§ 6.13 p.m.
§ The First Secretary of State (Mr. R. A. Butler)
It is almost a year since the House approved the Government's decisionto make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealth and of the European Free Trade Association.It is, therefore, an appropriate occasion to review events since then and to see where our negotiations now stand.
The House will be aware that this debate takes place just when our delegation in Brussels is closely engaged in the most important and crucial negotiations and in the final stage to determine the general outline of the terms on which we should accede to the European Economic Community. The time, therefore, is not yet ripe to consider whether or not the outcome of these negotiations will be such as will constitute "the satisfactory arrangements" to which we referred a year ago. Moreover, it would be embarrasing to our delegation to debate in detail the substance of the problems still to be solved. Nevertheless, I will try to serve the House, as the Opposition have asked for this debate, by explaining in broad and general terms how far we have got, what matters remain to be settled, and how the Government, so far as we can see 644 at this stage, intend to handle future developments.
Historically and geographically we have always been part of Europe. Indeed, many of the greatest struggles in our history have been undergone to take part in or encourage the concert of Europe or the union of peoples. I learned myself, when I was British chairman of the O.E.E.C. for four years from 1951 onwards, that it was regarded as natural and a natural rôle for Britain to play a full part in Europe not only economically, but politically. Now we have the great opportunity of taking a further step forward, provided that we can, at the same time, protect the vital interests of our Commonwealth since we have no intention of deserting them.
I will thus turn, first, to the main issues so far covered by our negotiations which are those concerned with Commonwealth trade. There are, first, our dependent territories and the newly independent Commonwealth countries in Africa. For most of these, the important question is: what arrangements can be made for their trade in tropical products? I am glad to say that the Six have agreed in principle that association with the Common Market would be an appropriate solution to the problems of the independent and near-independent Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Caribbean. They have also agreed that the great majority of our dependent territories should also be regarded as eligible for association.
It is common ground that these Commonwealth associates should not be, as latecomers, less favourably treated than the existing associated States as regards trade with the Community. The Commonwealth associates will enjoy access not only into the United Kingdom, but into the whole of the enlarged Community on the same terms as the existing associates. Further consideration will have to be given to the arrangements to meet the interests of Cyprus and our European dependencies, Gibraltar and Malta. The arrangements for Malaya, Singapore and our Borneo dependencies have hitherto been awaiting the proposals for creating greater Malaysia to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations referred this afternoon. Hong Kong's rapidly developing trade in 645 cotton textiles and other industrial products would require special consideration, as will also the problems raised with respect to the High Commission Territories, by their incorporation in the Customs union with South Africa.
The question of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, in which I am naturally interested, is still under consideration. From an early stage we have been considering the trade problems of the Asian Commonwealth countries, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, on the basis that they would not become associated with the Common Market, in the same way as our dependencies and African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries. But the Six have shown recognition of the key importance of these countries and of the pressing need to make arrangements which will enable them to expand their exports, reduce their adverse balance of payments and earn the foreign exchange necessary to finance their development programmes. The Six have proposed that to achieve these aims the enlarged Community should negotiate comprehensive agreements with each of the three territories by 1966.
There are also transitional arrangements which deal with cotton textiles, and in the field of tropical products the Six have already agreed to the suspension of the common tariff on a number of items of importance to these countries. The abolition of the common external tariff on tea is, in our view, of crucial importance to these countries. In all this we are in the closest consultation with the Governments of the three countries and are taking full account of their views and anxieties.
So much for the various dependencies and parts of the Commonwealth that I have mentioned. More difficult issues are raised by the trading problems of the three old members of the Commonwealth, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but there is some doubt about this from Press reports. Also the right hon. Gentleman's own phrase was capable of two interpretations. He said that the abolition of the external tariff on tea is of vital importance to those countries. Does that mean, as has sometimes been 646 reported, that the Six have now agreed to have a nil tariff for tea?
§ Mr. Butler
I understood, before I rose to speak, that a final decision had not been taken about that, and that is why I phrased it in that way.
As I say, more difficult issues are raised by the trade problems of the three old members of the Commonwealth, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The major items are raw materials, semi-manufactures, manufactured goods, temperate foodstuffs and certain processed foodstuffs. Many raw materials already enter the Common Market duty-free and trade in them would be unaffected by our accession. We have secured the agreement of the Six to the elimination or reduction of the common external tariff on a number of minor raw materials and an assurance that we shall be able to import duty free sufficient quantities of wood pulp to meet our requirements.
There remains yet unsettled the question of arrangements to be made about aluminium, newsprint, lead and zinc, together with a number of materials of lesser importance. On manufactured goods, exports of which are mainly of importance to Canada, I have nothing to add this afternoon to the provisional solution which has been negotiated and publicly announced.
As the House knows, Commonwealth temperate foodstuffs provide the most difficult and crucial problem of all. Negotiations on this subject are going on in Brussels today and I cannot, therefore, add very much to what my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal told the House on Monday. This matter is being considered in Brussels under two heads: first, the long-term engagements; and, secondly, the transitional arrangements which will be necessary on our accession and until the long-term arrangements come into effect.
The Six have proposed, in the context of the enlarged Community, to take an early initiative, if possible in 1963, to secure long-term arrangements on a broad international basis for the principal agricultural products. At the same time, the Six have accepted the importance of reaching an understanding on the purposes of such agreements and on 647 the points to be covered in them. Consideration has been given to the position which would arise if international agreements did not prove practicable, and the six Governments have declared their readiness to conclude agreements for the same purposes with those countries which might wish to do so, in particular, of course, the Commonwealth countries.
Also, we have discussed the question of price and production policy for these commodities in an enlarged Community, which would be of major importance in determining how self-sufficient in temperate foodstuffs the Community became and how far there would be room for traditional imports from third countries, in particular from the Commonwealth.
Consideration of the transitional period is being resumed today, and there is nothing further I can say about that.
All these problems, which are, as I have said, the most difficult in the negotiations, are complicated by the fact that the Community's price policies are still in course of development. We have to strike a balance between the interests of farmers, including British farmers, in an enlarged Community and the interests of traditional exporters, in particular Commonwealth exporters; and in so doing we must recognise that we should not attempt to freeze the patterns of trade.
