Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): In light of the Prime Minister‘s call for a fundamental review of the European Union, its purpose and fitness for that purpose, can he explain why he continues adamantly to rule out the possibility of any return of powers and competences from the European institutions to the member states?

    The Prime Minister: Because if we started a debate now about renegotiating our own treaty obligations to the rest of Europe, at a stroke we would lose any possibility of influencing the argument in the rest of Europe. I am sorry, but that is simply true. I will not bother reading out quotations from Conservatives when they were in government, as there is not any point in doing so. [Interruption.] Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman never made such statements, but I can assure him, without embarrassing too much the people who were in government at the time, that even the speech by Mrs. Thatcher at Bruges, if it were given today by a Conservative aspiring to the party leadership, would be considered rampantly pro-European. That is the truth. If we want to conduct the debate in a such a way as to suggest that the real point is how we get rid of the existing powers of the European Union, we would lose it before we started it, and that would not be sensible.