Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has called on the government to identify the precise powers that have been dropped from the rejected European constitution, allowing it to claim that a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is not necessary.
Mr Lilley made his challenge during the opening speech by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, in the Commons debate on the treaty.
“Will he now cut to the chase and spell out the specific transfers of power in the original constitution that, in the government’s opinion, justified a referendum, but which are not in this treaty – thus in the government’s view, nullifying their promise to hold a referendum?
Mr Miliband replied that details of specific powers would be provided – however he failed to identify any such powers.
Peter subsequently said “The Foreign Secretary’s inability to specify any substantive measures in the Constitution which are not in this new Treaty is breathtaking. They scarcely bother to deny that thay are simply breaking a solemn manifesto pledge to hold a referendum.”
The Prime Minister has promised MPs the opportunity “to debate the treaty line-by-line” in coming weeks. “I shall participate fully in those debates,” Peter Lilley promised.
Note to editors:
extract from Hansard attached:
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Will the Foreign Secretary now cut to the chase and spell out the specific transfers of power in the original constitution that, in the Government’s opinion, justified a referendum, but which are not in this treaty-thus, in the Government’s view, nullifying their promise to hold a referendum? Will he spell out those specific powers?
David Miliband: The right hon. Gentleman will get details of specific powers and of how this is a different treaty in structure, in content and in consequence. It has more similarity to the Maastricht treaty and other treaties.