debates in the 1970s from Geoffrey Rippon to Geoffrey Howe whom I shall quote

Debates in the 1970s from geoffrey rippon to geoffrey

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debates in the 1970s, from Geoffrey Rippon to Geoffrey Howe, whom I shall quote later, and other former hon. Members— 11 Mar 2008 : Column 156 Mr. Cash: It is not surprising! David Miliband: The hon. Gentleman may say that, but they were members of a Conservative Government articulating Conservative Government policy at the time, so the point does not redound to his benefit. Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Foreign Secretary understand the unease felt by some Labour Members about the further threat of health services being liberalised? What additional protections are there to ensure that the very basis of the national health service will not be undermined by matters being referred to the ECJ? David Miliband: I will address the division of competences across the EU, but I assure my hon. Friend not only that nothing in the treaty would allow interference in our national health service, but that it strengthens the UK’s position in deciding on our health provision. Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): If the Foreign Secretary is so proud of the text, why did the Government table 295 amendments to an almost identical earlier text, of which only 33 were successful, most of which dealt with comparatively trivial matters? The answer to the question that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) raised is that the Government opposed interference in health matters at the time, albeit without success. Can the Foreign Secretary explain why he is now defending a text that he previously rejected? David Miliband: We tabled amendments on justice and home affairs, for example, precisely to ensure that our rights to choose on justice and home affairs— [Interruption.] There were not 295 amendments in respect of the health service. A lot of amendments were, rightly, tabled because it was important to secure our position. Let me take the justice and home affairs issue; in a way, it brings out better than any— Mr. Drew: What about health?
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David Miliband: I have answered the question on health. I assure my hon. Friend that this treaty text confirms a stronger UK position for deciding on our own health services than existed previously. The Opposition say that they want sensible co-operation on justice and home affairs issues and who could deny our need for that, given that the European arrest warrant brought the 21/7 bomber to justice? There is no doubt that when it comes to tackling terrorism and organised crime, EU action to improve the exchange of information can play an important role. Let us be clear about what the treaty chapter on justice and home affairs does. It will improve decision making because there is a move to qualified majority voting, and that will prevent one country from blocking an agreement—as happened recently, for example, in respect of allowing member states to transfer foreign national prisoners back to their home member state. The treaty will help make progress in areas of benefit to the UK—not just by combating 11 Mar 2008 : Column 157
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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