Closely allied to this question of the major Commonwealth temperate foodstuffs is the question of trade in processed agricultural commodities, for instance, canned and dried fruits from Australia and canned salmon from Canada, the most important examples. Although, individually, trade in these commodities is not as large as that in the major temperate foodstuffs such as wheat, mutton and lamb, there are individual items which are of particular importance especially to special communities, notably in Australia. In total, Australia's exports of these commodities are of very great importance. However, in many cases the United Kingdom is the sole export market. We are, therefore, endeavouring to ensure that by reductions in the Community's tariff or by tariff quotas, as may be appropriate, the interests of Commonwealth producers in this field are suitably protected.
648 The second of the main issues to which the resolution of last August referred related to the United Kingdom itself. The first and foremost of these is the question of United Kingdom agriculture. As an agricultural Member, I am glad that we have reached agreement with the Six on the question of annual reviews of agriculture analogous to those which we hold in this country and on the question of a general assurance for farmers in the Community.
First, it is agreed that the Community itself should hold an annual review and that each member country should, in addition, if it so desires, have its own annual review. These reviews will be based on such facts as trends of profitability in the agriculture industry, the trends of prices and costs within the Community, and an assessment of their implications for production, consumption, imports and exports.
The result of any national reviews, together with any observation which the Government concerned may wish to put forward about them, will be forwarded to the European Commission and taken into account by it in preparing the Community's annual review. The Commission will also carry out consultations with representatives of interested organisations, particularly of farmers. In carrying out its own annual review, the Community will, therefore, be able to have before it not only the facts but the views of the agricultural community and of the Governments concerned.
When the Community annual review is itself completed, the Commission must report to the Council of Ministers the results and make appropriate proposals to the Council in the light of these results. Moreover, the Community has also accepted that there should be a general assurance with regard to farming incomes and has agreed upon the procedure of implementing this assurance.
Thus, if the annual review shows that remuneration in the agricultural industry does not ensure for the farmers of the Community or of particular areas of it —that is the wording—a fair standard of living in conformity with the objectives of Article 39 of the Treaty, the Commission will take up the question either on its own initiative or at the request of a member Government. The Commission will submit to the Council 649 of Ministers proposals to remedy this situation and the necessary decisions will be taken by the Ministers themselves.
In short, we have secured that the procedure of annual reviews to which we are accustomed should be adopted by the Community and that, in particular, it should be used to secure the objective of a fair standard of living for the farming community which is laid down in Article 39 of the Treaty. We ourselves will be able to continue our own annual review. The Government will be able to form their own opinion on the state of the farming industry, and we shall be full participants in the decisions reached by the Community with regard to its annual review.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
After our annual review, will we be able to take any steps towards bringing the level of prosperity of our agriculture up to the right level?
§ Mr. Butler
No, Sir. That is a matter which has not yet been decided. I cannot make any further statement on that today. The fact that we shall be full participants in the decisions reached by the Community will enable us to exercise our full influence in this direction.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
If there were to be a discrepancy of view between the United Kingdom Government and the Commission on what was a fair price and how it should be implemented, what would then be the result of the discussion?
§ Mr. Butler
That depends upon the voting procedures which are finally agreed in the Community itself. One of the troubles about this debate is that we are not in a final situation on these matters.
While this agreement will give the agricultural community a general assurance of great value, the particular problems of individual commodities such as eggs, pig meat and horticulture still remain to be settled. Other subjects such as milk and milk products, mutton and lamb, beef, veal and sugar, on which the Six have not yet decided on a common policy, are under consideration.
In this field, we and the Six are faced with the dilemma that, where the Six have approved regulations in hard-fought compromises at the beginning of 650 this year, they will need to take account of changes in supply and demand which would arise from our accession and that of other members of E.F.T.A. Where the Six have not yet agreed on a policy for a particular commodity they have to consider the problem not only on the basis of the Community as it now exists but having regard also to the possibility of its enlargement. Therefore, it is impossible to reach final conclusions on the commodities or to take any final decision as to whether we can honestly say that we are safeguarding the interests of agriculture until we have gone further.
Dealing further with the matters affecting the United Kingdom, I remind the House of the Economic Union Articles of the Treaty. These are the general provisions of the Treaty of Rome relating to economic and social policy. Before our negotiations opened these provisions had been studied in detail, and, in his opening statement of 10th October, the Lord Privy Seal was able to confirm that the whole range of provisions of the Treaty dealing with the free movement of persons, services and capital, and collaboration in economic and social policy, was acceptable to us in principle.
We have since informed the Six that, subject to certain details of timing and administrative application, we are able to accept the arrangement which the Six have come to between themselves since the Treaty entered into force. There is one matter, however, which I would like to mention, and that is that the Treaty of Rome contains provisions that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. We shall need to consider further with the Six the period within which we could arrange for any necessary adjustments to be made here. The same is being done within the countries of the Six, and we shall be consulting both sides of industry about this in due course.
The resolution of last August referred to the undertaking that we would not accede to the Community until satisfactory arrangements had been made to meet the legitimate interests of the other members of the European Free Trade Association. That undertaking still stands. Norway and Denmark have announced their intention to accede to the Community and have already started their negotiations. The neutral 651 members have announced their intention to seek association with the enlarged Community, and two of them—Sweden and Austria—have already made their opening statements. Portugual has also applied to open discussions with the Community. As regards the two other European communities, our negotiations to accede to the European Atomic Community were opened on 3rd July and those with the Coal and Steel Community on 17th July.
I should like to take this opportunity to say something about political union, which is of interest to the House. We welcome the efforts which the Six are making now to achieve closer political union in Europe, and we shall join them wholeheartedly in this task if we become members of the Community. As the Lord Privy Seal has explained to the House, the discussions on political union have been continued by the Six Governments quite separately from our negotiations with them. We have not taken an active part in these political discussions, but we have been kept fully informed of developments. We should, naturally, expect to have the opportunity of expressing our views and to be properly consulted on any draft political treaty at the appropriate time.
As regards the substance of such a union, we are not being asked to join a federal union and thus to surrender sovereignty. As was explained to the House on 18th July, the six countries are considering texts in which any decision taken must be by unanimous vote. There is no ground to fear that the position of the Sovereign would be threatened by a political union, or that the powers of Parliament would be circumvented.
The same can, of course, be said about our religious liberties. Protestant fears have been aroused by the theory that this is a treaty with Rome, but this is not so. The Treaty of the six nations happened to be signed at Rome, but, as a churchman, I can say, in response to a considerable amount of correspondence which I and other Members have received, that there is no question that the freedom of worship which we enjoy will be in any way endangered.
Perhaps the word "union" leads to misunderstanding. We. together with 652 the six member Governments of the Commission, have been members of the Western European Union for more than seven years. The Treaty of Western European Union contains provisions for majority voting, but we have never had any reason to regret having signed it. The Treaty of European Political Union as at present conceived would provide for unanimous voting on all matters of policy, and changes would require our consent.
