Saturday, November 30, 2013

Referendum Bill clears House of Commons

Legislation which would give the British public a vote on the country's membership of the European Union cleared the House of Commons today.

The European Union (Referendum) Bill, which would introduce an in/out vote in 2017 on the UK's membership of the EU, received an unopposed Third Reading in the House of Commons.

Despite attempts by Labour backbenchers to frustrate the progress of the Private Member's Bill put forward by James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, it was approved by MPs and will now go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

Mr Wharton praised his Tory colleagues in getting the Bill through the Commons.

"I am grateful to all colleagues who have supported on this side with a showing of discipline and resolute determination to get this important Bill through, and on the Opposition's side of the House and our colleagues on the Liberal Democrat benches who have made their contributions, albeit sometimes in a rather long-winded way," he said.

"I think that we have had a very good and thorough debate. I think it is time that we let Britain decide and I commend the Bill to the House.

"We have had extensive debate, discussion and scrutiny for what is a short Bill with but a handful of clauses, but the significance of which should not be underestimated.

"This is a commitment from these benches to give the British people a say on that most important of matters: our membership of the European Union.

"We looked at the wording of the question and it is clear that it is fair and it is clear and it is the right question for the British people to give their own answer."

He added: "We looked at the timing and it is clear that this House believes that it is the right thing to do, to go back to Europe to try to get the best possible deal that we can but whatever that deal looks like, to put it to the British people in an in/out vote."

Earlier, Labour MP Mike Gapes, a former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, spoke for almost 40 minutes while trying to "talk the bill out" e.g. filibuster the legislation. The MP for Ilford South tabled a series of amendments which would prevent the referendum being valid if voter turnout was low.

Mr Gapes's Labour colleague, Chris Williamson (Derby North), spoke for 28 minutes as he called for members of the electorate who did not vote to be fined £50.

These attempts to block the bill without voting against it failed.

Now we have to see what happens in the House of Lords ...


Jim said...

This one has had me wondering, why the push for the 2017 date?

Knowing that for any reform of any meaning, especially as of the list at the moment would require a major treaty change. Which in turn needs.a convention (1 year) then an IGC (2 years), and knowing that the elections.of.the parliament and commission won't allow a convention until 2015. Thus 2015 + 1 + 2 = 2018 at the earliest. Then why this push for 2017?

I am too cynical to think that there is an error in the tinkling made by the current government so the must be a reason for this 2017.

It turns out the latter half of 2017 is the next time the UK hold the 6 month rotating chair of the EU council. Thus they will appear as right at the heart of the EU, and having a lot of weight in deciding EU policy, during the latter half of 2017.

So it seems to me we would be looking at a faux negotiation + FUD (an IBM term) + being seen as at the heart of the EU + status quo,

This I can only conclude is the plan, a blatant attempt at pushing through an in vote, without ever needing a true EU reform. Snacking the UK to the EU as is for another 40 years (that is if the EU lasts that long). Shame if I am right, don't like being shackled to "little Europe" the UK should go back to its position as a global player.

Chris Whiteside said...

I don't rule out the possibility that you're right to regard the timing as optimistic, but I really don't think that even if that is correct the reason is as machiavellian as that.

I think DC wants to set a target for renegotiation that isn't preposterously slow and believes that he can get a deal by the next UK presidency in 2017.

And I think he's probably right about that.

Jim said...

Remember your bet that the world would not end in 2012 - the offer that sadly I could not accept?

Well what sort of odds are you going that DC will manage a substantial treaty change before 2017 is over and done? - I may take you up on this one.

Chris Whiteside said...

We might have to try to find a neutral arbiter to rule on what constitutes a significant improvement.

I would say the odds are two to one that that if DC is still Prime Minister by the end of 2017 he will be able to negotiate a significant return of powers by the end of that time.

Jim said...

wow, never seen goal post move so fast. I don't remember mentioning a "significant improvement" - said a treaty change. this could be by amending a previous treaty, but is normally done by a new treaty which in turn amends TEU and TFEU, but there is my offer.

I mentioned real reform, and the only way this could be so is to ammend TEFU and TEU, to do so requires a ratified treaty before the end of 2017. my reasoning is anything that can be part of a deal, without a treaty change, can also be reversed later without a treaty change, thus its meaningless. if a treaty change takes place, we see that it takes a ratified treaty to undo this, for which of course you need all 28 SOVEREIGN COUNTRIES, (oh sorry did I say the C word :o), instead of member states) to ratify it or it has no effect, and of course the UK has a Veto, so it cant be undone unless we agree to it. ***Of course we should also maintain the referendum lock after this, this is in stars as its not required for the bet***

By all means seek an independent person to negotiate the deal, but i am just giving him/her a head start on that which i mean.

By the way to keep it realistic, if there is a ratified treaty which amends TEU OR TEFU (i will settle for one or the other does not need to be both) then i personally will buy your family a prize Xmas turkey for Xmas 2017.

You seem confident that "meaningful reform" is quite possible within the time frame, rather than i put it earlier "a faux negotiation" so there you go, should be a sure fire way towards a slap up Xmas dinner to help your family celebrate it.

Jim said...

By the way, its also not a requirement whichever way the referendum goes. its just a requirement that an In/Out referendum is held before the end of 2017 on a "reformed - see above - EU"

In the event of a non-tory government after the next general election then you may choose to call off the "Xmas turkey 2017 bet"

Would you accept this deal, following of course independent person to agree final terms if you like, Ball is in your court Chris :o)