CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

EUROPE – ENLARGEMENT & DEFENCE – 17 October 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: I thank the Minister [Peter Hain] for giving way. As my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) cannot answer for himself, may I suggest an answer on his behalf? The Nice treaty covers many matters other than enlargement, such as the creation of a European military force outside the NATO structure. How can the Minister try to blackmail the House into saying that we must vote for the Bill, because if we vote against it for any reason whatever, we are voting against enlargement? That is, as my hon. Friend rightly said, utter nonsense.

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Dr Lewis: The hon. Gentleman [Andrew Miller] is making a typically fair-minded and thoughtful speech. However, in the event of a terrible decision having to be taken to shoot down an airliner, which I think is what he is getting at, surely that could be taken only through the medium of NATO. Such a decision would be taken at that level if it is not taken unilaterally. I cannot envisage a European military capability making a difference in the way that he suggests.