I have nothing more to add this afternoon on the subject of the legal aspects of the Community and our possible entrance to it, except to state that we are definitely proposing to publish a White Paper on this subject a little later in the year when our examination of these intricate matters has been concluded.
§ Mr. Butler
Including the Parliamentary aspects, the effect on the courts and the general effect of Article 189.
This, then, is the stage that we have reached. We cannot say at the moment what the result of the current phase of the negotiations will be, or what the elements or the main outlines of the terms on which we might accede to the E.E.C. may be, but I am sure that in this debate we should all, whatever our views, like to wish well to our negotiators and particularly to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, who has shown himself so adept at this task.
Commonwealth Governments will, of course, be fully consulted and informed of progress throughout the course of our negotiations. The state of progress reached will be the major topic for consideration at the Prime Ministers' conference in September. I need not add to what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said this afternoon about the powers to recall Parliament under the Standing Order. It would be premature to take any decision on this until we have got further in the negotiations and seen what the result is and what the timetable will be. Nevertheless, I suggest that there are some broad considerations which we might all bear in mind during the course of this debate and later while we are considering what our decision should be.
653 First, the existence of the European Economic Community is an important new factor in European history. Those of us both in this country and in the Commonwealth who have had direct experience of two major world wars cannot but regard its creation, leading to a healing of the traditional enmity between France and Germany, as a most important and welcome development.
Secondly, in considering the vital question of Commonwealth trade, it is important to recognise that the present concept of this trade is in a period of evolution. The old countries of the Commonwealth have shown considerable interest in the making of international agreements. Thus, it may well be necessary in our own interests and in the interests of our traditional suppliers to have resort to changes in traditional practices whether we join the Common Market or not.
Lastly, I wish to remind the House of the economic and political future which membership of the Community has to offer. If we were to join the Community, this would strengthen the forces within it in favour of liberal economic policies designed to expand world trade. This would tend to make the policies outward looking. At the same time, the enlargement of the Common Market by the inclusion of new members would create an economic union of over 200 million people and would release forces tending to develop world trade. The existence of such a powerful economic unit would also, especially in view of the bold initiative taken by President Kennedy, lead to negotiations for the lowering of tariffs on a global basis.
Both we and the Commonwealth, as we weigh up the pros and cons, would do well to assess the advantage of such developments as these. We are bound by close and affectionate ties of kinship, history and trade with the Commonwealth. It is worth making a great effort to study and conserve their interests so that firmly based on the confidence of the Commonwealth we can give Europe help and partnership in a period of special importance to prosperity and peace.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I am sure the outstanding impression which 654 will have been left in the minds of almost all hon. Members who have listened to the First Secretary is just how much still remains to be negotiated before we can get even a glimmer of the terms on which we would be asked to make this decision. Almost everything he discussed was still completely open. Even the broadest principles are still to be settled in many cases, let alone the important details.
The great worry in my mind, as in the minds of many others, is not that we are applying to join the Common Market and trying to work it out, but the tremendous sense of hurry which one seems to feel in the mind of the Government to get it finished in a very short time, although so much is still left to do. In our last debate on this subject, I put a question to the Government which I venture to repeat today. Is there any need to go on giving the impression that we are working against a deadline? The Commonwealth Prime Ministers are coming in September, but there is nothing absolutely sacrosanct about that. There is no reason why that meeting should not be postponed, or that the Prime Ministers should go away and come back again.
If we are to settle the issues which the First Secretary mentioned this afternoon between now and the beginning of September, so much work will be done that very little thought will be given to what is done. One gets the impression that what is likely to happen in order to keep the deadline is that a lot of very woolly, rather vague, ambiguous statements will be written down and able to mean anything or nothing to almost everybody according to how one wants to interpret them. For myself, I would regard that as almost the worst possible outcome of these negotiations.
I am glad that we are discussing this subject today, because I should like that sort of view—if I am right in believing that it is held on both sides of the House —to be very clearly explained and understood outside the House, so that if the Government will not convey it to Brussels, Brussels can hear it direct from the House. We would create a very unhappy situation if the other parties were left to assume that agreements of that kind would automatically carry the 655 support of either the House or the people. Perhaps it is easier for me to say that, because it is fairly well known that I believe that on balance it would be better for us if we could get in on a reasonable basis. There are a number of reasons why I hold that view. I would have set them out at some length if the debate had started earlier. However, I will give them briefly.
If we could get the right terms, the enlarged Community which would emerge would be politically much better and would be much more likely to be outward looking than a tightly organised "Little Six" would be. The alternative if we do not go in involves the very things from which E.F.T.A. shrank— the organisation of competing trading blocs which would have considerable repercussions in Europe. The consequences which would flow would be not only economic but would be bound to affect N.A.T.O. and Western defence as a whole. When I was in America recently I felt very strongly that the United States—certainly the Administration, but also large areas of the country —was now in the mood for a change in traditional American trade policies and attitudes, and the creation of an enlarged Community would help to bring to fruition discussions which are now going on there.
My fear, which I have expressed before, is that the Commonwealth is not a natural trading bloc. I doubt very much whether it wants to develop that way, and many of its members would regret having to tie themselves in that way.
Finally, the economic consequences to Britain of a barrier to our entry to the Continental market being raised by additional tariffs and the need to organise a competitive bloc against it would probably be a great deal greater than many of us allow for in our discussions.
For reasons like that, on balance I should like to get terms on which we could go in. But having said that and feeling as I do, I do not share what, from the way they present themselves, seems to be the Government's attitude of believing that we have no alternative. It is not true that there is no alternative. The alternative might be 656 difficult and it might involve some uncomfortable considerations, but there is an alternative and if it had to be faced, it could be faced. If the price were pitched too high, we should have to face it. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer said this fairly clearly in the House the other night when he said something about the world being our parish and indicated that we could look elsewhere for an alternative.
I would feel much happier about these negotiations between now and the beginning of September if I had the impression that that was how Ministers were speaking in Brussels, but I do not have that impression. Nor do I have the impression that they are appearing to give any thought to what the alternative might be and to what it would involve. They do not appear to be working out any plans in order to proceed to the alternative. I have done a good deal of negotiating myself at a different level, and I would have always thought it rather ridiculous to allow myself to get pushed nearer and nearer to the deadline without those with whom I was negotiating understanding that I was making some plans for the possibility of the negotiations breaking down. Whether they mean it or not, the Government are getting themselves into an almost untenable weakness, even from the point of view of those who would like to go in, for they are allowing those with whom they are negotiating to assume that in the end the Government will have to make concessions because they will have got themselves into an impossible position datewise and in every other way.
