On the specifics in the treaty and therefore the BillHon Members No I know The

On the specifics in the treaty and therefore the

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On the specifics in the treaty and therefore the Bill—[Hon. Members: “No!”] I know. The treaty and the Bill increase the UK’s share of the vote in the European Union; reduce the size of the European Commission; give greater say for national Parliaments; end the utterly ludicrous rotating presidency; improve decision making; end the external duplication; and enshrine for the first time children’s rights in a European treaty. In a topsy-turvy sense of priorities, previous treaties, for whatever reason, enshrined animal rights, but not children’s rights. This treaty puts that anomaly right. It also marks significant improvements in climate change and international development. As the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) said—it was foul- mannered of me to ignore not just his walk-out but his wider contribution— 11 Mar 2008 : Column 248 Angus Robertson: What about the abstention? Mr. Murphy: I have only a few minutes left and will not go into that. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton led with his chin on every occasion and showed that he had a great sense of the detail of the treaty. He also made a point this afternoon that I agree with fundamentally: that Europe is in our national interest. That is because it is not just about the projection of power on the international stage, but about effective influence when it comes to our relations with Russia, China, India and the wider world. Importantly, the treaty brings to an end the circular conversation about European structures and gives us the opportunity to refocus on European delivery on employment, when millions of Europeans are still out of work; on international development, when tens of millions of people are still without basic foodstuffs and basic medicines; and on climate change, which is, after all, the biggest strategic threat to our security and prosperity.
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On the remarkably imprecise comments by Opposition Members, the fact is that the treaty enshrines important and fundamental changes to things on which previous treaties were silent—children’s rights, human rights, climate change and international development—ensuring that those issues are, for the first time, strategic objectives for the European Union which give us the opportunity to deliver in a way that our citizens expect us to do. The hon. Member for Rayleigh and his hon. Friends have been remarkably imprecise about what not letting the matter rest means. What does it mean? Wait and see is what not letting the matter rest encapsulates. Not letting the matter rest is a Eurosceptic slogan of a permanent opposition; it is not a European strategy of an aspiring Government. We had a stark reminder of that yesterday. The Foreign Secretary and I had the opportunity to travel to Brussels for one of our regular meetings of all the Foreign Secretaries and European Ministers across the 27 member states of the EU. Among the issues that we discussed were Zimbabwe, climate change and how to deliver on jobs and economic growth—some of the big issues contained within the treaty and enabled by the Bill. Gathered in that European meeting were the great democracies of Europe—
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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