CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

EUROPE – EUROPEAN GOVERNMENT – 3 May 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: As these may be the last business questions of this Parliament, and as I am one of the regular attenders, may I say on behalf of several of my right hon. and hon. Friends how much we have appreciated the way the Leader of the House has discharged her duties, typified by the courtesy with which she responded to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir Peter Emery) only a few moments ago?

Now back to business. I have repeatedly raised the point that, a year and a half ago, the President of the European Commission described the Commissioners as "the Government of Europe", and this has been repeatedly disregarded by Ministers, including the Prime Minister, whenever it has been raised in the House. Now that the Chancellor of Germany has made the same statement –proposing to formalise the European Commission as the Government of Europe – and has been backed, according to press reports today, by the Belgian Prime Minister, will the right hon. Lady find time for a statement by an appropriate Minister on the serious constitutional question of whether this country will continue governing itself, or will indeed become part of a European superstate? The Prime Minister's counterparts in other countries clearly wish that to happen.

[Margaret Beckett: My understanding is that the document to which the hon. Gentleman refers is a draft policy paper that is under discussion in Germany and raises issues as to what the respective powers of the EU and member states should be, and notes that there should be clarity about them. That is very much an issue that the Prime Minister has addressed. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that he has on several occasions raised remarks made by the President of the European Commission: one of the reasons that no one talks much about that is that those remarks are not taken all that seriously. Finally, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courteous remarks.]