The main issue to which we should direct attention today is which are the areas where the price could be pitched too high and what is the present negotiating position which we have reached in those areas, and therefore what room there is and in what direction, and what changes we want made.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
Is the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) prepared to spell out, even in brief outline, what his alternative is? If we had that before us we could then weigh up whether, if the negotiations did not go as well as we would like, we could still accept them.
§ Mr. Brown
There is already a risk that by the time I sit down, my right 657 hon. Friend will be rising to wind up, and if I answer that question it will be a certainty. Indeed, we might find ourselves on our feet together. The hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt), who has clearly not done it, should read the leader today in that distinguished organ, the Guardian, when he will find a clear indication of what the alternative might be. While I am finishing my speech, he might care to go and have a look at it.
What are the main areas where the price could be too high? Some people are still too worried with the degree of political commitment which might be involved in adhering to the Treaty, that is to say, the federal content of the Treaty. That is not my view, as I have explained before, but nobody's fear will have been assuaged by what the First Secretary had to say about that just now. He again used this piece of double talk about our "wholehearted support" of the political aims of the Six. That is a very ambiguous and misleading phrase. It could lead to assumptions that, at the point of going in, we are accepting federal commitments. It could lead to the assumption that we are prepared to accept a surrender of sovereignty which I do not believe the House or the nation is prepared to accept, whatever its merits. It is time that Ministers stopped using terms of that sort and talked much more clearly about limitations.
The real issue on this point is whether if we go in now we will be able to influence any future political development. The First Secretary referred to the unanimity rule. It is clear that this is all bound up with the question of voting rights, as are some of the economic issues still to be settled. One of the areas which the Government have not even begun to discuss with the Six is this very involved question of what the voting rights would be, what the new majorities would be, and how they would be made up. Yet this is one of the absolutely critical areas. Unless we can be clear that the new arrangement for majorities and the new weighting will avoid a situation in which we can be automatically voted down by prearranged majorities elsewhere, certainly it will be pitching the price too high, and I should want to know a good deal 658 more about the arrangements on that before I felt able to give any endorsement to whatever the Government brought out of it.
Some people are worried about the retention of our national ability to plan the economy. We have had assurances from the Lord Privy Seal and others that that ability will remain in our national hands. I hope that these assurances will appear as part of some document. It will be totally unsatisfactory later to have to rely simply on the assurances given in this House, backed by nothing else.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I think that my right hon. Friend is reading too much into what the Lord Privy Seal said. As I understood it, the right hon. Gentleman never said that it would not interfere with our power to plan the economy. All that he said was that it would not interfere with our power to nationalise a specific industry, which is a different thing.
§ Mr. Brown
I know that that is different, but my impression is that the belief is held that it would not do the other either. All I am saying—and this will put me on all fours with my hon. Friends; and whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may think, my hon. Friends know what I mean—is that we must insist on a clear recognition that we retain that power. But more than that, we must have some clear understanding of the steps that we would be able to take to maintain the £ hereafter in the event of an attack on our currency. It would be very unsatisfactory if all that we had to rely on were the central banks, leaving them free to decide what strings to attach to any assistance which they may give us at that stage.
There are three main areas in which grave doubts remain. First, British agriculture, and what the First Secretary, even as an agricultural Member, said this afternoon was exceedings unsatisfactory. Secondly, our obligations to the Commonwealth. Thirdly, our undertaking to the E.F.T.A. partners, about which the First Secretary had very little to say.
I deal first with our E.F.T.A. partners. Let us recall the commitment. It is that no one member shall leave E.F.T.A. and join the other organisation unless the 659 position of each of the others is satisfactorily arranged. It is essential that we give no impression that we are in any way going back on that commitment to our E.F.T.A. partners, if for no other reason than this. Were the negotiations to break down and we had to face an alternative, we would need the loyalty and support of our E.F.T.A. partners. If we were to lose that, the alternative would become that much more difficult to arrange. It is, therefore, paramount that there should be no suspicion about our position in this, or that we think any of them are expendable.
In the end, this boils down to the neutrals. One impression I gained in the United States recently leads me to believe that the British Government are not putting forward anything like a clearly understandable viewpoint on this. People are saying that Austria can be arranged for, and that undertakings have been given to Dr. Gorbach, and that Switzerland can be arranged for, and that France would like her to be. But there is a good deal less warmth about Sweden, and I want to make this plain to the Government who do not seem to appreciate it.
Sweden's relevance to our ability to enter is very powerful indeed. The First Secretary said that Denmark and Norway had decided to accede. They have no more decided to accede than we have, and Norway much less so because she must first have a referendum of her people. If the proposal involved the creating of a tariff barrier against Sweden, with whom at the moment Norway has special free relations both of trade and movement of labour, it is unlikely that the referendum would get through, or even that the Government would be able to put it to the people. Therefore, in that sense Sweden is critical, because Norway in turn is critical to us. Let us not assume that we can go in and get voting rights that would help to protect our position unless Norway and Denmark enter at the same time. The position of the neutrals is therefore tremendously important, and I think that we ought to lay more emphasis on this than we are doing at the moment.
I turn now to home agriculture. There has been an impression abroad, and it 660 seemed to be reproduced in The Times this morning, that the only problem left in this area is that relating to temperate foodstuffs from the Commonwealth, the implication being that British agriculture has somehow had its problem settled. This in my submission is undiluted nonsense. We have done nothing of the sort. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when he wound up or intervened in the last debate, set out a whole list, almost as long as my arm, of the things that he would require before he regarded British agriculture as having been satisfactorily taken care of. I will not quote them, but no doubt hon. Members will refresh their minds if they wish to do so.
All that we have had since then is the Lord Privy Seal telling us this vague story, which the First Secretary repeated, about the Community having accepted the provisions of an annual review of agricultural conditions—not an annual price review, but an annual review of agricultural conditions. There is no mystique about the annual review in itself. The consequence of it is what it leads to in terms of changes in agricultural production policy, in an examination of the income of the industry, and in the steps then taken to restore it if it is shown to have fallen below what is established as the appropriate level for this section of our economy.
