PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

First Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

DRAFT EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (DEFINITION OF TREATIES) (AGREEMENT ON CUSTOMS UNION AND CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY AND REPUBLIC OF SAN MARINO) ORDER 1993

Monday 14 June 1993

LONDON: HMSO

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Barry Jones

Boyce, Mr. Jimmy (Rotherham)

Cohen, Mr. Harry (Leyton)

Cummings, Mr. John (Easington)

Dicks, Mr. Terry (Hayes and Harlington)

Dunnachie, Mr. Jimmy (Glasgow, Pollok)

Emery, Sir Peter (Honiton)

Gapes, Mr. Mike (Ilford, South)

Garel-Jones, Mr. Tristan (Watford)

Godsiff, Mr. Roger (Birmingham, Small Heath)

Heath, Sir Edward (Old Bexley and Sidcup)

Heathcoat-Amory, Mr. David (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Hughes, Mr. Robert G. (Harrow, West)

Johnston, Sir Russell (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

Knapman, Mr. Roger (Stroud)

Luff, Mr. Peter (Worcester)

Marland, Mr. Paul (Gloucestershire, West)

Milligan, Mr. Stephen (Eastleigh)

Robertson, Mr. George (Hamilton)

Dr. P. C. Seaward, Committee Clerk

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3 First Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Monday 14 June 1993

[MR. BARRY JONES in the Chair]

Draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Agreement on Customs Union and Co-operation between the European Economic Community and the Republic of San Marino) Order 1993

4.36 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory): I beg to move. That the Committee has considered the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Agreement on Customs Union and Co-operation between the European Economic Community and the Republic of San Marino) Order 1993. I doubt whether the order is the most important or the most controversial agreement that the EC will sign. However, it has an interest for the 22,000 inhabitants of San Marino. I hope that the issue will not detain the Committee for too long. The purpose of the debate is to approve a draft Order in Council, which establishes the agreement between the EC and San Marino on customs union and co-operation as a European treaty under the European Communities Act 1972. The essence of the agreement is to establish a customs union, as well as co-operation on many other matters. The agreement was signed by the European Community on 16 December 1991. My right hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) may have had a hand in that event. The agreement also formed the subject of a Foreign and Commonwealth Office memorandum in November 1991. On 27 November 1991, the House of Commons Select Committee on European Legislation considered the agreement to be neither legally nor politically important. The House of Lords Select Committee on European Communities also considered the agreement. The agreement deals with a customs union, which was already established under the interim agreement. It is desirable, because it will liberalise trade fully within the geographical area covered by the Community. It will also ensure that San Marino does not become an unregulated customs zone within the EC. In addition to the provisions on trade, the agreement establishes co-operation between the Community and San Marino on several matters, including industry and services, the environment, tourism, and culture. The declarations—that are attached to the agreement deal with, for example, transport, teacher and student exchanges, services, and intellectual, industrial and commercial property. The agreement is straightforward and is based on the customs union with Andorra. The Government welcome the agreement. It places co-operation between the Community and San Marino on a more formal footing and it strengthens commercial, economic, social and cultural links. San Marino plays a part in various international organisations, including the Council of Europe and the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, and has 4 just become a full member of the United Nations. The EC agreement will complement that by establishing the Community's relationship with San Marino on a more formal and mutually beneficial basis. I therefore commend the instrument to the Committee.

4.40 pm

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton): This may go down in history as the Committee in which the reading of the title of the order took longer than the speeches—at least that was my hopeful expectation. I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Jones, both as a friend and as an hon. Friend. I am pleased to see you rise to the majestic heights of chairing Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments. I am sure that it will give you great pleasure. I also welcome the Minister to his first parliamentary occasion on the Front Bench. He is fulfilling that great parliamentary tradition of kicking Deputy Chief Whips out of the way into the Foreign Office: he is the third in a year to be deposited in that position. His first contribution to a Council of Ministers meeting was to bring the rules of the Government Whips Office into the European Community with a vengeance: he introduced a proposal that would deny the European Parliament ombudsman access to documents published in the public interest by the Council of Ministers for the use of the European Commission. No doubt many other habits of the Conservative Whips Office will be paraded for the edification of the European Community. I thought that this order was non-controversial and did not deserve a lengthy speeech. However, when the Minister said that it had been signed by the right hon. Member for Watford, the first scintilla of suspicion came into my mind that perhaps there was a secret agenda. The right hon. Gentleman has now retired to the Back Benches and is deemed by his successors in the Whips Office to be fodder for Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments. I can think of no better fate for the right hon. Member for Watford than attending these Committees as a loyal, all-suffering and completely silent member of the Back Benches. That gives me great comfort. I agree with the Select Committee on European Legislation that this Order is legally and politically non-controversial. I am, therefore, glad to welcome it on behalf of the Opposition.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I thank that hon. Gentleman for some of his kind words. Having successfully, I think, assisted the passage of the Maastricht Bill through the House of Commons, I now look forward to making a success of the treaty in practice when it completes all its parliamentary obstacles. I am also grateful for the welcome that the hon. Gentleman gave to this instrument and commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Agreement on Customs Union and Co-operation between the European Economic Community and the Republic of San Marino) Order 1993.

Committee rose at seventeen minutes to Five o'clock.

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THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Jones, Mr. Barry (Chairman)

Dicks, Mr.

Garel-Jones, Mr.

Godsiff, Mr.

Heathcoat-Amory, Mr.

Hughes, Mr. Robert G.

Knapman, Mr.

Luff, Mr.

Marland, Mr.

Milligan, Mr.

Robertson, Mr. George

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