Friday, 14 December 2007

Brown’s Signing of Reform Treaty in Breach of UK Parliamentary Code

It is clear that the British Prime Minister signed the treaty yesterday afternoon in breach of a major UK Parliamentary resolution, whilst side-stepping the conclusions of the Parliament’s All-Party European Scrutiny Committee. The European scrutiny resolution of the House of Commons [17 November 1998] was in fact passed by the Labour Government. That resolution clearly states: “No Minister of the Crown should give agreement in the Council or in the European Council to any proposal for European Community legislation . . . which is still subject to scrutiny”. Furthermore, it states that “any reference to agreement to a proposal includes . . . political agreement.”

Whilst it is possible for a Minister to agree to a Treaty if “he decides that for special reasons agreement should be given”, it is the responsibility of that Minister to explain his reasoning “in every such case, to the European Scrutiny Committee at the first opportunity after reaching his decision”. Bill Cash, MP, made this breach of resolution clear in the House of Commons after Brown had signed the Treaty.

James McConalogue of the European Foundation said:

“The Prime Minister, in short, is bound by the resolution to attend a European Scrutiny Committee session and explain why he signed this Treaty behind the backs of the British people and their Parliament. The European Scrutiny Committee declared in two reports that they had held the document in scrutiny. If we live in a country in which our political leader respects parliamentary sovereignty and the legitimate channels of democracy, he will report to Parliament on his deeds in Lisbon. If he chooses not to, then the reason for the various peoples of Britain electing their Members into a sovereign Parliament wears thin – leading to the breakdown of a society that no longer legislates for the alien European laws imposed upon it. And he may then wonder why the British people have almost given up voting.”

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