Lords Hansard, Tuesday 22nd November 2011:
Asked By Lord Pearson of Rannoch
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they continue to support European integration.
22 Nov 2011 : Column 942
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has described the present situation as,"an opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation's interests".
We want to see a European Union, in his words,"with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc".
The future shape of the EU might well involve more integration in some areas and between some countries, and less in others. Of course, the Government have also made it clear that they wish to see no treaty changes that transfer power or competencies from the UK to the EU in this Parliament.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. However, the British people have seen through the fiction that the European Union guarantees peace and safeguards jobs. So I have to press the Government: what is it really for? Put slightly differently, I suppose we can all agree that other international bodies such as the United Nations or NATO have an identifiable purpose, but can the Government tell us why we need the European Union at all, not to mention its very own disastrous euro?
Lord Howell of Guildford: I think the British people have a sensible and balanced appreciation of the virtues of living in the European continental area: that it is a mighty single market; that our influence in it is useful; and that when it comes to trade bargaining with the rising powers of Asia, Latin America and Africa, it is very useful to have a bit of muscle. That is a perfectly sensible and common-sense view that, I suspect, prevails in the minds of most of the British people. They may not like some of the aspects of the EU-many of us find these things irritating-but on the whole it seems a reasonable grouping in which to be deeply and actively involved, and that is where we stand." (Emphasis mine)
Is not a transfer of power just that, regardless of whether a treaty change is used or not? Why the necessity of the caveat about treaty changes? The wish not to see any transfer of power with out treaty change implies that a transfer of power without that caveat would be accceptable. And why is the repetition of 'in this Parliament' so often used, unless it means that it is probably going to happen in the next Parliament?
Membership of the European Union may well be a 'perfectly sensible and common-sense view' of the political elite, but it most definitely is not according to opinion polls - or does not Lord Howell read opinion polls? It is obvious from Howell's reply that the fact the British people may not like some of the aspects of the EU matters not, as many of the political elite find it 'acceptable' - yet another demonstration of the present state of 'democratised dictatorship'.
Paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland, in the political world everything is nonsense. Nothing is what it is because everything is what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, is.
I can but repeat, people, it does not have to be like this - more at the weekend!