Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

European Union Bill part 2

Labour MP Kate Hoey has accused the government of "missing the point" over its plans to hold a referendum on future European Union treaties that transfer powers from Westminster to the EU.

On 7 December 2010, during debate on the European Union Bill, which enacts the policy change, Ms Hoey claimed the public would rather have a referendum on EU membership itself.

She said: "Recent developments have made all of us who have doubts about our involvement in the European union very queasy indeed.

"The reality is this: membership of the European Union is incredibly expensive to us and the benefits are becoming increasingly difficult to see," the MP for Vauxhall told MPs.

She added: "The only honest thing to be doing is to actually be having a debate in the country and to be having a referendum on whether we want to stay in the European Union or leave the European Union."

Under the legislation, ministers would be required to decide whether a referendum is necessary within two months of a treaty change.

Anyone would be entitled to challenge the minister's judgment through judicial review.

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron said his party was "unashamedly" pro-Europe and welcomed the bill as a "sensible" coalition compromise.

It would deal with the "uncertainties and concerns" raised by Conservative MPs about the UK's relationship with Europe, he argued.

But Senior Tory backbencher Bill Cash declared that he would be voting against the Bill.

He said: "The European Union claims sovereignty over our democratic Parliament and this mouse of a bill does nothing to preserve it.

"Given the present European crisis with the euro, given the failure of economic governance in which we are absorbed and the coalition's continuing acquiescence in European integration and refusal to repatriate powers, this Bill does little or nothing to improve the situation."

He added: "This bill makes no provision for our present predicament and provides only relative safeguards for the future, subject to the baleful influence of a minister's decision as to whether a referendum would be required or not."

At the end of the debate, MPs voted to reject a Labour amendment declining to give the bill a second reading by 330 votes to 195, a government majority of 135.

Watch part one of the debate here.


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