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A different view of Maastricht from the House of Lords

Two brief excerpts follow from the speeches of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Lord Lawson in the later Lords debate on an amend on the bill that, in the words of Lord Blake who moved it, ‘In plain language seeks to ensure that the Maastricht Treaty takes effect only after a referendum has been established as to whether or not the people want it.’

European Communities (Amendment) Bill

HL Deb 14 July 1993 vol 548 cc239-334

Baroness Thatcher

Some people say that Maastricht does not have a big constitutional issue attached to it. Let us look at what the treaty itself says: “By this Treaty, the High Contracting Parties establish … a European Union … This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.  It creates the Union. It gives it all the structures of a sovereign state. That is why we have citizenship, European and monetary union, common defence policies, common foreign policy, and so on. It is something quite different. In addition, it adds many more powers which can be decided by qualified majority voting. One should be very careful before extending those powers, except for a specific purpose. With qualified majority voting, the Commission has the only power—monopoly power—of proposing legislation. No one else has it. Only the Commission can propose legislation. It can do it by a simple majority vote: nine votes to eight. It can bring forward something to go to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is under majority voting; and there are 111 other examples of areas in which majority voting can apply. […]

[Some time later the former Chancellor, Lord Lawson, spoke. Midway into his speech he made the point below]

Lord Lawson

Those who claim that the objective of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty is to replace the European Community of nation states by a single European superstate are clearly right. There is nothing disreputable about such an objective, although for my part, as a longstanding proponent of European unity, I believe it to be profoundly mistaken and, if it were ever to be imposed on the peoples of Europe, a blueprint for disaster. But I repeat: there is nothing disreputable about it. All that might perhaps be considered disreputable would be to deny that that is the objective of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty, since it manifestly is so.

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