When the First Secretary was asked about productivity, he said that this was one of the areas still to be settled, but until that area is settled there will be no provision for British agriculture. We could have the most nonsensical situation. We could have academic examinations of agriculture in the Six countries. It would take much longer each year to carry it out, and end in nothing by way of replacing the present price review which our farmers and the industry generally would lose under the proposed arrangements. Here again, I am not saying that arrangements cannot be made. I certainly do not say that agriculture cannot make changes; I think that it can. I do not say that the present pattern of our agricultural production should be frozen. I take the view that, in many ways, it cannot remain as it is. Since the Government changed the 1947 Act it has been getting more and more costly to operate, with the money finding its way into quite 661 different channels from what was intended, and without producing cheaper food, or more food, or, necessarily, the kind of food that we want.
But to say that agriculture can make changes is one thing; the point is that it must not be left to have to make those changes in an unregulated and ill-thought-out way. The small dairy man, who makes up such a large part of our agriculture, and the specialist producer—the egg man and the pig man—together with the horticulturist, cannot be left to take the calamitous rap by themselves, or be expected to try to adjust themselves to it.
Again, much of what will happen here will depend on our voting rights. We have twice asked the Ministers what the voting arrangements will be in respect of agricultural policies. The other night, in answer to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Agriculture told us that he would require notice of that question. This is like the answer of the right hon. Gentleman about profitability. It is an answer that we have to know. We must know which agricultural questions are subjected to the unanimity rule and which are decided by majority vote— and, in each case, what sort of voting we shall be able to command or bring to our aid in those circumstances.
If the Government are not going to do something far different from this between now and the beginning of next month, or whenever the critical date is, they should tell the farming industry now that they are not proposing to make this a sticking point but are proposing to go in first and see how it all works out afterwards. Frankly, that is my interpretation of what the Minister of Agriculture said the other night. My interpretation is that he had made up his mind that we should go in, and then see what we could do afterwards. If that is so, the Government should tell the industry what their proposals are, so as to enable it to adjust itself to the possibilities.
This would mean several things. It would mean encouraging considerable changes in the marketing and grading of our products in a short time, to enable us to deal with the competitive situation which will arise. It would mean that something would have to be done to enable considerable switches to be made in husbandry. If there is a high price 662 grain policy in Europe, whatever it does to anybody else it will hit very hard the agricultural livestock producers in this country, who are relying on imported feed of this type. There will have to be some considerable switches in husbandry, and the Government should be thinking about this. They should be warning the industry, and discussing the matter with it. In the end it will probably have to face a considerable contraction in some areas, and it ought to be ready to do this now.
In relation to all these agricultural questions there is nothing that could even remotely be considered as satisfactorily negotiated. It is still as much in the ring —as much a matter requiring negotiation —as any of the questions that have not yet been tackled. To ask us to return in a month's time, when the Government have made no more progress in this matter, would be to put us in an impossible position.
There are many other questions to which we ought to have answers. The First Secretary has told us about the annual agricultural review. Has he any idea—has anybody explained to him— how the result of any review will be translated into action in the Community? Who would do it? Would the Ministers? The only reference we have had is to the Commission taking the matter up with the Council and the Council then considering it. We have had no reference to the practical steps that would then have to follow.
This links up closely with the last item that I want to raise—the question of temperate foodstuffs imported from the Commonwealth. To some extent success in settling one of these problems will aggravate others. A high price policy for European produce will help our large arable producers, but it will hurt the small specialists and also the Commonwealth. It will make the Commonwealth problem more difficult to solve. A low price policy could cause difficulties here, but would make it easier for our Commonwealth friends. It may be this complication which is impelling the Government to leave as many questions affecting home agriculture fox future settlement as they can.
But we must realise that there are co-siderable dangers in this. My right hon. 663 Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) has a tremendous record in respect of world commodity trade agreements, and he will deal fully with those. I will leave a good deal of that to him. I want to raise only one or two matters. We ought to establish the broad principles that should govern any settlement brought to the House. The first—it remains with us an issue of principle, and we must establish that fact in the House tonight—is that any settlement we make must carry with it the broad general approval of the Prime Ministers' Conference. Hon. Members on this side of the House do not see how that can possibly be evaded. I do not see how the Government can go forward with a settlement that does not do that. I see no way in which we could endorse such a settlement, in the absence of that broad measure of general agreement.
Even under the most favourable settlement that we can arrange there is bound to be a far reaching affect on our relations, trading and otherwise, with the Commonwealth. That cannot be avoided, even if the settlement were sufficiently favourable to got by. There is, therefore, all the more reason why, in this matter, we should be particularly careful to avoid woolly and vague generalities. On the question of agriculture we cannot possibly take refuge in an agreement to agree. We must have spelled out for us what we are doing. The industry must know the terms of what in any case will be a historic decision—a decision that will change the traditional relationships between us and the Commonwealth. It must know the terms of what is being done.
This is the issue of the transitional period, about which we have had no clear statement. I listened carefully to what the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday both in his statement and in answer to Questions. We must know what is to be the critical date. I gather that 1970 is suggested as the date for temperate foodstuffs, but we must know, in relation to other matters, such as the manufacturers of Asian countries, if there is to be a date when there will be an automatic cutting off of the existing preferential arrangements, and we must know clearly whether there is to be, as it were, an escalation downwards in the meantime.
664 These questions are absolutely critical to an evaluation of any arrangements that we make. Everybody is taking refuge in statements about world commodity agreements taking over, and so providing solutions of these problems in a much wider setting, and no doubt they all sincerely mean what they say. If these negotiations are to start even in 1963, as the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday, and are carried on against a background of declining preferential arrangements, which will have reached zero by 1970 or some other date, all that we shall have done is to put an absolute premium on stalling the negotiations along. One would have to put the absolute premium on the other parties, recognising that by that date it will have all come to an end and any future discussions after that date would be against a background of the Commonwealth countries having less preferential advantage than they had.
It seems to us that this would indeed be negotiating from a position of weakness. It seems to us that this would be to take away from us the cards which we need to play in that period. Therefore, the maintenance of the position and the avoidance of an automatic cut-off must surely be quite critical in evaluating the worth of any agreement we make. I am not at all clear that the Government are seized of this point or are clear about the answer to it. We get the same kind of ambiguous terms over this as I have noted in respect of other arrangements. It seems to hon. Members on this side of the House that the position of the Government is exceedingly unclear and could be very harmful in the relationship at the end.
The same thing in a way applies to the provision of comparable outlets in the wider market for the Commonwealth countries after, assuming that we go into the enlarged Community. I repeat that we must mean something by that. Again, I do not say that it cannot be arranged. The point is that we must mean what we say in order that what we arrange is worth while. After all, these countries, especially the developing countries, can reasonably look forward not only to the maintenance of their present trade, but to an expansion of their trade with an enlarged Community of this kind. So we must see to it that we do not deny 665 at the very least a comparable access into that wider market to the trade that they now have with us.
