Making use of the Lisbon Treaty

Lord Norton

Wednesday was dominated by the Comprehensive Spending Review, but later in the day there was a significant event in the Lords in relation to the European Union.  The Lisbon Treaty accords a role to national parliaments in the European law-making process – something they did not previously have – enabling them to refer proposed legislation back to the initiating institution if they believe that the proposal does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.

The power itself is limited.  It applies only to subsidiary and not to proportionality.  Relatively few proposals are likely to fall foul of the former.  As the European Union Committee of the House noted in its report, The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, it may well be that the procedures will seldom be invoked.  When they are, all that happens under the so-called ‘yellow card’ procedure is that the proposal has to be reviewed by the initiating institution, which can maintain, amend or withdraw it.

Nonetheless, it is a capacity previously denied national parliaments, at least formally (they could and can always apply pressure through their governments), and on Wednesday evening the House agreed a motion moved by Lord Roper, Chairman of the EU Committee, stating that the proposed directive on conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of seasonal employment ‘does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity’ and instructing the Clerk of the Parliaments to forward the opinion to the Presidents of the European Institutions. 

Under the procedure, the House of Lords as one chamber of a bicameral legislature has one vote.  If at least one-third of eligible votes are cast in this way, the proposal has to be reviewed.  It now depends on the actions of other legislatures.

As I say, it is a limited power but it at least adds to a developing co-operation of national parliaments.  I have always argued that building co-operation between like-minded national parliaments is an important step forward.

16 comments for “Making use of the Lisbon Treaty

  1. 22/10/2010 at 3:26 pm

    We have so very little real power left with the EU government deciding almost every detail of our lives that even this very tiny almost ineffectual power is to be welcomed.

    However, it does make me wonder why we still need a Commons and Lords when all they can do is legislate on very minor details as allowed by the Brussels government. Maybe local councils could do this instead and implement the many EU Directives, Opinions, and other instruments and thus save us a great deal of money.

  2. Carl.H
    22/10/2010 at 5:07 pm

    “As I say, it is a limited power”.

    Sounds a bit like being able to write a letter to “Points of View”

    Regards “like-minded national parliaments ” perhaps my Lord is thinking our Parliament like that of Turkey maybe thinking of implementing Sharia Law ?

  3. Gareth Howell
    23/10/2010 at 1:05 pm

    Alfred’s remarks suggest that he can see a value in Regional government in England as well!

    The application mentioned by L. Norton is a huge step forward. A good deal has been shoved through on the nod in the last few years, including the requirement, by way of example, for the Co-op to shed it Co-operative “difference”.

    The Coop(Manchester)was powerless to counteract the effects of the ACCI(International Asscn Chartered Accountants)?!
    in requiring various changes, and Directive originating in Europe.

    It would, after the event, now have such a power.

    Fortunately the Co-op management had the wisdom to track back as far as it possibly could, and the intended body blow has been substantially mitigated; in the long run it might not be, but the fine traditions of the business stood it in good stead, in spite of that particular use of the directive, now amended.

  4. 24/10/2010 at 1:14 pm

    Gareth Howell said “Alfred’s remarks suggest that he can see a value in Regional government in England as well!”

    Regional Government is the inevitable result of the power that the EU government has because the EU leaves so little power with the national puppet governments and makes them near valueless. The EU wants Regional government as we know.

    However, I’m absolutely against the unaccountable unelected EU government with all its almost tyranical powers and its slow and steady push towards regionalisation. I would welcome a national sovereign government in the UK, which, sadly, we no longer have.

  5. Anne Palmer
    24/10/2010 at 6:52 pm

    … no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm …”.

  6. 24/10/2010 at 11:01 pm

    OK, yes, use the Lisbon Treaty, where it’s better than anything else on offer.

    But until the whole “Win-Win-Win” Field* of human-development and governance advances is instituted and empowered, you and all other Governances’ll still be going on marking-time, edging increasingly backwards, trying to choose and use THE superior adversary strategy and competitive-tactic that will both preserve your existing super-wealth and increase your future super-dominance-powers.

    * my “win-win-win” basic part of “Win-Win-Win” Field, for both the Lifeplace- and the Workplace- timeframes, includes:

    (1) The six governance-thinking modes:
    “Six Thinking Hats” (de Bono);

    (2) The six-steps needs, hows and affordable-costs recognition and cooperative problem-solving Method III:
    “Leadership Effectiveness Training” (Gordon);

    (3) The six-steps participatorily-cooperative conflict-resolution method, including eight ‘Fouls’:
    “Every-one Can Win” (Cornelius & Faire);

    (4) The group- and team- effectiveness skills and know-how summaries from:
    “Joining Together” (Johnson & Johnson);
    “Health Care Together” (Johnston & Rifkin);
    “Land Care Together” (Chamala & Mortiss).
    ((As previously submitted, for similar tabling, governance-workplaces need to publish and appoint a generic or citizens’-governance-enablement group of know-how books, such as:
    “A Rulebook for Arguments” (Weston);
    (“)Governance Communication Enablements for the Citizen(”) (?Hansard? – but certainly not by the BBC nor any of the ‘popular’ Media; nor, with respect where respect is due, by such as the mysterious authority “Norton” whose test for Educativity-Intelligibiity-Conciseness, our well-known LOTB Lord Norton says he applies to his own and to commenters writings, but in the reverse order “Concise-Intelligible-Educative”) )).

  7. Anne Palmer
    24/10/2010 at 11:13 pm

    You write of the Treaty of lisbon, a Treaty that should never have been ratified by a British Government because-

    … no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm …”.

    Please notify me if this is removed, for I would like to know the reason why please.

