The treaty is not just damaging to our national interest It will not only give

The treaty is not just damaging to our national

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The treaty is not just damaging to our national interest. It will not only give the EU unwarranted power over our national life. It marks the point when the arrogance of power made a Government forget that nothing lasting can be built in a democracy without the people’s consent. 4.56 pm Ms Patricia Hewitt (Leicester, West) (Lab): I am delighted to support the Third Reading of this important Bill, particularly after participating in so many hours of
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debate on the Bill, which have proved so immensely instructive and in many ways so enjoyable. I start by adding my own tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, who has been a consistently well informed and good natured companion through the highways and byways of the Lisbon treaty, in a debate that has also been marked by the intellectual weight and the vision of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. The debate has on so many occasions been enlivened by the great wit of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague)—a brilliant wit that 11 Mar 2008 : Column 176 sometimes disguises the vacuousness of his party’s position on the central issue of our country’s relationships with our partners in the European Union. We have also heard on many, many occasions the arguments, the fears and the conspiracy theories from Opposition Members who oppose more or less openly Britain’s membership of the European Union, as do a few of my hon. Friends. Listening to those contributions over these many days, I was constantly reminded of why and when I became a pro-European. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the assiduous way in which she has participated in the debates. Does she agree that from the point of view of the Opposition, this has been a missed opportunity to talk about the future of Europe? All they are concerned about is the past, and being as negative as they can be about the European Union. Ms Hewitt: I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend, and that is a point that I shall elaborate on in a moment. What we have seen in the debate is a Conservative party that is increasingly talking to itself, not to the British people and certainly not to our partners in the European Union. Mr. Graham Stuart: Will the right hon. Lady give way? Ms Hewitt: I shall give way shortly, but I want to take a few moments to recall, if I may, a little of my personal history and to revert briefly to the early 1970s. I had come from Australia as a student, as many hon. Members know, and had only recently made my home in this country. I was an enthusiastic young member of the Labour party, and I went, as enthusiastic members do, to the Labour party conference. In search of enlightenment, I went to the fringe meeting of the Labour Common Market safeguards committee, no less—and fringe indeed it was. I had the opportunity to listen to two gentlemen who were then Members of this House—Bryan Gould and the late Peter Shore. As an expatriate Australian, I had some sympathy with Bryan Gould’s position.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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