The EU Bill

Lord Norton

The Constitution Committee’s report on the European Union Bill has just been published.  To quote from the press release:

“The House of Lords Constitution Committee warns that the EU Bill represents a radical step-change for the UK in adopting referendum provisions on such a large scale. This is inconsistent with the Government’s statement that referendums are most appropriately used to decide fundamental constitutional issues.”

You can read the report here.  The Bill has its Second Reading in the Lords on Tuesday.

And as to why it is more appropriate to refer to referendums rather than referenda, see here.

13 comments for “The EU Bill

    18/03/2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’d like to know if there ever will be a Referendum on the EU at all. Many in Parliament seem not to Trust what the Public would vote for should such be held.

    • Dave H
      18/03/2011 at 11:29 pm

      I take the fairly simplistic view on this one that we ought to have the vote. If politicians are refusing it because they want to remain in the EU and fear that the people will vote otherwise then I’d say they’re in the wrong job because ultimately the job is supposed to be to represent the will of the people.

      At least if we had one then we’d either be in the EU and the government could join the fast track to integration with a good mandate, or we’d be out and they could differentiate[*] us from Europe.

      [*] In maths, differentiation is the opposite of integration, so why not here? 🙂

  2. MilesJSD
    18/03/2011 at 8:37 pm

    So strictly speaking, if there are two, three, or more referendum(s), “referendum” should be taken to mean plural-referendum (there being no plural form for such a gerund – ) ?

    or in order to ‘own’ it as an English term, what authority would lay-down our very own plural form ?
    the Queen ?
    the Oxford English Dictionary dons ?
    the House of Lords ? the House of Commons ? or the Guardian or perhaps better still the BBC World Service ?


  3. MilesJSD
    19/03/2011 at 6:35 am

    I wonder what the relationship is between EU Bills, such as the Referendum one here, and such matters as the increasing people-protestation-demonstrations in favour of a much safer “Energy” Industry notably of the EU’s Nuclear Reactors;

    and in this latter Topic, why crucially-essential and vulnerable “targets”, such as nuclear-reactors, do not yet have technologically-defensive Screens all around them (such as strong meshes to pre-explode missiles).

    PS That the EU is by no means yet super-strong, powerful, and productive, is no reason for Britain to quit it under a “when do we want it, we want it NOW” complacently-political-party-competitive still-adolescent new Conservatism-cum-“Liberalism” one-eyed oligarchy of would-be ‘kings’ and Big-Societists.

  4. Matt
    19/03/2011 at 11:18 am

    Zarove ~ It’s worse than that. I cannot recall ever seeing a newspaper survey-poll as to how many people would like there to be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

  5. maude elwes
    19/03/2011 at 12:42 pm

    If there was to be a referendum, the powers that be would find that the ‘anti EU press’ would not have the grip they have now on what the public are told about our benefits of being a European State.

    Perhaps the revelation that we do well out of it and that we make the laws within it could bring a reasonable change of heart.

    However, it won’t be settled until there is a referendum. Without which there is disillusion and fraction, therefore, it would be better to have one than not.

    And this government promised the people they could have one. That is what they should do then isn’t it?

  6. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 6:59 pm

    And as to why it is more appropriate to refer to referendums rather than referenda, see here.

    If my noble lord will allow it, I shall continue to use a hyphen Referend-ums.
    how affected can it be?! (Where are the emoticons for laughter?)

    I shall read the links as the EU is important to me.

  7. Carl.H
    20/03/2011 at 10:23 am

    The problem with a Bill of this type is that Britain will appear that it is trying to choose the best parts of EU and leave the rest. It will be a bit like the British people deciding we want this Government but don’t want deficit cuts or increased taxation. There are of course places where a sovereign Country needs to place it’s needs above those of the EU but running a leglislative entity is difficult enough without adhering to every members singular laws.

    Governing is a complex issue, one in which our Authorities get it wrong from a legal perspective from time to time. I am aware that British business would prefer the benefits from being an EU member but picking and choosing that which we feel it maybe ok to abide by is wrong.

    I personally feel it is now time to decide if Britain should be a leading light within the EU and committed 100% to it or to get out. The electorate of the Nation have cried for decades for a referendum on the EU, they no longer feel they know who Governs or how, they do not feel that the EU is accountable in anyway to them.

    The commitment to stay in the EU has long been an autonomous one, one that maybe based purely on financial wishes of business. This Government has promised to give more power to the people, it is time to refer this issue to the people.

    I am undecided which way I would vote in a referendum to stay in the EU, a lot of good I feel comes from it.However lots of people have no wish to be ruled by an amalgamation of other Countries politicians where the British voice will always be a minority. And that British voice made up of anonymous politicians whose job of reporting back to the British public is not taken seriously.

    The increasing layers of bureaucracy make it impossible to keep up with everything. The voter, unlike the House does not have expertise in everything nor enough time to study local, County, Government and EU issues in any depth whilst maintaining his continued taxation to keep those authorities.

    Whilst we now are trying to ensure that the people have a say in Government and ensure those in it are accountable, the people feel the EU unaccountable.

    It has been nearly 30 years since our entry to the EU, it is time to take stock, to ask the British people if they are happy with membership. We have been promised time and again a referendum on the issue, it is important to the electorate and it is an issue we see our politicians renege on time and again.

    The full facts of what Britain would win and lose need to be laid before the public. The electorate so often said to be “the legitimacy” of Parliament deserve what they so often ask. At a time where devolution is taking place in haste, where Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are gaining more independence shouldn’t the British people be able to decide their own fate ?

    Very few of those under 50 had a choice in this matter and many things have changed since our entry. It is time to refer the matter to the true legitimate entity in Britain, the people.

  8. Lord Blagger
    20/03/2011 at 6:03 pm

    Notice in the Times today that the EU MEPs have been learning from the Corruption in the Lords.

    They’ve been asking for cash to change EU legislation.

  9. outsider
    22/03/2011 at 2:00 am

    Doubtless the committee is right that the number of mooted referendums is excessive but that rather misses the point. The Bill aims to be a deterrent, in the hope that the EU will find UK accountability irksome enough to avoid initiatives that would require a UK referendum. So if it were successful, there would be few if any referendums.
    Personally, I think it is mere window-dressing, in which case there will also be few if any referendums
    In advance of the Bill details, I set my personal test of whether it would actually give people more say: would I be able to vote on the entry of Turkey, which (as the most populous state by then) would have such a profound impact? The answer is no.

    • Carl.H
      26/03/2011 at 10:53 am

      It quite obviously has to be a deterrent, I mean our Con-Lib coalition wouldn’t ask us all to suffer financially, some to the extremes of poverty, whilst proposing possible multiple EXPENSIVE referendums over the coming years would they ?

      That would be absurd wouldn’t it, it would look like it’s ok to spend loads of money on politics and politicians but the people can starve. To save the trouble and multiple millions of pounds, here is the answer from the British people to all questions regarding more power to the EU.


      Here is the answer to the question does Britain (the electorate) want continued EU membership ?


      Prove me wrong. One referendum requiring far less outlay than possible future referendums. I’m trying my best here to cut costs as the Government requires in this time of deficits and cuts. Will they?

  10. ZAROVE
    22/03/2011 at 4:56 am

    Well, Lord Blagger, there you go. Politics is the Art of the Conman made legal.

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