Hurd chastises the Tory Euro-rebels

DOUGLAS HURD yesterday renewed the attack on those blocking the Maastricht Bill amid indications that Parliament could have to sit through the Whitsun recess unless progress is faster.

Growing ministerial impatience both with the Opposition parties and the Tory Euro-rebels was reflected in a speech by the Foreign Secretary warning that Britain's power to influence the EC would be destroyed if the treaty was not ratified.

He told the Tory Western area conference in Weston-super- Mare: 'We need to ratify Maastricht to ensure that we are an influential voice. The run of play is going our way. Now is not the time to pick up the ball and flounce off the pitch.'

The Government failed to secure Labour or Liberal Democrat support last Thursday to continue sitting on the Bill after 10pm in a bid to hasten progress. Ministerial sources suggested yesterday that one of the short Spring recesses - probably the one at the end of May - could be sacrificed. The Government determines when the House should be adjourned.

Mr Hurd distinguished the 'consistent' policy of those who had always opposed EC membership from the 'incomprehensible' position of those who accepted the Single European Act but opposed Maastricht. Although Mr Hurd did not say so, William Cash, MP for Stafford, Lady Thatcher and Lord Tebbit fall into the latter group.

Mr Hurd said that the Maastricht Treaty had for the first time defined the limits of European institutions, checked centralisation and laid down inter-governmental co-operation as the way forward. But he also foreshadowed a growing campaign to destabilise Labour and Liberal Democrat determination to oppose the Government on the social chapter.

He said: 'They say they don't want to wreck the treaty and yet they grub around for amendment after amendment on the Social Chapter, which aims to do just that. The time is coming when in the national interest they should put their votes behind the treaty.'

One leading rebel, Sir Teddy Taylor, MP for Southend East, said: 'If they allowed a referendum, the rebellion stops tonight. Time and again Parliament has been misled over Europe . . . because the EC has exploited (its) powers in an unacceptable way.'

Mr Cash said: 'I repudiate suggestions that we would not be able to influence Europe if we did not ratify the treaty.'

Whitehall sources are sceptical about ministerial claims that the Maastricht debate has created a legislative log-jam delaying discussion of measures such as Sunday trading.

But measures already going through Parliament could be delayed. The Criminal Justice Bill and the Rail Privatisation Bill both need more Commons time. But the Home Office and the Department of Transport are confident of getting them through.

A total of 62 per cent of Conservative constituency chairmen favour ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and 38 per cent do not, according to a survey for Channel 4's A Week in Politics. A total of 130 chairmen were questioned.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent publishing and...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue