New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: My right hon. Friend is doing a grand job and has already persuaded me that I should not refuse to vote for clause stand part, but he has not persuaded me not to vote for amendment 41, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (William Cash). Why, if that amendment is defective in the way that the Minister describes, did our Front Benchers approach my hon. Friend when we were in opposition, take over an identical amendment that he had drafted and run with it extensively in both Houses?

[The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): My hon. Friend is ingenious and teasing in his question, but I am here to represent the policies of the Government, not to account for what our party said a few years ago in opposition.

My fear is that the impact of the amendment could be the opposite of what my hon. Friends who support it hope for. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Bill Cash) and Professor Tomkins have warned of a new trend of judicial activism, and my hon. Friend argued that powerful elements in the judiciary were seeking as a matter of policy to challenge the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. I find unpersuasive the argument that to introduce the word "sovereignty" into the Bill would quell that ambition. The word lacks a clear definition-we have found about 30 statutes that include it, and they all refer to territorial sovereignty, not to constitutional authority. There is no existing accepted definition, and I fear that the lack of a clear definition would encourage the very judges against whom my hon. Friends warn me to interpret the substance, scope and limits of sovereignty through judicial activism.]