I have sometimes heard it said—I must finish on this point—that to make these demands is in fact to attach to the members something so high as to be unrealistic. This I do not believe. We should not go into these negotiations as a supplicant. While many of us believe that there would be advantages from association on the right terms for us, let us be clear about the fact that the Community would also gain from having us in it. Indeed, initially the Community may gain more out of it than we would gain.
We ought to make very clear to the member countries in the way we conduct ourselves, and in the way we present our arguments to them and in the demands we make, that we have essential commitments, the fulfilment of which, it is true, would involve some sacrifices to, Jet us say, potential French agricultural ambitions. All right, let us say so. Our coming in involves sacrifices of potential ambitions on the part of the Commonwealth not more so but to some existing positions. Let us make that perfectly plain to the French. We are here going to have to trade real concessions for real concessions. I think that the value of this debate is that we can say so loudly and clearly even though Her Majesty's Ministers appear not to have done so.
I believe—it is quite likely that some of my hon. Friends will dispute this— that it would be possible to get a majority view in this country in favour of entering the Common Market on the sort of terms about which I have been talking. But I am very certain that people will not endorse an agreement which arises from (he kind of muffled and dual voice with which we are speaking at the moment. If as a result of this debate our Continental friends were to understand more clearly the basis on which alone Britain can come in, I think it would probably have a very good effect on the rest of the negotiations. I want to see us go in, but I want to see it done on a basis that we can all stand UP to.
I believe that there are members of the Community as it is at present constituted who very much welcome the thought of us and the Norwegians and the Danes 666 being in. They favour it for a number of reasons, political and economic, about which they are not altogether satisfied in the present Community set-up. We should capitalise their desire. We should capitalise the fact that they have that wish. We should set out to present our application reasonably but firmly. My great worry, I repeat, is that we have not been doing that. There has been all this dual talk. I am afraid that the short amount of time left before the totally unnecessary deadline will be insufficient for Ministers to recover the bad negotiating position which they have adopted throughout this time.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The best method of debate, I believe, is for those "for" and "against" the proposal to put their points of view. Up to the moment we have had two speeches from hon. Members in favour of going into the Common Market with certain safeguards. I know that it is very difficult for you, Mr. Speaker, to choose hon. Members who are definitely for or against. But I think that some method should be adopted whereby some of the hon. Members who are diametrically opposed to going into the Common Market can have the opportunity of expressing that point of view. While I believe it is true that there is a considerable volume of opinion in the country in favour of going into the Common Market, there is also a considerable volume of opinion against going in.
§ Hon. Members: Order.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I can understand the difficulty of the hon. Gentleman. I will tell him how I solve mine. I make my own inquiries to try to find out what are the views of hon. Members one way or the other and I shall do my best in the course of the debate—if there ever is any course to it—to make quite sure that both points of views are expressed as fairly as can be.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I thought that in the earlier part of his speech, at any rate, the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) leaned 667 much further over the Common Market side of the fence than he usually does. But no doubt the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will lean further on the other side, and so the balance will be maintained.
As several hon. Members have pointed out there hardly could be a worse day for this debate. Today, in Brussels, there will be discussed the most difficult part, where the crunch comes, the question of getting a balance between agricultural prices within the Community, and also allow reasonable access for third parties within the Commonwealth and elsewhere. If we were to debate this issue it would be rather like the Transport and General Workers' Union, at one of its great conferences, debating how far it would go, to the nearest penny an hour, before having a strike.
§ Mr. Birch
But not in public. I do not think that Mr. Cousins would at all approve of that. Anyway, I shall not attempt to debate the crunch. I think that it would be unpatriotic. And, besides, I do not think that at this stage of the negotiations anyone not directly engaged in them knows enough to pronounce where the sticking point ought to be.
But as we go on, it seems clear in these long negotiations—they are bound to be long—that the whole question is getting increasingly overlaid by a porridge of opinions, emotions and prejudices. What I want to do, very briefly, this afternoon is to take a mop and pail and try to sweep some of the porridge away.
The first and most nasty lumps in the porridge—no one likes lumpy porridge —are the fellow travellers. I define a fellow traveller as somebody who, wittingly or unwittingly invariably happens to follow the Russian Communist line. The fellow travellers are against the Common Market. They have a right to their opinion, but I wish that they would not say that it is because of their veneration of the Throne and the Empire.
The next thing which is happening is, I think, rather dangerous. These 668 negotiations have led to an extraordinary uprush of xenophobia in this country, a dislike of foreigners. This happens in all parties, but I suppose the high priest of xenophobia at the moment is the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton). I am very fond of the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring. I have a great respect for him, but he always reminds me of the Guards officer who said, "Abroad is a bloody place and all foreigners are …" I leave the rest to the imagination of the House. I have no doubt that the hon. Member would have made an admirable Guards officer and would have been very popular in the mess. They would have liked his stories.
It seems, however, for a country like ours, which is so dependent on relations with foreign countries, rather unwise to encourage ourselves in this dislike of foreigners. It is not a wise thing to do. It could lead us, in the end, to a great deal of trouble. Mr. Colin Clark, who, I think, was twice a Labour candidate, said that Socialism is tolerable provided that it is international. Socialism in this country is increasingly becoming national. That is why their fellow-Socialists in Brussels were so distressed by what the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) said. It was their very narrow nationalism which surprised and shocked these Socialists in Brussels.
The next point I want to deal with is the curious idea, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) in the last debate, that the Commonwealth started with the Ottawa Agreements in 1932. The Commonwealth started a very long time before 1932 and will long outlast the withering away of these Agreements. It is rather odd to see the way in which the hand is being played. It is understandable that some of my hon. and right hon. Friends should feel very strongly about the Ottawa Agreements. At the time they were supposed to be, and I think they were, a Tory triumph. They were beneficial at the time and I do not think they have worked altogether badly.
On the other hand, hon. Members opposite were violently opposed and voted against the Ottawa Agreements. I 669 shall quote What Mr. Attlee, as he then was, said about them because this is instructive. He said in this House on 19th October, 1932, as reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT for that day:it is obvious to anyone who went to Ottawa or who studied the proceedings there, that they"—that is, the Government negotiators—were thoroughly well bullied by the Dominion representatives and that they made an extremely bad bargain for this country.I am sorry, I have misread a word. He said:they made an intolerably bad bargain for this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th October, 1932; Vol. 269, c. 183.]Now he is a belted Earl and he is faced about.
