Friday, October 03, 2008

The return of the Prodigal Son

Does Gordon Brown really think we'll stop hating him and his useless band of fellow ministers and vote for him because he's promoted someone to the House of Lords who should be in the Tower of London?

Peter Mandelson has been drafted back into government in a surprise move, as Gordon Brown reshuffles his cabinet.

The EU trade commissioner was twice forced to resign from Tony Blair's cabinet. He will be made business secretary with a seat in the Lords.

I'm sure he'll be very happy in the Lords with all the other EU Commissioners that get sent there: it's turning into something of a rogues gallery:

As Nigel Farage said, he'll find the house prices cheaper in London now so he won't have to go to so much trouble to get a mortgage, and with his luxury pension from the EU he won't struggle for cash. Of course, that pension is dependent on his promoting the EU so his loyalties will still be to his former paymasters unless he decides not to take the pension and to be impartial instead?

He is being replaced in Brussels with someone who is perfectly qualified for the role, Baroness Ashton. I sat in the House of Lord listening to the debate on the Lisbon Treaty and heard how eloquently she argues her goal of selling this country down the river and being governed by Brussels. With hindesight I am sure she is glad she did do it as she will be one of the people in this country who will manage to gain from this treaty.
Having sat through many interesting hours of debate, noble Lords will know where the Government, and I on behalf of the Government, stand on the issues before us. I want to focus on three points. The first is parliamentary sovereignty. Noble Lords have spoken across the House about the importance of parliamentary sovereignty. Indeed, in the Question that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, asked just before we began this debate, that issue was raised again. I stand firm by what I said then and what I have said before: it is important that we act as a sovereign Parliament on behalf of this country and do things which are appropriate for that parliamentary sovereignty, not least in determining the position that this Parliament holds on a treaty of this importance...It is completely within the abilities and propriety of your Lordships' House to do so. We are 96 per cent of the way through our deliberations. It is important that we should ratify...

The second point has not much featured in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, came closest to covering it. Why are we doing this? What is this treaty about? Why do I think it is a good thing for this country? Noble Lords have touched on issues of, for example, reducing the size of the Commission and making sure that Europe can work more effectively. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and others talked about that. That is important because Europhobe and Europhile alike have said for a long time that Brussels needs to work more effectively, as does the Commission. How much money is spent has featured in discussions, as far as I can remember, over the past 20 to 30 years.

The treaty also gives national Parliaments a greater say in making European Union laws. That is an important aspect of our deliberations in the past 24 days across your Lordships' House and another place. It is important to recognise that that makes a difference. The treaty also sets out what the European Union can and cannot do—the competences, on which we spent a great deal of time in our earlier discussions. It deals with some of the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, in his life and work in Bosnia-Herzegovina when he dealt with the problems of a European Union with two heads. These are resolved by the treaty. Perhaps more important than anything, it sets overarching priorities for eradicating poverty and introduces children's rights for the first time into the European Union's objectives.

I do wish the two UKIP peers, Lord Pearson and Lord Willoughby de Broke the best of luck in their debates with Mandy and am very jealous of them. How much fun they will have.

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