11 April 1997
In view of your report in George Parker's column today, I wonder if I may make the facts clear about my vote in the House of Lords in relation to the Maastricht Treaty.
The House of Lords has a tradition whereby there is no vote on a Bill's Second Reading. The main vote on Maastricht therefore came on an Amendment to the Bill moved by Lord Blake of Braydeston, which, in his own words, sought to ensure “that the Maastricht Treaty takes effect only after a referendum has been established as to whether or not the people want it.” (House of Lords Hansard 14 July 1993, Column 240). My criticisms of Maastricht were set out at length in my speech reported in that same debate (ibid., Columns 281-286).
I concluded by saying:
“The majority of our people want Britain to be in Europe, and so do I. They want to keep intact our Parliament too and they do not want to diminish its powers or its authority or its prestige. In my view, we have surrendered too many powers already. We should surrender no more unless the people wish it. It is the people's turn to speak. It is their powers of which we are the custodians.”
This still seems to me a fair statement of the position.
The Editor, The Financial Times