Corpus Juris

Corpus Juris

From a debate in the House of Lords



Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP)
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend, if I may refer to him as such. Of course, corpus juris is just one of the many important examples of how the octopus in Brussels slowly puts its tentacles around our sovereignty and democracy. I remember it first being raised at an academic conference, I think in Spain, in about 1990 and someone who was there got very excited about it and said that this corpus juris-the Roman words for the body of Roman law-was going to come into the EU and that we were going to do it. We were of course told by the then Conservative Government that that was complete nonsense and that it was only an academic idea. We went through all the usual stages of the advance of the octopus. Then we were told that it was in fact a sort of proposal but that no one else agreed with it: "Don't worry, the British Government are going to see this one off". Then of course we move further on and what we are looking at is certainly an example of the advance towards corpus juris.

The Government have promised that any decisions to opt in to any of this legislation will be debated and subject to a vote in both Houses of Parliament. A deadline for the Government's opt-out on this draft directive had been set for 14 May this year. As the noble Lord, Lord McNally, mentioned, the House of Commons debated and voted on it on 24 April, with the Minister confirming that the Government were thus fulfilling their promise to Parliament-that we should debate and vote on each of these opt-ins. Yet even in the Commons there was considerable dissatisfaction with the way that the Government handled the matter. The Motion was tabled on the day of the debate, without the Commons EU Select Committee being given an opportunity of scrutiny. The chairman of that committee, Mr Bill Cash, described it as a "disgrace" and the whole debate is a powerful indictment of the directive and of the Government's behaviour.

However, when we come to your Lordships' House the Government's behaviour is, alas, even less excusable. The Government were aware of the deadline for their opt-out of 14 May many months ago. Indeed, the Home Secretary wrote on 21 December 2011 to the noble Lord, Lord Roper, who was then the chairman of our EU Select Committee, revealing the 133 measures that were still subject to our opt-out. I will come back to their substance later. I am not aware of what our Select Committee did then but I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, may be going to enlighten us. The Government failed to table their proposed Motion for debate here until 21 May, a week after the deadline for their opt-out on this measure, so that we were already signed up to the thing by the time we came to debate it-let alone to vote on it. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, mentioned Prorogation, but I remind him that we took a week's extra holiday before that, and I cannot help feeling that this Motion could have been squeezed in.
Full debate Here

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