Social Chapter 'cannot be resisted': Labour discussion paper puts Europe at 'heart of its policies'. Patricia Wynn Davies reports
Tuesday 04 May 1993
The paper, which says Europe is 'at the heart' of Labour's policies and 'central to its actions', restates the party's commitment to the treaty, in the wake of renewed criticism over the potentially lethal effect of the new amendment two to the Report Stage of the Maastricht ratification Bill.
As Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, was preparing to announce today whether she would allow a vote on the amendment, George Robertson, Labour's European affairs spokesman, strongly denied that the move, if successful, would wreck the Bill and the treaty.
Amendment two is modelled on Labour's earlier amendment 27, but is now an all-party proposal backed by almost 300 MPs across the political spectrum, including Tory rebels. It removes from the Bill the Social Chapter opt-out negotiated by John Major at Maastricht. If allowed by Miss Bothroyd, the vote could end in an embarrassing defeat for the Government tomorrow.
The policy forum paper, drawn up by Labour's international committee, argues that the Government's resistance to the chapter's provisions, which guarantee minimum rights at work, is futile. It says: 'It will be possible for Britain to sign up at any time to the Social Chapter, given a change of government or of policy . . . furthermore there will also be strong pressure to consolidate the chapter in the treaty in 1996 when the EC governments will discuss further treaty revisions. It is difficult to believe that the Government will want to remain so completely isolated from the determination of what is such a central policy in the certain knowledge that at some future date it will apply . . . in the UK.'
Pressure on Miss Boothroyd to allow MPs to vote on amendment two intensified yesterday as Jack Cunningham, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: 'To deny the Opposition a vote on an issue of this kind is without any precedent.'
The vexed debate dates from the dispute over the legal advice proffered by the Government on the earlier Committee Stage amendment 27. Michael Morris, the Deputy Speaker, allowed a debate on that, but later refused a vote, provoking uproar and accusations that MPs were irrelevant to the ratification process. But a motion of no confidence in Mr Morris was heavily defeated.
Bill Cash, the leading Tory rebel, said yesterday that Miss Boothroyd 'need feel no inhibition' about allowing the vote. It was clear after that controversy that MPs did not back the no-confidence motion, he said.
But the self-same MPs - in a 'unique' agreement between all the main opposition parties - had made it abundantly clear that they wanted a vote. While the Government insists that, legally, the amendment, if successful, would not block ratification or change its policy on the opt- out, it appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent MPs having a say over whether it should be added to the Bill.
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...