§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 26 January,Official Report, column 265, if he will outline what is meant by the referral to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on questions of European Law; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Scott
If a court or tribunal isa member state is unclear on a question of European law in a case before it, the issue can be referred to the European Court of Justice for a definitive interpretation of the provisions of European law in question. Such a referral can be made by any court or tribunal if it considers that a decision on the issue is necessary to enable judgment to be given. Once the European Court of Justice has answered the question, it is sent back to the national court or tribunal, which then applies the ruling to the case before it. Such a ruling by the European Court of Justice, interpreting provisions of European law at the request of a national court or tribunal, is called a preliminary ruling.