The European Union (Referendum) Bill had its second day of report stage debate on 22 November 2013. Bill Cash made the following interventions:
Mike Gapes: It might be, but we do not necessarily need to have a referendum. We could say that those who wish to vote to leave the European Union on 7 May 2015 should vote for the UK Independence party, that those who wish to stay in the European Union and work for its improvement should vote Labour and that those who are unclear what they are doing one way or the other should vote for the Conservatives. That would be much better and would mean that, in effect, the general election was the referendum.
Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): I am listening carefully to what the hon. Gentleman is saying. On the status quo, given the urgent question that I had to raise about the charter of fundamental rights, for example, as well as many other things, does he agree that we need fundamental change in the relationship and not necessarily nibbling at the treaties? In fact, we do not want nibbling at the treaties at all.
Mr Cash: Despite everything the hon. Gentleman is saying, does he agree that it is essential that we have a referendum before the end of 2014, because we are already in a process of constitutional and fundamental change? Renegotiating the treaties will do no more than nibble at things, so it is absolutely essential that we have a referendum in the interests of the British people.
Phil Wilson: I thought that the hon. Gentleman would make an intervention during my speech, so I looked at the number of jobs in Stone that are reliant on Europe. (…)
Mr Cash: When the hon. Gentleman refers to extremists, is he aware that France, Ireland, Holland and Denmark have all had referendums? There is nothing extreme about that. Furthermore, to hold a referendum before the end of 2014 has enormous attractions and I will vote for it. I raised the issue in my debate against Nigel Farage in the party conference this year, and I also made a speech and put out a press release the previous year, calling for the same position.
Chris Williamson: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I was not referring to extremists in France and Denmark. I was referring to extremists on the Conservative Benches who have taken the Prime Minister hostage.
Mike Gapes: The hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) refers to referendums in Ireland and Denmark. He is well aware, because he is very experienced in these matters, that they were not in/out European Union referendums. They were referendums on aspects of treaty change, similar to what might happen if there were another European convention or treaty change in a few years, which is the existing Government policy. His argument is therefore not valid.
Mr Cash: What we really want is to bring the government of the United Kingdom back to the United Kingdom, which will require fundamental constitutional change, so nibbling at the treaties will make no difference to that. (…)