
I don't agree with you, but I commend your grammar, apart from the lack of a hyphen, and I think you meant "past".

Not a sheep said...

Will Gordon Brown now admit that his line from Prime Minister's Questions on 25 July this year "Let me just read from the mandate agreed at the Council:
'The constitutional concept, which consisted in repealing all existing Treaties and replacing them by a single text called ‘Constitution’, is abandoned.'” was at best disingenuous. As his Labour dominated European Scrutiny Committee says "we do not consider that references to abandoning a 'constitutional concept' or 'constitutional characteristics' are helpful and consider that they are even likely to be misleading in so far as they might suggest the Reform Treaty is of lesser significance than the Constitutional Treaty. We believe that the Government must offer evidence if it is to assert that the processes are significantly different."

More at http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2007/10/european-constitutution.html

John T. said...

Daily Referendum, the bit about erosion over time interests me. I have a feeling the red lines are with us to stay. Sorry, Vienna, I can't remember what the lines comprise, and I don't care too much, but I think they are to do with the normal concerns such as foreign policy. I've also realised that I've put my attention to spelling and grammar too much under the spotlight for my ability to bear, so I'd like to retract my implied criticism of yours.

john t said...

Not a Sheep - I should hope not - "the constitutional concept is abandoned" is unambiguous. Even if 100% of the ideas within the rejected constitution made it into the treaty, it would still be the case that the concept of "constitution" was abandoned. The "concept of a treaty" has replaced it, killing the argument over whether we want a constitution, and replacing it with an argument over what we want in a treaty - a much less formidable vehicle for co-operation.
Where the real difficulty is, is in the possible erosion over time of the red lines, and I look forward to the arguments over whether they've been eroded over the next few months, or even years.
As "GB" Shaw once said, "One good treaty is as good as ten good fights"

Vienna Woods said...

I don’t usually read the Daily Mail on Line but today there is a rather interesting article about Sainsbury’s and immigrant labour. The full article can be accessed here:

What is worth reading is this little piece towards the end, which although obvious for some time now, should make many people very nervous. This is perfect evidence as to why we should be slamming the door on the EU before our society is overrun with cheap labour.

The British Chambers of Commerce warned that a generation of British children is in danger of going "from school straight to welfare" while migrants fill skill shortages in the economy.
Director general David Frost said 500,000 18 to 24-year-olds were out of work.
Normally at such levels employers would find they had a shortage of workers - but nobody noticed because immigrants had taken their place.
Professor David Blanchflower, who sits on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, suggested to the peers that immigration from Eastern Europe had dampened down wage growth because it had increased the "fear of unemployment" because more workers were available for jobs.

John T said...

Vienna Woods - I think "perfect" is the wrong word. I don't read it either (though my wife gets it for the very funny letters page!), but I can't see in your excerpt any reference to "cheap". Presumably Sainsbury's wage levels for 18-24 year-old semi-skilled (or un-skilled) workers are at or above Labour's pesky minimum wage. I heard something to-day along the lines that immigrant workers were better than indigent ones - I'm pretty sure this was the same Sainsbury's rather unpatriotic spokesperson.
Perhaps the answer is for our kids to work a bit harder than the immigrants, most of whom will have made the effort to speak English in order to pass the interview with Sainsbury's. I'm all for pulling up the drawbridge if those wanting to come aboard really were vile and feckless and intent on "swamping" "us", but I think those immigrants who harm our society are rather fewer in number than those who harm it after ejoying 18 years of living here.

Vienna Woods said...

john T, you are absolutely incorrect in your assumptions. One needs to take a wide view than from the UK and see the damage done to most western economies by the gross influx of East Europeans without any control. I do not for one minute believe that the majority of English workers are lazy, incompetent oafs as you so readily imply. The reason that Sainsbury's and other major employers of manual workers are happy is due to the fact that East Europeans are flexible, which simply means they will work outside of safety regulations and for lower remuneration without argument. I would have thought that as you are so critical you would have taken time out to read the whole article instead of jumping in with both feet. Anyway, I think that the short version makes it adequately clear in the sentence "..dampened down wage growth" to mean that employers like not having to pay the going rate! This situation is being repeated right across Europe currently and of course big-business loves it, not giving a damn about anything else but profits.

John T said...

Vienna Woods
Thank-you - it's so rare to find some-one on here who is prepared to engage. May I ?
"the majority of English workers are lazy, incompetent oafs as you so readily imply" If you inferred that from my comments, I'm worse at communicating than I'd thought! Imeant that thereis more laziness, and oafishness (your word) among 18-24 year - old British workers tahn among 18-24 year-old immigrants. In
my opinion. You're right to say i haven't read the whole article, but that doesn't exclude me from a conversation with you, I hope.
Furthermore :
"the damage done to most western economies by the gross influx of East Europeans without any control"
is contentious in that the figures seem to suggest the wider western economies benefit from the influx of "flexible" workers who put downward pressure on wages.

I would turn this around and say that more damage has been done on the economies that are being abandoned by their youngsters, which is a valid argument agaist the influx. You see, I'm not disagreeing with you there,nor do I disagree with your point about businesses caring only for profits, but I think Sainsbury's would disagree with you on two counts. First, they think that dampened wage expectations are good for their customers and shareholders, and second that they do operate within very strict health and safety rules, and the minimum wage.
Can I ask what you would do about this?
Also, I've put another question to people ion this site, and I'm at a loss for a reply of any kind. Do you think that the popularity of Osborne's IHT proposal will lead to more of the traditional Tory policies returning, such as lower income taxes, more de-regulation, etc., and what would that mean for poulation flows in Europe?
Yours in total respect
John T

Anonymous said...

A new petition has been launched calling for EU residents to be given the right to vote on the EU REFORM TREATY.

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The site contains a petition which will be delivered to the meeting in Lisbon at 1pm UK time on Thursday 18.10.07 for the attention of all participating leaders of governments of all members of the European Union.

The public is urged to join this petition by 12pm UK time tomorrow in order that their details can be added in advance of the petition being delivered to the meeting.