It is rather gratifying that hon. Members opposite have reached a conclusion which we reached thirty years ago. Who knows what the next thirty years may bring forth? We have much hope. I would say to hon. Members opposite who now show great enthusiasm for Ottawa that they are doing what many hon. Members opposite so often do, they are gibbering and gesticulating on the deserted battlefields of the 1930s. It is a deserted battlefield. After all, the Ottawa Agreements were based on two ideas: one was that we can have political union in the Commonwealth and the other was a wish and desire to go in for exclusive trade agreements and to develop them to the limit.
I do not want to talk about political unity within the Commonwealth except to say that it is sometimes instructive to look at the voting figures in the United Nations. On the economic question, there is no sign whatever that Commonwealth countries are anxious to go in for exclusive trade arrangements, or to develop them in any way. The withering away of preferences has not been by our will, but by their will all the way through. We get into a terrible muddle when we start talking about the Commonwealth. We should always remember how intensely diverse it is and how false it is to add all these bodies together to produce an enormous total and think that they will all do the same thing.
The results of the latest rescue operation for India were published in The Times on Monday. A credit loan of 670 1,070 million dollars was assembled, of which we put up 84 million dollars. That is less than 10 per cent. In these days, in a country such as India trade follows aid. It does not follow the flag. We ought to do all we can to extend aid to India, but we cannot do that unless we can earn the money, and we shall not earn it from India.
Then there is the question of the protection of industries in developing and developed countries of the Commonwealth. Take Australia as a good example. Australia has quite a lot of coastal shipping. It protects its own shipbuilding industry by subsidies and a refusal to import ships. Our shipbuilders have been tendering in the last few years perfectly genuinely, but I am told that they have got hardly a single order for several years from Australia. That is because Australia wants to build her own ships in her own country, but, of course, we could do with those orders.
Take protection for balance of payments reasons. New Zealand is in a certain amount of balance of payments difficulties and has made arrangements by which 160 items virtually cannot be traded to New Zealand at all. Of course, all these countries have a perfect right to do what they are doing if they believe that it is in their own interests to do so. They are sovereign.
But we must understand the anxieties and difficulties of British industrialists who say that in the modern world they have to have a long run to produce economically. That canont be done unless one has a big market. It cannot be done if one's trade is constantly to be cut off because of some balance of payment difficulties, or whatever the reason may be. That is why they believe it is so vital for their trade and for employment in this country to get access to a large market in which their business cannot be arbitrarily cut off. It therefore seems hopeless to try to go back to the old system of trade in the Commonwealth, to try to live by taking in each other's washing, and to try to devise exclusive trade agreements which no one wants. To do that is to replant a dead tree.
Of course the difficulties are very great. Of course the dangers are great, but in times of danger very often the middle course is the worst. The middle 671 course here is to say, "Well, we would like to get in" and then to set conditions which we know perfectly well cannot possibly be fulfilled.
The Commonwealth, of course, must stand up for itself, and is doing so, just as it did at Ottawa. Hon. Members will have noticed that Mr. Menzies dismissed Mr. Leslie Bury, the Aviation Minister, because Mr. Bury said that it would not make much difference to Australia if we went into the Common Market, and Mr. Menzies said that to say this would spoil his bargaining position. Of course, the Commonwealth will fight, and quite right, too. We must help the Commonwealth all we can, but I would say that it has no right to veto our policy. We, too, are sovereign. The right hon. Member for Belper seemed to suggest that we should give the Commonwealth Prime Ministers an absolute veto upon our policy. That, I believe, is wrong.
There are many difficulties and dangers. One of the minor ones—one of the lumps in the porridge—are Lord Beaverbrook's newspapers. Lord Beaverbrook's papers, in any matter dealing with the Common Market, show suppressio veri, suggestio falsi, xenophobia, Chauvinism and plain damn nonsense. Any report on a Common Market matter in the Beaverbrook papers is truly unrecognisable when compared with reports in any other paper, on the radio, or either television service. I do not believe that a single soul in this House of Commons will deny that what I say is true.
I think that Lord Beaverbrook has done a good deal of harm abroad, but I do not think he has done so much harm here. We know him pretty well. He has seldom espoused any cause which he has not damaged. I do not know whether there is any aspiring biographer of Lord Beaverbrook here, but if there is I suggest a title for his book—"The Unsuccessful Propagandist". It must be some consolation to him to know that he does not get away with it.
Meditating the other day on this matter, I thought of a line from Goethe's "Faust", which I want to quote, and I apologise for quoting it in German, though I will give a translation of it 672 afterwards. In this quotation Mephistopheles describes himself asEin Teil von jener Kraft,Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.which—if I can find the translation—means:Part of the power that stillProduces Good, while still devising ill.I think that his Lordship does produce good, while still devising ill. This may be some consolation to him.
However, he is not really the enemy. The enemy of all this is the enemy of prejudice, of fear of change, old loyalties and fear of 'the unknown, and it will require all the energy and courage of the Government to win through. I believe that we are immensely fortunate in having as our leading negotiator my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. He has the most luminous mind I have known in any Minister of any party or of any civil servant. He has a perfectly staggering power of work. Let us determine to back him up with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I should like to approach this matter from the point of view of the interests and the principles of the party—
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
On a point of order. In view of what you had to say recently, Mr. Speaker, in reply to a point of order raised by my hon. Friend, I wonder whether you have, in fact, been able to inquire as to the views of hon. Members wishing to take part in the debate, since we are now to have the fourth speech in favour of the Common Market.
§ Mr. Speaker
There must be some limit to this process. I am well aware of the hon. Gentleman's views, and if he does not say anything else, it was my intention to call him next from that side of the House. I am quite sure that he knows the very difficult circumstances. In a debate like this, no hon. Member would wish to share with the Chair the responsibility of having to select the speakers. Even if he wanted to, he cannot.
§ Mr. Hynd
I wish to deal with this question from the point of view of the principles and the policy of the party 673 which I have the honour to represent. It is true that there are divided views on this general subject on both sides of the House. It is not for me to deal with the views represented by the ultra-right wing of the Tory Party; that is, their arguments based on old-fashioned Imperialism. That is a matter for hon. Members on the Government side to deal with themselves.
