Home Secretary sees off Euro-predator easily seen off 1/42 decky

The Government was spared another high-profile debate rubbing salt into its European wounds when a heavily-trailed rebellion in a Commons committee failed to materialise yesterday.

"Close this place down," growled a disappointed Sir Teddy Taylor as his Eurosceptic colleague Bernard Jenkin proved a paper tiger and fell into line following assurances on immigration policy from Michael Howard, the Home Secretary.

Thrust into the limelight for a morning, European Standing Committee B rejected by 7 votes to 6 a Labour move to force a debate on the floor of the House about EU frontier controls.

The committee has the specialist task of scrutinising legislation proposed by Brussels; relieving the Commons of a late-night duty regarded as tedious by all but a dozen or so sceptics and an even smaller number of Europhiles.

For the Government, the arrangement has the merit of taking potentially troublesome issues out of the chamber. Any MP can attend and speak in the committee proceedings but only members can vote.Mr Jenkin, MP for Colchester N, a member of the committee,had been looked to by the likes of Sir Teddy and other non-member sceptics, to rebel and vote with Labour for a full debate.

Yesterday's bloated attendance included Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor, Charles Wardle, who resigned as a Home Office minister earlier this year to oppose EU immigration policy, anda clutch of the whipless rebels - all of them overshadowed by a massive non-communautaire mural of Alfred resisting the landing of the Danes.

Mr Howard repeatedly underlined John Major's assurance that the Government would "take whatever steps are necessary to protect and maintain our frontier controls". Intervening, Tony Marlow, the rebel MP for Northampton N, asked if that action would exclude "the possibility of threatening to leave the EU"? But Mr Howard would not be drawn.

He said he did not believe the proposed External Frontiers Convention, governing the entry of non-EU citizens, would come within the competence of commission or be subject to the European Court of Justice. It was an intergovernmental arrangement.

Offering enough to secure Mr Jenkin's vote, he promised the Government would not ratify the convention before the legislation had been enacted by Parliament in the normal way. "I can agree to bring the final text of the convention back to Parliament before it is signed."

Jack Straw, Labour's home affairs spokesman, focused a proposed common list of third countries whose nationals would require visas to enter the EU, and a "negative list" of individuals who if barred by one EU state could not enter any other.

"The writ of a policeman in Athens, Naples or Palermo who decides to put an individual on the list will run all through the EU, Mr Straw said.

Blacklisted by a policeman in Palermo after a minor offence, the only line of appeal would be to the same policeman in Palermo, he explained. "I find this an alarming idea."Mr Straw was equally scathing about the visa requirement - which will be a community matter. Not finalised, the list includes 28 Commonwealth countries. The regime would affect "the granny from South Africa or Zambia" visiting a relative but not a Colombian drug dealer, he said.

In the event, the vote was on straight party lines. Non-member Iain Duncan- Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford, complained afterwards that it was "another slippery slope". He was unpersuaded that Britain would not be brought before the European court for preserving border controls.

Labour Eurosceptic Nigel Spearing, MP for Newham S, was similarly unconvinced. Though not ratified, the convention could already have been agreed before the Government brought legislation to the House and then it would be whipped through. "Mr Howard's assurance isn't as good as it sounds," he said.

A Brussels proposal of an altogether wilder sort was scorned during Scottish Office questions when Under-Secretary Lord James Douglas-Hamilton said a European Community directive to return the wolf to the Highlands was "indefensible".

The last Scottish wolf was killed 250 years ago and the minister was rather overstating the power of the habit and species directive to get the creatures back. It simply allows member states to consider the desirability and feasibility of reintroducing species.

So far Scottish Natural Heritage, the government's agent, has reintroduced the red kite and the white-tailed sea eagle.

"At present there are no plans to reintroduce wolves in Scotland," said a Scottish Office spokesman. The "no plans" formula as used by ministers has in the past proved no long-term guarantee, but the spokesman added that "no reintroduction of predators would be considered with public consultation and ministerial approval".

Lord Howe of Aberavon, the former foreign secretary, who took Britain out of Unesco in 1985, urged the Government to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations by rejoining its educational, social and cultural arm. Taking part in a debate on the UN, Lord Howe told peers withdrawal from Unesco was never intended to be a permanent step.

The object was to secure essential changes in the management of the organisation, he said, disclosing that he had written to Mr Major in 1993 urging that Britain should rejoin within two years.

Replying, Baroness Chalker, Minister of Sate at the Foreign Office, said the question of Britain's return to Unesco was being kept under close review. "We must take into account the existing financial pressures of other priority demands for resources, as well as the progress which has been made on reform."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments