Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Monday, 11 July 2011 21:11 UK

European Union Bill: Consideration of amendments

MPs agreed to reject a series of House of Lords amendments to the government's flagship European Union Bill on 11 July 2011.

The legislation enables voters to veto by referendum further transfers of power from the UK to Brussels deemed by ministers to be "significant".

But as it passed through the Lords, peers inflicted four defeats on ministers.

Peers voted by a majority of six to put a "sunset clause" in the legislation, aiming to kill off the bill after the next general election unless a future government chose to revive it, and by a majority of four to restrict the issues on which referendums would be held.

They also voted by a majority of five to add a provision that referendums would only be binding if turnout topped 40%, and by 33 votes to clarify Foreign Secretary William Hague's flagship "sovereignty clause".

Europe minister David Lidington argued that the changes "significantly weaken the safeguards" in the bill.

"They are contrary to our clear intention to ensure that any future proposal to amend the European Union treaties to transfer further competence or power from this country to the European Union should be subject to the consent of the British people," he said.

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin said the Lords amendments were "all completely unacceptable" and "a charter for going round the country stirring up apathy".

The chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, the Conservative MP Bill Cash, agreed, arguing that said the government needed to get the UK out of the "mess" created by a number of EU treaties.

But shadow Europe minister Wayne David said he agreed with the Lords amendment that meant future Parliaments would have to revive the bill if they wanted it to apply to them.

"Strictly speaking the European Union Bill does not bind future Parliaments because future Parliaments could alter legislation.

"Nevertheless, at the very least this bill questions that principle and goes against the spirit of that principle," said Mr David.

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