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Posted by Helen Thursday, May 20, 2004

On Monday, May 10, Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty’s Government to tell the House "What proportion of legislation put before Parliament in recent years has originated from the European Union." This is a remarkably important question.

The reply was a little surprising. Accroding to Baroness Amos, Lord President of the Council, there were no centrally held figures on this and the proportion varied from department to department, rising to eighty or more per cent, presumably, though she did not say this, in those that dealt with matters which were entirely EU competence.

Nevertheless, she added: "About half of all legislation with a significant impact on business, charities or the voluntary sector is introduced to implement European Union decisions with the proportion varying considerably from one policy area to another."

Then various facetious comments were made by peers out to sneer at Lord Lamont and Lord Stoddart who were trying to establish important constitutional matters. During all this, no attempt was made by the government to establish what proportion of legislation that does not have "a significant impact" (how is that measured, by the way?) comes from Brussels. And what of the EU Regulations that apply directly without having to go through national parliaments? Baroness Amos may not be aware of these.

To read the full debate click here.