Lords completes committee stage of EU (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill

14 June 2012

The European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill began committee stage, line by line scrutiny, in the House of Lords yesterday (Wednesday 13 June).

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Labour) sought clarification that the proposed European Stability Mechanism (ESM) mentioned in Clause One will replace the existing European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) and European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) said it was the government's 'clear intention' to replace the EFSM and EFSF. He said: 'That has been the aim all along. The bill does not do either of those things but merely amends Article 136. However, those intentions were stated absolutely clearly and supported by all members of the European Community.' Clause One was agreed by members of the House.

The second amendment to Clause Two by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock proposed that 'the act can come into effect only if member states of the eurozone are those that existed when the treaty was agreed' and to 'change the date to 1 January 2013' instead of the day it was agreed.

Lord Howell of Guildford responded: 'Failing to approve or delaying the approval of the treaty amendment decision would further contribute to the instability across the eurozone... and have a negative impact on the UK economy.' Amendment Two was withdrawn and Clause Two agreed.

The bill has completed committee stage and now awaits report stage in the House of Lords.

European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill summary

The treaty amendment allows eurozone countries to set up a financial assistance mechanism. The proposed European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will mean that EU member states with the euro can support other eurozone members in financial difficulty. The ESM will replace the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Any changes to EU treaties must be ratified by the UK and all other EU member states before they can enter into force.

What is committee stage?

During committee stage, detailed line by line examination of separate clauses and schedules of the bill takes place. Any member of the Lords can take part. It can last from one or two days to eight or more. This stage usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading.

Amendments can allow the House of Lords to make revisions to government bills (draft laws). Members of the Lords, often with specialist knowledge or experience of the subject, can submit amendments to explore possible effects of the planned law and the policy that lies behind it.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments (proposals for change) are published in order in a marshalled list. Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a 'groupings of amendments' is published on the day. Lords must agree to every clause of the bill and vote on the amendments. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit for discussion.

After the committee stage, the bill is reprinted with all the agreed amendments and is moved to report stage for further examination.

Next stage: Report stage

Report stage in the Chamber gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments (proposals for change) to a bill.

Report stage usually starts 14 days after committee stage.

Further information

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