  8. ladytizzy
    26/10/2010 at 4:06 pm

    The first sentence was a breeze, Lord Norton, then you lost me. I checked out the links – first one is 300pp long, no chance, the second referenced Third-Country Nationals, a term similar to ‘subsidiarity and proportionality’ in that it does not do what it says on the tin. I’m still unsure whether the HoL having one vote is a good or bad thing.

    Everything to do with the EU seems to be deliberately couched in Wonk, a language preoccupied with words of at least six syllables, developed by those who wish to disguise their lack of understanding or, more darkly, the facts.

  9. Anne Palmer
    28/10/2010 at 3:42 pm

    Ah ladytizzy, you have hit the nail on the head. The treaty of Lisbon was deliberately muddled so that the people would not under stand it (Admitted by one very eminent person in the EU)It should never have been accepted by the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties because it did not even come up to the expectations and laws of that very Convention (all treaties should be clear and precise-able to be understood by all who read it etc)

    Sadly, democracy was among the first of those victims to lose its head in those once hallowed Halls where honourable men and women of yesteryear did sit. But yesterday’s men and women fought and won a war, those whose names will ne’re be forgot, yet on they linger in the thoughts of man.

    They that gave ‘their all’ that we might live in peace, freedom and liberty, to be governed by laws the true Brit shall writ. To no man shall we be beholden or bow, for we are well able to look out for ourselves, a once great Statesman said.

    I have no stomach to speak of truth, honesty or integrity, for they were the next victims to fall by the wayside, yet still ye look to the Crown, alas reduced in the signing of that first document, to just a figure-head.

    Hope is only a promise of deliverance left for you, unless you have “courage” to face that which is yet to come. But the way be strewn with debris that others before ye have cast away.

    Wear well your armour against the traitor waiting at the gate. Your patron saint, St George was indeed well chosen for the dragon spewing forth flames of hate of all things good, feeds on greed and power, a power that will in the end, devour itself.

  10. ladytizzy
    29/10/2010 at 2:58 pm

    Are you aka Craig Brown?

  11. Anne Palmer
    29/10/2010 at 4:52 pm

    Craig Brown? Never heard of him.

    My name is my own as are all the words above.

  12. Lord Norton
    Lord Norton
    04/11/2010 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that it is a small step but I think a useful one. Anything that strengthens Parliament in scrutinising EU proposals is to be welcomed. You may be interested to know that another motion, moved by Lord Roper, on the distribution of food products, was agreed by the House yesterday (3 November), contending that the proposal breached the principle of subsidiarity. It will be interesting to see if other national parliaments take a similar view. As I mentioned, I am keen to encourage co-operation between national parliaments. The more we can do to share information and develop a dialogue the better.

    04/11/2010 at 5:17 pm

    Lord Norton said on 04/11/2010 “I am keen to encourage co-operation between national parliaments. The more we can do to share information and develop a dialogue the better.”

    Isn’t that what we thought we had agreed to when we joined the common market, co-operation? I’ve been on NATO committees where the co-operation between sovereign governments worked very well. Now we have an unelected, almost unaccountable heavily bureaucratic oligarchy dictating what we can and cannot do in almost all areas of our lives, but almost no one in the Westminster puppet government is prepared to acknowledge that. That isn’t co-operation. Can you understand why people are getting angry? You can only deceive the people for so long.

    Maybe when, and it isn’t if, EU budget commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, actually achieves his direct taxation aim of VAT, carbon, aviation and financial transaction taxes and we wake up and realise that we have “taxation without representation”. Then we might look back to 1776, take a leaf out of Patrick Henry’s book and revolt, because we sure ain’t being served by those elected “representatives” who we thought were guarding our sovereignty.

  14. Anne Palmer
    05/11/2010 at 9:46 pm

    Lord Norton, those of you that sit in Parliament had “all the power in the world” and you ratified EU Treaties that took and used all that power you once had and used it for them-selves. You are being allowed a little back, which according to you is ‘a small step’ and “anything that strengthens Parliament is a good thing”.

    You had it all, and you trashed it by giving it away, and now the people are going to have to fight to get it back.

    Either that, or one or the other must go, which is what the EU was all about, because the people-with all the CUTS can no longer afford two full Houses of Parliament here in the UK plus all the EU Regions AND two or three layers of EU Governance in Brussels.

    So Lord Norton, which is it to be? You see the delemma the people are in and now we pass it on to you. YOU CHOOSE for us Lord Norton please.

  15. Lord Norton
    Lord Norton
    05/11/2010 at 10:40 pm

    Anne Palmer: If you do it purely in cost terms, then one should abolish the European Parliament, followed by the House of Commons! The House of Lords is the most cost-effective of the three. One could save money by having the European Parliament revert to what it was before direct elections were introduced in 1979… Parliament considers about 1,000 documents a year. You can see which by looking at the reports of the European Scrutiny Committee in the Commons. I do, though, agree that we need to address the fact that the European Parliament seeks to exercise financial power without responsibility.

    06/11/2010 at 10:59 am

    I also look at the work of the European Scrutiny Committee although I have to admit, not lately. It is a highly superficial scrutiny and so many of the thousands of EU laws, directives, opinions etc get scrutinised and why should they? They cannot be stopped.

    It is far far more than just financial power that the European Government wants.

    I am in agreement that the HOL is more cost effective than either the Commons or Europarl, depending on how you judge cost effectiveness, but that isn’t the point. Please let’s start with the requirement and then go on to look at the need and the structure.

    With your constitutional background, surely you can see that a complete review of government is now needed now that we have to answer first to an EU Constitution (Lisbon Treaty). That is new.

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