What I cannot ever understand is why there should be opposition to the extent that there is from this side of the House. I am one of those who believe—I am convinced—that the purpose of the Labour Party and of the Socialist movement anywhere in the world is a twofold purpose, and that it always has been. First, it is to achieve a society in our own territory in which there shall be a fair distribution of the common product and common effort, and, beyond this, the elimination of national barriers wherever they exist to bring about the construction of wider and wider communities in which these principles can be established.
One of the tragedies of the modern world is that every time any advance is proposed in this direction, in spite of the lessons of history, which show that wars between Lancashire and Yorkshire, and between Scotland and England, were only eliminated when these territories came under one single sovereignty, every attempt is frustrated by the resurgence of xenophobic nationalism, such as we have heard in all the debates on this issue. Having heard all the arguments used by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) about the British farming subsidies, about this or that aspect of Commonwealth trading and so on, I think we are losing sight of the facts about what is happening in Europe today and what we are trying to do, which goes far and away beyond the 'balance of advantages for France, Germany or ourselves in any particular economic activity.
What is happening on the Continent, at least, is that these countries, which suffered from the war to an extent to which we never did, have learned the awful lessons of two world wars—that the only way to avoid a repetition of this suicidal nonsense is to tear down the barriers which have divided them and which have always dragged Britain 674 into their fratricidal strife. Something which a few years ago would have been regarded as impossible is now taking place, because those countries have learned that lesson. Our response in too many quarters is to revive once again the old nationalist arguments, with references to British farm subsidies, the Commonwealth, the bogies of Adenauer and de Gaulle, Catholic plots and all the rest of this kind of nonsense.
This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to break down national barriers and to bring people together. After the First World War we tried the League of Nations to bring an end to European strife. A world authority was created but not an inch of national sovereignty was handed over to that international authority. Thus, its failure was inevitable.
May I remind the House of what the Labour Party said about it in their publication of the time, The Old World and the New Society. This was in 1941. They said,The first experiment in international Government … failed because selfish national interest deprived it of the conditions precedent to success…. The hoped-for world order became a chaos once more. Each nation state went its own sovereign way. Each sought to stand alone.The result was another world war.
Out of this world war came the resurgence of the determination to bring an end to war. We had the Atlantic Charter as the beginning of the new world. This was in 1941. The intention of the Atlantic Charter wasto bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field, with the object of securing for all, improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security.That was surely an object worthy of the support of Socialists everywhere, and it was given that support, even if it stipulated "between all nations" and not just between such nations as might seek to elect Socialist governments. We unanimously applauded it and we have never ceased to invoke its terms in our Socialist arguments for human rights and justice. But it failed, because there was no one to ensure its authority and it had no sovereignty of its own. None of the member countries which signed the Charter was prepared to establish any authority which would ensure that its policies were carried out.
675 Now let us look at the Treaty of Rome. In Article 2 we see the following words:It shall be the task of the Community, by establishing a Common Market and progressively approximating the economic policies of Member States, to promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increased stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living, and closer relations between its Member States.Those are very similar words to the words of the Atlantic Charter, and, like the Atlantic Charter, it does not state that nothing must be done towards the realisation or these objectives until Socialist Governments have been elected in each member State, any more than did the Charter of the United Nations or the League of Nations or I.L.O. or W.H.O. or any of the international organisations to which we belong but all of which, nonetheless, as Socialists we must surely support.
It is surely a very curious argument for Socialists to say that while applauding such objectives we should firmly refuse to participate in any step towards their realisation until we have arrived at universal and permanent Socialism which, of course, assumes that there will be no further democracy, because people will no longer have the right to vote any other way. It is a most curious argument for hon. Members on this side of the House to use; nevertheless it is used. We might as well argue that the Labour Party should take no part in Parliament until we have been assured of a permanent Labour majority. But this is the attitude towards our membership of the European Community by certain of my hon. Friends.
The words of the Atlantic Charter and of the Rome Treaty express sentiments and objectives which we all wish to see realised. The significant difference is that in the Rome Treaty, unlike the Atlantic Charter, the instruments and the institutions were established alongside the solemn commitments which ensured that these objectives would be put into operation and progressively implemented by the Community.
The result is that already in its short life, beginning with the Coal and Steel Community, within a few months all 676 restrictions, tariffs, customs, transport discriminations, quotas and the rest were abolished over about 2,000 miles of frontier which hitherto had been hostile frontiers in Europe, and other tariffs and internal hindrances to trade have already been reduced drastically and are in process of abolition. For the first time in history laws have been established against cartels and monopoly practices in the Continent of Europe. The 40-hour week, paid holidays and equal pay are established principles which are now being implemented in Europe. Free movement of workers, with protection and guarantees as to their conditions of employment, common policies for coal and steel and for atomic energy and agriculture are being worked out between all these countries. These are tremendous achievements, and they are clearly along the lines which have always been preached by the Socialist movement and by the Labour Party. They are happening in Europe today.
Why, therefore this strange opposition by some who claim to represent progressive Socialism and international ideals? I have here a publication which puts the case very well. It is called Keep Left, and it was produced in 1947. It has an interesting chapter, "We are Europeans now".
§ Mr. Hynd
No, Europeans. This is what this publication said:A Socialist Britain cannot prosper so long as Europe is divided. The goal we should work for is federation which binds together the nations now under Eastern domination with the peoples of Western Europe.But it goes on—referring to the half European—with the following words:But this goal is a long way off. For the present it would be wise to concentrate on less spectacular forms of European collaboration designed gradually to remove the Iron Curtain.It asks for an economic union of European States which would enable us once again to stand up to an American slump. I recommend this publication to all who are interested in the various opinions on this question.
Perhaps I may be permitted another quotation from this publication on "Britain and the Empire". It is:It may be objected that by accepting our destiny as part of Europe we shall betray the 677 Empire. But the Commonwealth is not an exclusive association, and in the last war it ceased to be a strategic unity. The true defence of the Commonwealth, as an association of free peoples, depends on the unification of Europe, which cannot be achieved if Britain stands aside.This publication was prepared and issued under a list of interesting names, including those of the hon. Members for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) and Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), who was at the time a member of the Keep Left Group.
In 1956 I was responsible for placing a Motion on the Order Paper, which was signed by 82 hon. Members on this side of the House, which recognised the advantages and disadvantages of this country joining the Common Market and nonethelessurged Her Majesty's Government Co accept She invitation to participate in the negotiations among the other six member countries of Western European Union and endeavour to negotiate arrangements which would make it possible for the United Kingdom to participate in the advance towards a Common Market.Among the signatories to the Motion was the hon. Member for Coventry, East, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock), the hon. Member for Leek—