If the House grants the Bill a Third Reading tonight it will fall to the other

If the house grants the bill a third reading tonight

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If the House grants the Bill a Third Reading tonight, it will fall to the other place to apply what my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks has previously described as the “Salisbury convention in reverse”. It will fall to the unelected peers to hold elected Commons Members to the promise on which they were elected to Parliament in the first place! I have sat through every single debate on this treaty, and I have contributed to just about every one of them. Having done so, and seen this process in action, I believe that the only type of victory that the Government can hope to win tonight is a pyrrhic one. I believe that this remains a treaty without a democratic mandate; it lacks public support, and it lacks any endorsement by the people. When people were given a chance to vote in 10 constituency referendums, 88 per cent. argued for a referendum on the constitution. There is now only one way for the Government to 11 Mar 2008 : Column 246 legitimise this treaty in the eyes of the people—finally to have the courage of their convictions, to abide by their own manifesto, and to let the people decide. 9.29 pm The Minister for Europe (Mr. Jim Murphy): We have had a fascinating debate, not least because of the contributions made by my hon. Friends the Members for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) and for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Ms Hewitt) and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz). I have to say that I have been looking forward to this evening since the afternoon that I became Minister for Europe. As I left No. 10, the Prime Minister said to me, “As Minister for Europe, you will have some legislation to take through Parliament.” Little did I know what he had in mind for me. We have enjoyed the contributions from and the detail provided by the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois). We have disagreed in almost every debate throughout our proceedings, but we have done so—I hope he does not mind my saying this—in a comradely fashion. The hon. Gentleman introduced Bob Crow to our proceedings on Second Reading, so a comradely fashion it is.
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We have also enjoyed the contributions from the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), the shadow Foreign Secretary. I have said before that he is the best after-dinner speaker in Parliament. After listening to him, I have come to the forlorn conclusion half a dozen times during this process that I will have to get an invitation to one of his after-dinner speeches to hear the detail of his policies. I would also like to thank my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for his leadership and the way he has led the debate on each big parliamentary occasion. We have also heard forensic contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, West, who—apart from me and the hon. Member for Rayleigh—are about the only constant attendees of our proceedings.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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