antediluvian is a form of generosity I suppose in Parliament we are grateful

Antediluvian is a form of generosity i suppose in

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antediluvian is a form of generosity; I suppose in Parliament we are grateful for small compliments. Indeed, he has shown himself to be a vigorous debater throughout all our proceedings, and one of the brightest members of the Cabinet, as he is known to be, although in the current state of the Government that may not be such an extraordinary accolade. I certainly pay tribute to the Minister for Europe who, as the Foreign Secretary said, has always performed with great patience and humour, and will probably now become the portable lightning conductor for the Government and move from one Department to another. I also pay tribute to many Labour Members. The hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) has been quoted by all of us in almost every speech we have given. The hon. Member for Glasgow, South-West (Mr. Davidson) vied with me to persecute the Liberal Democrats and call for a referendum. The right hon. Member for Leicester, West (Ms Hewitt) spoke many times, only to meet in the final hours the tragic news that Peter Mandelson may be offered a second term. An extraordinary number—84—of my right hon. and hon. Friends have taken part in these proceedings. When one of them has spoken 210 times—it feels to those of us who often talk to him in the No Lobby like 310 times—that is a considerable debating contribution. I join the Secretary of State in the camaraderie that has infused those of us who have participated in the debate. I thought that he was going to propose an annual reunion at one stage, but perhaps we will not go that far. The Opposition’s case on the Bill’s Third Reading is simple: its effect is to ratify a treaty that is overwhelmingly the same in its content as the rejected EU constitution. Its scrutiny by the House has not been as extensive or as detailed as it should have been, or indeed as was promised. Amendments supported by Members in all parts of the House that would have made improvements to the future scrutiny of changes to our relations with the European Union have been rejected. Above all, it continues to be the case that the Bill would come into force without ever being submitted for the consent of the British people in either a general election or a referendum. For all those reasons, we shall have no hesitation in voting against Third Reading tonight. 11 Mar 2008 : Column 164
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We have, of course, had many exchanges across the Floor of the House about whether the Lisbon treaty, on which a referendum is being denied, is essentially the same as the EU constitution on which a referendum was promised in the House. Mr. Giscard d’Estaing has probably been quoted more often in this Parliament during the last couple of months than he has been in the French Parliament in the last couple of decades. His well-known view that “all the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way” is shared overwhelmingly by the Governments and institutions of the European Union other than our own.
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  • Fall '08
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