Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour):

    The Opposition have said that reform rather than repatriation is how to achieve the change in Europe we want—[Interruption.]

    Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden, Conservative):

    Which powers would the right hon. Gentleman like to be returned from Europe to this country?

    Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour):

    Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to finish? We have said that we will judge on a case-by-case basis the merits or demerits of where those powers reside. With respect, I should point out to him that the only power identified by the Prime Minister in his long and much trailed speech last week was a change to the working time directive. Is the Prime Minister honestly suggesting that the right of British doctors not to treat a patient when they have not been to bed for two days the only power he is seeking to repatriate? Is he suggesting that, if he fails to secure that repatriation, he will recommend a no vote for the EU? That is the idiocy we were left with after the Prime Minister’s speech last week.

    Let me read the principles so that the House can know just how crystal clear they are. The principles are competitiveness, flexibility, that power must be able to flow back to member states and not just away from them, democratic accountability and fairness. As I have said, the Opposition agree with those principles—I hope that does not cause great discomfort on the Conservative Benches. Indeed, to be fair, there is a degree of common ground between the Prime Minister and the Opposition on the need for change in Europe.