Yesterday in the House of Lords here were a number of motions relating to the membership of committees. As is usual all (but one) of these were agreed to immediately. However the motion to appoint members of the European Union Committee faced an amendment from Lord Pearson of Rannoch to reconsider. A twenty minute debate followed at which many of the best known europhobes in the House spoke.
Lord Richard, himself a former European Commissioner, was outraged at Lord Pearson's remarks, saying "My Lords, for 17 years now I have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, on Europe. He does not say things that are novel. He occasionally says things that are interesting. He very often says things that are quite breathtaking. I am bound to say that what he has done today seems to be firmly in the last category; indeed, it is so breathtaking that it is difficult to produce moderate language with which to oppose it.The noble Lord seems to assume that the Committee of Selection has deliberately—that is the implication—put on this committee people whose general views are Europhiliac rather than Europhobic. That is a terrible thing to say. The Committee of Selection and its personalities were approved by this House and it includes distinguished Members of your Lordships’ House. The idea that they somehow would connive in order to produce a committee on the European Union that was somehow in the interests of the government side rather than the opposition side of the House—if that is the position of the Opposition—is incredible. I say with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, that he should withdraw his amendment and perhaps apologise to the House for having slighted it."
There was no apology - but the matter was not put to a vote. Clearly the Eurosceptics intend to use every opportunity this session to raise their opposition to Europe.