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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How should MPs vote on the EU bill today?

MPs will today vote on the first part of the EU Bill - the so-called sovereignty clause, which stipulates that EU law exists only by virtue of an Act of Parliament. Some Tory MPs have opposed this clause on grounds that the explanatory notes of the Bill states that it reinforces the “common law principle” that EU law takes effect through the will of Parliament – which implies that judges could at some point take it away (since common law is effectively decided by judges).

As we've noted in previous posts, the clause itself, however, clarifies - and arguably strengthens - the notion that Parliament holds sovereignty over EU law. If allowed to stand alone, this can be no bad thing. So much of the fuss is in fact about the explanatory note, which can easily be changed (MPs may of course feel that the Government should do a lot more to address the current balance of power between the EU and UK - and they would be right - but let's take one battle at a time).

We now hear that Europe Minister David Lidington, sensibly, has written to backbench MPs saying that the Government will change the wording of the explanatory note to remove the confusing reference to 'common law'. There's therefore little reason to be nervous about the sovereignty clause.

With this change out of the way, MPs should now focus all their efforts on making the referendum lock - the second part of the Bill (to be discussed tonight, if there's time, and in more depth in a week or two) as strong as possible. As we've argued before, a strong referendum lock could substantially strengthen day-to-day control Parliamentary over EU laws.

Read more from us here and here.


Anonymous said...

It's time for this government to start keeping promises it made before the election. I thought DC was honest but it now seems he's no better than previous PMs, says one thing and when in office show he has no backbone. If he wants another term he has to keep his promises to the electorate. Give us a referendum now. We are British and intend staying that way.

Anonymous said...

It's OK asking subscribers to write to their MP. What about the vast majority of the population who do not take the Open Europe emails.

Is there any way you can widen your readership with advertising in the press.

tarcussed said...

As much as I applaud your desire to have a "referendum lock" it is in no way a guarantee that any future developments will ever be passed over to the people as ALL the ministers and members of the cabinet believe that the people are not capable of making a rational decision on such matters.Their arrogance comes across when questioned by members of their own constituency they repeat the mantra from number ten that "this government believes that the UK is better served by being a member of the EU" so regardless of how many "locks" are put in place ministers will always argue that they no best and dismiss calls for a referendum
This is in spite of a large majority of the British people wanting to leave the EU.
Therein lies the true problem of a referendum for whatever reason because the people would tell the government to get their noses out of the trough and start doing their own planning and thinking as they were elected to do rather than just complying with Brussels until such time as they can hand over the keys to Westminster in exchange for their thirty pieces of silver.